Category: Marketing (page 2 of 3)

Why I Never Wear T-shirts to Client Meetings

LinkedIn is one of the most laid-back companies I’ve worked at from a dress-sense perspective.  I’ve seen people wearing shorts in the office.  Actual shorts.  Sometimes even with flip-flops.

Whilst I have adapted my old-fashioned ways and developed a fondness for Casual Fridays (heck, I’ve been spotted in a t-shirt and hoody) I will never see a client in a t-shirt.  And neither will the majority of my colleagues.

But why not?

A t-shirt in a business meeting doesn’t deliver the right message.  No matter how laid back your company or your client, if you are discussing a professional solution the industry standard is to wear something professional.  Not necessarily a suit.  Suits are no longer the by-word for professional.  That isn’t expected in this day and age.  But you need to wear something that meets the standards of a professional company.

Casual Friday Darth Vadar

Your clients and candidates expect to see you in a certain way; and whilst you may wear shorts and flip-flops in the office when no-one is around, you need to be dressed to impress online.  How are you positioning your business across your website or social media?  Is it shorts or a shirt?

Having a minimum standard is essential.  A website and social media presence today is how you are dressed when no-one is looking.   Button up or risk the chance of failing at the first impression.

Can you Tweet your brand?

The optimal length for social media updates keeps getting shorter.  The top performing LinkedIn posts in the last month were 120 characters or less and all contained images or videos.  The optimum length for a blog headline has also shrunk down to just 6 words.  This post only used 5, as have all of my most read blogs.

As our attention span shrinks and our need for instance gratification increases brands need to develop easy to digest core messages that describe what they do and how they do it.

This exercise should be taken further than just the social media space.  In Talk Like TED it recommends that each business interaction and presentation be summarised in a less than 140 character, the length of a Tweet, in order to be memorable for the audience.

Can you capture what you do in less than 140 characters?

My headline on LinkedIn is:

Helping recruitment agencies to get the best from LinkedIn.

9 words.
59 characters with spaces.

If you can Tweet what you do then add it to your LinkedIn profile as a headline.  This will be added to every connection request, every InMail you send and be seen when people search for you or visit your profile.

Following most presentations I gave in 2013 and 2014 I checked Twitter to see if it had been mentioned (come on we all do it!) and time after time the same phrases was Tweeted and reTweeted:

The best recruiters act like marketers.

6 words.
39 characters with spaces.

The best recruiters act like marketers

Today the market has changed and people understand that recruitment is evolving.  Now I spend much of my time helping recruitment agencies that are trying to be more marketing focused to get the most from LinkedIn (as my headline would suggest) through media, marketing, branding, and communication.  I would sum up most of my conversations or presentations with the following Tweetable sound-bite:

How people see you will dictate your future success.

9 words.
52 characters with spaces.

What should your message be?  What do you want your candidates and clients to remember about you?  Make sure you can Tweet it.


Here is an infographic from Buffer with the optimal length of status updates across various social platforms.



Are we social media sheep?

Marketing is getting the right message to the right people.  In social media to get the message out to the right people we need to think about two elements: building our follower base, getting our followers to share our message.

The first; building your followers, focuses on building an organic reach.  This is an audience of individuals who have said, “Yes I am interested in what you have to say and I am an advocate.”

The second; getting followers to share, is often referred to as your earned reach.  You improve your reach as more connections of your followers see your message through social sharing.  The quality of your message will dictate your success.  This reach is potentially unlimited.  Viral marketing is based on this concept.  On LinkedIn roughly 33% of company status updates are seen from an earned audience – people who are not currently following that company but have seen it through their connections sharing, liking or commenting on that update.

The more followers you generate, the easier it is to gain even more followers.  And the more your content gets shared and distributed by your followers the more likely future shares are to occur.  The opposite is also true – if you post poor content and receive no interactions it is hard to suddenly generate engagement… but that is another story.

