Monday, October 12, 2009

Social Media: The Mystery

I'm going to be perfectly honest. I jumped into this "social media" thing face first; naturally it was me because I'm already the resident Google Gal. I had no idea what I was doing or what exactly I was trying to accomplish for our agency.

Every week I'd announce at the top of my lungs how many followers we have on Twitter. The Creative Director parroted back, "yeah but, where are all the clients?"

The obvious answer is: they aren't coming from Twitter. Am I following the wrong Tweeters? I follow people who post content I'm interested in - since I have TweetDeck... what the heck, might as well make it interesting and even learn something.

Another thing: there is no way I'm going to spend all day saying in 140 characters, "We are the absolute best advertising agency. You must immediately give us a shot". That would seem weird to me. I Tweet things I'd like to see. Of course it would be super if someone out there thought we have it going on and asked for a consultation. We ARE great!

Then there is Facebook. No matter what I do,, TweetDeck - I cannot make Twitter and Facebook come together. The Facebook "pages" thing is SO limited.

So there. I have confessed. I'm no expert despite having sat through 8-10 "Getting Started with Social Media" webinars. I do what I do. I must keep up with this blog. Someone will read it, right?

I wonder if anyone else feels the same way?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Shopping Is SOOO Last Year

Confession: I am guilty. I am a serial shopper. My closets are full of clothes I HAD TO HAVE yet I never wear them. When I'm bored, I purge.

Confession: I love Pennsylvania German Folk Art. Whenever I find a good piece that I can actually afford (because I am not a DuPont) I pick it up for my museum, I mean my home. Not many pieces come to market for 8.99 so I have *gasp* purchased repros! These are Made In China, resin; the shameful Black Face of Pennsylvania Folk Art. I give them away, throw them away, hide them....

I'm not doing it anymore. I've kicked the habit; kicked the useless crap to the curb.

Tomorrow my friend needs to go shopping, AT THE MALL. Please refer to previous (April?) post if you need a refresher on my opinion of THE MALL. I find them ghastly.

That and Going Shopping has become shameful. If I do need to make a purchase, I feel like Ruth Madoff slinking down Park Avenue with Birkin hand bags in plain white wrapping - as if she has a load of clothes from Forever 21 in there!

So what to do? My friend honestly does need clothes. My wardrobe is obscene. But I'm a junkie. I have no doubt that I'll buy something tomorrow, if for no other reason than shear boredom. I could "Pull A Dad" and sit on a bench with a book. But I'm a junkie.

Last weekend a bunch of us went to Musikfest. If you are ever in Pennsylvania for this week in August, do not, I mean DO NOT miss this event. It's great; a sea of people drinking beer and dancing. And there is shopping.

Always the shopping. What's a junkie to do? I'll tell you. Duck into the tent with the long hippie dresses, love one, have the artist hold the dress over your head while you slip off your t shirt and shorts - and you're on your way! In a new outfit! Then head on over to the dedicated vendor area and support the independent artists. Hey man, we all need to make a living, right?

It wasn't as if this was Shadfest where the artists are selling the same necklaces every year (see another April post). Speaking of necklaces, there is one on Freepeople.

It's called the, "Painted Rosary". I love it, even for $288.00. There was a time, like last year, that I would have charged the necklace without a second thought. Not now. Why aren't the Shadfest necklace artists making THIS necklace for $60.00? I couldn't get my wallet out fast enough!

So anyway, support the independent artists at Musikfest is just what I did. I got some very cool stuff: a glass necklace on a cord, a tiny glass vase for my desk, a lotion stick. Things I will use, love and enjoy - along with the dress.

My husband was giving me the hairiest of eyeballs the entire time. And I felt ASHAMED. I was spending hard-earned cash in the midst of a Depression.

Next week I'll let you know what happens at the mall. I'm planning on a buffet of Bloody Mary's before I leave the house - and no, I won't be driving :~).

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Cult Of The Dolls

the midst of the Downturn, Recession, Depression, Calamity - call it what you will: the collectors of wildly expensive dolls have not missed a beat (or ostensibly a paycheck).

I used to be one of these collectors. Is one still a collector if one has stopped adding to the collection? Once upon a time I would spend more a "mommy-made" doll ensemble for my Madame Alexander Cissy than I would on an outfit for myself. Then there are the dolls themselves; not inexpensive by any means. Well, then, the Doll Community moved on to ball jointed dolls or BJD. And so did I.

Enter the Japanese made Pullip doll I simply could not live without this doll. That is until I got her, de-wigged her and started dressing her in custom clothing. Her head is SO heavy in comparison to the rest of her body that I could not get her to stand up or sit down without FALLING OVER. That was enough of that. I sold her on Ebay.

Which brings me (finally) to the point of this post. Ebay. I used to sell dolls on Ebay so perhaps I was on the site more than the average person. However, I didn't have to spend much time poking around and following doll-related links to discover more and more dolls I couldn't live without. I was spending serious money. A new Cissy outfit in the mail was a cause for celebration!

Sometimes I bought dolls on Ebay from brick and mortar stores, such as The Valley of the Dolls above. There are some superb entrepreneurs on Ebay who sell the most incredible "home-made" doll clothes you can imagine. And shoes too! This is the sort of stuff you just can't find in a mall. Beautiful things. I have 3 trunks full of Madame Alexander Cissy clothes, shoes, jewelry, hats, purses... you name it. My favorite Cissy "couturier", Mary Lois, quit sewing for Cissy and I nearly had a nervous breakdown.

Ebay is an excellent marketing tool for the very small to micro business. Believe me, if you look at an auction for one doll dress, you'll be in the seller's store, falling in love with other dolls in a matter of minutes.

These people are SERIOUS about their dolls! I have a new doll, Wilde Imagination's Ellowyne Wilde I bought her, of course, on Ebay and she is a re-paint - just beautiful! I really want Evangeline Ghastly but WHO is going to spend money on that right now? This brings me to point #2: people are still buying these dolls in massive quantities... and clothes and shoes and wigs to fit them. There are Yahoo! groups dedicated to the different "girls". I have joined one, but I can't really participate because my girls are one emergency car repair away from being sold on Ebay.

