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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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!

Beware Overpromising

We have all heard it a millions times. Seriously.

One of the rules of marketing is to underpromise and overdeliver, and it is always amazing to me how some salespeople overpromise in order to close the deal or inflate the value of their “network”.

I have an acquaintance who would inflate details and overpromise what they can deliver in order to close deals or give the perception that they are more connected than they are.

For example, an angel investor in their words might become a venture capital investor. $10 million in capital might become $100 million with their framing.

This is setting yourself up for no repeat business, because you will always underdeliver, leaving customers disappointed and wanting to look elsewhere. It is people like these who give marketers and salespeople a bad name of overpromising.

If you are currently utilizing this practice, I urge you to rethink whether this will bring you sustainable wealth and revenue streams in the long-term; my speculation is that it will not.

What Happens When Your Company is Fueled by Sheer Laziness

A lot of times as your company grows, it’s impossible to micro manage and see what happens at every branch of your company, and the bigger the company gets, the majority of them move slower.

Even more unfortunate is the layer of staff who try to get by without doing much; even worse is when that energy and experience is passed on and delivered to your end customers.

Case in point: I am traveling back from Brussels to Vancouver via Montreal. The connection time is tight with a one-hour window. During this one hour connection time we have to pick up our checked luggage, clear customs, and go through security again in Montreal to board our domestic flight.

Concerned that we would not catch our connection, I asked the counter staff at Air Canada (it is a miracle they are still operating as they seem to be in the business of coordinating delays rather than flights) whether they could assist by switching us to the next flight out of Montreal to Vancouver as I am 99% sure we won’t make the connection. At this point our flight leaving Brussels had already been delayed by close to an hour.

My conversation with the staff:
“Will we be able to make the connection and if not can you switch us to the next flight?”
[converses with each other in French]
“We think you may have to hurry but it should be OK.”
“Ummm..Ok.”

Needless to say as our plane touched down in Montreal, it was the same time our flight to Vancouver departed. We then had to make an extra visit to the counter to get arranged on the next flight which meant an additional 4 hours of lost productivity.

Luckily for me I am able to work somewhat remotely, but how about for others who actually depend on airlines to be “on time”? In an industry plagued by delays and cancellations, it has become the norm for travellers to expect the worse.

The staff in Brussels could have done something for us instead of acting out of sheer laziness and passing the responsibility onto their colleagues in Montreal.

Little details such as this translates into poor customer experience and the culture of procrastination permeates throughout the organization. So far it’s evident Air Canada suffers from this “disease”.

The takeaway is to manage your company’s culture as it grows to avoid the slow-moving, lazy tendency of a corporate giant. I will close with a quote on the topic:

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Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.

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We have all done it. Procrastinate. Yesterday you said tomorrow. Tomorrow you will say the day after. Why do you procrastinate? Because you are afraid of failing? Or maybe even… afraid of succeeding?

Whatever it is, own it. If you don’t do it. Somebody else will.

Do Your Customers Rave (or Rage) about Your Product?

What the Marketer Saw - Does Your Customer Rave or Rage about You?

What the Marketer Saw – Does Your Customer Rave or Rage about You?

You want your customers to have an opinion about your product – whether they hate it or love it. You probably want it to be the latter but either way, a middle of the road product is exactly that – going nowhere. Stagnant. Nobody gives a sh*t.

Here are a few brands I rave about:
– my gel nails (no joke) I get at least one compliment on it per day. I spend $40 and I can keep my nails, No chipped nails, for one full month.
– Zara: the best brand to integrate fast fashion trends into your wardrobe, whether it be casual or work wear. Yes I work as a stylist, no Zara is not a designer label, and yes I tell everyone it’s my favorite store.
– The Truffle meatball spaghetti at The Italian Kitchen on Alberni Street. Enough said.
– Pinterest. Admit it we can all stay on there for days scrolling through photos if we didn’t have to do more “life” things like eat, work and sleep. (Luckily for me a lot of my work is on social media).

From my examples above, evidently my passion lies in food and fashion; the key idea is you want your brand to energize your customer – when they talk about you their eyes come alive, they do an incessant amount of hand waving as they talk and tell everyone from their mom to their friend’s friend about how great you are.

Is it doing that?

Progress is a choice – YOU have the power to change things

Today in a meeting I was told it’s recommended that I take progress slow with a potential new charity I might get involved with and not try to change too many things at once.

For those who know how I do things, the exact words that went through my head were: “Challenge accepted!” – I’ve always liked to work with moving parts, change multiple things at once, because bigger changes meant you could go UP a lot, or DOWN a lot. Not only is this process fascinating to me, it’s also a thrill to oversee entire turnarounds in a business.

I was told that there were no more resources to be allocated, that first we needed a plan, many plans, before new things can be implemented…

Having built and operated a few startups both in the for-profit and non-profit sector, I’ve learned these things:

  1. When there’s no more resources, go find more (seriously, you’re not trying hard enough).
  2. A plan is a work in progress, and changes as soon as you’re done writing it – you might as well go out and DO stuff and make some progress that you can actually write about.

I also don’t stick to the way things “have always been done”. If I followed those rules then I would never have built a peer-to-peer forex platform, never pulled together a fashion show in an ambitious 1.5 months, or had the crazy thought of calling up Vogue to host Fashion’s Night Out in Vancouver.

If you don’t try, you don’t know. If you want to do things the way they have always been done, you’ll get mediocre results at best. It’s your choice.