Rather than concoct a complex and costly PR campaign to mollify frustrated customers (as the owner said “we are a 11 month old 5 person business LOL”), the owner simply sat down and wrote an email to roughly 35k past customers apologizing for shortcomings and promising to do better.
You can view the letter below. Hope your eyes are up to the challenge.
By all accounts the outreach has had a great positive effect – – not only was the letter’s transparency appreciated by many of the 35k recipients, but in an outstanding example of ‘collateral benefit’, it was picked up as a story by one of the biggest newspapers in the world (daily circulation around 2.8 million), AND The Armchair MBA is talking about it as well.
On the other hand, in addressing a small issue, the inevitably greater resulting demand will likely have created some much bigger challenges…for starters, production capacity might be getting some additional attention.
We wish Graza well. I would imagine that they will be expanding to more than 5 people in the near future.
Last week’s shipping disaster involving the Panama-flagged Ever Given delayed transit of over 400 vessels, with lost trade and added costs totaling an estimated $400 million per hour.
In the wake of this crisis stemming from the accidental grounding of a massive 1300 foot container ship that blocked the Suez Canal, the Biden administration moved quickly to add $17 billion in its recently revealed infrastructure package to prevent such an occurrence from happening in the country’s 25,000 miles of inland waterways.
As the crisis grew in the Suez region last week, frantic planning sessions in the White House West Wing were added to the budgeting process to fold potential appropriations into the larger package.
An administration spokesperson explained: “The grounding of a ¼ mile ship within US borders was something we frankly had not contemplated – – so, guided by Rahm Emanuel’s credo ‘never waste a crisis’, so we did what we felt was necessary. Many canals are well over their 50-year planned life span and so we feel this is an appropriate upgrade”. The dimensions of the Ever Given are the administration’s benchmark.
President Biden himself said: “We all saw this disaster happen – – you saw it, I saw it, the world saw it. I could see it coming. Now all eyes are on us. The Erie Canal – you know that song – it’s part of who we are. C’mon man, it’s pretty clear that we can’t let a massive ship like that get stuck in the U.S. If this Administration can’t figure out how to get money for this project, who will?”.
The challenge is daunting, considering that the Ever Given is 1312 feet long, 193 feet wide, and requires about 47 feet of depth. The depth of the average canal in the U.S. is 9 feet.
Details of this $17B budget component have not been revealed, but a spokesperson said: “It would involve things like dredging and widening the Mississippi and other waterways, enlarging many of the 150-year-old locks to accommodate a ship occupying over a quarter million square feet, and of course addressing the related need for added restrooms, eating facilities and gift shops at major ports”.
When asked about the related cost to then build all new bridges and roads to service these expanded waterways, the spokesman said: “That will be Phase 2 – – we’ll address that during the second Biden administration”.
You may be one of the many who watch the ads purely for entertainment value. If that’s the case, you’re no doubt in for your share of brilliance, virtue signaling, emotional manipulation, morally questionable/disgusting, Christopher Walken and just plain bad ads (see “puppybabymonkey”). All of which is great. Enjoy.
The intended point is that even if an ad is unbelievably hilarious, poignant, memorable or otherwise highly engaging, advertising has diminished value if the brand is not well integrated.
It’s sort of like meeting that attractive person at a bar that you have an amazing instant connection with, but leave without a phone number or any other way to take action. If the brand isn’t connected to the ad, it’s hard for the viewer to do anything about it.
If you’re a marketer, however, SB, er, BG ads are interesting for different reasons – at $3.5M or $4M whatever the price for 30 seconds is these days, you are no doubt wondering how that expense can possibly pay out.
This point we’re talking about is related to one of the 6 points – L – Linkage – – of the advertising to the brand.
Many of the Big Game ads do a great job getting your attention, but don’t close the loop by making the brand an integral element.
As an example, compare two very entertaining ads – – which of them can you connect to a brand?
