COM0014 – Blog #7: Stories Matter

I have been in a Marketing Communications role for the past 8 years, so I honestly wasn’t sure what I would be able to take away from this course that I didn’t think I already knew. While I may not have learned anything earth shattering, I am coming away with a reminder, and even a better understanding of the importance of storytelling. This can sometimes be lost when communicating in a digital space for a large global company, but the concept of storytelling is just as important there as it is with a small business or on a personal level.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Crafting a great story that will engage readers, regardless of whether the subject is a new product, an announcement for a new employee, or even a price increase is key in getting the message out in a manner which will keep the audiences attention to the end. A great communication will also help to gain, and maintain the trust of those we are reaching out to. Of course, it’s difficult to make a price increase notification personal, but I believe we can still use words that will show sincerity to our customers.

Knowing and understanding target audiences is a critical piece of the puzzle, and writing in a way that resonates with each of them is a key component to ensuring your message will be read with the intention that it was written.

Everyone has a story that deserves to be told. Sharing our corporate story in a way that highlights not only the product, but the people behind the product is how I like to approach communications. Yes, we are a multi million dollar company. Yes, we need to be technical in our communication at times, but we also have hundreds of years of collective experience among our workforce and the trick is to somehow blend all those things together to highlight the product, people and the personality of our business. People love to know about people, we’ve witnessed this in the analytics of our communications and as we plan for our 2023 digital strategy, this will be something I will be reminding our team about.

The beauty of digital marketing is that we have analytics available at our fingertips to view the success of our campaigns and can quickly pivot if we need to. Something that wasn’t easily done in the “Mad Men” days of marketing.

COM0014 – Blog #6: Becoming… A Work In Progress

Working at one of the top global electrical manufacturers definitely has its challenges. Keep in mind while reading my post that I am not a decision maker at my place of employment, I don’t even have anyone underneath me on our org chart so this viewpoint is from a 25 year employee who has “been around the block” within the organization (I mean that in the best way possible) and as a member of our 2 year old Digital Marketing Team.

We have been in business for over 100 years and have a lot of great things going for us. We are well known in the electrical industry and have, over the years, formed strong relationships with our distributor partners. Our employees have been around for a long time, many over 20 years and some approaching 40 years.

Like every business, we also have our challenges. In my opinion some of those strengths listed are also some of the biggest challenges we face as an organization. Our current position in our industry makes some of our leadership nervous to risk change. Our employees who have been with the company for 20+ years have the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” or “we’ve always done things this way” mentality.

The truth of the matter is, if we don’t continue to transform to a digital way of doing business, remain agile in our approach and challenge the status quo we are going to be left behind.

We can’t forget the DNA of our business, the people, the ethics and good business sense that got us where we are today. We know where we’ve been, who we are now and what we NEED to become.

This great quote from Michelle Obama says it perfectly:

“Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

– Michelle Obama, from Becoming

I know we are not alone in our struggle to evolve. It can be frustrating and challenging. It feels really great when we work hard and are recognized from industry peers for the progress we have made. Our leadership may have not been able to see the vision as clearly as we did, but we are gaining their trust and they are coming along with us on the journey.

COM0014 – Blog #5: My Personal Brand – Make It A Great Day!

COM0014 – Blog #5: My Personal Brand – Make It A Great Day!

Caring, determined, positive, approachable, personable, funny, creative, confident, professional, unflappable and selfless. Those are some of the words friends, family and co-workers used when I asked them what they thought my best trait was. I actually asked them what trait they felt I posses that helps me be successful. That’s really what personal branding is about after all. Painting a picture of yourself that makes others want to engage with you, whether in business or in your personal life. Of course nobody is perfect, we all have a character flaw or two. Mine are that I can be stubborn, emotional and occasionally dramatic. These “flaws” are just as important as strengths are to recognize in order to be able to put forth the best version of ourselves.

Photo by Alexas Fotos on

I feel what sets me apart from my competitors (in this case, my co-workers) is that I genuinely care about my image, the image of the company I work for and the organizations I represent. I value the people I work with and the outcome of every situation I am involved in. I have learned that everyone has a story that quite often isn’t shared and I choose to show people some grace during difficult times. Encouraging others to be the best versions of themselves and trying whenever possible to have the “glass half full” mindset

I try to make myself stand out in a non “in your face” type of way every day. Taking a few moments out of my day to check in with everyone on my team at work, offering to take on some extra work to help those that are struggling to keep up or helping troubleshoot if someone is finding they are hitting roadblocks in a project can really make a difference.

