Mark Carlson

Help Me Highlight You

While scanning through a pile of resumes recently, I was surprised to see how few really stood out from the crowd.  How few were formatted in an approachable way.  How few made me want to take the next step to meet the person behind the sheet of paper.

I am not a HR professional; I don’t claim to understand all the nuance of searching and finding great people. And I know that resumes are passé; in today’s world, your website, or your blog, or your book all tell a story about you that is more personal and insightful than words on a piece of paper.  But here’s the catch – for me, your resume is the gatekeeper to all of that rich content.  If you don’t catch me at the resume stage, I may not take the next step to find out more about you in any of those more creative constructs.

So, at the risk of stating the obvious, here are a couple of pointers for helping us (those who are doing the screening) find you (those who want to make it to the “yes” pile.)

  1. Format matters.  Your resume is my first measure of your communication skill.  I assume that how you present yourself to me is the same way that you might craft a presentation to one of our clients.  Take a look at your resume in “whole page” view.  It should be pleasing to the eye – it should invite me in, rather than make me feel I have some work ahead of me.  Is there any breathing room or white space?  Are the sections clearly broken out and easily identifiable?  Think of it as an artful presentation rather than a data sheet, and you’re likely to have more of the content consumed and appreciated.
  2. Edit, then edit some more.  Understand the description of the job that you’re seeking and use that as a guide to make your resume sing.  What are the two or three things that you really want me to take away from your experiences?  Help me find them – don’t make me hunt for the nuggets among the mundane.  Show me that you have the experience to merit consideration, but don’t belabor projects and experiences that blend in at the expense of those that should stand out. I’m going to read your resume with a highlighter in hand.  (That’s right, I’m actually going to print it out.)  Help me quickly find those things that you think I should mark in bright yellow.
  3. Find a way to inject some personality.  There are many ways to do this, and some are better than others – but I need to get a sense of you the person, beyond titles, dates and degrees.  Don’t get too cute here, but once again, give my highlighter something to grab onto.  Give me something to attach to your name – “Oh yeah, she’s the one who ran away with the circus.” (Don’t use that one, unless you know, you actually were a circus runaway…)
  4. Details matter.  It’s really hard to imagine, but I saw typos, grammatical errors, and formatting problems.  Proof your work – there is no excuse for not being meticulous here.  One bad typo, and you could end up in the “maybe” pile.  And do not rely on spell check alone, have a friend read it over with a critical eye.  Save it as a .pdf – you do realize that not all computers have the same font libraries don’t you?  When I open your resume with Word or Pages my computer might just do some auto-formatting, and all of your hard work perfecting the look could be out the window.

Some final points:

  • One page is an ideal length, but two pages are acceptable if your work history merits the second page.  Once again, this should be an exercise in sacrifice and editing, but if you’ve been in the workforce for 15 years, then a second page is understandable.  Do not include a second page to tell me about your paper route, or your role as social chairman of the fraternity.
  • And finally, please realize that cover letters are most often used when a resume is physically mailed to a HR department.  In most cases these days, a resume is attached to an email.  Therefore, your email IS your cover letter – treat it accordingly.

I wish you all the best in your search and career.  I know that there is a fascinating person behind this piece of paper.  So please make it easy for me to place your resume in the “yes” pile.

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Anna Curtis

The Top Ten Moments Of #MUISS

Laughlin Constable was proud to sponsor the 2014 Insight Summit Series Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit, held at Marquette University on 3.19.14. There were many moments that made this year’s event special, but here are our top ten favorites:

