Celebrating the Fourth of July 2018: Ideas to Make the Most of the Holiday and Time With Your Family

susiealmaneih 4th of july

 

It generally feels as if summer is marked by the big three:

The unofficial beginning of the season is Memorial Day.

The unofficial end of the season is Labor Day.

And somewhere in the middle, we happen upon the joys of Independence Day.

While not technically the mid-point of summer, it can feel that way –offering the time to pause and to think about how fast summer is going so far, and what else you want to accomplish in the coming two months or so.

It’s also nice to enjoy that day out of the office, and whether you extend the time off by using a little PTO, or just welcome a day to sleep in, it’s a nice idea to really use the Fourth of July as a way to celebrate and make memories with your family. And that doesn’t necessarily even involve a lot of traveling or complicated planning. It’s just important to remember that the day has great significance in our country and in each of our lives, so it’s crucial to think about it beyond just having a day off in the middle of summer. Here are some ideas for you:

 

History over breakfast

Mornings are so often a rush that breakfast rarely gets recognition as a valued family meal. This Fourth of July, however, consider kicking your day off right (even if a bit of a later start than usual!). Make pancakes with blueberries and strawberries for some colorful fun, and read about the origins of July 4th with your family. You can even watch a video online (here’s a great resource for some educational short-form ones: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/july-4th/videos).

 

What freedom means to me

A great follow-up to learning more about the origin of the holiday is each family member sharing what freedom means to them. Mom or Dad may start out as kids get the hang out of it, but it’s important for children to tie it all together, understanding the significance of Independence Day in their own daily lives.

 

Community parade

Most areas have local festive parades celebrating America’s birthday. Involve your family –wear your red, white, and blue, apply some sunscreen, and go out to celebrate.

 

Take me out to the ballgame

Many major league teams play day games on July 4th, so take advantage and enjoy some pre-All Star break action at the nearby ballpark. If you live a bit away from the closest team, even consider a day or overnight trip for the event.

 

Sing-along

The kiddos may already know their fair share of patriotic songs from school or activities, so maybe sing a favorite, or learn a new one. A nice list with lyrics can be found here for your reference: http://www.usa-flag-site.org/song-lyrics/

 

Host a barbeque

Whether it’s for immediate family, neighbors, or close friends, plan a get-together. Consider making main dishes while guests bring sides or desserts. Plan some games, and make sure your kids help out as they can. Playing host promotes a sense of community and friendship, honoring this holiday and taking advantage of the free time you don’t normally have.

 

Enjoy fireworks (even if only on TV)

If the area for firework displays in your town gets packed, or it all goes too late for your younger kids, consider watching them on TV. Many programs now intersperse them with musical entertainment as well, making it all that much better. But if you can get to an in-person viewing, go for it. Kids love seeing the sky blasts, and it even brings out the inner-kid in adults too.

 

So this July, make it a safe and fun “family fourth,” and consider one or more of these ideas in planning your day out to really make the most of it. Keep in mind the significance of the day and those who have fought for our freedoms, enjoy the time with those around you, and form lasting memories that will stay fresh in your mind for many more summers to come.

Powder Day! Winter Sports Tips for Kids

These cold months with inclement weather make it easy to recede into the house, hibernating until spring. There is a certain amount of inertia that happens during the winter, and it can lead to the blues, lack of concentration and of course, weight gain and lethargy. It’s really important that we double down on our efforts through the first couple months of the year so that we are productive, happy and healthy.

If winter sports are not traditionally your thing, you might want to think beyond skiing and snowboarding, especially if you have small children. There are plenty of fun activities to experiment with and everyone in your family big and small can get involved.

