Interview_Blog

Surviving a Stryve-Style Interview

Working at Stryve isn’t normal, and our hiring process isn’t either. Luckily, I’m in your corner. As the last marketing coordinator hired by Stryve, I’m here to help calm your fears – or at the very least, give you the deets on what to expect on interview day.

Get to Know Us

As much as we’re trying to determine if you’re a good fit for us, we want to make sure we’re a good fit for you. Before the interview, take in all the Stryve you can. Browse our work, check us out on social, and read our blog to get a clear picture of exactly what you’d be getting yourself into.

Know Your Stuff – and Yourself

Skills can be taught over time, but we’re looking for a superstar that thinks critically. We’ll quiz you on the basics of digital marketing and the impact it can have. We’re hoping you can touch on current tech and B2B marketing trends, and maybe even teach us a thing or two in the process.

At the same time, we want to know you. When I first interviewed for the marketing coordinator position, bossman Burgio explained to me that if I didn’t have a strong understanding of myself, it would be next to impossible to understand other people. That stuck with me. And it should stick with you. Authenticity is a deal-maker at Stryve, so bring your true self to the interview.

Be Ready to Talk About How You’ve Kicked Ass

We dig confidence, but we love results. We’ll want to hear how you’ve killed it in both your professional and personal life. Come armed with examples that show us you’re a hungry, results-driven marketer who’s willing to take some risks.

Show Us How You Think Differently

Insatiable curiosity is the common thread that ties our diverse team together. So it goes without saying that a newbie Stryver will share our passion for learning and constant improvement. We want to know how you find inspiration and what you do to stay ahead of the curve. If you’ve read something mind-bending or have listened to a podcast that has your wheels turning, be ready to share your thoughts.

Breathe, Be Quirky, and Have Some Fun

If I had one tip to share, what would it be? Have some fun. I remember being so nervous for my interview, but a year and a half into my career at Stryve, it’s mind blowing to think I was terrified by this crew. Sure, it was intimidating, but the team gave me every opportunity to have some fun and to be my quirky self. Stryvers are the coolest cats you’ll ever meet. They put their pants on one leg at time, just like you. So laugh a little, be yourself, and shake off those pre-interview jitters. You’re going to kill it.

canadian-flag

Canadian Marketing Events: Spring 2017 Edition

Spring forward with Canadian marketing events built for the modern marketer. It’s the perfect time to sharpen your skills, learn something new, or network with fellow marketers. Below we break down the season’s must-attend conferences and workshops.

Break Through 2017
Date: March 29th, 2017
Location: Kitchener, ON
Hosted in partnership with the Conestoga College School of Media & Design, this one-day event will provide you with the skills you need to effectively engage your audience in today’s rapid-fire communication landscape.

Content Marketing Workshop
Date: March 29th, 2017
Location: Toronto, ON
This one-day seminar covers the essential elements of content marketing from current trends and idea generation to headline structure and content distribution. This seminar will look at great examples from B2B and B2C space, and you’ll get an opportunity to test your knowledge with hands-on exercises.

Change in the Making 2017
Date: April 5th to April 6th, 2017
Location: Squamish, BC
Join hundred’s of business owners and marketing professionals at the Change In The Making Conference (formally Canadian Internet Marketing Conference). It is your chance to learn and connect with the biggest names in marketing and leave transformed with practical ways to harness the power of digital in your business.

Transform Your Digital Marketing
Date: April 12th, 2017
Location: Montréal, QC
Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) is teaming up with KPI Digital, l ’Association des Professionnels de la Communication et du Marketing (APCM) and l ‘Association du Marketing Relationnel (ARM) for an insightful evening featuring keynote Mitch Joel.  This one-day seminar will feature actionable insights, hands-on learning, and plenty of time to network.

Tech Leadership Conference
Date: May 10th – May 11th, 2017
Location: Kitchener, ON
Communitech’s Tech Leadership Conference brings the best entrepreneurs, innovators, and thought leaders to connect, learn, and help shift the power and control of technology in the right direction. Bonus points for being hosted in our backyard!

