10 Self-Marketing Tips for Job-Seeking Marketing Grads

I’ve been informally coaching my undergrad business school students on how to prepare for the business world they’ll face while job-seeking in just 1.5 years. They have some work experience, usually as interns. When it comes to presenting themselves in a business context, they are pretty green.

I’ve been informally coaching my undergrad business school students on how to prepare for the business world they’ll face while job-seeking in just 1.5 years. They have some work experience, usually as interns. When it comes to presenting themselves in a business context, they are pretty green.

But they’re eager and ambitious, so I decided to compile a set of tips to help them get ready.

I’d appreciate comments and additions from colleagues on these:

  1. Find a Local Professional Association in your area of interest — whether industry or job function. Join as a student member, and volunteer to help with a committee.
  2. Use All 120 Characters Available for Your LinkedIn Headline, and pack it with keywords about your skills. Finance, analytics, big data, strategy — use the terms hiring managers are looking for.
  3. Write Your LinkedIn Bio With Your Goal in Mind. Who are you trying to persuade? If it’s to attract job offers, then emphasize your skills, attitude and drive. Talk about contributions you made during internships. Declare your ideal industry and job function.
  4. Use a Professional Photo. Seems obvious, but surprisingly many LinkedIn members use shots more suited to Facebook.
  5. Clean Up Your Social Media. Take down photos and delete comments from your younger days that may make you look undesirable as an employee.
  6. Practice Your Elevator Speech. Come up with a few sentences that identify your situation and your goals. Add in a personal or professional twist to stimulate interest. Once you have it down, then start practicing ways to adjust your speech on the fly, depending on the audience.
  7. Buy Your Name as a Domain, and use it for your professional email address.
  8. Start Building Your Professional Network. Begin with your classmates, teachers and guest speakers. Add people you meet at your internships. Send out LinkedIn invitations, and also maintain a database of contacts. Keep in touch.
  9. If You’re Not a Natural Joiner, then find other ways to position yourself. Try writing a guest blog post. Follow writers on business subjects of interest to you, and actively comment on their posts.
  10. Think Ahead. You are in college now, but in the business world before you know it. Take steps early, and often, to position yourself for a satisfying career.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Should I Accept Your LinkedIn Invitation?

Recently I accepted a full-time position with one of my clients, the Digital Advertising Alliance, which makes me particularly happy to have benefits again, but I sure will miss my daily freedoms from the past six years. Since I updated my LinkedIn profile, a plethora of people I do not know have reached out to me asking for LinkedIn invite acceptances—but not stating anything specific or particular in their request of me

Recently I accepted a full-time position with one of my clients, the Digital Advertising Alliance, which makes me particularly happy to have benefits again, but I sure will miss my daily freedoms from the past six years.

Thankfully, I get to maintain a small stable of freelance clients that keep me busy at night and on weekends, too. And I enjoy uncovering new business opportunities for myself or to steer potential business to trusted colleagues in my field. Other folks have done much the same for me, a virtuous circle.

Obtaining a new job is one business happening that “triggers” marketing events of one sort or another. While I haven’t made it yet to the C-suite (I can only imagine the triggers there), I’m getting my share of social check-in’s, emails, not-so-many telephone calls, and a direct mail piece or two.

Since I updated my LinkedIn profile, a plethora of people I do not know have reached out to me asking for LinkedIn invite acceptances—but not stating anything specific or particular in their request of me. Please, take a moment and give a short sentence stating what we have or could have in common. I’m a PR guy, and I genuinely like getting to know people and how we can build bridges and do business together … but I don’t want the quality of my social network to become watered down. I wonder if LinkedIn has relaxed its rules for enabling introductions.

My normal protocol in response is to visit his or her profile, and see if there’s an apparent fit to my professional life. Sometimes I discover it’s someone I do know with a new or different surname (and I readily accept), but most of the time it’s a complete stranger, with only imagined relevance. Is it me they’re after, my position that intrigues them, or my employer’s marketplace presence? It’s always good form to keep your own profiles edgy and up to date for the inspection of others—and your invites to the point.