“Just OK is not OK” – whether it’s a tattoo artist, surgeon, babysitter or tax preparer, this campaign is highly entertaining, engaging and amusing. It just doesn’t have a strong linkage to the brand or core message (other than ‘we’re better than OK’ – – not necessarily ownable or particularly compelling). I’ve enjoyed this campaign immensely but have never remembered the advertiser. (It’s AT&T, by the way. I checked).
“Jake” You can probably already envision the scene (late at night phone call) and catchphrase “Jake…from State Farm”. In this case, the premise (State Farm is always available) and the brand name are well integrated into the creative.
One year ago Boeing’s 737 Max was one of the most successful launches in company history.
A re-imagining of the venerable 737 design, it used updated aerodynamics, materials and engines to achieve 14% greater fuel efficiency vs the base 737, to compete with the Airbus A320neo (and it competed quite well). It was granted FAA approval in March 2017 and the first copy was delivered shortly thereafter. The product strategy expanded to include 4 variants.
Now, after 2 mass-fatality crashes, production is on hold, the global fleet is on an expanding grounding with no firm restart date, and the entire line’s future is in doubt, taking with it the fortunes of a host of related entities including GE, the FAA, and the town of Renton, WA, where the planes were built, among many others.
Is this the end of what we know as the 737 MAX?
Surviving a crisis seems to be some combination of:
severity of an ‘event’
how likely are negative consequences to occur in the future
A third key factor is management’s action to swiftly and effectively mitigate future risk
Some very well-known brands have survived severe crises. All are very healthy today.
Tylenol – while the fatalities were low, the Tylenol poisonings of the early 1980s were a huge public threat
Perrier – – in 1990, a crisis emerged when a toxic substance, benzene, was found in some bottles of Perrier
Firestone – – in the late 1990s and early 2000s, hundreds of people died related to accidents attributed to tread separation of Firestone tires, particularly on Ford products
There are others: Volkswagen (Dieselgate), BP (Deepwater Horizon), SeaWorld (orcas)
In all of these cases, Management worked to swiftly remove any affected (or associated) product from circulation, provided consumer hotlines, publicized the recalls, and provided clear ongoing updates to the public.
In all of these cases, there was a clear explanation given for what caused the issues, and the solution was directly linked to the cause.
Other brands did not fare as well:
AYDS was a very popular diet-suppressant candy in the 1970s and 1980s, but could not survive the mid-80s emergence of the disease AIDS. Because this association was not likely to end, the candy fairly rapidly was withdrawn from the market.
ValuJet – a budget airline, its Flight 592 crashed in 1996, killing all 110 aboard. The severity of the crash brought the airline’s poor safety record to light, thus raising doubt about future safety. A rebrand was attempted but the airline eventually was discontinued.
Vioxx – -an anti-inflammatory marketed by Merck, this brand had over 80 million users. It was withdrawn in 2004 following reports that it could accelerate heart attack and stroke, exacerbated by the fact that evidence was known for about 5 years prior to action being taken.
In two of these cases, the severity of consequences was high, and there was low confidence that a long-term solution was possible. In the third, the brand was associated with a disease with severe consequences – – just bad luck.
So will Boeing’s 737 Max survive?
High consequences from failure
No definitive cause or solution identified
Indecisive management reaction pushes resolution into the hazy future
The longer the lack of clarity lasts, the more doubt will grow around the 737 Max. (As they said of the moon shot: “a million things have to go right. Only one thing has to go wrong”.)
After a quick check of the headlines, put me down for a no.
The late football coach Dennis Green famously sputtered after his Arizona Cardinals lost a big lead to the Chicago Bears in 2006: “They are who we thought they were!!!”.
DOES NOT APPLY TO THE INTERNET
No longer just the province of faceless hackers and fake identities, the internet now is the land of fake faces, too. Very often people are not who you thought they were.
I first became suspicious when my LiveChat support agent ‘James’ was a little awkward (every conversation started with “hey”), and he seemed to operate from a very different time zone. He just didn’t seem like the chill dude in his photo.
