Thursday, August 11, 2011

Christopher S. Penn's Out of Date Newsletter, August 2011 Edition

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As you scroll down past the header and opt out message, you will find the "Get back to work" section. The advice is worth giving some consideration to!

It may just create the edge you need for the company/position that you are targeting!

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Dear Stephen,

Welcome aboard the August edition of the Out of Date newsletter! This month's newsletter is yet another experiment in content generation. I'm writing it inside of a book publishing platform (more in the Neat Stuff section) so it will be available in many formats, such as:
I'll start off by saying thank you for being a premium subscriber. As with last month, there will be premium content in this newsletter that is a reward for your being willing to complete your profile. You'll enjoy the premium article this month, though you might feel squeamish about using it. Don't worry. It'll fade with time.
Let's get to this month's news. Make sure you follow me on Twitter (@cspenn), connect on LinkedIn, and read my blog so that you can get the latest news and info from me as quickly as possible, but if you don't, at least the newsletter gets you caught up, right?

Get Back To Work!

I'm going to start off with some grim tidings. Pretty much every generally agreed upon economic indicator except corporate profits shows that the economy has drastically slowed down. That means that finding a job isn't going to get easier for the rest of 2011. There is a silver lining: talented people are still getting jobs. A few of my former coworkers landed at new positions almost immediately after the recent merger. People who stand out can still find work.
So that begs the question, who stands out? More importantly, how can you stand out when everyone is clamoring for attention? We've talked about the basics before - professional presence online, writing as an industry expert, etc. But desperate times call for you to go above and beyond the basics.
One of Robert Cialdini's six principles of influence is reciprocity, the idea that if you give something to someone freely, you automatically create a slight, weak social obligation on the part of the recipient to do something in return. Marketers have understood this for decades, giving away everything from free samples to promotional pieces with actual currency attached to it. However, in all of my past experiences as a hiring manager, I have yet to ever see a single job applicant take advantage of this principle.
Writing an eBook, cutting a video, creating an MP3 - in the age of digital goods, content creation has never been cheaper or faster. To create a simple eBook, you need only a Web browser and access to Google Docs to create and export a PDF that you can give to people. To create a video, you need only a camera, basic editing tools, and access to YouTube. If you are truly financially pressed, chances are you can find a relatively quiet moment at a local Apple Store if there's one nearby and do your editing there. To record an MP3, you need only a microphone and the free Audacity audio software.
How do you use these tools to get noticed, to stand above the crowd? Create something that you can give away, and include it with your job application. If you're applying for marketing jobs, put together an eBook of the 5 or 10 marketing tips that are indispensable to you, put a nice cover on it (there are millions of images available at no cost on Flickr using the Creative Commons By Attribution, Commercial Use license - be sure to obey the terms of the license!), and offer it with your resume or in a separate email. I guarantee it'll make an impression that says you're more than just a single sheet of paper. If you're applying for a construction job, put together a YouTube video of how you organize your tools for maximum productivity or safety on the job site and add that in with your application.
You get the idea. Free or nearly free content tools exist to help you create a powerful impression of who you are and leverage the principle of reciprocity. If you're not using them, you're passing up a chance to truly set yourself apart from the crowd.
As always, if we're connected on LinkedIn, I will gladly forward any job connection request to anyone else in my network that I can help you reach.

Premium Neat Stuff

With as much free stuff as there is out there, I don't buy a whole lot when it comes to books. There's more than enough to read every single day. Thus, if I do buy a book, it's come highly recommended to me or I've had a chance to skim it in the library or online. As such, my recommended reading list is very, very short but impactful. Here's what's in my Kindle as of late and why.

  • Mastering the Complex Sale by Jeff Thull. If you're in B2B marketing or sales and this isn't your bible, then to be blunt, you're doing it wrong. Thull's book is a masterpiece on how to sell effectively, especially with complex products and services.
  • Strategy and the Fat Smoker by David Maister. David's an incredible writer and his works are always worth reading, full of dry wit and usable information.
  • Endgame by John Mauldin. Mauldin's one of the top shelf investment guys out there and his book is an eye opener. It's mandatory reading if you want the biggest possible picture of where things are going.
These three books should hurt your head, have you madly scribbling notes, and make you rethink a lot of what you're doing. That's my criteria for things I'm going to drop personal cash on - it's stuff that should make me sit down and seriously reconsider reality as I know it. Take note that only one is directly about marketing, even though I'm a marketing guy. Most of the really profound insights I get come from outside the marketing field.