DIGIMARCON CANADA 2017
Date: May 18th – May 19th, 2017
Location: Toronto, ON
DIGIMARCON showcases some of the industry’s most thought-provoking speakers and provides attendees with emerging strategies, the latest innovative technologies, best practices, and insights from successful digital marketing campaigns.

C2 Montréal
Date: May 24th – May 26th, 2017
Location: Montréal, QC
C2 brings together commerce and creativity to explore trends, opportunities, disruptions, and major shifts on the horizon. C2 Montréal inspires 5,000 executives across continents and industries to challenge their biases, shift their perspective and explore completely new ways of doing business.

As always, give us a shout if you have an event planned in the future that you’d like on this list or if you’re attending some Canadian marketing events that we missed!

live-your-life

Stagnant Minds are Born Out of the 60-Hour Work Week

Fluorescent lights, long meetings, computer monitors, and the same faces day-in-day-out for 50+ hours a week; that fosters creativity, right?

I disagree. Wholeheartedly. Sorry work fam, I dig you, but when I’m not at work, I’m recharging to be my best at work. I’m busy getting inspired. I’m busy living life. The cool thing? I know my work fam is too.

We’re firm believers in coming into work, kicking ass, and living life. After a 44-hour work week, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Sure, I’m working, but am I contributing in a meaningful way? Probably not. Anecdotes aside, this is a scientific fact. When we’re fatigued and stressed, MRI scans show that our brains look exactly the same as when they’re asleep.

Plus, when our minds are always in work mode, we stagnate creativity. We need to be free to be inspired. Perhaps that’s why some of our best ideas come when we are tuckered out in bed. And why Don Draper slept with a notebook next to his bed (sorry Betty).

don-draper-journalling

Aside from stress and overwork, for most creatives, living life is where we find our creative energy. It’s when we’re travelling, making our favourite meal, chowing down said meal, spending time with family, or reading a book that isn’t about work. You know… real life. That’s where we get inspired.

We’re not the only ones who are pro-living-life. Progressive leaders are taking note. At Adobe the office shuts down twice during the year—one week in July and one week in December. Airbnb practices what they preach—travel often, travel globally, and travel together. That’s why every employee is given $2,000 per year to travel anywhere in the world. And start-up success BambooHR has a strict 40-hour work week – come in for eight hours of super-focused work time, and then go home. It’s that simple.

The perks for employees are obvious, but why should the C-suite care? The data is clear. When work-life balance is a priority, productivity increases. In a recent study, the Corporate Executive Board, which represents 80% of the Fortune 500 companies, found that employees who believe that they have good work-life balance work 21% harder. Add that to the list of benefits including decreasing health expenditures, increasing employee retention, and increasing employee engagement.

So get out there, live your life. Your career (or employees) will thank you.

onboarding-feature-image

Onboarding a Digital Marketer the Right Way

As a co-op student switching from job to job in four-month intervals, I am far too familiar with the dreaded onboarding process. I’ve spent hours staring at computer screens wondering when I will start to feel like a valued part of the team. Have you ever sat at your new desk, surrounded by new people and not had a clue what was going on or what you should be doing? Onboarding can seem like a nightmare. It can be days or weeks of working on meaningless tasks or twiddling your thumbs.

As a marketing manager, this is your worst case scenario. Why pay your new, carefully vetted and very competent new digital marketer to do nothing at all? Onboarding is a valuable process. It can increase employee retention, productivity, and performance (you can learn more about how here).

We’ve put together a list of quick tips that will get your new digital marketer to their top performance.

Get Social

For a digital marketer, familiarizing yourself with the brand voice is vital to your success. It’s often difficult to get a good grasp of the unique brand voice unless you are intimately immersed in it. By giving your new employee the responsibility of social media, you will achieve just that. Scouring the web for relevant content allows them to learn about what the company values in a low-pressure situation while having fun (bonus)! Your new hire will even learn some relevant information that could help the company. This will let your new employee learn something new every day.

Individualized Meetings

A unique approach to the onboarding process is setting up one-on-one meetings with co-workers. You can get to know each other, and understand what you are each hoping to contribute in future projects. This trick gives the new hire the opportunity to get all their silly questions out of the way in a very casual environment. It will also help them develop more personal connections. The faster your new employee is comfortable, the faster they will offer their opinions. Individual meetings are also a way to keep your new employee’s calendar full during their first week or two.

