On Hiring: How To Test For Real Skills

Lately we have been on the lookout to add more members to our team. With the number of marketing tools in the market, there are likely over 20 tools you can use for email marketing, another 30-40 to create content and post onto the many different social media platforms, and even more to manage follower engagement.

A lot of times when people hire, we first skim the various tool the prospective employee is comfortable with using. CHECK – great they are familiar with these key tools we use. (We should also keep in mind that a lot of times familiarity with various tools is inflated in a person’s resume.) During the interview, they then ask them questions about themselves to assess fit. CHECK – seems to fit in with culture.

The missing piece is actually interviewing for the marketing SOFT skills required to make use of the tools. Does the potential candidate show promise of a strategic mindset that can utilize these tools to improve your business? I suggest testing this out by throwing a few real life business scenarios at them and seeing what they approach is to solving these problems.

The rest of the questions we ask them people can usually BS through, but business scenario questions are a good way to gage how much they really know and can apply. So the next time you interview a candidate, try this out and I guarantee you will have more useful information to make a better hiring decision.

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Entrepreneurship – Getting Past Yourself

Though I would not call myself a serial entrepreneur, I have often encountered the question: “How do you get started on a new business or project?” As a refresher, I have started 3+ businesses in the past in different industries (Finance, Fashion, Marketing) and rebranded, turned around, or built 3 non-profits as well (in the areas of adults with disabilities and female empowerment).

It is one of the most frequent questions I get at events, and honestly, you just starting DOING things and see what sticks. Debating over the best course of action is great, once you have developed say 2 – 3 options, and thought of the worse case scenario of what could happen if sh*t hit the fan, you just need to get out and start trying things.

I recently watched a Tony Robbins video clip where he reiterates the same concept, you just have to come up with and try as many approaches as possible until you find one that succeeds. Easier said than done because most people stop when they fail ONCE; they are so easily deterred I’m amazed that anything gets done in this world.

So here are my key steps to “getting started”:

  1. Note down all the brilliant ideas you have in a notebook
  2. Go talk about it with a few of your closest friends and get their opinion
  3. Go talk about it with a few prospective clients or users of your product/service and see what they say
  4. Take this feedback and strategize on what can be improved, what’s the minimum viable product you can throw out to the market to get some in-market feedback.
  5. Make sure you have a “testing fund” cap. For me it’s somewhere around $2000. If I can’t make anything happen with that amount, or even test for operations and logistics, then at least you tried. Don’t dump money into an idea that’s not showing any action after you exhaust your testing fund. If you do get any positive signs, it might be worth your while to keep testing – the decision is up to you.
  6. Produce the minimum viable product, launch it and observe the market reaction.
  7. Make changes based on the feedback and keep doing more rollouts.
  8. Repeat until you are successful.

Most people stop at step 2 or 3, because of what their friends or prospects tell them. Keep in mind the point is for you to gather information to see HOW you can make your idea work. Most of the time the market doesn’t know what it needs, or how much they are willing to pay for it, until the option to purchase the item is available.

So just get out there and start doing. Only once you get the ball rolling can you experience momentum, so crucial to giving you the good vibes of success to fuel your passion forward. If you fail, well, it’s time to pull out your notebook and try out another idea.

I challenge you to test out all the possibilities you’ve been thinking of.

 

The “Sold-Out” Strategy – It Works!

We learned in our marketing lessons to use a “skimming” pricing strategy (price high then reduce price as the product matures) to draw early adopters willing to pay high prices. This assumes as we observe the sales pattern we will adjust supply to meet demand at the optimized price, meaning we would be selling out at just the right amount, because we would get every customer willing to pay that specific price to purchase. Some new businesses are now marketing on the principle of “people always want something they can’t have”, and finding success through utilizing the “sold-out strategy” (aka. Leaving business inefficiencies unattended) 

When someone starts a new business, if demand is higher than supply and the product is sold out, usually they say it’s a “good problem to have.” However, if there is a constant, shortage of product for prospective clients, it then points to inefficiencies in the business, where there is a lot of money left on the table. 
Case in point, a popular cake shop’s opening hours are 11-6PM, but runs out of cakes each day around 3PM. The usual, rational strategy would be for the business owner to adjust their production to ensure they have cakes to serve clients until 6:00PM, so every client walking in willing to pay for a slice of cake would be satisfied. Contrary to the rational option, since the cake shop is following the “sold out strategy”, the business owner continues at a lower level of production, so that each day customers arriving after 3PM are disappointed (at times vowing never to return). 

There are pros and cons to the “sold-out” strategy, with the pro being customers clamorig over each other to get there early to try this rumored cake in high demand, and the con being not enough return customers after they made the initial effort to try their first slice of cake, and more importantly, the opportunity cost of lost revenue. 

So would you use the “sold-out” strategy, which may potentially frustrate prospective customers, or adjust your strategize over time to ensure you don’t leave money on the table? 

Dare to Explore

Resting on a long weekend Monday for me means letting my mind explore.

A business idea has been brewing in my mind for a few months now and so far I have prototyped it, did some initial interviews with vested parties (groups that would use the service) and gotten back some great questions, feedback and support. Of course there are opinions from the consumer end as well, and not all were approving.

Some comments:

  • This isn’t for me
  • This isn’t for the XYZ market
  • I could see value for this for ABC market, but not the mass market
  • How long will this last, the market won’t be hot forever

All these points are well taken, but here’s the positive spin on it.

  • Great – it means it’s not for you but for somebody else.
  • Great – not for XYZ market means it could be for ABC market – a product/service should have its lovers and haters or else you would be sadly, nothing.
  • Great – as long as there is a way to make the service profitable for a niche market, it’s still a win.
  • Sure – but when is it hot forever? I can apply this comment to every single business out there but hey, we’re all still working every day right? Might as well work to earn all that we can so that when the market isn’t hot anymore we can feel safe from all that we have saved, earned from NOW until then.

So – if you have an idea, at least explore it. Talk to parties about it, do your research, and commit to a small investment that would tell you whether the market would respond to your proposed product/service. A small pilot would do, but it still takes time and effort. The point is, don’t stop at the first negative comments that are thrown at you, get the service out there and see what the market says to a tangible product/service.

If they hate it – move on. If they love it – keep at it. You might have hit something big!