Monday Madness

workI do hope everyone had a great weekend! We were super busy but had lots of fun with friends, enjoying some beautiful weather.

It’s Monday again, so I offer up some video clips and posts that will hopefully make you smile. For those of you visiting for the first time, Monday Madness is about making people smile on a day that isn’t always popular.

First up, Sean Hayes and Scott Icenogle lip-sync to Flo Rida’s “I Don’t Like It, I Love It”. Try not to crack up when you see them trying not to crack up when using their props.

Next up, this is two years old but I just laugh every time. Clyde wants a kitten!

Finally, the school year will soon be coming to an end, and this Buzzfeed post, titled, “Parents At The Beginning of The School Year Vs.The End” nails it.

Don’t forget, email me with contributions to Monday Madness!

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Foodie Friday

lobsterIt’s Friday, which means we get to talk about food!!!

This week I have several goodies to share with you.

First up, food porn! Last week I had lunch with some new foodie friends at Atsumi Asian Kitchen & Sushi Bar. It was sooooo good. Atsumi is an Asian Fusion restaurant that blends traditional Chinese cuisine with a constantly changing sushi menu, centered around the freshest fish. Not only is the chef cooking Asian fusion, there is also a “secret menu” from which you can order traditional dishes that you would find in China. If you’ve been to China and have a favorite dish, just ask your server for it. 

A couple of attendees had sushi and the rolls on their plates looked fabulous! (Unfortunately I didn’t take note of what they ordered.)

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Next up, a recipe titled, “Texas Caviar”. Just in case you don’t know, there are no fish eggs in this recipe. The “roe” is black-eyed peas.

This is a yummy dip that can be made and eaten year-round. The recipe I’m sharing came from my mom, so that is to whom I attribute it. I have no idea where she got it.

The recipe is as follows:

  • 1 can white hominy, drained
  • 2 cans tomatoes with jalapenos, diced (I use Ro*tel)
  • 1 can black-eyed peas, drained
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/2 cup salsa

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve with whatever corn or tortilla scoops you most enjoy.

Let me know what you think if you try it.

And finally, an interview with Alton Brown by Spoon University. (Disclaimer: I love him and Chef Gordon Ramsay. That is all.) “Alton Brown Dishes on Food Philosophy and Why Millennials Suck – An interview with Alton Brown while on his Edible Inevitable Tour”. (And when Mr. Brown shared this on FB, he made sure we knew that he did not say millennials suck.)

And remember, share your favorite thoughts, recipes, chefs, food television shows, etc., with me and I will happily feature them here!

Sushi photos courtesy of Albert Nurick

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Building A Brand – Internally and Externally

moleculebendersThis topic will have at least two blog posts so as to tell the whole story. It’s about building a differentiating brand for a business unit first within the company, and then taking it to the overall business division, which meant taking it externally.

Background

At a chemical company, the vice president of the coatings, polymers, and resins (CPR) business unit came to me asking for help in building a differentiating brand for their specific unit within the overall business division. (And no, we could not play off the CPR acronym!)

As a first step, we brought in an outside agency, and things got off to a decent start. However, as we went along in the process, the service became poor and slow. In fact, at one meeting with the VP and his team, the person representing the agency actually stopped the conversation to ask how to contact MY boss, the vice president of communications. It was clear that she was looking for more inroads to get more business, and we decided that if she wasn’t going to focus on the work she was getting paid to do, then we didn’t need her. So I fired the agency. (Needless to say, I filed that learning moment away, and remind myself of it as I now work for myself!)

Going forward

The agency was gone and we were back to square one. To be honest, I was quite excited because it was a chance to see what my graphic designer (with whom I had worked a long time) and I could bring to the table.

We sat down with the VP and his team, and asked a lot of questions. Then we did something shocking. We LISTENED. Yes! We listened to what they were saying, asked more questions, and listened to what they weren’t saying.

The issues

After we had these conversations, we determined the following issues:

  • Confusion with the other business divisions and their respective approaches to common markets (coatings/inks)
  • Target audience (lab chemists) in diverse and fragmented markets are hard to reach
  • 3X size of historical business and still targeting >10% growth/year meant there was an absolute need for better efficiency in communicating their message as specialty intermediate supplier.

The objectives

After confirming the issues were correct, i.e., we discussed them with the business to ensure we were on the same page (second shocking moment), we moved on to determining the objectives. They included:

  • Building image campaign
  • Research identity
  • Research customer perceptions
  • Identify audiences and how to best reach them
  • Identify message that will resonate with customers
  • Goal of final message:
    • Can be used with all audiences
    • Will play to ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ issues
    • Will be a positive, motivating sentiment
    • Will be consistent with evolving corporate messaging.

Then came a third shocking moment. We reviewed the objectives with the business unit and confirmed we were on the same page!

The cliffhanger

As this post is already over 500 words, I’ll leave you with this: Everything done to this point ensured we understood what the business unit – CPR – wanted, thought they wanted, and what they really wanted.

Next time, I’ll share the positioning, personality, and both the internal and external communication plan/implementation. (And share a couple of original ads that definitely stood out from the crowd.)

In the meantime, please share your thoughts and let me know if you have any questions about the above.

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Social Media Success At a Trade Show

paintsplashIt’s been awhile since I orchestrated the following communication strategy but it is still one of my favorite experiences to share.

This is a case history, but applies today, especially to certain industries such as chemicals and oil & gas, in which some companies haven’t quite begun to embrace all of the tools available via communications.

The Coatings, Polymers, and Resins marketing manager was going to an important conference that not all of his global clients would be able to attend. I saw an opportunity to introduce this thing called “blogging” and reach all of his clients at the same time.

