Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A REAL POST- The USPS Gets Into the Branding Game

Several months ago I wrote about America’s Brand as seen through the pages on my passport. It seems that they’re not the only arm of government to redefine its image. The Postal Service, which has a budget of $30 – $35 million a year for advertising, wants people to view them in a new light.

Rant 1: Why is the budget a floating number with a $5 million spread?
Rant 2: Why does the post office need to spend $35 million on advertising?

Though I don’t have the answer to my first question, I can presume that the cost of a stamp- now at almost half a dollar, makes people like myself reconsider whether to actually mail my checks, or use the online bill paying services of my Bank- Bank of America- another recent member of the re-branding club. Losing so much revenue from no-competition stamps means they’re forced to compete head to head against mighty brands like FedEx, UPS and DHL. And that is a problem and the answer to Rant 2.

The manager of advertising and promotion at the Postal Service said that though the brand is changing, customers were not viewing them as the contemporary and competitive organization they are.

The new theme: Today’s Mail.

The ads highlight some new services including shipping a package from your kitchen, creating customized postage stamps, automated postal centers and “eco-friendly” packaging to mail gifts. (Lets cover every base including green- rant 3.) The attributes were culled from the information received from 37 focus group sessions around the country and it’s the first time a theme has been used USPS advertising in 10 years. The ads use real people and, in addition to appearing in both print and online, will appear…. Guess where…. Right in your mailbox. A Brand New Postcard will be sent to 146 million addresses. Direct Mail for Today’s Mail. (Not to be confused with Today’s Male.) I just wasn’t that impressed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Communicating the Experience can Increase Retention

Which Job Do You Want?

This interesting tidbit is from the Harvard Business Review.
Posted by Tammy Erickson on October 10, 2007 6:51 AM

Imagine that you’re in the job market, with offers in hand from three firms. All three are attractive -- the type of opportunities you’ve been looking for with competitive compensation packages. You decide to meet with each firm one more time, specifically to talk about what your entry experience might like -- what to expect in your first six months on the job. Here’s what representatives from the three companies say. Which job will you take?

“Actually, your first three months will be a probationary period in which you’ll get to know and work closely with your assigned teammates. They’ll see how well you work with the group and contribute to its success. At the end of that period, your teammates -- your peers -- will vote on whether or not you will get to stay in the organization.”
“We can’t tell you what your exact role will be or who you’ll be working with. For the first three months, you’ll be in our “fishbowl,” performing a series of weekly challenges, perhaps designing new products or marketing campaigns, under the close scrutiny of our CEO and other senior executives. At the end of the time, depending on what we observe, we’ll help you find the right position for your skills.”
“Your first three months will be spent learning our way of doing business. We have a specific way of operating, and we expect you to follow our processes closely. We’re convinced that the ways we’ve outlined are the most productive and successful. After an extensive training program, you’ll get a chance to apprentice with one of our strongest performers.”

If you’re like most people, these three ways of starting work at a new company are not equally appealing. In fact, depending on your personality and preferences -- depending on how you view work and the role you want it to play in your life -- you’ll probably have a distinct preference for one over the others.

In a Harvard Business Review article, "What It Means to Work Here”, getting it right -- finding a work experience that matches your personality and preferences -- is key to your ultimate enjoyment of your work. In the end, the realistic demands of the job need to be in line with the role you’re prepared for work to play in your life. By choosing the company that is best suited to your needs and priorities, the more likely you are to be highly engaged in your work.

Organizations differ widely along these important components of the work experience. Some companies have risk-based compensation (options, bonuses), while others have predictable cost-of-living salary structures. Some organizations set up highly flexible, self-scheduling work groups; others take a pretty intense “all hands on deck” approach most of the time. Some reflect an underlying philosophy of paternalism; others a virtually complete contractor-like hands-off attitude. As you think about what you want to do next, it’s as important to think about your preferences for these “experience” factors as it is to consider the actual objective of the work you’ll be performing. If you don’t get this right, no matter how much you intellectually like the idea of what you’re working on, you won’t really be engaged.

