Titled “Fail Forward, How to Turn Mistakes into Steps to Success,” the presentation was aimed at changing our attitude toward failure. My talk was inspired by John Maxwell’s insights and drew heavily from my personal experiences. It allowed for candid discussions with those in attendance about our personal experiences and approaches to achieving success.
The presentation highlighted 4 steps to failing forward:
Realize there is one major difference between average people and achieving people.
Shopify is a fascinating firm that has been named the Smartest Company in Canada and is among the fastest growing tech companies in the country. It offers a brilliant eCommerce platform that helps emerging small businesses get off the ground and grow into successful companies. Shopify’s professional online storefront, payment solution to accept credit cards, and POS application to power retail sales allow anyone to easily sell online, at the retail location, or anywhere in between.
Shopify can’t afford to take a defense position in the war for global eCommerce domination.In the slidedeck above, I provide 9 big ideas that would help Shopify dominate eCommerce globally and some quick thoughts on opportunities it has in organic search, paid search, content marketing, and marketing automation.
Let’s think BIG and start small.
What other digital marketing opportunities do you see for Shopify to win the war for global eCommerce domination?
As marketers, we aim to develop campaigns that people love and drive them to take action.
That’s where inbound marketing comes in, with its emphasis on developing high quality content that connects with your prospects’ needs at every stage of their decision-making process.
Over time, inbound marketing sees your prospects turn not just into customers, but also promoters of your organization.
Canadian marketers are enhancing their understanding of how to leverage inbound marketing in their daily work by attending events such as Inbound Marketing Toronto and conferences such as InboundCon, and we felt that the industry has matured sufficiently to warrant the creation of Canada’s first inbound marketing study.
Developed in Brittney Stephenson and myself, the 2013 Inbound Marketing in Canada Study showcases benchmark data on inbound marketing strategies and tactics, insights on the most important client acquisition channels, the business case for inbound marketing, and the keys to building a successful inbound marketing team.
Nothing beats experience when it comes to learning, but reading what key lessons helped others achieve business success comes in a competent second.
The risk in learning only from personal experiences is that we often draw conclusions from little data. That is, we learn too much from too little and keep missing the lessons that helped propel others to the top echelons of their profession.
1. You can achieve your dreams, but there are no shortcuts. Put in the hard work.
You’ve made a promise that at some future date, you’ll do something. This means that what you’re actually selling is your honesty.
Tricks and gimmicks (e.g. black-hat search engine optimization, payment plans that are hard to opt-out of, swimsuit models for unrelated products or services) are a form of bait-and-switch and say the same thing. They tell prospects that you’re willing to trick them. Don’t.
If you said you’d do something actually do it the right way, which is usually also the harder way. Others will love you for it. And you’ll have one more person on your side to help you achieve your dreams.
Companies often set their rates by studying the usual, high, and low rates, and then deciding where they fall on the quality spectrum. This pricing approach tells customers exactly how good the company really thinks it is.
If you price in the middle, what you are communicating is “we’re not the best, and neither is our price, but both our service and our price are fairly good” and that’s not a very compelling message.
The most desirable products and services are those who keep their promises. At the heart of any brand is the integrity of the company and its employees.
The value of a brand rises and falls with every interaction we have with it. We’ve all worked with a brand that failed us by lying and from that one experience it lost all its value to us. When others asked us about the company, we might have said little, but our opinion of it was clear, and it spread.
At the core of your brand’s long term success is the integrity of the people behind it.
I’d love to learn what your thoughts are about these business lessons. By the way, what lessons have you learned along the way?
Over the last few years, I’ve been blessed to work with some pretty awesome organizations (e.g. Kraft Foods, Government of Canada, World Vision, Powered by Search) and I regularly get asked by job seekers if I have any job finding tips or resources to share.
The job finding plan below is an attempt to answer this question in some detail and a number of marketing professionals (Hamza Khan, Maria Shibaeva, Dan Radu, Michael Ash, Troy Boileau, Brett Langois, and Vlad Rascanu) have been awesome enough to provide their input as well. Enjoy!
1. Do awesome work at the company or organization you’re currently working with. Develop a good range of experiences and references.
2. Identify what your marketing dream job would look like by reading relevant books (see this Inc magazine article to get you started), blog posts (e.g. on the FreshGigs blog), and speaking with industry professionals (see step ‘5. be visible’ for more details).
3. Develop your experience in the marketing niche you’re most passionate about.
For example, if you’re eager to start working in digital marketing you’ll probably want to register your own website, start blogging about marketing and some of your other passions, go through the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, and get your Google Analytics and Google AdWords certifications ($150 in total for both of them, see the Google Testing Center).
You can also start taking on a broad range of marketing-related responsibilities in your current workplace.
