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Marketing Careers: 3 steps for using testing principles to improve office productivity

August 2nd, 2013
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Here at MECLABS, we talk a lot about the testing process.

How to optimize and improve emails, landing pages, lead generation forms, shopping carts … all things Web. But, the testing process isn’t just a way to improve website performance. The general principles are transferrable to so much more.

One thing I’ve been particularly interested in recently is how to use testing to improve office and employee productivity.

Consider you’re a manager and have an employee who has been having problems meeting deadlines.

What do you do?

 

Step #1. Identify the problems with productivity

You’ve already identified the overall problem – missing deadlines.

Most people immediately jump to solutions and try to answer this question: “How do I get this employee to stop missing deadlines?”

Obviously, it’s because they need more resources, right? Maybe it’s because they weren’t clear on the requirements and what was expected of them. Or maybe, they just didn’t see the point and weren’t properly motivated.

That’s the same thing as saying, “My Landing Page isn’t converting,” and immediately jumping to solutions like, “I need to change the offer, add a video, or add more testimonials.”

But, what step did we miss in that jump … Analysis!

 

Step #2. Dive deeper to identify the elements that impact productivity

You can’t solve a problem unless you have a deeper understanding of the root cause.

For a website, we’ve been trained to ask, “What problems or obstacles are impeding a conversion on this page?”

Thankfully, we have a handy Conversion Sequence heuristic to help us identify the elements that impact conversion by asking the right questions during analysis:

  • Is it because there’s a lack of value?
  • Is the value clearly communicated?
  • Is the process is too confusing?
  • Are people concerned about what’s going to happen with their information?

All of these answers could be the possible culprits to your low conversion rate, but you’ll never know without identifying these possible issues and testing possible solutions.

The same thing goes for your people.

For someone missing deadlines, the question isn’t “How do I fix this?” Instead, the first question needs to be “Why are they missing deadlines?” or:

  • Are they confused with the exact date/time of the deadline?
  • Do they have a clear understanding of all the steps involved in the project?
  • Do they know all of the resources they’re going to need?
  • Are they able to build a timeline backwards from the deadline with reviews and milestones?
  • Do they not understand the impact the missed deadline will have on them personally or the company?

As you can see, the list of questions goes on and on, just like for your website.

Read more…

Marketing Career: National guide to digital marketing salaries

March 22nd, 2013
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If you’ve been a reader of the MarketingSherpa Blog for a while, you know I think passion is an important part of a marketing job. After all, how can you really sell a product to potential customers unless you are passionate about it, too.

That said, a marketing job is still, well, a job. If we were all independently wealthy, we might not be as motivated to take the morning train to a marketing department every day and leave our families.

So, today’s blog post is about filthy lucre. Or, to be more specific, marketing salaries.

Wendy Weber, President, Crandall Associates, Inc., has allowed us to post the 2013 Digital Marketing National Salary Guide  for free download for readers of the MarketingSherpa blog. Just click that link and the PDF will instantly download. There is no squeeze page or form fill of any kind required.

I asked Wendy about what she learned while conducting research to put together the company’s 2013 salary guides. Here is what she had to say …

 

MarketingSherpa: Why the new addition of social media positions?

Wendy Weber: Many companies initially held back on hiring social media marketers. They questioned whether social media was a passing fad, and since it can be difficult to quantify and monetize, they chose not to devote resources towards it.

However, social media has only grown as a marketing tool, and at this point we can conclude that it is most certainly here to stay. Big corporations, as well as your local pizza parlor, want “likes” on Facebook, and most companies of any size now have the capability to respond to customer service issues through Twitter.

The actual resources being devoted to social media vary tremendously from one organization to another. Some companies are allowing interns to maintain the corporate social media presence, and others are paying six-figure salaries to social media teams.

Just as companies who didn’t establish a website back in the 1990s eventually accepted the online channel as a new order of conducting business, companies who didn’t accept social media as a marketing channel that is “here to stay” are now realizing that they need one or more dedicated social media professionals on staff.

A truly experienced social media professional is hard to find; many fancy themselves social media pros, but few can deliver.

Job descriptions vary widely; in some organizations social media is more focused on blogging. In others, it may be more focused on Facebook contests or Pinterest … and pay varies significantly, also. Read more…

Marketing Career: 52% of all team members share all marketing responsibilities

November 29th, 2012
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In the MarketingSherpa 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report, we asked 1,915 marketers about division of labor (or lack thereof) in their marketing departments …

Q: How are the responsibilities of your department divided among your marketing team?

 

 

Marketing integration

“The best way to achieve a fully integrated marketing approach is through consistency and working to achieve a common goal – this extends beyond the marketing team into business services, operations, and internal communication,” said Erin Miller, marketing, Gantt Huberman Architects.

“I think there should be a healthy balance within marketing teams to share responsibilities, as well as assigning ‘trusted advisers’ to responsibilities that require more than general knowledge.”

