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Monthly archives "October 2012"

Home Depot Helps in the Sand(y) Box

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Hurricane, Superstorm, Frankenstorm. Whatever you call it, Hurricane Sandy is taking the East Coast by surprise. The is the biggest storm that this portion of America has seen since 1820. And who is there to help when others are running away? Home Depot.home-depot-logo

Home Depot has done a great job of marketing itself as a sort of storm headquarters. They are able to make supplies available such as batteries, generators, flashlights, chain saws, and the like, when others cannot. When Hurricane Irene came around the Home Depot increased their quarterly sales by a full percentage point. By the looks of things, Home Depot’s sales will be through the roof once again.

According to an Ad Age article entitled, How Adland Is Weathering Hurricane Sandy, Home Depot had this comment:

“Our goal is to be the last to close and the first to open. We stay open as long as we can, as long as it is safe for our associates to be there,” said Meghan King, a spokeswoman with Home Depot. “On the other hand, many stores have extended their hours to serve customers as long as possible. Hurricane planning is a year-round exercise for us, so our operations, merchandising and store teams know what to do and when to do it,” Ms. King added.

Home Depot has not only performed well at the retail level but they have also created their own hurricane command center. Doug Spiron, Captain of the Home Depot Command Center, said they are open 24/7 preparing for the storm. They have adequately supplied the stores in preparation for Hurricane Sandy and have trucks on hold to push more supplies into these areas. Watch the entire video interview with Doug here: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1932487849001/

When Home Depot is there, rooted in these areas that are desperate for supplies, customers will remember. They will remember Home Depot’s far-reaching social responsibility. Companies such as this that are good corporate citizens create lasting relationships with the communities in which they reside. Home Depot has done this and continues to do this in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

Home Depot is a great example of how a solid marketing plan and dedication to social responsibility can not only be good for the public but also good for the corporate brand. They know that if you need help you will look for the infamous orange aprons.

What other companies have you seen that are taking a similar approach?

Kaizen for Your Goals Part 3: Wake Up and Smell the Cheese!

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Are you in a cheese-less situation? Although the critically acclaimed book “Who Moved My Cheese?”
who_moved_my_cheeseby Spencer Johnson, MD has been out since 1998, I finally read it yesterday. Yes, in one day. The book is only about 94 pages long and the type is large. It is by far the quickest read I have done since I was a young boy. Nevertheless it gives you a great understanding of what is important not only at work but in life.

The book outlines four characters: Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw. Without describing each of the characters you get the idea of where it is going. It is a story that seems more like a child’s fable than a lesson on managing change. Whether you admit it or not, everyone is one of these four characters in regards to dealing with change at work. By cheese Johnson means anything you want or have in life in regards to your level of comfort and status. Dr. Johnson outlines 7 key points in this story in regards to change.

  1. Change Happens They Keep Moving The Cheese
  2. Anticipate Change Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
  3. Monitor Change Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
  4. Adapt To Change Quickly The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
  5. Change Move With The Cheese
  6. Enjoy Change! Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
  7. Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again They Keep Moving The Cheese.

Out of all seven key points what is the common denominator? Change. Change happens, and we need to know how to deal with it and how to evolve. Change is not always evident so you must have a keen eye. In fact, you may be the one that needs to initiate the change. So let us start now. Read the book. Change your way of thinking to understand how you deal with change and how you need to improve. Change is not always easy but it is ultimately good even if it may not be evident immediately. As we all know, nothing ever stays the same.

Kaizen focuses on continual change for the better. My series, Kaizen For Your Goals, is about continually improving yourself. You can only do this with positive change. Sniff it out and don’t let your cheese get moldy.

How will you improve yourself to better deal with change?

This is Kaizen for your goals – continuous improvement.

Kaizen is about continuous improvement. Japanese automakers used this process to improve processes created by American automakers to steal market share. Now I have created a series entitled Kaizen for Your Goals. It’s about continually improving yourself to make your goals a reality quicker and more effectively. Small steps now = big results later.

