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Monday, February 21, 2022

Top Ten Checklist Prior to Starting your First Job Search

 Top Ten Checklist Prior to Starting your First Job Search

A College Students Guide to Success


As the country and world begin to emerge from under the grips of the pandemic, the job market is bound to become even more competitive than it already is.  Full time jobs may be fewer as more companies increase the use of contingent workers as a safety net due to all the uncertainty.  As such, it will be extremely important for college students entering the job marketing to be polished and on their toes in all regards if they desire to land that dream full time job.

At the University of Missouri – St. Louis, in addition to being a faculty member and department co-chair, I also run one of our executive advisory boards and act as the faculty advisor to the marketing club.  This in addition, being the founder of the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference also keeps me well informed on what companies are looking for, trends, and skills our students need to succeed.

Below is a top ten checklist that I have created to help students prepare to stand out from the crowd.

Develop a Digital Portfolio

Unlike a resume or your LinkedIn profile, a digital portfolio helps to define your skills in a more tangible way...  showcasing your creative side, writing skills, ability to sell, video skills, audio skills, and all the software you have worked with.  They can even showcase volunteer work or causes you support via some of the creative work you might have done for them.   If organized properly it will tell the story of who you are, your passions and what you are seeking in life.  Many companies may not even consider you for employment without such a portfolio.  In my social media strategies class, all students are required to create a digital portfolio for their final project using either Wix or Wordpress.  To get ideas, just Google "examples of good student portfolios."  

I don’t care what major you are, consider a digital portfolio.  Even If you are an accounting student, you can still create a digital portfolio containing group presentations you did, papers you wrote, a blog you started (see below) flyers you created for club events, a video you shot and edited on your iPhone, or a great Instagram post that got a lot of engagement.  Show them just how dynamic you are.

Create a Blog

Everyone has passions whether cooking, baseball, hiking, cars, etc.  So, write about it.  Set up a blog using Wix or Wordpress and write a few “short form” blog posts covering a couple of different aspects of your passion.  You do not need to write one every week, but perhaps one a month.  I would suggest around 600 words.  Keep it manageable.  You are not writing for SEO but rather to showcase your communication skills.  And, who knows, you might get hooked.  Google ideas for story lines, etc.  There is a ton of material out there on the internet to guide you.  And be sure to place this blog and your best written stories in your digital portfolio (see above).

Tighten Your LinkedIn profile

Before you start looking for your first internship or first job, ensure your LinkedIn profile is 100% ready.  In my digital strategies class, all students are required to complete a good LinkedIn profile as a part of their midterm.  There are a few things they must address specifically for full credit.

  • A good profile photo/headshot.  A selfie or cropped image is not acceptable.
  • A background image that means something to you.
  • A good headline.  For example, “Student at University” is not acceptable.  Students must think about the SEO.  Rather, “Digital and Social Media Marketing Communications / Student at University” would be most preferred and robust for HR reps searching for the same.
  • Summary must be four paragraphs.  (1) what classes they are taking and topics they are learning.  The buzz words are needed for SEO. (2) How they are working their way through school / or are they a full-time athlete (3) what other school activities such as clubs they belong to or volunteer work they do (4) what they do for fun in their spare time like running, cooking, reading.
  • Any and all work experience laid out chronologically.  This should include work one did even at the age of 15.  Of course, as more experience begins to emerge on their profiles those older items will drop off.  But not now.  Show it all.  Show how hard you have and do work. 
  • Education history laid out very neatly and chronologically.
  • Follow some industry groups and news organizations of importance.
  • If your paper resume is ready, upload digitally.
  • And, ensure no grammar mistakes and good formatting overall.