 

  1. Cross country skiing. Instead of braving the downhill, try something flat that acquaints the kids with the dynamics of the snow. It’s cheap to rent the equipment and if you have a baby, you can bundle him or her up and put them in a back carrier to go along for the ride!
  1. Sledding is another way to get familiar with the snow, using a tube, a sled, a disc or even a piece of waxed cardboard! Adults should go with younger kids on the first few runs so they learn the concept of leaning to steer.
  1. Curling is a strange but totally nifty sport originally invented in Scotland, where players slide a disc of stone across the ice and try to target specific areas marked out a bit like a bullseye. There are actually curling clubs all over the country, and kids love it because it’s kind of like bowling on ice.
  1. Hockey. Yes, kids love hockey, when it’s played safely and girls get to participate, its really fun! You can start with a half court and just have fun taking turns being the shooter and the goalie.
  1. Snow shoeing is exciting and it’s also great exercise. Make sure your kids have the right size snowshoes and pick a trail that you know they can manage. Also, don’t forget your camera because there will be some great nature photo ops!
  1. Ice fishing. If you have never fished in the winter, you are missing out! This is a great activity to do with an older relative or an experienced fisherman, but bringing home a catch on a chilly winter day and making a meal is a really special experience.
  1. Downhill Skiing and snowboarding. There is, of course the classic winter experience of downhill sports, just make sure that you utilize a coach for the beginners and exercise plenty of patience and supervision. Being young is a great time to learn because they can get their falls out of the way early.

 

So get out there and try something new! You never know – someone in your family could become the next winner of the Iditarod, or the next long distance cross-country skiing champion. Winter doesn’t have to be a bummer; it can be an opportunity to try new things and bond.

Traffic Tricks and Tips

800px-Bangkok_traffic_by_g-hatGridlock traffic during the 5pm rush hour commute is everyone’s worst nightmare – the road boiling over with angry and frustrated drivers who cut each other off, everyone trying to get ahead, hurling insults at one another.  We all just want to go home! That 40 minutes would take 15 any other time of the day, so it seems like forever when you are inching forward only a foot at a time.

All over the country, five days a week, we make a slog like this, a grim and wasteful commute to work that ruins our mornings and sucks away our evenings.  It’s a stressful ritual we cannot seem to get around. 

Here are some quick facts about our nation’s ridiculous commute:

  • According to the US Census Bureau, the average American commutes 26 minutes each way to work everyday 
  • That time has gone up 20% since the 1980s
  • Collectively, that amounts to 1.8 trillion minutes in the car each year1

Which cities have the worst commutes? Here is a list of the worst 10 for annual hours of delay (not total drive time) per commuter for U.S. metropolitan areas:

Washington D.C.:  82 hours

Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Ana: 80 hours

San Francisco, Oakland: 78 hours

New York, Newark:  74 hours

San Jose: 67 hours

Boston:  64 hours

Seattle:  63 hours

Chicago: 61 hours

Houston:  61 hours

Riverside: 59 hours

What are doing about the increasingly long commutes?

Digital message boards notifying motorists about accidents, drive times, upcoming road construction, obstructions, bad weather, and detours, allows drivers to take alternate routes or to slow down before they get to an obstruction.

Ramp metering it seems ineffectual, but spacing out the cars actually speeds up total flow and reduces accidents. However, it’s expensive and time consuming for cities to add traffic lights at every on-ramp. Cost benefit analysis, anyone?

Carpool Lanes

The obvious solution is to get more people in fewer cars.

Here are some tricks to try when it comes to getting where you are going:

  • Try an app called Waze. It’s mind-bending how good it is, though it will take you down some alleys, it will shrink your time for sure.
  • Maintain your car – tire pressure, functional lights, and brakes. Avoid stalls!
  • Grab a friend and carpool!
  • Change into comfortable clothes before you leave from work- the drive will be so much more relaxing if you’re in sweat pants and a t-shirt.
  • Make calls. Or turn the music up and dance sitting down.
  • Shift your working hours back and hour.
  • Listen to audio books, the news, and podcasts while you drive.
  • Organize you day while you drive by using voice memo software (or a simple digital recorder) to go over your To Do list.
  • Join a gym near your work, and hit it hard when you clock out. 
  • Biking solves both the travel and the exercise in one go.

If you can’t find another method to get to work, make the best of it and come up with as many creative alternatives as you can.  That way, you are actually making good use of the time instead of wasting it. 

References:

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/25/how-much-of-your-life-youre-wasting-on-your-commute/?utm_term=.aaadac788dc9
  2. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2015/08/26/u-s-cities-with-the-worst-rush-hour-traffic/#26f2716e6668

Nighttime Treats: Must-See Serials to Watch When the Kids are Asleep

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Winter is a great time to curl up into the couch and sink into a series, and with the recent boom in shows, there are so many great ones to choose from.

