Tag Archives: Marketing

Hit the ground running!

A cure for the unemployment blues is when you get that new job hit the ground running! That is what I have done, but I did not mean to neglect you all. My new job was less than a month from launching a new promotional campaign and needed some immediate creative direction.  On day two I was meeting with the creative agency the company hired. They needed some immediate feedback on new directions for the look and feel of subsequent work. So I just finished week three and I have directed four products from conception to production without taking my coat off! Truth is, I love it! I could not be happier to be needed. When we launch, I will share.  The best part of my new job is the fresh energy of the team I’m a part of. Newly hired, ranging from almost a year to 3 weeks it is a talent storm! I have learned a lot and made new friends I know I will have for years! What a perfect storm, I know I will be smarter for having worked with this marketing dream team! Watch out Twin Cities here comes HealthEast.

Chasing the Diaspora: Day 5

Genuine interest.

Showing a genuine interest in multicultural Diasporas is the best way to turn their interest in your products into ROI. Acknowledge the culture and tout your company’s interest in the concerns and challenges of the groups you are targeting. I don’t think it is inappropriate to point out your company’s support for national progress organizations such as the United Negro College fund or sharing your company’s support of legislation that matters to your target audience. Jets make sure that this interest is genuine and long-standing. Making a large donation before launching your African-American Product line will seem ill-timed and patronizing. Sharing long-standing interest will go a long way for building good will.

So this is Day 5, I have shared some ideas on multicultural marketing basics. I have only scratched the surface but I’m willing to delve deeper if there are more specific questions people have. What are your thoughts?


Chasing the Diaspora: Day 4

If your budget is tight, then only focus your efforts on products or services that are relevant and being under utilized by your ethnic target market. What I mean by this is you should assume normal use products don’t need a special pitch. All ethnic groups and races clean their home. So, there is no real need to re-shoot your Pine Sol commercial for multiple ethnic groups. The need to keep one’s home clean is a universal need sort of like bathrooms. Everybody does it.  It is better to focus your efforts on cultural understanding of how your products or services are used.

On day 1 I gave an example of how three different ethnic groups use the same product. The Caucasian family using Crisco to grease a baking pan, the African-American family using Crisco to fry chicken, and the Latino family using Crisco to fry yucca. I did that to show that different uses that are culturally relevant exist. This was not to suggest that African-Americans and Latinos don’t use Crisco to bake or that Caucasian families don’t fry foods. It was rather about letting your audience know, that your company has taken the time to explore common practices in other cultures. It sends the message that you have put forth the effort to include their norms, in your company’s definition of normal use.

It is my opinion that the effort to place cultural experiences into mainstream society is one way companies can maximize their appeal to multiple ethnic populations. While a company can’t be all things to all people, you will gain my customer loyalty by demonstrating that my purchasing dollar is something you are willing to court.

Chasing the Diaspora: basic ideas for multicultural advertising

I thought I would write a series over the next five days on topics that are pertinent to a multicultural marketing and advertising effort. As an African-American consumer who is also a Latina, I thought I could shed some light on the cultural forces that drive my purchase patterns. As a creative marketer, I thought I’d share my approach.

Idea 1: Be honest. Be real. Speak to my experience or need.

Your product or service does not need to be combined with a civil rights lesson or be so equally balanced that the only thing different in the ad is the skin color. The whole experience should be focused on authentic believable experiences to get my interest. People want to see themselves and remember what they had not be reminded of what they didn’t have. My grandmother was a great cook. She could bake wonderfully. She didn’t own a Kitchen Aid mixer.

My mother was born in Youngstown, Ohio in a working class African-American family of eight children. She was a teenager during the civil rights movement. She raised her children to understand the struggle of the time and to be appreciative of the life we were now able to lead. My father was born in Kingston Jamaica to a Cuban woman and her Jamaican military husband. He was one of 14 children. I spent half the summer with my grandmothers. Everything I needed to learn about civil struggle I learned from my parents and grandparents. Therefore, I don’t need a civil rights lesson in your marketing approach.

But I do want people to be able to show me why your product appeals to my natural cultural biases. Yes, I said biases! I have them, we all do. Think for a moment the first time you sliced a tomato. How did you do it? Most likely, you did it the way your mother or grandmother did it. Lengthwise wedges or horizontal slices, the images from the kitchen you spent the most time in are what you rely on.  This is how I shop and cook. Images from the kitchens I spent the most time in. This sounds logical I’m sure.

