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Lessons on Marketing from our Forefathers

2 Jul

Monday, July 2, 2012

In light of celebrating our nation’s independence, I thought it would be pertinent to look back at what our forefathers had to say. I think we can still learn a lot from their timeless quotes. Here are a few of my favorites. 

“A spoonful of sugar will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” Benjamin Franklin    Customer service is one of the hallmarks of marketing. If you have terrible customer service, you’re going to lose sales. There is an appropriate way to respond to criticism and complaints and it doesn’t involve name-calling and going in the defensive. Instead, own up to the mistake — if applicable — and put a positive spin on it. You’ll end up catching – and keeping – more “flies” that way.  

“Have you something to do to-morrow; do it to-day.” -Benjamin Franklin     Plan ahead! For example: Write your editorial calendar and content months in advance so that you’re not stuck scrambling when it’s time to put it in motion. Arrange your activities and materials for the next day before leaving the night before. 

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” -Abraham Lincoln       All departments within a company must work together towards the same goal. That means that they should maintain regular communication. For example: Sales should share with marketing their new leads to analyze demographics. Marketing should make sales aware of current initiatives and goals for an accurate picture of the audience.

“Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” -Benjamin Franklin    Science proves that people are most productive in the morning after a good night’s sleep. In addition, decisions are best made in the morning. “…[O]ur ability to make any type of difficult decisions is adversely affected by fatigue.” So get up early and start spreading your message.

“Disciple is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.” -George Washington    A brand is only as strong as its weakest attribute. The soul of a brand is its ability to be disciplined, consistent throughout…from internal operations to customer perceptions. Without them, a brand will surely fail. 

“Genius is sorrow’s child.” -John Adams    Out of a need, creativity is born. Embrace the challenge to come up with a spectacular campaign. Be open to conflict because often that’s where the best ideas come from. 

Happy Independence Day!

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Lucky Number 13

13 Apr

Friday, April 13, 2012

I got to thinking this morning how fun it would be to run promotions of Friday the 13th. Think of how creative you could be!! I’ve compiled 13 promotion ideas, but trust me, I could have kept going.

1. Offer a 13% off discount.

2. Using Twitter to broadcast clues, hide a lucky rabbit’s foot somewhere in the local area. Winner gets an awesome prize

3. Best black cat photo contest.

4. Feature 13 top products — preferably with some tie to Friday the 13th…think umbrellas, ladders, mirrors, etc. — and put them on sale.

5. Create a special product just for Friday the 13th and feature it. This would work really well for the food industry (ex: sandwiches, drinks, etc.).

6. Create a Friday the 13th playlist and share it with your followers.

7. Donate 13% of daily proceeds to a worthy cause.

8. Try Your Luck casino night? Great for a fundraising event.

9. Unlucky winner contest – the unluckiest wins!

10. Offer a list of 13 tips or suggestions related to your product or service.

11. Host a horse shoe competition as a fundraiser.

12. Hold a drawing with 13 random winners.

13. Baker’s dozen – give out a free donut/bagel/muffin when a dozen is purchased.

There are so many other creative things you could do to “celebrate” or at least capitalize on this day. What ideas did you come up with?

Happy Friday the 13th. Hope you don’t suffer from triskaidekaphobia.


The King of Kona

26 Jan

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lets play a game of word association. If I say coffee, what is the first word that comes to mind?

Starbucks, right? Either I’m clairvoyant or they have just managed to ensure such a response with their incredible marketing philosophy because you and millions of other people would likely answer the same way. They’ve guaranteed that their brand is at the forefront of people’s minds. Clearly they’re doing something right. (For the record, the other options are also very valid choices.)

The Starbucks Advertising Philosophy = No Advertising!

Their advertising philosophy is that there is no advertising. Think about it: How many Starbucks commercials have you seen? I bet that you haven’t seen any. Am I right? I guarantee you’ve seen print ads, but not TV ads. So how have they managed to build and maintain their “espresso empire”? It all comes down to amazing branding! “You can be extraordinarily successful as a business using what people would call non-traditional means,” says Senior VP of Marketing, Anne Saunders. “It’s expanded my notion of how important experience versus information or one-way communication can be.” When you walk or drive by a Starbucks, the parking lot is always full and there is always a line, am I right?

Non-Traditional Channels:
Do a search on YouTube for “Starbucks commercials” and you’ll come across quirky – slightly vague – vignettes. The brand has solidified a formula for success. Why spend millions in advertising dollars for TV commercials when we are all clearly in the virtual world? I mean, there are entire fields of study, college majors and advanced certifications dedicated to success online because that’s where business and the world exist.
 It’s an online world…so that’s where they are. Their online presence is interactive, modern and relevant.    