Let me also state the opposite: I do feel some guilt dismissing online a complete stranger (but perhaps an industry cohort) because I wonder if I’m doing myself, my new employer and my existing social network a disservice. Shouldn’t I be willing to talk to a stranger—I do it all the time at tradeshows and industry gatherings (we’ve self-qualified each other by both being there)? Yes, I should be willing—but I don’t’ always feel the need to get a business card.

Recently, I came across these rules for accepting LinkedIn invites which I believe are worth sharing.

  1. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations if I have had the opportunity to work with you
  2. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations if we have met in person
  3. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations if we have spoken on the phone (and an in-person meeting is not feasible)
  4. I accept/send LinkedIn invitations to initiate a professional relationship where phone, online, and/or in-person collaboration is expected.
  5. My goal in every LinkedIn relationship is to be able to recommend your services to other professionals who trust my opinion.

I’ve built my network with rules one, two and three—which has allowed me to implement Rule 5. I’m admittedly not so quick on rule four, precisely because of Rule 5! The integrity of anyone’s social network is one’s ability to leverage it: quality before quantity.

As interconnectedness grows in our world and our field—all marketing is integrated, and my status as a PR professional informs marketing—I’m going to try and be more open to new faces online, but I will continue to insist on some due diligence. Otherwise, what’s the point in having a connection?

Feel free to post your own rules on social networking. Or offer an opposing point of view.

The ‘Sustainability’ of Giving Back: How Marketers Look After Their Own

Sustainability in business is often referred to as “the triple bottom line”—financial, environmental and social. This past week, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how we—as marketers—address social sustainability, specifically our fostering of human resources and marketing talent. It is a critical need

Sustainability in business is often referred to as “the triple bottom line”—financial, environmental and social.

This past week, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how we—as marketers—address social sustainability, specifically our fostering of human resources and marketing talent. It is a critical need.

First, we had the Marketing EDGE Annual Awards Dinner. Nearly 250 marketing leaders gathered to honor two recipients for Marketing EDGE’s two most prestigious education leadership awards: Michael Becker, co-founder and managing partner North America, mCordis, as the 2014 Edward N. Mayer, Jr. Education Leadership Award honoree; and Google as the 2014 Corporate Leadership Award designate.

Many of the emcees of the evening, uniquely, were alumni of Marketing EDGE programs (Marketing EDGE engages thousands of students and professors every year). Altogether, the evening generated not only hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship monies, but also mini-testimonials from students and young professionals including one individual who confessed he almost became a Eurobond trader until he was engaged in a Marketing EDGE program. He described himself as an “accidental marketer.”

Think about the term, “accidental marketer.” Today’s generation of students and “market-ready” career entrants are increasingly marketing educated, and even direct and interactive marketing educated, armed with internships and professional experiences the moment they reach the marketplace. Marketing EDGE programs alone touched more than 5,000 students last year—and 6,000 are anticipated for 2015. Many are marketing majors, while others are in STEM fields, creative and other disciplines, but with exposure to marketing curricula and some marketing experience.

Compare that to 20—even 10—years ago. This business was built largely by “accidental marketers” who found a home in measurable, accountable direct, interactive and data-driven marketing, and found entrepreneurial opportunities in our field. We did OK, even spectacularly, but our successes have only made the appetite for top talent grow more ravenous. Thus, the more we “give” to marketing education today—in donated time and money, in adjunct teaching, in internships, and in involvement with colleges, universities and “bridges” such as Marketing EDGE—the better chance we have to attract the best and brightest to our field, and to our companies. Giving back pays immediate dividends. (Don’t forget #GivingTuesday is December 2!)

During the Direct Marketing Association 2014 Strategic Summit, we heard from a panel on what it takes to bring along “The Next Generation of Marketing Talent.” Representatives from IBM, Javelin Marketing Group, Marketing EDGE and University of Georgia talked about the need for flexibility, mentoring, culture and social responsibility as motivators to today’s students and career entrants. Young professionals crave guidance, and likewise to understand their role in the big picture of community (in marketing, the business overall, the end-user, the industry, the world). One might say these attributes motivate everyone, but they are particularly important to digital natives and Millennials who want to start their careers as contributors and difference makers. How much better to have these new and young professionals matched with mentors, by default or design, to bring clarity to such contributions.