Picture this familiar image. A large expensive appliance laden kitchen impeccably decorated and a wholesome, often Caucasian, grandmother baking. There are catch phrases “just like grandma used to make” This imagery doesn’t usually draw me in. While I cooked with my grandmothers our spaces weren’t as grand, but they were clean and filled with love. The food was flavorful and the kitchen was rarely an empty large space but crowded and full of activity. One aunt at the sink washing collard greens another at the table cutting up blocks of cheddar cheese for the macaroni and cheese, still another  at a counter whipping up a Jell-O mold. This was no holiday scene it was just Sunday dinner. Everyone in that kitchen looked like me and knew where I fit in. I was usually at the table snapping the ends off fresh green beans. This is the time when the phrases like “we’ve always done it this way” come to good use.

So If I wanted to transform this ad into one targeted at a specific Diaspora here are the basic things I would do.

  • Change the people in the kitchen. Let your target market see themselves in your ad. If their kitchens are crowded, add more people. Let the children scurry around and get in trouble for licking the spoon!
  • Change the product use and make it authentic. While one mother uses Crisco to grease and flour a baking pan, my African-American Grandmother used Crisco to make the world’s greatest fried chicken. My Cuban cousins use it to fry Yucca.
  • Make the surroundings authentic. My grandmother’s kitchen was the center of my universe, but there was no Bosch dishwasher. In the summer, I was the dishwasher. It is not insulting to respect the reality of people’s childhood memories. Very few working class families have restaurant style refrigerators and freezers. My grandmother certainly didn’t, but you could eat off her floors!
  • Don’t be afraid to do it differently. While we are all equal, our experiences are not the same. Don’t put your marketing and advertising through the race-neutralizing filter. It will offend your target market. If you don’t recognize and appreciate the differences, it sends a subtle message that there is something wrong with different.



Hmm fancy that?

Pinterest, I’m so sorry it’s not you, it’s me. I just want permission to hang out on other sites that let me purchase an outfit right on the site. You see I’ve discovered  “Fancy!”

While I love Pinterest, I love efficiency more. Fancy has beaten Pinterest to the ROI. The items you love, collect and “Fancy” versus “Pin,” can also be bought right on the site. No need to travel to third-party sites to make a purchase. While I’m not an impulse buyer usually, this efficient business model capitalizes on the impulse buy immediately. Why is this a good thing? It is the virtual equivalent of not letting the customer, leave the store. The longer they stay in the store, the more they buy.

When I first found Pinterest I loved being able to share the things I love with friends. However, I also wondered, how the heck do they make money? While there are featured products etc, to serve as advertising, If you send consumers elsewhere to make a purchase there is a greater possibility they won’t finish the transaction. Fancy is smart to keeps the customer in the store and still allowing them to share interest and purchases with friends in a social media platform.


Have you met TED’s app?

Streaming TED talks is now easier than ever.  First if you don’t know what TED is you need to. TED is an idea consortium. They offer great talks and presentations for free and motivating workshops for a membership. Memberships are not cheap but are beneficial if you want to allow your business to incorporate TED talks into training. TED now has an app that allows these presentation and talk videos to be shared on mobile devices and tablets. It also allows you to save and organize your favorites so you can easily get back to them for reference.  I have used TED talks to shape the ideas behind what kind of leader I want to be, how to maintain happiness as I work and how to motivate others to do their best. Check out TED.com if you want really great resources for effective leadership and team building.

Performance reviews, a great goal opportunity!

I worked in a union environment where compensation was automatic and not tied to performance. A number of my direct reports shared with me that prior managers of my department rarely performed annual evaluations. Most assumed it was because they were not tied to compensation. I realized that this meant a number of people on my staff had not been regularly informed how their supervisor thought they were performing, nor were they having annual measurable goals set for them. I set out to change this by reinstating the performance review and letting people know where their strengths and weaknesses stood with me. I also invited them to help me set measurable goals for them to achieve over the course of the next year.

The evaluations I provided were frank and honest and provided specific examples of their triumphs and trials. It is important to include both praise and observation in what people do well as well as where they struggle. It shows them that you are aware of their work in good times and bad. All too often people feel as if their bosses don’t know what they do. I made a point to make electronic notes on my personal calendar under the name of each direct reports sort of a “Sainted &Tainted” bulletin board of their yearly performance. So not only did I give examples of successes, I could even provide the dates. For poor performance, this also allowed me to know whether they had a pattern for a certain behavior all year or if it was just a fluke. When it comes to the good, include it all is my view. When it comes to the bad, I only include the troubling patterns and let the flukes go. This was my Mary Poppins approach; I found “a spoonful of sugar” really did help the medicine go down. To my surprise not only was this effective, it actually helped me turn lower producers into top performers. First, they knew I was watching. Secondly, they intrinsically wanted that sainted list to be long and the tainted list to shrink. Last and most importantly, at the end of the review, I would ask them to help me write their goals for the next year. I knew that even if they didn’t mind letting me down, they might think a little harder about letting themselves down.

