Esther Dyson is editor at large of CNET Networks and editor of its monthly IT-industry newsletter, Release 1.0. She recently sold her business, EDventure Holdings (including Release 1.0 and the annual PC Forum), to CNET. She is also an active investor in communications/IT start-ups in the US and Europe, including not just CNET Networks but also Dotomi, Meetup.com, Midentity and WPP Group. She sits on the boards of Meetup and WPP, among others. She is also active in policy discussions in the US and elsewhere on topics ranging from intellectual property, freedom of speech and privacy to economic development, and was founding chairman of ICANN, the domain-name governance body. Known for her industry insight, she is also author of Release 2.0: A Design For Living In The Digital Age, published by Broadway Books in 1998.She will be speaking at the May iMedia Summit.
iMediaConnection: First question is about the state of the union: how are brand marketers and agencies doing in using the Internet?
Dyson: Basically, not that great. And I also think there’s a lot to do on the Internet other than brand marketing -- there’s a lot of ways to deliver on the promise of a brand online.
iMediaConnection: Can you give us an example?
Dyson: Suppose you’re a drug company. You can SMS people reminders every Friday night when they have to take their once-a-week drug, or they have to change their patch or what have you. You can provide better online tech support for a product or for a car. You can create a community around some kind of product. You can deliver upgrades if it’s software. You can put different people in touch around going on vacation or something if you’re a travel site. There’s all kinds of different things you can do.
iMediaConnection: So it sounds like you’re saying that there’s a missed opportunity for relationship marketing?
Dyson: Yes. I mean, it’s not just relationship marketing, it’s basically having a relationship and then you can market into it.
iMediaConnection: What about users? What do you think they’re doing right with the Internet and what frustrates you?
Dyson: Users are both really careless with their personal information and excessively paranoid about it. But the point is, if you’re a marketer, you can’t recreate the user, you can only recreate your own offering… you have to respect them and sort of make it easy for them, not because they’re stupid, but because they’re busy.
iMediaConnection: What do you think the Internet's next big inevitability is?
Dyson: One that I think is really interesting is the importance of local and physical. Google just announced real upgrades to their local services, as did Yahoo!. People used to search for virtual things online -- they’d search for information, and then they’d start searching for online marketers. But now they’re searching for local marketers. They’d like to know when the dry cleaner around the corner opens, or which store in my neighborhood has a size 8 Calvin Klein’s in stock. It's not quite there yet but it’s going to be, and so suddenly it becomes a much more powerful tool for combining the virtual and the physical.
The other one is … well, there’s a whole bunch. In general, everything’s going to be knowable, and so the challenge is going to be filtering out what you don’t want to know, whom you don’t want to hear from. Instead of finding, the challenge is filtering.
iMediaConnection: What do you think is the next big shift for the Internet business model?
Dyson: I don’t think there’s one Internet business model. There’s a multiplicity of them. One of them is advertising, another is paid content, another is services, another is connections between people that you cannot make. You need an intermediary because I don’t know this person and I want to be introduced, and they have to agree so there’s this double blind thing you have in social networking. Those kinds of things.
iMediaConnection: Talk to us about the value of community as it is now, and what it’s going to become for marketers.
Dyson: Community is a word that’s bandied about and sometimes overused. The value of community is really determined by the people in it. They decide how valuable it is. If you can foster the creation of a valid community as a marketer, obviously you’re doing well. But users are very good at detecting fake. Sometimes they don’t mind -- there’s a whole lot of stuff that’s fake on Friendster -- and so the fakeness of it is real in a sense. People are pretty cynical and they really like their friends. But it’s hard to get right as a marketer because you can make magic or you can make an awful fax paus.
iMediaConnection: What is the most positive societal thing that the Internet is doing right now?
