I received the following email last week from a recent college grad out there in the vicious job market. Now first of all, I’ll let it be said that I don’t mean to come off as a jerk here. Anyone with a job has probably been in his shoes before. I certainly was, and it’s not much fun. That said, there were a few things that struck me in this particular email that can serve as lessons not only to college kids looking for job, but also to marketers and business owners looking to reach an audience.

Take a quick read through:

Marketing lessons from a college kid looking for a job

Lesson 1: Do your homework and know your audience

The most striking thing about this email is that we didn’t have any job openings available, yet our friend opens by describing our “potential job opportunity”. 10 minutes of research would have allowed him to write something about the work we do at Gorilla and comment on why he’d like to be a part of it. Instead, he came off as uninformed. When trying to reach an audience, do your homework. Learn what you can about them. Then craft a message that gives them a reason to care.

Lesson 2: Set yourself apart, and do it quickly

I’m not asking you (if you’re a recent college grad) to drop off a shoe at our front door with a cover letter in it that says “trying to get a foot in the door”, but at the same time, paragraph 2 of this email isn’t going to cut it. It’s long and full of industry speak and generalizations that don’t really say anything. This email is actually less effective WITH this paragraph than without it. Chances are the audience you’re trying to reach is also trying to be reached by a lot of other people. How can you distinguish yourself (or your company), and do it before you lose the attention of your audience?

Lesson 3: Ask for a little bit – not a lot

Instead of assuming there was a job opening and asking for a meeting to discuss his qualifications to fill it, what if this college grad had asked to pop in some day and steal 15 minutes of someone’s time to see the office and ask a few questions about the industry? It would have provided an opportunity to build a personal connection with someone at our firm and put a face and personality to his name. That’s much more powerful that a resume likely to get thrown in a stack amongst many others (if it even makes it that far). Similarly, if you’re a business owner or marketer, ask for a little from your potential customer before you ask for a lot. Instead of asking for a purchase right away, can you ask for an email address and offer to send them valuable tips that will help their business? If you offer a service, can you ask them to engage in a free trial? Try small steps. Work on the relationship.

Lesson 4: Speak in English (or whatever language your audience speaks)

Perhaps my view on this one is a little bit biased, given the laid-back industry that I work in. But when it comes down to it, I’d much rather work side by side with people who talk the way I talk. This one comes back around to knowing your audience. On our website, we speak very conversationally. We’re wearing t-shirts in our profile photos. Yet, this email feels more directed at an HR department of a big investment banking firm than a small digital marketing business. Whoever your audience is, take hints from how they choose to project their image. Talk to them in a way that will allow you to connect on a personal level.

These lessons feel pretty universal to me, and are particularly true for those who have to fill the roll of marketers in their respective businesses. Hopefully I wasn’t too harsh on the young guy. Hey, at least I kept you anonymous, right _____?

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