Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Golden Rule is Free

Candace came to Austin recently, and we met with the official event planners of SXSW (South by Southwest, Austin's big music, movie and tech conference). One of our clients is interested in showcasing their new product, and feels like SXSW is the perfect venue (we agree!). The ladies with whom we met could not have been nicer, more creative or more interested in us. Candace and I came away from that meeting feeling energized and brilliant. That same feeling is what BrightBlue wants our clients to experience with us.

We have another recent client company for whom we helped launch a service. The folks on this team are beyond polite and gracious to us and everyone they deal with. Doing business in this way gives their subsidiary - and thus, their parent company! - a stellar reputation. As their division gets larger, their esteem will precede them and attract the best and brightest employees. In turn, these bright, happy people will attract and keep clients.

It's been a tough economic year, and it'll get worse before it gets better. However, employing kindness and sincerity with everyone you meet will ensure that your personal reputation and that of your company will prevail. Doing so not only costs you nothing, but it's priceless.

We'll be back on the blog on January 7. Wishing all of you a happy, healthy, prosperous 2009!

The BrightBlue Marketing Team

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Live & Learn

We all make mistakes; it's inevitable. Making a mistake at work can be a terrifying experience since it involves both your pride and your livelihood. Sometimes an error is minor, like the time I miscalculated the number of dining tables needed at a corporate event. I had actually overestimated the number needed, but one of the VPs was afraid that our sponsor would think that people were supposed to have been at that table and didn't show up. The error was fixed simply by asking hotel staff remove the extra table, which was accomplished in a minute or two.

Other mistakes are cringeworthy, even years later. One of my first jobs after graduating from college required lots of proposal-type documents to be mailed out daily. We typically sent these packages via FedEx. It was when I sent the United States Postal Service one such document via FedEx that was a real problem. As you can imagine, it was poorly received. The salesperson who wrote up the proposal was angry at me, and felt that he did not need to point out that the proposal should go out through the U.S. mail. I agreed, and this is how I fixed it: I asked my husband, a past president of the Dallas Philatelic Society (a fancy way to say "Stamp Club") to write an apology on my behalf. I enclosed it with my own letter of apology and the client was impressed with my employer. We landed the USPS account.

What's a mistake that you've made, and how did you fix it? The best story gets a write-up in my next entry.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Amazon Renovates the Client Experience - Again

Remember when changed the whole process of buying books? Every little thing about buying a book was combined on the web to create the client experience – from book selection to having the book arrive at your door. The company set the bar for client experience of buying books on the web, then transferred their expertise to other product categories.

Now, Amazon once again demonstrates how to improve the customer experience by taking on the crazy, wasteful packaging we find on most toys and electronics. Coining the term, “Wrap Rage” to describe the frustration of unwrapping these packages, Amazon invented Frustration-Free Packaging.

Frustration-Free Packaging is a multi-year initiative in which Amazon is working with Mattel, Fisher-Price and other major manufacturers to eliminate the plastic-coated steel ties that require wire clippers to remove, the clam shell plastic you can hardly cut with scissors, and unnecessary plastic and styrene that holds pieces in place. This is all replaced with easy-open, recyclable boxes.

Hooray for Amazon for recognizing that the client experience doesn’t end with receiving the product and for being willing to take on such a challenging project. Wishing you a frustration-free holiday!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The English Language has Suddenly Shortened

I was recently informed (you can call it breaking news) that an expression from TV's The Simpsons will be included in the new Collins English Dictionary: "meh" which means " a lack of enthusiasm, of being unimpressed, mediocre or boring." In addition to new words being added, there is an ongoing debate about technological expressions which tend to take unhyphenated forms as they become more familiar, such as website, homepage, printout and email previously seen as web site, home page, print out and electronic mail. According to, the transition from World Wide Web site to Web site to website as a single uncapitalized word mirrors the development of an increasing preference for "closed forms."

It seems that now more than ever, people tend to be in a hurry , running late or just can’t find enough time in the day to get everything done. I’d like to believe the acceptance of shorter, closed form phrases and words may actually buy us time. Is there anyone out there measuring how much time are we are saving by removing a hyphen and a space and abbreviating words? While we wait for a response, let’s raise our glasses in a toast “to honor all the new short words.” But first, would you like Zin or Cab?

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Out of Your Box

Webster defines collaborate “as to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.” It sounds pretty good. Another more practical explanation is that it’s the only way to get through the work day successfully.