I have created a YouTube video for my students to guide them through these steps:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za9cNU2AqME&t=106s

Have a Strong Resume

Create a solid one-page resume that is free of grammar mistakes (for working professionals more than one page is acceptable but not for college students).  Show to several people for edits.  If your LinkedIn profile is polished, upload your resume there (see above).  Google examples of good student resumes to see various formatting ideas.  There is an abundance of options.  But above all, keep it simple to ensure that the HR bots can read it correctly and you do not get kicked out due to their filters.  Yes, everything is automated these days!  In the “additional resources” listing at the end of this post I give a link to an article that lays out what you need to do to ensure your resume gets past the filter bots. 

Obtain an Internship

Having an internship, is almost a must these days.  Get some work experience in under your belt.  Preferably in your field if possible or as close to it as you can.  Do not wait until your last semester to do this.  Seek out this opportunity in your junior year.  It may take a semester to find the right fit.  Seek help from career services in your college.  In the College of Business at UMSL we have our own intern coordinator.  She works closely with all our students on best opportunities for them.

Do Volunteer Work

Having volunteer work on your resume will make you stand out from the crowd.  If you do not have any, seek out some opportunities at your church, a local nonprofit you are familiar with or chat with someone in the student affairs offices at your college.  Work in a food pantry, help do social media for a small business that cannot afford to hire someone, the list is endless.  Be creative.  There are always organizations seeking and needing help.  There is no excuse.

Build a Network

Once your LinkedIn is set, work on adding contacts.  Connect with anyone you can on this platform including your teachers, parents, friends of your parents, past bosses and co-workers.  When meeting someone at a club event or conference, grab their business card and tell them you will send a LinkedIn request later in the day.  Even if you see no advantage to the connection immediately, keep in mind you have no idea who they might be connected to (a second level connection) that could be critical for you to land that internship or job you seek tomorrow.  It is all about having a deep list of connections (1st and 2nd level).

Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts

HR reps have a way to scrap all your social media.  Be forewarned.  Wink wink.  Assume nothing is private.  Please.  Clean things up.  Here is my rule of thumb.  If you feel you need to ask someone what they think about a post of yours and it being inappropriate, it probably is.  Just clean it up.  Take no chances.  I have heard many stories of students not landing a dream job or internship because of a post that was seen or a tweet said.  Clean it up.

Prepare For the Initial Interview

There are a few little things to remember when in an interview setting.

  • Your appearance – dress for success whether Zoom or face to face.  Does not matter.  Play the part.
  • Your speech – do not use slang words such as dope, lit, salty, etc.  Be professional.  Speak clearly.
  • Your Zoom setting – ensure the backdrop is appropriate and not your unmade bed.  Minimize, the best you can, any background noise.  If you know there might be some disturbances, just be upfront and apologize in advance.  For example, say “I apologize in advance as we are having some work done in the house so you might hear a hammer on occasion.”
  • Taking notes - if Zoom, and (1) you plan to look over notes you took about the company in preparation for the interview or (2) to take notes on your PC or on paper during the interview, let them know what you are doing.  Otherwise, they might think you are not paying attention and texting a friend.  Be aware of how your actions might be portrayed on the other side of the camera.

Research the Company

Prior any interview, research the company thoroughly.  Know the industry trends in which you are seeking employment.  For example, if you google “digital marketing trends 2022,” you will find some great articles on what is about to take place in that field that you can allude to in your interview.  Believe me this will help you stand out.

This is a really a no brainer and a job interview killer.  Learn the company inside and out. 

  • Offerings
  • Locations
  • Their mission
  • Social stance on issues
  • Latest breaking news (google them)

And, in addition, know who you will be speaking to.  Ask your contact at the company in advance.  Find them on LinkedIn, research them and take notes.  It will come in handy.  Try connecting as well.

BONUS ITEM #11 -- Seek Out Certifications

There are many opportunities to get additional training at little to no cost.  For marketers, this includes  certifications in Google Analytics, Paid Search, HubSpot and more.  Just google the opportunities.  These badges will set you apart from the rest of the pack.  In the “additional resources” listing below, I provide a list of certification ideas for anyone.  There is no shortage of ways to boost your skills and your appearance to that HR rep.