Dyson: It’s doing lots of things for lots of individual people. It’s connecting parents and kids. It’s doing all these amazing things. It’s like electricity. Do you know what great things is electricity doing? Well, it’s lighting villages and lighting schools, it's connecting people over telephones. It does so many different things it’s hard to focus on just one. But fundamentally, what it does is connect people -- and that’s all the different, good ways that people can be connected.
iMediaConnection: What do you think the Internet is going to be in five years? Or will it have melded into a lot of other things at that point?
Dyson: Yeah. It will be much less visible. People won’t talk about it the way they don’t really talk about the telephones. When’s the last time someone interviewed you about the impact of the telephone? People will expect to be connected just the way they sort of expect to be. As I said, everything will be visible, so you need to figure out, "Well, what is it that I really want to see? When do I want to avert my gaze?"
iMediaConnection: It's an indispensable tool now where it used to be just pretty darned amusing. Nobody surfs any more.
Dyson: They actually do, but they don’t call it surfing because they’re doing something in particular. It’s sort of like the guy who used to come back and say, “Well, I did email all day” -- and the modern guys says “Well, you know, I worked with my subsidiaries and then I handled some customer crises and then I…” They look at “Well, what task did I accomplish?” And the fact that they used the Internet to do it? They don’t even think about that.
iMediaConnection: What’s the one prediction that you keep hearing or reading about the Internet that you think is way off base?
Dyson: The notion that using the Internet is really going to be able to solve political problems. If people want to communicate, it’s certainly going to help. But just linking different cultures with the Internet -- you know, it’s not going to create a global village, unfortunately.
iMediaConnection: Marshall McCluhan would be so disappointed. Tell us something we don’t know yet but we’ll find out in the next year.
Dyson: The thing I’m writing my next issue about is kind of interesting. Two or three years ago, there was this wonderful Wall Street Journal article about the secret phenomenon of small women buying their clothes in the kids' department. And there’s another secret phenomenon going on right now -- it’s small businesses buying their software and their services in the consumer department. And that the really big business places right now, I think, are Yahoo! and Google and eBay.
They’re the providers to small businesses. Yahoo! is something like 10 percent of the small business Web hosting market. They’re the largest player. eBay is 430,000 small businesses -- which is again about 5 percent of the total number of small businesses determined by the Small Business Administration.
Google with all its local marketing, its ad words. You know, suddenly, small businesses can get online and market, because every small business person in his or her secret life is also a consumer. And so they get marketed to online, they get email campaigns, they buy things off the Internet, they see ads -- and suddenly all these tools are accessible to them, not through some big business vendor like SAP but through all the same old things. Through Google, through Yahoo!.
iMediaConnection: That’s fascinating. So what should marketers take from that?
Dyson: You know, a good marketer takes from it something very specific to his or her own product. You can’t take generalities.
iMediaConnection: Can you give us a little preview of what you’ll be talking about at the Summit?
Dyson: I don’t have a clue. It’s a month away. I’m sure I’ll talk some about this small business thing, but it’s actually going to be more a conversation and I’ll do Q&A with the audience. I just finished a month researching this issue. It’s the only thing on my mind right now.
And this brings us to Figure #3, to increasing real estate values, skyscrapers, high rises and what have you:
Each portlet can now deliver new content and new screen elements to itself without having to communicate to any other part of the browser.
The landscape is no longer flat; it now looks like a Manhattan skyline. One portlet may be a few stories tall and another several hundred. Each time you click on a portlet you're riding an elevator to another floor, and whoever owns that portlet is going to be working real hard to keep you in their building.
The only time a new browser window needs to open up is when you request something from one portlet that won't necessarily fit into that portlet's current screen real estate.
Things are going to get interesting right there. Imagine you're viewing a portal with one portlet, getting a feed from the NYTimes with another portlet getting a feed from the Washington Post. You click on something in the Washington Post's portlet and that opens a new browser window. Essentially this creates new real estate like an ocean volcano creating a new island. But the volcano has also obliterated NYTimes' island.
Somebody won't be happy, and a whole new world of metrics is going to come out of this.