  1. LC Shines – Who can resist an opening keynote that includes Beyoncé, Elon Musk, and Flappy Bird? Or a UX presentation from a former punk rocker. Or workshops that unlock the secret to SEO success and how to get the most out of Google Analytics? Many thanks to Paul Brienza, Sean Barry, Trisha Krautkramer, Erin Ebert, and the rest of the LC team who made this year’s Digital Summit a success.
  2. Tweeting Up A Storm – The Digital Summit was a success, and attendees let everyone know via Twitter. Within hours, #MUISS was a trending topic in Milwaukee, generating 1.5 million potential impressions and @LaughlinOutLoud was mentioned hundreds of times – a  perfect representation of the digital world we live in.
  3. AOL Gets Programmatic – Michael Treon, VP Platform Solutions at AOL, discussed programmatic advertising and how it will shape the future of marketing, merging creatives and engineers to come up with time-saving solutions.
  4. Google Rewind – With the massive search engine changing almost every day, it was entertaining to walk down memory lane with Jen Keller, SEO Specialist, and see what Google looked like in the late 1990s, mid 2000s, and just last week.
  5.  #SketchNotes – Jennifer Torres (@jentorres) stole the #MUISS Twitter show with her creative and visually engaging SketchNotes
  6.  UX Drunk Test – Laughlin Constable’s User Experience Strategist, Brady Pierzchalski, highlighted how UX shouldn’t make users feel stupid by showing this video of a person using Windows 8 for the first time.
  7. Tell a Story – Closing speaker Susan Sachatello, from CUNA Mutual Group, encouraged brands to focus on what they stand for, and tell that story to your audience well. She also urged marketers to recognize who your audience is, but who they aspire to be and meet them there with your brand story.
  8. Embrace the Chaos – Taulbee Jackson from Raidious talked about real-time marketing and how advertisers must embrace the chaos. “You have a real time focus group happening all the time, whether you know it or not.”
  9. #SwipeRightForFun – Did you know? The dating app Tinder was originally going to be called Matchbox. And co-founder Jonathan Badeen has indeed been on a Tinder date.
  10. Sell out! – The Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit, including pre-summit workshops, sold out for the second year in a row. Don’t miss the next Insight Summit Series event.

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Lydia Eichner

240 Films from 44 Countries in 15 Days: Milwaukee Film Festival 2013

Here at Laughlin Constable, our passion for innovative ideas and outstanding creative extends far beyond our doors. As sponsors and champions of the Milwaukee Film Festival, we are proud to support one of the most important cultural events in Milwaukee – no other occasion celebrates creativity, imagination, and art with such enthusiasm. Alongside other Milwaukee advertising agencies like Bader Rutter and BVK, specifically Sara Meaney, Development Co-Chair for the Milwaukee Film Festival, we’ll be jumping in with both feet and exploring the diverse range of experiences this year’s festivities have to offer.

Opening Night Party + Red Carpet Experience: The festival kicks off on Thursday, September 26th with Break Up Man (Schlussmacher), a comedy blockbuster named best German film of the year. Catch the film at the Oriental Theatre, and then head to Discovery World to get down with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and local DJs. Also enjoy drinks, food, and lots of prizes. Not swanky enough for your taste? LC is also sponsoring the exclusive Red Carpet Experience, featuring star treatment, VIP access to a private area of the museum, an open bar, and silent auction benefitting Milwaukee Film.

Cream City Cinema: This showcase of local filmmakers’ work culminates in a yearlong Filmmaker-In-Residence prize awarded to the jury winner. Say you saw them before they blew up – our city’s concentration of filmmaking talent is going places.

Milwaukee Music + Music Documentaries: To contribute to an even lusher multi-sensory experience, musical documentaries are now their own film category – Sound Vision. Plus, the festival’s official live music series, Soundtrack at The Hotel Foster, features live local music every night of the festival – free with a festival pass or ticket stub from the night’s screenings.

For a full list of program categories, click here >> http://bit.ly/180JjbW

For a complete festival lineup, click here >> http://bit.ly/18rJWNP

We’ll be tweeting throughout the festival and live-tweeting the Opening Night events. Join the conversation by tweeting #MFF2013 and share your thoughts on what you see (but wait until the show is over to break out your cell phone).

