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.


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?

A Recommended Tip – Pricing Strategy

Having killed my feet over the long weekend, I headed for a shoulder and foot massage today. It was my first time at the location and I was told the price is $36 for an hour – not a bad price at all.

So I enjoyed an hour of relaxation and proceeded to the cashier to pay. I gave the person a $100 bill so they could break it and give me back $40, leaving a roughly 10% tip. The cashier gives me a funny look and I explained again how he can just give me back $60, thinking the $4 tip was a reasonable tip; it got to a point where I thought he couldn’t add or subtract, until he points to a piece of printer paper behind his shoulder that says “We recommend a tip of $10.”

Let’s run through the numbers. For me to pay $46 for a $36 massage would mean that I was tipping 28%. That does not make sense to me. If you want to charge $46 you might as well have worked that into the pricing instead of recommending an insanely large tip.

Never hide your costs until the very end of providing a service/product, it’s a major turn-off to customers you want to avoid.

Pinterest – Continuous User Experience Improvement

I’ve noticed several improvements to the Pinterest interface, all targeted at helping the user navigate the enormous amount of information available on their platform (how many hours do YOU spend scrolling through an insane amount of photos on Pinterest?) 

They make it so easy to discover new content that was previously totally unknown to you. For example, if you “repin” a pin, they immediately tell you who else repinned this and which other boards you should check out – a great way to build an online community and link users to each other. 

Today as I was repinning to my FashionSpread Pinterest account I got a message like this:

ImageEven Pinterest knows I’ve been spending way too much time on there and could be repinning like mad and eventually repin some old pins I have already posted. 

Thanks Pinterest – for continually making my user experience easy. That’s the key word. If you want to build a service that people will stick to, love, and talk about (in a positive way), make their lives easier. 

If you are in any way making life more complicated for them because you want to build something “cool”…I’m sorry, but you’re not going to be in business very long. 


Escape Rinse & Repeat

Escape the rinse and repeat trap of corporate planning. 

For consultants out there who have successfully convinced their clients to take some risk and even foster some borderline creative behaviour, kudos to you. For the first year you were probably able to establish new partnerships, gain some traction, largely because your client wasn’t really sure what to expect with this new endeavour. 

Once your client thinks they understand the process and see some good results in the first year, they simply want to rinse and repeat and do everything the same for the next year; easy for you to sit there and collect a retainer, tough on your brains with all those awesome ideas trying to get out. 

So what do you do? 

  1. Find a champion – someone in management who buys your ideas and believes that continual innovation and creativity is required to get to the next level. They will actively vouch for you to ensure that the ideas are implemented. 
  2. Move on – pick your battles. You can’t change the world view of a client (until their competitor ends up doing exactly what you told them they should’ve done and then they call you and say “oh my god you were right!”), but you can change who you work for. When they need you again, they’ll come to you. Even better, keep an eye on their progress, and reappear when you feel like they are ready to do something creative again. 

Whatever you do, at least do something about it instead of sitting there and just going through the motions. If they tell you it’s “too risky” or “out there”, I would say that great ideas usually had a relatively higher amount of risk and almost doesn’t seem possible at first. Finance 101, risk/reward ratio.

Hey Telemarketers – Price Isn’t The Issue

A while back I saw an ad on LinkedIn that caught my eye and decided to try and sign up for a service. I didn’t end up filling in the all the online forms required both because I was lazy and because halfway through I stopped seeing the value add of the proposed service.

What happened next was a barrage of calls to my cell phone and to my home phone number, stating that they needed some additional information to complete my application. I ignored them thinking it would go away.

Earlier this afternoon while I was swimming around in the piles of working my desk, my cell rang and it was a blocked phone number. Thinking that it would be a client call, I picked up. Horrible mistake. It was one of the reps from the service I had half signed up for, stating that they needed to confirm a few things. So they went on asking about my business and why I was interested in marketing, and pitched me their services. The whole time I zoned out and thought about when they would try to close the deal. It’s fascinating to me and I should have told them I wasn’t interested but curious flo got the best of me.

They kept going on about their services and then finally said that a platinum life-time membership would cost $X and the tier below that would cost $Y.

I said I wasn’t interested in making a decision today but I would review the material to see if I want to join as a member. She then said they don’t “go back and forth with non-members” and said this is an opportunity of a lifetime. So if it’s that important I would want some time to make a decision, right?

She insisted on closing some sort of deal today and kept lowering her price and the services associated with each price – which I thought was fine – less $$$ less services. It got to a point where I was just irritated. You want me to put money down today, won’t let me do my research, make it sound like you’re a doing ME a favor by lowering your price, and say I can’t call back?

It’s not a matter of price. She was right, the last deal she got to was $99 (down from closet to $1000), and she even said “$99 is nothing”, saying I could get access to services for a full year. If I don’t even know what services you provide (as in i can’t see it before I buy it), then how do you supposed I would hand over my credit card details? $99 is still money, and all entrepreneurs have learned to be careful with money the hard way. So lady, if I can’t prove the value you are providing, then sorry – I’ll have to send you on your way.

Limited Time Offers – is it good for business?

Well yes. IF you have a good product already. 

Imagine telling someone that your restaurant is offering 50% off all entrees but you have a really sh*tty chef. What’s the point of having these limited time offers? So you can bring customers in through the door hoping to:

1) Convert them to long term repeat customers, or

2) Up sell them to spend more on drinks/dessert/appetizers

If you don’t own a restaurant the scenario is basically still the same: you either want them to become long term customers or spend more during their visit.

So make sure that your product is what the customer is looking for before making these limited time offers. The customer had to give up another alternative to try your services; and if it’s mediocre (or worse than that), good luck to you trying to get them back again.

…and for those of you offering limited time offers that seems to last for 6 months plus, just a note that customers aren’t stupid and we can tell this sale is going to last forever.