I miss being a part of The Cult of the Dolls. I too once de-wigged, re-wigged, re-strung.... I tried sewing but that is a lost cause. I also tried the beloved "re-paint" and I think with practice I could become quite good. It is time consuming. My time is already consumed. That, and I am loathe to remove the paint from a perfectly good, expensive doll's face, with nail polish remover, only to make her look like a bad parody of a horror story.

If you can sew tiny, or knit , or crochet.... buy yourself an Ellowyne Wilde doll, make a few inspired ensembles - and you will have made up the cost of the doll with 4-5 outfits... after that it's pure profit! The Ellowyne people will pay more for her outfits than the Cissy people will pay for Cissy outfits; I suppose it's the size of the dolls, 16 inches V. 21 inches. Heck, my sewing for Cissy always came out WAY too small. I should try sewing for Cissy again so I can have Ellowyne outfits. Can anyone make shoes for Ellowyne? I'd spring for a really cute pair!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Relationships Are Everything

We've always had this new business mantra at LMI about Building Relationships with Our Clients. I never noticed for the most part - so busy crunching numbers - but yeah, most of our clients AND vendors end up becoming personal friends. How cool is that?

We're also close to each other in that we are super aware of each other's circumstances. How can we not be? We spend more time at work than with our families. Here's a good one, my Mom passed away a year and a half ago. It was expected, I guess... STILL, ugh. I was trying to orient myself to reality at Mom's viewing while wearing heels that didn't fit (who can reliably buy shoes while grief stricken?). I glanced down the line to see who else was coming in case I had to jog my memory for a name and there were the OWNER'S of LMI! They drove 3 hours on a school night to be there. They also sent one of the largest sprays - in green - because my Mom was ½ Irish. They were the only ones to do the Irish thing.

We're always sending flowers to clients and vendors who are ill. What can we do for you?? We love everyone, including the lost souls who walk in here needing directions and a rest room. Some folks bug us, but they're comic relief.

Let's not not talk shop. Let's talk about relationships. Object and Subject. It's about Respect: note to self, look up etymology of the suffix "ect". Respect. I respect you as a valid, worthy human. In what respect can we connect? How can we help each other, make each other laugh, enhance each other?

That goes for professional relationships as well as personal. We all have boundaries. DO NOT change the settings on my desk chair! Someone did that once and I completely came unglued! I hadn't the foggiest how to fix it and the whole agency was in a tizz until our IT Dude jiggled some levers so I could sit down and quit bitching. It's funny NOW.

I don't generally like BOUNDARIES. OOOHHHH I have a boundary, I do not accept, yak, yak, yak. Please. I have taken so many bites of the Shit Sandwich, I'm positive I finished the whole thing this week - so none of you need to worry about having to take a bite again. I ate it.

Most "boundaries" go without saying: don't cheat on me, don't use physical violence on me, don't lie to me, don't steal from me. I think the Ten Commandments basically covers it.

Has anyone else noticed that all of a sudden, everyone has these crazy boundaries? For instance, I shot an old friend one of those canned spam emails. I delete most of them - some of them are quaint or funny... She replied that she does not accept that sort of email. I may email her a personal note and we can have a nice conversation. Um, get over yourself! Guess your humorless self wouldn't enjoy this

If you can view the above link and are a sensible human being, you realize we all have warts and idiosyncrasies in addition to our wonderful qualities. If a canned email is going to cause you to erect a fence, well, I think you're hopeless.

Bottom line: why are so many people taking themselves so seriously? What is it getting them? For God's sake laugh! Appreciate! Have a freakin' cookie! By all means, why bother getting yourself worked up over cooked up boundaries? Where's the fun in that?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

If our agency has a niche it is health care marketing. Our clients are the best of the best. Together we painstakingly design campaigns in order to emphasize the QUALITY of the care offered. They mean it and we mean it.

I have had a most absurd experience in the health care market place over the past month. I should'nt call it absurd, because in reality it is kind of frightening.

I knew I had a problem that required a physician's attention. My family doctor is the very best doctor in the world. He ordered the necessary tests and referred me to the proper surgeon. That's the end of anything going according to any sort of plan that one would expect.

I had my testing done at a hospital that I assumed was the same quality as any other hospital. I must say, the personnel could not have been any friendlier. That counts; however, they do not have "courier service" with any other hospitals or physicians in the area - meaning I had to go there to pick up my test results and haul them around with me. Great. I don't know how to properly care for an x ray film! What if I ruined them in my hot car? Do you have to feed them? If so, what???

Then there was the surgeon. I hauled my test results to his office, expecting an expert - I mean, that's what a surgeon is right? Oh my. There was a disc with my test results. HE COULD NOT READ IT. He was literally unable to decipher the information on the disc.... but thought I shouldn't worry. Waiting 6 months would be fine.

WHAT!? Excuse me, but I have a field of expertise as well. If I am unable to obtain good data, I am unable to make a good decision. To me, waiting 6 months based on NO DATA is unacceptable and I threw a little hissy fit, complete with tears to prove it. I was sent immediately (with my new companion, the test results) to another hospital for further testing.

That's when everything stopped making sense. The hospital I was referred to the second time is a "magnet hospital", a "top 100 hospital". I cannot imagine what would have happened to me at a bottom 100 hospital. Where are they - they should be shut down at once. No one deserves that kind of care.

Things went smoothly to begin with. My appointment was scheduled a month out - and I took it like a big girl. At least I was taking charge of my health.... right???

The morning of the procedure as I was walking out the door, the "magnet hospital" called to tell me they had sent the test results back to the original hospital. Could I stop and PICK THEM UP? I guess the magnet hospital has courier service. How nice.

Hissy fit number 2! I was SCREAMING at the unlucky person who called me. NO. I was not picking up the test results! What possessed them to send them back in the first place? She asked me if I wanted her to call to see if she could get them. Did that need to be asked???

The radiologist was great. There ends the praise for the "magnet hospital". It isn't her fault she works there.

The day after the procedure I called to ask if I could expect my results at the follow-up appointment 2 days hence. I thought I remembered them telling me that - but the procedure was rather unsettling and I was foggy.