Why film? Like advertising, cinema is an art form that has the unique ability to impact audiences in almost unlimited ways. Both mediums employ boundless creativity in order to provide entertainment, spark conversations, inspire ideas, and communicate emotions.

The experience of film is at once collective and personal, communal and introspective, social and private. Before the invention of Netflix and before Blu-ray players were even a twinkle in the home entertainment industry’s eye, going to the movies was a necessarily shared experience. Today, we’re seeing cinema come full-circle – it’s never been easier to enjoy, share, experience and discuss films with communities near and far than it is right now. You can see this happening with your own eyes at the Milwaukee Film Festival – a community of film-lovers coming together to experience something great.

Join us for over two weeks of film – we’ll be sure to save you a good seat.

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Casey Flanagan

Benjamin Franklin, Project Manager

Charles Darwin, business consultant. Albert Einstein, account planner. Pablo Picasso, creative director. Benjamin Franklin… project manager.

ON MINDSET
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

ON SCHEDULES
“You may delay, but time will not.”

ON 99% BEING PERSPIRATION
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

ON THE DELIVERABLE
“Well done is better than well said.”

ON THE END OF THE DAY
“Lost time is never found again.”

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

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Kelly Christiansen

Beware people who tell you what they think. Trust people who tell you what they know.

In a previous post about personal growth for brands, I referenced the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. We can investigate the third agreement, “don’t make assumptions” by answering the following question: Why do we make assumptions in the first place? 

 

A1: False Confidence.

Assumptions are often made on the foundation of a false confidence. We may have a false confidence if we previously worked on a similar brand, client, or project. Yes, we may know some truths about the audience, product, brand, or culture – which can help us relate – but we cannot make assumptions about the business, marketing, or communication objectives, until we have accurate, current information about this brand, client, or project.

Solution: Put previous knowledge and experience on the back burner and get current and accurate info.

 

A2: Misperception.

Missing details can cause misperception. That’s the danger of assumptions.  When we are confused sometimes we just fill in the blanks ourselves. We need to fill in the blanks by asking questions.  We need to get the details and information. Then we can fill in the blanks with the correct answers. We get rid of confusion.

Solution: Fill in the blanks by asking questions.

 

A3: Changing variables.

Assumptions work when the variables are consistent. We live in an age where variables that change daily are changing slowly.  Double-check the realities each time. Objectives may have changed. Market dynamics may have shifted. New trends have an impact.

Solution: Verify the factors that could impact your objective first.

 

When we don’t make assumptions, it means we are asking questions and listening.

When we are asking questions and listening, it means we are filling in the blanks with the correct answers.

When we are filling in the blanks with the correct answers, we set ourselves up to achieve our objective.

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Casey Flanagan

The Brand Ad Is Dead. Long Live The Brand Ad.

The brand ad is dead. But it’s not because there are no more brand ads. In fact, the opposite is true.

Because every ad is a brand ad. Further, everything a brand does is an ad.

Product ad? It’s the brand’s product. Sale ad? It’s the brand’s sale. Strong call-to-action? It’s the brand doing the calling.

So rather than deciding whether we’re doing a brand ad, let’s decide what kind of brand ad we want it to be.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

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Casey Flanagan

New Media. Same Truth.

Research shows 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal. As people spend more time on their mobile phones, reaching them “on-the-go” will continue to increase in importance.

Yet the small screen, like all media, provides its own set of challenges and opportunities. Some to-remain-unnamed brands, as seen in Example A focus on the challenges.

Their strategy appears to go along the lines of:

Marketing Manager One: “We have a small space. What do we do?”
Marketing Manager Two: “Boy, I don’t know. That is a small space.”
Marketing Manager One: “Could we trick someone into clicking on our link?”
Marketing Manager Two: “Interesting. But how?”
Marketing Manager One: “Let’s make it look like they have a friend request on Facebook. Even though they’re in The Weather Channel app. That could work”
Marketing Manager Two: “Who cares if they’re annoyed when they get there. They’ll be there. We’ve accomplished our task. We’ve overcome the challenge.”

