All posts tagged #marketing

Bollards to You and Other New Words

Bollard. Returnship. Showrooming. All but bollard are new, made-up-to-fit-the times, words that I learned this week. In an effort to learn these words so that they will flow seamlessly from my mouth I’ve been told to use them in sentence a few times.

I came across this word in the Wall Street Journal Returnship is an internship for people returning to the workforce. The WSJ blurb reported that Goldman Sachs, among other companies have “short-term paid jobs” for people coming back to work after taking time off.

I’ve experienced internship envy before. I desperately wanted the job at CBS that my niece-in-law took or the one with the United Nations that my nephew filled. When caught between what I’m doing and what I think I want to do next, an internship offers both parties a chance to see if there’s a fit in job responsibilities/skills and culture.

This is what the lady at Target was doing the other day. I just didn’t know it had a name other than comparison shopping. But if you comparison shop online while standing in front of merchandise in-store, you are showrooming.

I’m not sure I’m the showrooming type. When caught between looking for cheaper shampoo online or buying the fairly priced bottle in front of me and not driving, parking, and walking through another set of aisles, I usually grab what’s in front of me. And if I’m buying something significantly more expensive, say a new TV, I’ve done my comparison shopping online at home. That must make me a home-showroomer.

Every thing has a name and the little posts that prevent cars from driving into the front of buildings, usually important buildings, are called bollards. Who knew? Sailors perhaps, since the word has been used to describe the posts used to moor ships for many years. But an academic friend found an “operable bollards” sign on his campus the other day and wondered, “What is this and what is a non-operable bollard?”

I don’t imagine I’ll use bollard much in casual or formal conversation. If I need to warn someone about an upcoming bollard, I’m going to say, “Hey, watch out for the post,” not, “There’s a bollard obstructing our ingress/egress.” Come to think of it, I don’t use ingress or egress very often either.

Words open new worlds. A returnship brings new work opportunities. Showrooming brings cost savings. And bollards bring the lowly post up a few notches in status.

What Kind of Blogger Am I?

According to a study of blogging styles and attitudes conducted by Zemanta, a content suggestion engine (according to Wikipedia), I’m a Life Stager/Hedonist/Life Improver. Translation: I write about How to Enjoy and Survive Midlife With A Smile on Your Face, or My Face, as the case may be.

If that sounds like a mish mash of styles and attitudes, it is. According to the study, I’m not alone in exhibiting more than one blogging persona. And that, my blogging friends, is comforting to know for a couple reasons.

I’m forever being asked what my blog is about. I’m forever finding myself searching for a one-word answer because people like one-word answers that quickly categorize who you are, and because I teach marketing. I tell my students that an effective brand positioning statement is consumer-centric and singular in its promise. It is the rare branding success that offers two benefits in one drink. (Miller Lite’s Great Taste…Less Filling!) So if my blog is a brand or a product, it should offer something singular. Something it can own.

Here are some of the words I’ve tried on their own: Transition, Humor, and Midlife. But they don’t work on their own. Transition from what? What’s funny? And midlife, what does that mean? Midlife is about as broad in definition as Middle Class. Far as I can tell, Midlife means you’re not wearing diapers.

However, I also teach my students that a target audience or consumer can’t be defined narrowly by demographics. A brand’s consumer is more nuanced than a woman between the ages of 45-55. My students learn how to develop consumer personas, which include a demographic description along with information on attitudes, goals, lifestyle, and behaviors related to the product.

The Zemanta study highlights, for me, that while a blog has a brand identity, it also has a persona attached to it. Maybe I have difficulty describing my blog in one word because I can’t define myself with one word. Maybe I’ve just rationalized why I shouldn’t even worry about coming up with the one word. Maybe I should just focus on the one thing that differentiates me from the rest of the midlife bloggers talking about the midlife journey with a touch of humor. Right now the only answer – and it is one word or two, depending upon how I express it, is: Me. or Julie Danis. Only I can own that.

Too Much Branding Makes My Week Weary

Just as I was recounting all the reasons I have to be thankful post-Thanksgiving, including the fact that my iPhone survived two dips in the loo after two 24-hour stints in a bag of rice, a Facebook post from a friend and fellow marketer, Pamela Narins, grabbed my attention:

“NPR reports on the fact that Black Friday was followed by Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and NOW, Giving Tuesday. It is my fervent hope that we will be met with Shut the Heck Up Wednesday, Give Me a Break Thursday, and Oh Please Friday.” I would like to suggest adding No-Name Sunday.

What’s with the need to cleverly name everything today? Have we become such a consumer society that we feel we must brand any and all products and services? And does excess branding increase or decrease the power of a brand to convey meaning to and build a relationship with a consumer? Or to put it another way: Do Personalized Julie M&M’s® muddle my M&M® experience?

Don’t get me wrong. I like brands. My business career focuses on branding, brand personalities, brand audits, brand management, brand archetypes, brand positioning, brand-person relationships and brand planning. Brands belong to companies, products, services and maybe even experiences — go ahead, brand your wedding a palooza — but can you make a normal day a brand?

The short answer is yes. The branded days around Thanksgiving do convey meaning, help consumers complete life tasks and even create community or affiliation opportunities. In that respect Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday are creating relationships with and providing benefits to people. All part of what brands can and should do. The Black Friday shopping experience is different than shopping on any other Friday in the year. The Cyber of Cyber Monday does differentiate it from other Mondays, which is what a good brand does.

However, Monday is Monday. Calling it Cyber Monday doesn’t make it anymore enjoyable. In fact, it adds to the burden of an already burdensome day. First, I have to re-enter the workweek from a four-day weekend of family, food and football and then the branding elves pressure me to spend hours surfing online for deals, plus free shipping.

Along comes Tuesday, which should be called Cut-The-Credit-Card Tuesday if it’s called anything at all, but no, now it’s Giving Tuesday. The idea behind Giving Tuesday started at the 92nd Street Y in New York City as a way to encourage supporting nonprofit organizations during the holiday season. Love the idea and plan to give, just wish my debit card had a chance to cool down from Monday’s activities.

I don’t shop on Black Friday and didn’t have a chance to boost the sales at any boutiques on Small Business Saturday this year. Most Cyber Monday deals passed me by because it was a just a regular (overbooked) Monday in life. My gifts have been made so Giving Tuesday is a Free-From-Spending-Money Day for me. Whew.

Maybe I want to call a Time-Out Wednesday because I’m steeped in consumer marketing and branding and enjoy a non-branded, non-manufactured experience every so often. Much like I enjoyed the time away from my Apple driven life when my iPhone sat in its rice cocoon. Some things should just be what they are. Other things need the brand to be what they are. An M&M® without the M&M® (or a personalized message provided by the M&M®) is just not an M&M®.

Originally published in Huffington Post


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