Thursday, September 20, 2007

big stones first

Job Hunting for the Strathclyde Uni MSc Candidate is further down the page BTW.....

Things finally seem to be coming together here.

After a bad year I decided to put MY big stones in the jar. ...and as if by magic I suddenly had time for the wee stones and started to see the family stone as not one which is tied around my neck.

The stones were self respect and independance...cycle tours and walking, yobbs being on the back burner. coupled to the odd hand shandy to keep that at bay.

Strange that now I feel really on the cusp of something...joining the 109 is like a really pleasant surprise. The people are nice, the ra cing is pretty good and the challenges are there for me ...but without all the frustrations and pauses of many previous boats.

For starters on the night before I reckoned that the no3 needed to go between the shrouds for beating...riktig!!! it took much better just like that. Like I felt the rig and looked at the mast and reckoned with a need for way more uppers and some more d2 and less d1s. the rig bounced about and both sails needed slipped out in the 28-32. Bothe the lee shrouds and the forestay were pretty unstable. But I trimmed main and we eased jib. Just goes to show that dinghy style can pay and we were fast and even on height ( if a little low for my 'liking') But the helm coudln't just feather which showed the sails were too full. Maybe the slot was not enough open too.

There is a kind of relaxed enthusiasm on board.

This boost is going to last a while and take me into a new career....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Job Hunting While on the MSc Marketing Course at Strathclyde University
part 12...the final countdown

As an exercise it is aimed at preparing the strathclyde university marketing MSc graduate with some advice, approaches and even tricks in the job market. Further the student should get a grasp of setting goals and planning their career.

....quantity and quality

as mentioned, you will have set career goals and know some steps which can take you towards that. You should have an idea of your first career move and foot on the ladder. Don't be afraid to chance it and aim a little higher, but onlyu when your USP is super-relevant or confidence is high.

If your first goal is some expereince in that industry at an entry level job(or with the type of IT tools you wioll be using later) then you may find that you have a choice of job offers after quite a short search in areas like customer services, admin, retail-supply chain, IT-data work or internal-sales / telemarketing.

However if your first rung on the ladder has the label 'marketing', or 'advertising' then you will always face high competition by all the means possible IF the job is OPENLY advertised. Also for very sexy companies you will be up against many, many spec applications from other enthusiastic graduates.

TIP- go unsexy...forget glamerous...go for a marketing job or first step in something very unglamerous..sewage/waste B2B....mail fulfillment...printers. This will help you get on the ladder with a titlle like marketing assistant which you can use to sell over to other positions towards your goal. TIP on YOU interviewing THEM- "you can judge a company by it's carpets and coffee" - keith melvin, 1995.

Now you will have to note that there are hundreds of applications for jobs which are like Herald or marketing week, MPM advertised. Still go for these with the tactics discussed before..calls , photos, call backs, getting your CV early-in person. But your real quantity of effort will be in looing for the needle in the haystack. The job opportunity for which there are maybe just 10 applicants or even better as has worked for me...the job which is MADE for you!! ( i've had maybe three or maybe four!! )


1) The internet and e-mail are great...but full of spam and huge m\numbers. Use your head...look focused in on the companies you want to work for and get names for personnel and marketing in there. Send paper based letters of enquiry, marked private&confidential addressee only, instead of e-mails to marketing people. Take the time to apply on line after first contact and only send a CV if invited. Use the web service.

2) use the wee companies...look for the smaller web sites, the smaller recruitment firms and the smnaller players in your field of interest. Especially when these happen to have big clients!!

3) as in 1, trawl your wider industry and it's supply chain on the web and keep on going back to careers to see if they are recruiting

4) look for the weird job titles or search options and non marketing ones on the big search / job sites

5) look at the herald and scotsman job sections 13-18 months ago for marketing assistant jobs. The takers will believe you-me be moving on jobs!

6) look at the senior level new marketing departments or budgets appearing...get your CV into the company's personnel and then find out who the new director/manager is.

7) think a bit laterally- remmeber people believe you have more to offer and will work harder IF you are in a job already...a little story / tip

TIP- retail and supply chain. I marked this in bold above, because this can be a very good step into an industry and gie you some good behind the scenes views of trade channel marketing and the effect of advertising and brand on consumers.

lets take a hypothetical example ( i worked in dales cycles, but with no bike manufacturers in scotland it was very unlikely to move on for me being a bit cale-sticky!)

