New Job: New Blog

On a podcast with the Ziglar corporation, Seth Godin mentioned that he believes everyone should blog. The purpose of a blog used to be a private journal to be read publicly; nowadays it is more of a public statement of what you stand behind publicly.

This is big: what you publish has to be what you stand for and be called to account for. 

If that thought perilizes you, then perhaps that is an excellent indication that you might not have everything figured out about a given topic. For example, many political conversations end up being a source of bickering over facts rather than actually discussing models of policy. If the “truth” is something that is important to you, then the current political milieu is a sticky mess that needs help. 

However, you may still have a number of ideas to write and contribute to the world. It’s become a bit of a trope that heating and air professionals ought to have a blog, because others trust heating and air guys who share the tricks of the trade more than those who play close to the vest. In addition, those who blog daily (if even just biweekly) will be better professionals at whatever they are working on after one year of practicing their craft. 

With that, I want to introduce my new position as a commercial property manager — meaning that I will be managing tenants and buildings for businesses, and not residences. That means the new insights I will be bringing to this blog on account of that position, perhaps I will even start a new blog based on these experiences.

Since I see myself as a marketer, I am going to focus heavily on the marketing aspects of property management. In particular, the role of this position is not simply to keep the a/c running and the pipes unclogged. Yes, it is primarily about maintaining an investment for a landlord, but the really fun part is that it is about helping small businesses become more successful. That means I get to become a local business geek, learning new and different ways of modeling and running companies to be successful based on their location and physical environment. I may not know everything about building mechanical systems, but I do know how the right systems help a tenant become more successful, comfortable, etc.

Keep your Keys from Getting Locked Out

Getting locked out is a common experience, and some of us are more likely to have this happen than others. When you get locked out of your home, usually you have a spare somewhere, in your car, under a plant, or wherever. However, your office space is usually managed by a property management company and so you call them.

For repeat offenders, often the solution is to find another tenant in the building whom you can trust and giving them a copy of your key. This usually works, especially in smaller communities. No amount of lecturing or reminding will actually help someone change their behavior.

However, one thing will help not only repeat offenders but everyone: change the design of your door locking system. Often electronic systems are prohibitively expensive, so we don’t invest in them; however when it comes time to upgrade our door knobs, we have a great, relatively simple opportunity:

Remove the lock from the turning handle, and only have dead-bolt locks.

This way you have to take your keys out of the inside door in order to lock it if you need to close up shop temporarily. In addition, the door stays unlocked, otherwise it provides a slightly ugly reminder that you haven’t fully unlocked it, on account of a dead bolt sticking out. In addition, you can still operate the door with the natural feel, because of the regular door knob, sans lock. 

Simple. And it works. 

Broken Windows for Marketers

I’m not talking about when your Microsoft software goes down, I am referring to a theory developed in the 1970’s by George Kelling and James Wilson that is somewhat controversial but can be extraordinarily powerful in identifying big time wasters and losses in reputation and money.

The theory is designed to reduce crime, bring big criminals to justice, and to improve the quality of a neighborhood by involving neighbors. It goes like this:

  1. A broken window (or graffiti, or any other blemish) is about 10 times more likely to occur on a building that already has a broken window than one that has all its windows in good order. Lesson: keep your windows in good order.
  2. Those who commit small acts of vandalism aren’t “big  time” criminals, but almost always know those criminals. Lesson: follow down troublemakers.
  3. By heavily prosecuting small crimes, you can almost always get to the bigger criminals in exchange for a clean criminal record.  Lesson: fight back.
  4. The community is essential in policing themselves, which means police need to have strong relationships with their local community in order to police effectively. Vested community members can often identify those who are committing crimes better than anyone else.Lesson: know your community.

As a marketer I take away the following lessons from this theory. First, the time we spend in keeping a good reputation is very worthwhile. 

Tips for marketers form Step 1) Keep your windows in good order

Part of this means keeping our appearance in pristine condition. A spelling error may make a big difference, and anything glaringly wrong that isn’t fixed immediately is equivalent to a big broken window. Too much work, you say? Simplify, simplify, simplify. If you can’t keep your online space immaculate, then you are trying to do too much in order to effectively market.

