How to Get Hired at a Startup

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When you go to work for a big company—a major international player like Apple or Google or Coca-Cola, or even for a large law firm or medical practice in your town—you have to know that you’re not going to single-handedly change the company culture. You may, over time, prove yourself to be a key player in the organization, but these companies have identities that were shaped long before you joined the team. That’s not a bad thing, so long as you’re not out to leverage your influence over a company that’s still very much in its formative stages; if you are looking to do that, however, then maybe a small startup is what you need to pursue.

Startup jobs offer many benefits, not least the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and to shape a company in its earliest, more primitive stages. It’s no great surprise, then, that many hard-working, industrious employees—young and old—find great appeal in the thought of working at a startup. Startup jobs can be difficult to get, then, and the competition can be fierce—so what do you need in order to stand out from the crowd?

You probably already know the first thing on our list—a solid resume, one that clearly communicates your full range of achievements and your overall desirability as an employee. More specifically, though, you need to communicate—through your resume, your cover letter, your e-mails to the hiring manager, and your interview—that you possess the following key skills and qualities:

  • To get hired at a startup, you’ll need to exhibit some enthusiasm. Really, this could be said of any relatively small company. Small business owners very often feel like their business is their baby, and they prefer to work with people who can at least come close to matching their passion. If you seem ambivalent about the job, or fail to make it clear just how badly you want the job, don’t be surprised when you get passed over for someone else.
  • You’ll need to show some flexibility, because at a startup most employees will need to wear many hats. This is where you’ll want to have a really full and varied resume: The year you spent as a shift manager at Wal-Greens, or unloading the delivery truck at Chik-Fil-A, can go a long way toward showing that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and do whatever needs to be done, even if it doesn’t directly relate to your core business competencies.
  • You’ll need to show that you can collaborate well, because collaboration is the lifeblood for most successful startups. If you’ve successfully worked with your peers in past projects, be sure to note it in your resume.
  • You’ll also want to demonstrate that you can be taught; teachability is best seen through education and professional certifications or classes. Working at a startup will require you to master new skills and new ways of thinking, and employers will want to see that you can pick these things up fairly quickly.

More than anything else, you’ll need to show that you’re a good fit for startup culture—that is, that you can thrive in a fast-paced and dynamic environment. To learn more about how to accomplish this—particularly via resume and cover letter—contact the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today. Visit http://www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444 today.

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What ‘The Good Wife’ Can Teach Us About Content Marketing

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Another TV season has begun, and you know what that means: Time for another TV-themed content marketing post from the Grammar Chic blog! Our latest installment features a perennially revered, wildly addictive CBS legal drama—The Good Wife. Though not quite as flashy as a Game of Thrones nor as obviously marketing-centric as Mad Men, the show nevertheless has some lessons to impart to anyone and everyone looking to build brand loyalty via savvy, engaging content.

What exactly can The Good Wife teach us about content marketing? Well, gosh… where do we begin?

  1. Content marketers need to be consistent…

“Consistency” is not a very exciting word—not a word that often sets toes a-tappin’—and in the world of TV it can almost be a bad thing. Shows like NCIS and CSI and Law & Order are certainly popular, but we all kinda know that those shows are stuck in their own various ruts; that procedural shows tend to follow a very exact formula in each and every episode, something that high-end shows like Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black have consciously shied away from. The Good Wife almost falls between the two categories: It’s not nearly as formulaic as some shows are but it is a courtroom drama, and it does hit some familiar storytelling notes from time to time.

And you know what? Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Having some idea of what you’re going to get, week to week, offers comfort and appeal to long-time viewers—and the same principle holds true of content marketing, as well. Your Facebook followers and blog readers should have some idea of what they’re going to be getting into with regard to your content. It shouldn’t be predictable, but it should fit in with your brand identity, and there should be some kind of through-line that connects your various pieces of content—a shared point of view or common values.

  1. … and also keep people guessing.

