Monthly Archive: October 2010

If You Want Work, Get To Work

Bonehook is a new company, but it’s one that receives a fair amount of interest from prospective employees, even though we have no employees, other than me. My team members are all contractors. It’s a model that keeps costs down and those savings are passed directly to our clients. It’s also a more flexible model for building brands, since each client team is put together specifically to solve a client’s particular marketing problems. The team I put together for our children’s hospital client in Tucson, for instance, is not the same team I put would together for a craft brewer or a high tech B2B client.

But let’s get back to the pursuit of a job, at Bonehook or anywhere else, for a minute.

As you can see from the above Twitter exchange, I get some horribly written job queries. Not only is the English poorly constructed, there’s no “reason why” or reason for me to care anywhere near these pieces. Instead I’m asked to read a bunch of gibberish about what the job seeker wants. I don’t care what a total stranger seeking a job with my company wants. I only care about how someone can help me and my clients achieve our various ends. It is the prospect’s job to identify what those ends are, and to convince me that even though I don’t have the budget to hire them, I really can’t do without them.

In other words, you have to care and then care some more. And you have to work and then work some more. When you care and you’ve done the work, you give yourself a chance. Of course, you also need to be insanely talented, easy to work with, trustworthy, emotionally intelligent, and a good person and you need to be able to express all that in your initial queries and in person.

Just last week I sat down with a college student looking for work, not at Bonehook, but in a related field here in Portland. I like the young man and it’s obvious that he’s intelligent. But he’s been late to two meetings with me and thus far there’s been no written thank you for my time. I’ve also critiqued aspiring copywriter’s portfolios and received no formal thanks. Sending out an email or snail mail after meeting with someone is standard operating procedure. It’s the basics and if you can’t handle the basics, you can’t handle much.

Shall we recap?

Seven Tips for Job Seekers

  • Show you care about the company you’re reaching out to
  • Do your homework
  • Don’t tell the employer what you want to do – tell them what you can do for them
  • Be polite, but be persuasive
  • Rid your queries of any spelling or grammar problems, a.k.a. sloppiness
  • Consider using a non-digital format for your query
  • Provided you get an interview, arrive early and send a thank you note within 48 hours

Thanks to Briana Bononcini for encouraging this post.

Facebook Is One Giant Recommendation Engine

I noticed recently that some of my social media-savvy Facebook friends are recommending New York Times articles and their recommendations are showing up inline, while I’m reading an article of choice on

Here’s a closeup:

Clearly, this type of Facebook integration with a media site is just the beginning. We’ll soon see this feature on brand Web sites left and right. Because friends exert influence over who to vote for, what to wear, where to eat, and so on.

Sell Me Something, But Make It Worth Buying

John Gerzema of Young and Rubicam has co-authored a new book, Spend Shift: How the Post-Crisis Values Revolution is Changing the Way We Buy, Sell, and Live.

Inc. spoke to the author about the themes in the book and how the Great Recession is changing consumer buying habits, maybe for good.

Q. Many people have been financially devastated by the recession. Probably most were spooked by it. Is that enough to end consumerism as we know it?

A. When you consider layoffs, downsizing, delayed raises, and reduced hours, more than half of all American workers have suffered losses. This very real pain has driven us to reconsider our definition of the good life. People are finding happiness in old-fashioned virtues — thrift, do-it-yourself projects, self-improvement, faith, and community — and in activities and relationships outside the consumer realm. Our data show large numbers saying money is no longer as important to them. Seventy-six percent say the number of possessions they own doesn’t affect how happy they are.

Does it mean consumerism is dead? No. But we are moving from mindless to mindful consumption. That’s a fact of life when housing values will no longer provide an ATM to fund our spending and people are working longer to repair lost wealth. From now on, we will spend money that is ours, not the bank’s. Therefore, our purchases will become more considered.

Later in the interview Gerzema says, “Businesses have to make gestures that go beyond words. Persuasion no longer works.”

That’s a pretty radical statement from an ad guy. As an ad guy myself, I want to go along with his attack on persuasion, but I’d need to read the book before I could come around to this line of thinking. In other words, I need to be persuaded ;-0

What’s not in dispute is the fact that the job of persuasion has never been more difficult. Additionally, traditional advertising as a tool of persuasion has been diminished. The job is harder then ever and the tools we know best how to use are not as effective as they once were.

There’s no time to cry about it, marketers and their legions must adjust on the fly. In today’s awakened economy, where every purchase is carefully considered, I certainly want persuasion on my side. The thing is, persuasion isn’t found in a smart ad campaign alone, but in every move a company makes.

For me, there’s one famous company that is no longer persuasive.

Have you been in an Apple retail store lately? I was in one yesterday and not one staff member said hello to me or asked me if I had a need they might address. They were too busy, I guess. Then there’s the sticker shock on products I don’t really need. The Great Recession has kicked a lot of asses in this nation, mine included. I do need a computer, but I don’t need a new computer, nor every new variation of one that emerges from Cupertino.

Personally, I’m pleased by heightened consumer awareness–my own, and the heightened awareness in others. I don’t want to buy crap and I certainly do not want to help sell someone else’s crap. I’ve done it before–most ad people have. But that’s not what I’m doing now and I don’t see myself turning back. There’s no need when there are plenty of truly good businesses that need marketing communications help.