Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: August 2008

Your Own Worst Online Enemy

Some people are their own worst enemy, especially when it comes to their online presence. I’m not sure if they are clueless or just don’t care. I suppose it doesn’t matter. The way they conduct themselves in the online community hurts their image and diminishes potential opportunities.

Seth Godin recently wrote a post Who’s telling you the truth about your online personal marketing. As a good place to start, he focused on the picture you choose and advised that you ask a handful of trusted confidants to tell you what they think.

I like to think that we’re beyond caring whether someone’s picture makes them look “dumpy” or not. Although I have to admit that he does have a point about choosing your picture carefully. The net is littered with mug shots that do no one any favors.

Here are some additional mistakes that I see otherwise intelligent people make everyday.

Curmudgeon or jerk? – We all know curmudgeons. They are the wise and seasoned professionals with a slightly testy attitude, but brilliant ideas. They can be fun to work with as long as they have all of the qualifications, namely, wisdom and experience in addition to biting wit.

Unfortunately, unless you have an established reputation on the web, biting wit generally comes across as rude. Just think how many misunderstood emails you’ve seen in your career. The sender thinks they are being clever but the recipient is offended and the conversation turns into a series of flame mails. Comments are just as easily misunderstood on the web, so better to save your clever remarks for face to face interactions.

Offensive Material – I just removed someone from my LinkedIn connections and Google Mail connections because the picture he used on Google Mail was of the lower half of a woman’s torso in lingerie. I immediately blocked him from my Google Mail because I often use my computer in public. I do not want anyone seeing that on MY system. I also immediately removed him from my LinkedIn connections, but it wasn’t because I thought the picture was offensive. (Although it was.) It was because it was just plain dumb to use a picture like that, and that’s not the type of people I want to connect with.

Poorly thought out responses – Every interaction you have on the web is public to some degree. I’m not sure why people don’t understand this. I belong to a few online networking groups where I continually see people ask and answer questions as though they were at a Friday night gripe session with their buddies. Many of these people are actively looking for new opportunities. Others dash off responses to questions or on blog posts that are not well organized, poorly worded or riddled with typos. Now, why would I want to contact these people about a potential opportunity?

Stupid questions – OK, I know, there are no “stupid questions.” But you have to admit that some come close. For example, someone on LinkedIn recently asked why only marginal looking people post their photos. She wondered if the good looking people were afraid that posting their photo would cause them to get too many people wanting to date them.

Quick note to this individual. Assuming you aren’t one of the “marginals” like the rest of us, you only get 10 or 15 good years at best. Better start working on that personality now.

Blanket statements, especially political – I believe in civil political discourse. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to exist on the web, especially in an election year. I am keeping an eye on another one of my long time contacts who has been making strange political statements in his LinkedIn “what are you working on now” field.

I don’t care what political leaning you are, unless you are a political blogger, I would recommend saving political ideas for offline conversations where a real conversation can take place. This is especially true if you are looking for new opportunities. No sense in alienating half of your audience with a strongly worded statement about a particular candidate or elected official.

Weird hobbies – It’s great to enjoy things other than work. You may or may not want to comment about these things on the web though. One Facebook listing I saw had a hobby listed as “occasionally drinking too much.” I suspect the person was trying to be cute, but why would you say this? As a potential employer it’s a yellow flag at the very least.

The web is a great way to establish a reputation whether you are looking for new business or a new job. Keep your online reputation spotless by imaging that everything you write will wind up in the hands of someone you want to do business with or for. If it diminishes your image or could be misunderstood in any way, don’t post it.
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When Opportunity Knocks Will You Be There?

I get a lot of calls from recruiters. That’s a good thing. I never need to feel “trapped” in any company or role. Plus I get to find out about new opportunities long before they are generally available. You never know when the right opportunity will knock.

Most of the calls from my recruiter friends are for roles that are not right for me, but they know that I am happy to give them names of people I think might be interested.

Yesterday, I got a call from a recruiter about a position for an experienced marketer. He was looking for a candidate that is ready to break out from working under someone to being in charge of marketing at a small software company. That’s a dream for every ambitious young marketer, and these roles don’t come along every day.

I did a little thinking through the people I have worked with in the past that I think might be ready for this. I easily came up with a list of ten people. I quickly logged into LinkedIn expecting to be able to send the recruiter a link to their public profiles.

I was only able to send the recruiter profiles for four out of the ten!

There’s a lot of talk in marketing circles about being digitally relevant. Everyone is thinking about starting a blog or dabbling in Twitter. It can be daunting so many are not sure where to start.

I say forget being digitally relevant and just be available. If you do nothing else, get your profile set up on LinkedIn so people can get in touch with you about potential opportunities.

I suppose you could argue that there are other networks out there. That’s true. However, LinkedIn has the advantage of being widely used among businesspeople. Maybe the most widely used?