They had no idea. How hard is it to put something under a microscope? I told them I wasn't coming to the appointment if there were no test results. Why bill my insurance (that I am fortunate to have) if all we were doing was looking for signs of infection? I can do that at home.

Now comes the time where I admit that I take no grief from anyone. I tried to submit an online form to the "magnet hospital" to tell them about needing to pick up the first batch of test results on the day of the procedure. The form was not functioning so I called and was put through to the "patient advocate". He was a nasty cuss but promised to call me back. He didn't. Now I'm scared and MAD.

By this time I am in an all out panic. Waiting on a cancer diagnosis is a horrible, horrible time. The day of the follow up appointment someone from the "magnet hospital" called me at work and said, "your test results have come through. You can come to the appointment this afternoon". Then she hung up. Nice. I thought the worst.

As it happens everything is perfectly fine.

That's great news. The bad news is The Health Care System. A SURGEON who is not able to use an ostensibly standard (?) program on his laptop in order to read diagnostic tests ought to either get some training or retire.

A division of a "magnet hospital" that is hand-delivered diagnostic images and an order for a biopsy ought to be able to keep track of their stuff. I failed to mention that they were able to schedule my appointment based on the surgeon's order - then subsequently lost the order and called me 3 times for it! Hi, you must have had it since you scheduled my appointment - can you LOOK FOR IT?

I hope not all facilities are like this. I have a feeling some are much worse - thus the "magnet hospital". Here is their Mission Statement: To Create An Extraordinary Experience Every Time.

My experience certainly was extraordinary! So extraordinary I'll avoid the place like the plague!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Recesiion Depression or Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget

The above referenced article is a must read for anyone who is remotely interested in fashion, trends, creativity, business, merchandising, and the Recession.

I am part of a boutique advertising agency. My primary role is Controller, thus I eat, sleep, breathe and dream about revenue and expenses; accruals and reversals.

Our product is creativity. Much like the fashion industry. It takes time, brain power, and a certain je ne sais quoi to produce something unique and fabulous.

The question - now more than ever is the valuation of quality creativity. I'll venture to say that this Recession has brought into question the value of everything. I do mean EVERYTHING.

To paraphrase a portion of the above referenced article, 'we can't have sales like this again, ever'.

I concur.

The fashion/retail industry may have been an early victim of "this" (what exactly happened anyway?) but they are by no means alone. Sales have fallen off a cliff.

The consumer, whether it be a business or a household seems to have pinched their noses and dove right off a cliff into a water-filled quarry/abyss. I can't even begin to understand the macro-economic magic that created "this" situation. Let's be honest - does anyone really understand? If they do, they're not telling. I have a feeling it's all but sinister.

So then, valuation. As a consumer of fashion and many other things, the recession has provided me with the rare opportunity to exercise my champagne taste on a beer budget. Thankfully no one in my household of two has been laid off yet.

To paraphrase a retailer in the article: 'you do the math. Yeah, I just sold your 800.00 shoes for 50.00'. So what is the REAL value of the shoes? Assuming they are handmade of fine materials - they're intrinsically "worth" more than a pair of pleather pumps from Payless. I think. This brings us back to the previous blog post: You Can Ask Whatever You Want. That doesn't mean I'm paying it. The 800.00 shoes DID cost a fixed amount to produce and the 800.00 shoes HAVE to have a profit margin or business wouldn't be business.

So what immediately comes to mind is my deserted fascination with owning a pair of Manolo Blahniks. I'm a woman of means by no means. I wasn't walking into a Nieman Marcus for a brand new pair. I was shopping on Ebay for my Manolos. The sole criteria was that they be "gently worn".

Let's face it. The shoes are beautiful. A shoe that beautiful has got to be "worth" more than Anne Kleins or Steve Maddens. Right?

It took me months to find a suitable pair in my size. OH how I impatiently awaited their arrival - making sure I had clothing to match the shoe color.

They were awful. They looked very lovely. If they had been intended as a shelf or coffee table accent piece, I would have been well pleased. As things stood (the puns are just understood from now on!) I could barely walk in them and they looked terrible on my feet. I re-sold them on Ebay.

I own beautiful shoes that compliment the foot and leg and are "worth it" for that fact. Some of them are not inexpensive. None of them are cheap. None of them originally retailed for 800.00.

So what is the "value" of a pair of Manolo's? There are materials, labor, and an overhead factor. I don't know if they are "worth" 800.00 intrinsically. They aren't worth 800.00 to me.

Monetary value, then, is logically subjective. Which finally brings me to my point.

'Sales like this can never happen again'. That goes for this business too. However, I must admit, I have picked up a few stellar bargains due to the Recession. Referencing Shad Fest a few posts back, I saw a gorgeous wooden bench/chaise longue at

I loved it. I needed it. It was 150.00. My husband said, "no". HMMPHH. I looked it up online, prepared to have the thing shipped to me. I was having that bench. I was not prepared to nearly have a coronary. The bench is listed on the web site for more than 750.00. I was on the phone to the store before you could say, "holy bargains Batman". By the way... my husband drove there to pick it up. Don't tell me no!

Then I felt bad. Really bad. The shop is a small business, just like we are. They have to pay for materials, labor and and an overhead factor. The business climate is less than healthy. Every business except Wal Mart is fighting for survival. What reasoning could there be for my bench to be 80% off? Quite possibly there is a good reason. It was very dirty and the finish was rough on the seat. Was it the floor model? Was it in a forgotten corner of the warehouse? I don't WANT to know. I'm happy to have it. I would not have it at full price. 'Sales like this cannot continue'. Or can they? And HOW?

The Recession has not changed my buying habits. I've always been a bargain shopper by necessity. It is true that I have one or two pieces that I would not otherwise have if not for the Magical Recession. I believe the Magical Recession has changed buying habits for a great number of people for a very long time.

I think Intrinsic Value has become a factor - and not just an overhead factor, but a force to be reckoned with. Honestly. I loves me a Barefoot Dreams hoodie like almost nothing else. I bought ONE (my first) of three at full price. They cannot be worth 80.00. Maybe they can. If 80.00 is going to keep a company in business with full employment - it's worth 80.00.

