Social Media Has Changed The Marketing (and Recruiting) Game . . . The Heat Is on, And How You Play Will Determine Winning Vs. Losing

So I posted a response to Bill Vick's question about 'interview preparation' today ("Should recruiters outsource the interview prep to other professionals?") . . . and noticed that there had been some positive and potentially negative responses to the vendor that Bill spotlighted. That's not a bad thing - hey, it's life . . . and it represents an opportunity to engage! We all know how it used to work - marketers would mail us a piece, or we'd see an ad in a magazine, or we'd have to watch 20 mins of ads per each primetime show, etc. . . .

Translation: We tuned out, and in many cases, it was wasted marketing dollars.

Today, however, the social media age has changed the game. In many cases, marketers and business people would see objections on an open forum as a significant. But is it really? No. Dialogue is good . . . engagement is better . In fact, I wanted to take a moment to commend Erik Kramer on seizing the opportunity to dialogue with posters/consumers/customers relative to all responses (no, I don't know Erik and have never used his product!)

To show the inverse of dialogue . . . to show what happens when customers and shareholders are ignored, we need to look no further than Starbucks. This is what I mean: On 2/14/07, returned CEO, Howard Schulz wrote a memo to several employees in preparation for the FY 08 Strategic Planning process. In this memo, Schulz warned of "the commoditization of the Starbucks experience". Nine days later, the memo leaked and was broadcast to the world through the blog, Starbucks Gossip. Hundreds of comments followed, running the full gamut of emotions . . . and did anyone at Starbucks respond? Of course not. In fact, Schulz himself even hinted at the pompous, bourgeoisie-laden atmosphere SB Corporate had become:

"I have said for 20 years that our success is not an entitlement and now it's proving to be a reality. Let's be smarter about how we are spending our time, money and resources. Let's get back to the core."

In my estimation, the lesson for marketers today is to realize that everyone (yes, everyone) represents the brand in the marketplace. In the age of social media, marketing is no longer something you do . . . but rather, something you organizationally live and breathe.

(Hey, is this the same Starbucks that was winning recruiting award after recruiting award as a result of the Halo Effect during the good times????) Man, when times were good, we couldn't get Starbucks off the recruiting award stage! I don't know anyone at SB, so please take no offense . . . but you have to admit that it's surreal how the tables can turn when the Halo pendulum swings the other way.

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Comment by Eric Kramer on July 28, 2008 at 8:54pm
Thank you for the commendation. I really welcome the opportunity to respond to all thoughts, reactions and feelings about InterviewBest.

It is exciting and challenging to try and influence the way a very traditional activity, the job interview, takes place. Many wise people have questioned whether I should take on the challenge. My reaction is, how can I not take it on? Landing a job, the right job, is one of the more momentous and potentially life changing events in a persons life. Being able to interview well is a difficult skill not easily learned and it should not be the barrier between a qualified person and a job. Having a tool for support and guidance is a huge help and a real confidence booster,

As you observe, trying to accomplish this task without online engagement and dialogue would make introducing InterviewBest fantastically more difficult (and it ain't easy to start with). Beginning and maintaining a conversation about a new approach to an old process will engage and enlist people in testing it out. In the end it may fail, however it will have been thoroughly tested and discussed. It is truly the marketplace in action.

Comment by Joshua Letourneau on July 30, 2008 at 8:34am
Eric, thanks for the reply - you're going about things the right way. Chatter and dialogue accelerate word-of-mouth :)

Plus, I have to say that controlling dialogue 'real-time' during a market launch is truly amazing. Can you imagine a world where this is no longer possible (well, sure you can because it's what we've dealt with to date!) . . . but it's worth considering the differences and risk-mitigation when you, yourself, (as the launching organization) can control and influence dialogue. It used to take huge ad-campaigns and big-$$$ (capital intensive) tradeshow launches . . . but today, you can achieve more with less through social media.

Frankly, I think it's just an awesome opportunity that may truly be the difference between establishing that beachhead or missing the mark . . .


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