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Greatness is Timeless

Almost 13 years have gone by since Dr. John Sullivan blew me away with his article entitled “How To Hire The Next Michael Jordan.”

I read it in Fast Company in 1998 and I was reminded of it last week as I was conducting an Executive Interview with the President of a Company. He said he was concerned about his bench strength and worried about his team’s scouting capabilities.

Fortunately for me, this is 2010 and we have the internet and I found the article and re-read it and laughed because it still sounded new. That is a bad thing.

Here are just some of the insights.

From Coincidence Hiring to Continuous Hiring

What are the chances that the best person you’re seeking to hire is reading a job posting or newspaper or even looking for a job on the one day that you’ve selected to advertise. It’s a coincidence if you find someone. Hiring must be continuous.

 (I have adopted this mantra and paraphrased it until I now believe I invented it.


From More Money to “WOW”
Michael Jordan was underpaid. Engaged employees will work for less because of their passion and belief in what they’re doing.

From Interviews to Future Views

13 years ago John said that interviews were over– just tell the applicant what its like and make sure they’ll be a good fit. I call it culture-recruiting.

Find people that fit your culture by branding to your culture all the time.

Anyway, there are so many jewels here that it’s worth taking a fresh look. I wish I still looked that good after 13 years.

On The Beach and Out of Home

If you were anywhere near New York last weekend you know how beautiful the Memorial Day weather was. Lying on the beach reminded me of this great blog of Summer ’08, and thought I’d dig it out, dust it off and share it for the new readers of BRANDEblog.

If you were enjoying this beautiful beach weekend with me, you may have seen the cloud formation in the sky that spelled GEICO.COM and gone “OOH”. OOH is an acronym for Out of Home- the classification of advertising so called because, unlike print or tv, it reaches the consumers when they are out of their homes.
According to the NY Times last Friday, Madison Avenue is having an out-of-home experience. “The ardor to reach consumers outside the home — and outside the realm of traditional media like television — continues to grow among marketers. They hope to fight back against technologies like digital video recorders, which make it easier to avoid conventional advertisements like commercials.

The category once referred to only billboards, posters and signs but now includes expansion into places like airports, offices, malls, schools and health clubs. Industry forecasters are predicting a growth rate of more than 12% a year for the next 5 years.

I’ve been following the trend carefully, since I am frequently called upon to develop advertising strategies beyond print and online. But even I was pleased and surprised at how the category has expanded and the opportunities to build a tactical buzz across specific geography have never been so creative, inexpensive and hopefully effective.

Considering opening a gym? How about chair advertising such as this for VIP Gyms?Regular BRANDEBlog readers are already familiar with advertising in and outside of malls, movie theatres, barber shops or on coffee cups. But here’s just a partial list of OOH media that BRANDEMiX can now include as part of an integrated advertising campaign to increase brand awareness and make some noise.

ATM machines • Driver’s Ed cars • Spotlight Ads • Gas Pump Toppers • Taxis • Valet Parking Lots • Sand sculpture • Street Decals … and for the brave.. Wrapped Port-A-Potties.

If you want to know more, call us.

Oh and speaking of noise, those sky-typing GEICO planes created an out-of-home experience that was 8 miles long.

Your Recruiters Could be Killing Your Brand!

A close friend of mine landed the job of her dreams last week. Competition was fierce, the testing process was exacting and the interviewing process connected her with very impressive representatives of the firm.

Yet when the offer package came, there was a significant typo, which could have translated into several thousand dollars of unintentional income to my friend.

Of course my friend pointed out the error, and new docs were drawn up but something sad happened in the interim. (What do you do when the cover letter has a typo?) A bit of tarnish on the brass ring.

There are many phases in the recruiting process including

Preparing for the New Hire
Offers and Regrets

How your recruiters (internal or external) handle each part shapes impressions, positive or negative of your brand.

If your brand is about Delivering the Wow (Zappos), then I want to be just as wowed with the recruiting process as I am when my shoes arrive. (I was.)

Your brand beats through everyone. If your internal team needs a primer or reminder, call BRANDEMiX to schedule me for your next internal meeting.
Crown included.