4. Identify which company or companies you’d love to work for.
6.Be visible. Based on some Google searches and their social media interaction, figure out what events are attended by the marketing leaders you’re targeting. Also figure out what organizations they like to volunteer with. Right after that:
- Connect with the marketing leaders at board of trade, chamber of commerce, Canadian Marketing Association, and meetup.com events in your area. You might want to join us for the Inbound Marketing Toronto and Innovative Evenings monthly meetups, which I co-organize.
- Volunteer your marketing expertise with non-profit organizations they are involved with (e.g. Rotary International and Habitat for Humanity). I volunteer with the later and have friends who are involved with the former. Getting involved with non-profit organizations will provide you with a broader range of experiences, and allow you to give back to the community and connect with marketing professionals in a casual, out of office setting.
7. Word of mouth: Ask your friends and family members to provide you with marketing job leads, just make sure you explain exactly the type of role you’re interested in.
8. Create a list of recruiters who specialize in hiring for marketing jobs in the location(s) where you’d like to work.
- E-mail your resume to these marketing recruiters you’ve identified. Keep the body of your e-mail short and to the point. Make sure to make clear your experience, skills, the type of role(s) you’re interested in, the companies/industries that peak your interest, and your salary expectations.
9. Identify the job postings you’d like to apply for and send out at least 5 to 10 targeted applications per week.
- Create the list of jobs to apply for by looking at:
a. the career sites of the companies you’d like to work for;
- Learn what is the hiring manger’s name from the job posting or via LinkedIn (you may have to pay for the PRO version if you don’t have enough connections to see most of these peoples’ names and job descriptions).
- Find the hiring manager’s email address by asking through contacts or by doing Google searches for the person’s email address once you know they name.
- Send a brief, targeted e-mail to each hiring manager highlighting why you are a great candidate for the role. Make sure to include your resume as an attachment (note: .pdf files look more professional than Word files).
10. Follow-up with the recruiters and hiring managers two to three times, about once a week. You may want to do the first follow-up via e-mail and the second one via phone. That seems to work for me and some of the people I’ve spoken with.
11. Nail the interview, negotiate your job offer, and start in an awesome marketing role. This article was meant to provide you with plan for scoring the interview. There are plenty of online articles that can walk you through the interview process, the contract negotiation, and what do once you’ve been hired.
From the recruiter’s perspective I’m going to do a lot of outreach via LinkedIn. My best campaigns had about a 25% hit-rate on responses despite all of them being very targeted. It’s easy to ignore those emails, believe me I know. But sometimes I’d get an email months later because that person had just lost his or her job and they wanted my help. So, rude and unemployed, two strikes against you.
I’d say your best bet for always having a job is to always be “looking.” As in, if a recruiter sends you an email, send them one back thanking them for their time and letting them know what your situation is and what’ll actually sell you on a job, or if nothing will then when might be a good time to get in touch. Be active about it; ask them if you can get in touch in the future for marketing jobs if the opportunity arises. This is a person who can help you always have the best opportunities and really be your trusted adviser.
It’s not about good recruitment agencies so much as it is about good recruiters. Sarah Doughty, Brad Phillips, Andrew Deacon, Danny Ngo and Claire Leroux are all fantastic recruiters internationally in the IT and marketing worlds.
From a marketer’s perspective, make friends and be great to them without expecting anything in return. When asking for help, I’ve had dozens of people say, “what’s in it for me?” And I understand that, it’s human nature. It’s also human nature to be short-sighted, so don’t let that be an excuse. Take the time to help people out pro-bono. Connect people who can help each other out. Tout your friends’ successes and brag for them. Let them know you care when they get knocked down.
Some actions you can take today:
Send one email to someone who helped you in the past out and ask them if there’s a favour you can do for them.
Write a truthful and heartfelt recommendation for a former co-worker with whom you don’t frequently talk.
Call a dozen local acquaintances in your industry and invite them to a casual dinner. Sell it as having “the most interesting people I’d like to know better.”
In the end, they’re the ones most likely to be there for you when you actually need help getting a job.
You thought I’d give you easy tricks like keyword-stuff your LinkedIn profile and spam it with Fiverr gigs, didn’t you? ”
“My personal favourite is Indeed.ca. Since it scrapes and aggregates job listings from thousands of websites, it’s really the only job board you need. I set up email alerts for terms like “internship,” “writing,” and “marketing,” which led to me finding out about the internship position at Powered by Search.
For young people looking for summer jobs or entry-level work, TalentEgg.ca is a great site. They’re really good about providing recent graduates with the resources they need to transition from school to work. Really friendly people too.
Twitter and LinkedIn are both great networks for forming relationships with people in your field that could turn into job leads. And of course, never underestimate the value of your personal network. I heard about the job opening for my current job through a close friend.”