Public Relations and Platform:
Marketing a company as a conscious one is an excellent platform for public relations. Starbucks stands for something. Lots of things actually: Community, Environment, Wellness, Ethical Sourcing and Diversity. Cause marketing is a very effective tool, highlighting an organization’s globally-, socially- and locally- responsible philosophies. Not only is it trendy to be associated with these causes, but by patronizing businesses that are so conscious, customers are doing a small part as well to make the world a better place. 

Another aspect of their public relations efforts is delivering an experience. “It happens millions of times each week –  a customer receives a drink from a Starbucks barista – but each interaction is unique.” It’s all about the experience – from superior products to intentional customer interaction to the cool ambience – and engaging the customer so that their Starbucks visit becomes the high point of their day. Customers leave stores with a story, an experience that they don’t get anywhere else. 

As Anne Saunders alluded to, PR isn’t one-sided. It requires action on the part of the message receiver. Action may involve a call-to-action like signing up to follow social media feeds, calling a political candidate, etc. But action is more likely to be just as simple as making a decision one way or the other about a company or organization.

Their logo is as easily recognizable as, say, McDonald’s golden arches or Disney’s Mickey ears. The Starbucks logo is synonymous with “cool” and “experiential”, so much so that even if someone doesn’t like coffee, they still want to be associated with the brand in some way. When people see the logo, they know what it means and it resonates with them. And they start craving their favorite Starbucks brew. 

To support my analysis, here is a snapshot of Starbucks’ retail market share vs media dollars spent. (Note: these figures are from 2007, but they illustrate my point!)

Here’s the Bottom Line: You don’t have to rely on big budgets and traditional advertising to make your brand a household name. It’s about tapping into the unique characteristics within your brand and promoting them in a new and creative way. Public relations is all about perception. Help shape people’s perceptions of your products and services by offering an overall experience, one their bound to remember.

Thanks for stopping by! ~Laura~

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31 Dec

Saturday, December 31, 2011

I learned a lot about myself personally and as a business owner in 2011, things that I will take with me into the new year and beyond. I learned that you have to anticipate problems and plan for unexpected changes. It’s all about being flexible. Not everything is going to go as planned, but having a contingency plan in place can save a lot of time and headaches. I was also reminded that public relations is a 24-hour business. It’s not something that ends when the business day is over. Instead, it takes constant strategy to maintain a brand. A brand’s character can be destroyed in a second…and it’s difficult to recover from. There’s a lot left to be learned on this journey of owning a business and I am so thrilled to be on it. I can’t wait to see where the next year takes me. Thank you to all of my wonderful clients – and friends and family – for believing in me!

I can’t believe this year has come to an end already, but I am so excited for what’s in store for 2012. Happy New Year to you. See you in 2012 (by now, only a few hours away).

All the best,

MVCs: Most Valuable Customers

7 Dec

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is customer service just designed for external customers? I don’t believe so. My theory is that it starts from within the organization. Keep reading!

Who is the Most Valuable Customer?
I was reminded recently of the incredible value of employees because of some firsthand experiences. Not only do they complete the day-to-day activities that make a business run, but they have the potential to be your most loyal and committed cheerleaders. So why is it that when creating customer service strategies, we simply forget about them? I know a company that has an incredible customer service philosophy…I mean absolutely incredible. Everything they do is customer-centered. It’s amazing; truly. However, in carrying it out, they often inconvenience or frustrate employees with ridiculous and frequent policy changes, lack of communication between departments and different standards for all levels of employment.

The trend for employees these days is to put in some time (a year or two) in one position and then move onto another company and do the same. However, this is costly to employers for a number of reasons:

  1. the hiring process alone
  2. training of the new employee
  3. prospect search
So, how do you keep employees satisfied?

Employee-Centric Management
Here’s an idea: Employee-centric management. Herbert D Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines told Fortune in 2001 that “[y]ou have to treat your employees like customers…When you treat them right, then they will treat your outside customers right. That has been a powerful competitive weapon for us.” It starts from within the company and works its way out. When your employees are happy, they will translate that into their work. To reinforce this idea:

“There isn’t any customer satisfaction without employee satisfaction…He recognized that good employee relations would affect the bottom line. He knew that having employees who wanted to do a good job would drive revenue and lower costs.”Gordon Bethune, former CEO of Continental Airlines, longtime friend of Kelleher’s

“When an employee is delighted, he will delight the customer.”