Additional Resources







Monday, March 15, 2021

Professor Drake's Top Go-To Resources For The Latest in Digital & Social Media Know-How, News and Trends.

I get ask all the time by colleagues and students... "what are your top go-to resources for the latest in digital and social media know-how, news and trends?  

 So, after all these years, I have finally decided to publish my list. 

It is by no means complete.  I am sure you have your favorites that I have not included here on my list.  Feel free to leave those in the comments of this blog piece or on my social media post.  As an academic, I am always on the lookout for something I might be missing out on.

Here are mine.  Enjoy.


Go to Neil Patel when you want to learn more about SEO, digital marketing, conversion optimization, ecommerce.  Or, even how to generate more sales.



Search Engine Land is a must read hub for news and information about search engine marketing, optimization and how search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Live.com and Ask.com



Sprout Social insights is a social media blog for business with a focus on bringing you the latest social media tips strategies and best practices.



Hubspot’s Blog for marketing, sales, agency, and customer success content, which has more than 400,000 subscribers and attracts over 4.5 million monthly visitors.



Search Engine Journal is dedicated to producing the latest search news, the best guides and how-to's for the SEO and marketing community.



Search Engine Watch will deliver the latest daily news and insights about search engine marketing, SEO and Paid Search.



Read the latest news and perspectives on the power of ads and analytics from the Google Marketing Platform team



Social Media Today:  The latest news, trends, and tips in social media



Our Mission: Deliver strategic online marketing programs tailored to maximize results.  Founded in 2004, KoMarketing has become one of the world’s best-known B2B online marketing agencies.



Content Marketing Institute is the leading global content marketing education and training organization, teaching enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multichannel storytelling



Alexa:  The latest insights on how to reach and convert your audience online.  Learn how to grow your business with SEO, content marketing and competitive analysis.



MOZ:  The industry's top wizards, doctors, and other experts offer their best advice, research, how-tos, and insights—all in the name of helping you level-up your SEO and online marketing skills



Marketing Sherpa offers practical case studies, research and training for marketers and academics.

Perry D. Drake, Ph.D.

   Department Co-Chair & Associate Teaching Professor of Marketing;

   Executive Director, Marketing and Sales Leadership Institute;

   Faculty Advisor, Marketing Advisory Board;

   Faculty Advisor, UMSL Marketing Club

   Founder, Midwest Digital Marketing Conference.

The University of Missouri - St. Louis

427 SSB, One University Blvd, St. Louis, MO, 63121

914-299-4879 (mobile)



Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Developing Your Social Media Marketing Plan

The basic function of marketing as we know it has changed.  It is no longer acceptable to simply push out a message or grab someones attention with a catchy slogan.  You must be able to hold their attention.  It is all about creating content to engage the consumer.  This is where social media comes into play.

Many businesses both big and small fail at profiting from implementing a social media strategy.  Remember, social media isn’t a separate part of your marketing efforts. It must be integrated into your overall marketing strategy for social medial to be effective.

I have developed a simple 9 step process to consider when building any marketing plan and in particular a social media marketing plan (see Figure 1 below).
 Figure 1 Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Understanding Your Customers
Knowing your customers will help you assess the types of media to consider.  And, the emphasis to place on each.  Are your customers older?  Are they more likely female? Where are they likely to purchase/shop?

Where Are You Now?
Who are your competitors and what are they doing promotionaly.  What is their market share compared to yours.  What is your market potential?

A great blog article on helping you understand the steps to market sizing is:  How to Effectively Determine Your Market Size

Conduct a SWOT Analysis
Strengths - Do you have better customer service, better technology, bigger name recognition?
Weaknesses - Do you have fewer locations than your competitor, lower perceived value?
Opportunities - Are you moving into a unique and niche market?  Is your competitor less nimble and capable of change?
Threats - A new competitor could move in quickly, no patent, easy entry.

