A must read ‘Away message marketing post’ about why you need to read my blog!

October 31, 2006          Comments (0)

If you have ever left an away message up, that is marketing. Intentionally or unintentionally it sends a signal to your buddies that see it (or that you are hoping see it).

Here’s why:

Would you ever leave an away message if no one was ever going to see it?

Of course not.

Essentially, you are marketing yourself and solidifying your personal brand. (Whether you realize it or not.)

Throughout college, I’ve seen some ridiculous away messages…

Away messages ranging from girls and guys reaching for attention ( I mean, reaching), rap lyrics, famous quotes, what that person is doing at that second, e.g., ‘On the phone with Rach!’

Hilarious stories, recaps of their prior night, what they intend to do that night and why, e.g., ‘Out getting obliterated b/c I finally finished my midterms, yayy!!’, bragging, promoting, selling stuff, complaining and mad, e.g., ‘Ughhh, stupid psychology, reading while everyone is out! Of course this only happens to me!’

Happy faces, sad faces and every face you can imagine (faces circa ’03 starting getting out of control), telling people why they have the best boyfriend or girlfriend in the world and how lucky they are, e.g., ‘Oh my God, I’m the luckiest girl in the world, Jonny bought me flowers!!!’

Why they hate their life at the moment, countdowns, e.g., ‘Only 874 days ‘till AcaLocooo!!!’, tragedies, mishaps, self-promoting, favorites of anything, e.g., ‘Loveee the O.C., it’s my most favorite show in the world!’, links to new pictures (every day), recommendations, badmouthing, trash talking.

How great their life is, e.g., ‘Our Tuesday night is your spring break!’, (Okay Arizona students, we got it, your school is so sick that you are constantly putting up away messages letting us all know how great it is).

What they want you to do, e.g., ‘Away, call me!’, (“Ya know, I totally forgot about phones, thanks for reminding me!”), and so many priceless away messages I’m still missing.

I always believed your away message shows people who you are deep down. In college there aren’t many times when you are alone. But, right before you put that message up your sitting at your desk all alone, thinking to yourself. And Bam! you put it up. Those few seconds, or minutes to some, really project who you are to your buddy list world.

How many times have you put an away message up so freakin’ excited to see the replies you get from it? How many times did you say, “Wow, that’s going to be a sick away message!”? How many times did you say, “Yo, did you see so and so’s away message?!?!”

A lame, boring person is just going to resort to the typical ‘Default Away Message.’ A creative person will do anything in their power to not resort to the ‘Default Away Message.’

They’ll listen to a song if they have to and pick out a quote, even if they have no idea what it means, e.g., ‘I saw ya motha and she said, “What?” so I popped her’ – Jay Z. As long as you have the famous rapper afterwards, it’s okay. “ No, no, Jay-Z said it, it’s cool!”

An enterprising person is constantly selling something, a funny person is constantly putting up great stories, a person craving attention is constantly putting up new pictures, and the list goes on and on.

It’s all part of your personal brand. It’s how others view you. How your coworkers view you.

So, if you are wondering why you need to know about marketing and read my blog, here’s why:

Every little thing you do has an impact on your personal brand. And everyone wants a strong personal brand. (At least, I hope so!)

Whatever you do in life speaks of your personal brand. People spend countless hours trying to maintain the image they want people to see. My definition of personal brand is simple.

When someone says your name what’s the first thing they will say about you? What comes to their mind when they think about YOU?

The stronger the brand, the more slips ups you can incur. But sooner or later, you’ve all heard the saying, “If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck!”

Just remember that.

I want you to be the best brand (and person) you can possibly be. Because nothing is more important than your own personal brand!

Now you can totally agree or disagree with me but…

I gtg, so I’ll ttyl. 🙂

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Why did you really buy that?

October 26, 2006          Comments (3)

I decided to buy a costume for my bulldog. Harvey doesn’t celebrate Halloween. In fact, he has no idea what Halloween is.

Harvey didn’t even get to choose his costume. I chose it.

Harvey is a little mad at me. He’s embarrassed.

Of course, the costume isn’t for him. It’s for me. And the people around me who will fall on the floor laughing.

Pet accessories have become a multi-billion dollar industry. Our pets could care less what they are wearing. You think our pets know real cashmere when they feel it?

I doubt it.

Turns out we buy many things, including things for our pets, because of how we want others to see us.

Or it could be you have a great sense of humor.

I digress.