In the last 15 years, a seismic shift occurred between movies and TV; shows like Northern Exposure and The Sopranos started to take risks, developing storylines with more complex characters, subplots, twists, and deeper social reflection.

Now it’s as though movies don’t have enough time to develop a rich narrative compared with a show that has dozens of episodes at its disposal. New stories are popping up on the networks, cable, and online platforms everyday, and the sheer volume can make it difficult to choose in which world to immerse yourself.

Here are a few excellent shows that allow you to escape from work, house, schedules, kids, cooking, the whole bag. If you need some grownup downtime, check out these quick descriptions of some truly fantastic serials.

Marco Polo– Netflix. Disappear into the exotic and ancient world of the Mongolian Khan dynasty, where the young Venetian adventurer traveled the Silk Road and saved himself from death by describing the region to the Fearsome Kublai Khan. Shot on location in Mongolia, the actors, costumes, music, and elaborate story are all beautifully realized.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt -Netflix. Tina Fey of the hilarious hit 30 Rock wrote and produced this whacky comedy about a group of women in a Midwestern cult that finally escape the clutches of their captor to experience a much changed modern world. The snappy dialog and social commentary work as great comic relief.

Mr. Robot -USA Network. If you like espionage, hackers, corporate thievery, and dark romance, this show is edgy and riveting. It’s modern noir and grandiose fantasy with a satirical nod to the underground group Anonymous.

Alpha Dogs -Amazon. Written by the masterful Gary Trudeau, this comedy stars John Goodman as a moderate, old school Republican Senator who with his buddies, is trying to reconcile his values in the brave new world of extreme politics.

Orphan Black -BBC. Sci-fi at its best: meet Sarah as she meets all her sisters for the first time, clones created in secret by a devious government experiment that went completely awry. Tatiana Maslany plays 10 different characters and within the first episode, she is so convincing you forget you aren’t watching different people.

The Night Of –HBO. This is a mini series, only eight episodes, but it’s like a slow-motion car crash: you can’t take your eyes off of it. John Turturro plays the role intended for the late great James Gandolfini, but he is magnificent as a struggling public defender who tries to come to the aid of a young Muslim kid wrongly accused of murder.

Chef’s Table- Netflix. If you love food, and traveling is out of the question at the moment, sate both the urge to eat and the urge to visit distant places at once. This show features gorgeous, authentic portraits of the world’s finest culinary artists in their native habitats and shows how they are taking flavor to new heights.

We can all use a little vicarious treat after a long day, and the beautiful thing about serials is that you can watch a bunch or parse them out an episode at a time. With all the variety and effort going into these productions, there is something binge-worthy out there for everyone.

Kids Can Travel the World, with Geography Games Right on Your Smart Phone!

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Geography and Mapping technology have given birth to some amazing kid-appropriate apps.

In encouraging families to invite a little cultural diversity into their lives (see our blogs on Eating Your Way Round the World) we invite your little world travelers to learn a little more about the big wonderful world they live in – without even leaving the house. Map and Geography games are an effective opportunity to enrich your kids’ knowledge of their neighbors. Here are 4 great apps available on iPhone, for doing just that.

Barefoot World Atlas. This nifty app offers users a 3D interactive globe where kids can tap on a region and learn about the climate, animals, the country’s flag, landmarks and other information. Note about this app, because its features are very broad, this app takes up some space. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/barefoot-world-atlas/id489221652?mt=8

Tiny Countries. Cartoon-style graphics and engaging gameplay are the highlights of this darling app. It has a great hero narrative and encourages kids to use their knowledge of geography to defeat their foes.https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tiny-countries/id570163207?mt=8

Google Earth. If you aren’t already totally addicted to zooming around the planet and viewing actual images of remote parts of the planet, welcome to Google Earth! This is such a fun app for kids over the age of 6, because they can control the tracking and other settings like street view, map view, even see calculations of elevation and landmarks.   https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-earth/id293622097?mt=8

National Geographic App for Kids. In keeping with its ongoing commitment to illuminating the beauty of the natural world and humankind’s role in it, the National Geographic app for kids is loaded with fascinating maps, photos, history, articles, games and jokes from all over the world.https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/national-geographic-kids/id436482773?mt=8

If you want to inspire adventure and help your children to grow into open-minded and culturally aware adults, seeking out some educational and creative tools can really enhance the experience. It is likely they can learn about a panda refuge in China at the age of 7, but actually see those pandas in real life at 24. So setting the stage for curiosity is a must. Thankfully, it’s also really fun for grownups too.