Check out the following article to help you lay out an effective SWOT analysis:  Discover New Opportunities, Manage and Eliminate Threats

State Objectives
What are you trying to achieve here:
  • Increase the customer base
  • Increase sales
  • Reduce attrition
  • Enhance awareness

Know Your Audience
Detail your segments for targeting and the unique qualities of each regarding demographic, psycho- graphic and behavioral data.  This will be key to understanding the most appropriate social media strategy for each segment. 

Select Your Social Media Channels
There are four dimensions you will need to consider here for purposes of building an effective strategy.

1.  What social media channels make the most sense for your segments? Consider setting a priority of which social media to implement first, second and third.  Especially if there are budget and resource constraints.  This is very important.  But, do NOT make the mistake of thinking you must be in every social media channel available.  Some may not make sense for your business model.

2.  Next think about if you will need a blog or a YouTube Channel?  There are many other beneftis to blogging such as SEO and link building.   Here is a great article by Search Engine Journal that may help:  7 Ways Businesses Benefit from Blogging

 3.  What about gamification of your brand or service?  For example, badges for completing so many tasks.  Serves as a great retention tool. Check out this article:  How to Gamify Your Marketing

4,  And lastly, do you need to worry about monitoring ratings?  Do coupon sites make sense? What about social commerce?

Ensure a Good User Experience (UX)
As you lay out your plan, ensure you are representing the brand consistently across all channels both social, digital and traditional regarding the look, feel, price, options, etc.  You do not want to confuse the customer.  Be very deliberate here.

Regarding mobile, ensure your sites are working well in this environment with good responsive design and a supporting app if that makes sense.  Remember, we are using mobile and tablets at higher and higher rates every day to access the web.  So you need to be where your customers are.  And, you need to give them a good experience. 

The Action Plan
Lay out every step to execute the plan identifying responsible parties and due dates.  Set your budget.  Do not forget the tools.  You will need tools to monitor your social efforts like Hootsuite. Additionally, to help you understand what percent of your budget consider this detailed article on the matter:  How to Allocate your Marketing Budget

Monitor, Manage and Measure
Name one person to oversee the execution of the plan, hold regular update meetings.  And lastly, define how you will determine success of your efforts by establishing measurable KPI's.

Hope you find this road map helpful.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Perry D. Drake

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Shopping Cart Abandonment Rates Continue to Rise

Wow, I can't believe all the money retailers are leaving on the table. As abandoned shopping cart rates continue to rise, e-commerce sites are not stepping up to the plate as aggressively as they could to recapture these lost sales. 

I realize that in part the reason the rates are rising is that consumers are becoming more sophisticated with respect to shopping and comparing prices online.  But that is no excuse for an e-commerce sites not to reach back.  Just unacceptable.

Lets look at the facts.

First of all according to Optinmonster, abandonment rates have been on an upward trend since 2008, and are expected to continue to rise into the foreseeable future.  See the chart below.

According to ReadyCloud, some of the top reasons consumers abandon their shopping carts an be seen below (multiple answers allowed):
  1. Extra costs = 61%
  2. Forced account creation = 35%
  3. Complex checkout = 27%
  4. Slow website load = 75%
  5. High shipping costs =55%
So given these reasons, what is a retailer to do?  Just sit back, wait, and hope the consumer returns?  Well I would hope not. 

Based on a study by Moosend roughly 10% of those consumers that receive a follow up email regarding their abandon cart will ultimately purchase.  So think of all the money left on the table for a given e-commerce site...even if they just recapture 10% of that lost revenue.

Lets run a few numbers.

Consider a modest retailer with sales of $500,000 annually and a 70% abandonment rate.  What are they leaving on the table?  Using the formula below they are leaving $1,166,666 on the table.

[$500K / (1 - .70) ] - $500K 

Assuming they convert just 10% of those that abandoned with triggered emails (a realistic number), that yields $116,666 in saved revenue.  This would certainly cover the cost of the automation of a trigger based email program.  So, there is no excuse.