Urban planners consider geographic constraints and the price of land when designing cities. No constraints and cheap land? Build low and wide. In contrast, online geographic constraints and land prices take the form of too much information dispersed too widely, and the user doesn't have enough time to get to it all.
Thankfully, new technologies such as AJAX have helped our attention deficit selves by taking the page -- a broad landscape we could travel easily -- and turning it into several high rises each demanding our attention.
We used to drive through a large town and admire the quaint homes. Now there are billboards, neon signs and boom boxes in store windows, each demanding our attention.
The only difference is they're on what we still recognize as a web page.
What is truly sad about the increase in billboards, neon signs and boom boxes in our browsers is that web consumers will do what we as drivers are doing: tune them out. We'll get soundproof cars with tinted windows; we'll only go to places we know for a fact can provide us with what we want, and we'll only get out of the car if we know what we want can be had when we want it. Ouch!
Real size versus mental size
Humans conceive of size using several criteria, two of which always come to the surface: physical space and how much attention we give that space over time.
People are familiar with broad expanses and beautiful vistas. The sheer physical size of the view affects people. However, real size and mental size are different. Things will always loom larger mentally if the amount of time an individual spends looking at it increases. What we focus our attention on looms larger in our consciousness than what we don't focus our attention on (traumatic events, of course, are the exception to this rule).
What does all this have to do with marketing?
I've written in several places about how people scan information, where their eyes fall and so on. The key to making your portlets attract and keep visitors' attention is to first determine which screen position best gets your portlets' message across. This is going to play big in ad positioning and microsite development.
Ad positioning, obviously, deals with which screen area gets your message across best: microsites need to pay particular attention to this because, moving forward, each portlet is going to be a microsite on a company's "web page".
The key to making your content loom large in a visitor's consciousness -- especially in the new internet real estate economy -- is understanding presentation.
Ultimately, you want visitors to turn away from their browsers remembering what was in your portlet, not your neighbor's. This means knowing where to place things -- remember the old realtor's mantra, "Location! Location! Location!" -- for maximum exposure and which messaging methodology -- billboard, neon sign or boom box -- to use to lock that presentation into the visitor's memory.
Joseph Carrabis is CRO and founder of NextStage Evolution and NextStage Global, and founder of KnowledgeNH and NH Business Development Network. He is also author of the Biz Media Science blog. Read full bio.
Do: Ask about dayparting
Not all budgets are created equally, but a smaller budget doesn't mean that a homepage takeover has to be out of the question. According to Kyle Johnson, product manager at Compete, advertisers should talk to publishers about running takeovers for twelve or six hours, rather than the whole day.
While dayparting will lower the total reach on a given site, it's likely that a publisher that has strong data on when the most engaged users typically visit the site will be able to steer the advertiser to its premium audience at the right time. Yes, the results may not be as spectacular, but according to Johnson, time-constrained takeovers are a good way for smaller advertisers to play in a bigger pond.
Don't: Assume that everything will happen as planned
A takeover isn't a simple endeavor. You can't just sign the contract and fire off the creative at the end of the day and expect perfection. And even when you work around the clock, you should expect some obstacles, says Lance Leasure, managing director for Catalysis.
"You may have a well seasoned crack team on your end, but often you're dealing with a disgruntled team on the other end who isn't necessarily eager to help make you look good," Leasure explains.
The solution, according to Leasure, is to remember that all parties involved need a good product at the end of the day. And that means the agency should always try to play nice with the publisher (and vice versa). But it also means that the agency -- when necessary -- might have to step in to help on all levels when obstacles present themselves, rather than stopping at the water's edge of its deliverables.
Don't: Let homepage takeovers fly solo
You get a lot of bang for your buck with a homepage takeover, but the tactic should never be used in isolation, according to Eyeblaster's Ross McNab.
Like any tactic, a homepage takeover needs to be part of a larger media strategy if it's going to succeed. Consider this example for the release of the "Tomb Raider Underworld" video game.