Every day we face projects that seem like mountains if we are trying to tackle them by ourselves, but with a team member or two on your side, they are completed with time to spare. This is especially true if you are dealing with any kind of creative project. For example, take coming up with ideas for a new campaign. If you are alone, you are stuck in this little confining box called yourself, but when you bring in other perspectives, all of a sudden you are opened up to this new exciting world where there are no limits. One person will have an idea, which will spark an idea within someone else and the process just snowballs into success.

That is what this whole social media thing is all about. By yourself you are one person with one voice, trying to make a difference or be heard on whatever issue is important to you. But when you get out of your little box and join the other individuals out there, you are no longer one voice. You become many voices that will be successfully heard. So get out of your little box and be successful.

Go collaborate!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

What Not to Do

You’ve probably heard of What Not to Wear, the show where Stacy and Clinton outfit an unsuspecting fashion victim with a fresh new look that not only transforms their physical presence but boosts their self-esteem. Well, when I read this story from Julie Power at Internet Marketing Report I immediately thought of a new show one might call What Not to Do, for companies in need of a fresh new outlook on how to do business and connect with customers in an increasingly social media-driven world, hosted by Common Sense and Get With The Program.

Julie recently wrote that executives at Jack Daniels shut down a web site that Dave Child, one of their fans, had launched called because they thought it infringed on their trademark. The site - a Jack Daniels love fest - had built up quite a following and garnered more visits than any of Jack Daniels’ corporate web properties.

Scratching your head? I think Julie said it best: “Were they crazy? Doesn't every company want advocates like these? These are the rare handful of people who'll go to great lengths to tell the world how much they love your product or service.”

I understand the need to protect a brand and corporate image, but blocking the people who are passionate about helping promote that brand? Your customers and fans? Seems counterproductive to say the least.

Julie goes on to share an excerpt from Dave Child’s new blog, Added Bytes:

Still love Jack Daniel's? Umm. I know it should taste the same - they've not changed the recipe after all. Yet for some reason, I find myself drawn to alternatives...

Not a surprising conclusion to this story, but probably not the end result Jack Daniels really wanted. With the adoption of social media tools on the rise, and the power those tools provide to consumers allowing them to publicly share and influence, I think companies would be wise to join the conversation and help foster community instead of proceed down a path that disenfranchises the people with whom they want to connect. Somewhat akin to Stacy and Clinton telling you it’s time to dress age appropriate.

What do you think? Is your company wearing the wrong outlook?

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Stone tablet, anyone?

Rubylith, amberlith, marking up type, Rapidograph pens, FPO, stat cameras, using hot wax or rubber cement to create hard mechanicals. Does any of this sound familiar? If you were an art director orgraphic designer prior to the rise of the almighty Macintosh, it does. And you look back on those days witha certain fondness, but no desire to go back.

Yep, we've come a long way, baby. These days the designer's lingo includes TIFF, JPG, GIF, CSS, HTML, Flash, Pixel, DPI, CS. Yes, we sure are fancy now. But here's a term that never becomes obsolete: IDEA. As in “The Big.” Whether runes carved in a rock or the latest browser window, the idea is what cuts through the clutter. It's what sets you apart. Without it, all the acronyms don’t matter.

The process still starts the same way it did back when: What are we trying to say? Who are we talking to? What can we say that no one else can? How can we say it that will reflect our unique personality? Say it with a smoke signal if you like; the right idea, the right message, to the right audience always works. It did then and it does now. Now, who stole my t-square?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Picture YOUR Business Succeeding

At BrightBlue, we like stories – and we like Marketing. Here’s a True Marketing Story about how a small business in a little town in mid-America benefited from social networking. There's a photography studio in a tiny town called Halstead in central Kansas. Halstead’s original claim to fame dated back to 1955 when the movie “Picnic,” was filmed there. Now they have a new reason to be famous; a photography studio called Creative Reflections Photography. This photography studio specializes in high school senior photos. These are not your ordinary senior pictures – these photos are stunning. The kids’ personalities and individuality are captured in all sorts of unique ways. When the kids from Halstead, Kansas started posting their senior pictures on Facebook and MySpace, kids from other areas noticed. They started asking where they got their pictures taken. Then word spread...and spread. Now high school seniors are driving from surrounding states to get their photos taken at Creative Reflections Photography in little Halstead, Kansas. Take a look for yourself at

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Twitters & Tweets

I was recently roaming on the internet, doing the modern version of free association and found this article from BusinessWeek: How Companies Use Twitter to Bolster Their Brands started in 2006 as a way to microblog in short, up-to-the-minute bursts. Today, it has somewhere between 1-3 million users

The article discusses how technology, the internet, Twitter and other instant, worldwide communication ports actually enable control of the brand by consumers. People who use and read "tweets" tend to be influential, so positive and negative experiences of products and services can be read by hundreds or thousands of people.

