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Marketing Career: 7 habits of highly effective marketing job seekers – part 2

December 9th, 2011
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Last week’s marketing career post explored how marketers should implement Steven Covey’s first habit, “Be Proactive,” into their job hunt. Scott Howard, Executive Director of Operations, MECLABS, helped to draw out applicable and helpful tips from the bestselling book. This week, we’ll hear from him again on the next two habits: “Begin with the End in Mind” and “Put First Things First.”

 

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

I find this to be one of the most important habits for job hunters. Why? Because it is the foundation on which all following habits build. Without an end vision, you won’t know how to best direct all the energy you put into the other habits.

So how do you create this vision? Covey instructs you to create an image, picture or paradigm of the end of your life just as you want it to be. In a job seeker’s case, picture the job you want to have not just now, but also the one you want in the future. Using this reference, you will then determine your behavior and actions now and in the future. It also works on the principle that all things are created twice, once being mental, followed by the physical. Beginning with an end in mind focuses on the mental construction. (The physical will start to take shape in the next habit, “Put First Things First.”)

Scott says, “You need a destination. You can’t know how to get somewhere without first knowing where you want to go.”

Envision your ideal career path. Where do you want to be in five, 10, 20 years? Know the general direction you want to go, and focus your job search on positions that support this vision. In essence, you will create your own personal mission statement.

As a job seeker, I know how tempting it can be to apply to anything and everything. Having a job is better than not having one, right? Well, not necessarily. A résumé riddled with short employments or unrelated job positions does not look good to potential employers. Don’t continually apply to jobs you know you will leave in six months, or that have nothing to do with your end vision.

In The New York Times’ blog, Room for Debate, Katherine S. Newman, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University, explains it further, “…if [your] biography doesn’t match [your] aspirations, it can be a tough sell when newer, less ‘scarred’ job seekers flood the pool from which the boss is choosing.” In other words, taking that unrelated job could hurt your chances of following your ideal career path.

This habit helps to narrows down your job search. Focus on what you what to be and do, then determine the steps, values and principles that will get you there.

Try writing this statement for yourself, and fill in the blanks to it is applicable to you …

“I want to be a (digital marketer, B2B marketer, community manager, etc) so that I can (list your contributions and achievement here). To get to that destination, I will (take an internship, apply for specific job descriptions, further my training or education, build my network, etc).”

 

Key Takeaway:

  • Envision your idea career path. Once you determine your career destination, hone your job search to focus on this ideal direction. If you’re not quite sure where you want your career to go, try reading through MarketingSherpa case studies to get a deeper understanding of certain roles and organizations.

  Read more…

Marketing Career: 7 habits of highly effective marketing job seekers – part 1

December 2nd, 2011
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It’s a tough job market out there. According to Bernhart Associates’ Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report, only 40% of companies reported plans to add staff in the fourth quarter, down from 52% at the beginning of the year. And while decreasing numbers may tempt you to apply for every marketing job you do find, that’s certainly not the most effective way to conduct your job search.

You know from your marketing experience that “batch and blast” and “dialing for dollars” doesn’t work, so why spam potential employers? Instead, prioritize your job search by focusing on positions that will get you on the career path you have in mind to effectively get the most out of each resume you send.

This is where Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People comes in. While not a job seeker advice book, Covey’s book does outline seven habits that easily and wholly apply to the job hunting process. Over the course of four blog posts, I will explain each habit and provide useful ways to apply each to your job search.

I have also spoken with Scott Howard, Executive Director of Operations, MECLABS, and a big fan of Covey’s book. Scott oversees all operations across MECLABS Primary and Applied Research groups, including hiring approximately 60 new employees over the next year. He was kind enough to share some additional job seeking tips you can derive from the “7 Habits.”

  Read more…

Marketing Career: How to overcome dissatisfaction in marketing jobs

October 28th, 2011
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Do you love your marketing job? If you do, you might be in the minority, according to CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping find workplace happiness.

CareerBliss determined the top 10 hated jobs by analyzing hundreds of thousands of employee-generated reviews from 2011. And, two marketing management positions landed on the list.

Director of Sales and Marketing hit at number two, with only IT Director beating it out. Ouch. And Marketing Manager slipped on the list at number 10 spot. Not a promising outlook for those not yet in management, and a worse outlook for those already there.

CareerBliss provided two reasons why the positions earned their spots on the top 10 hated jobs: “an absence of room for growth” and “a lack of direction from upper management.”

