Tough love for the jobless: Get a clue. Get a personal brand. Get a job.

"I'm sort of a producer. But I'm great in front of the client. So, I'm kind of an account director. And I'm very strategic. My last job I was the online strategist. I used to be creative director at my old agency."

How many times do I hear this on an interview? A lot.

In these tough times, many unemployed people are feeling desperate and don't want to leave any opportunity on the table. So they try to be everything. And wind up being nothing.

There's no better way to find your resume in the trash than not to tell me you do everything. I suspect other people fortunate enough to be hiring in the advertising industry feel the same.

At Traction, when we do brand positioning for a client, we always tell them that in the mind of the consumer, you can be one thing. Our General Manager, Russell Quinan, refers to branding as the Art of Sacrifice—a moniker that rings true.

Guess what? That applies to your personal brand too.

Here are a few tips on what to do and not to do when looking for a job in this economy.

1. If I'm hiring, I'm looking for someone with specific experience to fill a specific role. Are you an account person or a producer? A writer or a designer. As soon as you tell me you're more than one, you become neither in my eyes.

Could this mean you lose an opportunity because you weren't the right fit? Maybe, but you're losing it anyway by trying to be the jack-of-all-trades. Try to be everything, you become nothing.

2. By all means, share your wonderful other qualities—but show me how they support how you define yourself. A brand position has supporting messages. Same goes for your personal brand. Being "good with clients" is a minimum standard for any senior position in my eyes. It's not a qualification to be an account director position on a multimillion dollar advertising account.

3. Don't be desperate. I often say business is like dating. When you're confident, you get the girls (so I hear). Same goes here. It's hard not to be desperate when you're... well, desperate. But it's not attractive.

Don't overcompensate and act cocky though. That's even worse.

Here's a tidbit that might help. Your interviewer WANTS to like you. They want to love you. They want to go to their boss and say "I found my girl!" and not have to take another huge chunk of time out of their day to schedule more interviews. Give them something to like.

4. Ask questions. Traction once lost a pitch for a hotel chain because the competing agencies called a few of the hotel managers to ask them questions about their needs, while we assumed we could guess what they were. I'll never make that mistake again.

Don't be afraid to email your interviewer about their needs before you meet. They may not answer if their buried, but they won't hold it against you for asking.

5. Feel free to discount this advice. There are exceptions. If you have a real reason to suspect that someone's looking for a jack-of-all-trades (like they told you they are), ignore my advice. But be discerning before you do.

Just like in focus groups, people tell you what they think they want, but that's not often the truth. Even when they're looking for a mutt to fit a couple of roles, they're looking for a specific mutt. Be that mutt, not another.

6. Build your personal brand online. In advertising today, everything is interactive. Even you. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter account and a blog, get one.

Google has just launched Google Profiles. If you don't have one yet, get one. Here's why. When a hiring manager inevitably Googles you, you want to control what they see. Having a Google profile with your photo come up in search results is likely to draw the first click. You want to leave that up to chance?

I sincerely hope this advice is helpful. Feel its something many just need to hear. I wish you luck out there.


Ad Industry Innovator: Traction

Agency search consultant, David Wiggs, posted an interview with me on his blog at Marketing Hitch. Here's an excerpt:

We’ve all read that the pitch / RFP process is broken. Many agencies aren’t even interested in competing in pitches. Do you see an alternative to this process?

Sure. We have ten active clients right now. I think we only went through a pitch “process” for half of them. I just emailed a potential client a half hour ago to tell them we wouldn’t do spec work.

It really depends what kind of work you want to do. We walked into a capabilities presentation at a major consumer software company a few weeks ago, had a great meeting and got a call from their procurement department in the midst of celebratory margaritas 25 minutes later.

We ordered another round.

What does the agency of the future look like?

Interactive, obviously.

But more so, I think agencies are going to need to move up the value chain and become true strategic partners for their clients.

If agencies make their money producing banner resizes, pretty soon clients are going to ask, “Why don’t I just hire someone to do that?” On the other end of the spectrum, more and more publishers and providing brands with unique content integration opportunities and doing creative on their own.

What we can offer that is unique and invaluable are the abilities to uncover insights, to translate them into strategically relevant creative expressions of a brand, and to uncover opportunities to get those messages in front of the right audiences at the right time with the right vehicle. That will mean giving up some creative control at times, but it will also mean greater value will be placed on the strategic process and brand innovation that the agency of the future will bring.

What do marketers need that agencies are not giving them?