  Read more…

Marketing Management: Incorporating giving into your marketing department or agency

November 20th, 2012
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In the MarketingSherpa 2012 Executive Guide to Marketing Personnel, 52% of marketers from large companies agreed that their marketing departments’ potential are undermined because “management is autocratic, uses poor skills, is not encouraging, or has poor ethics.”

If this is a challenge you face as a leader, your problems run deeper than any one blog post can fix. After all, as John C. Maxwell has said, “There is no such thing as ‘business ethics;’ there’s just ethics.”

However, one way you can improve your department or agency and avoid being an autocratic, unethical leader (ouch) is by incorporating community giving into your team’s workflow.

Sometimes it can be difficult to carve out the time and resources to give back to the community, but the rewards for you and your staff are too numerous to ignore.

As an employee, to me the benefits are obvious. It feels good to not only support my coworkers with their philanthropic projects, but to know that they would similarly support me.

Click to enlarge

An Instagram photo of MECLABS employees at the Susan G. Komen walk in Jacksonville, Fla.

Participating in events also provides a great bonding experience, and gives employees a chance to work together outside of the office.

However, as great as it is for employees, it can be harsh as a manager who has to answer to the bottom line. Reid Stone, CEO, HEROfarm, and Kurtis Loftus, President and Creative Director, The Kurtis Group, talk about how to balance the benefits of giving back with the realities of business.

“It benefits the bottom line when all of a sudden employees and managers are all communicating in a better way … which ultimately leads to more profit for the company. So internally, it’s phenomenal,” Reid said.

  Read more…

Marketing Career: Crafting an internal performance whitepaper

November 2nd, 2012
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An email recently came across my inbox with an interesting attachment, and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with the MarketingSherpa blog audience, because it’s a positive example for something I’ve seen many marketers struggle with – internal marketing.

In fact, when we asked 1,646 marketers their most pressing challenges in MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Executive Guide to Marketing Personnel, here’s what they had to say …

 

Chart: What challenges undermine your marketing department’s potential?

Click to enlarge

 

As you can see, roughly three-quarters or marketers said, “either a lack of funding or resources inhibit our growth and development.” So how can you get the resources and budget you need?

Back to that email I was telling you about. It was from Karen Doolittle, Director, Marketing Research, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Karen said, “While not a member of your organization, I quite often visit your website and attempt to glean information on the current state of affairs of email marketing.”

From the first line alone, I could tell that Karen is, what I like to call, a high-information marketer. The type of marketer that constantly looks for ways to improve her department’s performance. So I’m including her email attachment here, because I think all the other high-information marketers who read the MarketingSherpa blog can learn from it. She called it an …

 

Email Performance Whitepaper 

As you can see from the above link, what Karen did was quite simple, yet also pretty profound. I’m going to use an old quote that I love from Todd Lebo, Senior Director of Content and Business Development, MECLABS, to explain why, “Business leaders will never storm into the IT department and say, ‘I was taking a shower this morning, and had a great idea for some new PHP code.’ But they will come into the marketing department and say, ‘I was taking a shower this morning and thought of a great idea for an email send or a headline or a print ad.’”

What Karen’s piece says to business leaders is, “Hey, trust us over here; we know what we’re doing. And if you give us the funding and resources we need, we can keep doing it and keep improving.” But it uses data to prove that point, without having to make any claims at all.

Karen was kind enough to hop on the phone with me recently, go over the background of her internal whitepaper, and provide some tips to help you replicate this idea in your own organization. Below are selected edits from our conversation.

Read more…

Personal Branding: 3 tips for personal SEO

June 22nd, 2012
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If someone were to enter your name into Google, what results would they find?

Establishing your personal brand online has become increasingly important, as more HR professionals and hiring managers turn to search engines for information on applicants. Some reports indicate upward of 90% of recruiters regularly research candidates on Google.

Moreover, realize that your competition has already taken action to improve their search engine results. According to ExecuNet’s 2012 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, 67% of executives have actively worked to become more visible online.

These executives are working on their results, but what about you? In a best case scenario, you will earn a few results on one of the top search engine result pages (SERPs). Worst case scenario? You find that you share a name with a slew of more established, accomplished and published people — at least according to Google results.

So, what can you do to improve your search engine results? Here are three tips for boosting the search ranking of your name.

  Read more…

Marketing Management: What is your company doing to increase knowledge and effectiveness?

March 22nd, 2012
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Do these facts about training for marketers surprise you?

  • Training is the most important factor in retaining marketers under 30
  • Three out of four marketers are not receiving the training and development they need for competence and success
  • Only about a third of marketers describe their department as “highly skilled and competent”

These are just three pieces of information in the brand-new 2012 MarketingSherpa Executive Guide to Marketing Personnel.