Maria Shibaeva, who works as Sr. Assistant Brand Manager for Procter & Gamble and is very active in Rotary International’s charitable initiatives, shared about the importance of LinkedIn, recruiters, and mentors:
“LinkedIn is key… However, I would also add Head Hunters – and more importantly, finding the RIGHT Head Hunter for the type of position (and the rank of position) that you are looking for. There are companies that specialize in Canadian companies vs. International, Middle-Management positions vs. Executive, etc. Super important to have these guys in your networking radar – whether it’s LinkedIn or other networking tools/options that you use. Overall, networking is key, you should know ppl in the industry/type of work that you want to get into.
Also – mentorship. Having the right mentor to help you in your career progression is awesome. Also a great way to get a new job ”
Vlad Rascanu, who works as Senior SEO Specialist for Expedia, shared about how you can make the most out of LinkedIn in your job search:
“By far the best resource that I have used and heard of others to use as well is LinkedIn.
The best approach to land a job through LinkedIn is to find a job you are interested in at a company you are interested in and once you found it to look through the employees working there and see if there is anyone working at that company that you have in your circles either as a 2nd or 3rd degree connection. Once you find the employee working there that you have in your circle as well then ask for your common connection(s) to introduce you to them. Once you get introduced message the person and ask them to go out for a drink so that you can find out more information about the company and how everything works within the company. During the meeting you can find out more information about the company and also prove yourself to be a good fit with the company/job in an informal atmosphere.
Once you are able to meet with that person you can ask them what the best approach to apply to the position you are interested in would be. Most often than not that person will offer to hand in your resume for you or at least refer you online.
This will definitely increase your chances of landing a job as you will stand out from the rest greatly.
I was actually approached by someone on LinkedIn this way and I have to say that it worked. I gave them a chance to prove themselves and I was impressed by them and did my best to help them afterword.”
A big thank you to Troy, Brett, Maria, and Vlad, as well as Hamza Khan (Founder and Digital Strategist at Splash Effect), Dan Radu (Founder and Marketing Automation Consultant at Macromator) and Michael Ash (Founder and Brand Development Consultant at AshIdeas) for their input in the creation of this article!
If you think that this article may help someone trying to find (better) work in the marketing field please share it with them. And please upvote it on Inbound.org.
If you have any useful tips or resources that we didn’t include in the article please share them in the comments section below.
Seattle is a vibrant and diverse city that also happens to host the MozCon inbound marketing conference, which I’m attending with Powered by Search colleagues Dev Basu and Michael Smith. While flying here yesterday morning, I had the chance to read “Rework.”
Written by the co-founders of 37signals, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the book inspired me with its numerous counter-intuitive ideas on how to succeed in business.
“Rework” is now one of my favourite business books. And we gave away a copy of it at the last Innovative Evenings event I’ve co-organized with Michael Ash. The lady whose name was drawn from the hat sent me a message a few days later to say that the book was “exactly what she needed” to read as she tries to pivot her business to offer a different set of services.
Here are some paraphrased nuggets from “Rework” that I thought you’d find interesting:
Be a starter, an entrepreneur.
Do something that matters.
When deciding what product to focus your energy on think about which one would solve your own problem. This will allow you to assess its quality quickly, rather than having to wait for the market to provide you feedback.
Make something: what you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.
Standing for something means believing it and living it.
First focus on having a great product, then on other details. Ignore the details in your startup’s early stages.
Focus your offering on what people need now and will still need ten years from now. Focus on substance, not just the latest trend.
Say no by default. Henry Ford put it this way: “If I’d listened to customers, I’d have given them a faster horse.” Keep your product as simple as possible.
Your product needs to be useful, not a nice to have.
Don’t write down the customers’ requests for product improvement. The ones that really matter are the ones you’ll hear over and over. The really important requests don’t go away.
Emulate drug dealers: make your product so good, so addictive, so “can’t miss” that giving customers a small, free taste makes them come back with cash in hand. One caveat to this, from my perspective: sell something that’s healthy and good for others, not merely what you can make people want to buy through unethical marketing.
Now let’s go out there and make our business ideas happen!
On Thursday I had the pleasure of delivering a presentation on ‘disruptive marketing in the retail world’ at the Innovative Evenings event that took place at the Capital C office and saw an audience of around 40 marketing professionals.
My presentation can be found below. I’d love to hear any feedback you may have with regard to it!
In a world of extreme advertising clutter, your brand needs more than differentiation. It needs RADICAL differentiation. Take to heart this rule: when everyone zigs, zag.
Here are 17 practical stepsof how you can zig when everyone else zags:
1. Who are you? Where do you have the most credibility? Where do you have the most experience? Where do your passions lie? Write a future obituary for your brand.