Internal Marketing Plan
Consider instituting an internal marketing plan. Since we’ve established that employees are indeed another form of customer, they should also be marketed to. According to a spot-on research paper on the subject, “the establishment of internal marketing implies that the business must have positive relationships with employees.” Create and implement a marketing plan that specifically targets this very integral ‘market’.  Your plan should include items from the list below. A good plan will also require continuous research and evaluation of employee empowerment platforms and skills and training programs.

How do you convert an ‘employee’ into a lifelong ‘fangelist’? Here is a very brief list of ideas:

  1. Earn their respect by being competent, the best you can be at your job.
  2. Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Enough said.
  3. Trust them. And then, go out of your way to let them know that you trust them.
  4. Value and utilize employee opinions. Give them an outlet to share their opinions. Actively consult this resource.
  5. If your company is going to be charitable, don’t force it upon your employees.
  6. If you are the CEO, be visible and accessible. We all know the CEO has responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean he/she can’t be accessible. Let your face be known in the workplace. An interesting idea: a two-way blogging platform where the CEO sets aside several hours per week to address employee questions or concerns and interacts with employees.
  7. Career advancement pathways. Hiring from within is a great motivator.
  8. Employee recognition programs.
  9. Be flexible/fun. Modern businesses have game rooms and cafes for employee enjoyment/relaxation.
  10. Communication, communication, communication. Set expectations and continually follow up so that no employee has a question.
  11. Treat them like people, not cogs in a machine. They have hearts, have feelings, etc….
  12. Employee loyalty programs like those offered to external customers.

“The internal market of a business encompasses its employees. This market is continuously being influenced by the ability of the employees to work together as a unit to reach and maintain the objectives of the business.” 

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Branding: Netflix

1 Sep

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I’ve been thinking about Netflix’s recent marketing implications. You probably know that several weeks ago the online TV and movie giant announced a restructuring of their prices. Instead of paying one price for streaming and DVD options, beginning September 1 — today — customers will pay separate prices for each service. Outraged, thousands of angry customers canceled their subscriptions. Can I blame them? I’m a Netflix consumer, but it hasn’t stopped me yet.

But let me put this into a branding perspective: First of all, branding is the promise we make to customers that we vow never to break. It is creating and maintaining the essence of the brand. Consumers will stay with a solid brand even when newer or sexier brands are introduced. With that understanding, wasn’t Netflix’s original branding ‘one low price’ for two services? Though their service hasn’t changed and product is still the same, I can’t help but see this as a reneging of their most fundamental platform.

However, and it’s a big one… I took a look at their portfolio over the past year and even considering that they lost thousands of subscriptions, their stock has continued to rise. All I have to say about that is that their public relations team must be doing a killer job. After all, something’s keeping me around isn’t it?





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Recap: Beating the Time Suck

29 Jul

Friday, July 29, 2011

If you subscribe to or have been following my Twitter and Facebook feeds this week, you will have seen that I’ve been posting valuable tips for saving time in order to ultimately be more efficient. These tips can cross over from your personal life into your business life and beyond. Below is a recap and elaboration of each tip. 

Tip #1: Set attainable tasks.
If you are like me, you set a task list every day/week. A lot of times, I don’t get to check items off the list. Sometimes, that’s because I’ve set myself up for failure by setting tasks that aren’t attainable. How can I help myself? Break down large or difficult tasks into more bearable, smaller ones. That way you can tackle the project as a whole more efficiently. 

Tip #2: Don’t hesitate to delegate tasks, but be reasonable.
Delegating can be really useful. Maybe you’re someone who likes to do things themselves (ahem…a.k.a. “likes to be in control”) or just feels uncomfortable asking for help. Either way, you might find that by delegating, because you’re in a supervisor role, or asking for help from a colleague can help you check tasks off your ever-expanding list. 

Tip #3: Set aside a few minutes every day to get organized.
It can be first thing in the morning or right before your leave work for the day, but make a conscious effort to get organized. Or get organized as you go. Papers have a way of disappearing and things don’t always get back to the place where they came from. Specifically committing to organization will prevent these things from happening…or at least keep them to a minimum. No one’s perfect, right?

Tip #4: Multitasking = chaos.
I always used to say that I was a great multitasker. I think my husband would disagree, and I may have to agree with him. Instead of doing a really great and accurate job on one project, instead I’ve created chaos and accomplished very little, very poorly of numerous tasks. That doesn’t sound streamlined, does it? Instead, I’ve really started to prioritize my work and concentrate on one project at a time, giving it my full, undivided attention. And you know what I’ve found? The quality of my work increases! 