Your Digital Employer Brand

Reputation Management in a Digital World

According to a study conducted by Microsoft earlier this year, 70% of surveyed HR professionals in U.S. (41% in the UK) have rejected a candidate based on online reputation information. Don’t be surprised, but your candidates are doing the same thing.

In recent years, in most industries (healthcare and IT notwithstanding), the rise in unemployment created a temporary truce in the war for talent, as layoffs abounded and many non-business-critical positions were put on hold. That is slowly changing now, as corporate payrolls are increasing and jobs are being added.

That’s why it might be a perfect time check out your company’s digital employer brand. Pressed on time? Don’t worry. Technology coupled with sophisticated search engines has made it easier than ever.

Just type “working for [company]” into your fav browser and see what comes up. Chances are, you’ll see something from Jobvent at the top of the list. Further down, you may find surprising insights from Glass Door, Yahoo Answers or Vault.

Want to play more? Try putting in the name of your toughest competitor and see what you find out. Put together a play book for recruiters on how to sell against all your competition. Use the intel to re-sell employees on why they belong with you.

If want to delve deeper, LinkedIn can be a huge help. Do a search by your company name. Not only can you find current employees you’re connected too, but they’ll also show you past employees, new hires, and the most popular profiles. If you’re looking for brand ambassadors, there they are.

On the competitive side, call a past employee of your competitor. Find out why they left and what they think of your company as an employer.

Dick Tracy would be in heaven.

You can also opt to go with a no-work-involved investigation- sign up for Google Alerts, Trackr or Social Mention. Then the information comes right to your Inbox. (Or call BRANDEMiX– this is routine for us- it’s part of the research we amass to create authentic employer value propositions.)

Online reputation management is becoming big business, as companies look to track what’s being said and measure the success of their social media marketing strategies.

In a simpler time, employee conversations ended at the water cooler, but today they’re flowing around the world. HR and recruiters need to be part of the dialogue.

Keep the conversation going at Your Digital Brand

Your Digital Brand

The Art of Cultivating Awareness, Likeability and Relationships online.

According to a February LinkedIn study of over 1,100 corporate recruiters, half of those in the US are nervous that competitors are learning to use social networking and social media more effectively than they are.

While many reading this may be dismissive of that fear- I understand and defend it.

Presenting a unified, authentic brand over a variety of new media requires a real strategy, a thoughtful examination of goals and projected outcomes (fans, followers, leads, applicants, sales) and true culture change. Organizationally, you may not be sufficiently staffed or aligned to be creative, collaborative or most importantly consistent. And unlike a magazine article or newspaper ad, digital failures can be forever.

I invite those interested in this topic to continue the discussion and become members of a new LinkedIn group: Your Digital Brand.

Uniquely poised at the cross section of technology and marketing, Your Digital Brand invites members to share stories of success in cultivating awareness, likeability and relationships online.. Business owners, human resources professionals, CMO’s and CEO’s are encouraged to enjoy learnings from the outliers of the digital world.

As the silos between employee, customer and shareholder have dissolved, it has become a business imperative for organizations to create a unified message that is both authentic and differentiated. And while social media marketing has a very low barrier of entry, I contend that the bar to excellence is still very high.

A New HR Metric- Your Employees, Your Fans

We’ve heard that employees are your greatest asset, your human capital, your discretionary investors- but are they also your fans?

Through Facebook, over 10 million users voluntarily connect with their favorite public figures, musicians and brands every day. (Lady Gaga already has more than 6 million fans and her fan base is growing by almost 100,000 each week.)

But while the coolness of the brand may open the door to fans, it’s not necessarily enough to keep them engaged. It’s all about adding value.

Isn’t the same is true for employees? While opportunities, salaries and benefits may be enough to keep applicants walking through the door, what would make them truly be a fan of your brand?

The ongoing and very public dialogues that you (through your company) have an opportunity to create with your employees, are also the way your brand might be judged by talented professionals that you are hoping to recruit and engage.

The extra time it takes to create these dialogues will come from the time you save sourcing and selling candidates on why they should accept your positions.

It’s the latest iteration of the testimonials “don’t ask us, ask our customers.”