But, then, as with the "gently worn" Manolo's - they were truly "gently worn".... and "worth" less than ¼ of the original price. Depreciation on the wearables is worse than that of a new car!

The business climate is frightening. After reading the article at the top of the page... well, what am I supposed to do? Offer to pay more? Maybe.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sometimes during the dead of winter the weather will turn temporarily, uncharacteristically, eerily warm. The transient Ladies' Mantle that squats in the garden will, with great victorious hope, emerge from the layer of fallen pine needles and present itself as the Harbinger of Spring.

The unanticipated appearance of the Ladies' Mantle makes me both happy and sad; happy to see new green life in the midst of the shriveled brown detritus that was last summer's garden; sad because her victory is not so much a victory as an act of defiance. Alone among the sleeping promises of spring, she awakes, as if to say, "I will never be defeated."

Now that it really is spring and raining as if Pennsylvania is the Pacific Northwest - the Ladies' Mantle is nowhere to be found. Perhaps she has moved on to a more sheltered garden. The Meadow Tea, however, which in years past has been scant, has taken over every molecule of spare soil. The Meadow Tea we once coveted and consoled has become a common weed! It doesn't even smell minty.

The Meadow Tea and The Ladies' Mantle sort of remind me of Social Media. First there was MySpace. What a great good time that was. I particularly enjoyed the blogging feature. You could keep an ersatz journal and share it with people - lots of people. You could potentially make hundreds of "friends" with a great "journal" alone.

All of the "social" people I know were on MySpace. It was the virtual place to be. You could hardly be considered cool without it. I'd sneak a peak at work, just to make certain I wasn't missing anything.

Whither MySpace? For me, it kind of cannibalized itself. You know how it gets with too many cooks in the kitchen - or too many people trying to dominate the conversation. Arguments and petty differences arise that OFTEN escalate into full blown wars. I deleted my account and never looked back.

With the advent of pay-per-click advertising came the concomitant marketing peep show ( I mean insight) that web 2.0, 3.0, social networking - were the brand tool waves of the future.

I tried to dip a toe into Facebook in the interest of a client. Within 20 minutes I was soaked from head to toe! I was leapt upon immediately by kids I went to elementary school with. It was, I must admit, crazy exhilarating. There is no blogging feature though. I like to write. It's just as well, sometimes inner thoughts should be kept just where they are.

The defiant yet victorious Ladies' Mantle of MySpace has become the pernicious Meadow Tea of Facebook, Twitter, Digg,, LinkedIn and all the other ones I can't think of. Now instead of asking ourselves, as an agency, IF we should embrace social networking - we ask ourselves which platforms are a good fit for us, which are a good fit for our clients.

I don't think advertising has gone through so many changes in such a short time span as it has within the past ten years. I have been in advertising in a financial role for nine years; with the advent of social networking I had to embrace the digital, data driven culture, as well as integrate its many components, into our agency "line up".... and keep them all organized and effective. Well, I don't know if any agency or brand really knows how these tools are effective - but we all know that they are necessary.

It is my opinion that, as with the Meadow Tea, some of these platforms will take over the lilies and the roses; they will not smell minty - so we can't even make tea. They'll need to be pulled out so that the victorious Ladies' Mantle can emerge in the uncharacteristic cold and then into its proper place in the full springtime of advertising 21st Century Style.

Friday, May 1, 2009

You Can Ask Whatever You Want

Last weekend was the always lovely Shad Fest In Lambertville , NJ. I was going to
be The Marketing Warrior and give my LMI Advertising business card to every independent necklace vendor I saw. *sigh*. Never mind - it would have been a waste of business cards.

This is my fourth year at Shad Fest. My sister had a superb idea before heading out to the (literally) teeming masses: Bloody Mary's. I had never done such a thing! I felt so decadent and grown up.

I should have had 2+ Bloody Mary's. No joke: ALL the necklaces that the independent artists were hawking were the same darned necklaces (and earrings and bracelets and pins and rings) from the past four years.

Is it me, or if the jewelry didn't sell before - what makes these artists think it's going to sell NOW. There was not one 20% off sale or anything. My sister had the best line of the weekend, "You can ask whatever you want, that doesn't mean I'm paying it." Sure, allot of us are having recession fatigue. Sometimes I just want to see something I like and not have to feel like a brazen hussy if I buy it. I saw the most adorable headband with a read felt blossom on the side. I loved it. I wanted it. It was $55.00. The proprietress told me, 'Americans need to stop being so cautious'. MMMHMMM. Nice try. You can ask $55.00 for that headband, but I'm pretty sure I could make it myself for like $10.00.

We are in a recession. I'm sure allot of work goes into a hand-crafted piece (not all of them looked so complicated) and trust me, I'm willing to spend if the price looks like a good value. But let's face it - If I'm going to shell out 75 bucks for a bracelet I'm going to Tiffany and Co.

Do these artists want to move inventory or have the same necklaces that I don't want next year? I'm sure they have to pay a fee to set up. I'm sure they didn't sell much. I used to sell at an outdoor antiques market. After 3 consecutive Saturday/Sunday combos of hauling my wares to the woods at 5 a.m. - and not even making back my table table fee? I'll never do it again. Maybe I should have tried bargaining on the ONE necklace that both me and my sister made a bee-line for.

Which Brings me to Bucks County Dry Goods
5 Klines Ct., Lambertville, 609-397-1288. I don't think they have a web site. That little store stocks some wicked cool apparel and for Shad Fest they ALWAYS have a wicked good sidewalk sale. I wear the stuff until I need to repair it. I also have to go inside to pay.... where I always pick up a few non sale priced items. They are not de-valuing their brand with the sale, they're brilliant! The sale items are outside, the cash register is inside... with the full-priced items.

The bottom line, literally, is please, please be reasonable with your pricing, retail, agencies, pubs, everyone. You can ask whatever you want. That doesn't guarantee you'll be getting any business.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Shad (Yes, the Fish) Fest 2009

Living in Pennsylvania is a distinct experience. We have major metropolitan cities (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), we have The Amish. We have the very, very best folk art in the country - please see, "Fraktur"; and we have shad.