You’d buy your dog simple clothes that cost $10, not $85.

That’s marketing at work.

Good boy Harvey. Good boy!

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The million dollar question?

October 24, 2006          Comments (3)

I asked my friend the other day if he would sit in a closet from 8AM – 6PM, every day, starting now until he was 55 years old.

Here’s the catch.

His pay would be $1,000,000 per year.

He replied with an overwhelmingly enthusiastic, “Yes!”

If you answered yes, maybe you should be a stripper. Or do something that makes a ton of money. Do anything, as long as you make a lot of money. Money is all that matters.

Who needs meaning in what they do? You might as well hate what you do, make all the money in the world and dread going to work. We all live more than once.

So, I ask you, one million boxes of ziti to sit in a closet…

Deal or no deal?

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Everyone loves a good bargain!

October 19, 2006          Comments (4)

I’m back in Delaware this week. Two weeks in Wilmington, Inc, is a long time. Thankfully, my team likes to explore.

We wound up in a $1 dollar store. It wasn’t just any old dollar store. It was the most well run, clean dollar store I’ve ever been in. You wouldn’t know it was a $1 store if they ripped down all the signs. That’s how nice it is.

A well run $1 store’s profit margins must be astronomical. Let’s say they buy the average item for 30 cents, which is very high, their margins are 70%. They certainly had the volume.

This store also had brand names. Brand names! Between their foods, toothpaste, towels; they had a lot of recognizable names. I was amazed at how cheap everything was. Being in a place like this could be costly. Everything looked so great.

The power of a good bargain!

I started questioning if I needed a pizza cutter. I began contemplating whether I needed new forks and knives for my kitchen. Ooh, “I could use an oven mit.” “Look at that, a can of Doritos.” That’s right, a can of ‘em! “You know what, I could really use a new soap holder…”

“It’s only a dollar how can I not buy it?”

A girl on my team spent $34. She bought 34 items at this store!?! I was flabbergasted. My other team member spent $16 on the most useless things. He won’t use a single thing he bought. I’ll bet you a dollar.

This store appeared as if it were a regular store with every product someone could ever need.

How much more are we actually paying for a brand name? 60% of generic brands are manufactured in the same factories that are making the ‘known’ brand name items.

Is the baby powder that soothing? Are the hot dog buns not made with the same flour? Are the chocolate bars made that differently? Are the chemicals that different in the generic laundry detergent?

The large manufacturing companies figure they might as well under cut themselves. They’ll make their products for the big guys and then make the same exact product with a different label for the generics. If they don’t do it, someone else will. Private labeling has become a huge business for these companies.

The name brands were in this store because they couldn’t sell elsewhere. Whether it was a misprinted label or a huge over shipment, regardless, they made it to the product pawn shop. We buy your junk and sell it for a 60-95% premium.

“Everyone’s trash is someone else’s treasure,” which reminds me of Ebay.

Why don’t we feel as good about a product when we only pay a $1 for it? “Something has to be wrong with it.” “It won’t last.” “You get what you pay for.” “It’s definitely spoiled.” These are all thoughts that go through our minds.

These are the ideas that marketers try to instill in us. And have, so effectively. When we buy certain brands, we aren’t just buying the product.

We are buying the religion, we are buying the idea, we are buying the coolness factor, we are buying the founder, we are buying the status, we are buying the commercial, we are buying the lifestyle, we are buying the ‘quality’; ultimately, we are buying what makes us feel good.

We pay a lot of money to buy a laundry detergent that’s been on TV 13,902,432,493,093 times. You could also pay $1 for a pair of sweatpants that came off the same assembly line as Juicy Couture. Clearly, that wouldn’t feel as good.

We believe if it’s been advertised on TV it has to be a good product. If it’s expensive it has to be good. If celebrities are wearing it then I want it too. It makes us feel good inside.

Companies like Proctor & Gamble and Unilever have done a magnificent job convincing us that it’s worth 300% more, to buy Tide as opposed to buying the generic brand.

Maybe it’s how we grew up. Most people buy things based on emotions as opposed to rational thinking. Emotionally, it feels good to buy a recognizable brand for many intrinsic reasons. Rationally, you know you can buy the same exact thing for $4 or $150 less.

It’s amazing to observe the two different extremes; lack of self control in buying expensive items and in buying cheap items.

So what did I buy?

I only bought two things.

An umbrella and holiday cards.

The holiday cards look and feel exactly as a normal card does. I searched to find a mistake. No mistakes were to be found.