The Pants of Least Resistance: 5 Exec-Friendly Wardrobe Tips for Busy Working Moms

Like it or not, our appearance absolutely says something about who we are.  From first impressions to self-expression, the clothes we wear are representative of the image we are portraying to others.  According to Forbes, you can actually use your wardrobe to change how others perceive you, and even how you think about yourself.

No matter what your personal style may be – classic, a bit retro, or always up with the modern trends, many women find shopping to be a fun activity, but most busy, working moms know that realistically there is little to no free time for this.  However, that certainly doesn’t mean they’ve stopped caring about their wardrobe, or what it says about them, especially while on the job.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t feel like a daily struggle to put an outfit together that is comfortable and conveys professionalism.

So exactly how can you balance this?  How can you present an “I am confident in my fashion choices!” image, while internally feeling like, “I have zero time for this!!!” – ??  Because a personal shopper may not be a viable option, we’re going to present to you some other great ideas to ensure you’re looking and feeling your best even as you work with minimal time.

1. Consider a work uniform – or just get back to basics.

One workday, Matilda Kahl, a successful art director, had an epiphany that her outfit choice was causing her too much unnecessary stress.  She also felt like her male colleagues were taken seriously no matter what they wore, but she certainly didn’t feel that same respect.  She came up with a solution to simplify her daily morning struggle.  

Kahl states, “I have no clue how the idea of a work uniform came to me, but soon, the solution to my woes was in the form of 15 silk white shirts and a few black trousers.  For a little personal detail, I chose to add a custom-made black leather rosette around my neck.  During the colder months, I also top my look off with a black blazer.  I shopped all the pieces in one day.  It burned a hole in my wallet to say the least, but in the long run, it has saved me—and will continue to save me—more money than I could imagine.”  So while you may not want to wear the exact same thing everyday, Kahl is definitely onto something.  A few properly tailored work basics with a few great accessories can be simple, professional, cost-effective, and classy.

2. Buy clothes that don’t require ironing.

Before having children, it’s very possible that you just didn’t like to iron, but now these days, you really do not have time for it.  Brands including Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Chico’s, and Land’s End offer items such as dress shirts that are made of a wrinkle-resistant material.  Not only is this helpful to save time each morning, these types of clothing articles are also ideal as you pack for business trips.

3. Travel in style – and comfort.

And speaking of traveling, if you are a mom who is often on the go for work, you know there’s a lot of preparation that goes into your time away from home.  You don’t need to add stress about packing, though you also still want to look professional, while recognizing that comfort means everything.  Whether you’re catching a nap or catching up on work during a long flight, a cozy ensemble helps your cause.  A site like Betabrand.com offers fashion-forward clothing including its highly-sought-after dress yoga pants, which ensure you both look and feel at ease even when traveling for business.  

4. Avoid the “Dry Clean Only” label if possible.

A trip to the dry cleaners doesn’t necessarily fit into your schedule.  And while there are services that offer pick-up and drop-off, the money may be better spent on expanding your business (or non-business) wardrobe further.  The no-dry-cleaning rule can be eased a bit if you own a good steamer.  If you’re careful and somewhat ignoring tip #2 from above, dry clean only items greatly benefit from a good press in between wearings, but this isn’t helpful on a day you spill your lunch.  So attempting to generally only purchase washable items may really be the best bet for your workdays.

5. Carry what you need in sensible style.

Trendy little clutch bags may look great in topping off an outfit, but for the working parent, they are not usually practical.  Your purse should be big enough to carry the necessities – wallet, make-up, cell phone, etc.  Luckily, satchel bags never really go out of style, and the cross-body look is both trendy and functional.  Backpacks are also popular right now and being offered by top manufacturers and also in local retail shops.  The right style can be fashionable, work appropriate, and functional for all your needs as a busy mom.  It also saves time to use just one handbag as opposed to switching between many.  In addition, this reduces the chance that one of your necessities doesn’t make the transfer.

