Mark Hovind ( on Brands, Tag Lines, and “Getting It”

February 8th, 2008

Job Bait Logo and TaglineAbout a week before I started The Branding Contest I was on a 2.5 hour call with Mark Hovind. The question became “what is JibberJobber? What does it do for my client?”

Most of the call was centered around that. When you first go to, the only tag line you see is “Career Toolset.” That doesn’t quite explain it, does it? Not good enough, anyway.

Mark took me on a fascinating tour of leading network companies to see what brilliance they have come up with. You can see the companies in the Network category of this page (you have to scroll down just a bit). I’m actually going to copy and paste it as Mark has it:

Here are some free and/or inexpensive executive networking groups.

  • RiteSite – a six-figure executive service
  • Netshare – a six-figure executive service
  • ExecuNet – a six-figure executive service
  • FENG – Financial Executives Networking Group
  • MENG – Marketing Executives Networking Group
  • TENG – Technology Executives Networking Group
  • BNI – International business networking
  • JibberJobber – General networking group
  • LinkedIn – General networking group
  • – General networking group
  • Ecademy – General networking group

Note the tag lines that Mark put up. Does anything stick out? Not for me either. In fact, as he categorizes the sites, he makes them more cliche (in my eyes). He does not differentiate any of the “six figure executive service” offerings, nor does he differentiate any of the “general networking group.”

No big deal, they are lucky he even listed them, and it’s not his responsibility to brand them. If you don’t brand yourself well, you’ll get categorized and grouped with others, competition or not.

But here’s where it got really interesting. We went to each of the websites and looked at their tag lines. What was the statement on their front page that told us what they did, what was different about them, and What’s In It For Me? Here are the different statements from each of the sites listed above, NOT IN ORDER. Can you match the statement below with the company from the list above?

  • “Unique People Search: Find deals, employees, colleagues and jobs; Find decision makers fast; Open doors to thousands of companies”
  • Your Career Management Link and “…the best site for accessing $100K+ jobs.”
  • Executive Career Information Exchange and A Global Exchange Where Management Talent and Opportunity Meet
  • “Where the puzzle of networking comes together”
  • Connecting Leaders since (year) and “… has helped thousands of chief executives, vice presidents and their direct reports succeed.”
  • (Industry) Executives Networking Group and “Empowering executives to enahance their careers through networking”
  • The World’s Largest Referral Organization
  • “(Company Name) brings together your professional network” and “Stay in touch, Discover job & business opportunities, Get expert business advice”
  • (Industry) Executives Networking Group and “The essential connection to top (industry) and (industry) executives for incomparable professional success.”
  • Connecting Business People and “Successful business people join Ecademy to do more business”
  • Career Toolset

More important than being able to match these to a company, do any of these statements speak to you?

Do you get an idea of what you will experience there?

Do any of them sound cliche, or do they sound like they couldn’t substantiate a claim?

Does it sound like fluff, or does it inspire?

Does it communicate the value? The unique value?

Do any of them leave you wondering how, or why, or when?

It really was fascinating as Mark and I walked through each of these sites, looking for these statements, and sharing our initial reactions. It was eye-opening. And it didn’t make me feel so bad for not having something that stood out. But it did make me want to stand out.

And that is why we’re doing this contest. Have you sent me your brand thought (statements, etc.) for JibberJobber? You can send me as many as you want, just use this Contact Us form!



JibberJobber, The Brand, And The Education Factor

February 7th, 2008

Standing out from the crowdAs I was designing the feature set of JibberJobber, about two years ago, I picked up a book on inventions.

The book seemed to be about twenty years old but was written buy a guy in Colorado who worked in some kind of small business environment, meeting with tons and tons of inventors.

One of the things that stood out was one of 10 critical points for a retail buyer, let me paraphrase:

your product has to be something that people in the store can look at and say “oh yeah, I know what that is! I need one!”

So, value proposition aside (although, it’s not really aside… that’s what the whole contest is about), here’s another problem.