On a product marketing level this means keeping your physical location “on brand.” Anything that is not “on brand” is like a big broken window. Commercial cleaning products in the bathroom of an “organic only” grocery store is not on brand. Neither is having graphic novels for reading in the waiting room at a lawyer’s office (I get that there are exceptions). The bathrooms in a greasy spoon only need be acceptable, but at a posh restaurant they need to be brilliant. And if you are the super hip, heavy-rustic designed restaurant Ned Ludd in Portland, they need to look like this

Also, invest in maintenance. I guarantee if your service is clean, well maintained, and looks professional–no matter the price point–you will have more loyal, happy and repeat customers.

Tips for Step 2) Follow down troublemakers

Now, outside of our own space, we also need to do our best to clear up graffiti about us. This could mean on Yelp, Amazon, etc. we need to be very proactive about following up and challenging bad ratings. Sometimes competitors will launch a campaign against us, write false reviews or simply leaving a bogus post on some site, because they were mad that we didn’t have oranges even though we were an apple orchard.

 Now, there may be something to their anger, in which case it is best to help fix the problem. However, they may be off base. Still we can look at our messaging, and try to understand where that consumer might have become confused. Chain restaurants usually do a great job clearing up confusion through their branding, advertising, and graphic design. Others, not so much. What does “cracker barrel” sell anyway?  This emphasizes the importance of a “log line.” That’s the 1-2 sentence summary of a movie that you see. That helps cut the confusion.

Finally, these small hits are not to be taken too personally. They are more like someone dumping their trash in your yard. Unpleasant, annoying, gross, but not going to make me change what I’m doing. I will just ask them to clean it up, or I’ll have it cleaned up. And above all, no one has the right to treat you with disrespect. You don’t have the right to lash out at them, but if they are disrespecting you, they are not interested in being your customer. Diplomatically say, “we will miss you!”

However, it is absolutely VITAL that you take care of these complaints as soon as humanly possible!! Make sure you have all the alerts set up for anything less than a 4 star review on all the major websites that come to YOUR attention, or your marketing team’s attention.

Tips from Step 3) Fight back

However, if there is a systematic attack on your business by groups of people who hate you for one reason or another, then it is extremely important to prosecute them and hard. I would honestly consult a lawyer, and do whatever was necessary to find who they were and to determine if there was any link to one core person / business. Now, I’m not saying this is the case, but what if there were a local coffee shop that was targeting a local Starbucks branch and leaving nasty reviews everywhere imaginable. If I’m Starbucks, I’m taking that very seriously.

Now, if your lawyer says you have no legal basis, then I would actually treat the attacker as I would treat any bully: punch them in the face (metaphorically only! Don’t go to jail!). Do everything you legally can to publicize what they are doing, to make known that they are disingenuous and to launch a full social media war against them. So long as it’s legal and only so long as they are being a genuine bully. NB: Americans love underdogs. Always be the underdog.

Many companies respond to complaints on Twitter. Make sure you take the time to get to know your twitter followers, treat them as real human beings, and if you resolve a complaint or help them in a big way, offer an inbound way to help you, i.e. subscribe to a newsletter, get deals, review your customer service, etc. If the process is smooth (vital), then it will have a great impact.

Tips from Step 4) Use your community.

When you get to be a big company like Apple you have users magically appear who have drunk the Apple KoolAid and are ready to fight tooth and nail for the superiority of Apple products. Also, you have people in the support forums that are exceptionally willing to help report others, to help calm others down, and to help solve problems. Mystarbucksidea.com is a marketplace full of people who have a VERY particular set of ideas about what Starbucks *should* be.

Starbucks has an unwritten obligation to these active community members; they are obliged to care for them and listen to them. They are obliged to know them, to be of as much assistance as possible and treat them as (virtual) VIP’s. That’s because they are very important people to the brand. Rewarding the community around your business is hugely important, because it keeps it going and helps people feel as they they are part of something bigger, a deeper more intensely felt experience than just an average customer.

If your business doesn’t have a community, consider the ways in which it can be a good neighbor to those around it. What small acts of kindness to the employees or to the other customers can it perform. What additional beauty can it add to the area in plant life or landscaping. What acts of good will can it perform both locally and within the region. If online, what cause can you contribute to that your customers will care about?

