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A MEANINGFUL TEST

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We once observed that if you’re going to hire, say, a head of comedy development, the simplest test would be to ask applicants for the list of their ten funniest films of all time. Seems Kurashiki Central Hospital in Japan was reading our blog. They’ve created a new test for surgical applicants. It’s not a book exam, it’s three hands-on puzzles applicants must assemble (using surgical tools) in 15 minutes. As the voiceover explains, surgeons don’t operate on books, they operate on people. How are you testing for ideal job applicant skills?

REINVENTION

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Disruption continues to be the big buzz in marketing (and, we recommend the new book, “Disruption: My Misadventures in the Startup Bubble”). A couple of classic disruptions include Amazon taking down bookstores and Uber re-imagining car service and deliveries. What people don’t pay enough attention to are the legacy companies that had the courage and foresight to reinvent themselves. Like IBM. And Xerox. Here’s the simple truth: Whatever industry or profession you’re in, you’re either a disrupter, a re-inventor or a dead man walking. Take an honest look at what you’re doing and ask yourself, “Which are we?”

CHANGE

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There are two kinds of change. One gets you looking busy, the other gets you where you need to go. There’s an old expression in business about people who spend time “arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” They look busy, but it’s meaningless or dangerous change. Which kind of change does your company practice – change to advance your business or change that might run you into an iceberg?

DINOSAUR MARKETING

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One of our readers started her career many years ago at a family-run business. Like all newbies, she eagerly made suggestions to the management team but quickly discovered she only got one of three responses: “That’s not our line of business;” “We tried it, it didn’t work;” or “If that was a good idea, someone else would have done it already.” The company went out of business years ago. How are you preparing for change in your organization?

ONE RESUME

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We’ve worked with, taught and mentored hundreds of college seniors and recent grads. Almost without exception, we see them go out into the world with a one-size-fits-all resume. Even worse, a one-size-fits-all resume laid out with a formulaic online template. The students are often surprised when we tell them to create a different resume for every company they apply to; that one-to-one marketing begins with yourself. How do you make sure you’re speaking correctly to your target audience?

BLAND.LY

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A charming satirical website showed up on our desk the other day for a company called Blandly. The entire site was built around the premise that they would deliver the bland marketing campaign you’re looking for with a team of young marketers with clever titles like “Chief Poetics Officer” and “Senior Design Proselytizer.” Like all good satire, there’s more than a little truth in it. How do you make sure your marketing campaign doesn’t get run through a blander?

KNEE-JERK MARKETING

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The state of Rhode Island launched a new marketing campaign two weeks ago—and the Internet trolls killed it. The slogan—“Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer” — left people confused and spawned lampoons along the lines of “Dumb and Dumber.” We’re not fans of the line, but the client reaction was predictable, and wrong. Instead of leveraging and challenging the trolls, they reacted in classic pre-internet style and quickly killed the campaign. And got the resignation of their marketing execs. Ouch. How are you prepared to handle negative feedback in social media?

GOING TO THE DOGS

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Here’s one good way to handle Internet trolls—just ignore them. Steve’s sister-in-law has a sideline business as a pet psychic. (Please don’t ask.) About a month ago, she was interviewed by BuzzFeed and it got posted on YouTube without her knowledge. The interview’s gone viral, with over 1.3 million views to date. At first she started to read what the trolls had posted, but when she called us, we said, “Stop reading. What do you care what they say?” Wisely, she took our advice and has blithely gone about her schedule handling the more than 400 (!) new client requests BuzzFeed has forwarded to her. How do you leverage your web activity?

RIP’ ROARING

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Welcome to the cover page headline of the April 21st edition of the NY Post. Really? We get that Kelly Ripa is upset that no one told her Michael Strahan is being promoted to Good Morning America come September. People are dying in Ecuador and Japan following the latest earthquakes and the earth has certainly shifted in the American political campaign. But the New York Post truly understands its target audience. Kelly sells tabloid papers. Blue collar Republicans on Staten Island really don’t care about Ecuador, Japan or anyone other than Donald Trump. Poor Kelly will have to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary and her millions of dollars salary wounded with the fact that, yet again, she will have to find another “Live” partner in the Fall. What do you do to make sure your brand news really matters to your target audience?