The flipside of the coin is that offering some real suspense and intrigue keeps people coming back for more. It’s certainly worked on The Good Wife, which may indeed be a courtroom procedural but still throws all kinds of curveballs to its viewers. (The current season opened with a main character behind bars—something that no fan would have predicted.) Your online content should be thoughtfully consistent, but it should also seek to offer some surprises, some twists on the formula and some tweaks on the script. Write on topics that are relevant to your brand, and adhere to a consistent set of values, but also experiment with different perspectives, media, formal structures, and so forth.

  1. Make the most of your media.

One thing The Good Wife is routinely praised for is making the most of network TV conventions. The Good Wife is not Mad Men or Breaking Bad or even The Walking Dead: It does not air on cable, it is required to produce a large number of episodes each season, and there are plenty of limits on what the show can do. Within those parameters, though, the show does a superior job of surprising its viewers and of using TV drama tropes and trappings to its advantage. In the same way, you’ll have limitations in what you can do on Twitter, or on Pinterest, or what have you—but smart content marketers are able to know their platforms inside and out, to grasp all the rules and limitations, and to think up clever ways to subvert them.

  1. Help your A-listers to shine.

No current TV show has such a deep bench of amazing, high-profile guest stars and supporting actors, and no show uses its guest stars quite so well. Michael J. Fox, Jerry Stiller, Nathan Lane, Rita Wilson, Jeffrey Tambour, and countless other names feature on The Good Wife, and they’re always given juicy roles they can sink their teeth into, without overshining the regular cast. In much the same way, it falls to content marketers to ensure that the bloggers and experts they’re quoting, retweeting, or interviewing are given a chance to shine, without detracting from their own overall message.

  1. Get better as you go.

A final thought: The Good Wife is now two weeks into its sixth season—meaning it’s well past the point where the majority of shows are cancelled or throw in the towel. Critics and fans are almost unanimous in saying that the fifth season was the show’s best yet, or at least a strong contender—and that’s pretty rare. While most shows lose their luster and their passion over time, The Good Wife just grows more sophisticated, more masterful, and more exciting.

Hopefully, your content marketing efforts do likewise.

If they don’t, well: You know who to call. Grammar Chic, Inc. can be reached at http://www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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E-mail Etiquette is Essential to Your Job Search

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First impressions are everything, especially when you’re searching for a new job. You probably wouldn’t show up for a job interview wearing your gym clothes and a baseball cap, nor would you greet the hiring manager with a fist bump instead of a firm handshake—because you understand that your appearance, your words, and your actions ultimately all reflect on your professionalism, and on your desirability as a candidate.

But of course, in many cases, the interview is not your first impression, not truly. In today’s world, there’s often a fair amount of back-and-forth e-mailing that goes on between you and the HR manager or recruiter, long before you even have a phone interview, much less an in-person one. Thus, some of the very first impressions about your character and your professionalism will come from your e-mails—how they’re worded, how they’re sent, and how you convey good manners even through electronic communication.

The Basics of E-mail Etiquette

For jobseekers, then, mastering the fundamentals of e-mail etiquette is important. Many tips will go without saying—you don’t want to send out professional e-mails laden with typos or text-message abbreviations, for instance—but a few more salient points include:

  • In addition to Internet slang and text message abbreviations, you’ll also want to weed out jokes, emoticons, and any instances of deadpan or sarcasm. It’s not that there isn’t any room for a sense of humor in the job search, but these things can often be misconstrued over e-mail—so why risk it? Just stick to straightforward professionalism.
  • Use a professional e-mail address, which is not the same thing as saying use your current work e-mail address. Set up a Gmail or some other account that includes just your name, or a variation on it—not something like RunnerGal1983 or VolsFan or Springsteen4Life or what have you.
  • When you receive an e-mail from a hiring manager or recruiter, respond within 24 hours if possible, 48 hours at the absolute most. If you don’t particularly have anything to say, then simply confirm receipt of the previous e-mail.
  • Don’t use all-caps or exclamation points in professional e-mails. There’s no need to yell.
  • Finally, remember that while professionalism is the order of the day, there is always room for a little enthusiasm. Make it clear that you’re interested in the job—that you really want it. If you’re on the fence about it, that’s likely to come through in your communications, so work to convey your real excitement, or else just move on to the next opportunity.