I think the shad is a finish unique to the Delaware River that divides Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I don't know much about the shad, except that my Great Aunt Kit loved to eat shad roe. I guess that's what you call Pennsylvania Caviar?

Every year the town of Lambertville, New Jersey (where my sister lives), directly across the river from New Hope, Pennsylvania - hosts Shad Fest

I love Shad Fest. It isn't very shadtastic. My sister's room mate said it should be called, "necklace fest".... due to all the of the jewelry artists lining the streets - there must be a connection between necklaces and shad - I just don't know what it is. There is tons of food, as there is at any festival - and there is no Blue Law Mentality like there is in Pennsylvania (at least Lancaster) - so one can feel free to join the other revelers in the beer garden, before noon!

Allot of people attend Shad Fest. I wonder how they market that? I got it by word of mouth. My concern is the artists. I love independent artists. So many times I have seen something there that I like but would rather have in silver, or blue, or whatever. None of the artists ever has more to give me than a scribbled phone number or a business card. I think I lucked out one year when an artist had a web site.

I think this year I'll be on my bully pulpit with the artists. They need web sites. They need a good search campaign. Online advertising is The Hot Thing. Everyone wants to make more sales right now. Their customers, their long-term, loyal customers are right there waiting to become raving fans - if the artists have the tools right there beside them to capture the audience while the audience is interested.

A business card is OK. A colorful, professionally printed flyer/brochure with a logo, web address and phone number is better. Something a bit substantial, that I may even want to hang on my refrigerator.

I know hiring an agency can seem to be out of the reach to smaller, independent retailers. It isn't. It truly is an investment, especially in "this" (I refuse to refer to it as This Economy anymore). I wonder how an independent artist can afford NOT to have an agency handling the marketing.

At LMI we have REALLY talented graphic designers and REALLY talented business strategists. We marry the two concepts for every campaign, no matter the size. ALL of our clients are a priority. Their success is our success.

It's almost lunchtime. I have to monitor the pay-per-click campaigns... and get ready to shop some necklaces. I hope there are some textile artists there as well this year.

AND I wouldn't mind a Shad Shot - vodka from a gutted shad... another joke from my sister's room mate. I believed it and I would like to try it. Perhaps my sister would like to join me in a little fishing trip tonight - we could set up a stand, sort of like a lemonade stand, only fishier!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Twighlight Series Goes To The Mall

Ok so I have "opted in" to tons of email marketing campaigns - most of them about clothes and shoes; quite a few about saving the animals. I honestly open ALLOT of them.

Last week I got one from This one is great. It lists REALLY high-end stuff that's on sale. You pick from an extensive list of brands that appeal to you and when they go on sale, you get an email - every single day. *sigh* most of it is still way out of my league. Last week I fell head over heels for a pair of sandals (another unintended pun. That's my only talent!) from They were *gasp* in my price range! I went immediately to the Free People web site and loved, loved, loved every single pair of - ta da!!! boots! and allot of other things too.

I slept on the sandals. Wants v. needs you know. I needed the sandals. I wanted to try them on before I paid for shipping, hated them and had to schlep it to the post office to return them. I had a couple of days off last week - so I called the store. They didn't have the sandals but the nice YOUNG woman on the phone (I felt like some one's Grandma) told me to COME ON DOWN - the whole store is on sale.

Slight obstacle: I had JUST gotten my hands on the third book in the Twilight Series. If you've read these books, or plan to, plan on a whole day wasted because you can't put them down, sh*t-lit or not. Stephanie Meyer definitely hit on a no-brainer want v. need. In "this economy", 20 bucks for a book that appeals to women from 9-90... wish they were all in the market for unintended puns!

Sale v. Eclipse?? Ok, both. I read while my husband drove to the Gigantic High End Mall. It IS gigantic. I had an instant hissy when I couldn't figure out how to find the Free People store. That was precious time that could have been spent reading an insipid romance novel.

We found the store. It was tiny. I'm sure I have mentioned previously (if ANYONE is reading this blog) that I have read that brick and mortars are serving as ersatz showrooms with actual purchases made online. Ha! Not Free People. I was really surprised. Free People is an Urban Outfitters brand. I've loved Urban Outfitters since college. The store on Walnut Street in Philadelphia is enormous.

Um, contrary to the claim of aforementioned YOUNG woman - the entire tiny store was not on sale. I was a tad incensed. I didn't like one solitary thing (probably because there was nearly nothing to look at) in the place enough to even look at a price tag. At least there was an Urban Outfitters close by.

Where am I going with this? Are brick and mortars dinosaurs? Is shopping on your feet as a past time akin to the Sunday Drive? I'm a shopper. I was not at all into shopping at the Gigantic High End Mall. The whole mall experience was totally unappealing. I should note that I nearly never shop at malls anymore. I'll bet it's because malls suck. It was so sterile. There were so many people. Not one of them was remotely convivial - including the sales people. It was as if they were pre-programmed miserable mall robots. Par example, I ALMOST considered standing in line to try on pants. It was a LONG line for the fitting room. I joked to the person in front of me that I might just strip down and try on the pants right there. She may have grunted - maybe not. COME ON! Are you that intent on standing in this infernal line that you can't strike up a bit of light-hearted conversation?

Note to mall and store owners: lighten up! I have read that the state of retail is dismal. Do you not want feet in your stores? I have to wonder if the atmosphere in malls and stores is gloomy which makes the shoppers gloomy? I sure didn't spend much. I couldn't wait to leave and shop online. Believe me - I'll sleep on it of I'm shopping online. 9 time out of 10 the answer is, "no". In a store, I'm MUCH more likely to just buy it, whatever it is.

Make it an event! Have a fashion show! Serve some cookies and punch! Have a small Gift With Purchase!

As for me - I had a far nicer time reading a creepy vampire novel.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Branding and the Independent Artist

Returning, as always, to my obsession with clothes... in this case the eclectic t shirt collection.

Perhaps a year and a half ago I was doing the most(?) unglamorous part of my job, sorting the mail. Someone has to do it. There was Jupiter Images catalog with an offer for a FREE t shirt by artist Michael C. Hsiung. I had never heard of the artist, but I know a funked-out t shirt when I see one - and this was one of the best.