Suspecting that his image was stolen from a real person, I did what anyone with borderline clinical stalking tendencies would do – I did a reverse Google search on his photo.
Eureka! ‘James’ was actually a real person named Tom Brown, a Director at a company called Facilis in the Bay area. Hey – I’ll let Tom know someone stole his photo. Upon looking for his contact info, I found out that this was fake, too. There’s a Facilis, but this isn’t it. The site URL http://www.pgyx.com/team-member.html# looks like a developmental website for a business that may or may not exist, now or in the future. You can check for yourself.
Back to the image search. It turns out this person, whoever he is, has been replicated and is now overrunning the internet. Sort of like the magic brooms in Fantasia. ‘James/Tom’ is also Michael Flynn, lead developer at a tech company; Bob Roger, CEO of a restaurant supply company; Mike Hussy, data guy at Delhi Public Schools, and many more.
This dude is everywhere! It is likely that many or all of these people are placeholders on developmental sites created by a web developer somewhere. At this point I stopped the investigation…almost.
Because the fake sites usually had more than one photo, I did the same search on a female face in one of these sites, and found that there’s lots of her, too! And lots of other people as well. It’s like there’s a parallel iStockphoto universe of smiling people.
A story, perhaps apocryphal, describes the past-his-prime comedian who, when the laughs just aren’t coming, drops his pants, revealing brightly patterned boxer shorts. Unfailingly it gets a reaction. Problem solved.
There is an analog if you’re in the business of selling consumer products – – you need to have a compelling story to tell. Brands who don’t know why they’re better than the competition often resort to fail-safe attention-getting tactics – – puppies, babies, tear-jerker stories, corn syrup…
…and of course, sex.
Carl’s Jr./Hardees and GoDaddy.com are just two of the many who made sex their Unique Selling Proposition. You can check their commercials out on YouTube; I cannot safely post a link here.
Both appear to have moved on, ostensibly to broaden their audiences as they move out of copywriting adolescence. In the #MeToo era, many advertisers have thankfully become more sensitive in how they go to market.
But there is a convenient alternative: #FoodPorn. With a wink and a nod and a hashtag that telegraphs ‘we’re hip’, #FoodPorn is titillating with words otherwise not used in general conversation, but without the photos. The buzzword gives permission.
In the most recent Super Bowl, Kraft Heinz’s Devour frozen food brand actually advertised on a real porn site, Pornhub.com, blurring the line between metaphor and reality. The brand is positioned as ‘flavor first’, the very embodiment of FoodPorn, and thus this stunt was all a humorous, one-time attempt to make the point and get some attention. But based on their website, they’re sticking with the FoodPorn angle. Not sure what the results were, other than a ton of attention.
But do we want to go there? Despite the old adage, not all attention is good attention. Most brands would prefer to focus on the product and avoid the crass associations that undermine credibility and turn off potential customers. But not all.
At a favorite burger chain recently (not fast food – – burgers are $10-14), where it talked about ‘friends and family’, part of the menu was blacked out. Upon inspection, it revealed that the blacked out words completed the language: “Post that #BurgerPorn and tag us. We never get tired of seeing them sexy burger shots.”
Upon conversation with the waitress, this is a case of man bites dog. The headquarters marketing staff decided to send sexed up menus to all of their restaurants, and in at least this case, the local owner disagreed with their judgment and took a marker to it.
I’m guessing the owner knows his customers, sees a lot of moms and dads, and drew the connection that they might not be interested in explaining to the kids what that all means. (I had a similar experience explaining the Clinton impeachment hearings to single-digit aged kids).
The irony is that these guys have a great concept – outstanding quality, reasonably priced food in a very pleasant environment.
Why mess all that up and distract attention with references to #FoodPorn?
The mood at last week’s Miami Boat Show was sunny, like the weather. Enthusiastic shoppers, lots of shiny new boats, and based on conversations with manufacturers, not enough new boats to meet demand.
