Sometimes, it is you

I just ended what was a very humbling experience. A contract with a client where we could never get on the same page. Whenever I swerved left, the client wanted me to swerve right. There somehow was a communication clash from the start.

So, as I lick my wounds and ramp up efforts to replace those hours – a few lessons learned:

  • Be proactive. Ask for feedback rather than wait for it. Managers tend to tell you how they want projects delivered. Talk about any concerns you may have. Which leads me to..
  • Ask questions! If given an open-ended task such as “place this photos on collateral” ask questions like “I was thinking of putting x photo on the tri-fold mailer.” By asking questions it will clarify what is used where as well as give additional thought as to whether it makes sense.
  • One you’ve tried and tried again, it may not be the right fit. In the end…I think that what this most recent situation boils down to. Lesson learned. When a door closes…

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A Real Guide to Job Hunting (Part 1)

I realize I have been slacking in creating new blog posts. I will come clean on something. I have been looking for a job. I know, I know. Many of you are all “what is going on?”

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My consulting business is going OK, not great. There have been a lot of teacher work days and snow days. I typically do kid duty on those. Plus, I get stuck with lovely tasks like billing, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, going to all sorts of events (which sounds like fun in theory but is a huge time suck). Long story short, I am doing more of the administrative stuff versus the actual marketing stuff which is what I am good at. Math never was and never will be my strong suit.

I started my job search in the usual places: LinkedIn, Indeed and CareerBuilder. I dedicate at least one hour a day to applying for jobs, making sure I am selective in that the position is actually something I can do, and would interest me long term. I am not looking to do this again anytime soon.

I have even had some interviews. In the next few blog posts I will share my experiences, warts and all. I think I am close to a job offer – after six months of hardcore looking I had better be. Anyone else out there in the trenches as far as looking for a new job? Share your experiences below.

Likes, Shares, and Retweets Mean Nothing

We have had more than our share of snow days in the recent weeks, so that means all I have been doing this week is playing catch-up. I have had a ton of in-person meetings with my clients as I often do at the beginning of the month.

The questions I am hearing, more often than not, is “How do we get more likes?” or “How do we get more followers?”

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Really?

When are companies going to understand that no matter how many followers they have on Twitter, how many Fans or Likes they have on Facebook — it does not mean a damn thing if no one buys their product. So, guess what? Likes and followers don’t mean squat. How many companies have you seen with over a million followers on Facebook go bankrupt? Exactly.

What companies need to do to be successful, at least in social media is create compelling content that is meaningful to their customers. To ask their customers what they want. To be more aware of what the customer is buying or looking for and make it easier for the customer to find that item. For example, if I buy a new pair of running shoes on an e-commerce website, why would that company serve me advertisements for swim goggles?

Focus on delivering a great customer experience, and the revenue will follow. Stop worrying about Likes and Shares. If you give the customer what they want, the positive word of mouth will be worth more than 1,000 likes. And you can put that in the bank.

Using The Tools We Are Given

Hi there. I know it has been a while. There has been something I noticed over the past few months while mired in the day to day activities of work and child wrangling. It is this: Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. But very few people are using it effectively.

1. Email. I cannot even express how many times I have received an auto reply from someone telling me that he/she will be out of the office. Which is typically fine, except if the date that the person states that he or she will be back in the office has already passed. How to resolve this? First, really think about whether setting up this kind of notifier is necessary. If you do deem it worthy of telling people you will not be able to immediately respond to emails, be sure to turn off the notification as soon as you return. Simple.

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2. Scheduled Tweets. This is where many people (and companies) can get into trouble. LiveNation got slammed for telling their followers to share pictures of a concert, after the show was cancelled due to the structure falling over resulting in one death and multiple injuries. Somehow, LiveNation was able to tweet that the show was cancelled, but whomever was in charge of their social media/Twitter stream neglected to look at the previously scheduled tweets.

3. Knowing the appropriate times to share on social media. This one should be a given by now, but time and time again people just don’t think before posting stuff on the internet. Like the time Kim Kardashian promoted her momanger’s appearance on QVC, 20 minutes after sending her condolences to victims of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Her mom didn’t do much better, tweeting about her appearance without even mentioning the Boston incident.