The article gives companies suggestions as to how to use Twitter to monitor customer tweets in order to gain positive customer experiences and, thus, positive chatter out in the cyberworld. What I took from the article, though, is how now -more than ever - customer service and appreciation is important for its own sake. The world is your market, and the golden rule still applies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you - or risk getting your @$$ tweeted about it.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Tuning in to your creativity

I've spent the last few hours of driving time listening to a CD of Steven Snyder and his presentation "Mind Matters - Brilliance, Passion, and the Nature of Mastery." One of the analogies he made resonated with me and I wanted to share it with you. He likened humans to a radio, with a frequency knob and a passion volume knob. In order to have complete focus you must have your knobs adjusted just right.

The frequency knob, at its lowest, is the same as being comatose. Turn it higher and you get to deep REM dream sleep. The next level is a subconscious state where you are aware you are dreaming. The frequency at its highest brings you to the conscious level.

Snyder calls the subconscious state the "HeartMind" state, the place where the mind of creativity and imagination lies. And he refers to the conscious level as the "BrainMind" level. In this awake state, logic and reasoning takes place. Snyder says that the "BrainMind" state should work in harmony with the "HeartMind" state.

Now you need to turn up the passion/volume knob.

Couple this harmonized "BrainMind/HeartMind" with the passion volume turned all the way up: The result is "Complete Focus.

How often do you have your passion and frequency knobs tuned just right? When you do and can reach this complete focus state, trust me, ideas start flowing. Creativity is about freeing up your mind and tuning into your passion.

What can get in the way of reaching this perfect passion and frequency balance? First, you must avoid multi-tasking. When you are multi-tasking, you are preventing harmony between the conscious and subconscious minds. The flow of information gets diluted because of the various distractions. Multi-tasking results in the inability to truly focus.

The second obstacle of complete focus is not feeling the passion. Snyder suggest you “Fake It til You Make It!” Kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you act passionate about something and start saying you are passionate, then you will begin to believe it. The result? True focus and creativity.

(Note that BrightBlue Marketing is not faking it!)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

What's your brand?

If you don’t know who Chris Brogan is, allow me to introduce you. He’s a social media consultant (guru) who advises businesses, organizations and individuals on how to use social media and social networks to build relationships and deliver value.

I’m an avid follower of Chris’ blog where he recently published a free eBook, Personal Branding for the Business Professional. At just about 15 pages, it contains everything from strategy advice to things to consider to over 100 tactics and ideas. Good stuff.

As a marketer who deals with branding companies and products, the eBook was a good reminder to think about how I brand myself – particularly now that there are so many places and ways to present yourself beyond face-to-face - blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

As Chris says, ”A personal brand gives you the ability to stand out in a sea of similar products. In essence, you’re marketing yourself as something different than the rest of the pack.” Do you need this? I don’t know, but in all likelihood you don’t want to be mixed in with the pack.

Obviously personal branding goals will vary by individual, but I think you’ll find some good nuggets in the eBook. If nothing else it might prompt you to ask a few more questions and get thinking about it. And I promise it’s not all questions, you’ll find some answers, too.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Cheers Anyone?

I try and learn something from everything. One very important lesson I picked up actually came from the old sitcom “Cheers” theme song.

Where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows Your name.

I don’t think it matters if it is a social get together or professional meeting; people want to be where someone knows their name. One of the most important things we do for our clients is helping them build relationships with their clients. Someone told me once that it takes 6+ touches before someone will think of you when they need something. It could also be said it takes 6+ touches before someone is convinced that you know their name and are glad they came. Because growing a business is really about building relationships. People go to people they know and it is our job to get to know their name.

Cheers Everyone!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Running a good campaign

Advertising Campaigns, or ‘Campaigns’ as it’s known, is a class seniors take when working toward an advertising degree at the University of Texas at Austin. Students are randomly broken up into teams of four or five to work on two real-world advertising campaign projects. Campaigns is where I met Candace Lopez - we happened to both be assigned to the same two projects.

You find out a lot about a person when you’re in Campaigns with them. For instance I learned that Candace was smart, knows how to manage a project, and works harder than most people. I also learned she can stay up late and likes milkshakes. I also learned work didn’t come so naturally to everyone else. Take a fellow team member we’ll call Bill (because that’s his name). Imagine me opening the door to Bill an hour after our team meeting started, him dramatically wiping his brow (I’m not kidding – insert ‘whew!’), as if he’d run 10 miles to get there, uphill, without shoes – then only staying for half an hour.

