Our company represents several companies that have excellent products for an excellent price—especially in this economy. Alas, some we cannot promote (for various reasons) but the concept got me thinking. In a time when the “value” message continues to reign, what really is an affordable indulgence and does it really matter…
Well, of course it does! I don’t care who you are everyone is looking to save, but indulging oneself will never go out of style. For those brands that promote their products as an affordable indulgence (and this we know is relative—Jeep vs Hummer = affordable indulgence) making their mark has never been more important.
So what would be an affordable indulgence? A little, delicious piece of chocolate? Yep, that’s rates high for moi! A new lipstick? Sure thing! Can’t afford the dress, but hey I can change up my look with a new red shade. How about a food processor? What? Well, start saving and cook at home, but bypass the frozen dinner and try to “out rival” your local restaurant with your own recipes. What’s the ultimate affordable indulgence? Love, but that’s another story altogether…
I’ve written about this in various incarnations already, but thought it would be worth putting it out there in a more straightforward fashion.
This, of course, is the most intuitive statement ever. Duh. But, you would be surprised how many people I’ve met, in biz and otherwise, that don’t subscribe to this basic belief. I’m 46 and for the past few years I’ve embarked on some new “hobbies.” I started playing the piano (reading music is like a new language and an excellent way to get the brain working first thing in the a.m.). I picked up golf (without a doubt my top new obsession). People always ask if golf has been good for my business and I say, no, it’s been good for my spirit. I started toying with taking French (I studied it in college and realized on a recent trip to Paris that I still had a cursory understanding of the language). And this is all great. But, the coolest thing I’ve done recently is to launch a Word of Mouth division—which I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been willing to learn something new.
I remember a meeting I had with one of Hollywood’s hottest talent agencies a few years back. At the time they were trying to help one of the clients find ways to monetize their social media platform. Back then it seemed like a knotty problem. We all remember the discussions around “How the heck is You Tube going to make money?” Social media. It’s been an interesting journey, and it’s really just the beginning. If I hadn’t been willing to learn something new, I wouldn’t have launched our WOM division. I know other agencies that started this division, hit a bump because of the economy and dumped it. Thankfully, we plowed through. We have two campaigns currently running and the numbers/ROI on these programs are staggering.
What’s at the heart of learning something new? Curiosity, definitely. But you know what generally stops people from learning something new? Their ego. Its humbling to admit you don’t know something. When I started taking golf lessons my pro said I was a good pupil. This was an interesting observation because for years I had been a pretty bad pupil. But by that time I had had a few humbling experiences that reminded me that if I wanted to get better at something I’d better listen to the experts.
So, go for it. Chuck the ego, get a little more curious and get ready to learn something new. It just might be great for biz.
Ok, in this economy jobs can be hard to come by. So, holding onto your top talent may not be nearly as difficult as it was only a year ago. After all, finding another job is not all that easy right now, especially a good one. The golden handcuff concept is also something to consider when looking to retain top talent. Pay them so well they can’t find another job for that kind of salary. But how much fun is this for you or your employee. In the end, it just starts to feel smarmy.
Here’s what I think works (and it does contain a bit of the above)
- Let them know you care (because if you don’t, why should they care about working for you?)
- Remember, it’s not a lot of fun at the bottom, so be nice, and take some of the junior staff out for lunch every now and then (you can learn ALL kinds of things about what is really going on out there—and a lot of what you learn can help you be a better boss)
- Let your leaders lead (there is nothing as irritating as the micro managing boss- we’ve all had them. They suck)
- Give your people credit for their ideas and hard work, but don’t make everyone else feel like they’re schlumps because they haven’t had a good idea lately.
- DON’T pit people against each other. What a BAD idea.
- DO pay well if you can (everyone needs the money these days)
And yes, DO kiss a little butt if necessary. Good people are hard to come by, even in a tough economy.
SHOULD YOU LET YOUR EMPLOYEES HAVE FREE REIGN OF THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTIONS? I think so, but then we’re a communications agency so it’s in the blood…Submitted by Valerie Donati on Thu, 06/04/2009 - 22:36
Truth be told, we have a manageable company. Meaning, if I let my peeps run hog wild with their favorite social media pastimes, i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc. I can keep a pretty good handle on their productivity, or lack thereof. Well, I can’t, but my VPs can and they do. And here’s the thing for us: there is no lack of productivity. In our business if things aren’t happening it’s obvious pretty darn soon. And then we all know what happens. Heads roll (ok, not really, but it can get intense.)
I just had a phone call the other day with a friend who is a VP at a big, very successful public relations agency. We met many, many years ago when she was an account executive at a boutique agency in NYC where I worked as a receptionist. We were sharing some stories and we started comparing client campaigns (without proprietary details, mind you, but general concepts around Word of Mouth campaigns and Hollywood promotional partnerships.) Their agency works with some great brands and I told her I had a new business platform I wanted to pitch her. But she interrupted me and said, “don’t tell me your idea, I might steal it.”
