That’s why a company is truly only as good as its people. And that’s also why one of the biggest risks an agency can take is hiring someone new. One hiring mistake – especially in a small- or medium-sized agency – can dramatically influence performance, profitability, and sustainability for the entire company.
Many times, when an agency hiring manager looks for new talent, he will trust a gut reaction, rather than facts. And many more times, the agency representative fails to do any kind of third-party evaluation of the candidates first. That means when agencies do get a new hire right, it’s due more to luck than skill.
Here are a few more reasons for advertising and marketing agencies’ high turnover rates:
But that’s not all. After a bad hire occurs, the problem becomes twofold: most agencies are notoriously slow to fire an employee who’s underperforming. Usually, by the time they do pull the trigger, so much damage has occurred – to money, morale, client trust, and more – that it’s tough to recover.
This doesn’t have to be the norm. Agencies can combat high turnover – and, fortunately, it’s not difficult to do. It’s simply a question of correcting a few bad habits.
So, how can an agency avoid the pitfalls of bad, uninformed hiring? By simply making the interview process clearer, more standardized, and comprehensive, it’s easy to uncover a candidate’s strengths and flaws – and to figure out who will be the best fit for your team.
At my company, Agency Management Roundtable, we partner with a company that compiles extensive research on what makes a good copywriter, account supervisor, or other agency position. They’ve built profiles and assessment tools based on the advertising industry, and their ability to accurately predict whether someone will be a good hire is uncanny. Come up with a specific list of qualities that your company needs in a position. Then, craft a list of questions that ascertains whether or not this potential hire fits the bill.
Stop chatting. Bring a list of hard-hitting questions to your interview, and stick to it. The best way to write questions is to identify key qualities that you’re looking for in a new hire: Is he giving me intelligent, specific answers? How does he work under pressure? Standardize your interview process, and ask the same set of questions every time. You’ll come out of each interview with a better idea of where each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses lie – and not just whether or not you share the same interests.
After you’ve narrowed the field, let your team interview the final few candidates – without the owner or HR director in the room. If your staff doesn’t think the candidate’s right for the job, trust them. Don’t hire someone who isn’t a good fit with the people they’ll work with every day.
When you call to check references, don’t just ask questions about the candidate. Ask about the company he used to work for, too. If it’s a very formal organization and yours is much more casual, you may have a problem if the candidate thrived in his previous environment. Moreover, figure out how and why the candidate left his last job, and how that could impact his performance at your agency. Does he falter under too much pressure? Is he dedicated? These are all things you’ll want to know before you commit to bringing someone new on your team.
Too few agencies actually test their final candidates. It’s not always best to roll out a physical test, though. You can screen candidates with whatever performance fits the open position: Make them present to you and your team, or come into your office and lay out a newsletter. You’ll want to see them in action before you invite them to suit up for your team.
Skills can be taught. Attitude, behaviors, and motivations can’t. You need someone with the abilities and character to thrive in your agency – and you shouldn’t let an incomplete interview process get in the way of finding the best fit for your company.
For more than 25 years, Drew McLellan has been in the advertising industry. For 18 of those years, he owned and ran his own agency. Today, McLellan leads up the Agency Management Roundtable, which advises hundreds of small- to medium-sized advertising agencies on how to grow and build their profitability through webinars, consulting, agency tools, workshops and more.]]>
That little device in their pockets has already changed the way people search, browse, and engage with online content, and nothing turns them away faster than a wonky design that doesn’t transfer seamlessly to their smaller screens and tap-to-click interface.
And we can’t forget about the cousin of smartphones, those increasingly capable tablets being used in higher frequency every day.
Heck, Mashable even called 2013 the Year of Responsive Web Design.
So what does it mean to have a responsive website, and how can you make sure you’re taking the right steps?
Here at Driving Traffic, we’ve made it a point to choose designs and themes that are automatically responsive. It’s a growing trend that’s becoming necessary to keep up with all the developments in the smartphone and tablet universe.
There really aren’t any advanced technical processes needed. Instead, it’s a matter of developing adjustable designs that can switch on the fly, and appear just as pretty and useful no matter how people are absorbing the content.
So What’s It Look Like?
A responsive website helps eliminate things like horizontal scrolling and image distortion by enabling flexible elements that can automatically be optimized to look and feel as clean as possible.
For example, working with columns is a typical responsive site strategy because they make it simple to arrange content in a way that’s easily accessible for tablet and smartphone users. That’s the main point here: there should be no or very little effort on the site visitor’s part to see what they want to see.
How’s It Work?
Responsive design uses something called “fluid grids,” which base sizes on proportion rather than pixels. That way, images and text can be automatically adjusted relative to each other, instead of needing specific parameters for each piece.
Another important aspect of responsive design are “media queries,” which can determine the resolution needed for any device being used to view a site. Though loading times can be amplified on a mobile device (because when you need all those service bars, they never seem to be there), it’s still a wise choice to enable a responsive design that keeps things in check.
Where Can I Find It?
Responsive design templates are available under the WordPress umbrella, as well as most other major site platforms. They may cost a little more than the non-responsive equivalent, and perhaps require a bit more attention to detail, but once implemented they can be just as easy to use.
Template Monster has a good collection of designs to choose from, and UXPin helps by providing breakpoints that “allow you to create responsive prototypes and wireframes that will look great on all the different kinds of devices and resolutions.”
We’ve also heard good things about Responsify (and we love the name), which actually lets you come up with the best template that will fit your needs, and customize a grid to go with your content, not the other way around.