After reading this study, I thought about what I would do if I were in the unhappy marketers’ shoes. So I delved further into the topic by reading every article and study Google would give me on the topic. Nothing I found directly answered my question. However, putting all the readings together allowed me to form some ideas to help jog your thinking.

While I wouldn’t suggest quitting your current job just yet (at least not without some research of your own), I do hope this post can give you some hope of getting out of that job you hate. I’d also love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

In this blog post, we’ll see if there’s real truth behind those reasons given by CareerBliss and what you can do to overcome them. Read more…

Marketing Career: How to get your next job in marketing

October 14th, 2011
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Sure, the economy is a bit uncertain. But companies are still looking for high-performing marketing professionals. I know because they post these job openings almost daily on our marketing job listings page.

In fact, I recently came across a shocking bit of data in The Wall Street Journal. From my experience, jobs in advertising and marketing tend to be the most sensitive in an uncertain economy. In a recession, most CEOs seem to cut the marketing budget as step #1 (Step #12, corporate jet).

However, according to SimplyHired, marketing managers is “where the work is,” as it’s listed as one of the occupations listed as having many openings.

I’m not personally familiar with this metric, but marketing managers is listed as having 108 job openings for every 1,000 people employed. That is much more than the “few openings” for mental-health counselors and preschool teachers, with only two openings per 1,000 employed. It’s even more than registered nurses, which I always see recruitment ads for and is widely regarded as desperately in need of more talented people (82 per 1,000).

Intuit is one such company hiring marketing professionals right now. So, I sat down with Leslie Mason, a Senior Recruiter at the computer software company, to help give you an inside scoop about what companies are looking for when they fill these plentiful marketing job openings.

Read more…

From Corporate America to Entrepreneur: Giving up steady pay for a steady say

February 18th, 2011
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Last year I interviewed Barb Girson for a MarketingSherpa B2B newsletter story, “Marketing Automation Tool Drives List Growth, Boosts Registrations 664%, (members’ library)” on how she was able to dramatically improve her event registrations. The focus of our conversation was on the case study, but from talking about her background I knew I wanted to revisit her story because she’s managed to pull off a pretty tough feat.

She spent ten years in the corporate environment before finding herself downsized in 2008. She used her experience to found My Sales Tactics, a professional development firm with a focus on international direct selling training, and is now a successful entrepreneur.

Marketers tend to have a pretty full tool box of skills, but sometimes the toughest “product” to tout is yourself. Here’s Barb’s story about how she met the challenge of founding her own company in a difficult economy and achieved success.

Did you find the transition from the corporate world back to entrepreneurship — both making the decision and actually doing it — difficult?

Barb Girson: The most difficult part of transitioning from corporate work and back to entrepreneurship was going from giving up the promise for steady pay, but gaining a steady say. This means you have a say in where, when, how you are working — controlling your own schedule and having more flexibility.

This freedom has a price.

After reaching the peak of my career salary, having paid vacations and all of the other employment perks, I contemplated the pros and cons. In the early months of making my business plan, I would wake up in a full sweat and panic in the middle of the night wondering, “Can I do this? Could I meet my financial obligations and overhead and pay myself a salary?”

To ease the transition I did some freelance/subcontract work for several other business owners and created an alliance where I could work for another firm one day a week while developing my own content on the side. This setup helped ease the stress of needing immediate cash flow.

The defining moment was one December when my accountant pointed out that I had matched my husband’s teaching salary while freelancing part-time without even having advertisements or a website. My accountant said, “If you are going to do this, then you need to make investments and build the business.”

Within two and a half weeks I crystallized my thoughts, notes, and research into a business plan and registered my business. One of my first goals was to develop an email list from scratch and to build a website — which is critical in today’s environment. Within six months my website was launched.

For me, the bottom line to remember is my three C’s:

  1. Choice — your future belongs to YOU!
  2. Courage — it takes courage to walk down the sidewalk and take a different path!
  3. Career — it is your career. Steer it!

Do any particular challenges you’ve faced as an entreprenur stick out?

BG: Entrepreneurs tend to be tough on themselves and place high mental demands on themselves. This is both a blessing and a curse.

Being a solo entrepreneur, or small business owner with limited resources, meant that I needed to learn to accept my best efforts and embrace my errors. At first, marketing without an entire department to assist with graphics, execution and measuring effectiveness was a challenge.

