Is your brand self-absorbed?

Posted on April 7, 2017 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (26)
It’s easy to spot self-absorbed brands on social media.  What do they look like?  It’s not what they look like; it has to do with how they communicate.

· Learn more about us at blah blah blah.
· Be sure to “Like” our Facebook page!
· Did you catch our latest post?
· Hope you enjoy our tweets and posts!
· Please RT!
· Don’t miss our latest blah blah blah.

In addition, they rarely follow-back their audience.  Which means it’s impossible to start a direct message conversation with them.  It’s obvious that they’re only interested in using their social channels for broadcasting purposes.

In defense of the self-absorbed brand we know you are spending a lot of time and money developing “thought-leadership” content because your strategy is to be our “go-to” source for everything related to what you do.  And that’s great, but your implementation of that strategy comes across like,  

well, I think you know.  We don’t care how smart you think you are.  If we don’t like you, and trust you, we’re not going to do business with you.

In order to gain our trust and affection you need to shift your focus.

· Say “We’d love you learn more about you!” Not, “learn more about us…”
· Say “We are looking forward to reading your tweets and posts!” Not, “Did you catch our latest post?”
· Stop begging for RT’s … if its good content and we think our audience would benefit from it we’ll pass it on.
· Don’t send automated direct messages or tweets asking us to “Like” your Facebook page.

· And for heaven sakes, follow-back your target market.  Did you know that social rejection activates the same part of the brain as physical pain does?

Real-Time Talent Mismanagement in Action

Posted on November 17, 2016 at 8:56 AM Comments comments (2)

“We’re looking for a lighter version of you.”  In a business recruiting situation, they probably don’t mean that you’re overweight.  Odds are they’re telling you that they think you’re “overqualified.”  And overqualified is usually code speak for the following:
1. You are too old.
2. You are too expensive.
3. The hiring manager would be uncomfortable with your credentials.  Perhaps even intimidated.
4. They don’t have the forward thinking vision to consider expanding the position, or to anticipate their future talent needs.
5. All of the above.
Overqualified candidates are rarely invited to interview with the hiring manager.  Their resume or social profile is screened and the assumption made that the person would be bored and not motivated, so they would underperform or leave.  As a result, the standard template rejection email is sent letting them know they should feel free to apply for other jobs you have posted.  Of course you’ll feel they’re overqualified for those jobs too inviting the process to start over.  This is completely ludicrous when you think about it.  No doubt HR has metrics, case studies or white papers that explain why it’s always done that way.  And yet, the overqualified candidate expressed interest.  They initiated first contact with your company.  If nothing else, don’t you wonder why?  For example:
· They want to shift industries.
· Move to a new location.
· Travel less or more.
· Achieve greater work/life balance.
· They just want to make a change.
There could be several other reasons, but you’ll never know because your organization doesn’t have the time or see the need to have a conversation.  And yet, your sales and marketing organizations may very well be spending large portions of their time and promotion budgets trying to meet those same personas.  Take note; overqualified is also code speak for:
1. Well known and connected.
2. Influential decision maker.
3. Knowledgeable
4. Motivated
5. All of the above.
Why you should be networking with the Overqualified
Are there unique factors you should consider in this situation?  Indeed and here are just a couple to start:
· Before you reject the candidate find out if there is room to expand the job role in order to take advantage of his/her background.  Also, think carefully about future needs.  This situation may present an opportunity to bring in areas of expertise that are not currently represented at your company but will eventually be needed.  Take time to find out what is really motivating them to make a change in order to validate additional consideration.
· If hiring is definitely not an option make sure you examine and evaluate their social capital carefully.  The last thing you want to do is to set fire to a bridge that your sales and/or marketing team has been trying to build.  Consider creating a networking process to introduce the candidate to key employees within your organization.  That action will help your employees grow their social capital, and at the same time soften the rejection and help keep doors open with the candidate should your needs change.

Are you still thinking about sending that overqualified candidate your standard rejection letter?

Can Your Company Compete with Radical Trust?

