Author Archives: Evelyn Starr

Don’t You Forget About Your Brand

Ally Sheedy's character in The Breakfast Club, before and after her makeover.

Image source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/sarag17/the-best-and-worst-tvmovie-makeovers-7gd5

This past March marked the 30th anniversary of the movie The Breakfast Club

For those of you who might not know it, the movie portrays the gathering of five stereotypical high schoolers (a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal) for a day-long detention on a Saturday.  Over the course of the day, social barriers recede.  The teenagers share insights that both explain their stereotypes and undermine them at the same time.

The movie struck a chord with adolescents everywhere when it was released, and continues to engage succeeding generations.  My husband and I watched it with our teenagers a couple of years ago.

I was 19 when the movie came out.  Which character do you think I liked the most?

If you said the princess, shame on you.

If you said the criminal, we’ll talk later.

For the record, my favorite character was (and is) the basket case.  A girl named Allison Reynolds played by Ally Sheedy.

Allison is a mystery from the start.  She squeals instead of talking initially and bangs her head against a table.  She does odd things like make a sandwich out of white bread, wheat bread, butter, Pixy Stix candy powder and Cap’n Crunch cereal.  She draws a picture of a bridge, then scratches her head wildly to make her dandruff fall on the paper and make it look like it was snowing on the bridge.

Though she is looking for attention, she is unabashed and unapologetic about who she is.

I love that.

Which is why it is heart-breaking to me that the movie destroys her.

Toward the end of the movie, the princess takes Allison into another room.  In what is supposed to be an act of friendship, she gives Allison a makeover.

Allison emerges looking like… a princess-ized basket case.  She smiles, but is clearly uncomfortable in this new look.  Worse yet, the new look attracts the attention of the athlete who kisses her.

After all the authenticity borne of sharing inner thoughts, why did the movie turn this genuine character into a fake?  And why send the message that you need to conform to be attractive?

It’s the one false move in a story that otherwise rocks.

To make sure your brand story rocks, avoid false moves.

As business owner and brand champion, you will reach points where you need to revisit your brand to grow your business.  This is particularly true for brands in adolescence which may be evolving or rebranding for the first time.

At these moments, you’ll need to get others’ perspectives on your brand to understand its current image.  You should get insights from employees, vendors, distributors and customers.  Anyone who interacts with your brand.

As you update and grow your brand though, you need to remain true to it.  Any definition or redefinition of your brand should resonate with you.  It should be an aha moment, not a makeover from left field.

To avoid turning your brand into a princess-ized basket case:

  • Get clear on the problem that your brand solves for your customers. Be able to articulate why and when they buy from you instead of your competitors.
  • Identify the emotions that your brand evokes with the solutions it provides.
  • Understand your brand’s current image.
  • Factor the problem your brand solves, the emotions it evokes, and its current image into your plans for growth. Your brand shouldn’t remain static, but its evolution should make sense and resonate with your constituencies too.

Don’t fall into the trap that teenagers do by trying to fit in.  Don’t emulate a competitor because you think that will attract customers.

As you grow your business, don’t you forget about your brand.

Posted in Brand Growth & Rebranding, Brands In Adolescence, Marketing Insights | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment | Back to top

Life is Good Goes for Grand

Original Jake drawing from Life is Good,  brand in adolescence

Original Jake Drawing
Image source: lifeisgood.com

While many families chose warm weather destinations for the February school vacation, my son AJ and I took a road trip to Vermont and upstate New York.  No, we are not skiers.

Why would we choose a subzero-temperature week to travel to these northern locales?

To look at colleges.

AJ is a junior in high school.  Though he will not be applying to colleges until next fall, we are visiting now so that he will know where he wants to apply then.

As with most parenting experiences, I have learned something about myself in this process:  20+ years of market research experience positions you well to be a college search guide.