As my business grew, I built a team of entrepreneurs who support me in various functions. While we have grown and evolved as a team, the push to remain resourceful and innovative has been essential.MarketingSherpa

To get past these challenges, it is helpful to:

  1. “Focus on making progress, forget about perfection.” Perfection often paralyzes people.  (Cynthia Kersey, Unstoppable Women)
  2. Mistakes will happen. Accept, Apologize and Stay in Action.
  3. Reach a point of “good enough.” For example, a business letter, a presentation, a marketing brochure … prepare, give your best, and improve as you go. That means short print runs on new collateral.
  4. If you are using email/event marketing to build your sales, use a trusted service provider to get the support of an entire corporate team — from sourcing graphics, to monitoring, measuring, and segmenting. Many of the functions that used to be accomplished with several departments are now handled within this service.

During our interview last year you mentioned a “test” you’re running to actually call people who’ve opted-out of your email contact list. Tell me more about that effort and what results you are seeing …

BG: I have not had enough results to know yet if this test is cost effective. However I do have one interesting story.

One of my subscribers replied by email after my assistant called her to make sure she wanted to unsubscribe and said:

“I’m curious about having your assistant call those who unsubscribe. I’m sure that takes an enormous amount of time, which increases your cost. Does it pay for itself to have her call them? I’ve never considered doing that with my own customers who unsubscribe. I just write them off as uninterested and look for new people.”

I asked her how the phone call made her feel.

She replied, “Actually, if you had theoretically asked how I’d feel, I would have thought it was too high-pressure … but in reality, yeah, I felt like you really cared about why I was leaving. And it made you stand out from all the other lists I dropped out of. Good luck!”

My goal is to communicate that my subscribers are important and their opinions are valued.  Maybe they will remember me if they have a need for my service in the future.

You’ve been successful in tough career moves — going from a large company with a large support staff to becoming an entrepreneur with a very streamlined staff. Were any lessons learned, or do you have career advice for anyone who is either contemplating, or attempting, what you’ve accomplished?

BG: Lessons learned:

1. Keep start up costs low

  • Keep your overhead low. If possible, work out of your home. This is more acceptable today than ever before and technology gives start ups the advantage that only big corporations enjoyed before. My goals were to have a business that I could take anywhere.
  • Do your competitive research to get an idea what the market will bear for your products and services and find your unique niche. I hear many entrepreneurs ramble about all the things they can do.  The old marketing adage goes, “When you try to speak to everyone you reach no one.” This is especially true in today’s competitive, crowded business climate.

2. Focus on the actions that result in your income rising

  • Determine the quickest way to cash flow and build your services from there.

3. Be careful not to take-on too much too soon. Don’t offer too many services too soon. Start with a few key services that you can do well and build from there.

4. Be prepared to put forth a great deal of effort to get your business going.

  • Long hours are often required until you can afford to build a team. But they are your hours. You will need to balance the time you spend on the computer with the time you spend meeting people who can directly or indirectly help you build your sales.

5. Three critical skills in today’s environment:

  • Networking Skills — build a strong supportive network that will put their name on line to recommend you to others.
  • Sales Skills — develop a way to authentically and comfortably sell yourself. Invest in training – you will always get a great ROI (return on investment) when you invest in yourself.
  • Technical Skills — saves you money and time.

Take advantage of service providers to help you market like the big guys — email marketing, event marketing, and surveys.

I am pleased and proud to say that my business is not only surviving — it is thriving through this economic climate. The time and energy that went into building the foundation is paying off, both in the sense of accomplishment and financially.

It is fulfilling to help others with the work that we do — we help companies, teams and entrepreneurs gain confidence, get into action and grow sales by designing and delivering custom sales/email/event marketing training and coaching programs. I think it has happened because I have been transparent with my story, worked hard, and involved my client base in a ramp up process.

Related resources

Email Marketing: Show me the ROI

Ten Numbers Every Email Marketer Should Commit to Memory

Interactive Channel for Sales Support Materials: 6 Strategies to Cut Costs and Improve Measurability (Members’ library)

Lead generation: Real-time, data-driven B2B marketing and sales

Resources on Transparent Marketing

Barb’s vendor, Constant Contact

photo by San Sharma

Personal Branding: The five elements of being seen as a thought leader through crowdsourcing

December 10th, 2010
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…that is, unless you’re trying to minimize the amount of extra work you need to do before the calendar flips to 2011. Every December, my inbox lights up like Rockefeller Center, filled with email and social media requests from various publications asking me to submit my thoughts about the year that’s ending, and the one yet to come.

These crowdsourcing efforts are a great opportunity for so-called “personal branding” and “thought leadership” for the average marketer. But as much as I’d love to share my ideas with every one of these outlets, like many of you, I simply don’t have the time to do so. So when I do take the time, I want to make sure my ideas get picked. But what stands out?