It’s amazing that this kind of work is considered, much less approved. On the other hand, there are brands that focus on the opportunities, as seen in my favorite-mobile-ad-yet in Example B.

Lowe’s looked at the small space and (a) thought about what the consumer was interested in getting – the weather (b) tied themselves to the context – a nice spring day (c) didn’t get in the way – fit within the established graphic approach and (d) thought differently – staying away from the standard solution.

It’s expectedly unexpected. It’s well played all around. And it almost makes me want to garden.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

 

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Katie Mullen

Reaching “Peak Bullshit” and Where We Go From Here

I’m a college graduation speech junkie. When you ask interesting people to share life lessons, not surprisingly, it can make for some pretty great stuff.

My favorite of 2013 was Jon Lovett’s address to the graduates of Pitzer College, which the 30-year-old former Obama speechwriter later excerpted in a piece for The Atlantic called “Life Lessons on Fighting a Culture of Bullshit.”

You had me at “bullshit,” Jon. Being that the recession created skeptics out of even the most trusting among us, I’m willing to bet his point of view will strike a cord with you too. It’s kind of hard not to agree with statements like this:

“One of the greatest threats we face is, simply put, bullshit. We are drowning in it. We are drowning in partisan rhetoric that is just true enough not to be a lie; in industry-sponsored research; in social media’s imitation of human connection; in legalese and corporate double-speak. It infects every facet of public life, corrupting our discourse, wrecking our trust in major institutions, lowering our standards for the truth, making it harder to achieve anything.”

You can see where I’m taking this as it relates to brands. Phoniness is becoming a liability and, conversely, there’s more opportunity than ever for brands that are honest. In a McKinsey & Company article about the rise of socially conscious consumers, the growing importance of brand integrity is spelled out in the stats:

“At the same time, consumer trust in corporations has declined by 50 percent since the crisis. Consumers now trust only one in four companies on average. The dearth of trust in the marketplace makes it an agent of differentiation. As a result, the correlation of trust to brand equity has increased by 35 percent in the past three years. Trust, once an afterthought, can even help companies enter new market categories.”

Jon Lovett not only recognized a similar demand for sincerity in his commencement speech, he argued that it’s led us to an important cultural tipping point:

“I believe we may have reached ‘peak bullshit.’ And that increasingly, those who push back against the noise and nonsense; those who refuse to accept the untruths of politics and commerce and entertainment and government will be rewarded. That we are at the beginning of something important. We see it across our culture, with not only popularity but hunger for the intellectual honesty of Jon Stewart or the raw sincerity of performers like Louis CK and Lena Dunham. You see it across the political spectrum, from Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts to Chris Christie in New Jersey to Rand Paul in Kentucky.”

Marketing can’t create trust in this environment, it can only magnify it. More and more, people are looking into the practices and policies of the companies they choose to hand their money over to. Do they treat their employees fairly? What are their environmental policies? Where/how are their products made?

That’s why I think Jon’s parting advice to the Pitzer graduates is as relevant to brands as it is to individuals:

“All you have to do is avoid BSing yourself — in whatever you choose to do…be honest with yourselves, and others…reject a culture of insincerity by virtue of the example you set.”

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Casey Flanagan

Smart Words From Smart People. The @leeclowsbeard Edition.

In honor of the 1,000th tweet from @leeclowsbeard, let’s dust off the old “Smart Words From Smart People” approach.

Lee Clow’s Beard is not written by Lee Clow’s Beard. Or, even, Lee Clow. But it is genuinely insightful and enjoyable nonetheless. It’s no wonder Mr. Clow approves.

Enjoy an assortment of twenty-one of my favorite tweets from the last three years. If you want more – and why wouldn’t you? – check out @leeclowsbeard. If you want more in analog edition, support the Beard here.