There are three psychological factors that are behind this concept:

1.    The Fear of Missing Out
Fear of missing out (or FOMO) is a form of social anxiety.  This is especially associated with modern technologies such as mobile phones and social networking services.

2.    Social Proof
Social proof is where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.

3.    Bandwagon Effect / Cultural Phenomenon
The bandwagon effect is where the rate of uptake of beliefs, ideas and trends increases the more that they have already been adopted by others.

The Fear of Missing Out
To make the most of the Fear of Missing Out you need to demonstrate why people should follow you.  Explain what it is you are doing to improve their life, and in recruitment marketing specifically, how are you influencing and improving someone’s career.  Are you opening them up to opportunities?  What might they miss out on if they don’t follow you?

Social Proof
If people assume the masses can’t be wrong then you can take advantage of this by generating high volumes of followers which in turn makes it easier to generate more followers still.  Getting yourself added to directories and lists of people to follow will serve as evidence that you are someone that others revere and are interested in.

Recently Facebook optimised videos in their news feed to take advantage of this.  You can now see how many people have watched videos, and as the numbers of views increase, this small design tweak will drive up still more video views and help content to go viral.

Facebook view counter

Bandwagon Effect / Cultural Phenomenon
You have a window to accelerate your success early on in social media.  Being the first to do something increases the likelihood of people wanting to be involved with your brand.  Everyone loves something new and exciting.  When Twitter and Facebook first launched people would follow everyone and everything, whereas today we are more selective as the initial novelty has worn off.

Have your competitors beaten you to the punch and have they all started using tools or platforms that you haven’t?  You have a window of opportunity to get in before it becomes harder to generate followers.

The first advertisement on Instagram was posted by Michael Kors, and as they were the pioneers they sparked such interest that in 18 hours they had acquired in excess of 34,000 new followers.  Being the first to market has its benefits!  Being too late to the party means that people may well already have made their allegiances and you may struggle to achieve success organically.

5:15 PM: Pampered in Paris #MKTimeless

A photo posted by Michael Kors (@michaelkors) on

With each of these elements there is an opportunity.  Start looking at your marketing strategy to establish how these psychological factors can improve your social media strategy.  The more you focus on the bandwagon effect, FOMO and social proof the easier it is to grow you organic reach and generate more followers as well as improve the likelihood of these individuals sharing your content.

Measuring social media is hard. But not impossible

Measuring social media is hard.  Extremely hard.  Everyone will tell you a new and different way that they quantify success.

The challenge becomes harder still when you try reporting these measures to recruitment directors who still struggle with digital communication in the 21st century.  Some of the fastest growing, best known and most successful recruitment businesses are run by people who years ago were recruitment consultants themselves.  As they move up the ranks and proceed to move further away from the coalface of recruitment and making cold calls they continue to look back on the process fondly.  Measures for these people are based on activity and direct outcomes.  How many calls did you make today?  How many jobs did you pick up?  How many CVs have you sent?  How many first interviews are arranged?  How many placements have you made?

When I was in recruitment I had a daily target called my “2x2x2”.  Two jobs picked up.  Two new candidates seen face to face.  Two interviews arranged.  If you did that; you would be successful.

Measuring social media is slightly different.  The outbound activity in social media doesn’t have to result in a business action directly through the same post, person or even channel.  The way in which we measure social and digital interactions impacts how companies buy and invest in solutions.  Only 36% of finance executives agree that the metrics they use to assess technology investments are commonly understood across the company according to Capgemini.

With my 2x2x2 KPIs, my output was being measured – and so too where the results that followed.  If the placements didn’t come it showed that something was falling down somewhere along the chain.  When thinking about social media there are so many potential business outcomes that feed into so many places and the impact can and affect many different people that it becomes harder to measure.  But not impossible.

The way I look at measuring social media is as follows:
Views – Actions – Business outcomes.views actions business

Views: How many people have seen us?