I begged the creatives to buy a Jupiter image. Rats that they are - they needed no image at that time. I called Jupiter Images to beg for one. NO DICE. What's an obsessed t shirt freak to do? Google the artist! I found his email address fairly easily. Fortunately the man has a heart of PURE GOLD. He found me a t shirt. I love it so much that I only wear it once a year to cut down on the ruinous effects of laundry.

In return for his infinite kindness (or marketing savvy???) I visited the site where he was selling his work at the time. I bought his Fish Story print for my house. My boss liked it so much we had it framed and hung in, um, our rest room (the print matches the paint). The story on the salvaged book page he used as a canvas is almost as great as the print!

Fast forward Fish Story approximately one year. We, like everyone else established a Twitter presence. Imagine my overwhelming elation the day I saw in my inbox that Michael C. Hsiung is following US!

I have read so much lately that branding is dead; that the traditional "matching" elements no longer apply - or are even effective. In the case of our Rock Star independent artist, that really is true. I GUESS he could have shot out an email campaign to a targeted list. Maybe he has brochures that he drops off at boutiques? I don't see how an ad in a publication or on television would benefit him. Me? I wish he had a catalog!

Instead he managed to impress Jupiter Images. Jupiter Images probably benefited from that association (not through us, I had to go begging for MY shirt). Unintended consequences? Or did the artist intend to gain himself some raving fans via this association with Jupiter?

No matter because it was pure genius. I can't be the only Financial Controller/Google AdWords Professional/Receptionist/Mail Sorter - or for that matter, how many creatives??? who became raving fans of Monsieur Hsiung due to one catalog that ALMOST got into the circular file with out a second look - until his gift, depicted on a t shirt caught my eye.

We don't market any independent artists here but if we did I think I would recommend some sort of "offer". That's the Big Buzzword for promoting online businesses. That's also how I found my man - online.

His site didn't have an offer per se; however his infinite (I'm not kidding) kindness was better than "buy one get one free". EVERYTHING in the world of advertising and marketing is getting so much more personal. It is as if M. Hsiung invented the concept.

Now he needs to design a line of clothing to sell to major department stores and niche boutiques. His designs need to be more accessible a moi. Heck, he could design a line of clothing and accessories to sell on his own site. It seems that he designs tattoos - lookee here! a reason to get another one!

Any angel investors out there? I know this artist who.....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ludwig Wittgenstein The Shack Apologist

Serendipity! I am reading an article in either Atlantic Monthly or Harper's (I am always chewing one of them to bits) in the Book Reviews Section - which I swear every month I will skip, and I always read....

This review is of a book about The House of Wittgenstein, ala, Ludwig, the youngest son and one of my favorite Philosophers. I don't know which came first for me, Bertrand Russell or Wittgenstein, it's like the chicken and the egg. I was fascinated. This was not the Plato, DesCartes, Hume, Hegel who I had been writing papers about for 3 years! This was short, logical, beautiful.

Wittgenstein refused his share of his families' considerable fortune. He had but one published work in his life. Much of his writing was rescued from the "peat cottage" where he spent his final days.

There we have it. No longer shall I be calling the home choices of the brilliant but misunderstood, "shacks".

Serendipity again: this morning I read an article on called The Hipster Depression. The takeaway for me was this, "Bohemia is not an alternate reality"; 'the scene depends on a host of socio-economic forces. My friend was nothing if not Bohemian. I like to think I am too.

That REALLY got me to thinking because I read an article earlier this week that was referenced on a Tweet. The takeaway from that article is that Branding is dead. It is no longer a top-down phenomenon but personal. Brand loyalty and ultimately purchase decisions, are based on personal recommendations (socio-economic forces?).

When I think of my own purchase decisions, this is often all too true. I'm a Cool T Shirt Addict. I never would have heard of Trunk, Ltd., or Ed Hardy if my sister hadn't told me I'd love them. I wouldn't have known about my beloved Juicy Couture terry pants if I hadn't seen an ad for online, RIGHT NEXT TO an article declaring sweat suit couture "dead". That was 5 years ago and 9 pairs of pants later. Juicys are NOT sweat pants!

It looks as if the "Online Community", the personal recommendation, IS becoming the new branding mechanism. For instance, I collect dolls (no laughing, OK, go ahead). I am always on Ebay looking for dolls, and things to put on my dolls. Not one of these dolls would I have known about had I not followed the bread crumbs on Ebay. I'd have allot more money too. I HAD TO HAVE a Pullip doll a few years ago, so cute! Until I got her and any pose I put her in, she fell over and her wig fell off because her head weighs a pound and her body weighs an ounce. I sold her on Ebay.

Another take away from the Branding is Dead article: a physical store, such as Macy's, is increasingly a show room. The actual purchase is then made online. I do and do not get this. Why pay for shipping if you're buying a set of china or a bed frame? On the other hand, if I see expensive shoes or jeans (or china) I'll skip the in-store purchase because I can probably get the same thing for less online.

Not always. There is the Rachel Pally Long Full Skirt presented to me in an email from I fell in love. I spent what I spent on knock-offs until nothing was cutting the mustard - and I broke down and paid full price. It's worth EVERY PENNY. I wear it all the time. I'd wear it every day if that was Bohemian and not creepy. I AM loyal to the Rachel Pally and Juicy Couture Brands - but ONLY due to the online and email marketing done by I simply cannot afford to shop on that site often (LOVE the sales), but it is my Go To Site for great clothes and ideas.

Then I think of one of my favorite place in the world, The Moravian Bookshop, in Bethlehem, PA I live a couple of hours from there so I don't get to go there that often. It's an amazing place, books, housewares, bakery! They have a web site with a shopping cart - but not everything is catalogued and available for purchase on the web site. Gosh darn it. That is a case where the store IS a showroom for the virtual realm. They sell a line of stemware that is relatively inexpensive yet very attractive - and not available in my town. When I break a piece, I'd love to be able to go online and replace it - at The Moravian Bookshop. I'm loyal to that store.