Once on campus, AJ and I immerse ourselves in the environment to get insights beyond the standard tour and information session.  AJ participates in a German class if possible as that is a key area of interest for him. We eat at the campus dining hall.  We interview students and professors.  We look at posters and read the school papers to see what is going on.

Let me tell you, colleges have changed since we were there.  Among the new developments:

  • Several schools boast Quidditch teams (Harry Potter fans know what I mean).
  • The food is SOOOOO much better. I was able to identify everything that was served. The lettuce was green and looked like it had been picked during this calendar year.
  • Roommate matching questionnaires have improved substantially, with questions like “Do you listen to music with or without headphones?” and “Are you neat or messy?”

Each college trip is an investment in time and money, but it is part of our planning to help AJ choose a college that he will enjoy and where he will be successful.

Like teenagers planning for college, brands in adolescence need to plan for their next phase of growth.

Unlike teenagers headed for college though, the timing of when brands in adolescence need to plan isn’t always obvious.  And since it isn’t obvious, many brands stall before the company realizes it.

Life is Good is a brand in adolescence with foresight.

While most brands react when sales stagnate, Life is Good is planning their next stage of growth and evolving their brand when…well, when life is good.

Life was rough for the brand in the beginning though.  In 1989, brothers John and Bert Jacobs were in their early 20s and wanted to make art.  They founded Jacobs Gallery and began their careers selling t-shirts on the street as a way to market their original artwork.  After five years of barely squeaking by and living in a van, they hit on the idea of infusing their desire to spread optimism into their work and founded Life is Good.

As their t-shirts’ popularity spread, they grew the company by focusing on apparel.  They have featured their signature characters, Jake and his faithful dog Rocket, in hundreds of designs and on many different products.

After two decades, the message of “spreading optimism” still resonates and their business remains strong.  But they realized that their original core customers have matured 20 years along with the company.  They wanted to retain those customers while also appealing to new, younger customers.

The need to appeal to a new market segment signaled that it was time to review and evolve the Life is Good brand.

How could they retain their older customers and appeal to younger ones at the same time?

By returning to the original purpose of the company:  featuring art.  In addition to presenting their own designs, Life is Good has featured many musical acts via their festivals.

Bert Jacobs recently announced that they plan to spread the brand to the next generation via their “ArtHouse Strategy”: they intend to partner with painters, sculptors, poets, filmmakers, dancers and other artists to widen the expression of how life is good.  These partners will present their take on Jake and Rocket and other aspects of the brand, bringing fresh perspective and creativity.

I love this strategy.  It strikes a balance between the need to be true to the essence of the brand while tapping the younger generation’s penchant for self-expression and sharing.

Life is Good is exceptional.  Most brands revisit their strategy only after they have run into trouble.

Don’t wait until your brand stalls to take a strategic look at it.  Here are four signs that the time has come for your brand:

  1. Your target audience has matured and you want to introduce the brand to a new market segment. Like Life is Good.
  2. Your brand’s core product has matured and you are thinking about what to introduce next.
  3. Your brand is regional and you are looking to expand to new territory.
  4. Market and/or consumer trends are leading away from your core product.

Like college planning, brand planning will involve time, money, research and probably a few road trips.  And like the joy of seeing your child happy at college, it will be worth the investment.

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15 Tips for Using LinkedIn Updates to Grow Your Network

LinkedIn Rolodex

Image credit: Social Media Quickstarter, now known as http://blogs.constantcontact.com/

Do you remember the card game Concentration?  Or maybe you called it Memory or Pairs?

To start, all the cards were face down in rows.  You chose two cards to turn over.  If you made a match, finding two aces for example, you kept those cards and could turn over two more.  If you did not make a match, your turn ended and the next person tried.

The person with the most matches won.

Early on the game was a real memory tester, because you had to remember the cards that you saw based on a single short exposure.

As the game went on though, each card was revealed multiple times as you and your opponents continued to search for matches.  Every time you saw a card, the chances of you remembering it when you needed it increased.