And, what is more surprising, for those retailers who are reaching out to customers, they are not doing the best job possible.  Believe it or not, based on that same study by Listrak, only 25% of the trigger based emails linked back to the abandoned shopping carts and only 34% of the emails were personalized.

So what is an e-commerce site to do?  My answer...test, test, test.  The cost here is minimal, yet the rewards could be huge.

  • Test the approach (soft or hard sell)
  • Test the offer (discounts, free shipping)
  • Test the timing (wait one or two or three days)

In fact the optimal timing of a follow up email is within 24 hours according to many experts including SmartrMail.

As Nike says, just do it!

Perry Drake, PhD

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Purchase Funnel, Then and Now

The purchase funnel was first developed in 1898 by E. St. Elmo Lewis as a theoretical customer journey from the first point of contact with a brand to the final purchase decision.  As consumers traverse through the funnel the numbers lessen.  This is due to the fact that of all who first become aware of the brand, relatively few actually convert.  Understanding how changes in our marketing strategies at each of these steps impacts the bottom line is key to the success of any business.   Pre web and social media or post, the basics are still the same.

As shown in Figure 1 below, the marketing purchase funnel has been comprised of four main components over the years:  Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.  This is known as AIDA.  What has mostly influenced the decisions at each stage were brand initiated and included such things as in store demos, TV and print ads, FSI's, coupons and billboards.

 Figure 1:  Purchase Funnel Pre Social Media

Due to the introduction of the web, search engines and social media, the definition of each are changing as is the relationship of each of these to one another.  However, the basic funnel concept still works.  Let’s discuss each of these concepts further in today’s world.

Awareness in today’s world has totally changed due to Social Media.  No longer are we made aware by simple push messages.  Brands are pulling us in and telling us what they have to offer.  And in some cases it is not even the brand that is directly making us aware of a product but rather our friends who are sharing their experiences with us on social media sites.

How a brand keeps our interest is also totally different thanks to retargeting of online ads or tailored web experiences due to cookie drops.

Once we have gained product awareness and shown sustained interest, a brand has many more options today to move us further along that path in order to increase our desire to buy.  Years ago we would have to call to request a sample or go into an automobile showroom to talk pricing.  Today those are no longer the only options available.

And then of course there is the purchase action.  Money is still needed for this to take place, but what has changed is how we can share our purchase experiences (good or bad) with our friends and family.  We can become advocates and make others aware of the product on behalf of the brand.

The new funnel is being depicted in many forms by various companies like Forrester Research as shown below in Figure 3. 

Figure 3:  New Model by Forrester Research

What this figure shows nicely is the “disruption” being caused in the purchase cycle by the abundance of information we can now gather at every step of the purchase process.
But at a high level the “funnel” concept still works.  It shows nicely how as consumers move along that journey their numbers lessen.  

Keep in mind, the funnel never was meant to depict a linear path.  What is vastly different today are the experiences or options we have at each of those steps from a marketers and consumers perspective.   What the funnel looks like today is as shown in Figure 3 below.  As you can see there are now many more things affecting the purchase decision.

Figure 3:  The New Purchase Funnel Post Social Media

The biggest difference in today’s world is advocacy.  Brands need advocates for their products.  They need to create them, find them and foster a good relationship with them.  Why?  Because they who the consumer turns to in order to gain information prior any purchase consideration.  Based on a recent Nielsen report, 92% of people trust brand advocates.  Remember, as said prior, control has shifted to the consumer in so many regards.  This makes brands a bit nervous.  Understanding that shift, as Sephora has done, and capitalizing on it will ensure a strong customer base full of advocates for your brand or offering for years to come.

Here is another thought on the new conversion funnel that I like:  https://curatti.com/a-new-marketing-funnel-is-taking-over/

I would love to hear your comments.

Perry D. Drake
Professor of Social and Digital Media
University of Missouri - St. Louis