Views are the number of times that your content, updates or brand has been seen.  You can track this across most social channels.  In the last year Twitter has made substantial updates to its reporting platform to help advertisers and individuals better understand their reach.  On LinkedIn it is possible to track both the views from personal status updates as well as from company status updates.  From company updates you can see impressions, clicks, and interactions.  Facebook has a similar tool for Pages.

Actions: How many people have interacted with us?

Actions should include things such as social interactions – the number of clicks, Likes, Shares, Comments, Favourites and Retweets.  This helps you to understand if the message you push out resonates with your audience.  If you divide the actions by the number of impressions you can calculate a percentage of people interacting with you.  On LinkedIn and on Twitter we call these an Engagement Score and you should be aiming a score of 1%+.
Twitter analytics
Business Outcomes: How many people have given us something to start making money from?

Business outcomes are harder to measure on social.  This is where you require tracking set up on your own website to understand what visitors do when they get to your business and where they originally came from.

Using things such as UTM codes you are able to track people from social media, content, email, advertising etc. and understand how these individuals use your website and what they do.  By eventually linking back each application, job spec and internal applicant to the source of origin paints a picture as to what has been successful.
Google Analytics
As your business starts to drive up awareness across multiple channels and your marketing becomes more layered, intricate and possibly complicated it becomes harder to establish what has influenced the eventual conversion.  Was this candidate Following up on LinkedIn before clicking on a link from Twitter and then applying?

Many social media monitoring businesses such as Radian6 and Adobe’s insight tools are demonstrating how each platform and channel impacts your business’ marketing funnel.  Google has a section in its analytics called Attribution (you will need to have your Webmaster Tools and Analytics set up correctly to use this.  Find it under the Conversions tab).

attribution modelling
I highly recommend looking at the data in detail to see if you can spot trends, but also seeing what your gut feel is.  If you can sense that a channel is a key influencer then you can establish if your strategy helps to drive up applications across all channels.

From tomorrow start to report on the key metrics that you can influence as a marketer.  Look at the number of views, the actions and finally set up correct tracking to link business outcomes back to each channel.

ROI of a Telephone

Do you measure the return on investment of your telephone?  Probably not completely.  The return on investment from your phone won’t dictate if you renew your phone contract, although you do expect good service at a good rate.

Do you measure the cost of your people and establish how profitable they are? I should hope so.  The return on investment from your people will dictate if you keep them on and if you reach your financial goals or not.

Shouting down the phone

A telephone is just a tool to connect you with someone.  So why not send a letter?  Or just send more emails?  Why invest in a telephone too?  Because the potential in the telephone is huge.  You can communicate with people pretty much anywhere in the world and pass on whatever message you want.  You can instantly change tact if the message you are sending isn’t resonating.  There is a constant feedback loop to help steer the next message in that conversation.  But the success of a telephone really lies with the person dialing out.

Next time you think about the channels you market through assess if the way you are “dialing out” is good enough.  The success of marketing often lies with the person dialing out.

Do you have Thinkers or Doers in your marketing team? (The best have both)

Recruitment marketers tend to fall into one of these two categories: Thinkers or Doers.

What is a Thinker’s job?
These are your strategic people who outline the business’ vision as a marketing function.  They will either be leading the business, making decisions on what the direction the business should take, what it does and how it goes to market, or they will be distilling what the CEO’s vision is and translating it into a marketing strategy.

There are around 150 Marketing Directors in the UK working in the recruitment industry.  With around 12,000 recruitment agencies in the UK that makes a ratio of 80:1 agencies to marketing directors.

The average salary in London for a Marketing Director is between £60-150k with the average salary being £80k according to Michael Page.  This puts them in the top 20% of marketing professionals according to EMR.

What is a Doer’s job?
These are the people who get stuff done.  They will be the ones writing content for your website, doing email marketing, managing social media on a day to day basis.  They will implement the things set out by a Thinker.

There are around 1,500 people in the UK working in marketing in the recruitment space, so a ratio of 8:1 agencies to marketers.

