Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: October 2008

Out of the Box Marketing

Seth Godin seems to be on a run with intriguing posts these days. His Oct 29th post about How to Lose opens up an interesting if controversial idea.

I think most marketers, with any spark of fire in them, are very competitive people. While we try not to copy our competition (most of the time) we end up studying them all day long. What are their target markets? What are their key messages? What are they saying when they run up against us? What can we use to “attack” them?

But we just can’t compete on every deal. If you’re smart, there are some segments you don’t go after because the odds of winning the deal are low. And, if by some accident you do win, the odds of having a satisfied customer are even less.

What if you identified a “competitor” for these markets that you could send leads to when they aren’t a fit for your solution? Obviously, a “quid pro quo” relationship is what you’re trying to establish, so create that relationship with someone who is willing to admit that they can’t meet the needs of some of the markets that you target.

For those of you brave enough to try this, it will take some work. Cooperation for scarce resource (or sales) is not a natural thing in human nature – at least not in modern humans. You’re going to have to work hard to find the right competitive partner. You’re going to have to be OK with the relationship being a little one-sided at times. You’re going to have to give up your old dreams of putting the competition out of business.

I know, I know. I’m talking about an old idea – co-opetition. And, maybe some of you have actually tried this before. If so, let us know how it worked, or didn’t work, for you.
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Do You Like Who You Have Become?

I’m always surprised at the subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, ways my personality and outlook on life changes when I change jobs. I worked for one company for a few years that was an awesome place to work. Brilliant people. Great benefits. Fun work. But, the culture was very direct and often crossed the line into needlessly confrontational. It was a real battle for turf. I think confrontation can be constructive but it can also get in the way of reaching team goals. Now that I’ve left, I think of myself as the “kinder, gentler me.” I’m happy with that.

Seth Godin’s October 24th post, Be Careful Who You Work For, is spot on. He advises people to take more time making the most important marketing decision of their lives.

While I agree with that, I’m not sure that now is the best time to jump off the bandwagon. However, you can prepare yourself to look for a work environment that suits who you want to be by getting your resume updated and working on your internet presence through Linked In and other networks.

Sometimes it’s just an individual you work for or with that poisons the atmosphere. If your organization is large enough, perhaps there are opportunities on other teams that will decrease the amount of contact you have. Or, if you are lucky, maybe you have the option to work from home. (while preparing yourself to find an opportunity that suits you better.) Avoidance isn’t always the best thing for your career, but it can help you hang on to your sanity while you work on your future.

None of us has to be doing the work we are doing. A CEO I know was fond of saying, “you are not an indentured servant” whenever he heard people complain. We can’t all quit our jobs on a whim. And, sometimes it takes a lot of effort to find what really suits you. But, if you are unhappy, remember that YOU are the one who is responsible for your being where you are. We are all the sum total of our choices. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Don't Show Up For Work!

‘Tis the season to share one of my biggest pet peeves. Every year, we’re subjected to all those self-made martyrs who insist on showing up for work despite being sick as a dog.

Some of them truly have work to do. They don’t make a big deal out of being sick. They stay in their office and try to avoid unnecessary contact with their colleagues while they fight the bug. If at all possible, they work from home and call in for meetings. To these people, I say “bless you!” and I mean that in more ways than one.

However, the vast majority seem to wear their misery like a badge of honor. They tell everyone they meet how sick they are and that they really should go to the doctor but they just can’t find the time. They joke about having to come to work, laughing, coughing and wheezing microorganisms all over the office. (Experts say that you spread a cloud of microorganisms as much as three feet every time you exhale.)

Go home!

Better yet, don’t come in to work at all if you are starting to feel sick. Doctors will tell you that you’re most contagious before you really even feel all that sick, so don’t wait for a full blown cold. They’ll also tell you that the quickest way to get well is to rest, so if you can, cancel all your appointments and crawl back in bed. Those sick days in your benefits package are there for a reason.

