Steffan Aquarone

Steff is a film producer and technology entrepreneur who speaks internationally on innovation, entrepreneurship and digital marketing

Just tell me what you do!

Is it me, or do marketers seem to have dropped the clanger of yesteryear that is “professional, high quality, cost-effective solution” in favour of excessive wording and jargon?

I’m sure we’ve all used verbosity to sound convincing, or to confuse the person we’re talking to. But do people actually buy it?

If I need “innovative ad products, custom media solutions, research and insight, and guaranteed brand safety – to make the digital medium more engaging, accountable and scalable” I’ll go and research corporate video production companies.

Same as when I need a sub-aquatic ceramic anti-carbonic-coagulant solution for my ceramic receptacles I’ll buy some toilet cleaner…

Buyers: don’t be fooled. Anyone with half a brain and a dictionary can sound like they know what they’re talking about. If you want to know if someone’s good at what they say they do, ask for the evidence.

Filed under: selling creative, , , ,

What is the internet?

Staggeringly, this is a genuine question I was asked by a well-spoken if borderline elderly gentleman in a hotel lobby last week. It struck me how staggeringly insignificant the contents of the web are to so many people – something that needs to be taken very seriously indeed by marketeers, opinion-seekers and those promoting the web’s meritocracy and democratic access. Granted, very few people in the UK are probably asking what the word “internet” means – but something like the web is certainly not democratic if access to it is restricted so massively by disposable income and/or access to public services, or on bandwidth which is an issue close to home even in rural parts of the UK.

Even though internet penetration is growing by double-figured percentages, access in the developing world remains crushingly low: 31.9% in Latin America/Caribbean, 20.1% in Asia and just 8.7% in Africa.

The net-doubters’ claim was once that internet penetration would be restricted by age: only when the 20-somethings of today become the power-holders will the internet really be relevant. But this isn’t born out in the stats. The biggest determining factor appears to be wealth.

Filed under: future of capitalism, , , , ,

How to get a job in the creative industries

Whether you’re fresh out of college, five years’ down the line treading water, or have had a revelation in your 50s that the creative industries is for you: some ways of looking for work perform better than others. Here are ten tips:

1. Don’t send in your CV. Ask a question, don’t start by telling them stuff. Don’t just send them stuff – they won’t read it. If you’re going to approach by email (most small agencies have all the contact on their websites these days) do it to establish what the procedure is, whether they do take unsolicited CVs, where they advertise when they recruit etc. This will be much more likely to get a response and it will start the crucial thing that’s going to set you apart: an existing relationship.

2. Take the time to research the correct contact name, spell check your email, don’t “Forward” the same email to more than one person and make sure what you write is specific to the person / company you’re writing to. It sounds obvious but you wouldn’t believe the number that don’t, and they go straight in the bin.

3. If you do get asked to send a CV, and at any rate when you come to apply for a job, customise it to the role you’re applying for. You should build up a file of slightly different CVs for every vacancy you’ve ever gone for.

4. Use a local business directory to make a list in excel. Phone up to get the contact details of the person you’re going to introduce yourself to. Record and monitor your progress. If people are happy to accept CVs, make a note by their name. Then you can send updated versions from time to time.

5. Set yourself time aside just for research and to approach people. Then set yourself clear goals. If six months in you’ve had no interviews, there’s something wrong with your approach. If you’ve had a dozen interviews and they’ve all been unsuccessful, perhaps you’re going for the wrong roles.

6. Go networking – look for free events at the Chamber of Commerce, search around on for open get-togethers.

7. Get a LinkedIN profile.

8. Make yourself findable on the internet – start a blog, get active, so people can find you and your work when they search for your name.

9. Remember that when a company isn’t hiring, job-seekers are an unwelcome distraction. But every business knows that when it does need to hire, it wants to get the best people which often means looking far and wide. Make it easy for them.

10. If you have a massive ego, no sense of self-doubt, an ability to speak more than you listen and an unmitigated desire for wealth you should probably think about owning a business rather than working for one.

Good luck!

(This advice is mostly aimed at people looking to employ their creative skills – but core professional such as management, marketing, finance and sales are the most sought-after. If you’ve got a successful career in one of these behind you and fancy a change of scene please email me: there’s a chance someone I know will want to talk to you).

Filed under: recruitment, , , , , , , ,

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