Every e-mail you send to a potential employer is an opportunity to convey your professionalism—and your desire for the job in question. To learn more about the best job search protocol, please contact our team today. Grammar Chic, Inc. can be reached at 803-831-7444, or at http://www.grammarchic.net.

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Do You Have Content Marketing Klout?

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It’s a common question among content marketing skeptics, and one that Grammar Chic, Inc. has addressed many times before: How exactly do you know that your content marketing endeavors are working? Some say that proving content marketing ROI is difficult, but it might be more accurate to say that there are simply many analytics to choose from: Social media reach, website traffic, and less tangible things like consumer trust and brand loyalty.

You might be surprised to know that there actually is a fairly straightforward, numeric way to understand your content marketing efficacy. It’s called your Klout score. Klout is a company that uses propriety algorithms to determine the level of influence exerted by a brand or individual’s online presence—including Twitter feed, LinkedIn posts, and on down the line. The way it works is, on the surface, pretty simple: Klout assigns Joe Blow a score somewhere between 1 and 100. If Joe Blow has a 100, it means he’s one of the most influential people on social media; if he has a 1 then his social media posts and status updates aren’t making any kind of an impact, and poor old Joe is really just wasting his time.

What Determines Your Klout Score?

We might all like to believe that Klout scores are as informative and as objective as the Klout folks say they are, but the true picture is just a little muddier. What exactly determines your Klout score? How is influence evaluated and quantified? The specifics of the Klout algorithms are mysterious, leading some to suggest that the whole thing is fairly arbitrary. Others are sure that Klout scores really do carry weight.

It’s probably fair to say that, yes, Klout scores do matter, at least insofar as Klout is a reputable and widely known social media institution. (Currently, more than 400 million social brands have Klout scores.) Even if the algorithms are nonsense and the scores themselves are arbitrary, Klout itself is a respected brand, so having a high score carries a certain level of prestige.

Engaging Your Users—With and Without Klout

One thing we’ll say in favor of Klout is that the company does take a smart, healthy view of social media marketing and content creation. Experts agree that the best way to raise a Klout score is to focus on engagement—not mere promotion, but helpful and informative content that prompts users to actually interact and share. If chasing a higher Klout score causes your company to step up its content marketing game and focus more heavily on user engagement, that’s not such a bad thing.

With that said, we’ll also note that you don’t actually need a Klout score to determine whether your content marketing is having any effect. Evaluating content marketing ROI is as simple as setting the right goals and then using your analytics to track them, and Grammar Chic, Inc. helps all of our content marketing clients keep tabs on their campaign progress and results. To learn more, we invite you to contact us today at http://www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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4 Completely Legit Content Marketing Goals

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If you happen to be a content marketing nerd—and yes, we confess that, here at Grammar Chic, Inc., we are—then you likely enjoy talking shop, discussing the finer points of Twitter strategy, the latest developments with Google Authorship, the most valuable analytic programs, and so on and so forth. Crucially, though, not everyone is a content marketing nerd, and many business owners frankly have little interest in the technicalities of content marketing. What they care about is this: What can content marketing do for my brand? Or, even more to the point: How can content marketing make me any money?

This is one of the oldest and prickliest topics in all of content marketing. At first blush, it may seem like it is rather difficult to prove a direct correlation between content marketing and raised revenues. It’s not as if you can post a Facebook update and immediately see a few dollars added to your business’ bank account. We get that.