However, as previously posted, some clouds on the horizon foreshadow the powerboat industry’s vulnerability in a way that will redefine the landscape over the next 10 years.
The core buyer base is aging. The 55-60 year old buyer base (let’s generalize and call them Boomers), are committed and usually repeat buyers. And they look a lot alike (in the words of one industry executive: “pale, stale and male”).
But there aren’t enough younger first-time buyers (generalized as Millennials) to replace their unit or dollar sales. Over the last 15+ years, the share of new boats sold to first-time buyers has dropped dramatically.
It’s the same old dudes buying more boats.
Recession bites. The next recession, like the last one, will flood the market with used boats when owners sell, crushing new boat sales – – a sales circuit-breaker if enough Boomer owners exit the market permanently. Remember, older buyers generally buy the more expensive boats.
Typical core new boat buyer
This post tries to explain why there are not enough younger boat buyers, and offers some ideas of what can be done to prepare for the future. While a bit longer than my typical post, there are lots of pictures, so please read on.
Following our Miami visit we circled back to get input from senior leaders representing manufacturers, dealers, Freedom Boat Club (the leader in this segment) and the NMMA, the leading trade association.
The upshot: the core appeal of powerboating is not going anywhere, but the industry will need structural changes to address some fairly major challenges to sustain health (read: sales) over the long term.
And the current pace of innovation is not enough to drive the changes necessary. Disruptive innovation is needed in everything from boat design, mode of power, sales/distribution channels to marketing. This is not about reducing price or offering new colors or more horsepower.
Disruptors transform the way a basic demand is delivered. Myopia has led to the downfall of many former market leaders.
Home Video: Blockbuster (VHS/DVD) yields to Netflix (streaming)
Personal photography: Kodak (film) yields to digital / smartphones
Books: Borders (bricks & mortar) yields to Amazon (online)
Based on appearances, the powerboat industry seems headed this direction – – focused on maximizing revenue with the current model (largely fiberglass gas-powered outboard boats sold through dealers).
There are signs that disruptors are at work — but there is a long way to go.
To explain where the industry has been and where it needs to go, we compared the buying process of legacy (Boomer) core buyers with considerations of potential Millennial buyers, in a 4-step process.
So what are some paths to long-term growth?
Here are some ways the industry can take action (with some examples):
Before addressing new buyers, the industry must keep current owners around as long as possible. Slow down defections – – aggressively court current owners and build relationships through CRM, owner events and personal outreach – build loyalty and maybe get another purchase
To encourage Millennial first-time buyers:
Accelerate development of more agreeable, alternative power sources:
GM’s experimental marine division, Forward Marine, introduced a 100% battery-powered boat. With a max speed of 20mph and a range of 1 hour at that speed, it’s not ready for prime time yet, and won’t get you many dates, but this is the direction some of the industry will go. Think Tesla. Maybe a hybrid as well.
GM Forward Marine prototype
Indmar just introduced EcoBoost, the marine version of Ford’s EcoTec engine – gets the same horsepower and torque with 4 cylinders as a typical V-8. More environmentally friendly.
Torqeedo is an established German company offering quiet, efficient electric motors. Due to relatively low gas prices and a maximum of 100 hp, growth is slow but it is steady. They’re getting traction.
Torqeedo Deep Blue 80R
BlueGas Marine has developed economical natural gas power for boats. Traction is difficult for the above reasons as well as infrastructure (need the gas equivalent of charging stations), but the equation can change quickly if oil prices spike.
More aggressive marketing
Cross-market! Boating should not just be for insiders anymore! Visibility must be increased by pursuing prospects with related affinities: skiing, hiking, etc. Not just a booth at the boat show.
Be more inclusive, diverse and experiential. Feature a range of age, ethnicity, interests. Leverage social media to reach prospects beyond the familiar core demographics.
Innovate beyond current offerings – materials, design, features
New boaters don’t have the burden of tradition and will likely be more open to unconventional but more functional approaches (after all, someone had to buy the first Prius)
RIBs – Rigid Inflatable Boats (Axopar, Technohull) offer more efficient performance using different hull design and materials. They are really cool, perform great, look different, and that’s ok.