There’s a huge focus on ROI today and there’s good reason for that. But the result has been a slew of agencies that focus solely on performance marketing and are unwilling to take a risk. They’re afraid to fail.

Great ideas always feel like risks. They always make you nervous. Because great ideas challenge conventional notions. That’s what makes them great.

What marketers need and are not getting from agencies are efforts that bridge that gap. That offer breakthrough thinking married with best practices and a measured ROI. That’s the value we strive to bring our clients at Traction. I think we do a pretty good job.

You can read the rest of the post and see the rest of the series of interviews with marketing innovators here.


PRESS RELEASE: Traction named top interactive agency by BtoB Magazine

We're shouting from the rooftops and cracking the champagne over here at Traction. BtoB Mag just named Traction THE NUMBER ONE INTERACTIVE AGENCY IN AMERICA. Wowsa.

Here's the press release:

Traction Named #1 Interactive Agency for 2009 by BtoB Magazine

SAN FRANCISCO – April 7 - Despite the turbulent economy, San Francisco interactive ad agency, Traction has had a year of new account wins, growth of existing accounts, award-winning marketing innovation and now, has been recognized by BtoB Magazine as the top interactive agency in the United States for 2009.

Traction’s billings soared by over 60% in 2008, fueled by new client wins for business-to-business clients such as Adobe, California Bank & Trust, Message Systems and Egencia (an Expedia company), and consumer brands like Walmart.com, CamelBak, AAA and DriversEd.com. The agency also saw additional revenue from growth of existing accounts, including Sun Microsystems.

Traction also has confidential relationships with one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. and one of the most celebrated consumer electronic companies in the world.

Each year, BtoB names the top business-to-business agencies in the country. Traction was selected as the winner in the Interactive Agency category. Digitas was the runner-up in the category.

BtoB’s selection criteria include new account wins, growth of existing accounts, quality of campaigns and marketing innovation.

"We are a creative agency with a digital core. We are strategic in everything we do and see every point of contact between brands and their customers as interactive," said Adam Kleinberg, co-founder and CEO of Traction, winner of the interactive agency category, "we’ll use print or television, but view them as part of an interactive experience that always drives consumers online. What we do is design experiences—brand experiences, social experiences and user experiences—that seamlessly move people from awareness through conversion."

Traction’s main areas of focus in 2009 were providing a clear path to ROI for every engagement and developing best practices for emerging media channels. "We knew that for us to be successful, we had to become a metrics powerhouse so we could provide the value they need," said Kleinberg. "For our clients to be successful in a changing media universe, they also need to provide value to their customers. Innovation has been the key to make this happen—for both our agency and the brands we’re privileged to work with."

You can read the special report, 'BtoB' Top Agencies Report: Not all gloom and doom, in its entirety at http://tinyurl.com/btob-topagencies. Traction is featured at http://tinyurl.com/btob-traction.

About Traction
Traction is a creative agency with a digital core. Founded in 2001, the agency has crafted interactive marketing programs for Adobe, CamelBak, Clos du Bois, Sun, Virgin Mobile and Walmart. To view Traction’s work, visit www.tractionco.com or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/traction.


Assessing free social media metrics tools

After the Social Media Analytics panel got cancelled at the Web 2.0 Expo yesterday, I decided to do a little panel discussion of my own on the various tools out there. Luckily, my pal Dave Smith over at Mediasmith did a presentation at iMedia Breakthrough a few weeks ago on "The Surprising Power of Social Media Metrics." I'm using that as a starting point for an outline along with a few options we've used along the way in this post.

First, the free stuff:

Twitter Search - OK, so this is pretty basic, but it is a useful tool for measuring conversation about your brand. I just ran a search and saw 19 posts in the last 24 hours about my client Alibaba.com. Certainly indicates that we should be thinking about their Twitter strategy.

TweetGrid - Calls itself a Twitter Search dashboard that updates in real time. You can basically monitor several keywords and they all show up in boxes and update dynamically. Useful, I guess if you have all day to sit around staring at an ugly dashboard, but the UX is gross. Not for me.

Twist - This is a nice site because it gives you a chart for 7 or 30 days of conversational activity on Twitter for a keyword. Great to paste into a report. The problem is that it measures in intervals of 100 tweets, so if there's not a ton of conversation going on, your chart looks like a flat line. They have potentially cool drag and drop functionality that let's you zoom in, but it was buggy when I checked it out.

Twilert - This is a great tool for marketers who want to have an effective Twitter conversational marketing strategy. They have advanced search features (all/any/none of these words, by hashtag, sender, receiver, geography, and ATTITUDE) , so you can get alerts of all the people having conversation about a given topic and respond to them. Something every social community manager could use for Twitter.