Tip #5: Resist the urge to check Facebook/Twitter/Linked In/Google/e-mail, etc. constantly.
I heard someone say ,”Make a social media budget.” I love it! Set aside a specific block of time in the morning and in the afternoon to do your social media scouring…unless of course, this is your job description! It’s important to stay within your allotted time so that you aren’t falling back into your endless routine. I know social media can suck you in – we’re curious. We want to know what everyone else is up to. However, by wasting mindless hours being nosy, we’re losing valuable time and efficiency on work that really matters. 

“Time is more valuable than money, you can get more money,
but you can not get more time.” – Jim Rohn.

Tip #6: It’s ok to say “no”.
This is self-explanatory. You’re a good person; you want to help out. But by always helping someone else, you may be neglecting important things that you have to do. Sometimes, you just have to apologize graciously and decline. It’s perfectly acceptable and the other person will likely understand your time constraints.   

Tip #7: Before leaving your desk for the day, prepare it for the next morning.
I love this idea. Wouldn’t it be awesome to walk into your office/cubicle [insert appropriate office space here] in the morning and find everything in order and ready to go? Well, if you take 5 or 10 minutes the night before to organize your work and tasks for the next day, you can make that dream come true! Set aside your important work for the following day coordinating with your task list. Put away projects that are on hold. You can even leave yourself a little treat to start the day off right. Chocolate anyone? Leave your work space in a way that is calming and inviting for the following day and see how much less stressed you feel the next morning. 

Tip #8: Commit to doing difficult tasks during your most productive time.
Maybe you’re a morning person and your peak time is in the morning. Set aside an hour or two in the morning to do the tasks that maybe aren’t your favorite or that will require a great deal of concentration so that when the afternoon slump hits, you will feel accomplished. On the other hand, maybe by 11:00 (or even later for some people) you’ve started feeling human again. After your 10 cups of super-caffeinated, dark roast breakfast blend coffee, start in on your least favorite assignments. Because you’ve (most likely) hit your peak time, you’ll be able to fulfill more of your responsibilities and with higher quality.

Tip #9: It sounds counterintuitive, but schedule time for rest.
Have you ever realized how much more productive you are after you’ve taken even a 10 minute break to relax or refresh? Taking your mind off a stressful task (or any long task) for a short period of time gives your brain and body a well-deserved rest. Leave your desk and stop thinking about work altogether. Maybe you have time for a quick walk around the office park. Take a few minutes for you, for your mental health. You’ll come back to your desk feeling refreshed. Note: Don’t take any longer than 10 minutes or you’ll probably lose all energy for work!

Tip #10: Instead of doing several small trips, combine them into one large trip.
Not only does this save time, but money as well, in terms of the sky-rocketing gas prices. If it helps, map it out the details of your route ahead of time. This way you’ll stick to your plan and maybe even have some time to spare.

Tip #11: When scheduling meetings, ask yourself if they are truly necessary or if you can get done what you need to with an e-mail.
Think about how much time is wasted waiting for everyone to show up for the meeting, getting coffee, then doing your greeting, answering questions, etc. Could you have just asked your questions in an e-mail or a quick drop-by your colleague’s office? If you indeed must hold a meeting, make a precise and clear agenda and stick to it! Make sure by the end you have made a clear decision to prevent you from having to schedule additional meetings. 


“An average interruption time of 5 minutes – equates to about 4 hours – or 50% of your productive time being wasted by interruptions.”
“Once interrupted, it can take 20 minutes to get back to the level of concentration you were at prior to the disruption.”

Have a wonderful weekend!


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Tribe Marketing

16 Jun

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I think I was meant to share this with you because on the same day that I found and watched Seth Godin’s video* on the marketing concept of tribes, I read an op-ed in a local publication by David Taylor, president of Taylor Brand Group, referring to the exact same topic. Coincidence?

Remember my concept of”fangelism“? The idea is that existing volunteers, constituents and customers – who already have a passion for the cause/product, etc – engage people, initiate conversation and, ultimately, ignite excitement, promote action and stimulate change. Well, I would equate this to the the tribe movement. 

Identifying with a brand/movement/product gives people a sense of purpose. “…[B]rand power boils down to self-esteem. In other words, how a brand makes us feel about ourselves determines its strength and success,” says Taylor.1 Building your brand around something innovative, something that changes the way we think, is the basis of assembling fangelists. According to Godin, tribes “lead and connect people and ideas”.Essentially, brand loyalty equals tribal behavior, and “aligns large numbers of people”.Godin uses the example of pirates. Think about it: They have their long-standing traditions (enthusiastic marauding), identifying uniforms (i.e. eye patches and peg legs!) and memorabilia (flags, anything with a skull and crossbones, etc). 