Well, there it is, just a few ideas for how you can prevent vandalism to your business and know that it’s well worth the investment to keep sales moving and your company in tip-top shape.

The Re-integration of Social Life

I’m going to depart from marketing for just a minute.

In northwestern Indiana I have to drive everywhere. The target is too far away from the Chipotle to walk, even though you go through you go to the same turn signal to get there. Walking from one end of Meijer to the other could qualify you for a triathlon. There are no schools, churches, parks, pedestrian walkways, or restaurants in sight that you wouldn’t need to drive to, and everyone has their own individual home that they spend endless hours maintaining, without having nearly enough neighbors or family members nearby to admire it. Public transportation is non-existent because the density doesn’t warrant a direct train line to Chicago. There is very little to “do” for young people except spend money at restaurants. Ultimately, there is no real sense of “place.”

This bleak picture is what is and has occurred in America and elsewhere, and is costing us more than any amount of prosperity could otherwise buy. This design of our cities has caused us to be less integrated with our neighbors and friends. We have culturally “disintegrated.” We are now more “segregated” from one another, not based on race (though that is still there), but based on our own individual bubbles. Making this worse, the few places that still hold the possibility of sponsoring this kind of growth (usually labeled “new urbanism”) are extraordinarily expensive and unattainable for most families: precisely the people who stand to benefit most from an urban environment.

I want to develop a greater awareness of the cost of this design has on our world. It’s not “just” the car, suburbs, etc, but each of these are symptoms that make the sickness greater. Consider this: what is the difference between a house and a home? To me, a “home” is more than just fixtures and furniture, it’s how a family integrates itself with the greater society around it.

The prognosis I propose is going to depend on whether or not we place a priority on the family. This means that our decisions have to be for what is best not for individuals, but for families, making it easier to raise them up in a more effective way. Asking “what is good for the family?” provides the criteria for making good decisions, and also helps us prioritize the most important questions, not merely the questions of special interest groups.I believe it is by a preferential option for the family that we will begin to re-integrate as a society.

As far as “how” to do this, I believe the answer has to be public, private, and public/private. Public, meaning the funds we use to construct new roads has to take into consideration how to create truly livable, walkable spaces at a human scale. This includes transportation and services. Private, meaning private organizations (churches, businesses) can be invaluable business partners for developing this. And public/private, meaning that when the public cooperates well with private enterprise, both stand to benefit tremendously; however, the private ought not to benefit over and above the public.

What this might teach me as a marketer is that choosing the “family option” is not always the most popular, might not spark the most joy inside someone, and might not be the best “business” decision, but it is the right decision. People are drawn to light, and providing an image for how happy a family may become by using our product or service  is perhaps the beginning for many of our products and services. That’s what Disney does in its marketing, and it seems to be working out for them.

 

 

Organizing Your Content Marketing

Since I am in the market for a marketing certificate, I thought I would do the mental work of creating an organizational chart for how I would create various content marketing campaigns for various personas. Below you will see Names, Profiles, and fundamental fears, followed by test titles and test topics.

I organize everything in Microsoft OneNote, because I find it to be the most extensible for sharing with others and being more of a mental sketchpad for myself, without all the coffee stains and booger marks.

NB: Content marketing has the same drawbacks as any other form of advertising. It runs the risk of being passed over very, very easily. Unless it is genuinely of service to the individual and tells an effective story, it will blend into the background. Also, I keep the titles and topics separate, because often titles have little to do with the actual topic, and we are in a race have the highest click-through rates.

Alright, here goes.

Molly Marketer

Took one “digital marketing” course as part of her Business Administration: Marketing (BA), loves it and wants to complete an additional certification to make her stand out.

“If I don’t get a job within 3 months after graduation, I will be a complete failure. I wish I had an additional something to make me more attractive to employers.”