Brad Pitt for Chanel No.5 – Revolutionary

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45.8 Million. That is the number of web pages that points to the Google search term “brad pitt chanel commercial.” Take off the term
chanel-no-5‘commercial’ and there are 82.5 million web pages. The Huffington Post says “There’s nothing you can’t sell with a black-and-white Brad Pitt talking nonsense in front of a neutral background.” SNL spoofed it the same week it came out. Conan O’Brien is talking about it on his show. I come home from work and there are talking about it on Extra. Does that sound really that bad?

Sure I admit that Pitt may come off as a little out of it, aloof, and generally not entertaining. However the television ad is not meant for me. It is meant for the woman who wears Chanel No.5 and the women who will hopefully want to wear Chanel No.5. It is a deeper commercial actually talking to a bottle of perfume and not a person. You have to think a little bit in watching the commercial and that is hard for some people. They are staying extremely focused on their brand message. In today’s society so many people are focused on reality television filled with drama, a lack of story, and in the end leaves you hoping for more. Chanel is not focused on this subset. Chanel is focused on the woman who will wear Chanel and appreciates some of the finer things in life.

Being the first male spokesperson for this brand was a huge transition for Chanel who has previously used the likes of Marilyn Monroe. For Chanel to spend $7 million on Brad Pitt they needed to make it worth their while. Why not make it something memorable? Few commercials outside of the Superbowl make headlines like this commercial has.

From a public relations standpoint, the public is not saying anything negative about Chanel No.5. They are making fun of the way Brad Pitt acts in the commercial. However, in all instances they ARE talking about Chanel No.5. Isn’t that the goal? Talk about their commercials has exploded virally. Over the years everyone has heard the saying ‘no publicity is bad publicity’.  And it is no more true than in this case. Will this commercial make you buy Chanel No.5? Maybe not. Will this commercial make you aware of Chanel No.5? Definitely.

Imagine coming up with the idea to film this commercial. After all it is more like a film. Black and white sets the tone. It separates it from other commercials. ‘Don’t blend in’ is on the whiteboard. Money in the budget is limited for worldwide exposure. Buy less media, add Brad Pitt. Done. He is a man so you have to be strategic in the message. Have an abstract story that few will understand and everyone will question. Make it so the viewer wants to watch it a few more times to try to understand it. Make it so that when they watch the commercial it would be better placed in a fine art gallery than on TV. Now you have done it. You have something different. The world questions different. The best things are different.

Where Do Great Ideas Come From?

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Do you ever catch yourself asking someone “How did you think of that?” We all have. It is always a great question because it helps you understand how people think – if they answer it honestly. Although, most of the time the answer is “it just came to me.”lightbulb

So how did they think of that great idea? I have gathered 5 eye-opening points that have helped me stay creative over the years.

  1. Diversify yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone. If you only watch sports, try watching a chick flick. If you go home every day after work, take up a hobby or two. If you make a ham sandwich for lunch everyday, go out. You get the idea. The key is that you need to keep yourself diversified. Try as many different things as you can. Take beer for example. You like to enjoy an ice-cold beer on a Friday night, right? You have choices. Instead of going home and pulling another cold one from the fridge you could go to the corner brewery. You could also dress up a little and go to Cliff Bell’s and listen to some great jazz while enjoying that brew or an old-fashioned. When you diversify yourself you open your eyes to things you may not normally think of or pay attention to. Anything can spark an idea. If you do the same things every day you are stuck in one target market that you may never be trying to appeal to. In turn, the ideas that you come up with may only appeal to your specific market and not necessarily the target market you are shooting for.
  2. Go outside. When is the last time you took a walk around the block or a bike ride? It seems really simple but it opens your mind. Just sitting at your desk does not always cut it. Sights, sounds, textures, and the like spark things in your mind. Have you ever heard of the American Family Life Assurance Company? Not unless I said AFLAC. In one of my graduate branding courses we learned the story of the AFLAC duck. How did they come up with that idea? The creatives at Kaplan Thaler went to lunch in an outdoor patio. They saw a duck. They kept repeating the word AFLAC. It started to sound like a duck. The rest is history. After they spent countless hours of brainstorming, all it took was them to take a walk outside and go to lunch. Go outside.
  3. Research other industries.  If you are in automotive do not just look for other ideas in the automotive circles. Look at the ideas that are being developed in other industries and see how it can relate your own. I am by no means telling you to steal someone’s idea. What I am telling you is to see how you can learn from it and potentially apply it to something else. You can always learn from others. The day you stop learning is the day you have failed yourself.
  4. Keep notes. I have probably lost more good ideas than I could ever remember. The problem is that I did not write them down. Type it, write it, scribble it, draw it, whatever works. Just get it down on paper. Even though the idea may not be the best idea now it may spark something else or you may see it in a different light later.  A good friend of mine was stuck in traffic a couple of months ago and out of nowhere came up with one of the best ideas I have heard in quite a while, a real game changer. By the time he was out of the backup he had already written down page after page of notes in an old notebook he kept for that very purpose. Don’t let the ideas slip away.
  5. Listen. Whether it is a story, a newscast,  or your spouse, yes your spouse, listen. I like to bounce ideas off my friends too. Listen to what they have to say. There is always something that you may not have thought of or an angle you have never ventured toward before. Everyone’s mind works differently. Listening is what helps fine tune your idea from what would be very good to something remarkable.

