Catalyst Arts Blog
  • CREATIVE BIZ/CAREER
  • February5th

    Easy way to explore new career directions– target potential future jobs, etc…

    In doing market  and industry research for a business training I am currently taking, I stumbled upon a simple but profound exercise.

    If you are curious about or actively exploring other career paths or job directions, this is a fast simple way of narrowing it down to some more specific targets.

    Here it is:

    1.) Type into search engine something like “list of events related job titles” but fill in the industry you are interested in. “marketing job titles” etc… Find a good list and paste all the job titles into a word document.

    2.) Now go through them all and put a start or two stars next to the ones that sound appealing to you.

    3.) Compile all of these that got stars into one place and look them over in more detail. The ones that seem like the best fit you can now research deeper and start pursuing.

    NOTE- After you gather as much info as the web will give you, the next step before applying for education or internships or jobs is to do an Informational Interview with someone currently holding this position. This can save you a lot of wasted time and resources.

    RESOURCES

    Here is a great site with titles and descriptions of Creative, Marketing, and Communications jobs.

    http://www.paladinstaff.com/services/job-title-descriptions/

    http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag_index_alpha.htm – List of all Industries- ‘Industries at a Glance’

    Bureau of Labor Statistics

    http://www.bls.gov Includes stats on the hourly pay, amount of employees, unemployed, etc… in that field.

  • July20th

    I recently finished a course from SF State extension that was called Market Research Basics.

    Now I will admit that this is one of the less interesting aspects of marketing to me, and yet I did get some valuable insights from it that I will share with you.

    Creative types can tend to lean away from super analytical methodological practices and approaches to business. But just like the analytical could learn a thing or two from the nonlinear creative, we can learn a thing or two from the analytical.

    Conducting market research makes a lot of sense:

    • When you are starting a biz or deciding between a few biz ideas
    • When deciding on which product to produce or before launching a product
    • When you feel like you have ‘lost touch’ with your market or are ‘missing the mark’ and need some input and insights to guide you back into a sweet spot
    • When you want to gauge satisfaction or improve a product or service

    Some Subsections of Market Research:

    CUSTOMER RESEARCH- Who are our target customers anyway? What dot they need and want? What wording do they use to describe their wants and goals?

    COMPETITOR RESEARCH– Who are our closest competitors and how do they compare with us? What can we learn from them and do do to clearly distinguish ourselves from them? What is our competitive advantage? (this informs your value and positioning statements and your USP- unique selling proposition)

    TREND ANALYSIS– What trends are currently impacting the need/demand of our market? What trends might impact us in the future? Which trends are beneficial to our work and how can we best align ourselves with the existing momentum?

    Also PRICING Research, SEGMENTATION Research, CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, and ADVERTISING/MESSAGING Research

    As strategic of a thinker as I may be, I had to admit that I hadn’t really thought of either of my businesses in terms of trends. I hadn’t done any real substantial research into my market before starting a business to serve their needs. I just thought they were good ideas and suited me, so I created them. If I had identified and surveyed my market, I could have saved myself a lot of guesswork and accelerated my profits.  But it isn’t too late.

    MAIN MARKET RESEARCH TOOLS:

    SURVEYS- be clear about your objective in conducting the survey, use an online service like survey monkey, use a variety of question formats, and give people an incentive to complete it. (perhaps a coupon or a free download after completing it) ALTERNATIVES include Questionaires and Polls.

    FOCUS GROUPS- A roundtable discussion of 6-10 carefully selected people with a facilitator. You can get more in depth information and feedback and thus insights. The role of the moderator/facilitator is very key in quality of results. Costs can be high.
    ALTERNATIVES to Focus Groups include Interviews, free workshops with a question and answer portion at the end, and creating a ‘marketing persona’, which is basically a fictional ideal customer that guides all your decisions.

    Whichever option you go for, you will need to know WHAT you are trying to find out, then GATHER DATA, then sort, filter, and ORGANIZE DATA and then ANALYZE the Data so that it can be applied to actual improvements.

    A good baby step is to create a poll on your blog. Here is one I created in 5 minutes via poll daddy. Please take a second to add your vote into the mix.

    To your Success,

    Audette

  • June2nd

    By always focusing on what we have yet to attain, we rob ourselves of the joy of where we already are.
    By affirming what we lack, we fail to appreciate all that we already have.
    By obsessing on destinations, we don’t fully enjoy the journey.

    It is incredibly tempting to assume that our life will be better when___________(fill in the blank)

    This plays itself out in the sphere of career in many ways, including:

    • The unemployed envy the employed
    • 9-5 ers envy those with time and freedom in their schedules
    • People who want to quit their jobs envying those who are starting their own business
    • Small biz owners envy the consistent hours and paychecks of employees
    • Solopreneurs envy those with business partners or teams

    Yet the great irony is that while you are assuming the grass is greener in someone’s yard, they may be projecting the exact same onto your yard. There are pluses and minuses to every position in the world. You may be worse off than someone, but you are certainly better off than many. How happy you are is more a matter of your perspective of your situation than it is of your actual situation.

    The key is to focus on all the aspects of your current situation that you are grateful for and to appreciate it for what it is. Then as you move towards more freedom, more security, more money, more (fill in the blank) you can do it from a healthier place. You will still move forward and improve your situation, but you can enjoy yourself along the way. You don’t need to postpone gratitude and joy until we get to xyz…you can find it by realizing how  pretty darn green the grass actually is where you are now.

  • April14th

    I am a big believer in looking at the bright side of every situation, and seeing the opportunity in every challenge.

    What to do when you lose your job or freelance work slows down and you suddenly have time on your hands?