 

But read a little further, and things get curiouser and curiouser (to paraphrase Alice in Wonderland). You see that turnover in the marketing department is a problem, especially in large organizations:

 

CHART: HOW SIGNIFICANT IS TURNOVER IN YOUR COMPANY?

 

Click to enlarge

 

If turnover is a problem now, in an unsure economy, what is it going to be like when the economy starts picking up stream and marketers have more job options? It gets worse; the vast majority of companies have no career path for marketers. And it doesn’t matter if you are in a small company or a large one:

Read more…

Marketing Career: 4 questions every marketer should answer (and what you need to know to start asking them)

March 16th, 2012
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Very few of us, especially marketers, know what next year or the year after will look like. Things are constantly changing and progressing with new approaches, better analytics and a greater level of sophistication in our industry.

The good news, while those aspects continually evolve, there are a few things you as an individual can do to ensure a productive and prosperous marketing career. They may seem obvious, but consider them carefully because your choice will mean the difference between a rewarding and frustrating career.

First and foremost, according to research I conducted for the 2012 Executive Guide to MarketingSherpa Marketing Personnel,  80% of marketers take assessments  to identify key competencies and personality traits. (An assessment is an examination, test and/or survey(s) that measures specific behaviors, values and/or skills that provide insight into an individual’s abilities and capacities.)

However, what comes next is disappointing … our study also showed that less than half of the assessments were actually used (by companies) to help ensure you are in the right marketing position. So, if you work for one of the companies not using assessments, your career satisfaction and success is entirely in your hands.

“People don’t pay for average.” — John C. Maxwell

And neither do marketing departments.

While you may enjoy multiple aspects of the marketing process, if you really want to excel in your career, you must ask yourself: “Which aspects do I enjoy the most and which am I best suited for?”

The reality is that you may be fairly competent in several areas, but no one is good at all of them — plus, each area is growing in the level of sophistication so rapidly that it is easy to quickly fall behind the learning curve. So what do you do?

  • Obtain a copy of your assessments and make an appointment with your manager or HR specialist who had those tests run. Identify what you want to learn about your behaviors, strengths and weaknesses before the appointment that apply to the field of marketing you most enjoy.
  • Have the individual go through the results with you thoroughly. Ask questions during the process. Yes, you will hear a lot of things you already know, but it is essential you see your competencies from another’s paradigm, not just your own. Let them identify your strengths and weaknesses based on the data.
  • Use the comments you obtain from the debrief session to help you develop a plan.The plan should consist of:
    • How to use your strengths in your present position
    • How to reduce the weaknesses that might inhibit your professional growth and development
    • Try to codify what developmental resources you will need to obtain, either through or outside of company resources
    • Assign priorities and time frames, then implement your developmental process. Do not wait on a manager or  HR to do this for you. You may have to wait a long time for other’s help.

  Read more…

Marketing Career: 7 habits of highly effective marketing job seekers – part 4

January 27th, 2012
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We’ve reached the fourth and final post of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketing Job Seekers blog series, where we take Stephen Covey’s habits and help you practically apply them to your marketing job hunt.

Today, we’ll cover “Synergize,” which is all about working together – or as the old saying goes, “two heads are better than one.” The job search doesn’t have to be a solitary chore. This habit thrives on all that networking you’ve been building upon for years.

We’ll also discuss “Sharpen the Saw,” which wraps it all together in that the job search doesn’t begin and end with the job. It must all revolve around you, your skills and your experience. The last habit works to keep you at the top of your game, even through long gaps of unemployment.

  Read more…

Marketing Career: 7 habits of highly effective marketing job seekers – part 3

January 13th, 2012
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This third installation of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketing Job Seekers blog post series will examine how Steven R. Covey’s fourth and fifth habits can help those looking for marketing positions (you can check out our discussions of “Be Proactive” and then “Begin with the End in Mind” and “Put First Things First” here).

“Think Win/Win” will help you decide which companies to apply to and what message to convey in your cover letters and interviews. The fifth habit, “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood,” will also help job seekers in crafting their cover letter message and resumes, but also provides tips on preparing for interviews.

 

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

In a Win/Win solution, all parties should mutually benefit and feel good about the decision.  Covey says, for any type of situation, if both parties cannot reach a Win/Win, then they should agree on ‘No Deal’ or walk away from the table.

  • A Win for the company

When I started thinking about how this habit relates to the job search, it reminded me a bit of President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Instead of your country, though, ask what you can do for the company or organization to which you wish to apply. Then, relay that answer as your value proposition in both your cover letter and interview.

Some companies receive thousands of résumés for just one opening. Chances are you will not be the only applicant to meet all their minimum requirements. You must provide some added value that could push the company forward in some way.

What is your “wow factor”? Determining how the company will win with you as an employee will answer a vital question for any job seeker, “Why should my ideal employer interview me instead of other applicants?”

Inform employers exactly what you’ll bring to the table that no other candidate can. Read more…