Tag: advertising

Definitions of success and self.

Definitions of success and self.

Everyone defines success differently. For me, I always felt that I had the best chance of finding success and fulfillment through a career. This worked with my drive to improve and dedicate myself wholly to the place at which I was employed. Even  as a supermarket supervisor, I felt the importance of my role in looking after the cashiers and ensuring customers had a wonderful in-store experience.

I never could just clock in, clock out, and collect the cash.

Other factors in life that I might have deemed as points of success, like having a family or obtaining a driver’s licence, always felt out of reach. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t like to have them, but my attempts to achieve those goals never went anywhere.

Driving is still the same intimidating rush of cars and lights and sounds, confusion in coordinating my body to push the right pedals at the right time, and intense worry that I will misjudge or react incorrectly at a crucial moment.

A family requires a stable foundation, usually the relationship between two people who have a strong enough connection to support dependent beings. My relationships to date have been short, almost laughable–and with minimal hurt after the break up. Sometimes because I’m already bored by the partner in question, and in all cases because I was never significantly romantically connected to them in the first place.

I struggle to connect with people in general. I can like them, admire them, have a strong desire to be around them, and even love them… but never have I connected with a person in such a way that I needed their partnership. Some partners I kept past the point of boredom purely to say that I had a partner. Others, I feared that I would lose as friends if the relationship broke down.

Maybe there’s some miracle person out there who is the exception to the rule, but to date I’ve not experienced anything that would give me confidence in having a family. Not to mention the questions that follow on, whether I would be a fit mother (I certainly couldn’t be a stay-at-home mother), and would I be able to connect with my children if I had them?

I fixed all this with the idea that I would fulfill myself with a career first, and if the rest happened–it would happen. I threw myself at the university wall repeatedly, always starting well and eventually crumbling as I became overwhelmed by the constant demand. I am still debating whether to go back this semester, or finally accept that the system is beyond my capabilities, especially as an online course.

The biggest step I took toward this career dream actually occurred last year, where I managed to find employment as a marketing coordinator. But the pressure of that job too wore me down over time, until I could no longer keep up with what was required and I was let go. Partly because the business couldn’t afford to invest in me anymore, and partly for my own good–my manager recognised the toll it was having on me.

Which leaves me now seeking work that will satisfy my financial needs. I’m leaning toward retail positions, this is what I know, but I also know that it won’t be long before I become dissatisfied and empty in the repetitive role. Retail has always been a means to an end, a stepping stone on the way to something else. A way to pay the bills until I found work that made me feel proud.

There’s nothing wrong with working retail. I’ve never believed there is, but I know it doesn’t make me happy in the long term. Success to me is finding that place in life where I can be happy. A job I can be proud of isn’t about the type of work, or the money paid, but knowing that I didn’t settle for roles that paid the bills. It’s knowing that I kept reaching until I found my place.

Since being let go, I’ve really questioned my capabilities. I’ve had to let go of the idea that I could work in overly tense and fast-paced environments. I’ve had to let go of the idea that I will ever be an in-demand marketing or PR executive. The pressure would likely break me. I wasn’t able to handle what was required in a small business; my shiny dreams come with dark realities.

So that leaves me here, at a loss. Wondering if I am truly only capable of carrying out these retail jobs, and what that means if it’s true. The possibility that everything I ever wanted to be is unrealistic and beyond me—hurts more than I can say.

My career was supposed to make up for my failings in other areas. I don’t know where to go from here.

How losing my job may be the best career move yet.

How losing my job may be the best career move yet.

On Friday, I was let go from my job.

For those who work to pay bills and live, this may sound like a bit of a nuisance–something frustrating rather than devastating. Challenging to lose the income, but provided you didn’t burn down any chance of a good reference, incomes can be replaced.

I live to work. I’m not happy just paying the bills–I want more than that. I want an opportunity to use my strengths, to have a real impact on a business in the way that only I can. I want to learn and to grow, to sharpen my skills and keep making magic.

This job, which I began last March, offered all of that and more. My official title was ‘Marketing Co-ordinator’, but as the business was small, the range of responsibilities was everything from administrative assistant to tech support. I was in charge of writing all content for the website, monthly newsletter, additional eblasts, social media, case studies, developing  printed collateral, arranging promotional items and gifts, co-ordinating the IT system and acting as a gateway between staff and our IT company, answering phones, taking data and wrangling it into charts, telemarketing, searching out contacts to call, managing the client database, answering phones and live chat queries, setting up new equipment (usually laptops and phones), and whatever else needed doing on a particular day.

That’s how it is in small business. Regardless of your title, you need to be prepared to drop everything and do something well out of your job description when required. Over time, it became obvious that I am the world’s worst telemarketer, so that–and a few other tasks–were removed from my role.