    Unemployment and underemployment can be very stressful. It is tempting to freak out and spin your wheels with hours of Craigslist searches and submit your resume to everything under the sun that you could conceivably do. And when this ‘strategy’ fails, to get depressed and catch up on your sleep, eat/drink too much, and watch a lot of TV and movies to distract you from the state of your finances, career, and general self-esteem.
    Stop! Don’t do it!

    Instead, try some of these worthwhile endeavors:

    1.) CATCH UP ON READING

    No, not reading novels or magazines. Catch up on the key periodicals, books, and blogs about your industry. (If you are sick of your industry and can’t find any motivation to read about it, then find one that is compelling and bring yourself up to speed about it) This way you will feel up to speed on new developments, and be able to dazzle people at dinner parties and job interviews.

    Some tips to ensure that this reading time is strategic:
    * Capture key bits of information and advice in files. Extract the best information out of any and every book/newspaper/blog and put it in a place that you can find it again. [for hardcopy texts, use my highlighter tips from my most popular blog post of all time- Ode to the highlighter]
    * Write up a summarizing book report after you finish a book. May feel dorky at first and send you back a decade or two, but there is a reason our teachers gave us this assignment—so we would better integrate the information.

    2.) TAKE SOME COURSES

    To succeed in this competitive job market, it is smart to adopt the attitude of a lifelong learner.  Always seek to expand your skills and keep your brain and job skills toolbox in good shape. When you suddenly have time on your hands, it is a great time to sign up for a couple courses at the local community college or a university extension program. Take a marketing, writing, or computer class.
    Or learn a whole new software application in your bathrobe through cool video tutorial programs like Lynda.com.

    3.) STRENGTHEN YOUR NETWORK

    Use some of your spare time to nurture those friendships and professional relationships that have been withering from lack of attention. Sure, build up your facebook friends and your linked in profile, but don’t stop there. Virtual community only goes so far. Pick up the phone and call people, send friendly emails or letters, and attend parties and networking events. Try to be positive and not needy in your interactions. When people ask what’s new- don’t gripe about being underemployed, tell them about the cool courses you are studying or the volunteering you are doing. (see tip 5) Take people who could give be helpful to your job search or career advancement out to tea/coffee. Have a potluck dinner party at your house. Make sure you are socializing for genuine reasons, and also some for strategic reasons. Be generous with your network and it will be generous to you.

    4.) POLISH YOUR SKILLS & YOUR PACKAGING

    Work on your resume. Rewrite your bio with the help of a couple people who know you/your work well. Get a new headshot. Update your social network profiles. Work on your portfolio or promo kit if you have one. Upgrade your personal branding.

    Research jobs related to your previous positions and ideal jobs. Do you get excited at the prospect of any of them? What skills do they require that you don’t have? How can you attain these skills? Spend time looking at the web sites, bios, and portfolios of people whose careers you admire. Emulate some of their best practices in your own promotional materials.

    5.) VOLUNTEER—-Strategically

    Find one or two local organizations doing inspiring work on causes you believe in. Think of how your specific skills and experience could be beneficial to them, and then contact them to volunteer these services.

    This will have multiple positive effects: It feels good to work for a good cause, it takes your focus off you and onto something larger, it can be included in your resume, and it could even result in a paid position down the road. If you see a perfect job for yourself in their organization, volunteer to throw a fundraising event to pay for your salary.

    1.) DEVELOP YOUR WILD IDEAS

    Do you have some crazy idea for a business you want to start? A creative project?
    A community project?
    Maybe this extra time is the universes sign to focus on it.  Sketch out your project; draft a business plan, work on that book you always wanted to write. Use this as a brilliant excuse to work on that thing you have been wanting to work on for years. If Plan A isn’t working out so well, might as well develop your Plan B.

    Who knows? That sketch or book proposal or 1 page business plan may lead to a whole new exciting direction in your career. Even if they don’t seem ‘practical’ give your wild ideas and harebrain schemes their due and develop them out of the idea phase.

    To Your Inspired Success!

  • March18th

    Here are some BASIC and FUNDAMENTAL Concepts of Marketing.

    Definitions of Marketing-

    The super basic definition- Managing profitable customer relations.

    “Broadly defined, marketing is a social and managerial process by which individuals and organizations obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging value with others.”

    “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

    What is a Market?

    The set of actual and potential buyers of a product.
    These people share a need or want that can be satisfied through exchange relationships.

    2 of the most important questions to ask before you can create your marketing strategy:

    What is our target market? (What specific customers will we serve?)

    What is our value proposition? (How can we serve these customers best?)

    A company’s value proposition is the set of benefits or values it promises to deliver to customers to satisfy their needs.

    This is also referred to as a USP- unique selling proposition. This forms the core of your marketing message. Sometimes you can encapsulate your usp into your businesses tagline. This should also be what is conveyed by the headline you use on your web site or in any ad campaigns.

    5 Steps of the Marketing Process

    1.) Understand the marketplace and customer needs and wants
    2.) Design a  customer driven marketing strategy with the goal of getting, keeping, and growing target customers
    3.) Construct a marketing program (4 P’s) that actually delivers superior value
    4.) Build profitable customer relationships and customer delight
    5.) Reap the rewards of these strong relationships by capturing value from customers

    * Notice that the first 4 steps are all about value for the customer.
    * The 4 P’s are Product, Price, Place, and Promotion

    The Marketing Process

    Situation Analysis
    |
    V
    Marketing Strategy
    |
    V
    Marketing Mix Decisions
    |
    V
    Implementation & Control

    I will write future posts going into more detail about many of the above elements.
    This is just an overview.

    – Credit for many of these general concepts goes to the book
    MARKETING- An Introduction By Armstrong & Kotler

    _____________________________________________________________________

    For a Great Free Online Course on the Fundamentals of Marketing– Go to:
    http://www.smallbizu.org/m101/