Be Organized with your Onboarding Documents

The only thing worse than not knowing what you are doing is finding out your manager doesn’t know either. As the marketing manager, you must have a plan. Give your new employee a big picture idea of what their next 3-6 months will look like. This will allow them to start thinking about important tasks. It is also important to break down the tasks into small pieces so they are easy to digest. Go checklists! There are often common tasks that all new employees need to learn. Think of how to document all of this information well in advance of your new hire’s onboarding. Our SharePoint is a searchable site full of internal how-to’s and secrets. It’s a quick, one-stop-shop for training documents.

Create Something

The best way to learn is to dive right in! Give your new employee a task to own from start to finish, right off the bat. Trusting a new hire to be responsible and creative is a huge aid in building confidence. Your new digital marketer will feel empowered instead of useless. Plus, giving them a big project ensures that they will be busy enough to forget about those new-to-the-office jitters.

Precision

Precision questioning is the shortcut to smarter work

Everyone wants to get more out of their team. More focus, better efficiency, less rework, better results, faster decisions, smarter decisions. What if you could get there by sharpening only one skill?

Shitty questions, you’re out. Precision questions, suit up!

Recognizing the symptoms of bad questioning is the first step.

You left a meeting with more new questions than answers. You went back to the drawing board on a project after receiving clarification instead of approval. You met with your team for an hour but you still don’t have the information you need.

Guess what? It’s not them. It’s you.

Clear, focused questions attract concise, targeted answers.

When you lack the best information, you didn’t ask the best questions. Vervago’s Precision Questioning framework is a common sense approach to sharing knowledge. It’s all about getting to the heart of the matter by asking purposeful and directive questions.

These are the five we focus on the most:

We ask go or no-go questions to make for more productive meetings. When a tangent threatens to derail the conversation, decide if it’s really relevant to your meeting’s purpose. Should we tackle this issue right now or take it offline?

We use basic critical questions to make sure our conversations have proper context. Fill in gaps with specific questions where you spot knowledge gaps. What happened to trigger this? When did this start? It’s important to understand unknowns earlier rather than later. Unknowns become action items.

Clarifying questions make for deeper understanding. Find real meaning in vague terms. Instead of asking why something has improved, ask for direct clarity. In what ways did it improve over last time? What does this metric show?

By drilling into root causes, we gain better control of outcomes next time. It’s time to eradicate surface level thinking. Go one inch deeper and watch your team sharpen their critical thinking skills too.

We tee up the best next outcomes with action questions. We have all this great information, now what can we do? What next steps can each person take and by when?

Let’s give these ideas some context.

You need feedback on a presentation deck.

Instead of asking: What do you think of the approach I took with this deck?

Try asking: Do you find the lead-in exciting enough to keep paying attention? Do you think a set of fresh eyes would have enough information about X to make a decision about Y?  Would you change anything specific to make it tell a better story?

You’re leading the charge to define your brand voice.

Instead of asking: How would you describe our brand’s tone of voice?

Try asking: If our brand was a person, what would their personality be like? You mentioned funny, but are they silly or witty? By smart, do you mean intelligent, wise, brainy, or bright? Is their writing and speech formal or do they often use slang?

Your team is analyzing a campaign’s performance.

Instead of asking: Why is this campaign underperforming?

Try asking: Which KPIs are you measuring? Is performance gauged by certain benchmarks or by comparison to a previous campaign? Was anything done differently this time in terms of targeting, budget, bid strategy, or the landing page? Could there have been external factors at play such as the timing (seasonality, holidays, cycles) or new noise within the industry?

Great ideas are regular ideas that have been pressure tested.

In the end, we all want to have great ideas that translate into great work. This doesn’t happen by chance. Better questioning is a skill you can start developing in your next conversation. So when you go home tonight, don’t ask your spouse why they never take a turn unloading the dishwasher. Get to the heart of it and start coming home to an empty dishwasher. What other tasks get in the way of you unloading the dishwasher? Would setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier give you more time? Do you need a refresher on where certain things go?

stop-before-talking-banner

Stop! Don’t Talk to a Marketing Agency Without These Things

So maybe you need a marketing agency. Instinct tells you to get a conversation started ASAP. But there are some things you need to be ready with first.

