Comm 14 – Post #5 – The Brand of ‘Me’

My Personal Brand

I always hated those team-building sessions where you needed to talk about yourself and tell your best and worst qualities.  So, you can imagine that I approach this particular blog entry with some reluctance.  What are my best qualities?  (Deep breath…)  Well, I guess what frustrates me is that some of what I think are my best qualities are those ‘soft skills’ that so many out there in the business world look down upon … but here goes…  I think I’m a great listener.  Whether my client is ‘internal’ such as a boss or co-worker, or ‘external’ such as a customer, I feel I have a great ability to connect with them and sincerely try to understand the challenges they want to overcome.  Even if I veer off track, I feel like that initial chemistry I have developed with the client ensures their support since they feel that my efforts are clearly in line. 

Along with being a good listener, I’m an excellent communicator.  I am very responsive to client’s requests and questions and work to ensure that they are well aware of what is going on and what the status is of any particular project.  It’s difficult to measure these qualities, but many have commented on these traits as some of my best qualities.  Clients feel secure and cared for, even when the project is feeling out of control.  Some of the more measurable qualities would include the level of attention to detail that ensures that projects are carried out smoothly.  But, back to the soft skills, I’d have to add in sense of humour, sense of ownership and responsibility and an enthusiasm for work that is often contagious. 

Maybe the best thing I could say about myself is that I’d like to work with something like me!  

Comm 14 – Post #4 – Coffee Cult Goes Social

The first company that popped into mind as an excellent example of engaging their audience via social media is Starbucks. True that I am an avid Starbucks fan, so a tad biased, but in my B2C world, this is the business that sticks out. To begin with, they have a lovely app for my phone which happens to be an Android although I’m sure equally lovely on an iOS. It simplifies my life as a coffee consumer. Paying is as easy as showing my app from which Starbucks tracks my purchases. This is important because as a frequent purchaser, I have achieved gold level status. Why is this important to me? Well, there are perks including free refills in-store, ‘member’ promotions that are also tracked on my app so that I don’t have to deal with any silliness of printing coupons or even remember the promotion. I can also choose to upload the balance automatically or upon reaching a particular amount.

Their app is enhanced by email. Again, it is used to notify me of my current customer status and offers that apply. Thankfully, it’s not necessary to print any of their offers since they can easily be found through the app, in store when I need them. Their Facebook page has over 35 million likes. It features lovely photographs of their products and lots of comments by customers about feature products and flavours. They have also recently run a ‘white cup’ contest that seems to have had lots of feedback and again offered the opportunity for customer submitted photographs and comments. The ‘white cup’ contest has been carried through on Instagram as well, showcasing additional customer submitted photographs.

All in all, I think they make excellent use of imagery in a rather boring product category. (We are talking about coffee after all). They remain consistent with their high end brand look in all their social media outreach programs, lots of imagery and repetition and they’ve used a promotional campaign that fits nicely into this with enhanced visuals submitted by their customers no less.

I invite you to read more about the social media habits of Starbucks:

http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/6_ways_Starbucks_excels_at_social_media_marketing_13814.aspx

Comm 14 – Post #3 – Camping anyone?

ImageJust for fun, and because the season ‘tis upon us – I decided I wanted to connect with fellow family campers. Thus my target audience of choice. I’ve been a camper for about 25 years, half of those with children. My children love camping, but I must admit that my first years camping as a mom were anything but enjoyable. It’s a lot of work, and I’ve learned quite a bit over the years. I think that this is a group to which I could offer some insight and probably still learn a thing of two myself.

So, to connect to this group, I simply began by using ‘Google’ and searching the term ‘family camping’. This lead mostly to various businesses that offered products and services related to camping (gear, campgrounds, parks, rentals, etc.). I did go through a couple of these sites to see if they connected me elsewhere. Some did, however it seemed a roundabout way that consumed time and wasn’t really getting me where I wanted to go. So back I went to Google and tried a a new search: ‘family camping blogs’. This yielded far more interesting results. Several blogs seemed to hit the exact audience I also wanted to reach. As I perused these blogs, of course they lead me to Facebook pages that were of similar interest, group discussions, and product resources that also had discussion groups were another dimension.

One blog that I particularly liked was A Little Campy (The Campy Mom’s Guide to Family Camping). Not only did it prove to be a great resource, I loved the tone and approach of her writing – it embraced everything I love about camping: laid-back, humourous and reflections on ‘important stuff’ when out enjoying nature. Added to this particular blog was a ‘blog roll’ which of course lead me to other interesting sites and discussions.