Fundamental fear: being irrelevant

Test Titles

  • How I make the cover images for my blog posts
  • The excuses stop now. (time-sensitive)
  • Why not you?
  • I’m off-track with this goal
  • How to write a $10 Million sales page
  • Are you up for this challenge
  • Going the extra mile…
  • Why employers are looking at other candidates

Test Topics

  • The real secrets of what hiring managers are looking for
  • How to discover your professional mission / elevator speech.
  • Why the first 30 seconds are what matters, and three tips
  • Having job experience when you don’t have job experience.
  • Why stats was your most important class.
  • What specific skills your employer will swoon for.
  • Creating an always-current marketing CV/Resume.
  • Where succesful job seekers are really looking (crunchbase / angelist)

Amelia Apparel Deisgner

BA in Apparel Design. Wants to work

“I have no freaking idea what I am going to do with this degree. I want to move to LA, but I don’t know what I’d do when I got down there.”

Fundamental fear: being dependent.

Test Titles

  • Can we talk? (really)
  • Shocked by what this guy wrote about me
  • Time-sensitive (plz read now)
  • Here’s how to get started as a marketer
  • “Oh boy, this is huge!”
  • This is about you
  • Are you ready to ACTUALLY change your life?
  • I’m looking for copywriters…
  • Your opinion, please?
  • Why HR managers should be fired.

Test Topics

  • Why your odd academic training is extremely valuable to employers
  • The practical steps to take post-graduation to make sure you are employed.
  • How to shine up unconventional experiences / degrees.
  • More than good looks: how to
  • How to make your Resume measure up.
  • Interview with marketing directors / what they are looking for.

Eric Entrepreneur

Entrepreurialism / unconventional business major.

“My buddies and I want to do a startup (it’s like napster for hotdogs), but really have no idea how to get our ideas to market. I don’t want to have to ask mom and dad for startup money”

Alan Awesomesauce

Graduate: Had a very diverse set of experiences, probably an irrelevant degree, and hasn’t done anything in marketing in 4-5 years

“I want a credential that ‘gets me back in the game’ with employers that I can do part time. I don’t want employers to pass on my resume because I don’t have a credential.”

Since their fears are fundamentally the same, I’m gonna treat them the same: being insignificant.

Test Titles

  • Embarrassing admission
  • Does God care about your business?
  • The excuses stop now. (time-sensitive)
  • Download your free Marketing Manager’s Blueprint
  • Are you serious… or just a big talker?
  • What if this is as good as it gets?
  • If you want to write a book someday
  • Why you may never write a book

Test Topics

  • Lost in Lingo? How to get up to speed with marketing vocabulary.
  • Getting direction with your career.
  • You are already employed: how to treat your job search like FTE (Full-time employment)
  • How to fill in the gaps in your experience- an HR director spills all.
  • Make your connections more likely to introduce you to their business friends.
  • The certifications you may want to consider for your next career move.

5 Ways to Think about your Marketing Career that you Probably Haven’t Tried

Do you write copy for brochures? you may be in MarCom (marketing communications)…or maybe not. Do you like writing clickbait? That’s content marketing…unless it’s email…wait..(note, I have #bolded) things that need to be clarified later.

Some people have to wait until they get into the tech industry before they realize what kind of marketer they really are. That’s creates a disadvantage for everyone who is not in tech. So, this post is simply to clear up some terminology that you may have about marketing.

For example: MarCom (Marketing Communications)

If you are a MarCom, you are in charge of the voice of your company externally. That means that you may write press releases and do media relations, you may write brochures, ad copy, etc. Better said, you help tell your company’s story better and more clearly, in order to help customers engage. Think of marketing as a verb — it’s the work of offering and of giving value to others; then add the work of “communications” among any number of your communications #channels (facebook, email, tv, etc.).

Customer Marketing

This is a really fun one! You help tell the world success stories that your customers have had by working with you!  This usually comes as part of the #inbound marketing process. These stories can be lots of fun and use the “co-branding” space. As you remember from your college marketing classes, co-branding only works with two well known brands (or at least brands both known to one consumer). Customer marketing is a key place where you can grow the feeling of success and importance customers will have when using your product, and often work indirectlywith #customersuccessheros. NB this is not necessarily customer experience management, that can be more of a product marketing department.

Product Marketing

Product marketing is all about features, packaging, manuals, all the inserts, labels, you name it . When Steve Jobs put his first 5 page add for the Newton in the New York Times, it bombed. That’s because he didn’t realize the NYT is the field of MarCom and not the field of Product Marketing. Product marketing is a great area t put people who have a lot of experience and intimate knowledge with the product, and they should be flanked by legions of #customersuccessheroes.