Marketing executives and assistants in London earn between £23k and £40k with the average being £32k and £25k respectively according to Michael Page.

So what’s the problem?
The problem arises time and time again in recruitment when companies don’t hire enough people in marketing or they give Doers and Thinkers the wrong jobs.

Thinkers are paid too much be doing the day to day work within a marketing team.  Financial Directors and CEOs start to consider a Thinker expensive if they are working as a Doer.  And they get bored.  At this point they are either made redundant, fired or quit.

Doers tend to be junior.  It is unwise to expect them to come up with the complex strategies for your business or try to convince the board that their plan will work.  If you do, and your marketing doesn’t work these folks get it in the neck; but you can’t blame them.  They haven’t the experience to know better and they don’t have someone to direct them if you haven’t hired a Thinker to guide and mentor.

The solution…
Hire a Thinker in your organisation to be in charge of driving the strategy.  If you don’t have a big enough need for someone to continually focus on the high level stuff then rope in an expert on a contract or work with a marketing agency to put together your strategy.  Their plan needs to be actionable for the Doers in your business.  If you don’t hire a Thinker make sure the Doer in your business has a mentor who is a senior marketer in another organisation or that you invest in training and development for them.

Make sure you have Doers to implement the work your Thinker or your external consultant / marketing agency have done.  Again if you can only afford someone to look at the strategy then outsource your doing work to an agency.

“Your job is to hire the experts, give them the right direction and resources, and set the right priorities.”

The CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, on how to hire

Find the best people for your marketing team.  Hire the Doer or the Thinker or get both.  Don’t scrimp and expect one person to do both well.  Outsource which ever part you can’t get someone in-house for.


Footnote addition – 16th October 2014

According to Hays fewer than 15% of Marketing Directors regard their own digital skills as very good and 18% rate their team’s digital skills as at that of a high standard.  34% say there are skills gaps within their marketing team.  Unrealistic or over ambitious company objectives are another major professional challenge.

The 5 stories every business should tell

It was a great pleasure to be on stage at Social RecruitIn with Eamon Collins, Group Marketing Director for Page Group, and Paul Farrer, Founder and Chairman of Aspire presenting on how to build an engaging digital strategy.


Before we could write we told stories.

Oral tradition – or the original stories – was how we passed on messages, shared experiences, educated future generations and created what would one day become known as history.  In illiterate communities around the world there still remains a strong oral tradition where the elders educate youths through stories.

Old relaxed man, looking through glasses, Varanasi Benares India

In his research paper historical psychologist Dr Hodge states that “storytelling typically [took] place in a relaxed and nonthreatening environment. Customarily, the setting [was] a quiet place where everyone [could] comfortably sit.”

Today people today listen, read and watch stories everywhere: in their homes, their offices or their local Starbucks.  Stories are weaved through everything we do, and we tell stories to everyone we meet.   What we tell, and how we tell these stories defines us.

Who would you want to sit next to at a dinner party?  Who would you make your best-man?  Who would you call when you are bored?  The person who tells the best stories.

Even looking back at the word “Story” tells us something…

The entomology of the word History comes from the Greek “histor” for “learned wise man” and then evolved into “historia” which meant “narrative”.  Later through Latin it became the word we use today: “history”.   The origins of the word “Story” come from Middle English where it was used to denote “a historical account”.

The number one reason for telling stories is that they have the ability to be remembered.

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Rudyard Kipling

Stories last. 

Long after we have forgotten the data points, the slides, the general content, we still remember the stories.  In fact people interviewed after presentations almost always remember the stories and only one or two pieces of data.

Before we could write, we drew pictures.

We found that drawing the message helped to make it memorable, and we could save that content for longer.  Aboriginal art is some of the earliest forms of storytelling in art.

aboriginal art work
Our minds are pretty simple and we still react more positively to images than we do to the written word.  They say a picture says a thousand words – well it can.