2. What do you do? What business are you in? Decide what your purpose is, beyond selling a product or service. State your purpose in 12 words or less.
3. What’s your vision? What do you want to accomplish in 5, 10, or 20 years? How can you make this vision palpable and exciting? Paint a vivid picture of your future. Test it in a real piece of communication. Go back and refine it further. Use it repeatedly to illustrate the direction of your business.
4. What wave are you riding? What trend is powering your business? How powerful is it? Can you ride more than one trend at a time? Make a list of the trends that will power your success.
5. What shapes the branscape? Who else competes in your category? Who comes first, second, and third in customers’ minds? Find out how your brand ranks with customers. Design a strategy to become number one or two. Or, become the first mover in a new category.
6. What makes you the “only”? What’s the one thing that makes your brand both different and compelling? Complete a simple onliness statement (i.e. “our ____ is the only ____ that ____”). Add detail by answering what, how, who, where, when, and why.
7. What should you add or subtract? What existing brand elements are undermining your onliness? What new brand elements could strengthen your onliness? How do the remaining elements align with your vision? Make a list of all current and planned offerings and brand elements. Decide which offerings to keep, sacrifice, or add. Be brutal – it’s better to err on the side of sacrifice.
8. Who loves you? Who makes us your brand community? How can you manage the “gives and gets” so everyone’s happy? Diagram your brand’s ecosystem. Decide how each participant will both contribute and benefit.
9. Who’s the enemy? Which competitor can you paint as the bad guy? Tell your customers what you’re not, in no uncertain terms.
10. What do they call you? Is your name helping or hurting your brand? If it’s hurting, is there an opportunity to change it? If it’s too late yo change it, is there a way to work around it? Is is suitable for brandplay? Does it have creative “legs”? Choose a name that’s different, brief, and appropriate. Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce. Find out if the name is available as a domain name. Determine how easy or difficult it will be to legally defend.
11. How do you explain yourself? What’s the one true statement you can make about your brand? Craft a trueline that tells why your brand is compelling. Avoid any commas and “ands”. Turn your trueline into a tagline to use with customers.
12. How do you spread the word? How can you unpack your name, trueline, and tagline? How can you enroll brand advocates through messaging? How can you align all communications with your zag? Make sure your messaging is a different as your brand. Only compete at the touchpoints where you can win.
13. How do people engage with you? What are you selling and how are you selling it? Which touchpoints will let you compete in white space? Map your value proposition against those of your competitors. See which competitive areas you can avoid entirely. Discover customer touchpoints where you’ll be unopposed.
14. What do they experience? How will customers learn about you? How can you “enroll” them in your brand? Who will be your competition at each touchpoint? Where should you put your marketing resources? Map the customer journey from from non-awareness to full enrollment. Bet your resources on the resources that zag.
15. How do you earn their loyalty? How can you help customers build barriers to competition? How can you avoid creating a “disloyalty program?” Start by being loyal to customers. Don’t make new customers feel punished or excluded. Give loyal customers the tools to introduce new customers.
16. How do you extend your success? How do you keep growing the brand year after year? Choose between a house of brands and a branded house. Add extensions that reinforce the brand’s meaning. Avoid extensions that unfocus the brand’s meaning. Avoid extensions that bring you into competition with leaders.
17. How do you protect your portfolio? How can the whole the worth more than the parts? How can you stay focused under short-term profit pressure? Avoid c-sickness – contagion, confusion, contradiction, and complexity. Understand the long term effects of brand extensions.
In the past, your work colleagues and friends might have told you that aiming to work on projects that have a deep, positive impact in society sounds fanciful, idealistic.
You know what? It takes guts to go into the world, do what you feel passionate about, say what you have to say, and take ownership of the potential that lies within you.
Life’s too short not to do something that you’re really passionate about.
Of course there will be times when you’ll be gripped with the fear of failing at something you’ve put much time into.
But if there was one piece of advice that you should hear if you’re holding back from taking on the challenges of entrepreneurship, of shifting your marketing budget toward permission marketing and away from the way too common push marketing, of launching a new product or service you believe in but others don’t, it would be to MOVE FORWARD with your initiative and do things step by step.
Anything that’s worth doing will involve change, getting out of your comfort zone, and most likely putting your reputation on the line.
You may wake up some days telling yourself why our ideas might not work.
Consider this instead: ideas that add value to society, ideas that have integrity, ideas that you’re passionate about can spread and make a massive impact.
So let me inspire and share with you thoughts that will help make your ideas work. Subscribe to AlexRascanu.com, keep an eye on the events I’m organizing, and/ or reach out to me if you have any questions or want some encouragement.
Do what you love. Love what you do.
Note: Seth Godin coined the term permission marketing. He describes it as “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.”