  1. If you don’t think your brand should be brash, don’t be brash. If you don’t think your brand should be bold, you’re wrong. (09/18/12)
  2. A brand should always do everything it says, but rarely say everything it does. (08/02/12)
  3. Be patient. Changing people’s perceptions rarely happens overnight. At least not in a good way. (07/27/12)
  4. Make sure the strategy has legs before worrying if the creative will. (01/06/12)
  5. Great brands have interesting on-hold music that people rarely hear. (12/22/11)
  6. The facts of the matter are rarely the heart of the matter. (11/07/11)
  7. No one needs a link to opt out of your brand. (07/25/11)
  8. Critique first. Criticize fiftieth. (04/29/11)
  9. Please don’t complain about ROI if you are unwilling to actually I. (03/16/11)
  10. “Why not?” is not a rhetorical question. (03/01/11)
  11. Turns out there really is a formula for great advertising. Of course, it contains nothing but variables. (01/28/11)
  12. Simplicity is usually the result of much complex thinking. (01/07/11)
  13. Make your brand the strong call to action. (12/15/10)
  14. You can’t cut clutter with clutter. (11/08/10)
  15. Big thinkers don’t mistake simple ideas for small ones. (06/04/10)
  16. On collaboration: Just because all opinions are welcome doesn’t mean all opinions are valid. Now stop pouting. (05/20/10)
  17. It’s the little compromises that add up to a giant bucket of suck. (05/13/10)
  18. The best insights usually make you feel like you should’ve known them all along. (04/01/10)
  19. A brand doesn’t need a unique position in the market as much as a unique position in consumers’ minds. (12/17/09)
  20. If you want a stronger call to action, create a better ad. (07/22/09)
  21. Consumers never complain about ads being too smart. (08/17/09)

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

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Kelly Christiansen

Personal growth for brands: The Four Agreements

Is your brand doing what it says it will do? No matter what is happening in the world around it, does your brand have a response plan in place? Is it listening? Is it always doing the best it can? Spring has sprung. We begin to grow plants and gardens. Perhaps your brand could benefit from a little personal growth.

The Four Agreements, a book by Don Miguel Ruiz, is his most famous and influential work.  It was published in 1997 and has sold around 4 million copies.It was featured on Oprah, in “O, The Oprah Magazine”, and Ruiz was recently on the OWN network.

These agreements apply to brands. These agreements are simple. We LOVE simple.

 

 

1. Be impeccable with your word.

In order to be impeccable with our brand’s word, we need to know the kinds of things our brand would say. To start, we author the creative brief:

We paint the big picture: the context and world in which our brand is living. We understand what makes our target tick. We uncover their emotional trigger, which tells us the motivation. We identify the promise, the one thing we can deliver. We take a blend of values together and define the brand. This leads us to our organizing concept, those few words that capture the essence of the brand.

 If everything your brand says nods to the motivation, delivers the promise, and is consistent with the organizing concept, your brand is following the first agreement. 

 2. Don’t take anything personally.

There is a fine line between listening to your customers and the idea that ‘whatever happens around you, do not take it personally’.

On one hand, brands cannot “tune out” – they need to listen to their customers and have two-way communication.

@DaveKerpen told us at @mobium’s New Paradigm Series, that the biggest mistake a brand can make is ignoring their highly captive, constantly communicating audiences.

On the other hand, negative events that impact our brands are unavoidable. We can’t just ignore it. Smart brands have a plan. Months in advance they prepare how to address negative comments or events that could have negative impact. When such events happen, boom, there your brand is with poise and grace to respond.

When your brand is proactive, it can deliver on its promise in the face of whatever is happening around it.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

When marketers don’t make assumptions, it means they are asking questions and listening.

 Asking questions and listening help us understand the world in which our brand is living and the needs of our customers.

 4. Always do your best.

One day a brand can make a mistake.  One day a natural disaster or other event outside of our control can impact the success of our brand. The best brands learn from mistakes, roll with the punches, and move forward with solutions.

Strong brands know that their best is different from one day to the next, and always do their best in a constantly changing environment.

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