It came 12 cards in a box for a buck.

That comes out to 8.3 cents per card.

It’s the thought that counts though, right?

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It really can work to your advantage!

October 15, 2006          Comments (2)

Once you can’t make fun of yourself, it’s over!

Love yourself by laughing at yourself. You still got it. It’s okay. No one thinks any less of you.

I just saw a brilliant commercial. Literally, 3 minutes ago.

If you haven’t seen the Head On commercial then you won’t appreciate this post, as much.

Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead.

That’s the commercial. It’s a person applying ‘Head On’ directly to her forehead as you hear, ‘Head On apply directly to your forehead,’ 4 times, at least.

The first time I saw this commercial I thought it was very dumb. I really was amazed that some ad agency made this commercial. I was more fascinated that the CEO of this Head On company gave the okay.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall for some company meetings with their ad agencies.

The CEO and his team are sitting in a board room and they are all pumped and ready to launch their national television campaign. They are just waiting on their ad agency to present the final commercial.

The ad agency walks in and shows them the commercial and the CEO gets up and says, “Yep, that’s it. That is how my life’s work should be represented. You hit it right on the head! We won’t even tell our audience what our product does, I love it!”

I really don’t understand how some commercials make it to TV.

I saw the same commercial 30 seconds later. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead.

I was floored. What the kind of commercial is this!?!?

I saw it for a third time. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead.

This is insane. How can this really be their commercial, it has to be a joke.

Then it hit me. It’s genius. It’s so dumb, irritating and annoying that I remembered it. It made me stop what I was doing and pay attention to the commercial.

Every time I was with people and saw the commercial, I’d always remark at how dumb it was. I couldn’t get over it.

This commercial was actually getting me to talk about it. Wow!

I saw just saw the same commercial. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. And then…

This girl comes on the screen saying, in a mocking way, “Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. Head On apply directly to your forehead. I hate your commercial but I love your product!”

First, they were able to get me to talk about it.
Then, they followed their own brilliant commercial, with an even better commercial; mocking their own commercial!

I’d like to hope the ad agency had this all planned out. Even if they didn’t, they totally capitalized, on a commercial that made people talk.

This is a great example of interruption marketing!

Am I right Seth?

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Play like you’re in College.

October 10, 2006          Comments (7)

Hi! I’m in Delaware.

Wilmington, Delaware, Inc. to be exact. The incorporation capital of America.

I’m here on business with E&Y. I focus on the sexy world of hedge funds and private equity funds. It’s insane how much money gets thrown around. You should see the size of my hotel suite. It’s 4 times the size of my entire NYC apartment. And my apartment is not that small.

These hedge fund managers are getting paid millions of dollars. Often, for being wrong. What a gig. I don’t know many other jobs where you can make, not earn, so much money for not doing your job well. Weathermen can be wrong.

No matter how many times well-tanned, whiter than white teeth, Mr. Sam Champion is wrong; he’ll still have a job.

Most anti-preneurs seek job security. Everyone from teachers to doctors to truck drivers wants and demand job security. In fact, it’s a big deal when a professor or teacher gets their tenure. It’s customary to celebrate such an accomplishment.

But is job security really a good thing? There is a reason why college basketball is so much more exciting than the NBA.

I believe college athletes have something to prove. They are hungry, determined and are filled with a burning desire to get to that next level. They want to collect their pay day. They want it so badly that that treat every single play as if it were a tryout.

College basketball is what separates the men from the boys. Either they are going to play basketball professionally or not. They know NBA scouts are watching their every move with a microscope.

Once they make the NBA, they don’t have to worry. Something happens to 95% of all people. Whether it’s the guaranteed contract for $100 million for 6 years or a guaranteed contract for $75k for one year; the same thing happens.

I think complacency and the ‘it doesn’t matter’ attitude happen. I’ll still get paid, I’ll still have a job and I’ll still have health insurance and benefits whether I put the pedal to the metal or not.

Job security is a license to get lazy. It means you don’t have to treat every single day as it were a tryout.

What if your paycheck always depended on your performance whether you were the CEO or the janitor?

If you owned a company would you rather have salaried or performance based employees?

This world would be very different.

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Ask nicely.

October 6, 2006          Comments (2)

I just had Ruby Foo’s for lunch and it was great. I couldn’t believe how crowded it was.