My primary skill set is writing, and my key weaknesses are time management and multitasking. Having not held a position like this before, the sudden expectation to juggle so many competing priorities (and co-ordinating these with up to four external companies) was a challenge.

But–I loved it. Even when I felt like I was drowning in a sea of tasks, I loved it. I got to see reactions and web traffic rise as my informative posts went up on our site. We saw our online enquiries triple. We’d done a lot of SEO work, so it wasn’t just my work that got results, but we got results. I was a part of that.

I was good at the work, but I wasn’t fast. I got tasks mixed up easily, I forgot things (even if I had them written down on my calendar) and I made stupid mistakes. After a few months in the position, I realised that I was far more fatigued than I should be, and that began the investigation into myself that resulted in my autism diagnosis.

Did that autism result in being let go? Possibly. Small businesses change priorities fast, tasks come up with little notice and need to be turned around fast. That’s not me. As an autistic person, that chaotic workflow is irritating and makes it hard to focus. I like the time to consider things carefully, to implement them in the exact best way that I can. My work is slow, but the results are high quality. I need space between tasks to mentally ‘adjust’, I find it hard to pivot straight to the next thing. Sometimes I put more time and effort into something than it deserves, I can get ‘lost’ in research and design.

Though those are largely autistic traits, and yes–they interfered with my work–this wasn’t discrimination. Those traits are also facts about me, parts of who I am that will challenge me my whole life. Those same traits made it difficult to meet the performance requirement for my job, it’s that simple.

I grew a lot in this position. Learned things about an industry I knew little of before. Learned how to better work social media. Learned about myself and realised that for every dream I’d ever had, a high-pressure fast-paced glamorous career was never going to be healthy for me. Working 8am-5pm in this position four days a week was leaving me mentally fatigued, struggling to want anything more than sleep when I had time off.

I’d come back to Victoria to spend more quality time with my family. The job I loved was sucking away any desire to see anyone outside work. My fiction writing suffered when my creative energy was put toward making commercial floor cleaning equipment sound exciting. For all that, I still loved my job.

Losing it is a devastating blow. I’m not without options, and financially I’m in a great position to job search. I’m confused by some of the actions taken before that meeting, I’m upset at how only hours before I’d spoken with my manager (who would have known what was to come later in the day) where she discussed my plans for next week. According to my boss, she also felt burdened by the amount of help I needed in structuring my time and in determining what priorities came first. That she never said anything to me, rather,  that she acted eager to mentor me (and I did see her as a mentor) is a betrayal I just don’t understand. Why wouldn’t she say that I was being too demanding?

I need to let that go. The last lesson this job has to teach me may be the most important one of all: not blaming myself for this outcome.

I put everything into this job. I learned and I improved and I developed content that the company will continue to benefit from. I’m proud of that. I didn’t give up, I continued to hang on and keep trying, keep pushing to meet the demands of the company. I can’t do it–yet. As a small business, they don’t have the resources to invest in getting me to that point.

The decision to let me go wasn’t personal. They loved my work, there just wasn’t enough of it. They felt I was under too much pressure to deliver and that it would only get worse in future. For my health and their profit, it was best that I found something else.

I spent the weekend with my family, and took some time to feel sorry for myself. Tomorrow I begin the job hunt. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, but I do know a few things to avoid. I’m excited to see what’s out there, and what I can learn in my next work adventure.

This time, I think I will aim for more of a life-work balance. A job that I can love, but one I can ‘disconnect’ from after hours. Something that provides me with breaks for mental rest that I need to keep from burning out, and something that allows me to be myself.

I’m sad today, but looking forward to tomorrow. What jobs do you think I should try my hand at?

How the #faketradie advert missed the millennial market

Normally, articles that claim there’s some special tactic to engaging millennials make me rather irritable. They’re all over business networks like LinkedIn, guru upon guru offering a magic formula of gimmicks and hashtags that is bound to bring in the next wave of decision makers.

I don’t believe the answer is that elusive, and yet, politicians especially are getting it so incredibly wrong.

Why is political advertising to millennials such a big deal?

As of March 31st 2016, roughly 2,879,760 Australians on the electoral roll were aged thirty or below. Out of the enrolled population of 15,468,329 that’s 18.62%. Almost a fifth of voters in this election are Generation Y or later. The ever-elusive millennial market.

With those sorts of numbers, this demographic may well decide the outcome. And unlike their more traditional parents and grandparents, they are less likely to vote for the party their family does.

Aren’t millennials politically apathetic?

It’s an unfortunate assumption. Millennials are largely swing voters, far more likely to change who they vote for based on past performance, policy, and media representation. This means that awareness of what the politician has done, and is planning to do, is incredibly important in helping millennials make their decision at the ballot box.

Right. So advertising is still important. Isn’t that what the Coalition’s advert was for?