And unlike a tv ad or billboard, it is digital and might be forever.

So, BRANDEMiX encourages you– ask your employees- “will you be our fans”?

If you’re looking for a strategy to unify your brand across web 2.0 media- call us.

Candidate Care. Does Anyone Really Care?

Generally speaking, Candidate Care is a pet peeve of mine and I have the utmost respect for anyone who gets it right. It means putting your best presence forward all the time.

Oft times, particularly in the period of high unemployment, forgotten are the lowly candidates– candidates who may turn into employees, customers, clients and investors.

Simple things can make a difference like returning emails, providing one point of contact, giving someone your undivided attention during an interview and providing them with written information in advance of their interview to let them know what they can expect when they show up.

More? Be on time for your interview, offer coffee, food, free company products and how about a list of the best business books you’ve read this year.

Best practice? How about implementing a Candidate Care Policy. Here’s one I just swiped off the internet:

Candidate Care Policy

Treat candidates with respect
  • Treat candidates as professionals and like customers or investors and ensure they are kept informed through every step of the process
  • Respect the candidate’s time and avoid requesting excess information
  • Answer questions quickly and honestly
  • Ask the candidate what their expectations are and get their feedback during the process.
Provide accurate and current information on the job
  • Inform candidates on issues such as work/life balance, job sharing, flexible arrangements and career opportunities
  • Only post jobs that are realistically available to outside candidates
  • Remove job ads that have been filled as soon as possible.
Provide information on the selection process
  • Notify candidates promptly when their initial application is received, accepted or rejected
  • Tell candidates about the entire hiring process, including minimum,maximum time frames, who they will meet and the finalist selection criteria
  • Give honest feedback and be positive and constructive.
The interview process
  • Ensure best practice interview techniques are adopted and candidates experience a fair and legal interview
  • Limit the number of interviews
  • Respect the candidate’s current employment by organising interview times and locations that are convenient for them
  • Make the interview a conversation between equals and not adversarial
  • Where possible give candidates the chance to speak to current employees. This will help to reassure candidates that the role is being realistically represented.
The offer process
  • Make a fair offer within the candidate’s expectations
  • Give the candidate information that will aid their evaluation of the job such as bonus potential, job security, and career development
  • Don’t place pressure on the candidate to make a decision straight away and reassure them that whatever the decision, it is the right one for them
  • Give the candidate the option to gracefully back out of a job during the first three months.
Keep in regular contact
  • For those people who are still looking for work, phone or email candidates regularly to let them know that we are still looking for opportunities for them even if there is no news
  • Keep notes on the database about each candidate’s current status and keep track of who you have and have not contacted to avoid duplication of effort
  • Email registered candidates to obtain an update on their status, and to ascertain if they are still looking for a position. People appreciate the follow up.
And always remember

– How important it is for the person to get the job that they want, and how important it is for the client to hire the right person.

Where do you begin? Try looking at your Employer Value Proposition or your Employer Brand Pillars. (If you can’t readily access them, shoot BRANDEMiX an email and we’ll help you find them.) If one says you care about employees, please don’t blow off the candidates.

After all, candidates are people too. In part 2, we’ll talk about Vendor Care ; )

The Toyota Way Back

According to the NY Times today, Toyota’s chief executive, Akio Toyoda, told investment analysts that communication was to blame for the crisis surrounding the company, not defects on its cars. Mr. Toyoda said the company had been the subject of “negative reporting”.

He has also pledged to have more communication with his dealers and has claimed to already taken ‘a number of important steps’ to improve communications with regulators and customers, who’s loyalty he believes, will help them through the situation.

Isn’t there a group he’s missing?

Given the recent safety problems, negative publicity and downward stock performance, it might also be an optimal time for Toyota to consider an internal employee communications campaign to reinvigorate the brand from the inside out.

Exactly 9 years ago, in April 2001, the Toyota Motor Corporation adopted the “Toyota Way” an expression of values and conduct guidelines that all Toyota employees should embrace.