Posted on October 28, 2016 at 7:37 AM Comments comments (204)
Several years ago I heard a story about a shoe repair shop from one of their long-time customers.  It’s a small business tale about trust with a twist that might surprise you.  Like many businesses, this shoe repair shop was built on a self-service model.  That model was necessary because the sole proprietor did his cobbling at night; during the day he held down a full-time job as an employee of another company.  His customers left their shoes for repair in a converted newspaper vending machine located on his front porch.  Shoes that were ready for pick-up as well as the money folder were also in the machine.  Yes, I said the money folder.  Customers dropped off and picked up their shoes and also left their payment.  He never came up short, of money or shoes.
In the last few years there has been plenty of material written about earning customer trust.  However; you don’t see much written about trusting the customer.  Can you earn trust without giving it?  For the cobbler’s customers in that rural community it appears a key to giving trust was getting it first.
Today we would describe that type of business climate as “radical trust.”  It’s a state of trust where parties on both sides of a transaction fully recognize the greater benefits of reciprocal good faith.  The cobbler let his customers into his inner circle by trusting that he would get paid for his work.  He believed that people were inherently good and let the self-policing reputation-based honor system work.
I suspect for many businesses it would be a scary thought to implicitly trust their customers.  And yet, without trust most relationships will not move forward.  I often think of trust through the following formula:

Trust = (Rapport x Credibility) / Risk
Actions that help develop rapport and credibility, while at the same time reducing risk, will build long-lasting, trust-based relationships.  In marketing, Collin Douma describes the notion of radical trust as a key mindset required for marketers and advertisers to enter the social media marketing space.  In his opinion, the tide has turned and now marketers must radically trust the consumer in order to build the brand.
Trust is the real currency in the social economy.  Does your company trust the customer?  Small businesses typically produce nearly half of the U.S. private nonfarm GDP. You can’t help but feel that radical trust is an important part of what holds our economy together.

We wish you the best of luck in your search!

Posted on September 30, 2016 at 10:09 AM Comments comments (21)

Your company needs a marketing leader so your HR team is engaged to round up the best possible candidates.  This person will provide leadership for your entire marketing group, craft your strategic marketing plan, and report directly to your CEO as part of the executive management team.  Your notice in LinkedIn draws many qualified candidates; in fact, you suspect there are some who currently earn more than your budgeted reference range.  You can only hire one of them though and you have a small staff, so you tell yourself that you don’t have time for niceties.  That means the majority of the applicants will receive your boiler-plated HR rejection letter.

From: [email protected]   

Dear Candidate,   

After careful consideration, the team has decided not to proceed with your candidacy for the Chief Marketing Officer position at XYZ Company. While this position was not a match, XYZ Company is growing and we continue to add new positions, so please keep an eye on our career site.  Thanks again for your interest in XYZ Company. We wish you the best of luck in your search! 


The Team at XYZ Company

Let’s take a minute to explore this story.
  • Yes, you are receiving many resumes from individuals who don’t necessarily line up with some of your job specs, or their current situation would require relocation which may not be an option.  And of course there are those who didn’t explicitly follow all of the initial instructions; like giving you a detailed history of their earnings or a list of references to call.  But you are receiving interest and several of those individuals more than match the most important items on your “Purple Squirrel” wish list.
  • If you looked closely you would also discover that many of the individuals you are about to reject are actually industry thought-leaders who have experience running organizations and managing P&L’s.  They are well connected leaders with social capital and plenty of clout.  In short, they have valuable influence and access to a large targeted audience that listens to them.
  • “Careful consideration” is always total bologna.  Let’s face it, you only glanced at their resume and they know it.  That’s why they didn’t bother sending a cover letter.
  • They’ve just applied for a position reporting to your CEO that would have placed them on the executive management team.  What other positions do you think they should “keep an eye on?”  The entry level account manager role that happens to be open?
If you have any empathy at all you know that you’d be disappointed to receive a note like the example shown no matter what position you were applying for.  And from my added comments it’s obvious I believe that template letters are nonsensical, and in fact could be disastrous when applied to the executive level no matter the functional area (Legal, Finance, IT, Sales, HR, etc.).  To make matters worse, a few of the more socially savvy applicants took proactive steps to attempt networking with some of your senior team members.  Alas, your senior team is socially inept and they completely ignored the engagement.
Adding a new member to your executive management team is high risk.  Not just as it relates to the hiring of the “right” individual, but to your entire corporate brand over the course of your search.  How you and your management team treat the executive candidates and react to their social invitations could have a lasting impact on your brand that may or may not be helpful.

Just remember, many of the applicants you reject and/or ignore could end up as key executives with your suppliers, channel partners or current customers.  And what will they be thinking about your corporate brand then?

Does Your Favorite Brand Follow You Back?

Posted on September 26, 2016 at 12:53 PM Comments comments (0)

At the beginning of the 2014 NFL season I posted a short article related to NFL teams Follow-to-Follower ratios on Twitter.  That score card showed that most NFL teams, like most major brands, don’t follow-back their fans or customers: 

As you can see on the 2014 score card, the average NFL team was following back just 0.46% of their fans.  That ratio now stands at 0.27% which means the odds of your favorite team following you back are actually decreasing.