While it's easy to focus on the page, the effectiveness of the takeover owes a lot to timing (the takeover launched close to the game's release date) and a multiplatform media campaign that primed the audience to expect a full-throttle message by heightening the anticipation associated with the game's debut.
Don't: Shout without permission
If you've ever loaded a web page and then instantly scrambled to adjust your volume, you know that audio ads can be the bane of a user's existence -- if they launch without a trigger.
"Many people use their PCs at work and can be surprised by unexpected sound when landing on a site's homepage,” says Sheila Buckley of Weather Channel Interactive. "Users can have a negative reaction to an advertisement if it creates a jarring experience or something the consumer is not used to."
That's not to say that audio is out altogether. On the contrary, audio-enabled ads can be quite effective. But advertisers who use audio are most likely to succeed when they ask the user for permission to make noise.
Don't: Work with auto-refresh pages
A lot of publishers set their homepage to auto-refresh every few minutes. While that's a perfectly valid tactic for a publisher, it can be a thorn in the side of a homepage takeover, says Jed Breger of Beeby Clark + Meyler.
According to Breger, auto-refresh pages will likely result in inflated impressions, meaning that advertisers will end up paying more for their campaign. And to make matter's worse, auto-refresh can also wreak havoc on the takeover's creative, which means that your ad may fail to load properly.
The best advice, says Breger, is to work with the publisher and make sure that the site's homepage isn't set to auto-refresh when your campaign is running.
Don't: Assume uniform specs
Recently, The Online Publisher's Association launched an initiative to help standardize so-called "super-sized" ad units. While that undertaking will do a lot to help advertisers and publishers get on the same page, it is only just rolling out this summer, and even then, advertisers should expect all publishers to have the same specs.
Simply put, there is nothing standard about a homepage takeover right now, says Dimitry Ioffe, CEO of The Visionaire Group.
"Big homepage takeovers are always changing from the publisher side, so make sure you're always asking and starting with the correct specs," Ioffe explains. "Always request the latest publisher demos of the custom unit, too, to see how others have treated the space."
Here are two examples illustrating Ioffe's point. Click here for a takeover on IGN promoting "X-Men Origins Wolverine." The campaign is no longer live, but the users who clicked the "view trailer" button were redirected to the movie's website to watch clips. By contrast, the same publisher made an entirely different spec available for "My Bloody Valentine (click here). In the second example, the publisher's changed specifications allowed users to actually view the trailer on the IGN page.
According to Ioffe, advertisers will save time, money, and headaches if they remember that today's specs might not be around tomorrow given the speed with which publishers adjust their websites.
Michael Estrin is a freelance writer.
Mistake 1: Getting the blogger's name wrong
As a marketer working on blogger outreach, your primary job is to create a relationship with the blogger, even if it's for just a single email exchange. Just like a cover letter for a resume, the fastest way for your email to find its way to the trash is by flubbing your recipient's name. Another tip: Do your damndest to figure out whether an androgynous name belongs to a male or female person. If you can't, use non-specific pronouns.
There are essentially two methods for blogger outreach:
1. Scattershot: Email as many bloggers as you can and hope that some of them agree to publish your story.
2. Focused: Pick a smaller group of bloggers for whom your story is relevant.
"Focused" works better in most scenarios, but the "scattershot" method is more common. As a result, the emails that are sent to bloggers are often loosely customized templates. So the name and any other language that personalizes the template are usually filled in right before hitting "send." These emails often read choppy and sloppy.
Extra embarrassing: Getting the name of the blog wrong. It happens all the time.
Mistake 2: Reaching out without understanding the industry niche
If you don't know what you're talking about, the blogger is going to notice. You don't need to know the innermost secrets of the industry that you are marketing, but you should at least understand:
For example, if you are responsible for the blogger outreach effort for a new bakery ("Bobby's on Main!"), you might approach a baking blog like JoyTheBaker.com. If you say something bone-headed like "I love the smell of muffins broiling in the stove," Joy is probably going to ignore your email. (Actually -- that one would probably be a keeper.) But shooting the moon is a tough sport to play in blogger outreach. So play it safe and only talk about what you know. If you're about to start a new full-time job, at least read the Wikipedia page about your industry before your first day. And do your best to stay current.