The way we use stories and images allow us to drive people to action.   In her book Resonate, LinkedIn Influencer Nancy Duarte talks about this at length.   If your story resonates with your audience you will get them to do something.   Like waves on an ocean you can make the listener go up, or go down, backwards, or forwards.


Most importantly we help other to tell our stories for us.  Social media has made the sharing and passing on of stories easier than ever.  In exactly the same way people had stories to share their message, their values and their visions – today businesses have stories to tell.   The stories we tell as businesses dictate how much we sell, the loyalty of our customers and the growth we experience over time.


To make it easy I’ve come up with 5 stories that we should all be able to tell – as individuals, but also as businesses.

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • My mission
  • What I do
  • What that means for you

Who am I?

This should be an introduction to you or your business.  It is essential that it is easy to tell across multiple channels and be as relevant on the homepage of your website, your LinkedIn company page as it is being told over the phone by your recruiter.  Every person in your business needs to know this inside out.

Why am I here?

What is the purpose of this conversation or this content that you are making me read?  What are you trying to achieve?  Be up front about the objective.

My Mission.

Explain what you / your business stands for.  This is your values and your mission statement as well as your motivations.

What I do.

Your mission should be more “why” and this is more “how”.   Find your USP – your unique selling proposition and explain it to your audience.

My colleague Eelco recently said that we should no long use the term USP.   Instead we should discuss the UBR – the unique buying reason; the reason that people buy instead of the reason we sell.

What that means for you.

Complete the circle and give case studies and testimonials.  It is essential that you have success stories that demonstrate how you have achieved your mission through what you do.

The Five Stories

In practice how can we do this?
Imagine that each of these stories moves your audience from a place where they don’t know you to a place where they are ready to do business with you.  Take them on this journey through the stories you tell.

the five stories

To give you an example of how I’ve used this in the past, here is how I raised money when running a marathon earlier this year…

Meet Seb.  He is trapped behind a lamp post.  The first story I told was about being a dad… now I know that everyone who knows me knows that I am a dad, however sometimes people need a reminder.  I wanted to increase the likelihood of people seeing my future updates and engaging with them and we know that engagement today – a like or a comment – reduced the friction for future engagement.  Facebook has a system called Edgerank which means that if I generate interactions from my posts my other posts are more likely to come up in my friends’ feeds in the future.


I then sent out an email (click here for the full email) explaining that my son, from the previous picture, had a favorite film: the Jungle Book.  When the book was written there were over 10 million elephants word-wide.  Today there are around 600,000.  I was going to run a marathon to raise money so that my son could grow up in a world with elephants and so could his kids.

Then I shared my charity Just Giving page that cemented the “Why” with more information on poachers and a few videos from the BBC talking about poachers.

just giving
How was I going to do this?  By running.  So I updated all of my profile pictures across social media to a picture of me running a half marathon for charity the previous year and shared these images across the net.

Then I closed the loop by explaining how this would help.  I then told a story about Raj, a 70 year old blind elephant I met in an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka which was funded by charities like the one that I was running for.

At each step I told a story that made it personal, that could be related to and that would resonate.

This campaign – and do consider this to be a campaign – helped me to raise over £3,000 for charity without having to beg and pester.  I was able to take people from not being aware of my aim, to a point where they would happily donate to a charity I cared about.

Every business should know the stories they want to tell and how they want to tell them.  Look at your business and establish how you can use these to your advantage.

Watch the video here…

Below are the slides from the presentation that I gave…

Being 1 in a Million

When I was growing up a million was a massive number.  Working in social media meant that a million suddenly got really small.

829 million people visited Facebook a day in June 2014.  500 million Tweets are sent daily.  LinkedIn has over 313 million members.  6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month.

That means that if you want to be 1 in a million on Facebook there are going to be 829 other people just like you.

If you send a 1 in a million Tweet there are 500 others just as good every day.

If are a one in a million graduate applying to a job on LinkedIn then there are 39 other applicants equally as qualified as you.

Average doesn’t cut it.  Above average doesn’t cut it.  Being awesome isn’t something you aspire to be – you have to be awesome in everything you do, or risk being forgotten.