Technohull (top); Axopar
Powered catamarans look different but offer advantages of smooth ride and more space
Leverage technology to reduce fear as a barrier to purchase
Self-docking boats will be available in 2020
On-board digital video tutorials can provide much more effective learning than paper manuals
Offer more versatile/multi-use boats at attractive price points – not single purpose (e.g. fishing) but can handle a variety of activities on any given day (analog: SUVs), making purchase more acceptable
Sea-Doo introduced a jet ski that converts to a fishing craft – – and it starts at $15k
Freedom Boat Clubis a franchisor with 178 locations, with a model based on eliminating some key barriers to purchase (includes lessons, takes care of maintenance and insurance). The goal – make participation frictionless.
Members pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to a variety of boats in a huge number of locations, rather than committing 6-figures for a single boat.
Other similar models such as peer-to-peer rental, fractional use, etc. will undoubtedly increase as there is less reliance on solely purchase
More fully integrate the internet in the shopping/buying process – as in the auto industry, reduce reliance on aggressive final-mile dealer salespeople.
Full transparency in the sales process, specifically costs/ obligations of ownership
Continuous on-boarding/learning from the dealer, not just 2 hours when the boat is picked up
Aggressively encourage new boater networking to share tips, experiences, and create peer communities
Mentoring programs linking experienced boaters with new boaters. Older boaters would love to pass along insights; a no-judgment setting makes it a win-win.
These are just a few things the industry can do to mitigate unavoidable changes. It will take foresight, patience, and investment – – and may not pay off immediately.
But an industry that proactively and creatively adapts to the needs of new boaters with great product and a great experience, will be much more successful than what we currently seem to have – – an industry that asks potential new buyers to adapt to the way things have been.
Direct, personal, effective. The best type of recommendation.
Fast forward a few millennia – – millions of shopping decisions are routinely made based on star ratings or online reviews – from total strangers.
In other words, online reviews are often less credible sources than Caveman Gok had.
While technology has provided lots of review resources (e.g. Yelp, Glassdoor, Amazon Stars), it has not yet figured out how to protect the integrity of these reviews – – thus making them not totally dependable.
And consumers are increasingly realizing this.
At the end of the day, a personal reco from someone you know may still be your best bet.
Consider these news stories from just the last few weeks:
“I visited a Facebook group called “Amazon Reviews” and was promised a full refund on a $44 Amazon purchase of a pet fountain if I did the following on the mega-retailer’s site:
1. Write a positive review. 2. Post my photos of the product. 3. Rate it five stars. Not only is this ethically problematic, it is also against Amazon and Facebook user policies.”
There are 4 types of reviews mentioned in the article:
1. Legit reviews – you bought it, you review it, good or bad.
2. Vine reviews – incentivized reviews for prolific reviewers. Objectivity not guaranteed.
3. Incentivized reviews (like the pet fountain above). Objectivity clearly suspect.
4. Fake reviews – often from Asian click farms. Totally bogus – often products reviewed are not even remotely what is listed.
Not exactly encouraging.
To allegedly combat the bias for negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor, some companies are apparently gently encouraging (and in some cases providing incentives) for employees to leave positive reviews.
“Last summer, employees of Guaranteed Rate Inc. posted a stream of negative reviews about the mortgage broker on Glassdoor, a company-ratings website.
– “An American sweatshop,” read a one-star review in June. “Worst company I ever worked for,” read another in July. The company’s rating on Glassdoor, which is determined by employee feedback, fell to 2.6 stars out of 5. – Concerned that negative reviews could hurt recruiting, Guaranteed Rate CEO Victor Ciardelli instructed his team to enlist employees likely to post positive reviews, said a person familiar with his instructions. In September and October these employees flooded Glassdoor with hundreds of five-star ratings. The company rating now sits at 4.1.”