Extra embarrassing: Misunderstanding the point of the whole blog. Don't email a vegan blog with coupons for discount chicken.
Mistake 3: Not respecting their need to review products honestly
Since 2009, the FTC has mandated that bloggers who receive compensation for their opinions must disclose that financial relationship. In other words, if a blog post is sponsored, you have to say so. Nowadays, enforcement of this regulation isn't really necessary. The blogging community self regulates. Readers expect honest, expert opinions. Bloggers walk a fine line between effectively monetizing their content with advertising while being careful not to betray their core messages.
All of this just means that bloggers are going to give you their honest opinions. They really have no other choice. So don't ask them to lie. It's rude. Plus, you approached them in the first place because of the credibility that they have built with their audiences. It's important that they maintain this credibility.
Extra embarrassing: Following up with a blogger to tell him how much you disliked the review -- because your complaint is probably going to end up on the blog.
Mistake 4: Disrespecting their time
Unnecessary meetings, tight turnarounds, and multiple revisions are all on the "not cool" list of things to request of bloggers. Most bloggers don't make a living blogging -- only the very talented and lucky ones do. Since blogs are usually passion (aka, "side") projects, and you are probably not paying them, cut 'em some slack.
For all you know, the genius behind Dwayne Johnson Central has to pick up his kids from Taekwondo practice before he can post your exclusive behind-the-scenes pics from Dwayne's latest project, "Drivin' & Cryin' 2: Wheels Unleashed."
Above all, just remember that the blogger, ultimately, is offering you access to his audience. An audience that he potentially spent thousands of hours building. If he ever seems standoffish about mentioning something that you consider important, just remember that it could be because of his intimate understanding of his audience. A poorly chosen word could have an effect that you didn't intend. So do your best to defer to the experts (the bloggers) when appropriate.
Extra embarrassing: Giving a hard deadline. It's OK to have a cutoff date. But be flexible, whenever possible.
Mistake 5: Not even considering good old-fashioned advertising
If you desperately want to get in front of a blogger's audience and that blog offers advertising or sponsorship opportunities, give serious consideration to those opportunities. And if you're working with a PR team, empower that team to suggest sponsorship and other opportunities that your brand might want to consider. Of course, not all opportunities are a fit, so if there's a reason you can't or don't want to pursue these opportunities, be honest with the blogger.
Most reputable blogs are not pay-to-play. But don't insult bloggers by telling them that their audiences aren't worth reaching with real dollars. After all, that's how these people make a living (or are trying to make a living).
Extra embarrassing: Putting a blogger in a position where he will be forced to spend his own money. If you have invited a blogger to an event and you expect there to be costs associated with the visit (parking, cover charge, drink minimums, etc.), do everything you can to pre-imburse them. At a minimum, warn them and tell them exactly what to expect. Don't forget that bloggers can have loud and powerful voices, and hell hath no fury like a pissed off blogger.
None of these examples is an excuse for any blogger to be a jerk. We're all human people, so let's act like it. Good bloggers follow the rules of polite business etiquette. And good PR and digital agencies learn to identify these professionally composed bloggers. As long as there is a mutual respect, bloggers can continue to enjoy their diluted celebrity with the help of responsible agencies.
"Furious frustrated businessman" image via Shutterstock.
Why don't they like me?
"It's a numbers game," you tell yourself, so you find every possible job that could potentially be a fit, and you apply. You barely fill out anything in the cover letter of the application, and you do not modify your resume at all. You just apply. And strangely, miraculously, nothing happens.
