Learning From Apple’s Style: Let’s Play Dress Up! (Delivering Packages That Excite)

A few weeks ago I got my iPad2 thanks to UPS and the awesome Unbounce.com #ConversionFest blogging contest. It made me think about packaging and how we play dress up in the business world.

When you look at the iPad2 box, a few things stand out. There’s no product specifications or feature listings. iPad2 appears a few times but not in an over-powering font size or style. The one thing that stands out is the trademark pure white packaging and Apple logo. When you get this box, you know what it is without a doubt.

Hi, I'm an iPad.

Hi, I’m an iPad.

Apple is so confident in their brand power and the popularity of their products that they don’t bother with the extra stuff. The iPad2 box says, “Buy me and open me to see what’s inside!”.

So, what does that tell us about packaging and dressing up our products?

Quite a bit. Let’s explore and go beyond just the box… Continue reading

Why Dating And Traditional Marketing Are Full Of Suck

A while back here on Y3B I wrote about dressing to impress, which I much later followed up with an article about pretender brands, empty labels, and broken promises (and how they are full of suck). There are many ways we play dress up to make keen first impressions, for better or worse. Here, I’d like for us to explore traditional marketing, dating, and the dangers of misrepresentation. In doing so, I hope to build up a strong case for the authenticity movement and warm connections, where the focus is on people and authentic experiences as opposed to spin or hype (manipulation).

When I blog, there’s usually a trigger or prompt that inspires me to build upon an underlying theme. This is one such scenario. After speaking with my mastermind group superstars, Laurinda Shaver and Julie Nutter, we realized that there are some glaring problems with human interaction as we know it. I’d like to share their perspectives and strategies because they’re things I know we could all work on more.

Laurinda On Rapid Assessments
You have a few seconds to answer the only question that really matters:

What can you do for me (and will you keep your promises)?

Okay.. GO!

What do you lead in with? How do you make it sound interesting yet authentic? Do you sound like a real person or a robot?

(Hurry, the clock is ticking!!)

Providing consistent, concise answers in a hurried world is no easy feat. Laurinda, fortunately, is a master of authentic taglines and video profiles, things that make rapid connections with fickle audiences. She’s made tons of these me-in-a-nutshell content pieces for many people and they’ve gotten great results.

In doing this, Laurinda has become a good judge of character. She can condense a 30-minute chat into a 30-second introduction or elevator pitch. It’s almost scary how well she does it! She also practices what she preaches, which further builds up her credibility as a professional.

Laurinda’s About Page: “A social media creative head who can actually project manage with a dash of true business savvy.”

Last but not least, I recommend reading “You Look Good Baby.. Sorta.” as the article hones in on the disappointment that happens when we build up false hopes through non-authentic interactions.

THE LESSON:. Practice understanding and, more importantly, accepting others and you can understand yourself better. The bonus here is that you get to learn the language of people that share your interests or could use your services. Framing “what we do” and “what we’re about” in ways people can identify with is a challenge we must all take on.

Julie On Dressing Right
You look up a business online. Their pledge outlines values you hold in high regards. Their service guarantee gives you peace of mind. Customer testimonials assure you further that this is the right choice.

Enter the disconnect…

You enter the office and nothing aligns with what is promised. The attire does not match the level of professionalism that you expect. The customer service does not is not as promised. The products are not as advertised.

Did you even go to the right place?

As customers, that is a frustrating encounter that could kill a potential sale before a warm connection can even be attempted.

What we forget when we’re on the other side of the customer interaction is that WE are the product.

Marketing starts and ends with you. If they dislike the people, the other stuff doesn’t really matter. Perception wins time after time.

Julie is a sort of pundit when it comes to discussing customer service, leadership, and relationship management issues within the overall service industry. Time and again, she sees people talking the talk but not walking the walk. As much as the rules of engagement in business may have changed, dressing to impress still matters and it’s not merely about attire. It’s about consistency and valuing your audience’s time.

THE LESSON:. Our attitudes (or, better yet, behaviors), clothes, posture, energy, actions.. Everything projects a stronger image than what mere words may say. Julie matches everything she does to her audience, while staying true to herself. This is something I find few businesses execute upon properly because we’re too busy trying to win people over. Perhaps it’s desperation at work but the lies eventually are shattered regardless.