Try prepping with these three things:

Go Beyond Goals to Gaps

In the first conversation, a marketing agency will help define your goals. The best agencies will go one step further and ask questions about your marketing gaps as well.

Talking about marketing goals is important. Don’t get us wrong. But discussing gaps can get to the heart of the most pressing issues. It’ll guide your agency to tackle the things that make the biggest impact.

Have Realistic Timelines

Here’s how an initial conversation with a potential client sometimes goes:

We say: “When would you like your website launched?”

Potential client says: “Yesterday.”

We think: “Okay…”

Good marketing agencies have a process for doing great work. They need to do a proper discovery phase to learn the context of your business. They need to think critically and creatively about proposed solutions. There are cycles of collaborating, pitching, and getting feedback. All of this happens before marketing tactics or assets get launched. Great work needs time to happen.

Try to think of your marketing plans in six-month or one-year increments. Anything shorter and you’ll fall into the trap of thinking only tactically not strategically.

Cultivate C-Level Buy-In Sooner Rather Than Later

The earlier the client gets buy-in from their C-level execs the better. Proposals get complicated when a marketing manager needs a perfect plan before getting approval. But not all of the details need to be set before a top dog says “yes”.

The proposal process works best when it’s iterative. First, the agency will help you flush out the big picture. Then, the marketing manager gets buy-in on the potential objectives, deliverables, timelines, and budget. This is the time for an early check-in with the C-suite. Frame the conversation as an opportunity to gather their feedback before plans are formalized. Nothing has been set in stone yet.

The earlier you engage your execs, the better the proposal process will go with a marketing agency.

If you have these things in place, the proposal process will be a lot faster and more pleasant. In the end, your objectives are more likely to be met, less time will be wasted, and you’re more likely to make and save money for your business.

planner-banner

Client Servicing: Hitting Deadlines and Kicking Ass

Sometimes when you’re working with a vendor, it feels like you put your requests into a black box. Then you wait patiently for some work product to pop out. We’d like to blow up that black box and shed some light on how we service our clients. A lot happens beyond the weekly status updates to make sure our clients are getting killer creative and marketing.

Every Client is Reviewed First-Thing Monday

Monday at 8:30 AM is when we have a team status meeting. One by one, we go through each client and discuss objectives and deadlines for the week. Every team member hears about every client so that we can mobilize resources without long-winded brief-ins.

Every Task Gets Prioritized

In with our production team, there’s a whiteboard dedicated to the week’s design-related tasks across all clients. Tasks get deadlines, but not just for final delivery. We focus on the most immediate check-in or touchpoint to keep moving things forward. Tasks then get assigned to a team member and put in priority order. Checking items off the list is probably our favourite part of it all. It’s hella cathartic.

Everyone Gets Shit Done

We’ve dedicated an entire day of the week to a zero meeting, zero client call policy. Get Shit Done Wednesdays give us large chunks of time to do big, creative thinking or tackle tough tasks. It’s also the day where we get groups of Stryvers together for working sessions and riffin’.

We Communicate Frequently

Weekly status calls are a given, but we work a lot faster than weekly cycles. We set our clients up with Trello to keep projects moving forward between calls. Sometimes, we’ll even connect on Slack for that instant-messaging gratification. Unlike standard agency or vendor relationships, you won’t wait for us. We tend to be the ones doing the pestering and checking in on progress.

Everything is Iterated and Optimized

We’ve got a non-negotiable meeting booked in our calendars each week dedicated to constant improvement. We bring campaigns and tactics to the meeting and put them up against the critical eyes of the rest of the team. Even if something is performing really well, the question is always: “How could this be better?”

Everything is Open for Discussion

These might be our weekly processes today, but we’re not afraid to change it up as we find better ways to deliver for our clients. We’re proud to have a culture of psychological safety where any team member can bring up a problem and we’ll address it together. The same thinking goes for how we work with our clients. We’re completely open to exploring new processes and technologies to keep us working well together.

authentic

Make Your Company More Authentic in 2017

Let’s get real here for a minute. The internet is overrun with misleading information, cheesy stock photography, and so much noise that it’s almost impossible to stand out in the crowd. Companies are now learning that it takes much more than surface-level marketing retargeting or a quick commercial before a video to get your attention.