Let’s say that you “get” JibberJobber. You understand what it does, what the features are, what it’s all about.

There’s still education needed, to compel you to actually use the system.

Think about it – many of you have been reading my blog for quite a while. I try and encourage you to manage your career. To take your future into your own hands. I want you to care more about your career and future… more than anyone else.

And JibberJobber is a great tool for that. Isn’t it? Even so, with the constant encouragement, many of my blog readers are not JibberJobber users. There is an education issue, and it’s big.

You don’t need education on why to use toilet paper.

You don’t need education on why to use toothpaste, or a hair brush, or a TV, or anything like that.

But you do need education on using, or “buying” JibberJobber.

How can my brand upgrade change that?

This contest is sponsored by:



The Issue With JibberJobber’s Brand Is…

February 6th, 2008

Does my brand make you feel this way?I got this e-mail from “Louri” :

Jason the issue in branding you – You are an innovator – and an author – Those are 2 brands. You are quite frankly a steward as well – you see a need for something you create it and share and get lots of people involved. I have been thinking a lot about this. I still have a lot to think about on how to successfully merge all of your qualities into a unique brand – that said JibberJobber needs it’s own brand.

I agree, this is one of the issues. I’m a blogger, an author of two books, a columnist for The National Networker, and contributor to various publications (online and offline). I’m also an entrepreneur, etc. etc.

How does this relate to Joe Regular? I got an e-mail this morning from someone (I can’t cite him because I didn’t ask permission, but I’m guessing he’s now a new reader of this blog) with this:

WHY THE HELL CAN’T I GET A JOB?!?!?! How can I become more than my resume when I submit it? I am so much more than a piece of paper or just another normal person …

Won’t branding play a significant role in helping this person become more than a resume? Is that what you are – just your resume? One of hundreds of resumes, with no compelling message to stick way out?

Back to this contest, let’s whittle the branding issue down to almost two years ago, before I was all of the things mentioned above. All this muddies the water, and makes the branding process a little more difficult, but let’s assume we can cut some of this out and focus on the JibberJobber brand.

Is JibberJobber a job search tool? Yes – it is one of the most critical job search tools available to you, helping you manage complex data, track important information, and not miss critical deadlines or appointments. It can give you peace of mind.

What if you are not in a job search? JibberJobber is an excellent networking tool. Ever read Never Eat Alone? Want to nurture “intimate relationships?” You can’t do it with just Outlook (if you can, you are not normal). LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo and other systems don’t give you the functionality that you need to really nurture network relationships. That Excel spreadsheet is fine for a few dozen contacts, but you’ll max out after a while. If you are really into network relationships, JibberJobber is an excellent tool.

What if you are happily employed, and won’t be looking for a new job, and aren’t into networking? Like me, two years ago, before I got the knife in the back (I mean, before I got laid off)? Ya, well, this year isn’t looking so hot for you, is it. The word “recession” is flying around a lot. Even if you are happily employed, realize that no one cares about you. Not HR. Not your boss. Not the CEO or the board or the investors. And if any of them do care about you, who cares about them? If they get canned you lose your champion, and your supposed security.

You can see in these three simple examples that I think JibberJobber is appropriate for very different audiences. There are more, but I wanted to introduce this issue to you.


Does this mean I should have three different sites? All with their own brand?

Now, let’s go back to reality, and bring in all of my other stuff. The blog, the books, the speaking, etc. What is JibberJobber without Jason Alba? I’ve heard a lot about this… I do have my own brand, and it is connected with JibberJobber.

But, as Louri says, JibberJobber needs it’s own brand.

And that’s what this contest is all about. I’ve received about two dozen submissions already… go ahead and send me yours with this Contact Us form!

This contest is sponsored by:



Branding Contest Questions And Answers

February 5th, 2008

Nine hundred bucks!This last twenty four hours has been very interesting … thank you for the submissions, and questions, concerns and ideas!