Over the course of my career I’ve consistently observed that basic project management skills - knowing what questions to ask, how to answer them (or get the answers), then creating and implementing a plan of action based on that information – are fundamental to success. Whether you’re talking about running an advertising campaign, participating in a trade show, or creating a case study, project management is what gets it done.

I’m not saying every good project manager is a good marketer – you also need passion for the field, creativity, and intuition, among other things. But I can guarantee you the best marketers are good project managers.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

and the award goes to...

Distinctive logos, eye-catching ads, insightful articles, engaging Web sites. We all see great work every day. There's a lot of it out there. But there's even more bad, or even worse, mediocre work out there. A lot more. So what separates the great from the not-so-great? Is it the designer or art director? Is it the writer, or the project manager? To be sure there are plenty of industry awards available for folks in these positions. Every advertising agency and design firm has a shelf ( or shelves) in their conference room displaying the awards they've won. But no matter how talented and visionary the creative team is, great work won't get done without a great client. A client who is as passionate about branding as the agency they hire. A client who is willing to empower their creative team to do the best work possible. A client who will not just hand off the work, but roll up their sleeves and jump into the middle of it. Ultimately, great work is done by a team, working together, everyone contributing to the whole. It takes a client willing to cross the line and think like a creative. And it takes creatives willing to cross the line in the other direction and think like a client. Then you really need to start adding shelves in the conference room.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Marketing, Then and Now

When the BrightBlue Marketing team asks their clients how they would describe their companies to their grandmothers, it reminded me of a question my grandmother asked me.

When I enrolled at TCU in 1986, I entered as a business major [aside here: How on earth is a barely 18-year-old person supposed to pick their life's work before they even know what kinds of jobs there ARE in the world? I'm 40, and STILL don't know], but had to wait 2 years to declare what kind of business major I'd be: accounting, finance, management or marketing. Marketing had all the coolest facets of business, including PR, advertising, R&D and sales.

At Christmastime of 1988, my Grandma asked me to come sit beside her. She said, "your parents told me that you've chosen marketing as your major. What IS marketing?" I rattled off the things that my marketing professors said it was.

Now that I've had 15+ years of experience in marketing departments for different companies, I would say this instead: Marketing is the glue that holds a company together. It is the internal and external voice of the company, and crucial to its success.

And if I could go back in time to my 20 year old self, I'd say "marketing is a wonderful, exciting and innovative field. You chose well, Young Me. Now please reconsider your hairstyle. That hairspray's going to cause a hole in the ozone!"

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Your photo on M&M's - so what?

Did you know you can now get M&M's with your photo on them? Yep, you just go to the M&M's web site, upload your photo, pick your colors and days later you can have pink M&M's with your daughter's picture for her Sweet 16 party delivered by the UPS truck. If you think this has nothing to do with your business, think again. It's called personalization and it's hot. Personalization is a trend driving the economy because it drives the purchase of technology. Consider all the technology consumed by companies that offer the ability to personalize their products. The process begins with making selections on the web, then flows all the way through the manufacturing process. This drives companies to buy web technology, ERP, configurators, product lifecycle management and complementary software and hardware to make it all happen. So, with an open mind, a little M&M might give you an idea for how to grow your own business.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The BrightBlue Marketing Story

Put on your sunglasses, 'cause it's about to get brighter in the blog world...
Marketing welcomes you to the "BrightBlue Blog!"

Have you ever run across a person that does not have any stories to tell? (Stories about growing up, the dreaded family vacation story, stories about grandma and grandpa, etc.) If you dig deep enough, everyone has a story.

My point is, your company should have a unique and compelling story, too. It hurts my ears when someone tells me their company story is something like this... We leverage blah to be the best in our industry blah blah and have a leading technology blah and competitive edge blah blah in the enterprise sector blah blah.

Luckily for our blog readers, the BrightBlue Marketing team has enough stories to keep you entertained for years.
I believe that you'll enjoy each and every one. Some relate to marketing experiences, some don't, and some will let you know how we go about creating unique and powerful stories for our clients (that won't hurt your ears.)

So, back to the introductions. Watch for a new blog entry every week from the brilliant BrightBlue Bloggers:

Cassi Rinehart
Erik Swanson
Larissa Gaston
Melissa Womack

Tracey Jackson

We hope you will take part in the BrightBlue Blog. See you next week!