Here were the results as of last night when I picked my choice. (B)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Future Employee Stuffs 10 Pounds of Fat into His Resume

Its not just because I'm a fat minded thin person that I oppose the sudden craze with video job postings and video resumes. I just haven't seen any evidence that these are especially good ideas.

What is more boring than watching someone who is not Puff Daddy sitting behind their desk talking to you about how much fun their opportunity is? Or, how about the recent video jobs on one newspapers jobs site where the voice-over sounds like a bad radio spot from the 60's.

What about video resumes?
The recent poll on MSNBC showed these results:

Can video resumes help you land a job? * 212 responses
Yes. They'll show off my personality and help me stand out above other applicants.
No. I could too easily make a bad impression, look unprofessional or be judged on my appearance.
Maybe. It depends on the quality of the video resume.

A year after Aleksey Vayner’s video resume made him a laughingstock on Wall Street and YouTube, he’s still searching for a job.

“Negative consequences are still felt,” the 24-year-old wrote in a recent interview conducted by instant message.

While still a senior at Yale, the aspiring investment banker had sent out applications, including a photograph of himself and the video resume. In the 6 minute 43 second clip, he bench-pressed 495 pounds, karate-chopped seven bricks and served a tennis ball at 140 mph, according to the captions. Despite the extraordinary achievements detailed in his application materials, Vayner landed no interviews — other than with the media.

Unless you're putting stamps on your email and have your cell phone transferred to your lan line, you have already realized that technology opens doors to doing things DIFFERENTLY! The message MUST suit the Medium. And the camera DOES add 10 lbs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Job-Search Sites Face a Nimble Threat

WSJ 10/9 Emily Steel
Among the hottest Web sites of the past few years were job-search sites such as and Helped by lavish advertising, they became household names. Newspapers, eager to tap the fast-growing online-ad market, teamed up with them.
Now, the hottest names in online recruitment are increasingly specialized job sites. That poses a threat to the growth prospects of the broad-based online job boards and their newspaper partners, analysts said.
In August, the number of unique visitors to CareerBuilder -- which is jointly owned by Gannett, Tribune, McClatchy and Microsoft -- dropped 2% to 20.2 million, while's traffic rose 4% to 16.3 million visitors. By contrast, technology-focused saw its traffic jump 34% to 998,000. At, which posts health-care jobs, traffic rose 36%.
Of the broad-based sites, Yahoo's HotJobs posted strong growth, with traffic rising 53% to 11.7 million visitors, boosted by recent partnership deals with more than 350 newspapers. "Advertisers are increasingly looking for more-targeted audiences and better-reach sites where they can find candidates that are more qualified," said Eric Yoon, chief executive of JobThread, which sells recruitment ads on dozens of targeted Web sites. In some of these cases, the cost of placing an ad is a fraction of a post on the big job boards.
Unless the newspaper industry and the big job sites figure out how to fill this burgeoning demand, they could lose market share, said Gordon Borrell, Chief Executive of Williamsburg, Va., research firm Borrell Associates. The market is valued at $5.9 billion but is projected to increase 25% to $9.7 billion by 2011, Borrell estimates. That growth is expected to come both from big companies already advertising online as well as small and medium-size local businesses that mostly don't use the Web.
"Obviously when you are going to a site that has a much larger user base you can get more applicants. You have more to choose from." said a spokeswoman for CareerBuilder. CareerBuilder and Monster both note that employers can set multiple filters to weed out unqualified candidates.
"To ensure we always have the best talent in every region, across the county, Monster has relationships with several niche sites that target specific demographics. We also have added visibility in the regions touched by the local media outlets we have forged relationships with," a Monster spokesman said.
Some Web concerns are taking steps to be more targeted in their approach. HotJobs has built an application on social networking site Facebook and is including tools on the site that enable people to email or instant-message a posting.
Yahoo is creating systems so recruitment ads on HotJobs could appear on other Web sites, using techniques that target the ad according to a person's interests. For instance, if a person registers on an online profile as a nurse in the Southeast, that person could see ads related to the nursing profession. "This is enabling advertisers to go more into the niches...these people are out there on the Web in all sorts of places," said Kevin Krim, vice president of product at Yahoo HotJobs. "We can reach out to them there with display advertising."
Newspaper companies are starting to make other investments, too. The New York Times has invested in, a site that lets visitors search for jobs on all the sites that appear on the Web.
One possibility for broad-based sites is to partner with their niche rivals. The difficulty, analysts said, is such an arrangement would hurt the broad-based sites' revenue because niche sites can't charge as much for ads. "The larger boards need to be careful because to some extent they could cannibalize themselves [by investing in or working with the emerging sites]," said John Janedis, a publishing and advertising agencies analyst at Wachovia Securities. "Everything is on the table now. We'll see how it plays out."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Internal Communications. 3 Steps to Developing your Plan.