Style is a very personal thing for each of us.  While all of these tips may not fit into your exact fashion vision, implementing just one of them can save you time, money, or aggravation.  Whatever your preference, looking good and feeling good, even when based on limited time, go hand-in-hand, and feeling confident in your appearance will exude that sentiment in the workplace as well.

Sources:

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2012/04/03/what-your-clothes-say-about-you/

 http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10441/why-i-wear-the-same-thing-to-work-everday/

Ring in 2016 Right: 7 Marketing Dos and Don’ts for the New Year

 

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You hopefully made the most of your marketing endeavors amidst the holiday shopping rush.  However, it’s important to remember those efforts shouldn’t stop when the 12 Days of Christmas are behind us.  In fact, using the time following the holidays wisely can actually propel you into a successful New Year.

So, what’s important to consider as you plan marketing activities and goals for 2016?  Before you don your party hat and get out your noisemakers for the upcoming celebration, consider these important tactics and ideas to properly prepare:

1. DO stay consistent.

Your messaging, positioning, and look should line up across all platforms.  Any new fans or clients you won over during the holidays will know what they can expect from your business in the New Year.  Also remain consistent in your timing; you don’t want to use social media to post eight things in one hour then disappear for two weeks.  Planning will ensure that you are reaching your target on a consistent, steady schedule.

2. DO develop an editorial calendar.

In order to maintain your consistency in both messaging and frequency, it’s essential to have a plan in writing.  Working a month or two out, you can decide what your themes and goals will be.  This will allow you to see the bigger picture, and when it’s best to leverage certain themes (perhaps like the upcoming Valentine’s Day?) to drive promotions, social media posts, or e-newsletters.

3. DO welcome a New Year with juicy new offerings.

New Year’s is prime time to add new products and services, particularly with the heavy ad campaigns leading up through the month of December.  Creative marketing ideas abound here, such as holding an after-midnight special New Year’s Day sale, in which you unveil your new product and offer big discounts on old stock. 

4. DON’T forget about customers’ resolutions.

It seems everyone has at least one New Year’s resolution.  Give your customers an extra resolution to follow with your direct-marketing campaign by pointing out key areas where your company excels versus the competition.  Do you offer a superb customer experience?  Try a headline like: “This year I resolve to not waste time on hold with customer service.”  Whatever you can promote about your company or exploit about your competition’s flaws can become a great resolution for your customers to have in the New Year.

5. DON’T neglect mobile.

Smartphones and tablets are increasing in popularity by the day — and not just in terms of sales.  As we press forward into 2016, consumers are using mobile devices more and more to conduct transactions, research brands, visit their favorite sites, and read and reply to emails.  So, if you’re still under the impression that it’s absolutely fine not to worry about optimizing email campaigns and websites for mobile, it’s time to modernize and make some headway in improving your mobile presence.  

6. DO revitalize your content strategy.

Now is a good time to evaluate a variety of content types that could work best for your inbound campaigns.  You can review analytics from the previous year and also engage in continual A/B testing so that your path is going in the right direction for the New Year.

7. DO revisit your customer personas.

What good are these revamped game plans for 2016 if you don’t know for whom you should be creating campaigns in the first place?  Now is the time to reexamine your customer personas.  Truly understand your audience by conducting thorough research on them.  Create online surveys or quizzes to get a better, updated grasp on who they are and what they want.  The bottom line is, you’ll need to comprehend as much about your target demographic(s) as possible to know how to effectively develop your content production, offers, and email and social strategies, among many other efforts.

A new year gives everyone the sense of starting fresh, and clearly this is true in terms of marketing as well.  Don’t let the opportunity pass you by!  By preparing and getting organized now, you can put strong New Year marketing ideas into place, and it can be your business’s best year ever!

 

Boo! Unexpected Dos and Don’ts for Halloween Marketing

This time of year, theatrics really do the trick.  Here’s some solid suggestions on keeping your customers entertained.