Branding kind of is dead. Who spends a significant amount of time watching television or listening to the radio (Applebee's outdoor advertising is still killer!)? Online communities and their word of mouth plus their ad space = the new brand awareness.

Oh, and a shack is not a shack. It's a peat cottage. I feel much better, but still ashamed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday and Thanks for the Molotov Cocktails!

Saturday I turned 40. I forwent the Botox. I couldn't justify the enormous vanity expense right now. Maybe some other day. We stopped at UPS to pick up a mystery parcel Friday morning. It was 2 old Anchor Steam bottles filled with SOMETHING and stopped with 2 old wine corks. Maybe it was free Restalyne? I think it was Molotov Cocktails.

It was a singularly strange weekend.

While I was having a Happy Birthday Cocktail the phone rang, and with that ring, there went the weekend.

It was a friend (he collects the strays of the world) of my Dad's who is WAY down on his luck and always has been. He has some health issues, mostly mental as far as I can tell. He is variously a Druid, a Native American, a Vietnam vet.... All of it may be true. I've heard stories about him doing a Native American dance 'n chant around a fire in his yard. Glad I missed it. I was at a party there once. I am pretty sure I was served, and ate a bite of, human flesh. My husband swears it was bear. I was told it was prime rib. OF WHATTTTT!!!!!

He and his wife, a wonderful, smart, well-read woman, live in a shack, an actual real, live, honest-to-God, shack in the woods. She used to be a teacher. I don't know what happened there - why she chose the eventual life she chose. It's none of my business. There really ARE people who live outside the box. I know more than my fair share of them. Some of 'em are scary lunatics. AVOID.

This man's wife, my friend, died suddenly Friday afternoon.

**ASIDE**My Dad knows another dude who is definitely from an important military family. The OSS has been verified. I'm certain the Army tested out the LSD on him. He's not too bad, just nuts. His wife, she's evil. They live in a shack too. No way am I visiting that shack, let alone cleaning it.

I have spent countless summer and fall evenings knocking back more than a few beers with her (the teacher, not the Devil's Hand Maiden), talking about literature and ideas. Thoroughly enjoyable times. I'm not too fancy for a shack and cheap beer. I'm such a heel too - I haven't been to see her since my Mom became ill, for a number of reasons, mostly because I didn't have time. LAME. She has sent books home for me to borrow, that I haven't read and haven't returned. Note to self: read those books and quit it with the HuffPo in the evenings!

What does this have to do with advertising and marketing? Nothing. Sort of.

Saturday morning I rode to the mountains with my Dad to pay my respects. The road to my Dad's hunting lodge was closed due to a hydrofluoric acid spill. Heck, why not, it couldn't get any creepier could it? I'm surprised we weren't involved in the accident that caused the spill!

We made it to the mountains in twice the time. We dropped off a chicken and stuffing dish, enough to feed a small army. I asked her husband if he needed help. He said "yes" so I spent my 40th birthday helping her sisters clean the shack for the memorial service. I challenge any gym to have a better work out than vacuuming a home with a Dirt Devil!

I asked him what he had planned for food the service. He told me he had no money whatsoever so he no food planned. Oh dear - not on my watch. There will be no party of any sort without church-clean and plenty of food. My chicken and stuffing was not going to cut the mustard for an entire memorial service! I ordered sandwich and desert trays from the grocery store (then called my Dad at his cabin to tell him when he could pick them up and pay for them). I can't believe it but I used a phone book! There was a computer available but I was too stressed out to even think of it.

We made it in home from the mountains in twice the time. My sister was at my Dad's so we could go out to dinner for my birthday. Forget it. I needed a shower more than anything (that shack was pretty dirty) and then a drink. We ordered pizza. I had a drink before the shower. In fact, I had ½ a bottle of wine. It wasn't cheap wine either. It was Special Birthday Wine. I didn't even taste it.

We spend so many hours thinking of how to get ahead, how to be the witty innovators, the cool kids. This Creative Class or whatever you'd like to call it - we are a walking advertisements for living outside the box. Are we though? Do we even want to? I guess it depends which box we're talking about, or shall I say, "shack"?

At the end of the day, we are advertisers and we are consumers. We innovate by what we consume. We're walking advertisements for ipods and iphones, Doc Martens and vintage clothing.

Sure, I'll sit around drinking Schlitz in a shack, but Heaven forbid I'm not in a pair of Juicys with my super funk glasses, Havaianas and vintage cut-up t shirt.

Before this economic melt down or whatever moniker it's going by today - Heaven forbid I miss that Prince concert, no matter if it was half-way around the world. I never left the country for a Prince concert, but I thought about it.

I've been called a princess by people who have allot more money than I do. I'm really not. You won't catch me butchering a deer.... or drinking those Molotov Cocktails, but you're darn tootin' I'll break my back to scour a shack in the woods, including the toilet.

I think it all depends on your audience. Who are you selling to? How do you reach them? Especially NOW? Newspapers are going, going gone; network television is less relevant. You could reach ME on Huff Po but all I see there is yellow teeth, Acai berries, and flat bellies.

You could reach the Shack People via the internet as well. There were TWO computers in the shack. I'm sure they go online and open email. They have to have opted into a great many lists. And that's just the Shack People (and I could be one of them any day, so I have nothing against Shack People).

Ima shut up now - however, I truly think the new advertising/brand building tool will be some combination of internet tools, Facebook, Twitter, Google, blogs and email blasts. Whaddya think?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hello Kitty Loves Philly Beer Week

I was so concerned that we wouldn't make it to Philly, the hotel, and the Special Event at Comcast Center to kick off Philly Beer Week by 7:00 p.m. last Friday. We made it in the nick of time - to wait in a line stretching ALL THE WAY AROUND THE BLOCK. Thankfully it wasn't too cold; it was actually kind of nice - one might call call it, "breezy" except it was really windy. There were television crews set-up outside! A thousand (may I call them?) Yuppies! I was going to meet a rock star for sure!

Let me be blunt. The event sucked. Yes, the midweek email blast was brilliant marketing. I cannot have been the only person in that line who was spurred on by the email. is a tourism site. Clearly the message was for out-of-towners: get a hotel, make a weekend of it, or a week; eat at our restaurants, drink in our bars, support our local economy.