But then again, that would be a fairly unrealistic expectation. To really understand what content marketing can do—to really get your money’s worth, so to speak—it’s critical to set specific and appropriate goals. And yes, it is certainly possible to set content marketing goals that are just unfair, unreasonable, and impossible. Then again, there are a few goals that are perfectly legitimate—perfectly possible to achieve with the right approach to content marketing:

  1. First, you can set a goal for increased reach. If your only aim is to build name recognition for your company, and to get more eyeballs on your Facebook page, blog, and ultimately company website, then content marketing can do it. Great content is inherently shareable content, which means your followers and fans will be passing it along to their friends and family. Engagement on your social media pages will increase their visibility, even among those who do not “like” or “follow” you. And well-placed paid promotions will ensure that you’re targeting new followers—constantly expanding your company’s sphere of influence and visibility.
  2. Another reasonable content marketing goal: Increased customer loyalty. Content marketing is meant to engage, which means it’s meant to keep your name and your content right there in front of your followers and fans. It’s meant to display your authority, and to offer subtle reminders each day that your business offers true expertise in its field—all combining to cultivate real relationships with your clients and customers.
  3. Content marketing can also generate increased customer trust, which is not quite the same thing as customer loyalty. Simply put, content marketing is all about showing that you care enough about your customers to offer them value—even the free value you provide on your blog posts or Google+ updates. It’s also about providing after-purchase support—helping your customers know how best to use your products and services, even long after the bill has been paid. Content marketing fosters the notion that you’re interested in taking good care of your customers—period.
  4. Finally, a great content marketing goal is to turn your customers into ambassadors for your brand, sharing your company and raving about it to their friends and family—which can, in turn, be a highly effective and cost-efficient form of marketing for your brand.

There is much more that content marketing can do for your brand, besides—but by starting with any of these goals, you’re sure to see how this discipline pulls its weight, and ultimately benefits your company in a huge way.

To learn more, contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.

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Branching Out: How to Effectively Expand Your Social Marketing Presence

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When it comes to social media marketing, everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Maybe you launched a Facebook page when you first started your business, and it’s gotten to the point where—through consistent content updates—you’ve developed a loyal social following. Now, you’re ready to expand onto other platforms—taking on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or some combination of new social networks.

This is good and right thinking. You can effectively use your following on one social platform to build up a readership on another social network, and amplify your brand’s online presence. This isn’t necessarily easy, though—and just because you were successful on one social channel, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll be successful on others.

Doing What Works

The first step, of course, is research. See what’s worked for you in the past, on your current social channels. Look back on your analytics to see which posts reached the most people and got the most clicks—and which ones fell flat. There may be certain topics or kinds of content that just don’t jibe with your brand or appeal to your users.

At the same time, though, it’s important to understand the differences in social channels—and to realize that what works on one may not translate well to the others. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are all extremely visual, while Twitter is somewhat less so. Twitter and LinkedIn users may be more solidly within the B2B sphere, whereas your Facebook fans are more likely to be end consumers. Understanding these differences requires you to read up on the new social channel you’re employing, and to think strategically about where you can continue your existing methodologies—and where you may need to experiment.

Planning Your Presence

Of course, you’ll need to make sure your new social platform is included on your editorial calendar, and that you’re updating it consistently. Crucially, you can’t just repeat content from one platform, assuming it will work well on the other. If you’re repeating the exact same content then there’s no reason for anyone to follow you on both channels, so you’re limiting your user base on each of them.

Your planning process should also encompass some goal-setting. So you’ve done well on Facebook—but by what standard? Likes, clicks, website sales, brand loyalty? Do you expect to succeed on Twitter by these same standards—or do you have different goals in mind? Is there a whole new audience you’re trying to reach? Why, exactly, do you want to branch out onto a new social platform? Use these questions to help guide you in your strategizing, and in your new content creation.

Cross-Promote

Once your new platform goes live, of course, you’ll want to make sure you promote it to your existing social media fans. Build up a few posts of really snappy, original content—something different than what you’ve used on other social networks—then invite your current followers and fans to meet you on this new network. If you make it clear that you’re offering fresh value—not just the same old thing—then you may very well retain them in the long run.

Clearly, then, expanding your social media presence means expanding your content creation. That’s a tall order—but Grammar Chic, Inc. can help. Contact us today to learn how: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.