If I was "hungry" [a company] and I kept asking for a "hamburger" [the new hire] and I kept getting offers for "sushi" [your application], would it be surprising if I ignored those offers? Of course not. I know, you want to "feel productive" and you cannot possibly craft your resume for every job application. And that right there, in that last sentence, is where you fail. For that belief is a fallacy. It takes very little effort, if you have it set up right, to quickly customize your resume and cover letter.
What you do instead is submit a ton of generic resumes, hear nothing, and slowly spiral down into the oblivion of "nobody wants me." It slowly chips away at your confidence and self-esteem, and you become a shell of your former self. So much so that when someone finally does call for an interview, like being desperate on a date, you implode spectacularly.
What you are experiencing is the illusion of feeling productive, and you have to get off that toxic ride. It is not healthy for you, nor is it going to give you the sweet satisfaction of a job.
Customizing is simple
So what, my digital job-hunting friends, should you do? I know it is a really hard idea to get away from, but stop applying to so many jobs. It's counterproductive because you are wasting time. You have to customize your resume for every job you apply to, and you have to craft a cover letter in that application that will get people to pay attention. You cannot lie or misrepresent yourself in any way, but you should highlight certain components of your resume depending on the role requirement and your actual experience.
Customizing your resume and cover letter is simple and takes less than five minutes. Don't even bother applying to a job without doing it. Here is the simple three-step process.
Read the job specifications and pull two or three interesting points from it that you have experience in; then highlight your experience in those areas simply, succinctly, and without droning on about them like I am doing in this sentence trying to explain it to you. I know you might want to highlight other areas, but for now, avoid that. They are looking to fill a round hole, so don't be a square peg.
Change the top-line sentence/headline about yourself to approximately match what they are looking for, and have your summary at the top of your resume reiterate the two or three points in your cover letter, interspersed with one or two others, and voila.
Repeat this process with every application, and keep all of those responses as little bits of text you can cut and paste from a single email or Word document. After you have applied to 40 or 50 jobs, you will have a treasure trove of responses you can just cut and paste.
You have to grab their attention
Before potential employers ever get to your resume, you first have to stun them in the cover letter. Get them to pay attention to you.
Sean X First Law of Job Applications: The only purpose of the cover letter is to have them stop and read your resume.
The reality is that the vast majority of job applications never get acknowledged. Often no one ever reads your resume, and they barely glance at your cover letter. Your application disappears into the black hole of digital oblivion. It is not that recruiters are purposefully doing this, but they are drowning in candidates for roles, and the time afforded them does not allow them to give every single resume the look it deserves. I know this might seem unfair, but I have spoken with many recruiters, and you would be shocked at the number of resumes that get submitted for each job. I conducted an informal study of seven recruiters I know who are recruiting in the Bay Area. Here are the average numbers of online applicants to each job position:
- Marketing manager: 238
- Director of marketing: 214
- VP of marketing: 127
- SVP of marketing: 186
- Digital strategist: 115
- Social media (anything): 191
Yes, if you see a job for director of digital marketing there are, on average, 214 applications for that job. So now do you get why you have to stun them? My friend Julie Roehm wrote recently in her article on "Stupid (but common) resume mistakes" that one of the best opening lines a recruiter she knew ever saw was "I'm 10 feet tall and bulletproof." Anyone would have a hard time glancing over that application and putting it in the oblivion pile. And that is your first lesson. No one will know if you are the perfect candidate for the role if they do not stop to take a look at your application.
"I am a Digital Unicorn, and my middle name is X"
For this article, I applied to a total of 80 marketing jobs, from manager level to SVP level, in the course of one month on LinkedIn. For 20 of them I came up with my own "10 feet tall and bulletproof" line: "I am a Digital Unicorn, and my middle name is X." Here's what I did for the 80 job applications:
- For 20, I used no cover letter and just submitted my application.
- For 20, I used a standard cover letter stating why I was a great candidate for the role.
- For 20, I customized the cover letter.
- For 20, I used the customized cover letter, but started off with "I am a Digital Unicorn, and my middle name is X."