If I can impact just one person in a positive manner each day, then I consider the day a success.

COM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study – Gather

There is a cute little store in Bowmanville, Ontario that does a great job at B2C social marketing. You just need to take one look at Gather’s Facebook and Instagram pages to see that they definitely know who their target audience is. These two social channels are the only places online where Gather advertises and they have over 43,000 followers on both platforms combined. While I can’t see their entire following, I would bet money that it’s primarily women between the ages of 24 – 80.

Gather is owned by a woman, run by women, and is for women of all ages. They beautifully market themselves by sharing posts that are positive, uplifting, inspirational and authentic. They post numerous times each day starting with a feel good post that could be a funny quote or simply a picture of a beautiful sunrise. Throughout the day, you will see pictures of some of the items they sell. More often than not, they are showcasing clothing items on the women who work in the store, real women, not models. Each post comes with a beautiful description of the item, the price, the size ranges, how it fits and how it feels. It’s really like attending an online fashion show! Jewellery, soaps, candles, baby items and all the other beautiful products are shown in the same manner with descriptions so honest that you feel as though you’re holding it in your own hands. If you’re from out of town, or can’t get to their store they will mail your purchase to you, or personally deliver it if you’re in the area. Great marketing AND great customer service!

Photos from Gather on Facebook

The approach that Gather uses for their social advertising really makes me feel like I’m part of a large friend group of 43,000 who shop together.

And for those of us who really don’t love shopping, this company provides an online space that makes me want to physically pay them a visit and experience the warmth for myself. When you step into their store, it feels like you already know everyone and they make you feel like you’re part of the Gather family.

“We love to gather good things for you ❤️❤️❤️” – Gather Instagram Page

Calling All Shower Singers!

Calling All Shower Singers!

Have you ever heard of Sweet Adelines? How about barbershop singing? Neither had I until I joined a local chorus in 2009 after being invited by a co-worker at a team building “Rock Band” video game night.

Sweet Adelines International is a global organization which, at one point, had over 25,000 women singers worldwide. Unfortunately, COVID has reduced those number greatly, leaving many choruses with the task of increasing their membership just to meet the minimum number of singers required to remain part of the organization.

When planning a campaign, do we re-target the same audience from 70 years ago when Sweet Adelines was originated? These two images below show the difference between then and now. What changes do you see?

To determine the demographics and psychographics for our target audience, I looked at our current membership and built the demographic profile below::

  • Women
  • Ages 18 +
  • Music lovers
  • Wide range of ethnic backgrounds
  • Mom, wives, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, friends
  • Household engineers (stay at home moms), teachers, students, nurses, top corporate executives and everything in between
  • Married, single, divorced or widowed.
  • All ranges of income
  • Love to sing but do not always have a strong knowledge of music
  • Question: Should we target men who are encouraging the women in their lives to get involved in something that brings them joy?

Knowing your target audience is just one portion of creating a campaign that will increase sales or draw people to your product. Having a solid understanding of who you are and what you have to offer are important steps as well.

Who are we?

What does it mean to be a Sweet Adeline? Is it just a singing group? Here is a statement from a championship chorus located in Toronto which sums it up very well:

“We sing to bring joy to others, reaching out to our audiences, to touch hearts, to inspire joy and to give hope.  Joining our hearts in song provides a source of strength where there is weakness, and light where there is darkness.

North Metro Chorus

What can we offer?

It’s important to ask ourselves what has becoming a Sweet Adelines meant? What impact has it made on our lives? For many, it’s an escape. It’s an opportunity to spend 3 hours weekly at rehearsal with a group of like-minded women who lift each other up in more ways than just musically. It’s challenged us to step outside our comfort zone. It has made leaders out of those who maybe didn’t know they had it in them and given a sense of purpose to women who really needed it. Like myself, many member only thought they were good enough to sing in their cars, in the shower or in their basement with their karaoke machines. Almost all members wish they had known about Sweet Adelines years before they joined.