LinkedIn Updates Help Contacts Remember You Like The Card Game ConcentrationConsider that:  repeated exposure to the card increased the chance that you would remember it when you needed it.

The same principle applies to your network of contacts.

The more often you are in touch, the more likely your contacts will remember you when they need your services.

LinkedIn updates are a free and easy way to stay in touch often.

By now most of you know about LinkedIn and have established a profile there.  But many of you are missing out on the real power of LinkedIn:  staying in front of your connections regularly and making new connections via updates.  It is after all a social medium.

Here are 15 tips on using LinkedIn updates to grow and strengthen your network:

  1. Have a LinkedIn marketing strategy. Take time to delineate the image you want to cultivate.  Establishing expertise in your industry is a good start.
  2. Pass the “so what?” test. Each update should have a purpose, provide value and be relevant to your audience.  Save thoughts on the weather or on the unusual breakfast you ate for Facebook.
  3. Stay professional. If you would not (or should not) share it at a networking cocktail hour, do not share it on LinkedIn.
  4. Include a link. According to QuickSprout, posts with links experience 200 percent more engagement.
  5. Share the spotlight. If you are creating your own content, by all means post it.  But also post content from connections and sources that you trust.
  6. Select content wisely. Think of yourself as a curator for established connections and for new connections you would like to reach.  Good update material sources include:
    • Your non-sales-y content (like a newsletter article!);
    • Trade publications;
    • General business publications;
    • Blogs;
    • Tasteful cartoons or other images;
    • Newspapers;
    • Videos;
    • Articles you were quoted in;
    • Events you plan to attend that would be of interest to your network;
    • Meaningful quotes.
  7. Introduce your update.  Briefly highlight its meaningful aspect to start a conversation.
  8. Congratulate someone.  Acknowledging someone’s new job, achievement, honor, award, or work anniversary is a generous way to share the spotlight and a non-solicitous way to get their attention.
    • A note of caution on work anniversaries: LinkedIn will prompt you with notices of work anniversaries.  Be sure you are current on your contact’s situation before congratulating them.  LinkedIn’s program runs automatically and does not review the content of their status nor does it account for those who have not updated their status.  I have erroneously congratulated someone in the process of leaving their job.  I have also received a prompt for someone’s “1 year anniversary at unemployed.”
  9. Comment on and “like” others’ updates. This is being social at its best. Your comment and like make the update show up on your LinkedIn feed.  And when others comment on your update, your update shows up in theirs. I have gained many new connections and followers this way.
  10. Respond.  Acknowledging someone’s comment to your update is a social courtesy.  It also boosts the value of your update and prolongs its life.
  11. Announce a job opening. LinkedIn is an efficient way to notify your network when you are looking to fill a position.  And it works.  Via updates this week I connected an acquaintance looking for a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) with a CFO I met at a Superbowl party, and recommended a boutique Human Resources recruiting firm to a General Manager looking for a Human Resources Manager.
  12. Post regularly. QuickSprout reports that posting 20 times per month helps you reach 60 percent of your network.  But if 20 times per month seems daunting, start slowly.  I began with a once-a-week reminder for a couple of months.  Then I increased to twice per week.  From there I found myself naturally posting more often as I came across articles of interest and posts that I wanted to respond to.
  13. Post before noon if possible. Though QuickSprout reports more engagement that way, posting when you can is better than not posting at all.
  14. Schedule updates. Apps such as Buffer and software like Hootsuite can help you schedule updates if frequent LinkedIn checking does not appeal to you.
  15. Don’t schedule all of your updates. Scheduled updates make for one-way communication unless you go to LinkedIn occasionally to engage and comment.

You can post an update right now!  Please click the In button to share this article.

Thanks!

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What a Croc

Crocs in all rainbow colors

Image source: naturalrezources.com

I was a persistent child.  How persistent?  Let’s just say that several times during my childhood my father wished, “May you have a child just like you.”