Susie Almaneih Halloween MarketingIt’s a fine line between an archetype: Frankenstein, Dracula, Nos Feratu, and cliché: Ghost, Witch, Jack-o-lantern.  Halloween is a day unlike any other day.  It invites the average ho-hum guy to reveal the Technicolor rainbow side of his personality.  It inspires creativity, uncertainty, mystery, and fright. Why wouldn’t you get in on that opportunity to show the silly, outrageous, witty side of your brand?

Of course, there have been some massive belly flops in the pool of Halloween marketing ideas too, some of which provide a teachable moment in how to get the right kind of attention from your target this time of year.  The following list offers dos and don’ts with examples of success and, well, monster failure.

DO think subgenre.  Zombies are all the rage these days, but cross-pollinate the zombies with say, beekeepers or librarians, or whatever demographic might fall under your brand identity, and you give your audience something to laugh at, and strangely relate to. REI did a really zany campaign where its team created a Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Video.  They presented all the information as fact and gave the company a chance to highlight some of their emergency and outdoor equipment.

DON’T rely on clichés.  Monsters and Werewolves are old hat and predictable, but unusual and creative Halloween concepts get attention because they are unexpected.  Your audience is primed for the absurd right now.  Think about things that are scary in real life: Honey Boo Boo or the DMV.  Popular culture provides loads of fodder for tongue-in-cheek and play on words.

Don’t miss a photo op.  If you do organize a company-wide theme, take it out in public.  Take your entire team bowling in Abraham Lincoln costumes.  Pair your disguises with hit songs and film yourselves singing Karaoke.  Have a very serious business meeting where everyone at the conference table is dressed like a baby.  The more deadpan, the better.

DO get obscure.  This is the one time of year that people want to be creeped out.  Apocrypha?  Great.  The Occult?  Tell me more!  Work in the séance and the Ouija Board.  Go back to the advent of Halloween in Ireland where the end of the harvest and the beginning of the cold meant evil spirits lurked everywhere.  Look up old Halloween ads and work them into some clever memes about your product.

DON’T go overboard with the shock value.  Take a lessonfrom the great Albert Hitchcock, the master of suspense.  He realized that the audience got so much more freaked out if he just made the suggestion of gore or violence and let the imagination do the rest.  FOX made the mistake of running ads for Sleepy Hollow with an image of a headless horseman and the caption: “Does this axe make my head look small?” Unfortunately, another ISIS beheading in the press turned this ad into a very insensitive joke.

DON’T miss the chance to weave in sales, promotions, and contests. You can work a practical joke into a giveaway because a good belly laugh is a great hook.

It’s easy to throw an online contest into your theme, getting your visitors to participate in a way that keeps them coming back to your page.  This could be a mystery story, or an online treasure hunt where you reveal a new clue everyday.  Vine is a great medium for this where you post a new 20-second segment everyday.

DO form a partnership with another business.  Another clever way to rope in customers is to blend your campaign with another brand, again, in an unexpected way.  For example, if you are brick and mortar, consider partnering with a non-profit like your local SPCA.  Nothing sells like animals in costumes, but even if you are not a retailer, video, infographics, posters, or funny memes can boost your traffic if you are linking up with a good cause.

Think outside the coffin for your Halloween blast to give your target audience the sense that your company knows how to get in the spirit.  A good rule of thumb is just to keep your sentiment positive, inclusive, and timely.  This is the one time of the year that people actually like a little mystery, a jolt, or just a good joke, so use that to your brand’s advantage.

Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition

David Newman makes some bold proclamations for the solo-preneur in 21st Century marketplace.

Sometimes the difficulty with marketing a new idea is that there are too many abstract possibilities.  You have a vision, and bringing that vision into reality in a useful, desirable way is the primary objective.  Finding the optimal conveyor of this idea is not only confusing– it’s unpleasant.  For most of us who dream of creating and contributing, the last thing we want to do is self-promotion.  

What Newman manages to do in this fast-paced read is break down the variables into action-oriented, concrete principles.  Written in an entertaining style that moves along at a clip more like web content, Newman identifies common pitfalls (the cold call is a particularly satisfying passage) and then turns his attention to some useful archetypes such as the Trusted Advisor and the Prove-it Test.  