It’s up to you to choose a design and template that will work for you. We wouldn’t be able to tell you what’s perfect for your situation, so check things out for yourself and go with something that fits.
The objective here is to build a site once, and watch it work across a billion screens, no matter what their size may be.
Tablets and smartphone adoption rates continue to skyrocket, and it’s never been more important to make sure your site is adapting to this shift.
You can’t please all the people all the time, but with responsive design you at least have the option.]]>
In other words, if you haven’t claimed your listing by now, what gives?
In the past, the Google Places user interface was said to be a little wonky, and it usually took a while to update information. Now, with the new look and feel (which basically resembles the rest of the Google+ avenues) modifications will be faster and update across all Google platforms, including Google Maps.
All the navigation tabs have been moved to the left of the screen, and AdWords Express is now found in the same place.
(Don’t let the moniker confuse you: Google+ Local is what Google Places used to be)
It’s simple to cash in on this killer search feature, and it won’t cost a dime. Here’s a crash course in case you’ve yet to claim it.
Go create a Google ID on the New Account page, and feed it all the info it asks for. Verify it with your email, and then you can get started with the Google+ Local process.
Punch in your business phone number to start the search, and that should be enough for the Google robots to track you down. Don’t fret if your information is wrong. That’s the point here; you’ll be updating everything to make sure it’s all correct.
Claim your business listing by clicking “Edit,” or create a new one if you can’t find it.
Here’s where you will specify location, contact info, hours of operation, and share a brief description of what it is your business does.
(Please note this is a fake business created solely for the screen shots, I am not opening a Falafel Emporium in downtown Austin)
Now that you’re going strong with the right information in the right place, here’s some tips to optimize the overall effect Google+ Local can have.
This is one of the best ways to virtually guarantee a page one appearance on Google searches, something that businesses sometimes just can’t seem to do. It’s basically been moved into the category of “required” for local businesses, and Google+ Local pages are going to be much more visible in search results than Google Places were before them.
Though it seems like Google sometimes force-feeds us things, this is one of those meals you can swallow easily. The social media/business directory hybrid that’s being created is a revolutionary new way to find, please, and keep customers.
Google has pushed all their chips to the center with Google+ Local, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t call them.]]>
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about some creepy stalker, hell bent on stealing your identity and ruining your life. Instead, I just described the concept behind Facebook’s new advertising platform, partner categories. Privacy concerns are understandable, but actually a non-issue with this new feature. What, you think Facebook would just ignore that whole Internet privacy thing?
Facebook promises that your personal information isn’t shared with the social network, third parties, or advertisers. It claims that companies have used this type of targeting off of Facebook for years and that “partner categories work the same way all targeting on Facebook works.” Who are we to argue?
Partner categories introduces a whole new spectrum of targeted advertising, and is allowing any Facebook Page to set their scope on a narrowed down, exclusively specific group of potential customers, followers, or fans.
Back in February, we told you about Facebook custom audiences, which was sort of a prelude to this new and more thorough advancement. We even said, and I quote:
“With a billion users on Facebook, waste and inefficiency is a constant worry for advertisers. The social network was built to allow users to find relevant pages, but not so much the other way around. Sure, Facebook does have an ad targeting functionality, but the broad demographic information available is next to useless for some marketers.”
Well, we can scratch that.
Now that Partner Categories is in full effect for US advertisers, they’ve got a much bigger field to play on. It is only available in Power Editor and through the Facebook API as of now, but that could be expanded soon.
Here’s the skinny: Facebook teamed up with three outside marketing firms, which include Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon. These heavyweights are providing Facebook with the data (sort of blindly, as to stay within those privacy parameters), and Facebook provides page mangers with the categories. As of now, they number above 500, and will be added to as time goes on.
Of course, the old reliable demographics from Facebook’s original ad targeting attempts, including age, gender, location, and the like, are able to be incorporated with these new specialized partner categories. The personas that can be honed in on now spread wide and far, opening opportunities to find the exact customer you know will be interested in what you’ve got.
Think about these implications: you can now execute advertising strategies for the most specific customer base possible to date. If you’re a Mexican restaurant, you can send your discount ads to people who live in your area, eat ethnic food regularly, visit restaurants frequently, have kids, drink margaritas, listen to country music, and work a 9-5 job. Now that family-friendly happy hour with live music from a Willie Nelson cover band is going to be packed, right?
You get the idea: the seemingly endless list of categories would take forever to fully describe, but noodling around inside the possible combinations can really get you thinking about who you’re trying to reach, and how well they’ll receive your ad. For the small, locally owned business, the impact could be huge.
Okay, that’s great news. But how are you supposed to use partner categories? I knew you would ask…
Facebook made it pretty simple to set things up with partner categories. As mentioned, it’s been rolled out to the Facebook API and Power Editor; we’d recommend using Power Editor if you aren’t already.
The process couldn’t be easier; it’s finding the right combination of customer categories that will prove to be the challenge. It might also prove to be the fun part.
Start by going to the “Manage Adverts” tab under the settings menu (shout out to our social media manager Molly Pittman for hooking it up with the screenshots).
Next you’ll want to go into Power Editor, which is found over in the left hand toolbar. For more information on installing and using Power Editor, go here.
After that, you can open up “Audiences,” and there you’ll find the “Partner Categories” box. Open that up, and choose one of the three marketing firms (you can only pick one for right now).
Once inside, you can start to narrow down your hunt for the right customer category, like people who are self-employed. Hover over the info button, and you’ll get a rundown of what you’re looking at. Choose what you see fit, and your categories will be included in your advertisement targets.