You are into sport X. You now go out to all the shops win glesga or home town and get interviewd for shop jobs over the summer. You then move on to work for a wholesaler in say, order handling, or to the most sexy shop in scotland. You get to know some of the reps from the big brands and know when they are leaving the job or they have to cover scotland from say Bristol! You get a job as a rep and then hey presto you are a year or two later a brand manager for whoever you are with or would like to be with....all from a part time job with real hands on consumer contact and as I say, you are all eyes and ears to the sales banter and the channel marketing.

this is the real networking and using the inevitable screen of recruitment consultants in getting on...working in the general industry to get specific experience at the sharp end will be a big USP at the end of the summer or come the 2008/ 9 january-february hiring-blitz. It puts yuou in a very postive light when networking especially as it impresses... it's like offering to make the tea for a year without having to do it! i.e. you shopw you will grovle and shovel shit with an ambition to move can graft and you are a bit savey. just dopn't shove it down their throats. If it's a shop job keep it in perspective and don't oversell it- but do put it in a n S&M context of how you are exposed to custoemrs and the competiting products and marketing messages.


As a jock, I know we have problems with our calvinist upbringing which is at odds with our cultural sense of pride, 'industry', rebellion, independent thinking reality of the scot as a self-object. So we some times puff ourselves up a bit too much, or the opposite we undersell ourselves. Many of us swing between the two, always adapting our behaviour infront of the wrong situations...either hiding or gloating...

It is easy for scots to get into using a lot of adjectives and presenting things as personal triumphs in a context of body language and 'bonne aire' which intervewers just dinnae like...especially sasenachs who have a bit of a superiority complex as we know.

The self same soft southerners have got their jobs by being positive, using effective communcation - neiogh near over-communicatiing ...and most of all being objective. Putting it simply many of them are able to talk more about themselves as an object and their acheivements in a matter of fact way. We scots tend to either hold back, or take even it too personally. many of the english just seem to get on and this is why when they choose to move to scotland they are far enough up the feeding chain that they get high paid management jobs over the heads of all the 'wee mary-s' who have been frustrated int heir junior marketign roles.

The key is to let other people read in between the lines. If the job says you have to be an excellent communicator, then spend a lot of time on the letter and CV, get a practice 'enquiry abou the job' phone call with the recrutiment services at the Uni and a practice interview. Plan out all the questions and counter or follow uip- questions in advance and learn how to summarise what you know about the company..while having some very specicif c examples or success they ( or you) have had. Remember the STARS and remember these can be very basic.

In a selection screen and then interview basically they want to know

'1) are they presentable, punctual and polite
2) can they communicate 2ways
3) are they a threat or are they too weak for the team*
4) can they do the minimum operations to fulfill the job
5) are they showing high motivation (emotionally- not often explicit from the interviewers)
7) are they better than other candidates in respect of 1,2,4 and 5
8) when are they available

and if you come from a recruitment agency
1) why you have been screened thorugh
2) are you just a filler interview or are you a real candidate?

These are presented in very much the order they are done consiously, but 3 can be decisive. If a fat frump just dumped is confronted by a young lithe thing then they can feel attacked. You won't get through the mental block and onto 4. On the plus side, your build up (see soon below) and your intiital presentable ness can reinforce your motivation and set the whole interview and apllication in rosey glasses.

* this is the real reaction, and is relevant to that which I wrote about scots above...firstly, are they too pompous or over enthusiastic ...are they playing too "big" in the interview. Are they a jumped up little tosser? Will they do as their told, work hard while having enough initiative to actively get things done? WIll they be my boss in two years with their MSc! Are they better looking than I I feel challenged by their physical and psychic impression. Are they too trendy or too dowdy?

A lot of what i give in this list and the undernote"*" paragraph is about "when two people collide". IF you can get over the initial hurdle and premept the first impression with the key decision maker in the interview, and your direct boss, then you have won half the battle and in a round where they are mad enough to be interviewing in excess of 15 people for the same job then you will stand out. This meas doing the ground work...having phone contact or having had an earlier networking meeting with said decsiion maker. Having laid down in your application your MOTIVATION and HOW you fullfill the points in the job description and how you are ready to take on, responsibilty.

this is why motivation shines's a kind of modesty if played's a bending in worship at the mantle of the littel emperor and his or her god-dom in the company and industry..."I will work for ytou, oh great litte demon" . Motivation further breaks down the barriers have at least a 1/3rd emotional buy fromt he decision makers and it can be 90% ...motivation plays to this side..the emotuional peri-conscious touchy feely factor.