Business is competitive. No duh. I really like my friend. She’s super smart and wildly funny, she’d be a great co-worker—she’s incredibly collaborative and really quick
on her feet. I love shooting the breeze with her, but she’s right. You do have to be careful what you share. Especially when you’re in the same biz. And honestly, that’s a bummer. It got me thinking about detritus of competitiveness. Lost allegiances and the like. Being competitive is exciting but it’s always anti-climatic and kind of mean spirited. Someone is always losing. Ok, this is going to sound ridiculous, I know it, but imagine a world where everyone wins. God, who is reading this! Maybe a world where we all can live in peace (ok, now I’m being silly!) But, for just a moment after my convo with my friend I wanted the competitive nature of our industry to disappear. And just for once I wanted every agency that was up for the new, hot cosmetic brand to win the business. What an idea. What a silly, sweet idea.
Very weird. Newspapers are going out of business. The Boston Globe, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Minneapolis Stare Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Detroit News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Daily News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Stalwarts of local news and views, these trusty sources of information are beginning to die away. I even remember when some big cities could support two newspapers (New York still does in its own way: The New York Post, New York Daily News and THE NEW YORK TIMES, among others…) The information age is taking it’s toll on newsprint. People want their news when they want it. And that means if a story is developing they want to follow the developments, minute by minute. When the plane came down in the Hudson I went online and watched in real time what was happening (courtesy of CNN). Meanwhile, Twitter got the story first—an interesting development for a social media platform. One could probably smell a bit of doom for the papers when their own writers were skipping off to do blogs (just to keep the news fresh, plus REALLY express a thought or opinion). In a time when the world is shifting so dramatically maybe readers want opinions and not just unbiased news. Maybe they want to know what other people are thinking… The rise of the blog would suggest this sentiment.
I’ve always found newspapers unwieldy, dirty hands making and a waste of paper. Not that the information in the pages isn’t important and in fact is one of the best things about a free society. But the actual paper itself is a bit of a pain to deal with. Getting news online is fast and doesn’t kill a tree. BUT, people (myself included) enjoy the prospect of actually having something “in hand.” I’m a sentimentalist by nature. I will almost always default to emotional attachments. So when a paper goes down, no matter how messy or irritating it is to read, I’m going to feel a pang of nostalgia. But time is moving on and things are going to keep changing (and fast!)
As a communications agency with a heavy focus on public relations (and now Word of Mouth!) it’s been interesting to watch the morphing of various disciplines within this space. I really enjoyed the TBS original production “Mad Men.” What a time that was, forget the martinis, just a ton of (mainly) male ego on the loose. I’ve worked with a lot of agencies in my day, and I can tell you that heady sense of righteousness still exists. I think you need to live a little on the edge to get out there and sell advertising “stories.” It’s part of the gig, and that’s ok with me. But things are changing, and the corner office television commercial machine is changing with the times too.
Not sure. Let’s take a look.
Golf. Sure Tiger rocks out with the putter (or he did), but he’s also hot. Camillo Villegas, he is VERY good for golf.
You may or may not like him, but Donny Deutsch is good looking (even with those funny glasses) and it has certainly helped his career. Yes, he’s smart, of course, but he’s cute. And that’s good for TV.
Barack Obama. He’s got that fab tall frame and winning smile. Very nice looking leader of the free world.
IS THIS THE MOST VAPID BLOG EVER? Yep.
We aren’t going to mention actors or entertainers, they’re supposed to be good looking, and generally are, even when they aren’t (aka Robert Pattinson—please don’t throw anything!)
And how about Ed Viesturs mountain climber extraordinaire? Sure, he’s able to climb the top 14 tallest peaks without oxygen, but I suspect it’s his toothy smile that landed him all those endorsement deals.
I could go on and make a total fool of myself so I’ll stop here…
With all these hotties notwithstanding, when you start scrolling down the venerable list of Fortune 500 CEOs you might not find the best looking group of people (this is SO incorrect). And that basically gives us our answer. NO, good looking is not necessarily good for business. But it’s a nice bonus.
We do pro bono pr work for charity: water. They are an INCREDIBLE charity that raises money to build wells for people that don’t have safe drinking water. PLEASE check out their site. It will give you something to think about and do…
I’m a BIG fan of doing pro bono work for a variety of reasons, but the main reason is that giving creates a flow that can’t be denied. Someone I know and trust says: “If it can flow through you, it can flow to you.” I personally give about 30% of what I make to charity, but that’s another story. From a business perspective giving really is the way to go. Yes, you can give money, but you can also give something that may even be more valuable, your expertise. I say: Do it.
In the process of working with Scott Harrison the founder and chairman of charity:water I have learned much about people in need and how just a little bit of help can go a long way to change lives. But as a professional I’ve also learned a lot from his innovative approach to fundraising. He’s a young man that has leveraged tools that appeal to young people (social media). I think he’s doing it better than anyone else out there. He certainly has gained the interest and respect of Google, Twitter and Facebook. There’s so much I’ve learned and I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if we weren’t willing to do it pro bono. So go for it, find something you believe in and show up to help. They’ll love to have you!