During the next few weeks I’m going to blog a lot about this contest. Why? I think it will be an excellent exercise in how to develop a value proposition. Or “elevator pitch,” or “me in 30 seconds,” or “brand statement,” or whatever you want to call it. Just like The Resume Experiment we did last year, it’s more an exercise in education and ideas and brainstorming. So maybe we’ll call February “The Branding Month,” and I hope that what we do this month will help you rethink your own branding strategy and issues.

Let’s get to some questions and answers:

If I win, can I donate the prize to charity?

Yes, sure, that sounds great – you can do whatever you want with the money.

How many ideas/statements can I submit?

As many as you want.

How will judging be handled?

I’m not sure yet. I’d like to do voting, but we all know that whoever has the biggest e-mail list can easily “buy” the votes and totally affect the outcome. I’ve seen this for years and I don’t really care for that.

Here are some thoughts I have right now:

  1. Incorporate voting. I really like this idea, and want to see how it plays out, but I don’t want to declare that it will be decisive, there are too many ways to “game” this.
  2. Tap into my network. I am partnered with dozens of personal branding experts, and hope to tap into dozens of corporate branding experts. I want to get their feedback and input – you’ll be hearing from them over the next few weeks as we dissect this process.
  3. Ask the JibberJobber power users. I will send out invitations to the people who use JibberJobber on a regular basis and invite them to give their input and feedback as well. These are people who are deriving value out of JibberJobber without that golden brand statement, and they have an idea of what the brand (and value) is. Their input will be interesting.
  4. Maintain veto power for what I finally use. As noted in comments and e-mails and even phone calls, this is my company, and I am not totally outsourcing the final product. I will have the final say. I have to have the final say.

What will I do with the winning submissions, and all the rest that aren’t “winning?”

I have a lot of stuff to do once I get the branding in place… marketing material, documents, all kinds of stuff. I hope to get something out of this contest that is really compelling, and is just what I want. I will likely mix the other statements into blog posts and marketing materials, but hope to have one strong, consistent line to describe JibberJobber.

What are the prizes?

The Planet Earth Set from the Discovery ChannelI’ll formalize this as we get sponsorships wrapped up, but the cash is up to $900 (did you notice the new image, with 9 $100s?) and a company is donating the Planet Earth DVD Set, which you can find at the Discovery Channel Store online. How cool is that? There will also be various packages of premium upgrades as well as eCopies of my books (LinkedIn book here, Facebook book here). If you have anything you want to throw in, just let me know.

What do I think my branding statement is?

Great question – excellent question! This will be answered in at least one future blog post – stay tuned!

Why don’t I just do this on my own?

Another great question. I have tried to do this on my own. And I’ve seen what other companies have come up with. This is not easy. In the last almost-two-years I’ve communicated what JibberJobber is, but it’s time to make the message more powerful, and consice, and and I concede that I don’t have the mental bandwidth or capacity to do it on my own.

Plus, this is much more fun.

And this is like the 360 Review, which has a TON of power.

And, I think this is an excellent topic for my blog, with education and input from leading experts.

This is why I’m not going to just do it on my own :)

Why don’t I use one of my branding expert partners?

I really like the idea of getting input from various partners, and other groups (users, new users, non-users, bloggers, etc.). Plus, how do I choose which one???

Again, I think there’s immense value in doing this in this manner, not just for me, but for my readers.

Are there any legal or accounting issues to consider?

Yes, I’m sure there are. In a country were the American Dream has almost become “sue someone so you can retire as a millionaire,” I know there are things I need to put into place to tighten this up. I’m consulting with the appropriate professionals to do so.

Why don’t I hire a professional branding firm to do this?

For a few reasons. I’ve seen what they charge, and I don’t have the funds to pay tens of thousands of dollars for something that might not be what I need/want. So there, I admit it. Give me a break, I’m essentially a startup, and I need to push my money into the right places.