For me most successful interviews have been based on t he ground work leading up to the offer of interview. The focused letter and Cv and the follow or or premeptive enquiry. This laid the emotional path as well as the concrete road to " can do job at hand". In fact it has probably oversold me for some jobs and landed me other jobs I could have done with passing over! I may not have been the best candidate before interview, but after the others played it wrong they had nothing to fall back on. So you kind of get secletcte dby a process of elimiation...the others are hit hard by not getting over the emotional hurdle...they have somehow turned the interviewer off or not show the right motivation for the job.

To be frank if I had applied my usual techniques to jobs just beyond my immediate phsicalgraft then I would have got some of them - instead, being too shy or just not confident enough to do it.

Vey often it comes down to a job where there are some gaps for you to move into and you get the opportunity to dare and do this by showing the motivation

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Strathclyde university business school

to the MSc Marketing classes of 07 and 08....

more career tips

MMO - method revisited

Although motivation is the key and opportunity can close the deal, you do need to present how you will meet their requirements beyond hard work and keeness!

One way is to do the matching letter or CV- this is where you match their explicit demands with your abilities and experience. You may also care to think hard about their implicit needs- like working long hours to achieve good results, persuading people, negotiating and so on...

I have actually not really found this to be too successful but then again it is not a technique often taught or given as example.

As the new graduate you may well have a USP for the job- when matching this to their explicit need then you should give not only the overview but at least one example of how you showed this USP.

Several points people will look for in a one year experience vacancy for exampl, such as experience in market research- these you can blagg over a little with a) you have experience in the design of questionnaires/ studied it/ exposure to it b) you are very motivated to use your very practical course work in this area.

using a mixture of abilities, experience, examples and then just raw enthusiasm in showing motivation will help you a lot because at the level of jobs you are looking at, no body ticks all the boxes. If they do then they are moving on up the ladder!! Marketing assistant / account exec roles are all about seat-of-the-pants experience making i.e. " experience is that certain quality you obtain the exact moment after you most required it"

To re-cap once again:

you will get a job if you do the following

1) apply to anything within reason i.e. anything up to two years experience, which takes you in some way a step nearer your goal. Widen your geographical net for this job as much as you can.

2) present your USP and MMO well at every point of the process

3) have a photo on your CV and make sure it gets to all the decision makers

3) phone up to ask about the job- get the person making the decision or at least they whom will be your boss or nearest coworker

4) be prepared for interview with your MMO, your career goal and as many relevant STARS as you can think of...add some implicit such as ability to negotiate and compromise, ability to influence/organise/see a job through/ acheive something big! Leave a business card at interview. OH! Before interview, arrange a mock inteview with careers service. Discuss the job a day or more before it and then treat it like the real thing when you go!

5) try to follow up interviews and get constructive feedback on why you didn't gett he job or how your application looked or any mistakes.

6) repeat above to interview stage five times and hey presto! at least one job offer


well, you are likely to get into a situation where some monkeys are off loaded onto 'newboy/girls' back and you are given very vague marketing goals and responsibilities. You need to get yourself into some projects which take you towards your career goal. Also you want to dump off any monkeys, like mailing invoices on a friday, making tea etc. You have an effing MSc! You need to ask a lot of questions about how things have been done and also more importantly about what they expect the marketing funciton to achieve ...then roll this down to ytourself. GO off and have a think about their goals and expectatiuons and come back with potential liltte projects for you to do.

If you work out that the company have no marketing budget, and you should do this at interview, be sceptical. Markeitng is as much about buying and using suppliers as it is about selling product!

If you read my book on ZBMing you will know that there is always money somewhere in a company and it's value chain. Firstly maybe 20-50% of the exisiting budget is being wasted by not having squeezed suppliers and shopped around. You may be paying full rate card for advertising or over the odds for 'click throughs' on the web. In any marketing budget you need to spend a lot on presence ie. space and time with the target audience but you also have to make sure that the creative and message is good enough to be worthwhile spending so much on space. So squeezing money out of ad space is the first place to call on.

Secondly you want to think about annual budgets and increasing them if you need to have a bone fide plan for this and explain why this may work- for instance you may have foudn that web is the key source for new, high profit customers and you want to expand on this support to meet demand and capture more traffic. Then also think about WHEN you spend. I had a client who spent two years budget in about 6 weeks over an Xmas. He was an arse but getting a really good campaign up and running may mean using the rest of 2007 and the whole of 2008 budget so far. You may launch a campaig december for the xmas market but not pay for it until febuary

This brings me to a mute point- you can decide quite quickly if the job is for you...mainly based on how much money you have to spend and the people you work with. If both are not good then spend all you can and find other people's money, get a campaign running, work hard AT the sales force and get some measureable results to move jobs with in under the stupid-year thing

Now in terms of measuurability, as abusiness school graduate you wanna be savey enough to put in some new measures which basically look into how badly some marketing activities are now and in the past and then show how much impact you personally make!! Use sales data show growth people usually look at month previous year, quarter vvs pervious year or year to date versus previous YTD. If there was a very good month it can be a bad idea to look for follow up saels growth in yor current year...if there is a historically very bad month which is seasonal, like january, avodi that too.

