5 Tips on how to beat a video conferencing interview

Interviews are always a nervous ordeal but more often than not a well-prepared candidate will always rise above the rest of the pack and successfully take the job. That said, many candidates make the mistake of preparing for a video conference interview in the same way as a face to face interview which can leave an interviewer unimpressed. Here are my top 5 tips to help you beat a video conferencing interview:

1. Remove all distractions

If your video conferencing interview is taking place at your home then make sure you deal with any possible interruptions before the interview. If Fido has a tendency to barge into the room every now and again I am sure he wouldn’t mind playing in the garage for a while until the interview is over. Similarly, if you have kids who tend to be quite loud, it will make you and your interviewer lose concentration as well as making you look much less professional. Get hold of a babysitter or have them spend the day at your parents or friends. Whatever you do, just try to be home alone when the interview takes place.

2. Look at the camera

Just about every interview guru will tell you to make regular eye contact with your interview and a video conferencing interview is no different. This can catch out many interviewees since it is a common habit to look at the computer monitor instead of the actual camera. The camera is transmitting the picture and therefore if you don’t look at the camera it will look like you are looking away from the interviewer thus giving the impression that you are not interested in the interview. If you find this particularly difficult to do then try putting a picture behind your camera which will make it feel like you are talking to an actual person when you are looking at the camera.

3. Proper grooming

When doing a video conferencing interview it is easy to forget that you are being interviewed for a potential job offer. You may be at home but that does not mean that you can take part in the interview in your favourite carrot fit jeans with a T-shirt that has some a funny comment on it. Make sure you dress like you would if you were participating in a face to face interview as it will make you look more professional as well as making you feel more confident.

4. Set the scene

When carrying out a face to face interview, you go to the interviewer which means that the interviewer will make his decision based on you and you alone but on a video conferencing interview, the interviewer will be able to see you and your room, therefore, your room should also give a professional feel. I am not saying that you should completely redecorate but make sure all dirt has been cleaned and the room looks well organised. In addition to this, temporarily remove any posters which may embarrass you during the interview although sensible pictures and paintings can help create a more sophisticated atmosphere. This will help to give a positive first impression and will start the interview on a good note.

5. Practice makes perfect

Rehearsing your answers to popular interview questions as well as general interview techniques is essential for a successful interview but a video conferencing interview brings with it its own challenges and therefore more factors need to be added to the mix when rehearsing. You will need to get into the habit of talking out loud when nobody else is in the room so set up your own video conference system prior to the interview and ask your friend to interview you. After the interview ask your friend to give you some feedback.

Website holding page – how to use for marketing gain

Taking your website offline is rarely welcomed by the marcomms team.  sometimes you have go do it.

Brand Glue did a great job of making a strong message come through their holding page.

In fact, since I took this screen shot, the timer doesn’t seem to have ‘counted down’ any more…. wonder if it’s really a permanent thing.  Tho they have added an article below it about their newsfeed optimization service.

in any event, don’t allow a 404 redirect to show up if you can avoid it.

Plus, having a ‘timer’ on the page keeps the focus  pressure on the team building the new website.

Which’ll probably be late.

That’s life.

Good practice: A website holding page

Following on from yesterday’s post about delays publishing a new company website – take a look at this one:

What I like about it is

  1. it sets a deadline (the counter is clocking down all the time)
  2. it still says what the company does – USP – so the holding page continues to sell the brand
  3. contact details are still there
  4. there’s an invitation to subscribe to notifications about the re-launch

Does your brand demand a launch date that can’t be changed?

Website holding page for BrandGlue

What’s your agency point of difference?

Too many agencies chasing too little work.  Is a common theme when new business is hard to find.

How can you make your offering as a creative agency stand out from the crowd?  Many firms have flashy websites, wierd logos and creative directors who stand out as being, frankly, wierd.

We can’t all do these things – although many businesses continue to do them very well indeed.  This represents the outward, slim and frankly flimsy part of any business.  The external gift-wrap.

What makes a point of difference, different?

The answer has to be a strategic positioning whereby your offering is clearly stated, aligned with the real people you do business with and delivers a clear message to other businesses who may choose in future to work with you.

Take a read of the list of 243 marketing agency points of difference that Michael Gass has just published.

Two things stand out.  1.  Most of the points of difference are not actually different or unique.  2.  A few are.