Generating a tribe movement happens over time and through lots of nurturing. It takes patience and skill. But the true beauty is that, if you’re well branded, it’s not forced; people naturally want to be part of a group and identify with a cause. So how do you do it exactly? Godin offers 3 contrasting views in his video:

  • Factory Cycle – The factory cycle is the idea that you can “change the whole world if you had an efficient factory that can churn out change.”
  • TV Cycle – The TV cycle refers to taking an idea and pushing it upon the audience and doing it in large volumes; spamming the masses with information. “…If you could buy enough ads, you could win.” It’s mass marketing at its core that “requires average ideas and plenty of ads.” 
  • Leadership Cycle – “The way we make change is not by using money or power to lever a system, but by leading.” The leadership model is much more efficient and, ultimately, more effective. 

I love how Godin refers to fangelists as heretics. Here’s why that’s so effective: heretics look at the status quo and stand up to make change. They’re not rule followers. If you want to start a movement, you need to be asking and answering these questions:

  • Who are you upsetting?
  • Who are you connecting?
  • Who are you leading?

Obviously, being a leader is a key component to this. So what follows are some characteristics that make a good leader.

  • Challenge the status quo
  • Build a culture
  • Have curiosity
  • Connect people to each other
  • Commitment
Other Qualities:
  • Inspirational
  • Forward-looking visionary
  • Creative
  • Assertive

And so I ask, What is your brand doing? I’ll leave you with this quote from Guy Kawasaki. He is speaking about the relevance of social media, which has initiated countless movements. 

“Now, nobodies are the new somebodies—if enough nobodies like your product, then the somebodies, too, have to pay attention to you.
So now the A-listers don’t make a product, they report on made products. The key is to get a lot of people to try your product because you don’t
know who will make your product tip.”

* You can find Seth Godin’s video on my Podcasts page.

1 – “Brands, tribes, cliques and cults. How belonging to the group makes a difference”

2 – Godin’s Tribe video  ~ 8:00 minutes

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Series Wrap-Up

30 May

Monday, May 30, 2011

Whether we ever recognize it or not, public relations and marketing affects pretty much every aspect of our daily lives. It’s the underlying motivation of why we purchase one product over another. And their foundational principles can even be found in entertaining performances.

To wrap up the blog series, “Exploring Marketing Triumphs and Failures”, I offer this final entry. Public Relations Rogue, a fellow wordpresser, has put forth an insightful list of thoughts on communications that were learned from, of all places, a Blue Man Group show. It just goes to show you that you can learn something about PR and marketing anywhere. Hopefully you’ll take the opportunity to recognize these principles wherever you go. 

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by. Stay tuned for more exciting entries!!

I just wanted to take a moment to publicly acknowledge the men and women of our armed services that unselfishly protect our freedoms on a daily basis. And they do it by sacrificing time with their families and friends and and sometimes, ultimately, their lives. Thank you each and every one of you…and for your families who support you. Happy Memorial Day! And God Bless the United States of America. 

Bird-Watching: It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Hobby Anymore

23 May

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Audubon Society has long been known for its older generation of bird watchers – you probably are familiar with the organization because of your grandparents’ involvement. But today, The Audubon Society is after the elusive ‘young birder’, someone who breaks the traditional ‘senior’ mold. The ideal candidate? Twenty- and thirty-somethings with a penchant toward nature. And believe it or not, they’re out there and they’re getting connected.

And just how do they intend to capture this new demographic? How else? Well, social media, of course. Technology is the future of the organization. They’ve already tested out their new strategies with their California chapter by inviting members and non-members alike to attend  Audubon-sponsored events. For just one event, they had over 300 responses. “…[N]ew birders and their technology are welcome. Organizations need to keep appealing to new generations to stay relevant,” says Garry George of California Audubon.Young birders also bring new opportunities to an organization that has always catered to an older generation. For instance, birders can download apps to their mobile devices which allow them to identify bird species as well as examples of bird calls.

Now it’s easier than ever to keep track of Audubon events, information and updates by following their Twitter feed: @audubonsociety. If you want more, you can also connect with other enthusiasts on the National Audubon Society’s facebook page. Be part of the conversation or sit back and be informed. 

Their ultimate goal is to connect people with similar interests to the beautiful world around them. “This isn’t your grandmother’s Audubon anymore,” says Audubon President, David Yarnold.1

*Logo courtesy of

1 NPR’s Marketplace


More posts from this series:
Winter Classic: Save!
GAP’s Branding Blunder
Success in China: KFC
Coffee, Wii Bowling, Yoga and…Banking?

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