“Do you want to cut to the chase?  Are you ready to finally make it happen for your business? Do It! Marketing shows you the fastest most efficient and effective ways for you to reach higher, market smarter and win bigger,” stated David Rohlander, CEO, mentor and author of The CEO Code.

Information courtesy of Amazon.

5 Emergent Offerings and the Efficacy of Unconventional Marketing

A great product is only one piece of the puzzle; congruent and novel marketing strategies get that product the attention it deserves.

The breakneck pace of the tech industry is less of a bell curve, where developers have predictable phases of adoption, and more of a “big bang.” Either a disruptive technology explodes onto the marketplace, or it doesn’t.  With everything pouring into consumer view faster and cheaper, the response is educated, immediate and has therefore changed the whole product lifecycle.

Looking over recent history, some technologies have hit, not just because of their usefulness, but also because their marketing strategies struck a chord.  The uniqueness of any particular idea makes it salient, and hard to reproduce predictably, but understanding the language of innovation wrapped around these products is valuable information.

  • Uber came into public awareness for a few key reasons: it provided a desperately needed service, in this case transporSusie Almaneih marketingtation, it used existing infrastructure by hiring car owners instead of investing in vehicles, and the digital platform is extremely efficient, so consumers get results fast.  Uber was solving a couple problems for cities at once: commuting, parking and reducing carbon emissions.

Uber’s marketing campaign was very much a combination of word of mouth, high-profile partnerships and promotions.  Its “Kittens” campaign joined forces with the SPCA to deliver kittens in seven major cities, playing on the social media meme kittens equal happy people.

  • Another product and service combination that gained tremendous traction was Etsy.  This strategy capitalized on the DIY movement and gave creatives a high-profile venue to pawn their wares.  Like Ebay, but without the auction, Etsy gave producers of goods a direct line of sale to their customer, as well as control over pricing and shipping.

Etsy’s global marketing campaign was very effective in that it delivered a sense of authenticity and connection between consumer and producer that has all but disappeared from the marketing scene.  This was especially triumphant in gift-giving and seasonal cycles, where the value of vintage, one-of a-kind and handmade goods resonates with a large base of consumers.

  • Ever since the Jetsons, the collective imagination has yearned for a time when just thinking about an action makes it possible.  The Emotiv Neuro Transmitter may have broken the finish line with a headset that translates brainwaves into commands.  Users can optimize their own cognitive functions, compose music, or play video games, just by thinking about it.

Tan Le, the founder and developer, used a very simple but sophisticated strategy in introducing the technology: she sought out her audience by giving a Ted Talk, a behind-the-scenes video to illustrate the evolution of the headset, and made the bold move of taking the product to the public, rather than B2B specialization, like the medical or military industries.

  • Susie Almaneih marketingHootsuite was such a simple idea that it was nearly overtaken by a few competitors in the Software-as-a-Service game, but its agility in allowing users to schedule and control posts to big platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook put it out in front.  Hootsuite was able to leverage its efficacy as a social media conveyor by creating some spoof videos that went viral like wildfire.  Using the iconography of Game of Thrones, Hootsuite was able to put itself on the map (quite literally if you watch the video) by borrowing the very recognizable logos of all the major players in the social media arena.  You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=3&v=el8Ydwh0QlQ
  • Illustrating similar ingenuity, Hubspot coined the term inbound marketing, a circular concept that brings targeted consumers into contact with relevant business content.  The platform does this by offering a treasure trove of materials and tools including marketing kits, case studies, analytics and tons of evergreen content that creates a short cut for both businesses and customers.

What is unique about this offering is that the product is the marketing.  Because they are specialists in all things marketing (viral, social, e-commerce and the list goes on); the service advertises for itself.

The take away from these examples may not be platitudes about how to energize consumers; humans are fickle and with more variety available than ever, they are far more discerning than the previous generation of consumer.  However, maybe the bigger lesson is that with a unique offering there must be equally unique messaging.  What these companies proved is that questioning assumptions about how to sell a product is one of the most basic ingredients in a magnetic and memorable campaign.