October 23, 2014

Smart, Innovative & Inexpensive Marketing

The Downton Abbey Method of Marketing

Downton Abbey Season Four Cast in Front of Castle

Are 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.

You know the characters well now, but you didn’t the first time you saw them.

You got to know them over several episodes through the repeated use of their names, their actions, their expressions, and most importantly, their stories.

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How to Score Big on the Small Stuff

Sirius XM Radio Spring Training Announcement with Typo - Reflection on Brand

On March 18 of this year, I was signing into Sirius XM Radio online when the graphic above caught my eye.

It wasn’t the flying baseballs. Or the blue sky.

It was the spring traning. T-r-a-n-i-n-g.

I was born with an observant nature and a proofreading eye. Most of the time, my observations have been welcome and have served me well.

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Elevate Your Pitch

Working Girl elevator pitch scene with Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Signorey Weaver

When I moved up to Boston after college, I knew few people in the area.  I found my roommate Judy through a service called the Roommate Connection.  Luckily she and I became fast friends and she kindly took me to parties that her friends threw.  Occasionally I met someone at a party that would lead to a first date.

One first date that sticks out in my memory went downhill faster than an Olympic skier.

His name was Joe and he was a PhD candidate at Harvard.  Not a medical doctor, but an eventual doctor from Harvard nonetheless.  So far my grandmothers would have had thumbs up.

We went to a casual restaurant and ordered our meals.  And then Joe began to talk.

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Try Me

Marketing Sample Pen

You know how your parents told you not to talk to strangers?  Well one day on vacation I not only spoke to a stranger, I invited her to my hotel room

In October 1996 my husband Dan and I took an ABC Tour vacation to Asia.  My parents had taken the same tour six months earlier.  Among the highlights they mentioned were the free five-minute massages that they got from a group of Thai masseuses who hung out outside one of the temples in Bangkok.

The day we toured the temple, there they were.

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You Can Get There From Here

Good marketing is like giving directions

I belong to two book clubs.  My first book club has been meeting monthly for over 12 years.  When we started, each member sent an email in advance when it was her turn to host with directions to her home.

My second book club started up last February.  It’s a smaller group and the other members sent out an advanced email with just their address when it was their turn to host.  Technology being what it is now, the social norm is to find your own way there via a GPS navigation device.

I may be the last person in America without a GPS device.

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Likes and Tweets and Blogs, Oh My

Dorm with Reunion sign in front

Last weekend I did something that some people consider brave.  I went to my 25thcollege reunion.  I stayed in the dorm in the picture to the left.  (To some, that was even braver.)

Few of my college friends were going.  But I went anyway.  I knew that even if I didn’t visit with friends much of the time, I would still be happy and comfortable on campus.

I also knew that it would be easy to start conversation with classmates I didn’t know because we shared a common experience and were there to celebrate that experience.

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The Secret to Getting Great Graphic Design


The E. Starr Associates logo you see is the product of my second go-round with a graphic designer.  The first try was a disaster.

I was new to the process of creating a logo from scratch when I started my business.  A friend who was the art director of a magazine referred me to her friend, a junior designer just starting out.

The lesser expense of a junior designer appealed to my new business frugality.  Eager to start, the designer asked if she could play on the star in my name.  I said yes. 

That was the only question she asked me.

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Be the Bartender of Your Brand

Ted Danson as Sam Malone on Cheers

I waitressed for two summers during college and met some pretty interesting people.  The first summer I worked the counter of a Bloomingdale’s restaurant in Hackensack, New Jersey.  I served two Secret Service agents who were trailing Pat Nixon and her daughter Tricia who were eating in the dining room of the restaurant.  Nice guys, easy going, and tipped well.

Prior to my sophomore year I worked at a 24-hour diner called The Forum.  The Saturday night shift went from 5 pm to 4:30 am.  As you could imagine, the crowd here differed from Bloomingdale’s.

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Delivering Happiness at the Toll Booths

Massachusetts toll booth with Fast Lane

Today is the day before Thanksgiving and I have the pleasure this year of NOT traveling.

With family in New Jersey though, I have spent many hours sitting in traffic on this day in the past.  Thanksgiving-volume car travel jams highways on the Massachusetts-New York corridor, particularly around toll plazas.  One year my usual 3 3/4 hour ride to my parents’ house took 8 hours!  Now if I go, I leave on Tuesday.

Traffic jams of these epic proportions often bring consumers’ wrath upon the Department of Transportation (DOT). 

In recent years though, the Massachusetts DOT has engaged some smart, inexpensive, and innovative marketing to proactively combat this problem.

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The $2.99 Retail Traffic Booster

Large Blue Plastic Bowl with Dogs Water Bowl inscribed on it outside Charles River Coffee House

On days when I feel restless and distracted in my office, I work elsewhere.  One place I like to go is the Charles River Coffee House (CRCH) in South Natick.  It’s independently owned, has a homey, non-institutional feel and serves great tea (tea-aholic that I am).  Their front windows frame a beautiful view of the historic Bacon Free Library and the South Natick waterfall across the way, helpful when my eyes need a break from the screen.

Not only is their tea good, but their marketing is smart, innovative and inexpensive to implement.  Two of their marketing efforts grabbed my attention.

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