Under the two headings, or “pillars,” of Respect for People and Continuous Improvement, Toyota sums up the values and conduct guidelines with the following five principles:
• Challenge
• Kaizen (improvement)
• Genchi Genbutsu (go and see)
• Respect
• Teamwork

A branding expert like myself, might consider these to be their brand pillars, and had they stayed true to them, they may have avoided the problems they face today.

For Toyota, finding internal support may not be initially easy. Consider 2 of the 14 Principles that are part of the Toyota Way:

Principle 1
• Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

Principle 5
• Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.

With more than 50,000 employees in the US alone, Toyota needs to launch internal research to uncover the teams applying these principles, and then highlight the positive efforts on its business.

Through a solid communication campaign that shows the relevance of the Toyota Way in today’s troubled climate, and the recognitionof those embracing the Toyota Way, they can continue to build on the success of their strong culture.

It’s another case of a brand gone bad, but I believe that the Toyota Way can be their way back to the top.

Now can someone just tell Mr. Toyoda about BRANDEMiX?

The Magic is in the MiX!

I often get emails from BRANDEblog readers who want a more complete picture of what BRANDEMiX does. So, for that audience only, I would like to share more information about our unique niche in the marketplace.

FOB’s (friends of BRANDEMiX) can skip this one.

BRANDEMiX is a B2E agency- we connect brands to people- your people – the one’s you care about- the talented employees that advance your business goals. The competitors that you wish worked on your team. The engaged ambassadors of your brand who keep your customers coming back.

Think of us as a bridge connecting your marketing, advertising, internal communications and human resources. This powerful synergy creates a veritable BRAND FORTRESS – consistent, indisputable, relevant and meaningful messages across all print and interactive channels.

All with one singular goal—to foster connections.

Our unique value is in our ability to create, deliver and manage an end-to-end program from strategy through launch.

We have demonstrated success in creating:
Benefit Communications
Change Management Communications
Employer Brand Development
Event Marketing & Support
Internal Communications
Interactive Marketing
Media Planning & Placement
Qualitative Research
Recruitment Advertising
Social Networking
Training and e-Learning
Website Development

Any questions?

Corporate Career Sites: All You Really Need to Know You Learn from School.

Is revamping your Corporate Career site on your to-do list? Has it been there for more than 6 months because trying to keep up with the latest trends and technology is too scary?

Here’s a thought to cheer you up. What if, instead of Talent Acquisition, you were responsible for Student Enrollment at a mid-tier college? What if you were branding your Value Propositions to 16 -18-year olds? Being a smart marketeer, you would no-doubt want to incorporate all the bells and whistles that would appeal to today’s teens, but who’s more wired than they are?

Now THAT’S Scary!

Hopefully you’re feeling somewhat better now but wait…

Today’s college-bound senior will be tomorrow’s new job seeker. (Well, tomorrow in 4+ years.)

If you’re really trying to stay ahead of the Talent Acquisition curve, you’d be well advised to pay attention to trends among teens and keep up with the latest news from Student Enrollment Marketing front.

For instance:

According to a variety of research from Pew, Forrester and Alloy Media, today’s teens blog half as much as they did 3 years ago and only 8% use Twitter. They don’t send many emails, and their activities on social networking sites are declining. More and more, they are accessing college websites through mobile devices – iphones over others.

Personalized home pages, SEM, chat rooms and virtual tours are very effective in driving in students and making them take notice.

Bob Johnson is a consultant to Higher Education and each week offers a link to Best Practice web pages from Colleges and Universities- here are a few he’s highlighted in recent weeks:

The College of Charleston for a free campus tour app. (Not as pricey as you think.)

Elon University for bringing the value propositions front and center. (I like this for ease of navigation.)

Carleton College for their report on giving. (Definitely something that Millennials hold important.)

There are tremendous similarities in recruitment marketing and student enrollment marketing. The two pieces of good news for you is that the schools need to stay ahead of the technology curve, and they are usually very restrained in funding.

So I urge you to pay more attention to what they’re doing. In doing so, you may well get a bit more mileage out of any Career Site improvements you’re thinking of making. At BRANDEMiX, we do!

For more information about Career Site enhancements, leveraging your employe brand through your Career Site or Career Site usability studies, contact me.