One in a Million

Spend more time in less places.  Focus on being awesome where it counts.  Stand out or stand down.



Here are a few other social media statistics


  • 654 million mobile daily active users on average in June 2014
  • 1.32 billion monthly active users as of June 30, 2014
  • 1.07 billion mobile monthly active users as of June 30, 2014


  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute


  • 271 million monthly active users
  • Vine: More than 40 million users


  • LinkedIn members did over 5.7 billion professionally-oriented searches on the platform in 2012.
  • More than 3 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages
  • There are more than 1.5 million unique publishers actively using the LinkedIn Share button on their sites to send content into the LinkedIn platform.
  • LinkedIn members are sharing insights and knowledge in more than 2.1 million LinkedIn Groups.
  • LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 313 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
  • There are over 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. They are LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.


Recruitment Snakes and Ladders

First impressions count.  So do last impressions.  All the impressions in-between, well they count too.

Recruitment is a game of snakes and ladders.  Every interaction with a client or candidate creates an impression which either pushes them forward or drives them backward.

Snakes and Ladders

You answer the phone within three rings.  Move forward.  You were polite.  Move forward.   You follow up when you said you would.  Move forward.

You didn’t spell-check your email.  Move back.  You left six voicemails in one afternoon.  Move back.  You sent them fifteen irrelevant CVs.  Go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect your recruitment fee.

Interactions don’t just happen with your consultants.  They happen when people visit your office and are greeted by a friendly receptionist, when they sit in a comfortable chair in your board room, when they drink from your un-chipped coffee cups.  But they equally happen online.

In fact there are probably more people interacting with you online each day than ever meet your friendly receptionist or drink from your coffee cups.  Unless each of those online interactions is positive and leaves the right impression they may never get the chance to sit in your comfortable board room.

Don’t let your website, social media presence and digital credentials be a box of snakes.

The lie we tell about the marketing funnel

One lie we tell ourselves is that if we catch someone at the right moment we can get them to do what we want with our business.

Sometimes we get lucky.  But luck isn’t what makes us truly successful.

If you studied marketing or business you will have learnt The Buyer’s Journey.  It shows people going in at the top, and, at the bottom revenue comes out.  The idea being, that the more people you put in the top the more people come out of the process and the more money you make.

Buyers Journey

The Buyer’s Journey

In recruitment marketing “Purchase” is normally replaced with “Convert” which can include applications from candidates or contact from a client with a job role.

Search engine optimisation and behavioural advertising were meant to kill the funnel.  But guess what?  It still exists in 2014.  It will still exist in 2015.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it still exists in a twenty years.

Search engine optimisation is meant to get people to the point of conversion as they start looking.  But before they start looking ideas have already started to form in their mind as to what they want to buy, what sort of provider they are looking for and what sort of budget they are willing to spend.  They have preconceptions as to whom or what might be best for them.

If you Google “flights to Paris from London” you are likely to find a variety of sites flaunting their wares.  What do you look at first?  Instantly you know a little about the sites you might click on.  Each site – and each brand – has its own connotations.  Some you lean towards, other you actively avoid.

Google results for "flights to Paris from London"

Google results for “flights to Paris from London”

If you don’t have an affinity for a brand or business you start to do your research.  At that point there isn’t much time to build up Consideration and Preference before telling people to Purchase.  Don’t leave it until then to influence your target audience.  It is dangerous and leaves you in the same position as your equally unknown competition.

The question shouldn’t be “how do I make sure I am there when someone looks?”  It should be “how do I make someone want to interact with me when they are looking?”

You can’t bypass Awareness, Consideration or Preference.

Look again at the listing above.  You probably recognise at least four companies.  What do you think about each of them?  Which would you be likely to click on?

Spend your time building a brand.  Become recognised for what you do and how you do it.  If your message resonates with your target audience, when they do start looking for products or services like yours, you will be the one they come to.

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