Which brings me to a third event, the Direct Marketing Club of New York’s 30th Annual Silver Apples Gala, honoring seven individuals (Brian Fetherstonhaugh, chairman & chief executive officer, OgilvyOne Worldwide; Timothy Kennon, president & owner, McVicker & Higginbotham, Inc.; Pamela Maphis Larrick, CEO, Omnicom’s Javelin Marketing Group; Thomas “Tim” Litle, founder & chairman, Litle & Co.; Lon Mandel, president, SMS Marketing Services; Debbie Roth, vice president of sales, Japs-Olson Company; and Dawn Zier, president & chief executive officer, Nutrisystem; and one corporate honoree (Fosina Marketing Group) who have contributed a quarter century (or more) to the direct marketing discipline, through demonstrable professional success, and a giving of time and effort to promote the goals of DMCNY which incorporates education and to foster growth of the field.

All during the evening, honorees recalled having mentors, being mentors to others, and having the clarity of marketing goals and measurement to achieve marketing success. They also spoke of community—where ideas are freely explored and exchanged, the good, the bad and the not-so-pretty (testing and lifelong learning)—as being part of the key to not only professional success, but also a deep sense of personal and professional fulfillment.

We are a community—and one I’m thankful for everyday in my own accidental career. It’s always time to give back and mentor.

Hottest 2014 Marketing Tip for Small Business? Put Aside a Budget!

Over 50 percent of the working population (120 million) work in a small business, and that trend is growing. According to the SBA definition, there were nearly 28 million small businesses in 2013, and 6 million of those had employees beyond just the owner

Over 50 percent of the working population (120 million) work in a small business, and that trend is growing. According to the SBA definition, there were nearly 28 million small businesses in 2013, and 6 million of those had employees beyond just the owner.

Judging from the number of small business attendees at webinars, online and at events and conferences on how to grow your business, they’re craving solid marketing advice. But unfortunately, it seems no one told them that marketing takes time, costs money (more than you’d think!), and doesn’t pay out instantly.

So I dedicate this blog post to all the small business owners out there who want some solid marketing advice—for free. Here are eight marketing tips that every business, no matter what size, should take to heart:

  1. Create a Clear USP
    This is the secret sauce missing for many companies—your Unique Selling Proposition. What makes your business different from the next guy’s? Why should I do business with you at all? If you’re a dry cleaner, it’s all about location and ease of access (including parking). But if you’re an accountant, how do you distinguish yourself from every other accountant? Are you more current on tax codes? Are you faster and therefore more efficient on the preparation of my tax return? Think about why you started your business in the first place and what makes your customers loyal—those can be good foundations for a marketing platform.
  2. Build and Maintain a User-Friendly Website
    Your website is the face of your business, and too often there hasn’t been enough time, effort or thought given to this critical calling card. Broken links, typos, lengthy copy that rambles on and on (without a point), too many navigation options, poor design choices (tiny type, or worse, tiny type reversed on a dark background) are all the hallmarks of a bad first impression.
  3. Create Marketing Solutions Based on the Business Problem You’re Trying to Solve.
    There’s too much emphasis these days on generating new leads. Take a look at your existing customer base—is there an opportunity to sell them more product or additional services? Examine your sales funnel—where’s the drop-off point? Why do people start a dialogue with you and then discontinue? I worked with one company recently who focused their entire effort on “new lead” volume, but after auditing their sales funnel discovered they weren’t adequately following up with leads after a key decision-making point in the conversion process. Once we adjusted that process, they doubled their sales (even though they maintained their lead level).
  4. Smart Marketing Costs Money
    Many smaller businesses hire a marketing person and expect them to understand marketing strategy, planning, art direction, copywriting, HTML, SEO, SEM, printing techniques, database design and management, analysis, web design, and email blasting. But the reality is, most marketers at this level are simply good project managers. As a result, the creative work is unsophisticated and the strategy non-existent. Different aspects of marketing should be handled by different professionals—I have yet to meet that “jack-of-all-trades” who is also “master-of-all-trades.”
  5. Respect Marketing Professionals
    If you do hire help, fight the urge to ask your friends and neighbors to review/assess the marketing advice/creative recommendations you’ve received. If you’ve spent the time and energy to vet professional help before you hired them, then trust them do their job. If they know what they’re doing, they should be able to develop a strategy (which you approve) and work with other professionals to develop the media and creative to support that strategy (with rationale). You don’t need to rewrite headlines, make color change recommendations or choose your favorite font. That results in bad, disjointed work … period.
  6. Social Media Is Not the Answer
    While there’s plenty of good that can come from social media marketing, it’s highly unlikely that it will keep your business thriving by itself. You can spent a lot of energy generating Facebook “likes” which result in $0 sales. Instead, think about your target audience and their media consumption habits. Then, as the cliché goes, fish where the fish are. And yes, that means spending some money.