It also has the advantage over social networks like Facebook in that you can use it as an online resume without being obvious about it. When in your already in a good position, you want to be looking, but the best opportunities come when you don't look like you are looking.

There are also those of you who may be thinking, “I’m happy where I’m at. Why do I need to be available?”

I’m happy for you. Just remember, you don’t have to be interested in any opportunities that come your way. Use it as an opportunity to make a positive connection with someone who might be useful to your career in the future. Find out what they are looking for and if you are not interested, maybe there’s someone else that you can refer them to. It is a great opportunity to do someone else a favor.

Finally, you never know when you’ll be interested. Job boards are littered with marketing professionals whose careers are not living up to their expectations. And, worse yet, there are many who thought they were secure in their roles, but find themselves looking as companies scale back their marketing.
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Management Lessons From The Dairy Farmers

I was talking with my husband the other night about people management and he made the observation that it was a lot like dairy farming. He’s a scientist, not a dairy farmer, but apparently he has some insight.

To get dairy cows to produce you have to treat them right. You feed them well. You make sure their barn is clean. I’ve heard some even play them soothing music to make sure they are relaxed.

The same goes for your employees. I think most people do their best work in a relaxed environment where their basic needs have been met. Maybe it doesn’t apply to all roles, but it certainly applies to creative roles like marketing (and scientists).

And, what do you do if they still don’t produce? You turn them into hamburger. I mean the cows, of course. Still a similar, but more humane, approach applies to people too.

There’s no sense in keeping employees around who still can’t do the job even in the best environment. Either find a role within the organization they can succeed in, or cut them loose so they can find a fulfilling job that they are good at.
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Developing Emotional Intelligence

I think emotional intelligence is one of the greatest assets anyone can have. It’s not that people with the highest degree of emotional intelligence are the ones that reach the greatest heights. I’m sure you can think of a bonified jerk or two in a position of power. However, I think that those with high EQ (vs IQ) are happier and more effective at their jobs. And, the jerks aside, they often achieve more than their equally talented but less mature colleagues.

A high EQ is especially important for marketers. When sales are down, sales says that “marketing didn’t give us enough leads” or “we don’t have the right messages” or some other criticism that deflects the blame off them and squarely on to marketing. (Marketers, don’t get smug, there’s often lots of blame to go around.)

And, some days it seems that everyone thinks they are a natural born marketer. Just try naming a product or creating a new logo and you’ll see what I mean. Everyone from the CEO to the front desk receptionist is likely to have an opinion.

A high EQ will get you through these times without creating additional conflict. And, working with emotional intelligence can help you make the right decision about the product name, the new logo and all the other decisions that marketing has to make.

A fellow marketer recently asked me what books on emotional intelligence I would recommend. Hint: as an expressive, passionate, type A personality I have spent my career working on my own EQ. Here’s a list of some of the resources that might be helpful.

Working with Emotional IntelligenceDaniel Goleman has a series of books about emotional intelligence. I read Working with Emotional Intelligence several years ago and enjoyed it immensely. The book is a bit analytical, but if you like to dig into a subject from a more scientific perspective, I think you will enjoy it.

No Workplace Bullies – I just ran across Catherine Mattice’s blog a few days ago. She’s a good writer and her advice seems sound. I'm looking forward to participating in the conversations on her blog.

Dinosaur Brains – A fun and quick read by Albert Bernstein that is full of tips on dealing with difficult people at work. Sometimes you just need to smile and putting all those annoying traits in lizard terms can help.

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. This book by Robert I Sutton is on my “must read” list, but I haven’t gotten to it just yet. The title alone was enough to hook me but it’s also highly rated on Amazon.

News Flash – Given that I have this book on my “must read” list I thought I’d check to see if the author has a blog. What author doesn’t? You can read Bob Sutton’s blog at Work Matters and find enough books in his Good Books list on the left hand side to keep you reading for a long, long time.

If you have books on emotional intelligence that you found helpful, let me know!
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Working Through the Conflicts Between Sales and Marketing

In Monday's post, Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing – Overcoming Sales Resistance, I said that you just have to be strong and work through conflicts with sales. You need to do this is a way that is emotionally mature and doesn't make sales feel like you are pointing fingers or the process breaks down quickly.

This is easier said than done.

I ran across a great suggestion from Catherine Mattice, the author of the blog, No Workplace Bullies. She recommends the simple approach of parroting or repeating the criticism. No Workplace Bullies: Polly Want a Cracker?

For example, let's say you are working through the reasons sales goals were not achieved for the quarter. You have shown that the marketing team produced the agreed on number of opportunities.

In response, sales says, "But, they weren't qualified."