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Facebook Advertising is Annoying—But it doesn’t Have to Be

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I’m just going to say it. I hate paying for advertising on Facebook—hate, Hate, HATE it. As a small business owner, as well as a content marketer strategist for my clients, it’s probably one of my biggest frustrations. And let me just say this, it’s not because I don’t know how to make it work—I do. What irritates me the most is the fact that if you want to have a business page on Facebook, and have an actual audience—then it’s something you simply have to do—and you have to have a budget for it. I know, that stinks because it didn’t always used to be that way.

If you have any knowledge of how Facebook used to work from a business perspective, you are probably well aware of the fact that a recent algorithm update (in the last few months) completely changed the way business posts are organically shown in a user’s newsfeed. Namely, your audience exposure probably took a big hit. So if your company page has 3,000 followers, a status update might be shown to 15 or 20 of those users organically. Why? Because Mark Zuckerberg isn’t a dummy, and he wants his company to generate loads of advertising revenue. In achieving that goal, I commend him, even though my advertising budget has needed to be adjusted for each of the campaigns that I work on.

So ultimately, yes, there are plenty of organic strategies out there when it comes to generating traffic on Facebook—and my company uses the majority of them. However, when it comes to paid advertising, you need to know how to get the most “boost” for your buck. Follow these tips:

  1. Be REALLY specific when creating a targeted audience for your boosted post. It’s better to really focus on who you are trying to connect with instead of being overly broad and appealing to people who aren’t going to like or engage with your page for the long term. For instance, I recently ran a Facebook contest for a client who operates a small boutique men’s clothing store. Instead of sending the ad to every male Facebook user from the age of 18 to 80 in the United States, I made an ad targeted at the potential interests that a customer of this store might have, such as various hip-hop artists, sports figures, celebrities, clothing brands, and TV shows. I did this so the contest ad would show up in the newsfeed of users who would be a potential customer of this store. I also specifically targeted certain “habits” of the potential audience, including credit card users and online shoppers. To make a long story short, the contest worked exactly the way it was supposed to—we had a great turnout, didn’t use all of our intended budget because our initial response numbers were higher than we originally projected, and inspired many visitors to actually comment and share the post—earning them a promo code for their engagement. The number of page likes also went up at the same time, without paying for a promotion campaign to generate more “likes” simply because a new audience was made aware of this store through one boosted post. It was a great success all around.
  2. Test, test, and test again. You wouldn’t continue to spend money on an employee who isn’t doing their job, right? If you’re a smart business owner, the answer is of course no. So treat your Facebook advertising like a salesperson who needs to show results. This requires constant testing and tweaking in order to get it right. For instance, I was setting up an advertising campaign for a client who operates in the home improvement space. I first targeted an audience that I believed would be interested in this company’s services—home improvement, home and garden, as well as some television networks and home improvement personalities that may be “liked” in a Facebook user’s profile. I also targeted some behaviors: bought a new house in the past six months, recent mortgage borrower, credit card user, and the like. With this particular company too, there was a geographic consideration to make—so I targeted the area where they operated. The results? Let me just say, I wasn’t happy. After a day of watching user engagement—or lack thereof—I went back to the drawing board. I eliminated all “interests” related to the audience of that post (even while they may be applicable I had to face facts, my cost per engagement was too high) and kept the focus on consumer behaviors and location. A day later, I was happy to see that my results improved tremendously. The moral of the story here is don’t waste money on an underperforming ad. Test, modify, and change things up—it’s the only way you are going to see if you can get better results.
  3. Spend money on posts that matter. It’s true that it is important to be consistent on Facebook and post regular, high-quality content in order to stay in front of your audience, but not every status update is worthy of a boost. Reserve your advertising spending for high-impact images, important blog posts, special offers where you are looking to move inventory or drive traffic, as well as limited-time offers. Be choosy while being strategic and the boosted post will get results.

I’m sure I could go on as it relates to this topic—and I will in a later post. For the time being, employ these tips on your paid Facebook ad campaigns and be angry at the Gods over at Facebook just a little less.

For more help on setting up an effective Facebook strategy or devising a content marketing campaign that works for your company, contact Grammar Chic today by calling 803-831-7444.

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