“This Copyrighted Broadcast is the Property of the National Football League”
Most major brands, including NFL teams broadcast on Twitter; they don’t follow-back for purposes of personal engagement.  That strategy doesn’t seem to hurt them either.  For example, the Dallas Cowboys follower base grew from 900K to 1.9M over the past two years and they went 4-12 last year!  Does the brand manager for “America’s Team” even need to show up for work?
“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”
~ Vince Lombardi
Winners never follow, and followers never get followed; unless it’s the Broncos.
When it comes to sports we like to follow winners.  The Panthers follower base grew over 550%, although they still lost the Super Bowl last year.  The Super Bowl winning Broncos grew over 320%.  Surprisingly, they follow back over 6K of their fans ranking them third in the league.  Deflatgate or not, the Patriots at 12-4 last year grew 275%. 
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
~ Mark Twain
We don’t follow losers, they follow you; go Chargers!

The Chargers finished 4-12 last year.  They also continue to lead the league by following back 5% of their fans which comes to over 29K profiles.  That’s less than half the capacity of Qualcomm Stadium but it’s far better than any other team.


Your HR Department is creating a Major PR Disaster

Posted on January 21, 2016 at 12:26 PM Comments comments (17)

The economy remains weak which means your organization has its pick of talent during the hiring process.  In fact, you are probably getting tens if not hundreds of qualified applications for each position you seek to fill.  Your quest to find the “purple squirrel” (Recruiter jargon for the “perfect job candidate”) has been easy.  Although you have discovered that there are often fifty shades of purple!  No problem though, eventually HR will send forty-nine of them your standard politely worded “we’ve carefully considered, and best of luck” letter (HR jargon for rejection letter).

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
William Congreve (1670 – 1729)
Or in this case; “PR hath no fury like a job applicant scorned.”  In the age of social networking and pay-it-forward preaching we often forget that humans hate pain.  And guess what?  When a highly qualified individual is summarily rejected with a boiler-plated letter from HR you’ve just opened a floodgate of painful emotions.  So, what’s a little pain and anger? Besides, it’s legal, and it can’t be prevented; after all we can’t hire every qualified applicant.
This issue is much larger than you realize.  Just ask your sales people.  They’ve been trained to probe for “pain points.”  They know that people make decisions to buy based on emotions.  When people make purchase decisions they are either moving toward pleasure, or away from pain.  Check in with your customer service group.  The use of smartphones and social media has fundamentally altered the science of customer complaints.  But Alan, it’s not personal with job applicants.
“It’s not personal, Sonny.  It’s strictly business.”
The Godfather
I love that line, but it’s dead wrong.  It’s always personal.  We are by nature, an emotional being.  We vividly remember pain, and who delivered it.  So, let’s take a look at some critical parts of this process through the eyes of the applicant and figure out if something could be done differently.
Purple squirrels know where to find the acorns, and they remember where they bury them.


Just because the applicant applied through a job site doesn’t mean they didn’t network their way throughout the process once they uncovered your job posting.  No doubt they’ve poured over your website and looked up all your key executives on LinkedIn and Twitter.  In fact, they’ve probably proactively reached out to many of your employees in order to establish rapport and credibility, and to try and get their foot in the door.
Social networks and relationships are constantly in play during this process and you can bet that the top flight candidates are well connected whether they fit your idea of the perfect shade of purple or not.  Let me say that again; “many of your rejections are well connected social media influencers.”  Are you still sure you want to send them the boiler-plated letter?  Many of those applicants you’ll be dismissing have tens of thousands or more Twitter followers than your own corporate Twitter profile.  That is guaranteed to send shivers of fear down the spine of your PR team.  And why shouldn’t it?  You are basically telling people who have the same power as a major publisher that you don’t really care about their feelings.
In my opinion the hiring manager (even if the position is reporting directly to the CEO) needs to send the letter.  A form rejection letter sent from HR months after the application was submitted only confirms that they were never seriously considered.  You’ve figured out how to do one-to-one marketing with your customers and prospects; it’s time to bring that same care to your HR process or you’ll find yourself losing ground fast in the social economy.
An employer’s treatment of job applicants is a very very good barometer of how they’re going to behave toward employees.
Are you treating your job applicants to the six-month job interview process?  Yes, we understand, it’s expensive to make the wrong decision.  Yes, you want to “get it right” and make sure everyone involved has input.  Yes, you want to make sure you’ve covered your a** in case the final selection doesn’t work out.  But in your attempt to make the perfect decision you are actually making your situation worse.
·         While you’re searching for that perfect fit your company is losing momentum.
·         And there are more than 50 common interview problems that you have probably not addressed.
You still need the interview process, but have some empathy for all the candidates. And make a decision for heaven sakes!

And just fun!