Reflect on these points from time to time. Stay hungry. Keep your mind sharp. That next great idea is just around the corner. What else do you do to keep your creative side fulfilled?

If you tweet it, they will read it.

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Is your social media coordinator qualified to speak for your brand? Have you ever actually thought about it?

1030887_53077079Social networking has been one of the number one things companies and ad agencies are focusing on today. Nearly everything is digital and has to happen now. This isn’t a bad thing, it just opens up to a new type of thinking. We need to remember that social networking is no longer just an add-on. It is a very large part of your company. Anything that is posted via social media from your corporate account represents your company. It is the quickest way to talk to your fan base.

If you tweet it, they will read it. Really think about that. We need to choose wisely when allowing someone to run your social media accounts. They speak for the entire brand. I cannot stress that enough. The reason I am focusing on this so much is because of a few recent instances of social media neglect. This neglect leads to a whole lot of crisis management. Here are two examples:

  1. Kitchenaid’s presidential election woes. The perpetweeter, person who tweets for a company and commits a social crime,  thought they were logged into their own personal profile. They were wrong. Logged into the company account, they continue on a derogatory rant about President Obama tagging #nbcpolitics via @KitchenAidUSA. Read the entire story here. This is where you must separate work and home life. Up until this point it seems as if a majority of social media is being updated by lower level coordinators instead of strategic thinkers. Although Kitchenaid did a good job cleaning up this mess, it was tweeted and it was read.
  2. Kim Kardashian inspired “Aurora” dress from Celeb Boutique. The shooting in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of the Batman movie “Dark Knight Rises” was a horrible tragedy. The perpetweeter updating the Celeb Boutique twitter profile had no idea what had happened. They saw ‘Aurora’ as a trending topic and without looking into it further tweeted about the Kim Kardashian inspired Aurora dress. Read the entire story here. Before you make comments that can affect an entire company you must at least do a small amount of background research. It was tweeted and it was read.

With our evolving digital landscape there needs to be someone highly qualified sending out the tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and anything else that touches your target audience. You should treat this as carefully as you would treat a press release or press conference. Just because a person has a Facebook profile doesn’t make them a social media guru. It doesn’t matter what age the person running your social media is. All that matters is the experience that they have and the intimate understanding of your business and industry. Do your research and select a qualified person(s) to update your social accounts. Make sure this person understands your brand and maintains the professionalism your brand deserves. The time to act on this is before something happens.

What steps will you take to make sure your social media coordinator is qualified?

Kaizen for Your Goals, Part 2: Network to Win

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How would you like to go through your entire career and never have a resume? It’s really something to think about. Creating a resume is tough. Everyone has been through it. You sit down and try to put everything you ever did on paper and hope that it stands out to a hiring manager. But does it really matter, and how much emphasis should be put on networking?

At a recent Adcraft Club of Detroit party, I was sitting and striking up a conversation with a Sales Director, let’s call him Rick, I had met once before on a Detroit River cruise for a similar function. Since the party was starting out slow I struck up a conversation with him on his career, because, to me, knowing how somebody got where they are is priceless to my own growth. Anyways, Rick told me the most valuable thing you can ever do for your career is network. “Networking,” he said, “is about making personal connections.” Without the personal connection you are just another name on a piece of paper.