I would assume first that it wasn’t targeted at millennials, or at least–I hope not. But even as we break it down in terms of what millennials look for when confronted with advertising campaigns, there are a number of things that still ring true no matter what generation you’re from.

Advertising in general has entered a stage where audiences are too skeptical and too analytical to accept adverts at face value. Overwhelming streams of advertising messages shoved under our noses every day mean we’ve learned to pick, choose, and decide for ourselves what rings true.

Millennials especially have grown up native to this environment. They’re ready to spot the flaw in your message.

Breaking it down: #FakeTradie is… well, fake.

Two things are truly starting to shine in advertising: humour and authenticity. Spots that entertain will be memorable and shared, while spots that are authentic will allow a connection to the audience by passing ‘authenticity’ filters that digital natives have created to help them deal with the onslaught of advertising messages.

The Coalition’s advert isn’t (supposed to be) funny. To resonate with millennial audiences especially, it must then be honest, straight-forward, only make claims that can be tested and proven, and the tone of the message must be one that is positive if it really wants to drive a call to action.

Millennials do not respond well to scare campaigns. Typical political adverts that seek to discredit the opposition are largely ignored the way their parents ignored them trying to get their siblings in trouble. You’ll say anything if you want someone else to look bad.

They’re also more likely to fact-check before forming an opinion. Not only that, where they find discrepancies in the claims, they will speak up. The internet has given digital natives a platform for revealing truths that shouldn’t be underestimated.

The largest issue with what has been dubbed the #FakeTradie advert is that from the set, to the script, to the appearance of a man claiming to be a tradesman outraged by Labor’s policies, nothing felt authentic enough for the message to come through.

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They used an actor though. That’s what actors do! They act!

Actually, that was an incorrect assumption. The alleged ‘actor’ is a metalworker in Sydney–a real tradesman! Unfortunately, he’s become the face of a campaign that tried so hard to be relatable it became a mockery of itself.

Builders across Australia were quick to point out the safety hazards visible on set, the lack of dirt on his clothes, and even the ceramic mug which ‘would be hard to get on a real building site’. All of these clues took away from the sense of the actor being a true tradie (even though he is!), and increasingly the impression was left of a government trying to put words in tradie’s mouths.

And the words were…

For anyone who wasn’t put off by the visuals in the advert, the script offered a whole new layer of fake. It was like watching an alien try to mimic human contact for the first time.

That Malcolm Turnbull and his party are largely made up of wealthy white Australians that attended private schools and wouldn’t know how to catch a real tram is no secret–the game is up! We know!

The Coalition’s attempts relating to, and ‘understanding middle class Australians’, have been nothing short of horrific. From catching public transport with a mob of cameras to prove how ‘normal’ he is, to claiming that children should be able to ask their parents for loans into the housing market, Turnbull has proven time and time again the disconnect between himself and the average Australian.

Which honestly wouldn’t be so terrible if he just accepted it, and stopped trying to force something he clearly isn’t.

If he stood up tomorrow and said, ‘Average Australians, I really have no idea what your life is like, so these advisors here are going to help me make decisions on what is best for you.’ I would applaud that. I would applaud a Prime Minister who stood up and admitted that he didn’t understand something but was making a move to try.

Admittedly… only if those said advisors were people who did understand what life is like down here.

Phrases like ‘stick with the current mob for a while’ are so bizarre and almost stereotypical to what foreigners believe Australians sound like that once again, the Coalition’s advert does little more than underline the vast disconnect between their lives and ours.

Those were not the words of an authentic tradie. The advert failed the authenticity filter, and earned itself a spot in #auspol ridicule, even gaining its own hashtag: #faketradie.

What could have been done better?

Aside from everything, and taking the Coalition’s policies out of the equation (this article is about millennials and political advertising, not a political view point. The Coalition is not the only party to get this wrong!), a few basic steps could have been taken to improve the authenticity of the advert.

Rather than putting scripted words into a perfect set, interviews ‘on the street’ with tradesmen at work would have gone down much better. Close up shot of a tradesman, still grubby, busy building site in the far view (far enough away that everyone is safe!). Voicing opinions in their own words, just as they would to their mates.

More clarity on the tradesman’s issues with the Labor party would definitely have improved the message, rather than vague phrases like ‘go to war’ that are designed to wind people up without explanation. Millennials especially want to know facts.

How is Labor going to war on our banks? How does the Liberal/National Party plan to do things differently?

Political advertising needs to shift, and fast, if it wants to capture new voters as they enroll.

Attack-based advertisments are (thank goodness) going to lose effectiveness as the younger generations systematically ignore or research the truth of them.

Political adverts will need to adapt the way that other advertising has adapted in response to regulations on false claims, by either entertaining the audience or by connecting in a meaningful and honest way.

Oh. And by advertising the actual policies with facts and figures, so we know what we’re voting for. That… would be rather nice, I think.

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