Instead of saying, "Oh yes they were..." which immediately invites confrontation, you simply parrot back what sales just said in the form of a question. No smirks or anything that will make the question sound accusatory. It has to be done in as emotionless a manner as possible.

"They weren't qualified?"

This almost compels the salesperson to expand on what they just said. Sometimes it will uncover a problem with the qualification process. And, sometimes, it will show that the salesperson does not have anything with which to back up their statement. This is usually a sign that they let some of the qualified opportunities slip through the cracks.

On a related note, if they don't have anything to back the statement up with, this is not the time to call it out. You don't want to back your sales team into a corner so they end up fighting like a wounded animal.

I always find that it works better if you make a note of it and then work behind closed doors with sales management to work through the issues. If sales management was in the room, as they should be, when the statements were made, you can be almost 100% certain the comments were noted. Any sales manager worth their salt will have already made a note to follow up with the sales team to make sure they are following up on ALL the qualified opportunities that come their way.

Of course, parroting can’t be the only tool you have to get sales to be more specific while they are pointing the finger of blame at marketing. However, it is a good one to add to the toolbox, if you are not using it already. It’s simple, non-confrontational, and has the added benefit of giving you something to say when nothing else comes to mind.

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Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing - Overcoming Sales Resistance

I’ve written here, here and here about bridging the gap between sales and marketing. I believe the most important thing marketing can do is to tie its goals to the sales goals.

This shows the sales team that marketing is part of the same team. It shows that marketing is serious about its own accountability. And, it improves the sales team’s chances of success. If you are a salesperson, what’s not to like about marketing assuming this goal oriented approach?

However, don’t be surprised if you get resistance from sales as you first work with them to define “qualified opportunity” and to set your goals for the number of opportunities that marketing needs to produce. I think there are two main reasons for resistance from the sales team.

The first is marketing’s history. If your marketing team has a long history of less-than-meaningful goals such as “creating X number of press releases” the resistance from sales is natural. They’ve heard it all before.

Marketing gets excited about their latest project. They do what marketing does best – tell everyone about it in glowing terms. They make the initiative sound like it will save the company, but sales doesn’t see any difference in the number of opportunities they have to work on. Worse, if the latest project takes marketing’s eye off the ball, opportunities may go down.

I don’t blame them for being skeptical. The only thing you can do is to make sure you do what you say you are going to do. If, at the end of the quarter, you didn’t reach the opportunity goals, don’t spin it. Take accountability and figure out how you are going to reach the goals next quarter. Then do it.

The second reason is less legitimate. If marketing takes ownership of the opportunity generation goals, and then meets its goals, sales becomes solely accountable for the sales goal. At the end of the quarter they can no longer say, “I didn’t get enough leads,” and point to marketing as a way of taking pressure off themselves.

They may still try to say this, but that’s where a good lead management process comes in. You need to have documentation showing the details of the agreement between marketing and sales about the number of opportunities that needed to be produced. You need to be able to show that you produced these leads and that they were qualified. You need to show that they reached the hands of your sales team through whatever means you agreed was mutually acceptable.

They may come back with, “Well, they weren’t as well qualified as you initially said they were.” You just need to work through this, by asking questions.

Go through the leads that “weren’t as qualified.” What were they missing? Is telesales asking the wrong qualification questions? Does the criteria for qualification need to be changed?

This is the most painful part of the process. Sales would rather be selling than working through these details. Sometimes, the only conclusion you will come to is that they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. In other cases, you will agree that changes need to be made to the goals, the qualification criteria, or the process.

If you find that marketing padded the numbers to make the team (or the individual) look good, you need to call them on that. If these individuals cannot change, weed them out as quickly as possible. There is no place in a professional marketing organization for this game playing.

As for the rest of this painful process, you need to be strong. Sales may push back, but the organization can’t fix what’s wrong if the sales and marketing teams don’t take the time to work through it.

Try not to sound as if you are laying blame. You are simply trying to diagnose what part of the process needs to be changed.

Most importantly, never lose your cool. As one of my friends and former colleagues once said, “Someone has to be the adult.”
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Words - When Less Is More

I am a big believer in simple writing. If your prospect or customer has to spend more than a few seconds processing what you are saying, you are wasting your time and theirs.

Geoffrey James wrote a series of posts on BNet, How To Rewrite an Elevator Pitch, that clearly show the difference between an elevator pitch that uses 25 cent words compared with one that uses 5 cent words.

I often find young marketers making this mistake. It is understandable. In school, showing their command of the English language probably earned them better grades. On the job, they are eager to prove their ability to contribute. Being somewhat unsure of themselves, they write in a way that they think shows their intelligence.

Of course, it is not always the young marketers that make this mistake.

Over the years, I’ve been in many debates with nonmarketers who want to edit my copy because their favored wording “sounds better.” One VP of Sales insisted that we use words that came directly out of the copy of one of his customer’s internal documents that explained the use of our software applications.