It takes great planning to successfully plan and execute a great internal communication strategy.

Here are 3 simple steps to help you build relevant, meaningful internal communications plans that work. But, for extra simple, call us.


1. Background/Business Objectives/Behavior changes

  • Who needs to do what differently
  • What do they need to change
  • Stop, start, do more, less
2. SWOT analysis
  • What forces are producing the current behaviors
  • How might people react to this new communication
3. Deliverables
  • Key issues for next 6 months that may require communication
  • Precise media, audiences they reach
  • Time frames/Resources required
Download more details.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

BRANDENew Apples!

It's fall and apples are in season and I set out to buy 3 shiny new ones for BRANDEMiX.

In terms of Brand Equity, Apple's ranks 22 on the list of best Global Brands, and it's brand equity is up 22% over last year. The Apple brand is innovation, style and design. It's thinking out of the box.

And the Apple stores themselves are an experience worthy of the Apple logo.

Though the store was every bit as busy as you would imagine on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the my salesperson guided me through my purchases, asking me qualifying questions such as who were the computers for and what kind of work would they be doing.

When I expressed concern integrating the new Intel-chip Macs onto my network, out came a Mac Genius. Another company might call this person a Geek or part of technical support.

But in Apple-land he is a genius and he helped alleviate my concerns. He handed me his card and told me to give him a call on Monday and let him know how it worked out.

Yes, I was buying 3 computers but there are companies buying 500 Ipods to give out to their employees. There are customers raffling 100 Iphones at the next networking conference. My purchase was not large by Apple standards yet I was given the red carpet treatment.


The most significant impact Human Resources can have within their company is to support the brand, hire to the brand attributes and make sure training and development programs, performance management systems and compensation programs are designed to reinforce and promote "brand behavior."

The geniuses both in the stores and running the company know how important every person walking in the door is. Not only are they connected to the culture- the create the culture every day.

They know that my children want Mac computers because Mac makes their favorite thing- the Ipod.

Here's what InterBrand's insights on Global Branding had to say about the company:

Apple is the supreme master of Demand Creation. Consumers
are now happy to own multiple iPods that are styled for
particular functions: home, video or exercising. And in a world
filled with technology, the expectation created around the
launch of the iPhone demonstrates the supreme desirability
this brand has created. With iPhone, Apple plays a double trick
on its competitors. It transcends the problems of the highly
saturated communications environment by creating products
with such extraordinary customer pull that there’s no need to
push. At the same time, the phenomenon of the product launch
pulls free media toward it, proliferating brand impressions and
flooding media channels with branded messages. Essentially,
it has created such a profound demand that the product itself
generates a media blitz. It’s a high profile demonstration
of the convergence of technology. It was unthinkable some
years ago that Apple could make a phone. Consumers wouldn’t
have given the brand permission to do so. But now Apple
can transcend the ‘old thinking’ of limited boundaries. In this
sense the brand has become its passport, to roam wherever its
proposition can be applied.

That's the power of a brand and the power of Human Resources to take a big bite of the business strategy and get in the game.