Friday, July 27, 2012

Recruit Gold-Medal Talent with Talent Communities


At Ascendify, we’re counting down the days until the Summer Olympics! And we’ve been reflecting on what it takes to make a great team.
Just like winning Olympic teams, businesses succeed when they have top teams who excel in what they doenjoy it, and as a result, want topromote it to others.
But, recruiting top talent is still a problem. In fact,most corporate careers sites are only getting less than 10% of job seekers to apply. That’s because top talent is turned away by a poor candidate experience – repetitive forms, lengthy application process, unknown interview expectations, and lack of communication.
So, for enterprise organizations with hiring challenges, the best way to recruit your own winning team is by building aTalent Community.
Talent communities provide a private virtual community for like-minded individuals to network by leveraging their social connections to facilitate introduction. Community members can include candidates seeking a job, current employees to share company culture, former employees that can provide referrals, thought leaders giving industry advice, and recruiters who can facilitate making connections.
To build an Olympic-Class Talent Community:
1. Source through existing employees.
Incentivize your highest performing team members to join the talent community. Encourage your top players to refer other top players in their social networks into the talent community. Referral hires are proven to perform better, last longer, and be a better culture fit.
2. Engage candidates in unique ways.
Your all-star talent are the best advocates for promoting your company in a way that’s modern and social media savvy. Post pictures and videos of your company events, link to your social media pages, and get your top team members to tout your culture through genuine conversations with candidates. A compelling image will certainly attract top talent.
3. Build meaningful relationships.
Talent communities put a face and voice to an otherwise static job listing. Candidates can review the profiles of hiring managers and future teammates, then reach out to begin a relationship early on. Plus they’re able to see the mutual social connections they have in common, making an initial outreach even easier.
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Ascendify is a new social recruiting platform that’s transforming the candidate’s experience by improving the way job seekers connect with hiring managers. Ascendify dramatically reduces the time and effort involved in hiring by helping organizations build talent communities that leverage Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks to help job seekers and hiring managers connect. For more information on building a private label talent community, check out a demo.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What’s wrong with the Candidate Experience? Five Complaints from Job Seekers.

On behalf of the recruiting industry, isn’t it time we apologized to job seekers everywhere? They’ve put up with challenges and complications associated with finding a job for too long. They’ve been jumping through hoops to land the perfect job, and frustration is mounting! We’re listening, and we’ve taken note of their biggest concerns.Where do I start?

They think top job boards like Monster or CareerBuilder are the best places to start.  But, because these sites charge to post, many employers don’t list all their openings.  And with thousands of job boards and career advice sites, there’s no central location for quality information and career services.

Applying takes too long!


Automated online applications require candidates to repeatedly upload their resume and fill out lengthy forms every time they apply.  These antiquated candidate tracking systems totally disregard job seekers’ time.  They end up driving the best candidates away, in search of a job application with an easier process.

How do I maintain all my resumes?   


Job seekers might keep up to six versions of their resume.  But, with no cloud solution to manage them, they only sit on their computer’s desktop.  Sure, they might use sites that let them create a profile.  But, these programs force all users into the same template and lack the flexibility to highlight accomplishments, or be creative with the style.


Did they forget about me?  


They feel like their resume fell into a black hole.  Hiring managers don’t tell candidates where they stand, nor do they keep them informed of next steps.  Post-interview silence is worse. They rarely know if timelines have changed or if the position was canceled.


The process is completely impersonal!


If they even get a response, it’s an automated one.  They prefer to hear from an actual person, even if it’s just to inform them that they’ve selected another candidate or taken the position in a different direction.

The pressures of a slow economy and shortage of jobs create enough stress for job seekers.  At Ascendify, we are rallying around ways to improve the candidate experience because we feel the job search process shouldn’t cause further angst.

Ascendify is a new social recruiting platform that’s transforming the candidate’s experience by improving the way job seekers connect with hiring managers. Ascendify dramatically reduces the time and effort involved in hiring by helping organizations build communities that leverage Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social networks to help people connect.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Great Marketing. Great Product.