This is a typical example of a not-real point of difference.

We are a full service promotional agency that has a dedicated research/planning group to capture consumer insights – many traditional agencies have this function – but its rare for a promo shop – also rare for promo shop to have media/buying and planning, full digital suite (web dev, social media, SEO), creative, research, public relations, and shopper marketing int house, but we do.  Naturally many promo agencies will claim they have all the above internally, but few do…

This statement is entirely the point of view of the respondent and has no clear facts to back it up.  And, as time passes, this POD will fade away because it’ll soon be less “rare” for other firms to ogger this range of services.

Other non-differences

  • Genuine integration across disciplines(walking the talk)
  • “Brand People Who Get What’s Next”
  • We help mid size businesses own the leadership position by working with the C level
  • we’re repositioning ourselves as quick, smart and affordable
  • We approach integration differently than others
  • We are uniquely structured to provide multiple services

Can you see that none of these are REAL differences?  here’s why

  1. too easy to copy
  2. opinion
  3. not unique
  4. catch phrases

But we really are different from other agencies

If you are able to say what is  genuinely different about your business let it be

  • a unique offering [unique means nobody else does it – it’s probably trade marked or patented]
  • a particular service
  • a particular process
  • a particular client industry
  • a particular geographic location

That’s it.

Either it’s unique or it isn’t.

Determining a particular service, industry or location is probably the easiest way to differentiate your agency – apart from the people, this can be individual and special to you.  A combination of a service plus an industry or a industry plus a location, or a service, process and industry has the possibility of being a point of difference.

All the rest is able to be copied, offered by competitors or just isn’t sufficiently different.

So what if I am not different?

If your agency is not different you have a couple of choices

  1. invent a point of difference (a particular branding applied to your creative process)
  2. compete on price
  3. compete on volume
  4. compete on your personnel (but if they go, so does the point of difference)
  5. accept that you’re part of the broad industry offering and can easily be subsituted or replaced by clients

And that’s fine – as long as you know where your business positioning lies.

Marketing using Business Christmas Cards

Corporate greeting cards can be used in many ways to promote your business and to show appreciation to supportive clients; some traditional and some a bit more creative. However, there are some rules and tips you should keep in mind to get the best return on your investment of sending out a Business Christmas card:

1. Procedure/mailing list

Make sure you keep your company contact information up-to-date on a regular basis and take your time to add new contacts you gain throughout the year.

A good way to control if your contact details are up to date is by including your return address so that the post office will return the card if the address is no longer valid. It will also serve a dual purpose by providing your contact information to your recipients.

2. Timing is everything

Don’t send your cards late, set yourself a deadline. December 15th is a convenient cut-off date for having your cards in the mail. If you’re sending business Christmas cards internationally, they’ll have to be in the mail much sooner. Here are some helpful links for recommended Christmas mailing deadlines: NZ Post, AUS Post, Royal Mail, USPS, Canada Post. If your Christmas card arrives after the holidays, you have just sent the wrong message to your customers. Read more

Cold email introduction – copy this campaign

Want to use cold emails as part of your customer acquisition?  We get dozens of approaches by digital media agencies usually picked up by our clients’ spam filters.

Today we’re publishing one of the better ones as a crib for you to copy for your own use if you want to buy email lists and try to start working cold call emails for your B2B brand.

Here’s the copy

Subject: Oneupweb would like to work with you

Cold Email example text

What do you think?

A short, neat message.  Starts with reassurance – do what you’ve always done.  But we all know how that sentence ends…. “and you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

Nice use of the word “earn” in the second sentence – they are going to work for you to gain trust.  I like that.

The words for the services list are all hotlinks with custom tracking codes – good practice to see where your campaign is working.  I clicked on the link and it took me to a standard page… no special landing site after the page had rendered using the tracking code.

Bullet points

A neat filtering tool is used here.  By quoting fees or likely media costs for services, they filter out any brands who can’t afford to pay $2,000 per month for Search Marketing or $15k for social media campaigns.

Be attracted by the big names they’ve worked for but be put off by the fees = you are not my target customer.

Interesting that it came in to my private email address.  It’s a dot com so maybe the list buyer figured I must be in USA and it’s a long-registered domain (2001 approx) and short so again, it maybe didn’t filter me out for being a person not a business.