SamePoint - This is a great tool for monitoring conversations. Rather than just one social tool like Twitter, you can look at all social media or set filters. A quick search on Alibaba.com again gave me one column with results from across the social web (blogs, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Digg, Facebook...) and a second column showed Tweets. They also have a search plug-in for browsers that are OpenSearch compliant. No reporting, unfortunately, but awesome for real-time monitoring.

SocialMention - I like this even better than SamePoint. The level of filtering isn't as great, but it's a nicer UI. They don't offer much in the way of reporting, but do have a "social rank" score and some top level summary of sources of mentions (i.e. 50 from blogsearch.google.com, 20 from technorati.com, 20 from wikio, etc.). What I really like is that they have an open API, the ability to look at trending keywords and you can export a spreadsheet. Bookmarking this one!

Google Alerts - Like everything Google does, it's simple, basic and works great. News and blog posts about specific keywords delivered to your Inbox. Been using this for years. Don't plan on stopping.

PostRank - P"ostRank measures engagement by analyzing the types and frequency of an audience's interaction with online content. " This is a tool that basically tracks the re-sharing based on any original feed. It's great for getting granular on who is sharing what and how (i.e. who Dugg, commented or Twittered about your blog post). They are launching an Analytics tool, but it's still under wraps. Nice UI on this site. Have high hopes for the Analytics tool.

Google Insights for Search - This is a great tool for measuring search volume and I think a very valid way of measuring interest over time and by region. It also allows you to see related searches to dig into those. Great charts to show how many are searching for a term and where. I would say that if I wanted a true measure of brand awareness—or actually brand interest—this is an ideal tool.

Technorati Chart - Technorati allows you to search for blogs on a specific keyword, but what I really think is neat from an analytics perspective is their chart tool that allows you to compare how conversations in the blogosphere measure up across terms. Not exactly robust analytics, but a useful tool that I'll definitely use in the future to make a point.

BlogPulse - These guys have a number of tools for monitoring conversation. First, they have Trend Results, which basically produces the exact same chart as Technorati. It also has a Conversation Tracker tool, but the results were crap. When I searched for 'adam kleinberg' on social mention, I got 10 pages of results. On BlogPulse, just a handful and none of them were any of the dozens of blog posts and articles I've written. Doesn't bode well in my book. Plus, these free tools just seem to be a come-on to upgrade to Nielsen Online's BrandPulse product.

Trendpedia - Again, this is just a repeat of the Technorati compare chart. I'm totally underwhelmed, however. Of the three, I'd go with Technorati because I trust their information.

Trendrr - At first glance, this seems like a more powerful tool than either of the above, because you can specify data sources and customize the reporting you get to a much more robust level. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a confusing interface. After fighting with the log-in panel for five minutes, I gave up. But I might come back. Maybe. We'll see.

Facebook Lexicon - You guessed it. Tracks conversations on Facebook. On Facebook Walls, specifically. Decent enough tool to stick a chart in a report, but not mind-blowing insights by any means either.

That's an assessment of some of the free tools out there. More to come...


Marketing to Millennials link

I delivered a webinar yesterday for my alumni organization title the World has Changed: Marketing to the Millennial Generation. Someone asked me for some resources or links that I'd recommend to get a better understanding of this generation and emerging marketing tactics. I promised to post some links on my blog, so here are a few suggestions:

Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation This is a few years old now, but was the definitive text that coined the term "millennials" and first examined the fundamental traits that made them unique

Grown Up Digital This was the book I talked quite a bit about during my presentation. I saw the author speak at the Web 2.0 Summit a few years back and basically discuss the outline of this book. It really hones in on the impact of being the first generation to grow up as digital natives.

Wikinomics Same author as Grown Up Digital. This is not about millennials, but about the collaborative economy we live in today and the best book I've read on the underlying trends behind "Web 2.0."

Mavericks at Work Great book about brands who are thriving in the new world and doing things differently from the inside out. I think it's a must-read for all brand marketers.

Buzzmarketing Fantastic book about doing more with less. The best media you can buy is the media you don't pay for.

MIllennials Incorporated Haven't gotten to this one yet, but it's on my reading list.

iMedia Connection Great publication with loads of contributions from thought leaders in the emerging media and marketing space. I blog there and write the occasional feature piece.

Putting your content where it matters An article I wrote about how to reach consumers effectively in the emerging marketing world.

To download the powerpoint slides from my webinar, click here and then scroll to the bottom of the page to: “Attendees: Click Here."