Twitter proved less successful, or perhaps I wasn’t doing it right? Regardless of which hashtag I searched on, it resulted in a wide variety of discussions that ranged from teenagers getting into some interesting camping activity (?), to postings about taking dogs camping. The Twitter avenue looks to me as if it would be a lot more work for a less qualified audience.

Pinterest also looked as if it had some potential. The trick here seems to lie in honing in on what area of family camping was of interest. From recipes to family crafts or hikes, there was a wide variety of options.

Overall I feel like with a bit of effort it would be relatively easy to hook into this network and become entrenched with this audience. Other thoughts that came to me were other existing groups like KOA (highly valued camping network) and even Trip Advisor. I could contribute with many of these resources with some amateur photography, articles of interest on places my family has camped, hiking trails and even geo-caching.

Hmmm…I might have found a whole new project for the summer….

 

COMM 14 Blog Post #2 – My upside-down triangle…?

The inverted triangle approach undoubtedly works.  In this world of hyper-information

overload, we only have a nanosecond or two for anyone or anything.  You’d

better tell me what it is you want or need …and fast!  So put it

at the beginning and add to it if you

will. But remember that the

more you add may be

for your postulating

interests

only. 

I feel some bloggers are delusional when they write their blog, too quickly losing focus and rambling on in the hopes that their readers are right there with them. I was pleased to see that so many of the ideas and concepts presented this week were things that I do ‘naturally’.  My tendency has always been to be more conversational and less formal in my writing.  In the business marketing world, this can sometimes be a struggle.  Often a stiff, corporate tone is used to communicate and therefore overlooking the value of connecting with the people in the business to foster a mutually beneficial relationship. 

You may have a great technology, a great business and/or service model, but in the end we can’t forget that we are dealing with people.  And doesn’t everyone have a bad story about being treated like a number and not a person?  

COMM 0014 – Blog #1 – Making Memories

My last summer vacation was a family road trip with my husband and 3 daughters aged 14, 12, and 9.  Our goal is to always make memories for and with our kids, so family vacations are another step in that process.

First Stop:  Stowe

Our first stop was Stowe, Vermont where we spent 2 nights in a lovely little hotel with a covered bridge right on site.

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The covered bridge made for some great photo opps!

 

This made for great picture opportunities and lots of frog catching time.

Frog Catching

Hours spent ‘hunting’ for frogs!

It’s a beautiful town with spectacular mountain scenery and of course the ‘not-to-be-missed’ trip to Ben & Jerry’s for an ice cream treat!

 

On to Maine…

From Stowe we headed south on a 4+ hour scenic drive through the White Mountains, into the state of Maine where we reached our final destination, the KOA campground in Old Orchard Beach.  Sadly is was quite cold and raining hard, so after quickly setting up camp, we did some groceries and settled into our pj’s for a movie night in the trailer.

Old Orchard Beach was our base to explore the area.  There are lots of touristy things to see and do down by the ocean front and the pier.  And of course lots of tasty New England fare to be had at every turn.  We did as much as we could, including at least one picnic at the beach so the kids could swim in the cold Atlantic waves, a day trip to shop in Freeport, visited some quaint ocean-side villages, a day at a water park and plenty of walking around the pier.

 

 

Plus the KOA itself has lots of activities to keep everyone occupied.  And, since it was the July 4th weekend every evening saw fireworks.  Boy do they know how to celebrate with fireworks!  It seemed that we were in for a spectacular show no matter the night or where we turned.  The running joke became ‘are they done yet’?

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The Comfort of Familiarity

The final leg of our journey was renting a cottage with friends in northern Vermont.  This is a family tradition, having been doing it for over 10 years.  It was another spectacular drive through the White Mountains with lots of excited chatter in the van in anticipation of seeing our friends and the lake front.  My husband and I are also thrilled that this is a completely Wi-Fi free zone that will force the kids off the screen and into the great outdoors.

The next 2 weeks we spent with lots of paddling trips, swimming, fishing, good friends, food and wine.  The weather was great, but I even enjoy the sound of the rain on the cottage roof.

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Although only a year ago, it seems a fantastical memory.  Our hope is that these are the memories our kids will carry with them.  We are looking forward to  making more memories this summer when we set out on our next road trip to Boston.

What memories do you have vacationing as kid?