Call to action

A question as a call to action is a subtle approach.  Do I think next week is a good time to talk?

Enough time to get into my diary and a question that can be easily answered.  Interestingly, no easy-call buttons for direct line phone numbers added here.  Wonder why?

Footer has company contact information and the usual range of social media links plus an unsubscribe.

What happens next?

We sent a reply – will let you know what happens next.

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Email auto responders – a quick tutorial

I am a fan of email auto responders that send a pre-determined email reply out from your address.  They can be very helpful for new business development as an information tool for prospective customers.

As ever, there are good and bad examples of automatic emails.  Here are four examples we have received recently that can show you the best and worst examples.  Most are from marketing and sales agencies / organisations and so the bad examples make me cry with shame….. there’s so much to improve.

Let’s get to work.

Example 1 – failure message

We got this after trying to email J Walter Thompson in Houston, TX.  Their website didn’t list the office contacts so we used a directory called MacRae’s Blue Book.   This is what came back from our email:

Directory Listings fail message

A request for contact that failed.

  • Check all the free listings services that have your company and office.
  • Update your details if needed
  • Create a unique email address so you can track effectiveness e.g. [email protected] would have worked here.
  • Contact yourselves through them as a mystery shopping exercise at least once a year, preferably 6 monthly
  • Where do email enquiries go?  which phone number do they list and who answers it?

Email effectiveness 4/10

Example 2 -zero information

Membership organisation NYAMA (New York American Marketing Association) whose membership-based services are surely the profit engine for the organisation.  But hey, send them a membership enquiry on their auto form and one week later [hardly an automatic response] this comes in:

Thank you for submitting this form

  • “Thank you for submitting this form.”  Great – send me what I already know I sent you
  • What happens next?  No mention of next steps towards becoming a member
  • Timeliness – this reply came back 5 days after we completed the online form
  • Nothing happened

Email effectiveness 2/10

Example 3 – Inbound emails

When you send an enquiry in to a company’s ‘general’ email whether by form on the website or direct, what happens to that email?

Everyone knows that spammers and malcontents will be using it too – so what reassurance can you give people that their message has got through?

Great information auto-response

  • This one came from a retail marketing agency fronted by a TV celebrity.
  • They have good information about what to expect from the agency, the celebrity and where to get more information free / cheap and also training
  • But the email came from one general email address – they need to split the contact so people interested in the celebrity and people interested in the agency are directed to different places.
  • We wrote back to confirm our interest in the agency and received the same auto-response again.  Irritating.

Example 4 – the perfect first reply

And finally, a look at a nice, short friendly reponse from a media agency.

Perfect auto response email

  • The message gives a real person’s name as a point of contact
  • Sets clear expectations about what the agency will do next
  • Sounds genuinely friendly

Copy this one.

Autoresponders are a good tool to kick off your online marketing.  
Simple. How many emails do you write daily? How many blog posts? You only have to write an autoresponder once. It will then go to as many new recipients as activate the trigger. Forever. It will always go out in the same time format that you set up at the start. It’s easy. You don’t have to think about it. And all the while it keeps up a relationship with your readers. Voilà.

But don’t just take our word for it –  See how it all works by signing up to our Services autoresponder, you’ll see the benefits immediately.

Hire Creative Agency Secrets team of copywriters to set up your auto responder – we know what we’re doing and can give you the shortcuts to great outcomes and customer engagement.

Learn More With The Creative Agency Secrets GUIDE TO AUTORESPONDERS

The Top 6 most popular articles of all time

Top 3 things for Writing a good brief for an agency pitch

‎We did a quick survey yesterday among brand managers to answer the question “What are the top three things you need to do to write a good brief for an agency pitch?”

Move the sales needle, Information integration, Content marketing (Josh Stailey)

What’s the problem, why is there a problem and media neutral so the idea leads the solution. (Mark Watkin)

Understanding, belief and passionate solution. (David Noble)

A fee for the pitch would be a good start. (Gabbi Cahane)

Writing a good brief for an agency pitch

Radcliffe Pitches
Image via Wikipedia

I am researching for a new blog post about how brands brief agencies when they want to run a pitch.

Can you help me?

Top 3 things for writing a good brief for an agency pitch

Worst 3 things for writing a good brief for an agency pitch

Add your answers to comments below, please.

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