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Starting a “Yes” Revolution

It all began innocently enough. I went to a gas station with the needle on  my fuel gage a tiny bit below empty. Not to worry, I had a VISA gift card that one of my clients gave me as a “thank you” for doing great work on a project. I have been given these types of gift cards before and have used them at gas stations previously without any issues. Not this time.

At the pump I swiped the brand new VISA card. And, a strange thing happened. It was declined. I walked up to the attendant and asked if he knew what happened. He tried to manually charge the card and told me the same thing the computer in the pump did. Declined.

I then called the number on the back of the card. This was not an easy feat. The type was tiny, and I had to wait 20 minutes to speak to a real person. Once I got connected to someone, the representative advised me that gas stations place a hold on credit cards once the card is swiped. It was some sort of crazy “policy” to ensure that the card actually had enough money on it. Perhaps there were a lot of instances of people trying to drive off after filling their minivans and trucks with $75 worth of gas. Oh yeah, that’s right. The hold placed on the card was SEVENTY FIVE dollars.

After going around and around with the “representative” – surely if VISA had placed a hold on my card, they could put it back – I asked to speak to a manager. The manager told me the same thing. There was nothing he could do. He asked me if I read the 20 page pamphlet that came with the card. I was honest and replied no. He then replied that this “gas station policy” was outlined in pamphlet. I then returned to the issue at hand. I was out of gas, had no cash on me, and only had the VISA gift card on me as payment. Was there any way to return the money taken from the card back to the card?

davidspadeno

I pretty much told the manager that I was tired of being told what can’t be done, and asked what COULD be done. Nothing, apparently, as the manager went back to the script and rattled off policy.

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear the word “yes” when dealing with businesses? Wouldn’t it
be nice, when talking to a service-facing employee that they they treated you like an actual person and had some compassion instead of rattling off “policy” like a robot?

I am suggesting a new way of customer service. Saying yes. Sure, it may take a bit more time and thinking out of the box. But just imagine what the word yes would do for your company. It can make a customers day. And bring them back for more.

Are Conferences A Con?

There is one event management company that seriously sends me an email a day followed up with a phone call. It is getting very annoying. Do you know what that says to me? They are desperate for attendees, and likely overpaid for speakers and event space. Basically, they are afraid of this:

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The fall conference season is pretty much over as of the first week of November. So, as you take a look at the slate of spring conference events, be sure to ask yourself the following:

  • Am I going to learn something/meet anyone beneficial to my career?
  • Will I have opportunities to network with people in my industry?
  • Does the conference offer a variety of break-outs or workshops to pick from?

If you answered “yes” to two or all of the above questions, then you should attend that conference. Remember, you can always try and defray the cost by offering to blog or report on said conference. If it applies to your job and you can show your manager why this conference will be beneficial to your company, certainly ask if your ticket/attendee fee can be paid for.

Remember, have fun, and don’t be a con-hole. Do some research on the keynoters, and follow them on social media beforehand. Ask questions. Participate. Don’t just hang out at the bar or in the cafeteria, or even worse your room.  Learn something and post about your experiences below.

Can You Tweet A Twitpic? Sadly, Not Anymore

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Twitpic blinked in the wake of an impending lawsuit with Twitter. No, Twitpic did not even get dragged into court by Twitter. Twitpic will be closing their doors (and service) on September 25th. They took their ball away and left.

Apparently, Twitter served Twitpic legal documents few weeks ago. Twitter was insisting that Twitpic drop their application for a trademark or else. The “or else” meant that Twitpic would not have access to Twitter’s Application Programming Interface. Basically, if Twitpic went forward with obtaining a trademark, and gain all of the benefits of having one, they would not  have access to post pictures seemlessly to Twitter (like you can do with Instagram to Facebook. But Facebook owns Instagram. I digress).

Twitter’s brand policy is pretty far reaching.  The policy  states third-party applications, websites and other products should not “apply for a trademark with a name including ‘Twitter’, ‘Tweet’, the Twitter bird…” It will be interesting to see what happens with companies like TweetDeck, Twibs and TwitStamp. 

So, what do we do without Twitpic? Luckily, Twitter already rolled out it own service in 2011. How nice of them.

 mrburns