THINK P's Please!

Now you are in the desk, you can relate to the big 5 or 6 Ps- ask yourself after 6 to 12 weeks int he job whcih you really OWN? It's unilkely marketing will own price, but it may on the other hand be that you own packaging. In terms of PLACE you may have to battle it out on two fronts... sales channel management (KAM etc) and the IT dept on the web front. You are responsible for the look, but you should also have a big input for the customer experience! All the time be probing these people as to what they expect, what is wrong with the set up and how you can maybe help....and then when you feel squeezed out, come with a problem-solutiion- yourstruly will do it to senior management.

I like to do a wholistic Ps listing which takes each P a little more out of it's box:

P- product and performance(or service proposition) : how is the current product? is it the right size? right formulation? What are it's USPs? What does it really do for the customer? what is the invcrement of the benefit it gives? How much value does it addd to the customers processes ? In dollar/ pounds/ yen? How much better does it perform than the competition? Is it inferior? do people have a brand-emotional attachment to product or company brand? How can it be changed?

P- Place ( and people) : where is the brand being sold? can it get a better profile? (brand development) Can it get PR where it is being sold/used? Can we get some of the shops space and advertising? How is it stocked and displayed?

P- Price (and profit!!) : do we sell competively? do sales always close on price and do we lose a trick? what is the price-point distribution curve and how should list price be related to this? how much more volume do we ask for for a given price point? how can we adapt size/seat number/duration of product or service to meet this price point? How do we increase margin ?

Packaging- how does the supply chain use boxes and immediate packaging? how is it disposed of? how is it stacked? how is it kept 'at home' ? how is it opened? can it be used with a promo message? when is it up for revi? is it the right size and volume? is the service presented in a branded /packaged way? Can I control anything to do with packaging?

Promotion- how are the channels performing? are we missing any channels in our supply chain? can we do more PR? how are we on the web? How is our message? how is our cross product branding? is company stronbger than product brand? How is our agency performing? can we have a new pitch? Is there supplier or distributor money and ad space to be had? Can we piggy back on another brand /product? How are we measuring promotional effectiveness? Do we know the target customer? are we media buying to hit them?

Then I like to think of customers-

1) those we have and keep
2) those we get who go
3) those we used to have
4) those who are really pisst at us
5) those that we could potentially have
6) those who will most likely never find the appeal of buying from us

These two tools alone can provide enough stimulation and problem definitions to get you going along a far more effective job impact than just following your MSc teachings...thinking of what you CAN own and not what you SHOULD and all that nice business strategy which helps you make the right noises in management meetings.

Another big area of concepts for you to explore is the whole risk thing...what are the implications if the customer DOESN*T solve their problem ? ie. the house will burn down. This applies just as much as in internal persuasion rounds of getting your ideas noticed.

final word of advice, by all means sound out sales managers, but if you report to a marketing director/manager or right to the CEO, get them to buy your ideas and rubber stamp their implementation. Avoid sales management for your ideas...listen to them and faugn, butthen be presedential in presenting new ideas or campaigns in the light of some SPIN. Remember they will always try to take the credit for up times and land the blame for down on you. WIth other departments in general, be all ears and get your ideas put through at a higher level, don't try to be nice and get everyone to buy in..they won't unless their boss is kissing your bosses ass.

Time to Take Stock and maybe even GTFOoH!

If the job isn't quite for you then you have one high risk option and the lower risk option. The high risk is to just confront your level this is not often a good idea, but in a small or fast growing company or department it can be important to point out your expectaions of more responsibility. The lower risk option is to document what useful marketing experience you are getting, what success you have had (in what ever small way), ask nicely for extra project to do, complete them and take your new STARs portfolio out to the job market. THEN when you HAVE a new job offer after a few 'dentists appointments' then you can go high risk and lay your wants out on the table. This is very effective for pay rise in particular!

The one piece of advice is that if you feel you are under utilised and not busy enough then GTFO, don't wait to get your year under the belt. I teach from bad experience and bad implementation...always be on the look out for new work in marketing which takes you towards your career goal and be prepared to have a couple of jobs before you start to really stick in the tracks on the right path..then really stick it out for say 4 years and get some promotion on the CV.