Now let’s see how this all comes into play… Continue reading

Certifications And Service Guarantees: Worth The Money Or More Marketing Spin? (Empty Labels Suck)

Here are a few questions to consider as you read this article:

  • Do you treat your brand as a moniker or image, or does it truly embody your values and focus in work-life?
  • What makes you trust a brand: the promises, the image, or the experience?
  • Does quality stop at design and engineering?
  • What are we REALLY buying and selling, and what’s the value in it?

On The Mundane Chatter Podcast we discussed a slew of consumer-focused and other geeky topics on Episode 9. I was particularly intrigued by the whole “Fair Trade” market and the implications for small businesses, competition, and the consumer. Is it worth buying something labelled or certified a certain way? Allow me to rant a bit.

When I think about labels like THX, Organic, and Fair Trade, I think “marketing spin” (HINT: Spin Sucks) and “propaganda”. Value and proper execution/delivery, not so much. You’re paying more under a marketing pretense, a promise that is likely never delivered. I look at guarantees and certifications like any other line on advertised specifications and features: it’s more perceived value than anything else.. Mere labels (false attempts at dress to impress). Continue reading

Bad Recruiters, Identity Theft, and What To Do About It

Job hunters throughout the United States have cited that their biggest sore point in the job hunt is dealing with inept recruiters. Who can blame them? Recruiters typically repost the job ads that the hiring companies post on their corporate sites then only do the bare minimum to screen and prepare candidates. It has been my personal experience in recent

years that, if a recruiter does more than give you a vague description of the job and ask you to tailor your resume to include certain buzzwords, you have yourself a keeper. The general approach seems to be this: collect as many close fits as possible, herd them together, sell the hype, and hope that the candidates can do the rest of the work for you.

The reality is that recruiters are suffering along with job seekers. Job market saturation is arguably the byproduct of overseas outsourcing, widespread “right-sizing”, 1990’s dot-com collapses, and, of course, 9/11. Our economy has taken a hard hit and, as more and more fresh college graduates enter the workforce, it is not getting any easier, even for the most seasoned veterans in their fields. Recruiters are dealing with easily three or four times the workload that was expected in the “golden age” of the mid-90’s. There is also far more competition from other staffing and recruiting firms. The Recruiting Animal blog cites that the typical recruiter handles anywhere from 26-30 projects at a time on average, which is definitely more than recruiters experienced even 5 years ago. It’s no wonder recruiters are spending less time preparing and qualifying their candidates!

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Skills Schmills – What About Your W2?

Quite possibly the toughest type of marketing to do these days is self marketing (that is, selling yourself); that is, if you are on the market for a job. It seems that, in any line of work, if you are not incorporated, you are going to get the short end of the stick as both a freelancer and a job hunter. The Information Technology field is definitely not an exception; in fact, it is probably one of the places where employees are exploited the most. If you are a job hunter looking for an IT job, read on but, brace yourself: it will get ugly quickly.

Any IT field veteran can atest to this: the IT market is now more competitive than ever. Since outsourcing and overseaing are cheaper than hiring people internally, the career path IT guy has very little options beyond doing some cheap labor as a consultant and hoping he gets hired full-time. It used to be that the most skilled people would get the job if they made a good impression on the face-to-face interviews but, nowadays, you’re lucky to get even past the phone interview. I’ve heard it from many guys on the field: they’ll be overlooked because Joe College who just graduated and has no work history is cheaper labor and, if he can’t get the job done, there’s always India, Russia, or China; you can hire an entire call center for the price of one US IT guy if you go that route. Heck, even Brazil is becoming a sort of mecca for IT.

Why the massive increase in competition? Well, simply put, companies still do not see IT as a valuable asset even though it is the backbone of their business. They will cut corners and salaries even after disaster strikes because they look at an IT department as a cost center. The trend now is to get the guy that gets his hands in everything so he can take on three or four distinct jobs. Recruiters have very specific needs. You need to know specific software releases (down to the fourth decimal point, if you know what I mean), printer repairs, shell scripting, .Net framework, web development, and brain surgery just to become a junior-level network engineer. Past work experience doesn’t matter – just flash some paper credentials (and place lips to rear – just kidding).

Heck, the President can write a letter of recommendation for you and employers won’t care. They just want you to have credentials and low self esteem so you’ll take their terrible salary offer. It may sound cynical and exagerrated but I have yet to see otherwise. Most jobs these days go through recruiters unless you find a way to work around them or have someone on the inside that can get your foot in the door. Recruiters will undercut you as much as possible to get a nicer bonus on their side. Your best interest is not their top priority.

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