Lead Generation

Is what it sounds like. The basic tool here is how you funnel Pay Per Click (PPC) / SEO (Search Engine Optimization) work into an effective sales pipeline. It’s essential to know your inbound sales funnel ratio in this position. For example: 40,000 clicks, leads to 10,000 engagements, leads to 2,000 email subscriptions, leads to 500 interactions, leads to 100 phone calls, leads to 10 client meetings, leads to 3 enterprise-level sales. Boom.

Project Marketing

This is what we do with people (like me) who have a broad skill set and are just not super defined yet in their careers. Project marketers are extremely useful and usually can move into any other role, but if they do not have an effective Project Marketing Manager, then their salaries will be a sore spot for the CFO. Project marketers are like the cash that some companies keep on hand just so that they can make an acquisition. Without them, companies are dead in the water if there are any time-sensitive work or initiatives.

 

Now, happily, the sales process these days looks a bit like this:

Lead Generation (LG), is at the beginning, and can include content marketing in as much as it is a strategic means to get more “clicks.”

This filters into….

Content marketing. This is the phase of education, of teaching, inspiring, transferring value and helping others see the value of the product in solving the needs they have. It follows the principles of Jay Baer’s “Youtility” book.

This filters into…

Customer / Project marketing. Where we champion our customers and show off those testimonials.

This filters into…

A SALE!

Which filters into…

Product Marketing. Where the customer is shown over and over through design and experience just how smart they were to have purchased this product.

This whole filter moves into

PR/MarCom. Where the company tells its story to the world, and starts the cycle over again!

 

Now you have 5 news  ways to think about your marketing career, and you have the context which will show you how it filters into the sales pipeline for your company. Nifty, eh?

A Prescription for the Unemployed

Even with the super-low unemployment rates, finding well paying work in the industry of your choice can be a challenge, especially if your CV doesn’t exactly match up with what a crusty hiring manager is looking for. Now, don’t let that discourage you, because his crustyness has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with the pressure he feels.

As one “unemployed” here is my prescription for what to do until you have that full-time, “best effort,” exempt from overtime job that you (and I) are looking for: Take 20 hours of RCI (Research, Contact, Invest) and 20+ of other work. These three, when taken together, will certainly produce an excellent outcome and give you confidence and faith during your search.

Research:

This is where you are searching for companies in your geographic areas or industries of choice. Keep in mind that the more specific you are to a geography, the more general your job type and the flexibility of a hiring manger is going to be. So, if you want to stay and live in a small town or city, don’t complain if you end up working at the hardware store even if you would be an excellent materials test engineer. Likewise, if you want to do something super specific, for example a professor of medieval philosophy, you will likely have no choice over your geography. In addition, the larger the labor market means the more selection employers will have and the more work you will have to do in order to earn a more “livable” wage. Spend one third of your time researching companies and contacts.

Contact:

Simply put, you need community and relationships. I recommend treating the job search a lot like a sales job. I don’t know what the exact filter is, but here is a proposal for what to do with a contact you have researched.

  • 50 contacts a week…leads to:
  • 10 correspondences…leads to:
  • 2 interview (one informational / one job related)…leads to:
  • 1 possible job lead.

It is VITAL to keep score here. This is where you will challenge yourself to hit a number and trust the process, building confidence and hastening your job!

Keep in mind that your objective in contacting someone is to offer to be of help to them and show them how you can make them into heroes, not make yourself a hero.

Invest:

Investing is all about learning, participating, developing yourself, reading, etc. This is vital work for you to do. You must be reading books in your industry and current magazines / blogs. Polish your resume, polish your online presence, and spend some time writing your own personal blog (like I am doing now)! After  year of blogging, you will be a much better blogger and professional than you ever imagined. Also, this is a good time to look at additional education you might want. If you have an irrelevant degree from a great school, consider a solid marketing certificate. Certificates are way easier than masters degrees, way cheaper, and help shine up your degree in a big way. They might seem expensive on the front end, but if you show the comparative cost with an MBA, this is a bit like finding antique gold at a garage sale.