This internal document was not intended to be prospect-ready copy. Judging from the 50 cent words used, the authors were trying to show their intelligence and justify their choice of software solutions. To put it plainly, using their words as our words in our copy was the height of idiocy.

Always edit your copy with simplicity in mind. If you have a 5th grader handy, have him or her read it. How much do they understand?

You should also invest in a program like Stylewriter. There are different versions depending on whether you are using Australian, UK or American English.

You can also use a free program like Bullfighter to uncover the hidden simplicity in your own writing. I use at least one of these tools on everything I write. I don’t always take their recommendations, but I like how it makes me choose my words deliberately and with my reader in mind.

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Finding Marketing Candidates

“I need to hire someone to run marketing, but I don’t know much about marketing. How can I find a good candidate and what should I look for?”

This question, and others like it are common on the forums. To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about going beyond the traditional routes to find candidates for open marketing positions.

When I needed to fill a position I’d ask my network if they knew of anyone who was looking. If my budget could handle it and the position was important enough, I’d hire a recruiter. I might use a job board. Of course, I’d put it on my website. Then, I’d sit back and wait and wonder why I wasn’t too excited about any of the candidates that came through.

The truth is, most of the people I would want to hire were employed and probably too busy doing their job to have an updated resume. Of course, I’m sure there were also many great people “in the market” who lost their job through no fault of their own, but they weren’t beating down my door either.

If the role needed to be filled, I’d find myself in the uncomfortable position of trying to decide who was “good enough.” Who wants to hire someone who just meets the requirements? It is hardly an auspicious beginning to a working relationship.

Then, someone on LinkedIn asked this question,

“When recruiting, would you use social media platforms to recruit potential candidates?”

The lightbulb went off. Of course, I would!

For those of you who have marketing positions to fill, here are some ideas on how to use social network to identify the candidates with real potential who may not actively be looking.

1. Use LinkedIn’s job board. And, here’s an off-the-wall idea to go with this. Why not say that you welcome submissions from candidates without resumes who have completed LinkedIn profiles.

2. Let your LinkedIn network know that you have a position to fill and would appreciate any referrals. Tell them that you welcome discussions with any genuinely interested and qualified individuals even if they are not actively looking.

3. Do an advanced people search on LinkedIn. Use “marketing” as a key word and narrow the search to your industry. If you want to find local candidates you can also narrow the search to a specific geography.

Browse through the search results looking for people with positive references. Click their Q&A tab if they’ve asked or answered any questions and see what you thought about the quality of their responses.

Scroll down to the bottom of their profile as see if they’ve listed “job opportunities” as one of the things they are interested in. If so, contact them and let them know you have an open position. If they are not interested, ask them for recommendations.

4. Toss a question or two out into the LinkedIn forums and see what answers you get. for example “What do you think the biggest mistake high tech marketers make?” “What one risk have you taken that made the biggest difference in your career?” “If you had to slash your current marketing budget in half, what would you cut?”

Be creative and don’t worry if you are not a marketing expert. It isn’t so much about what the answer is as much as it is how they approach the question.

For those who answer your question well, start an off-line conversation through email. Ask to connect if they seem open. And, when the time is right, let them know you have a position to fill and ask them if they know of anyone who might be right for the role.

Even if the people who you connect to initially are not interested, good marketers know other good marketers.

4. Finally, use other forums such as MarketingProfs. When you see a good response click on the profile to see if you can get their name. Those who might be interested in new opportunities will have it listed. You can also see what questions they’ve asked and answered and which of their answers have been accepted. Browse through and see what else this person has to say. Then hop over to LinkedIn to see if you can find out more about them.
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Marketing Is Not a Function of Sales

I write a lot about tying marketing goals to sales goals. For more on this, read Tuesday's post on Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing.

I used a variation of this response when I answered a question from a fellow marketer who was asking what one thing he could do to improve his marketing. His response was that he “agreed that marketing was a function of sales…”

Hold on a moment! I never said marketing was a function of sales. I am saying that marketing and sales need to have an equal partnership. Each are accountable for fulfilling their part of the arrangement.

Marketing is accountable to sales for supplying opportunities that will allow them to reach the goals. Marketing is also accountable for making sure they have the materials they need to get the sales – e.g. case studies, presentation materials, white papers, and other collateral.

On the other hand, sales is also accountable to marketing. They need to agree on the definition of an “opportunity.” By agreeing to that definition the sales team is committing to 100% follow up on the opportunities that marketing supplies.

In addition, sales needs to commit to making the sale. They need to agree on a reasonable percentage of opportunities that they can close based on industry norms and market conditions. If they are not reaching those goals, they need to look inward and improve their own abilities.

Does this mean that sales is a function of marketing? Of course not, they partners in driving the business forward.
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