Let's face it: Unless you slather yourself up with honey and streak through the city naked while being chased by a bear, you are unlikely to garner attention when applying for a job. You need to stand out, and a great opener will greatly increase your chances of being looked at.
I used LinkedIn because on LinkedIn you can actually check whether the recruiter took a look at your application. The results were quite extraordinary:
- No cover letter: 0
- Standard cover letter: 3
- Customized cover letter: 1
- Customized "unicorn" cover letter: 7
Those were just the numbers of employers who examined my resume. Of those, I had four companies schedule a phone interview. One was from the standard cover letter, one was from the customized cover letter, and two were from the "unicorn" cover letter.
This is by no means a scientific study; however, I was very surprised by the results. I had always been more conservative when applying for jobs in the past -- in a way, shielding people from the fact that I am a bit on the lunatic fringe of marketing and advertising. But it's because of my individuality that I'm able to write about marketing for iMedia Connection and The Huffington Post. So why would I want to shield companies from that? One word: fear.
Think of how big you could be if you asked the questions, "What if I really, truly did not care if I thought everyone was laughing at me? What if I could laugh at myself? What would I do then? How big could I become?"
So come up with your own "digital unicorn" or "10 feet tall and bulletproof" line. Try to evoke feelings with that line that you want people to associate with you. For me, being associated with a unicorn and X suit me. They make me laugh, and hopefully will make someone else chuckle enough to take a look at me as a candidate. Being 10 feet tall and bulletproof is a great way to evoke a kind of superhero persona. Let the line represent you, but also don't let the line distract from your application. The goal is for them to take the next step and look at your resume, not dismiss you. My key measurement for the line is whether someone smiles or cringes. So test it out, and see what happens.
You are not a ninja
A piece of advice, however -- you are not a ninja, wizard, rock star, evangelist, or guru of anything (unless you are a serial killer, in a band, leading a cult, a Tibetan monk, or have dice with more than six sides). These terms are not only tired, but exude ego, arrogance, and hubris. They are terms that others can call you, but unfortunately you cannot call yourself. If Guy Kawasaki doesn't call himself an evangelist, then you shouldn't.
Resume advice for every digital marketer
Your resume says a lot about you. However, asking your friends to take a look at your resume to see if it is good is like asking Khloe Kardashian to comment on the Higgs boson and expecting anything remotely intelligent to exit her mouth. Your friends are the worst people you know to analyze your resume, as they already have an idea of who you are and can fill in the blanks. You want your resume to sing to a complete stranger. You want employers to say, "Wow."
Sean X Second Law of Job Applications: The only purpose of the resume is to have them schedule a phone interview to see if you are a good fit.
Your resume is supposed to accomplish one thing: getting you a phone interview. After that, it is a useless piece of paper. But in order to do that, it is best if you have one main resume as your template, and one document that contains all those bits and pieces that you can easily customize. When you encounter a job that requires that specific line you wrote, you just insert it into your resume in a prominent position.
In addition, there is one thing I think every digital marketer should have: the "social ribbon," as I call it. I could not find a resume template that really highlighted the way that digital marketers are spread across a whole corpus of social channels -- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Kred, Klout, etc. I believe the "social ribbon" is one of the things that can separate you from other candidates, and I have had a number of recruiters contact me about mine. Some said that it immediately identified me as someone who "got it" when it came to digital media, which was exactly what it was supposed to communicate.
From my "social ribbon," anyone can check out my entire social graph from Facebook to Pinterest. They can see my influence according to Klout and Kred, and my writing on iMedia Connection, The Huffington Post, and my blog. They can schedule an appointment with me or contact me via email. There are a number of other places you can find me on the internet (e.g., Foursquare, Instagram, etc.), but I had to choose which ones best represent me digitally.