Why is this important? Well with all the fake news, filtered imagery, and exaggerated benefits, consumers are demanding change. They want to purchase from companies who are real, trustworthy, and reliable. It’s never been more important to be a authentic. Here are a few small tweaks to make your company more authentic in 2017.

Show off the People Behind the Scenes

A great way to look authentic is to showcase your employees. Companies with a great internal culture often naturally do this. You should consider if there’s a way you could put more of your talented people front-and-center. Give consumers a face to the company they’re working with. You don’t need to create large, drawn-out bios for each team member. A few short sentences, pictures, or  interesting facts can go along way to developing an authentic look.

Say Bye-bye to Stock Photography

so

Stock photography is dead. No one wants to visit your website and see the same cheesy posed imagery we’re all used to. Perfect lighting, fake smiles… there’s no personality. Consumers want authentic candid shots that are real and unfiltered. They crave spontaneity and unique shots that they can make an emotional connection with. With the example above, you have your “perfect” stock shot on the left. Everyone is smiling, it’s neurotically clean, and finished off with the cheesy look over the shoulder. On the right is a very different look. You have people caught in the moment, being engaged in their work, and busy work areas. It’s real, raw, and authentic.

Take the time to invest in your photography and set up a photoshoot. You’ll get the exact shots you’re looking for, plus they will be unique to your company which will help you stand out. Don’t have a budget for a photoshoot? Try sites like Unsplash or Death to Stock that provide real, genuine, and candid shots that can help make a significant impact with your site. (extra bonus – they’re free!)

Share Information

Do you regularly blog? Usually blogging involves sharing tips and tricks that highlight your company’s area of expertise. Blogging is a great way to learn about new topics and learn from one another. But why does it just have to be about your industry? This year, try opening the cloak and showing off some of the inner details of how your teams function.

If you’re not ready for that kind of transparency, just look at Tesla. Back in 2014, Tesla released their patents for any company to use their technology in the interest of advancing electric vehicle technology. By sharing information and new ideas with the outside world, you show consumers that you’re constantly on your game and pushing to be better. Who doesn’t want to work with or buy from someone like that?

Create and Share Reliable Content

The internet is plagued with fake news and flawed information. When it comes to creating authentic content for your company, provide reliable and meaningful information for your followers. Don’t just regurgitate what others are saying. Provide insight and deeper thinking on a topic. Provide suggestions or solutions that can help your consumers. Link to your research sources. Adding that extra bit of effort will go along way with your followers.

Even if you’re not creating the content, take a critical eye towards articles that you share. Is it from a reputable website? Is the author credible in the field she is writing about? You can even check out something controversial on Snopes before you make a comment. The key is to be as discerning as your followers.

Do Some Reflecting

With a new year comes new goals. Take those targets and make sure that they’re not going to do any damage in areas like culture and creativity. Envision how you will achieve them and what it means for your career and work relationships. No matter where the search takes you, being more emotionally connected to the company’s goals will make you more authentically motivated. If you’re looking to make one positive change for you and your company in 2017, strive to be authentic.

agency-banner-old

Sketchy Digital Marketers are Ruining our Industry

I believe a majority of digital marketing companies are sketchy. That’s right, I said it. Our industry is full of underqualified and self-proclaimed experts. Be weary of anyone that calls themselves a social media expert, AdWords guru or content evangelist. How do we know this? Because our company Stryve has to clean up the remnants of their bad client engagements. Oh we’ve seen it all. AdWords campaigns that were never run. Google analytics accounts that were never set up. Campaigns without tracking codes. Blogs with duplicate or stolen content. Websites that were set up on an obscure, proprietary CMS. Change requests for simple content updates that take weeks and cost thousands of dollars.

We don’t just see the mess, we get the emails from these agencies promising to get us leads or SEO our website for bargain basement prices. It’s not possible to deliver the results they promise at that price in that time frame.

I’ve grown tired of the hucksters, the quacks, and the pretenders. I’m tired of the slick “marketing guy” speaking in clichés about social media strategies or content marketing. He’s probably never run a successful campaign before. I’m tired of all the talk about tactics before objectives. “Let’s do a video.” “You should be on Instagram.”