So here’s the big “AHA!” that’s missing in most marketing efforts: It’s called a marketing budget.

Want folks to find your website? That means your site needs to be optimized for Search (SEO)—and you need to some money on key words, banner ads, etc. Think about the role that Yelp might play in your business and consider an ad campaign on Yelp.

Just because you build a business doesn’t mean they will come. It will take time—and money—to drive traffic to your doorstep. Visiting your website is only half the battle, so you’d better be diligent about figuring out how to convert that traffic into buyers or all the effort you’ve spent to drive them there will be wasted.

Addressing the Skills Gap: 5 Reasons Why Year-End Giving Should Include a DMEF Donation

The uncertain domestic and global economy masks a glaring concern—one that goes to the root of sustainability in our discipline. In the direct, digital and database marketing fields, there is a tremendous shortage now of qualified professionals, and likely in the near and long term.

The demand [for talent] has far outstripped the supply.” – Joe Zawadzki, Chief Executive, MediaMath, The New York Times (Front Page, Oct. 31, 2011)

The uncertain domestic and global economy masks a glaring concern—one that goes to the root of sustainability in our discipline. In the direct, digital and database marketing fields, there is a tremendous shortage now of qualified professionals, and likely in the near and long term.

  1. In its seminal research report, From Stretched to Strengthened: Insights from the Global Chief Marketing Officer Study (October 2011), IBM states that an explosion of data, social platforms, channel and device choices, and shifting demographics all point to tremendous hurdles for CMOs [chief marketing officers] to overcome. IBM calls it “a gap in readiness.” The ability of higher institutions to provide global (and local) brands with people with skills necessary to capitalize on customer-centric interactions is vital.

  2. Another current report from McKinsey’s Global Institute, Big Data: The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity (May 2011), states that the world needs as many as 190,000 specialists with deep analytical skills whose sole focus is Web marketing (never mind, analyzing data in multi-channel environments). These new professionals will need to be steeped in mathematics and statistics, as well as in marketing and the vertical markets where brands reside.

  3. During the 2010-2012 period, according to the Direct Marketing Association (The Power of Direct Marketing, October 2011), the U.S. economy is forecast to create more than 280,000 jobs from mobile, search, Internet and email marketing alone. It’s vital we are able to deliver and develop professionals in our field who have requisite knowledge and education.

  4. In a recent employment study for Direct Marketing Association (Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report, September 2011), undertaken by Jerry Bernhart Associates, employers noted that analytics-related posts are the most highly sought in our field, followed by marketing, sales, creative and information technology. Most recently, 61 percent of employer respondents said they were experiencing difficulty attracting the right talent for open positions, with 50 percent attributing this to a shortage of qualified candidates, and 18 percent to a lack of specific job or technical skills.

  5. The Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (DMEF) serves to address the skills gap by enabling its Scholarship program, Student Career Forums, intensive training in interactive marketing (I-MIX), its Professor’s Institute, among other activities, to make direct and interactive marketing one of the most highly attractive fields for young adults. During the past year, DMEF engaged 2,580 students, more than 270 professors, and 650 schools in its various programs. We stand ready to exceed our success this coming year—but we need your support to do it.

For these five reasons, I just sent my donation to DMEF for its year-end DirectWorks Challenge (an initiative where I serve as a consultant). I encourage every professional in our field to make a tax-deductible donation today—preferably before Dec. 31, with my thanks: www.directworks.org/contribute

It’s the one donation that keeps giving back to us as marketing professionals.