How to grab attention

Well this year I have a unique perspective on the topic because I’m sitting on the other side of the submission form as well – I’m editing MarketingSherpa’s 2011 Wisdom Report. If you’re not familiar with our Wisdom Report, it’s a little New Year’s gift we distribute free to our audience of 237,000 readers. You can take a look at last year’s Wisdom Report for real-life stories and lessons from 70 of your fellow client- and agency-side marketers to see what I’m talking about.

Based on this experience, I’ve discovered an area that I’ve gained significant wisdom in – crafting a successful crowdsourcing submission. So if you do take the time to share your knowledge, it’s worth your while. (Some of this might apply to you public relations folks as you pitch media outlets as well.) And if you’d like to share your wisdom with our audience, I’m all ears.

1. Sometimes, simpler is better.

As much as we love to hear results, it’s not necessary to provide us your company’s bottom line or a three-part novella in order to have your entry published in the Wisdom Report. Sometimes, the simplest, most concise entry can evoke more inspiration than reams of positive results. Below are two of our favorites from the 2010 Wisdom Report (and based on feedback we received, they were among your favorites, as well):

“Consistently recognize the individual efforts of team members. Be specific. Be appreciative. Especially this year – when budgets are tight, tensions are high, and pay raises but a dream – affirmation and acknowledgement becomes even more meaningful. Making it a point to do this can positively alter the culture of an organization. I’ve seen it happen!”

And of course, there’s always the “Golden Rule”:

“Never undermine people who are working for/with you, and who you are working for…”

If that doesn’t qualify as universal wisdom, I’m not sure what does.

2. Be honest. Be yourself. Be real.

A trite platitude? Perhaps. But not all platitudes are without value. Each year, the Wisdom Report provides a forum for marketers to speak candidly about both successes and failures, explaining how their outcomes become lessons – lessons that provide a basis for future planning and a better understanding of their respective situations.

And, with the country still struggling within a tough economy, there are undoubtedly many of you who were forced to find new ways and means to stay afloat – and stay profitable – in 2010. You’re not alone.

As much as necessity is the mother of invention, our recent economic struggles have to be considered the mother of innovation – innovation that drove you to maximize limited marketing budgets, test new ideas and hopefully, create new opportunities to build upon for future success.