I’m surprised more companies don’t make a big deal out of this. Many of them sponsor health awareness, fitness club memberships, and other initiatives designed to keep their people healthy. Yet, they continue to turn a blind eye when the modern day equivalent of Typhoid Mary shows up for work and starts a round of contagion that lasts until next summer.
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Should You Have Your Resume Professionally Written?

With an uncertain economy, a lot of us are asking what we can do to ensure that we stay employed and keep progressing in our careers. The best advice is work hard; work smart…and make sure you have an up to date resume.

But, while you’re working hard it can be hard to find time to keep a resume up to date-- especially if you haven’t touched yours in awhile. When I left Microsoft I hadn’t updated my resume in more than fifteen years. (My prior resume was probably on a 5 inch floppy disk somewhere in the basement.)

But, a resume shouldn’t be that hard to write. After all, it’s really nothing more than a personal brochure for our services. As marketers, most of us have written a brochure at one time or another.

We can keep telling ourselves that, yet that personal brochure never seems to get written.

I wrote my own resume before leaving Microsoft, but then about two years ago I decided it was time to update it again. As a birthday present to myself, I hired a professional resume service. As luck would have it, I needed that resume within six months as the company I worked for went through a reorganization.

For those of you considering a professionally written resume, there are pros and cons to consider:

Expense. A professionally written resume written by a reputable service can run several hundred dollars. The more senior level the role you are aiming for, the more expensive the resume will be. For those of you thinking of having a resume written I’d suggest you not put it off. It’s a lot easier to mentally deal with the costs while you’re employed than when you actually need that resume!

Less work – sort of. Resume writing services can leave you with the impression that they can take the work out of resume writing. To a certain extent that’s true. They can handle the wordsmithing, most of the proofing, the design, and the formatting. However, the content is only as good as the material you provide them with. You still need to spend time thinking about the roles you’ve held and the value you’ve provided to your employer.

Quicker. As with most marketing projects, outside vendors deliver faster than internal staff. Once I signed off on my resume project I was on the hook for the milestones that had been set such as submitting initial information and the review process. It was going to be completed within a couple of weeks whether I wanted it to be or not.

No need to be humble! Many people have a hard time tooting their own horn. A professional service can review your actual accomplishments and take out those self-limiting words and phrases. e.g. “responsible for…” should almost always be replaced with objectives you achieved while you were fulfilling your responsibilities.

You still need to own it. My writer took my accomplishments and put his own take on them. He did a great job of clarifying some of my statements in the process. Considering all of this interaction took place over email, I thought he did pretty well. After signing off on his work, I took the resume and made any changes that I felt more accurately reflected my accomplishments.

You still need to have done it. If you haven’t actually done the work it’s going to come across in the interview. As an interviewer, I always ask candidates to tell me about several of the accomplishments on their resume. Exactly how did they achieve that turn around? What were the darkest moments? What hurdles did they have to overcome? I can tell who’s faking it.

The best way to make sure that you have something to put on your resume is to, as previously mentioned, work hard; work smart. Make sure that you have goals tied to corporate objectives. Don’t settle for a role with no accountability. It should go without saying, but revenue objectives trump everything else.

Once you have your objectives set, make sure you meet them, and get that brochure written.

Best of luck to all of you!
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The Economy - A "Marketing" Correction?

There’s been some talk that the current financial crisis and the economic impact is a market correction. I have my opinions, but since I’m not an economist, I think I’ll leave the speculation to others. (No pun intended)

However, I believe that the current situation can lead to a much needed “marketing" correction. Here are just a few of the positive things that I hope to see:

1. Marketers stop being satisfied with just filling their chair.

2. Managers of the marketing teams start holding their team members accountable.

3. Marketers focus on opportunities and not just leads.

4. Marketers reassess their marketing mix to cut out those tactics that are no longer producing.

5. Marketers stop being satisfied with things like “awareness” and “click throughs” that aren’t connected to opportunities.

6. Marketers focus on building a partnership with their #1 customer – the sales team.

I know many of you may be concerned for the future of your careers. No matter what happens in the months and years ahead, there are some companies that will go through rough times. Layoffs are bound to happen, even in the best of times.

Following the six guidelines above, and probably a few others that you can think of, can help you whether the storm.
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