Another reason is all of the critiques I’ve seen on other branding efforts. How many super bowl commercials just plain sucked? The last thing I want is to spend money and have the end product be less than what it should be.

And, for the third time, I think this model is much more fun, and educational, and valuable for my blog readers. No kidding.

Will I post submissions during the contest?

This is a really hard question… I’m not sure. I want to, and have the experts comment on them. At the same time, I don’t want to give someone an unfair advantage of seeing other submissions, and having that affect their own submissions.

But it would be cool to have a running wall of ideas, and statements…

I’m on the fence on this one, leaning towards having a running wall. What do you think I should do?

That’s it for today – I’m excited, this has already been fun!



I’ve Got A Branding Problem. And At Least $600 For You, If You Help Fix It.

February 4th, 2008

at least $600 cash in prize moneyLast week I got an excellent e-mail that had me ROFL. The timing couldn’t have been better, as I have already had this contest in mind. Here’s the e-mail:

Dude – What does this site do? You need to put the value proposition on the front page, in as few words as possible, so I don’t have confusion as my first emotion upon visiting. At the very least, the About Us should start with that. Later, you can get to the whole “I was born the son of a sharecropper, blah blah” I *think* you have interesting stuff: let me know it for sure, right away. OK, now, I’ll go back to the beginning and try to figure it out :-) -Dave

Dude. Called on the carpet. Again.

For all the blog posts I’ve written on personal branding, elevator pitches, bragging and the like, I’ve grossly ignored the essential branding message.

And Dave hit it on the head. This is a problem I’ve been dealing with for almost two years now. In fact, it’s probably the reason why Cheezhead, a popular HR/recruiting blogger hasn’t written about JibberJobber. And it’s probably the reason Michael Arrington and the folks at TechCrunch haven’t written about me.

Because when you come to JibberJobber, you can’t really figure out… What’s In It For Me?

In all fairness, the reason it’s been so hard for me to communicate this to you is the same reason you have a hard time figuring out what YOUR value proposition is:

  • We’re too close to it.
  • There is way more that we want to communicate than what we could say in just a few words.
  • What about “the rest of the story?”
  • We don’t want to have a cliche, me-too value prop filled with meaningless jargon.
  • It is such a draining mental exercise that we go on to other projects, only to leave this critical task on the back burner.

Alas, it’s time. For Dave. And Cheezhead. And Arrington. And the thousands of people who may have come to JibberJobber and left, saying “huh??”

It’s time, for this task to get done right, so we can move on.

But I would love to get your help. So, I’m announcing a fun contest. I want to get your ideas. Perhaps you can help me in ways that I don’t know.

Here’s the outcome I want:

To get a concise, properly-worded, compelling value proposition that I can plaster on the front page of my website, and in my marketing material, and anywhere else I need to put it.

The rules are simple (updates will be posted in later blog posts):

  1. Enter your submission (and any other ideas for JibberJobber branding) on the Contact Us form. I will confirm receipt of each entry.
  2. You can enter as many value-prop/branding-statements as you want.
  3. JibberJobber LLC gets the rights to use any and all branding statements submitted in our marketing material.
  4. Proposed branding statements must be original, not currently used, trademarked or copywritten. For example, you can’t submit “Relationships Matter,” since that is already used by LinkedIn.
  5. Winners will be chosen by vote. I’m not sure how I want to do this yet, because I don’t want to allow people to solicit votes from friends (thus becoming a popularity contest).
  6. I reserve the right to use whatever statement(s) I want in my material, regardless of the winner, voting, etc.
  7. All submissions need to be sent to me by Monday, February 25th. We’ll vote, beat them up, chew on them, and figure out who wins by Monday, March 10th, when we announce the prize winners.
  8. Cash prize winner must provide me with a physical mailing address or PayPal account to send the money to, as well as possibly provide information needed by the IRS for tax purposes.