One study estimates that while 88% of consumers put their trust in online reviews, at least 20% of them are in reality fake (the reviews, not the consumers).
As time goes on, consumers will judge online reviews with an increasing dose of skepticism, until AI figures out a way to effectively and convincingly screen out reviews that are just not legit. It’s complicated (see example from the Boston Globe).
So what can a marketer do to encourage the most credible endorsements of their products — enthusiastic, personal word of mouth recommendations?
Here are 3 examples, 2 of which involve reaching out and delighting the customer such that they take some sort of action that could influence others:
Chewy.com. Over the Holidays we received a mystery package that it turns out was sent by Chewy.com, and included an ink-on-canvas portrait of our dog, and a very enthusiastic hand-written card that said “Surprise! We hope you and your furbaby enjoy the portrait. Remember we’re open 24/7. Call us anytime, we’d love to hear from you!” So cool.
– Yes, this cost $, but they got it back in multiples from the number of people we told about it or who saw our social media posts. (Not to mention the fact that we’re just a little more likely to continue buying from them ourselves.)
YETI. To become an object of their affection, we merely had to go to the trouble of registering online for a gift we received – – a thermo mug, not one of their over-the-top coolers.
Shortly thereafter we received a thank you card with several YETI stickers, some of which of course will end up in a visible place, thereby providing a passive reinforcement of the brand to others.
Nextdoor. A bit different from the ‘delight’ category is the true word-of-mouth category, represented by the neighborhood network Nextdoor, which is an avenue for sponsored ads in addition to personal recommendations. The credibility factor is high.
There are lots of other ways to engender a personal relationship and loyalty well beyond what stars on a review can do.
Customer Support that has a personal touch and continuity – so the customer feels a connection with the help desk person (chat, email or phone)
Personalized customer outreach (email or snail mail) not asking for anything, just staying in touch and inviting the recipient to provide any feedback they may have.
(Making great products and backing them up doesn’t hurt, either).
Random acts of kindness may be seen as an incremental cost, but the personal connection can not only encourage current customers to be loyal, it can encourage them to tell others about their great experience. And that’s the name of the game.
As a company’s offerings evolve, a brand should keep up and not perpetuate a narrower or outdated image.
Weight Watchers becomes WW (health)
Starbucks Coffee becomes Starbucks (more than coffee)
Apple Computer becomes Apple (obvious)
Kentucky Fried Chicken becomes KFC (downplay ‘fried’)
Boston Chicken becomes Boston Market (broader menu)
Jo-Ann Fabrics becomes Joann (whatever they are, not just fabrics, apparently)
In these cases, the ‘new’ names clarified the company’s position and formalized names already commonly used.
Dunkin’ Donuts started as a coffee and doughnut joint around 1950 in Massachusetts. It was customary in those giddy post-war years to actually ‘sit on a stool’ at a ‘counter’, eat a doughnut served on a ‘plate’ and ‘dunk’ it in a heavy ‘ceramic mug’ of coffee from time to time. Ah, those were innocent times with a cavalier attitude toward carbs. You can’t really dunk while driving. No one dunks. It is a meaningless word.
From these humble beginnings it has now joined the name game and just announced a halving of its name to now just ‘Dunkin’’.
The reasons stated are to support their beverage-focused strategy, as well as to simplify the brand (they’ve already pared their menu 10%). Makes sense.
Dunkin’ hold-the-Donuts gets 60% of their sales from beverages, mostly coffee, but they want more. Don’t worry, they will still sell their irresistible (or irresistable, depending on which website version you buy into) doughnuts.
(In fact, Dunkin’ has been using largely the same menu for years, from time to time adding things like the healthier ‘DD Smart’ offerings, which will now likely have to be just ‘D-Smart’, which is a Turkish satellite TV company and no doubt trademarked. These things do get complicated. But we digress.)
The question is, is this a major step forward? Is it worth the trouble and expense? By itself, does Dunkin’ mean anything? Is the value proposition really changed?