Consulting is relationship building

I hosted a party this weekend for my MBA classmates. It was a lot of fun to see everyone and check in on life after MBA. When I was ask what I was doing, of course I said consulting and teaching.  The follow-up of course was “How do you sell yourself?”  This is accompanied by that “I’m not cut out for sales. I don’t have the personality for it.” I said “PrimariIy, I build relationships.” My husband laughed and said “No, Hill you make friends….for life!” Ok so I have friends from every stage in my life. My oldest friend is from the age of 6, and we still chat regularly.

The myth that selling your services requires the boisterous “can sell Holy water to Jesus” personality is just that, a myth. People want to know that you genuinely want to help them solve their problems and at a fair price. It is also worth mentioning that marketing and selling are too different things. When you market you help point out a need for a service or product. Good marketing creates the demand for the service. Selling is convincing clients to make this transaction with you or your company.  I find sincerity is my best attribute. I genuinely want to help people and I love solving problems. By the time a client reaches out to me, they have already decided that my skills are something they are interested in. This is the time when they are genuinely debating on finishing the transaction with me. I don’t need to go into heavy car sales mode, I just need to make a new friend. I know this means my circle of friends keeps growing, but my husband is right, I befriend, for life!

Here is a great site with steps to work  on selling your service!

Cheap and easy……. screencasts!

While there are several more expensive programs out there for screen casting, I found that TechSmith’s Jing and Jing Pro are the most cost-effective. This is especially true if the tutorial or presentation you want to create is shorter than 5 minutes or can be broken up into 5 minute segments.  Jing is free, while Jing Pro is about 15 dollars for the year. I use this to teach software to my online students for InDesign and PhotoShop as It allows them to watch the tutorials as many times as they need to learn a specific technique.  They are not polished by any means, and I hate the sound of my voice, but they are effective in quickly sharing.  I use the 5 minute time limits as a way to bridge moving from PhotoShop to InDesign. I then host them from screencast.com so that they play on all computers in the same clean viewer that works on any platform. Again this is a free basic service and 10  dollars a month for more reliable bandwidth. This would be great for sharing group presentations or sending a presentation that does not have to be simulcast. I’ll share a couple but no laughing! OK you can laugh a little. I’m starting to sound like a Minnesotan!

Easy clipping paths

Text wrap after clipping paths

The ever-elusive Alpha Mom

A lot of time is spent in conference rooms trying to figure out how to capture our attention. We are usually college educated yet family minded. We work in and out of the home and always get things done in spectacular fashion. Trendsetters yes! leaders of the mom pack, yes and no. The truth is we lead in our element. So how do you engage us? Well I can tell you it is not easy. Our time is precious and almost every minute is accounted for with work, home, school schedules and extracurricular activities. Did I also mention we have our own interest book clubs, professional associations and online groups? It’s a full day and week, so how do we manage it? We cut out the BS! Pardon my French but we have no time to be pitched or wooed. All that we want are the quick solutions to our problems and we usually rely on the advice of a trusted few moms who know us, know what we like and the kind of lives we strive to make for our families.

So how do you get our attention? Make our lives easier. We don’t want to keep up with the Jones’ we are the Jones’. As with all things, there is more than one type of Alpha Mom. I am the techy Alpha Mom. I wanted an iPhone because I saw how it simplified my gadget life. I went from five devices to one. No longer did I need a cell phone, iPod, calendar, laptop and address book all in my purse. I have everything I needed in one device that allows me to schedule the family, keep up with work, workout at the gym and send Christmas cards. I can even keep up with my stepchildren with text messaging while scheduling their flights to visit us. This brilliant invention even amuses my children in the waiting room at the pediatricians.

Looking for how your product will take the pain out of all the things that we need to get done in a day is only part of it, but it’s a great beginning. Keeping it simple and get it into the hands of the technology mom, or the baking mom, or the crafty mom, or the fashion chic mom is another key component. It’s like finding the right apps for your device. As the techy Alpha Mom, I am able to explain to another Alpha Mom why your product is great just by using it. When another mom sees my child calmed by the pain of a shot while watching Dora the Explorer, she’s sold. If my app buzz’s and I send my husband a text to pick up his prescriptions all while watching the 4 year-olds practice their dance to “rubber ducky,” she’s all but put it on her Christmas list. When I snap a little video while they practice, upload and share with family, if she can she’s stopping at the AT&T store on the way home.

So I probably, haven’t told you anything you don’t know already. We are not that hard to understand, but we know each other best and the real way to get our attention is to understand the roles of Alpha Moms. That’s why the crafty Alpha mom, who I know is laughing as she reads this, calls me to set up her 13 year old’s Facebook account. We don’t do it all ourselves, in our world “There’s a Mom for that!”