What We Did

Using the business case of a “special event”, we set up a short-term blog that would be used only during the conference itself. An invitation was sent to all of the manager’s clients letting them know what the blog was, how it would work, that we would send them updates from the conference itself, and it would be limited to the days of the conference so as not to overwhelm them. I counseled the manager on what worked and didn’t work in a blog, and off to the conference he went.

He shared his posts with me; I posted them, sent the emails everyday, and tracked the interaction. The posts themselves were a mixture of big news each day and after hour activities such as climbing a mountain.

The Results

The first day was a hit! His booth was swarmed by clients, competitors, and media, all of whom wished they’d thought of this special event blog first.

He received positive feedback from clients who could not attend. The emails were full of thanks for keeping them in the loop.

The true win, though? It had been timed with a new product launch.

Results included an updated website garnering a 51% increase in external hits, and search engine results in the top three listings, as well as media placement within trade publications.

All of that led to commercial business with Behr Paint and a prediction of 300,000 pounds of product in the next year. (This initial prediction was far above what had originally been shared with leadership.)

The Perfect Storm

I started small and pushed the envelope to make this happen. Looking at the big picture and understanding the business goals, I was able to coordinate a product launch that went beyond the norm – using traditional and new communication vehicles. And, it helped that the marketing manager had an open mind as well. It was, truly, the perfect storm.

What do you think?

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How Talking Sports Helps Your Career

daboWay back in the day, early, early in my career, I was told to learn how to play golf.

The reason? The golf course is where business is done, and most clients like to meet at the golf club. That was a reality of the 90s.

Now, I have enjoyed following golf all my life, but playing it was (and still isn’t) my forte. I’ll get out there, though!

However, I can talk about golf, and other sports, very intelligently, because there are certain sports I love! And talking about sports helps your career.

Let me be clear: It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. Being able to talk sports is one of those things you are not taught in school. Talking sports as part of business discussions is an unspoken ticket into business and its various groups.

Let me give you an example. In the mid-90s, I was based in North Carolina, home to textiles and tobacco. I handled NAFTA region communications for textiles (clothes, dyes, car paint, carpet), home and personal care (shampoo, soaps), and water and paper treatment (city water plants).

Many of the managers were what some people call, “good ol’ boys”.

Going into this marketing communications job, I was not a known entity and I was talking about doing communications differently than in ‘the usual way”. (Eeekk! HAHAHA!)

So What Did I Do?

I didn’t let them intimidate me. I asked to be included in meetings. I kept showing up at the meetings. I went to the meetings prepared.

I walked the halls, stopping in their offices and making chit-chat or giving them updates on projects.

Then it all came together—football season arrived. And if you don’t know me, then let me tell you that I love, love, love football (especially my Clemson Tigers)!

The Result

As the football chatter started up, I joined the conversations. I was able to quickly prove that I knew my stuff about the teams, schedules, polls, and history.

While I had made inroads by always being professional and on point with my communication strategies and implementation, knowing and talking about football sealed the deal for me. As I became accepted as “one of the guys”, I was able to initiate more strategic and complex internal communications projects.

This isn’t to say that you have to turn into “one of the guys” to succeed in business. It’s something that worked for me and continues to do so. And I’ve seen it work for a lot of other people. One tip: don’t try too hard.

Additionally, I made some good “business friendships” and found a mentor (the VP of Textiles), who gave me good advice to continue navigating my way forward in that particular position and with my career.

Finding a connection with people helps in building business relationships. Sports is one of those connectors.

What do you think? What’s worked for you?

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Picture courtesy of Clemson: Coach Dabo Swinney

Monday Madness

workOn Friday, I introduced what will be a weekly post, “Foodie Friday“. (Please send me an email to contribute!)

Since Mondays always get a bad rap, I thought I would do something different. Every Monday, I’ll post something fun in an attempt to put a smile on your face! (And yes, I will accept submissions for consideration!)

That leaves Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for my business posts.

So without further ado, I hope you enjoy watching this lip sync battle between Jason Krasinski and Anna Kendrick – both of whom pull out all the stops and one big surprise!!!

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Foodie Friday!

lobsterIt’s Friday! It’s Friday! It’s Friday!

As I have finished my first week with the new website, I want to introduce you to Foodie Friday. My goal is to have this be a weekly post and it will include restaurant reviews, recipes, chefs, cooking shows, and all associated goodies. My promise to you is that I won’t share anything I haven’t tried myself. AND, I want you to submit your foodie favorites as well!

To kick this off, I’m going to share my thoughts on one my favorite restaurants, The Republic Grille. Located in The Woodlands, TX, this place wows me on a regular basis. My favorite dish is the chicken fried steak (CFS), voted as one of the top five best in Houston. (And, as you know, Houston is a BIG city.)

chs_RGBut don’t think that it’s only known for its CFS. They have a great menu that has something for everyone. Some of their other signature dishes include:

  • Shrimp and grits
  • Blackened flounder with a crawfish sauce
  • Double cut pork chops
  • Certified angus burgers
  • The TRG salad – grilled chicken, cranberries, mild goat cheese, red grapes, sweet-n-spicy pecans and strawberries
  • Salmon (grilled or its own salad)
  • Fish or shrimp tacos
  • Oh gosh – see the whole menu here!

One of my favorite things about TRG is that they have a patio. Right now, TX is enjoying its spring, and there is nothing like sitting outside with great food, friends and family, and a beverage.

If you leave nearby and haven’t tried it out, go soon! If you have the chance to travel here, make sure you try it out!

Don’t forget – submit your favorite recipes, restaurants, etc., for Foodie Friday!

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