The prizes include:

Executive Power Brand, Deb Dib's companyThis is going to be fun, and hopefully an excellent experience for all involved! I should mention that I’m going to lean on some leading branding experts to help me figure out which I should eventually choose. One of these experts is a long-time JibberJobber partner, Deb Dib, who’s company is a sponsor of this contest.

Deb Dib - executive coach, personal branding expert, resume expert, career expertI’ll write more about Deb Dib later, but for now I want to share with you that she is one of the most significant contributors to the career space. She works exclusively with executive clients, and has expertise in (amongst other things) resumes, job and career coaching, and personal branding. I’ve gotten to know her quite well over the last year and am excited and honored to have her sponsoring this contest. Like I said, more later.

What are you waiting for? Submit your idea for JibberJobber’s brand statement, value proposition, bumper sticker or whatever you want to call it now!



More Exposure For JibberJobber

February 1st, 2008

I feel uncomfortable with these posts because (a) I’m not sure it adds any value to YOU, and your career situation, and (b) it feels like bragging, and (c) if I had a PR or Marketing professional on staff they would probably tell me to do it differently.

Alas, if I don’t do it I get dozens of e-mails from people saying “HELLO! Tell the world all the cool stuff that you are accomplishing!”

So instead of posting separately for each mention, I try and bunch them all together. And what better way to end this week and start February, but with a summary of awesome “in the news” mentions.

First, this is the second time that Sree included JibberJobber in his Sree Advice spot on wnbc Channel 4 in New York. It’s always fun to get hundreds of new signups from New York and New Jersey, as I picture them saying, in that NY accent, “How ya doin’?” Anyway, here’s a link to the video:

Sree Advice - online job hunting tools (JibberJobber is first)

I should mention, with regard to the six degrees of separation thing, I had a neat experience with this. One of my good friends, Bill Sobel, master networking and media expert in NYC, heard that I wanted to thank Sree but I haven’t been able to get in touch with him. Bill wrote to me and said, “I know Sree really well! He’s presented at my marketing network groups!” Go figure – I had no idea that one of my close contacts was close to someone who has put me in the news spotlight! Lesson learned? Let your contacts know what you are trying to do, and you might be surprised who comes out and says “I can help you!”

Second, in one of my funnest podcast interviews yet I share wisdom and thoughts to a younger crowd. I’ve been following Chris Penn for a while, after getting introduced by Dan Johnson (thanks Dan!). We finally connected for a while to record this podcast – I would recommend you check it out, and if you know anyone in school, or who wants to go to school, definitely get hooked up with the Financial Aid Podcast site – they have awesome (legitimate) information on how to get money for school.

Financial Aid Podcast logo

Third, I was honored to write an article for one of two local business magazines here in Salt Lake. I don’t do much locally, so this was a good opportunity to work on my local branding. I’ve gotten e-mails and maybe some business from it. The big surprise was seeing the article placed as a feature article, as opposed to one of those introductory half-articles that I thought it was going to be.

Connect Utah article on LinkedIn

Fourth, I had a local radio reporter call to see if he could come to my office for an interview on “when your personal and professional profiles collide.” It actually turned out well, much better than the first time we interviewed, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity. It aired on the morning commute so I had a number of people say “I heard you on the radio!” These are people who still think I’m … um, in a job search :p

KSL and Facebook - social networking, business and professional networking

That link goes to the audio…. the transcript is here. I’m amazed at how stupid the comments are. I can’t even describe them, you’ll have to read them if you want to see how many people think that posting pictures on MySpace and Facebook is “off-limits” for HR, recruiters and hiring managers to find. More on that later!

As a bonus, when he came out to interview me, he saw my neighbor’s awesome snow fort. My neighbor took four days to put this together, and luckily the reporter thought it was dang cool. He did a short video interview… as he pans around the fort he gets my house in the background!

Jeremy's best snow fort ever!

So there you go. January has been amazing, and it’s been fun to see the fruits of my labors pay off in various ways.

Thank you for letting me brag, just a little :)


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