Well, I did.  Two of them.

On a Monday in early January 2004 my daughter Fiona came home from preschool and demanded to know when we were going to Disney World.  Several of her friends had gone during the December break, so when were we going?  My husband Dan and I just smiled and said we did not know.

She inquired again on Tuesday.  On Thursday.  On Saturday.  On Sunday.  Our 5-year-old son AJ began asking as well.

At this point, I knew we needed a specific response to stop the incessant inquiries.

So Dan and I chose a date for the trip…over three years in the future.  We told the kids we would take them when Fiona was in first grade and AJ was in third grade.

A trip to Disney World requires a major cash outlay.  There was no way we were going until the kids had the stamina and were old enough to remember the trip.

Besides, by setting it three years in the future, there was a chance they would forget about it, right?

No.  No chance.

Fast forward to August 2006, after no mention of Disney World for two and a half years.   One day out the blue AJ, now 8 years old, got a big smile across his face.  “This is the year we are going to Disney World,” he said.

I blanched.  The next day I began planning our trip for April 2007.

In addition to the cash required, a trip to Disney World merits a level of planning worthy of a military strike.  With that kind of time and monetary investment, Dan and I just wanted to relax when we got there.

So we decided to give the kids a vacation allowance.  No haggling over desired souvenirs.  But when the allowance was gone, that was it.

Mickey & Minnie Jibbitz in Blue CrocsWe were off the Monorail three minutes and five steps into Tomorrow Land when Fiona spotted her first purchase:  Jibbitz charms for her blue Crocs.

Crocs were all the rage in 2007.

Founded in 2002 by three friends who initially started selling the resin-made clogs as boat shoes, Crocs had become a full-blown fad.  The resin, branded Croslite, was lightweight, resisted odor and fungus, and conformed to the wearer’s footprint from body heat.  These properties made Crocs incredibly comfortable.

They were ugly, but they were everywhere.  For fans, comfort trumped fashion.  From Nordstrom, kiosks, and Crocs-branded stores to pharmacies and gift shops, you could nab a pair anywhere. In 2007 Crocs hit $850 million in sales and netted $200 million in profit.

A year later, the brand lost $200 million.  Having oversaturated their market, they were no longer special.  Management blamed the recession, but at only $30 a pair, that was unlikely to be the primary reason for the brand’s troubles.

To boost the brand, management launched several new styles and announced global expansion plans.

The all-out effort lifted profit to $150 million in 2011, but they soon found the brand flailing again.  On July 14, 2014 they announced 183 layoffs and the closing of 100 of their 600 stores.

At 13 years old, Crocs is typical brand in adolescence with an identity crisis.

Like the new kid in high school who edits clothing and behavior to conform to each clique she encounters, Crocs tried to appeal to everyone and had no clear appeal to anyone.

Where Crocs missed the boat was not defining and sticking to their core customers in the first place.  Including, as it happens, boaters.

Happily, like that misguided teenager at a new high school, Crocs could still find its place and thrive.

To surmount Crocs’ brand adolescence, Crocs’ management should:

  • Start with the brand’s authentic characteristics and image. Crocs can credibly claim comfort as a key characteristic, as well as ease-of-use, non-slip, hygienic and therapeutic properties.
  • Focus on its core customers. Core customers should be large segments that benefit from the brand’s differentiating factors: children, workers who are on their feet all day, boaters and athletes.
  • Limit product offerings to ones that support the brand’s authentic characteristics and core customers. Indeed in July 2014 the company did announce plans to streamline their global product portfolio.  Hopefully they will use relevance to the brand and to core customer segments as a litmus test in the weeding process.
  • Market the brand based on its authentic characteristics and on the emotional benefits from the brand. Crocs elicit a lot of emotion – people either love them or hate them.  If the brand can get past trying to win the haters, it can soar on its fan base.