But how do we convert shower singers into performers? I’m not sure an ad campaign such as “Come sing with your clothes on!” would work, even though it would get us some attention.

Sweet Adelines isn’t a consumable product therefore it would be important to focus on the experiences that can be gained by joining and the feeling that singing 4 part acapella harmony brings. We know this type of music isn’t for everyone. It’s difficult to describe in words alone just how exciting being a member of a Sweet Adeline chorus can be, so video would be a key component of a social campaign. Check it out for yourself! Would you want to find out more after watching?

I’m Not a Lazy Reader After All

All digital communication professionals should be asking themselves the following question: How do we get our digital audience to give us a few minutes of their time to stop and read our article? I mean the ENTIRE thing, right to the end?

Photo by Sarah Chai on

While reading “How to Read” by Brian Clark it became very clear to me that my own reading style is that of the Inspectional-Skimming reader. In all honesty, to say that I actually read the article on the first pass would be a lie. I caught myself numerous times skimming down the article until something popped out that I wanted learn more about.

I have probably been a skimmer my entire life but until this article I thought I was just a lazy reader. Back in high school when an Encyclopedia or National Geographic magazine were the main source of information, I would flip through the pages until either an image or headline jumped out at me. I would then skim through the section that caught my eye to determine if there was something of substance I could use to complete my assignment.

Who really has time to read every word? I didn’t feel I had time back then, and I can’t help but think that society feels the pressure of time even more now with thousands of options available at their scrolling fingertips. 

The inverted writing pyramid quickly and visually shows the importance of putting the critical information up front, at the top of your article. This is where the skimmers hang out, trust me. In fact, I actually believe that the headline is as important as the first paragraph. If there’s nothing good or enticing there, us skimmers are moving on! If you catch the skimmers eye there, use the middle portion of the article to keep them there, and the last portion to wrap up everything in a nice little package, and invite them to come back to visit your space again.

As writers, I believe it’s fair, and actually smart, to assume that the large majority of readers are initially skimmers.  It’s our job as communicators to grab the skimmers attention and keep them with us for a while. 

Sounds easy doesn’t it?

A Family Vacation To Remember

A Family Vacation To Remember

Anyone who has been through the process of blending a family together with a new partner can hopefully relate to my story. It’s stressful… there’s no way around it. My boyfriend (now husband), Rich and I had many discussions about how to navigate through the week long summer cottage vacations that we arranged for ourselves and our four children. I came into this relationship with a son and daughter, and he with two sons. We were well aware that our children had been affected by the reality of divorce, and our main goal was to show that families come in all shapes and that love can come from those other than blood relatives. Sounds kind of easy, doesn’t it?

We had experienced struggles with getting our children to “like” each other in the beginning, but we persevered and continued to plan these vacations to escape from daily life and really focus on creating memories with them.

Our summer getaway took us about 2.5 hours North East of Oshawa to Bancroft, Ontario, where we rented a friends cottage on a small lake just outside of town. The atmosphere was peaceful, the cottage was private, and the sounds of nature were good for our souls.

We wanted it to be good for our children too, and spent hours searching the internet for fun cottage activities, which brought us to Today’s Parent website. The first suggestion on the list was a scavenger hunt. PERFECT! We’ll divide the kids into 2 teams, send them on their way with a list of things to find and equip them with digital cameras (yes… this was many years ago). Of course there was a prize for the winning team (bribery goes a long way!).

Much of the list we gave them was for typical things you would see around the cottage: fish, spider, bug, leaves, something in the shape of a circle, square, triangle, etc., it was a long list (we needed some quiet time). We added “LOVE” to the list, thinking that they would take a picture of us. My daughter (11) and Rich’s oldest son (12) did just that, but when the scavenger hunt was over, we were disappointed that my son (13) and Rich’s youngest (6) didn’t come take our picture. We thought maybe they just didn’t get to that part of the list.

As we scrolled through their pictures we found this picture on their camera and asked them what this was a picture of. “It’s of LOVE!”

Be still our hearts!

So while this vacation is not in Europe, the Caribbean, Australia or any other exotic location, this picture that captured one of the most unexpected, memorable moments in time at a quiet, non extravagant place, will forever be the vacation when I knew that we were going to make it… together… as a family.

I’d love to hear your stories too so feel free to share in the comments section!