Neat Stuff

Every month, I share some things that have come across my desk that are worth noting, either things I've found on my own or things people have sent me.
  • I'm using a program called Scrivener to write this month's newsletter as an experiment. It's a Mac writing program that makes it equally easy to create web pages, eBooks, etc. I've truly fallen in love with it, mostly because it helps keep me organized while writing longer-form stuff. For example, I've got all of my research notes in here as I write this newsletter, which keeps everything at hand. You'll find it in the Mac App Store.
  • Have you played with Google's Search Stories? If not, you should. It's wonderfully fun and makes some pretty compelling videos. The catch, of course, is that if you're writing a marketing message, your search story needs to end with your site as the message, so if you don't rank #1 for something, anything, it's not going to be helpful.
  • At nearly every social conference I've been at, someone has asked how to save and archive Tweets. If you want to do it yourself, YourTwapperKeeper is the software to do it with. You install it on your own server (or have them host it for a fee) and then you get rich data collected about any trackable piece of text, from words to user names to hashtags.
  • Following the markets? CNBC's iPad app is available and has real-time data. It's terrific to keep running on your iPad and a lot quieter than having the television on.
  • A few people have asked me about the theme I'm using on my blog. It's called Aggregate, and is available from Elegant Themes. It's $39/year for any of their themes (which is handy if you change themes as often as I do). Affiliate link! The theme was customized and deployed by the outstanding Wordpress expert, Michelle Wolverton.
  • One of my favorite tools is TweetAdder. I use it to seamlessly manage Twitter audiences, doing a lot of the manual stuff automatically, slowly, and methodically. Check out the June newsletter for more tips on how to use it smartly.

Shameless Plug: Buy My Book

Marketing White Belt book cover I published a book on Amazon and B&N called Marketing White Belt: Basics for Digital Marketers. My motivation for writing the book was noticing that a lot of people have found themselves in digital marketing roles with little or no marketing background at all. We come from social media or technology or fresh out of school and are expected to be full-fledged digital marketers, expected to be able to generate impressive results by managers who don't fully understand marketing themselves.
This book gets you started on the path of marketing, introducing concepts, frameworks, and ideas that will help give you a solid foundation in the basics of marketing. It's everything you need to get someone started on marketing basics, while not being overly dense (and thus productivity-dampening). Each concept has a series of exercises that will let you test your knowledge and apply it to the business situations you're facing at your company.
How to Get It:
Have you already read it? Please leave me a review on Amazon or B&N. Thanks!

Travel and Events

A bunch of notices this month for travel. First, I'm pleased to announce that I will be keynoting the University of Toledo's Internet Marketing Conference in addition to a host of other events.
  • PodCamp NH, Portsmouth, NH, August 13.
  • SocialFresh Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, September 6-7.
  • Optimization Summit, Phoenix, Arizona, September 12-13. I'll be talking email marketing in depth.
  • PodCamp Boston, Boston, MA, September 24-25. I'm going to share some stuff about social networks.
  • UT Internet Marketing Conference, Toledo, OH, October 18. I'm keynoting the event.
  • SocialMediaPlus, Philadelphia, PA, November 15-16.
Also, on behalf of my employer, the WhatCounts Email Summit will be held in Las Vegas in October. As of right now, I'm not slated to speak, but it'll be a cross-section of clients sharing their experiences and best practices.
If you'll be at any of these upcoming events, please say hi.
If you would like me at your event, please head over to the public speaking page. I just published a new set of packages available to event organizers that will give you a better idea of how I can promote your event and put butts in seats for you!
If you would like me at an event you're attending, ask the conference organizer to book me!

Stuff For You

What's been popular among my stuff? This list.
I generate this by looking in Google Analytics at Content > Top Content and looking at the time period since the last newsletter. This is a helpful way to generate "best of" lists that requires no subjective opinions. The data tells you what people like about your stuff.
Also, for those of you who are followers on Twitter, you know all about #the5. Well, now there's a weekly wrapup summary email in case you miss a day, sent out every Saturday morning. You can subscribe to it separately here.

Stuff You Did

In the spirit of you get what you pay for, I'm paying it forward to the people who share my newsletter with your networks. This issue, I'm profiling two people who moved the needle in the previous edition. Jay Fleischman brought in the most new eyeballs and Erik Deckers brought in the most clicks.
Twitter PicJay Fleischman is an attorney I've known for what seems like forever. He and I first talked when I was working in the student loan industry, and I even had him on my financial podcast a couple of times to talk bankruptcy law. Much of what I know about bankruptcy for college students came from him. He's a good guy and worth knowing. You'll find him at and @jayfleischman on Twitter.
Twitter PicErik Deckers is tired of BS in Social Media. So tired of it that he co-wrote a book with Jason Falls called No BS Social Media. Yes, I'm abbreviating the title to keep it moderately work safe. Their new book looks to be exciting and certainly entertaining. You can find Erik with Jason at their web site and @edeckers on Twitter.
If you want a chance to be featured in this newsletter, which has a readership of about 12,600 really awesome people, just share it with your network:
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If you're the Facebooking sort, you can also just use the Like button:

More of the Tweeting sort? Tweet This:

Next issue, I'll pick two more people that send eyeballs and clicks this way. Share this newsletter and get featured!

The End?

For now, this is the end. With as much travel as I've got, there's a good chance I'll see you soon. In the meantime, please feel free to stay in touch:
That's all for now. Thank you for reading it.
Christopher S. Penn


You can find additional tips and tricks to help your job search at the upcoming Job Search Jam Sessions on Sep 2. Register here:

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