Crocs’ marketing strategy for the next few years must include defining its brand to become known for its differentiating characteristics and becoming the go-to player among its core customer segments.

Evolving the Crocs brand to a successful long-term industry player will require persistence.

Maybe I should deploy Fiona and AJ to them.

How do you feel about Crocs?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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How To Beat Email Triage

Evelyn in simulated skydiving chamber

Photo credit: Daniel J. Traub

For the holidays, I unplugged for 9 days.  I went on a cruise with my husband, kids, siblings, their spouses and kids, and my parents.  We were a group of 14.

Depending on your family, that may not sound relaxing to you.  But it was for me.

I participated in trivia competitions with family members (and won a couple). I read. I ate. I danced. I flew in a simulated skydiving chamber.

And though I confess to reading a few emails when we were at a port, I did not think about my business.

That’s not easy to do as a business owner, but I believe the fresh perspective and renewed energy are worth it.

When I returned I had 100+ emails waiting for me.

What’s the first thing I did?  Go through and delete those I had no intention of reading.  With that kind of volume, I resort to triage to focus on the emails that matter to me.

In fact for many of us, email triage has become a way of life.

Email Expert reports that subscribers receive 416 commercial emails each month. Emails pile up fast these days.  Inbox attention is at a premium.

And yet email remains one of the most effective ways to reach your audience.

Why?  Because they check their inbox every day.

According to Consumer Reports, 91% of consumers check their email daily.  So while inboxes are more crowded than ever, emails still offer an efficient and effective way of staying in front of your audience.

This is my 37th email newsletter.  From my three years of producing monthly e-newsletters I can tell you that the prior 36 have not only helped me stay in front of my audience, but they have also prompted referrals, brought in new clients and generated repeat business.

The payoff from a regular e-newsletter can be substantial.

If you can beat the triage.

Here are 7 tips that will increase the chances that your e-newsletter – or any group email you send – will get opened, get read, and prompt action.

  1. Offer something useful. Readers want to feel that they benefit from the time they spend reading your email.
  2. Entertain your readers. If you send something that reads like a textbook or a government proclamation, few people will relate.  Tell stories.  Make your e-newsletter fun.
  3. Tailor your message to a specific audience. Generalities water down your message, especially when you are trying to cover too many audiences at once.  You want your target audience to feel that your information is relevant to them.  If you have very different customer segments, you may need more than one e-newsletter to reach them.
  4. Write to one person. Use straightforward, conversational language, not jargon.
  5. Begin with an enticing subject line. This is where the decision to open and read the email happens.
  6. Be mobile friendly.  People are constantly on their smart phones – in line at the grocery store or the bank, sitting in the parking lot or even (gasp) at a stop light. Reading an e-newsletter can be a great way to pass a few minutes of waiting time. Be there for them.  Mobile-friendly formats are the reason that ornate and complex designs are giving way to single column formats and larger font size.
  7. Set expectations and deliver. Let subscribers know upfront what your publication will cover, how often you will send it and when it will arrive.  Delivering on these expectations will familiarize readers with your e-newsletter and even generate anticipation!

Lastly…don’t email your list too often.  Email exuberance depletes the goodwill you have with your audience.  Last December my husband Dan and I received emails daily or even more often from Laithwaite’s Wine, Bed Bath & Beyond, Harney & Sons Teas and others.  I unsubscribed from any store emailing me daily during that already frenetic time of year.

Done well, e-newsletters can help brands in adolescence broaden their base and attain their next level of growth.

So as you create your 2015 marketing plan, consider an e-newsletter.  Besides the business benefits, it’s also a fun way to stay in touch.  And much easier than simulated skydiving.

What’s your email triage strategy?  Please share it below in the comments section.

 

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Brand Storytelling Lessons From Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin Heads & Tales album coverI missed seeing Harry Chapin in concert by three days.