I came across this example today of a company with a cool product and great marketing. Really well done. www.nordicriver.com

Click the large "SEE" button on their home page:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Product Management Defined

Market Research
Market Sizing & Growth Trends
Percentage Market Share Owned

Product Strategy
Trends & Envisioning the Future
Evolving the Value Proposition
Strategic Planning
Partner Ecosystems

Competitive Analysis
Qualitative Analysis & Quantitative Analysis
Strengths, Weaknesses & Opportunities

Customer Research
Focus Groups
Beta Programs
Customer Surveys

Design Specifications
User-Interface Designs
Design & Technical Specifications

Feature Requests
Collecting Product Requests
Customer Personas
Feature Request Use Cases

Product Roadmap
Collecting Product Ideas
Prioritizing Feature Lists
Communicating Product Plans

Product Development
Project Planning & Leadership
Project Management & Organization
Test Plans & Quality Control
Content Development

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Product Marketing Defined

Product Marketing
Unified Product Messaging
Unique Selling Propositions (USP)
Brand Personality & Tag Line
Audience Segmentation & 1-to-1 Messaging
Online/Offline Advertising Campaigns
Leadership, Evangelism & Communication
Marketing Event Calendar

Web Marketing
Website & Landing Pages
SEO / SEM & Link-Building
E-Mail Campaigns
Affiliate Programs
Product Videos

Web Marketing 2.0
Viral Campaigns & Blogs
Community & Social Networking

Sales Support
Pricing & Licensing Models
Sales Deck, Brochure, White Papers & Datasheets
Sales Trainings & CRM Support
Demand Generation (LeadGen)
Lead Tracking & Measurement
Reseller, Verticals & Channel Support
Product Demos

Public Relations
PR, Releases & Tours
Analyst Briefings
Reviews & Awards
Thought Leadership

Customer Success Program
Case Studies, Testimonials & Referrals
Customer Loyalty Programs

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cracking the Code to SEO: A Marketing Managers Guide to Successful Organic Search

Getting your web site to show up on the first page of a Google, MSN, and Yahoo! search for the right keywords in your industry is critical in today’s search driven world. If you are currently showing up past page three or four, you’re pretty much invisible to the 200+ million people and businesses searching online.

So, if you somehow found your way here, you’ve may have already visited hundreds of websites, read dozens of articles, downloaded every SEO white paper you can find, and may have even used a few 30-day trials of SEO tools – all of which had claimed to get you top billing, but never delivered any measureable results.

Just to put things into perspective, it is very difficult to find good advice on SEO online. Bear in mind that searching the search engines for advice on how to improve your search strategy can be a ridiculous exercise. Usually, the top listings result in advertisements for professional SEO experts and service providers in the business who are happy to give you just enough information to draw you into whatever product or service (or secret SEO trick) they would like to sell you, but never provide anything substantial, making it nearly impossible to get the information you need to succeed on your own.

Well, after grinding it out for months and running some successful tests on a few sites, I put together a short-list of core SEO principles, techniques, and helpful links that an SEO Marketing Manager probably needs to achieve successful organic search. I hope I’ve helped make your job a little easier and I hope others can find their way to this article (so feel free to link to this article). I think will save a few marketing professionals several months of time and research.

The first thing to understand about SEO is that earning and maintaining top search engine placement is an iterative process. Generally, you’ll identify the ideal keywords for your product or service, integrate them into your site, measure the results, and then start all over again as you gradually move up the rankings. To make things easier, I’ve separated this article into three separate sections which include identifying your keywords, developing your website, and measuring your results.

Part I: Identify Your SEO Keywords

Keyword Forensics
Before you do anything else, you’ll need to identify the keywords and phrases that will attract your target audience. Start by evaluating the sites of your competitors’ sites and use Google Adwords keyword tools (see Adwords). Your goal is to find the top 5-10 keywords in your space. These are the typical words your customers thinks of when trying to locate a product or service that solves the particular problem they have – so think generally.

NOTE: If you are in a crowded category and you are a smaller player (“Dentist”), seek keywords that are popular, but less obvious, of choose keywords that more specific (“Miami Dentist” or “Teeth Whitening Specialist”).

Keyword Density
Your competitor’s websites are a great place to study keyword density, which is the balance of keywords to non-keywords in your body copy. Review to top ten sites in the search results for your primary targeted keywords. Be prepared to do ongoing testing to find the best balance and arrangement of keywords to keyword-enriched text and determine the appropriate ratio of keywords to non-keywords. You’ll also want to choose keywords that are attainable with a reasonable search frequency.