He went on to explain to me that, fail his first job, he never had a resume. He networked. Not just through networking events but through other means as well. Rick would find someone who was doing something that really interested him, an innovator. He would contact that innovator and ask to buy him/her a cup of coffee. “I haven’t been turned down yet,” he said. “Don’t burn any bridges,” Rick said later. The industry in much too small and tight-knit to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth. It’s not that you will run into them in a future position it’s that you won’t be able to find a future position. Word travels fast. It’s important to keep a positive attitude at work and treat everyone with equal respect.

Here’s a few things to do to improve your networking skills:

  1. Research the people you want to talk to. For this you have to be creative. Follow their social networking accounts, if any. Get familiar with their work. Read overviews of presentations they have given. Find out as much as you can about them. They will realize that you are resourceful, smart, and driven. You may also be able to make some personal connections by reviewing these kinds of information and that always helps in the process.
  2. Know what questions you want answered. Don’t just assume they will give you all the information you want once you start talking. Obviously you want to let the conversation flow. It should be that, a conversation. Don’t have your questions come off like a firing line. If you run out of time now you have another reason to follow up. And respect their time. If they give you 15 minutes, don’t overstay your welcome.
  3. Know your story. Have a quick 15-30 second overview on your background ready. Don’t bore them with the details but when someone asks what you do be prepared with a solid story. This is something you should practice and have ready, your own elevator speech.
  4. Put yourself out there by scheduling your ‘coffee dates’, attending industry events, volunteering, and following up. The key is to network in as many ways as you can. Schedule the coffee dates as Rick suggests. Attend industry events and get involved in those groups. Also, don’t forget to follow up. Personally, I think handwritten notes are best.

If you are really interested in learning more about this topic I recommend a book by Pete Leibman entitled I Got My Dream Job and So Can You. What else do you recommend is important in networking?

This is Kaizen for your goals – continuous improvement.

Kaizen is about continuous improvement. Japanese automakers used this process to improve processes created by American automakers to steal market share. Now I have created a series entitled Kaizen for Your Goals. It’s about continually improving yourself to make your goals a reality quicker and more effectively. Small steps now = big results later.

Be Remarkable: Read Purple Cow

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Lately I have been more into books on CD for a couple of reasons. One, I like to continually learn new things. And two, listening to a CD in your car is much easier than trying to set aside the time to read when I get home from work. The last book I listened to was Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. It’s a quick read/listen but really gets you to think about different ways to do things.

Godin opens by telling a story of driving through the French countryside. While driving he see’s cows roaming mile after beautiful mile. But after a little while he grew very tired of looking at basically the same cows and landscape. Then he points out, if he were to see a purple cow, that would be remarkable. Being different and standing out from the herd of other ‘cows’ in your market is something a lot of us are trying to achieve.

pc1Godin points out that you don’t need to market to everyone – something that many companies try to do. In fact, no brand can be all things to all people. He says to focus the product and the marketing on are what he calls the ‘Sneezers.’ Sneezers are the first adopters that jump on board with a product early. Focusing on them and getting them what they need should be of the utmost importance. The Sneezers will then greatly help market the product for you through word-of-mouth and the like. However, for the Sneezers to latch on to your product and for it to do well, it must be remarkable.

Otaku. You may have never heard the word before. Godin describes it as “…a Japanese word that describes something that’s more than a hobby but a little less than an obsession.” Some may have a food otaku. It is what makes you drive to Corktown in Detroit for barbecue at Slow’s when there are over 110 other barbecue joints closer. Otaku is what makes you drive to Toledo for a hot dog from Tony Packo’s when you could just pick up one walking out of Home Depot. Everyone has an Otaku for something. Otaku makes you strive for the remarkable.

The largest takeaway I took from this book is that if it’s not remarkable it’s not worth doing. What would be the point of doing something just mediocre? Why do you think something that everybody else is doing would also work for you? It may work for a time but it won’t increase sales much, nor will it differentiate yourself from the competition. Find your Otaku. And as we all know, there are always new competitors trying to steal a portion of your market share. Being different is the best thing we can do. Incremental differences don’t count.