If you don’t know Harry Chapin by name, you would probably recognize one of his songs, particularly Cat’s in the Cradle or Taxi.

I was at a summer program in East Brunswick, New Jersey with 21 other teenagers in July 1981.  We had tickets to see Harry perform on Thursday July 19thHe died in a car crash on the Long Island Expressway on Monday July 16th en route to a benefit concert at Eisenhower Park’s Lakeside Theatre.  He was 38 years old.

We got the news at dinner time that day.  It was upsetting for us to say the least.  And we were not alone.

TV news anchors in New York and Chicago struggled to avoid breaking down on camera as they reported his death.  Many of the 30,000 people scheduled to see him in concert that night still went to the Lakeside Theatre to talk about him and to cry together.  Some brought guitars and sang his songs.  In the days that followed, ten senators and thirty congressmen eulogized him on the House floor.

Harry Chapin was far from the only entertainer to die young.  Why did his passing prompt such a public outpouring of grief?

Because people liked him and felt connected to him.

How did he establish such a wide connection?  Through the stories he told.

While music was an early love for Harry, singing was not his first professional career.  He started off as a documentary filmmaker.  His documentary on boxing, Legendary Champions, won the New York and Atlanta film festivals’ gold prizes for best documentary and garnered an Oscar nomination for best feature documentary.

A lull in film-making work drew him back to music, and he took the narrative skills he had developed as a documentarian with him.

The songs Harry wrote and sang portrayed people that his audience could relate to – a waitress and a night watchman, a dry cleaner who liked to sing, a taxi driver, a busy father.   His characters hailed from small towns as well as big cities – Dayton, Boise, Scranton, San Francisco.  His storytelling revealed an astute understanding of human nature and evoked a wide range of emotions.

Harry liked his characters, many of whom were based on real people.  Their faults and imperfections endeared them, and Harry, to us as well.

Once successful, Harry channeled his success to help others.  He co-founded Why Hunger (formerly World Hunger Year), worked tirelessly to combat world hunger and supported dozens of other organizations.  Half of the 200 hundred concerts he gave each year were designated benefits.  He raised over $6 million for charity.

Harry’s philanthropy endeared him to us even more, but it was his stories that connected us to him.  Bill Gates has donated exponentially more money but he rarely evokes the kind of affection that Harry Chapin’s memory does.

Stories are the way to people’s hearts and minds.  They connect us to people, places and things in memorable way.

This is why telling your brand story is important.

Your brand story:

  • Is your one proprietary differentiator, that no other brand can copy;
  • Is bound to convey problems and emotions that your prospects and customers can relate to;
  • Conveys your passion and mission better than declaratory statements can;
  • Engages your audience without a sales pitch;
  • Will stick in your prospects’ and customers’ minds more easily than product or service descriptions.

To take a page from Harry Chapin and tell your brand story well:

  • Name the founders and key players;
  • Talk about the struggles, triumphs and challenges along the way;
  • Talk about what the brand aims to achieve by describing the mission in real terms, not in corporate or industry jargon.
  • Include community and cause involvement.

Your brand story is a powerful tool to help your audience come to know, like and trust your brand.  It’s the trust that closes the sale and generates repeat business more than anything else.

Channel your inner Harry Chapin and watch how your audience remembers your brand story and comes back for more.

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Holiday Card Dos and Don’ts

holiday-dos-and-donts-image-280x204Have you heard a holiday song on the radio yet?

It always amazes me how early the holiday music starts.  I am among the 81 percent of Americans who don’t want to hear it in stores before Thanksgiving.

But while I am not ready to endure endless loops of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” I am already thinking about my business holiday cards.

In fact, I confess, I ordered them last Monday.

Why do I look forward to this ritual that many people find stressful?

Two reasons.  First, I love handwriting cards and making a personal connection that way.  Second, I do them by choice, not from a sense of obligation.