It's hard out there. There are finally jobs available in the digital marketing space, but the influx of talented candidates is significant. So there you have it. The cover letter is meant to make employers stop and take a look at your resume. The resume is for getting you a phone interview to see if you are a good fit. Your online persona via your "social ribbon" is for them to check the voracity of your statements. Go be a 10-foot tall digital unicorn who is bulletproof, and get that next job interview. And once you have the interview...you are on your own.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
Strategy first, then assignments
Many brands are seeking ways to leverage multiple agencies to handle their business. We just worked on a project for a major tech company that had Traction and two other agencies partnering to execute its marketing for the year.
The client doled out assignments. In this instance, we were not the lead agency. We were tasked with the social strategy, including a Facebook application. The lead agency for the effort was tasked by the client with building an extensive campaign microsite. The problem was that because the lead agency was tasked with doing the microsite, there had to be a microsite.
But strategically, having a microsite made no sense. And it wasn't successful.
Whether you are a client trying to manage multiple agency partners or an agency trying to deliver successful work for a client in collaboration with your partners, work through your strategy first. Make sure the entire team understands it and where they fit into it.
Asking the right questions at the wrong time just might be too late.
For a decade, we've partnered with the same two media agencies over and over again. Our collaboration is seamless. They are like an extension of our team. Together, we deliver results.
The reason these partnerships work is that my people know their people. We understand their quirks -- and they know ours. We understand their strengths and weaknesses, their philosophies and styles. We even know their kids' names.
The result is that our teams work together like one team.
When teams are strangers, that workflow is hard to achieve. The weekly collaboration meeting becomes a project manager reading a status report into the phone. Partnership runs the risk of becoming a chore, not an opportunity.
That said, sometimes the need arises for a new partner. You might have to partner with someone new. But take the time to understand the culture of the group you'll be working with. As a leader of your organization, think of yourself as a matchmaker for your people. Compatibility is the precursor to a successful relationship.
At least set the table for success.
A lot of ad shops dangle digital ideas in front their clients and just figure they will outsource production if the client bites.
But those shops work with their clients in a specific way. They have contracts with their clients that are structured a certain way. At the same time, the best production shops have a very specific way of conducting their own business.
They might be agile. Lean. Waterfall. Whatever. Each of those processes has significant impact on the client's experience, billing structure, how delivery happens, and when delivery happens.
If those ways of doing business aren't in alignment, the agency in between could get screwed. It's so critical to understand exactly how your partners work and how that will affect how you work together.
If you manage your client's expectations from the outset, you look strategic. If you try to manage them after the fact, you look like a moron.
Get contracts in order -- before you win the business
This might sound like something that shouldn't be a problem. Sometimes it isn't. But sometimes it is.
About five years ago, my agency -- which solely focused on strategy and creative at the time -- brought in a media agency to pitch a multi-million-dollar account. We won.
Negotiating the client contract actually was a breeze. But we didn't take the time to iron out the details of our contract with the media agency beforehand, and unfortunately, there was an issue that the lawyers were in dispute about. It took them two weeks to figure it out.
Sure, lawyers squabble for a living. But fighting among partners is not the best way to start a client relationship. You can be sure I never made that mistake again.
Creative briefing: Follow the leader
When there are alternate agencies driving a campaign, it's often unclear where the line is in terms of brand standards, messaging, and even strategy. Which agency is in charge? What is mandatory? Does everyone understand the strategy?
A couple of years ago, we were the agency of record for a consumer electronics company that was launching a new product. We managed the brand strategy, the online work, the offline work, the social media, the website, the retail presence -- we even named the product.
Except there was one thing the client wanted to handle directly: events. Instead of having us hire an event marketing company, the client wanted to work with that company directly.
We joined the client in briefing this partner. We walked its team members through the strategy. We showed them the creative. We told them the client wanted event ideas that were integrated into all of the other efforts the brand was doing.
The event marketing company came back with three ideas -- that had nothing to do with anything we showed them. On their own, they could have been great ideas. But they weren't on their own.
The client fired the company.
"Closeup picture of businesspeople shaking hands" image via Shutterstock.