What impressed me most; happened at the end of the meal, though. Our very attentive waiter thanked us all. He then, explained to us what he was handing out. It was a comment and suggestion card.

It also had space for my name, phone number and email address to receive their newsletter and invitations to special events.

Now, email marketing and comment/suggestions cards are nothing new. In fact, most businesses have some sort of email marketing campaign and a way to receive feedback and ideas. If you don’t, you should!

What was amazing to me was how the waiter presented it. He said, “We really value your comments and suggestions and would love for all of you to sign up to receive our specials more so than leaving a great tip!”

More so than leaving a great tip. Wow!

What a team player. The information he is collecting is extremely valuable to the company. They are going to have all of their past and current customer’s information. When they open a new restaurant or want to run a special they’ll have a list of people who already love their product. No way better to market.

Clearly, this waiter wants as high a tip as possible. Who doesn’t? But, for the company to demand that the waiters collect this information and present it in such a way is remarkable. And for the waiter to actually ask in such a genuine way is even rarer.

How many times have you seen comment and suggestion cards just passed out, included with the check or sitting next to the register? So many times; you don’t even remember or pay attention. When was the last time you actually filled one out?

Not in a long time.

Now, imagine the owner, waiter, cashier actually asking you to fill out the card and telling you how important it is to them, in a sincere, nice way.

If you want something just ask. Nicely and sincerely.

Imagine all of that useful data.

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Are you really living your mission?

October 4, 2006          Comments (0)

I go to the gym at least 4 x per week. I make it my business. Some of my best brainstorming sessions occur while I’m running on the treadmill. In fact, I try to run at least twice per week in the morning and then lift weights 4 x per week. It’s safe to say I am there often.

I’ve noticed there are two types of people that go the gym:

The experienced, determined and disciplined who want to get in and out and do their thing. They have fitness goals and take their health very seriously. Going to the gym is a way of life for them.

Or the inexperienced, lazy and weak who set a New Year’s Eve goal to lose weight, exercise more or get to the gym x amount of times per week. Their doctor either told them to go, they’ve gained a lot of weight, they are always tired or they don’t feel great in their own skin.

Either way, these two types of people are getting to the gym. Bravo.

My gym, and every gym in the world, prides itself on helping people achieve their fitness dreams. In today’s rapid world people want to lose weight now! It is very difficult to eat a healthy, balanced diet when working so much.

Billions of dollars are made each year selling ‘miracle diet pills’ to desperate, lazy and hopeless people. It’s not that hard to lose weight. It takes discipline, determination and will. Anything is possible. Set goals for yourself. This post isn’t about dieting and exercising, though.

My gym, which I happen to absolutely love, was just renovated and it looks incredible. For the price I pay, it really can’t be beat in NYC. As they invested money into the appearance and machinery of the gym, they are constantly marketing and inviting people for a free trial. Smart.

But, there are signs all over the gym stating how they want to help their members lose weight and achieve their fitness goals. Their business is helping people realize their fitness and health dreams.

Selling hope is a big business. Selling the potential to feel better and look better is even bigger. Revlon doesn’t sell makeup. They sell hope. People always want to buy things that will make them feel and look better.

But don’t make a point of stating it all over the gym.

Here’s why. The people who have no discipline at all have to walk past a snack machine with the most delicious, unhealthy, artery clogging candy possible. It’s directly centered in the lobby of the gym. Every person has to salivate before their workout.

How much do they really want their customers to lose weight? They are not only sabotaging some members but they are also going against their mission. All to make a few extra bucks, while appearing very cheap and tacky. Is that worth it?

What the heck does a mission even mean?

It states what you are in business for and how you are going to do it. Every morning your mission should get you excited to go to work. All of your decisions, business processes and ideas should be aligned with your mission.

They could easily fill the candy machine with protein bars and no one would have to be tempted to buy junk food. Or better yet, they should just not have a candy machine.

If you set out to build the most high-quality, superior computers in the world don’t use cheap components. If you want to compete with Ferrari and set out to build the best performing sports car in the world don’t use cheap parts. If you want to go into business and your mission is to serve the best tasting ice cream in the world you must use the best ingredients in the world. If you want to help people lose weight and are going to offer incentives and host contests every month, don’t have snack machines!

Live and breathe your mission, with every aspect of your business. Don’t go against it. It detracts from your credibility. And in business (and life), that is everything. It’s not worth a few extra bucks.

Live and die by your mission and you will attain far greater levels of success than you can imagine.

Don’t compromise. Ever.

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