For most people though, holiday business cards present a conundrum.   To send or not to send?  Paper or e-card?  Do you send to clients only? Or should you include employees, vendors, referral sources and prospects?  How will someone feel if you don’t send them a card?

And the biggest question of them all:  is it worth the effort?

Business holiday cards are one drop in the relationship marketing bucket.  The answer to “is it worth it?” is the same as all of your other relationship marketing efforts:  only if it furthers the relationship.

Here are my holiday card guidelines to help you decide if you should send them, and to increase your success with them if you do.

  1. Do send a snail mail card. Don’t send a mass email, e-card or e-video.

    The inspiration for this article came from a rant my husband sent me last year.  He received several e-cards that turned out to be 1 – 1 ½ minute-long videos that he characterized as “a completed waste of my time.”He also said, “[With a traditional card] I know my contact put in the thought of signing their name and making it at least a scintilla personal. I will display cards in my office for a few weeks.  The video?  Gone as soon as I forward it to you.”The companies that took the time to make the videos and send the email link actually hurt their relationship with him by annoying him.  They would have been better off sending nothing at all.
  2. Do personalize the card with a short message and your signature. Don’t use a signature stamp or have an assistant sign for you.

    Companies don’t celebrate holidays.  People do.  A holiday greeting should be from sender to recipient.  Recipients see right through efforts to delegate the greeting.  If you can’t sign the cards yourself, don’t send them.This does not mean you have to spend hours thinking up what to say.  Find a short, meaningful phrase you can use for everyone (like “wishing you a happy and prosperous year!), then add something else only if you want to.  That phrase and your signature will be enough.
  3. Do keep it secular. Don’t get overly personal.  Like the rest of your business communications.
  4. Do make it a pure greeting. Don’t include a business card. The presence of a business card makes the greeting an overt marketing pitch and loses the sentiment.
  5. Do send the cards in a timely manner. Don’t sweat it if they are a few days off.  I aim to get my New Year’s cards to recipients in first week of the New Year.  Many people have thanked me for the cards.  No one has ever chided me for not getting them there before New Year’s (and many people aren’t in the office that week anyway.)
  6. Do track your recipient list each year and make the decision to send a card a conscious one. Don’t just send on automatic pilot.  Over time you will add and delete names from the list and that’s okay.
  7. Do give yourself credit for the cards you send. Don’t berate yourself for those you don’t get to.   You can always choose another holiday.  And a handwritten card on a non-holiday is always welcome!

Remember that your goal is to further your relationship with the recipient.  It’s better to send 50 personalized snail mail cards than 5000 meaningless and forgettable e-cards.

Have fun writing or not writing your cards this season.  And don’t play your holiday music before Thanksgiving!

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In the Spotlight…SkreensTV!

Skreens_logo-280x59Congratulations to client Marc Todd and his firm SkreensTV on the launch of their crowdfunding campaign!  Marc is a serial entrepreneur who channeled his frustration at missing key sports plays into the development of an entertainment solution that allows you to watch multiple TV programs, shop online and play games all on one TV screen. read more

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The Downton Abbey Method of Marketing

downton-s4-series-like-relationship-marketing-2-280x156Are you good at remembering names?

Even if you aren’t, I bet you could recite the names of the characters on Downton Abbey.  Or Mad Men.  Or The Big Bang Theory.  Or whatever TV series you enjoy. read more

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Totally Tubular

Image source: Scott Products | Facebook

Image source: Scott Products | Facebook

I never knew toilet paper could be exciting until I met Dave.

Dave joined me in the Veryfine Marketing Research Department in the early days of 1993 after a two-year stint at James River, maker of Quilted Northern bathroom tissue.  He entertained us with stories of the brand’s relaunch the year before.  Segmentation studies had characterized different types of toilet-tissue users.  Press releases detailing the segments had persuaded radio personalities to talk about the product.

Clearly James River employees and their marketing agencies had both great creativity and a good sense of humor. read more

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