In short, the most successful Wisdom Report submissions are the ones that put aside the usual posturing and marketing-speak, and replace them with honest reflection to be shared with your peers.

~~~~~~~

As mentioned earlier, with each year that we publish the Wisdom Report, we also receive an increasing number of entries that deviate from our intended focus. These “rogue” entrants often choose to entertain more than enlighten, and promote more than they inspire. Because of this, they also don’t get in.

Let’s discuss what not to do when composing your 2011 Wisdom Report entry.

3. Laughter isn’t always the best medicine…especially when the medicine isn’t funny in the first place.

I think we all know, whenever you post an online entry form, you run the risk of a few attention-starved individuals (or bots) trying to garner a few seconds in the spotlight.  Sometimes these submissions can be amusing. Sometimes, they even contain a modicum of relevance to the topic at hand. But most of the time, Web-trolling Shecky Greenes provide entries more akin to this 2009 slice of hilarity:

“You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish.”
— H. Jass, (company and location unknown)

First off, this is a family publication, so I’ll just let you figure out what the “H” in this person’s name actually represents. But more importantly, this one-liner wouldn’t sound right coming out of my crazy uncle’s mouth, much less that of a respected marketer.  This is more an example of failed spam filter than it is a legitimate submission.  But, as you’ll see, humor doesn’t quite get the job done in the following entry, either:

If it ain’t broke, you probably haven’t tested it in Outlook or Internet Explorer yet.”

Yes, this is a more intelligent, amusing entry than the one above. But it’s still not exactly “wisdom,” now is it? Since our website and publications reach a fairly targeted audience, it’s safe to assume that this person isn’t just an Internet wise guy, but more likely a marketer who believed that this humor would somehow fit right alongside submissions from our focused, business-minded reader population.

Had this entry been accompanied by an anecdote explaining how his/her company saved money in a tough economy by eschewing enterprise software for open source offerings, then the quote isn’t only amusing, but also relevant to a broader audience.

4. Proofreading proves wisdom.

One thing that remains great about the Wisdom Report each year is how it allows marketers to represent themselves, and their companies, in their own words, rather than through homogenized “marketing-speak.” This is why it’s so important to spend a few minutes reviewing your submission, rather than quickly hammering out an entry replete with typos, grammatical errors and other mistakes that could possibly present you in a less-than-flattering light.

Note that we only edit submissions for simple errors. If a submission is written in a way that makes it difficult to decipher, we simply don’t use it, even if it contains a wealth of valuable information underneath the typos. It’s not feasible for us to contact you for clarification, nor do we publish inaccurate, error-filled copy.

Bottom line – a few extra minutes with a red pen could garner your words – and possibly, your company – some very valuable exposure with our readership. Don’t let your haste turn into our waste.

One example of this is an excerpt from last year’s Wisdom Report:

“Ranking Ranking..I want our site to be ranked number 1..” Sounds familiar ? From your clients ? Or from your management ? Many site owners fall into this, even till the extend of entering keywords they feel they should be ranked the number 1 spot which they haven’t. And they could rant on and on with ever debates on keyword rankings. Without even realizing does the ranking actually correlate to targeted traffic and eventually successful conversions which relates back to the overall business goals and objectives…”

As you can see, this person clearly had a number of thoughts about SEO and search marketing. But, while the “stream of consciousness” tone gives this entry a sense of enthusiasm, it was simply too grammatically poor to enter as-is.

Because of the inherent value in this person’s complete submission, we chose to edit and use it in the book. But, once we begin rewriting a submission for grammar and punctuation, it can no longer truly be considered “in your own words” – which simply isn’t in line with the spirit of this publication.

5. Show, don’t tell. And no matter what, please don’t sell.

I can already hear the uproar – “How are we supposed to discuss our successes without promoting our [companies/products/brands/taglines/other]???”

Simple.  Tell us a story that has universal value – value that can be applied across tactics, industries, borders and cultures. Tell us what worked and what didn’t. Tell us about creative new risks or your back-to-basics approach.  Don’t just tell us that you’re even more amazing than you already were – tell us why and how you’ve improved.

Once more with feeling, from the 2010 Wisdom Report:

“My embroidery and logowear business, [company name], is one of only a few in our industry to find success using a Web-based model, and I’m convinced it’s because we’ve been able to take our key differentiators — including exceptional customer service — and effectively communicate them to an online audience…”

The above is the (submitted) opening line from one of last year’s contributors. At its core, this is a very strong sentence that serves to introduce a solid anecdote about simplicity in Web design and online forms. The problem is that in order to get to that solid anecdote, you had to endure a) the company name and target market, b) a self-serving statement about the company’s superiority in its space, and c) a thinly-veiled pat on the back.

It’s not that the company doesn’t deserve accolades. It’s that only after the reader gets past this boilerplate copy does the submission demonstrate its true value. And, following some extensive details, we read:

“Conversions increased 49 percent with the new form, cementing for us the idea that people want to do business with people, not with Web sites.”

This simple statement offers us a concrete metric, and more importantly, a statement about how this new tactic led to a valuable lesson that is applicable beyond this specific business.

I think you get the point.

We’re sure you’ve got a great story to tell that will help make us all better marketers in 2011. And we look forward to reading them.

Related resources

Submit your 2011 Wisdom Report entry

2010 MarketingSherpa Wisdom Report

Public Relations: The best press release is no press release

Community Managers in Social Media

August 12th, 2010
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The time for companies to get more value from online conversations is fast approaching, says Wendy Lea, CEO, Get Satisfaction, a social application provider.

Social media can help satisfy a variety of business goals — such as cutting support costs and informing product design — but who is responsible for ensuring these goals are well met? The likely answer for most companies is no one.

Lea sees the need for a new role, a community manager, at many companies. This person would interact with an online community and ensure it yielded real business results.

“This is a non-trivial leadership role that I do not think most companies have really begun to understand how to take advantage of,” Lea says.

The key responsibilities and traits of a good community manager are still up in the air, Lea says. However, the person will likely need to have:
o Strong command of brand voice and style
o Strong writing skills
o Deep knowledge of company products and service
o Ability to work with multiple branches of the business

“I think this is a very complex and sophisticated role that sits right in the middle of CRM,” Lea says. “It’s a whole other skill and knowledge set. I know there are some books about it, but how many corporations are really making sure their folks involved in this are developed to do the work rather than just picking people who understand social media?”

Get Satisfaction is planning a pioneer effort to train community managers for other companies, Lea says. Although the role is somewhat undefined today, you can expect announcements and more information from her team over the next six months.

Does your team have a community manager? Please tell us about them in the comments…