Word Forms & Synonyms
Use the longer form and the plural form of a keyword whenever possible.The words surrounding any clickable link carry value so be sure both the clickable words and words in front and after the link are relevant. If you are looking for synonyms to your keywords, try typing a search into Google with a tilde “~” in front of your keyword (i.e. ~Dentist) and review the words in BOLD on the search results pages. This is a great way to find similar keywords.

Part II: Develop Your SEO Website

Keyword Placement
Once you’ve identified you top 5-10 keywords, you’ll need to develop content-rich pages that ensure your keywords will appear in all these key pages of the site. Additionally, the following pages are all opportunities to build keywords: About Us, Company, FAQ Section, Mission Statement, White Papers, Press Releases.

Domain Name & URL
For top results, pick a domain name that includes your top keywords “www.JohnsonDentist.com”. If you are an existing business, consider purchasing new domains for sub-sites or sub-brands you are looking to target for search. Name your folders and files with keywords and industry phrases rather than generic category names and code.

Title Tags
A title tag of 70-charaters or 6 to 8 words works best. Never repeat a keyword in your titles. Keep it short and relevant, make sure it starts with your most searched keyword “Dentist Miami Dr. Johnson”. Write a separate title for each page on the site.

META Description
For best results, use around 170 characters in your Description Tag. Keep it short and simple. Also,each page should have its own unique meta description. Target your best keywords close to the beginning and never repeat a keyword more than three times.

NOTE: Apparently the Keyword META Tag is rarely used by Google anymore.

Header Tags & Text
When using Header Tags, you need to designate your tags using H1, H2, or H3 and make sure these appear on several spots on the page. H1 tag should contain your primary keywords. Alternatively, you can use the /TITLE tag. Your Header tags also breaks up the content on the page and makes it easier for both readers and search engine to read (it provides clues about page structure & content). An ideal Body Text count is between 300 to 800 words – although other sources claim between 483 and 677 words, so this is probably a good variable to consistently test for optimal results.

Body Text
Avoid too many or irrelevant keywords and never repeat, or “stuff” your keywords. Add your main keyword to the first and last 25 words on your page.

Links
The Link Text, Link Title and Hyperlink URL all contribute to search engine rankings. The more closely related all of the links you place on your site are to your business, the better.

ALT Tags and Comment Tags
Alt+Image Links and Comment Tags are a great way to include keywords that are closely related to your product or service.

Page Structure
When designing your site, make sure you maximize the content to code ratio. Use CSS to create a tableless design. Less code on the page creates a higher content to code ratio, so minimizing the code on the page is preferred. Externalize any scripts and arrange any remaining code on the higher portion of the page.

NOTE: Write W3C Compliant Code and use the tools located at http://validator.w3.org/ and other tools listed at the site to check for errors.

Minimize Splitting Traffic
For better results use Permanent 301 Redirect and rarely (if ever) use 302 Temp redirects. Using a 301 redirect avoids splitting site traffic. Even on http://www.domain.com and http://domain.com should use 301 redirects to avoid splitting site traffic and never use more than one URL for the home page. Avoid splitting traffic, such as www.domain.com and www.domain.com/index.htm.

Intra-Site Cross-Linking
Build upon your keywords by cross-linking them through your site. A good way to accomplish this is with a product tour where each page portrays a section of the product or service which is related to the keywords you are targeting.

Link Building
Links to your site are the #1 way search engines consider the popularity of your site, which will results in higher search rankings. So, deploy your PR department, bloggers, editors, reviewers, and seek out awards. These are all critical to SEO and will result in higher search results. Ask only highly relevant sites to link to your site, such as an industry trade publication or .channel partner. Make it easy for users to add your site to Digg.com, StumbleUpon.com, Reddit.com, Deli.ci.ous.com and similar sites. Check out http://www.socialposter.com/ which can more easily connect you to the top 40 sites.

External Links and Link Farms
Add links on your site which link to articles and reviews at other sites (especially popular sites) which contain relevant material. Use your target keyword phrases as your link. This enhances your credibility with the search engines. Avoid link-farms such as guest books and other disreputable sites which have too many links as these sites may actually reduce your search results.