Here’s the thing. You need a team focused on solving a problem or an objective first. Tactics will follow. But what you need the most is solid thinking.

The Sketch Test

Here’s a sketch test: ask an agency, “Does my company need to be on social media?” If the immediate answer is yes, proceed to karate chop them in the mouth. Make sure you land one right on the kisser.

Our answer to that question is NO – a big fat no. Your company can thrive without being on social. But, if you’re going to do it, do it really well and strategically choose which platforms to invest your time in. Don’t half-ass it. Aim to be the best in your industry at it. Our belief is to do less, but do it better. That’s the answer you should hear.

Same with blogging. We love blogging, but it doesn’t align with every company’s objectives. If you’re looking to amp up SEO and drive thought leadership, go for it. But consider the opportunity cost of your time, if all you’re doing is writing useless blogs no one will ever read.

We Need to Clean Up Our Industry

It’s time to clean up our industry. I don’t have the solution yet, but I’m thinking the technical and creative nature of this industry requires a level of certification. Something that is akin to project management certification. Something that requires continuing education certification. That might not be the perfect situation, but Google Partner certifications just don’t cut it. We need a way to filter out the pretenders and bring a level of professional standards to our industry. If we don’t, we’ll continue to be labelled as hucksters. And that’s not good for anyone.

team-banner-old

How to Measure Psychological Safety in Your Team

What do you think makes a team successful? What separates a high-performing team from an average team? Google worked hard to answer these questions through what they called Project Aristotle.

Their results showed that the most successful teams had specific traits. The number one trait was psychological safety. So what’s the deal with psychological safety? The short answer is that it’s when team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable with each other.

When Google was picking apart psychological safety, they consulted with a Harvard organizational behavioural scientist. She suggested asking employees how strongly they agreed or disagreed with 7 simple questions:

  1. If you make a mistake on this team, it is often held against you.
  2. Members of this team are able to bring up problems and tough issues.
  3. People on this team sometimes reject others for being different.
  4. It is safe to take a risk on this team.
  5. It is difficult to ask other members of this team for help.
  6. No one on this team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts.
  7. Working with members of this team, my unique skills and talents are valued and utilized.

We took these questions and realized that we could use some additional data points. We wanted to see which of these characteristics were consistent across team members and where there was disparity. For example: are there certain people who would never hold a mistake against you? Are there others who would? So we asked each question twice, priming it differently:

psychological-safety-question

The results let us see the difference between the average for those we’re most comfortable with and those we’re least comfortable with. Prompts that had higher disparity between these two answers pointed to interpersonal issues. Prompts with similar answers were more about our culture.

Why bother measuring psychological safety?

If you’re trying to make your team more successful, you first need a baseline to compare with. A lot of people will think they have a good feel for their team’s psychological safety. But it’s surprising what you’ll learn when you actually measure it. I know I was. Each team member has their own comfort level and communication style, so everyone’s experience is personal. You can’t apply your own feelings to others.

The exercise of analyzing your team’s psychological safety is a pretty eye-opening process. When you’re answering the questions, it makes you think about your feelings and the team’s dynamics. Even though the prompts ask you about how others make you feel, everyone here said they thought a lot about their own actions. So it’s actually a great way to get a head start on making improvements.

What do you do next?

Dive deep into your data. Depending on the results, there may be different ways you want to present it to the rest of the team. Either way, keep the survey and its results so that you can retest and see your progress.

If there are some trouble areas
With psychological safety, it’s really important not to single anyone out. Don’t view this as a problem that needs to be dissected and addressed. Instead, focus your team on new ways of working together. Process, environment, and people all drive feelings of psychological safety. You have to be willing to shake those things up. Have a look at what managers can do to foster psychological safety and get inspired by Google’s re:Work content on teams.

If the results are mostly positive
Highlight your strongest areas and give the team a pat on the back. But don’t get complacent! Our survey showed that we were doing well with psychological safety, but there were areas that were weaker than others. Now we’re picking apart our culture to see what drives these feelings, and ultimately that will help us improve the responses. We’ll know if it’s working because we’ll reuse the survey and compare the results.