Considering that their locations, menu offerings, awesome circa-1973 logo font and color and pretty much everything else is staying the same*, it seems that this may be a very expensive PR play, nothing more.
*apparently display fixtures will be undergoing a makeover.
Dunkin’ has long used ‘America Runs on Dunkin’’ as their tagline, and in their native New England, they apparently are fondly known as ‘Dunkin’’ or even ‘Dunkies’.
However, in the Midwest or Southeast I don’t recall ever referring to this chain as just ‘Dunkin’’ (or hearing anyone else do so).
It sounds a bit awkward and contrived, like when Radio Shack, in a last heaving gasp for survival, wanted to be known as ‘The Shack’. (it’s painfully true).
So, not sure that the name Dunkin’, by itself, is a game-changer.
Considering the vast franchisee-borne expense involved in re-outfitting 12,000+ international outlets, as well as rebranding pretty much every sign, coffee mug, drive-thru kiosk, menu, placemat, napkin, rest room signs and heaven only knows how many other things, you have to wonder how the calculations worked on this at some point being profit-positive. (and this follows the relatively recent ‘Coffee & More’ signage).
And ultimately, profit is the point.
It comes down to whether the absence of the word ‘Donuts’ will subconsciously, Jedi-style, draw new users in for non-doughnut beverage offerings as they drive past, or persuade current customers that it’s also ok to buy those other things on the menu.
Penetration vs buy rate, the primal existential growth question.
In the case of Weight Watchers, Boston Chicken and Jo-Ann Fabrics, a name change seems justified to align with a broader brand premise. For Apple, Starbucks and KFC, arguably it formalizes what people already know, lets the CMO sleep at night knowing the brand is aligned, and is more of a check-the-box move.
I have a superpower that’s also a curse – I see typos everywhere. A dinner out isn’t complete until I find something wrong in the menu (insight: restaurateurs are not the greatest spellers. And I may not be the greatest dining companion).
You may see a beautiful person with a beautiful smile – – all I notice is that little bit of spinach in her teeth.
You may not be like me – but someone reading your resume might be. And much like spinach in one’s teeth, a CV that is 99.9% perfect can get discounted if an error is spotted by an OCD HR person or hiring manager (‘if they make a mistake on their most important document, what’s their attention to detail’?). Unfortunately, sometimes that’s all it takes.
My suspicion was that there are a lot of errors out there – – so I decided to check it out.
I speed-proofed a sample of resumes from a large networking group to see if there were errors that could get someone’s resume discarded by a picky hiring manager or HR person. These resumes are from very accomplished senior executives.
And there were indeed errors. In fact, all resumes had errors that needed fixing – – and some of these were ‘final’, meaning a resume expert had helped them out and blessed the final product. It’s natural – after checking your resume 5000 times, you’re sick of it and it becomes impossible to spot things.
Here are the 6 most frequent errors I found:
1) misspelling names of companies and brands (including in some cases the companies and brands that the person worked for!)
2) sloppy formatting – dates don’t align on the right, formatting makes it tough to trace the career history, periods on some bullet points but not others, inconsistent capitalization, etc.
3) use of proprietary acronyms and abbreviations that no reader is going to understand
4) inconsistent use of MM, M and millions (same for thousands and billions) – used one way in one place, another way elsewhere
5) sloppy grammar – mixing past and present tense, missing connecting words, using ‘lead’ instead of ‘led’, etc.
6) missing elements – not using the official name of a company, not consistently showing city/state for a job, etc.
Trivial stuff, for sure, but it’s the real world. You may well be the next Steve Jobs – – don’t unnecessarily give anyone a reason to think about anything other than your accomplishments.
NET – – for those in search mode, the resume you think is squeaky clean may have errors that someone may fixate on.
So — reach out to your annoying attention-to-detail friend (we all have one) and make double-sure you’re ready for prime time – remove that spinach!
If you’ve read this far and found that your resume needed a correction, please let me know in the comments.
If you find that I made an error in this post, I don’t want to hear about it.