Site Navigation & Site Map
Use a site navigation map and a modified site map on the home page which provides a clear path through site (again, maximizing keywords). An XML sitemap should list all the known URL’s in a domain that are searchable. Add a Robots.txt file to the site and include this exact call to the sitemap in a file: http://www.domain.com/sitemap.xml. For better results, try niche vertical market sites and publish articles such as ezine articles and blogs (especially blogger.com).

Part III: Measure Your SEO Results

Measuring Link Density & Relevancy
Be sure to measure both the number of inbound links from other sites as well as the number of internal links on your site. There are a variety of tools available on the market to help you achieve better results. Avoid in-bound links from irrelevant sites at these may hurt your search efforts.

Search Engines and Spiders
Definitely submit your site directly to Google using Google’s WebMaster Tools. You’ll also want to submit your XML directly and monitor the spidering status of your site. Be sure you allow search engines to spider your entire site and capture all your pages and avoid hiding your content behind contact gathering or other user input forms. Learn and see first-hand how spiders and live editors crawl your site (there are several tools that can assist here.)

Review Your Site
Use Google WebMaster Tools – Diagnostics - Web Crawl to find and fix errors on the site. Use http://website.grader.com/ to evaluate your results and

a. Other tools include http://www.1-hit.com/all-in-one/tool.loading-time-checker.htm
b. And 25 general tools: http://www.virtualhosting.com/blog/2008/test-me-25-freebie-website-accessibility-checkers/

A/B Testing
Top-rated SEO rarely occurs by accident and it’s a continual process of testing your site, evaluating what key terms are being searched, monitoring your competition and fine-tuning your results.

Submit to Directories
Submitting to directories is a necessary component of successful SEO. You can start with Yahoo! ($299 per year), the Open Directory Project DMOZ.org, About.com, essential Google, 4-5 months and smaller, niche sites.

Additional Notes
a. Create a community of sites that link to each other
b. Request Reviews at Website from Customers (add to your site)
c. Amazon.com (include direct link to your products at Amazon)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

List of Top 10 Community Platform Solution Providers: Build Your Own Community!

As with most of my fellow Web 2.0 marketing colleagues, I’ve been tracking the latest trends on how to interact with our customers through non-traditional channels such as communities and social networking.

As part of a consulting project for a leading technology company in the Bay Area, I have started a deep, detailed evaluation of the top ten service providers of community sites, both commercial and open-source solutions, in order to identify the best choice based on price, features, and time to deploy.

At the core, communities promise a new level of interactivity and collaboration and open the door to new ways to connect with your most passionate customers and enthusiasts. And, a community provides them with a new way to share their opinions and ideas as well as receive needed support. The excitement of communities probably comes from the promise to build brand loyalty, generate new demand, and drive customer-focused innovation faster:

  1. Increase Brand Awareness: identify brand champions and share in viral efforts.
  2. Build Brand Loyalty: increase loyalty through a more authentic connection with your customer.
  3. Drive Innovation: hear the voice of your customers and enable voting on innovation.
  4. Improve Customer Support: lower your support costs by getting the community involved.
  5. Generate New Leads: build demand for your product and drive lead generation.
  6. Promote New Products: upsell additional services or cross-sell additional, related products.
  7. Increase Web Traffic: drive regular traffic through with an engaging online experience.

List of Top 10 Online Community-Building Platform Solutions:

Satmetrix Community
Enterprise-class SAAS solution designed for flexibility, scalability, and ease of use.


Ramius Community Zero
Enterprise-class social networking made simple.


Jive Software
Enterprise-class community software built to be extremely flexible, highly scalable, and easy to use.


HiveLive
LiveConnect Community Platform brings Web 2.0 tools into the next generation.


Communispace
Builds and facilitates private, highly engaged online customer communities.


Leverage Software
People-centric social networking and community solution for businesses.


YourMembership
Global provider of online member communities and web-based membership solutions.

Vovici
Online community software to build and manage online communities.


Boonex Dolphin
A universal, free, open-source software. Build any kind of online community.

Drupal
An open-source content management platform. Some assembly required.

As a final note, using your customers to crowd-source new ideas and group intelligence is an incredibly powerful and fast new way to drive innovation and make critical decisions about the direction of your product or service. But, be aware that this very same information (transparent) is fully available publicly for your competitors to view and learn from equally as fast as you. It's true you might also learn a little bit about your competition in a community, but almost certainly, your competition will learn more about you and this comes with some risk. And, let me know if you need any help.