The end of the book sums its up best with Godin’s 4 main takeaways:

  1. Don’t be boring. Don’t blend in, stand out. This book is about being remarkable. Do it.
  2. Safe is risky. Playing it safe can be a recipe for disaster.  As mentioned, focus on the Sneezers and not the population. To get a product off the ground you must focus all of your efforts on the people who will use your product first. They will push along the ideas to the masses.  If you don’t get the attention of the Sneezers you’ve lost your investment.
  3. Design rules now. Design of a product should come before marketing. Let the designers have almost free reign. For the product to be remarkable, the design must be kept close and not diluted. The product needs to be unique to be remarkable.
  4. Very good is bad. Very good is not enough to be great. If you are very good you’ve missed the mark. We are shooting for excellence. Make it remarkable, not just very good.

To me this little book was a nice change of pace. Although I gave you a summary already, I highly recommend reading the book yourself. As I was going through it I found myself not only paying close attention to the ideas that Godin presents but also getting lost in my own thoughts. I think that is something that can’t be recreated unless you read it yourself. After all, who doesn’t want to be remarkable?

Kaizen for Your Goals, Part 1: Fashion Matters for Men at Work

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Kaizen is about continuous improvement. Japanese automakers used this process to improve processes and most notably to steal market share from American automakers. Now I have created a series entitle Kaizen for Your Goals. It’s about continually improving yourself to make your goals a reality quicker and more effectively. Small steps now = big results later. Part 1 starts now.

Fashion Matters for Men at Work

You are what you wear. It may sound like I’m judging a book by its cover but that is what the majority of people do. People inherently make judgments right away about what and who you are all about. I say “you” because you ARE judged daily. Here’s a story to get you thinking.

suitA Tailored Suit v. Cowboy Boots

A graphic designer friend of mine came to me last week and said “I felt so awkward on the elevator today.” He went on to explain that the owner of the company, let’s call him Tom, got on the elevator with him and the two of them took it the 7 floors down to street level. Tom was wearing an impeccably tailored suit, had finely polished Italian leather shows, and a fine timepiece. My friend happened to be going to a ball game after work and decided to wear jeans, a t-shirt, and cowboy boots to work that day.  You can imagine his embarrassment. It was rare that he would run into Tom, let alone have solid time with just him in the elevator. You see, as much as we think it will save time to just wear “going out” clothes to work, it can be a very costly mistake for your future.

Look Better = Get Rewarded

When you look better, you feel more confident. When you feel more confident, you perform better. When you perform better, you get noticed. When you get noticed, you get rewarded.

I pride myself on how I dress. I started wearing ties to work because nobody else in my office was doing it anymore. Slowly more male co-workers started wearing more ties. To me I think of everyday as an interview. I always want to perform at the top of my skill level because you never know what may be presented to you in the moment. Dressing well increases your confidence. And don’t think people don’t notice. I was once sitting in a meeting and the Vice President called me out by saying, “Don always dresses well. He is a fine representation of the company.” Always dressing well assisted my efforts to shape the marketing the organization. I felt confident in what I was wearing and they, in turn, felt confident in me. Taking from the Vice President’s words, what you wear represents your company. I wouldn’t expect a clerk at my favorite surf shop in Hawaii to wear a suit. So dress for the environment but if you question it, it’s better to dress up than down.

It’s all in the Details

You don’t need to wear a tie or a dress to get noticed at work. What you should consider is to add details. Why do you think tie bars have become so popular among males again? Females have lots of options for accessories but males have let this slip over the years. Metro-sexual is a term that people have come up with for guys that actually care how they look. I don’t think it’s the correct term because it’s all part of being a gentleman. Focus on life’s details and pick up a copy of How to be a Gentlemen. I picked it up at Brooks Brothers over the summer and I highly recommend it. One or two nice details in your style makes a $10 shirt look like a thousand bucks. I am not a style expert by any sense of the term but I do suggest you find what suits your style and make it work, at work. How to be a Gentlemen doesn’t just focus on style but the total package. In the end, these details matter and its all part of the incremental approach to better yourself.

You ARE judged daily, as I said before. Think of each day like its your first day on the job. Read that last sentence again. And, the next time you think that you don’t need to do your hair or take the extra few minutes to press your shirt, think again. Everything matters down to the detail. Nobody is perfect but there is always something one can do to better his/herself. This is Kaizen for your goals – continuous improvement.

Do you have the drive to continually take small steps to make the most of your potential?