Allow me to elaborate: Once inside the Comcast Center we were kindly provided with a plastic "beer glass" and let loose to check out the scene. There was a band setting up, we were graciously informed that there was "more beer downstairs" - good thing since there was barely a drop upstairs!

Downstairs was a Food Court, yup, a Food Court, just like you'd find in any mall... maybe a TAD more upscale. Hey, a Food Court is a Food Court! There were approximately 20-30 independent brewers set up at card tables. I like a craft brew. I'm fine with a Food Court. I enjoy playing cards. But this was a mish mash that simply did not add up or work out.

The brewers, I learned, were asked to donate their beers for the event. I'm not clear (it was loud) if they were inevitably paid, but the mere donation suggestion, or the blunt reality of not being paid seems to have soured (good pun but I didn't mean it) the mood of the brewers. They were very friendly to the public but they sure didn't seem to be overjoyed about being there.

The samples were minimal. The card tables were arranged as attractively as possible had they been given an hour's notice. The marketing materials were MINIMAL. I have to think the brewers had more than one hour to prepare. WHO coordinated this event???? It sure wasn't Hello Kitty!

My point is this: the price of the tickets combined with the "service charge" (what service would that be?) was enough for my husband and me to have gone to a nice brew pub and downed a few with a couple of appetizers without leaving our neighborhood. We didn't even notice until we were leaving (early) that there was yet another card table in a dusty corner with complimentary snacks.

Why I ask, WHY bother to employ brilliant marketing techniques in order to draw a sold out crowd to your basic Chamber of Commerce Mixer? I didn't even meet a rock star :~(. By the way, that band setting up where there was little beer to be had? They were awful. I hope they weren't paid if the brewers had to donate the beer. We left in a hurry when they started to murder Good Times, Bad Times.

There very simply was NO EVENT. It was a "make your own event" event.

So let's talk about Hello Kitty instead. A few weeks ago I got a direct mail piece from MAC Cosmetics in the shape of Hello Kitty's face - all done in shades of black - very punkchic. I was happy to know I'm not the only geek out there who is fascinated by Hello Kitty (is it because back in the late 70's our Mom's wouldn't let us have those unbearably cute little Hello Kitty pencils?).

Yeah, I like MAC almost as much as I like Hello Kitty so I was on the web in record time to check out the colors. I decided not to buy via the internet because who knows what the colors REALLY look like. I knew I'd be in Philly eventually, where I could browse the collection in the boutique.

That's exactly what I did for my second Philly Beer Week event. The Hello Kitty colors were not for me, but man, the little pleather stuffed HK was adorable :~). The MAC piece was Better Brilliant Marketing. I couldn't get it off my mind. I made a bee line to the boutique first thing Saturday morning. Hell, it wasn't even open when I got there! I didn't buy any of the Hello Kitty Collection (including the stuffed toy) but I DID buy some other colors.

The mail piece could not have been inexpensive to create but it had to have been worth it. It drove traffic to the MAC site, it drove traffic to MAC counters in department stores, it drove traffic to MAC boutiques. The cash I spent on colors was not in the budget but I didn't care. That matters these days. Caveat I am NOT promoting irresponsible spending. I knew if I bought a lipstick and a pigment powder, I could still eat this week. I'm thankful for that. The point is, you still need to market because people are still buying things that are not in the budget.

So you already had to like MAC; you also had to already like beer. I'll be back at MAC. I won't make the mistake of attending Philly Beer Week again. One would think it goes without saying that if you are going to invest in marketing, you'd better have something there to back it up with. What a waste. A bare minimum of effort at coordination could have made Philly Beer Week - from kick off (dead in the water) to the last beer brunch on Sunday, a memorable, relatively inexpensive and FUN event that out-of-towners will want to attend every year.

If you've got a marketing budget for a possibly HUGE recurring event, please make an effort; put on a show. You don't have to spend a mint to look impressive (my dress for the kick off was from Goodwill but I got compliments on it. Motorcycle boots and all). It's Beer Week, not a Presidential Inauguration! The Philly Beer Week Committee and the City could have printed a couple thousand Guides To Beer Week (on newsprint), handed them out at Comcast Center, dropped them in hotel lobbies and bars... and created some buzz, some excitement, some sense of inclusion/purpose... a sense of an actual city-wide event. That's what I THOUGHT I was attending.

I cannot resist a couple of jabs at the COMPLETE lack of Beer Week coordination: I searched up "Philly Beer Week + Saturday Events" at the hotel. I was interested in two. There was the Beer Bus Tour of South Street. That's all it said; no further information. Ok, thanks, guess I won't be seeing you there! Then there was the Neighborhood Bar Crawl near our hotel. There was a starting bar and meet-up time. Based on evidence, that was a Sure Winner because there was actual information provided.

We headed over to the starting bar a little early to check on the scene - make sure the other crawlers wouldn't want to kick my butt for wearing motorcycle boots. The place was PACKED but it did NOT appear that there was any organized event going on... because there wasn't. I informed the server that we were there for the bar crawl and thus did not need menus. She informed ME that the bar crawl started at a different bar and ended at the bar we were in. Well Bananas! Everyone misread the posting on the net, because they were all there for the bar crawl. The owners quick put up a sandwich board announcing the bar crawl but by then it was too late - everyone, including us, was off to make their own fun.

I only wish I had bought the Hello Kitty pleather stuffed toy. I would have put her on a leash and "walked" her around town to bars. THAT would have been fun, relatively. I'm not even kidding.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday At Last

TGIF has never been so true. Something really serendipitous(?) happened to me this week. I was sitting here at my desk, analyzing click data, completely overwhelmed by the economic "situation". I was desperate for some sort of exciting, yet relatively inexpensive diversion from the day-to-day. I am WAY too driven to actually allow myself to RELAX at home - but put me in a decent hotel room, with room service JUST IN CASE - I crash.

As always, I digress. I received an email from with regard to the kick off of Philly Beer Week this weekend. My fingers could not move fast enough to get a hotel booked and an itinerary mapped out (is that not a WEE bit "driven"? Does there need to be an agenda?).

Was this brilliant email marketing or desperation on the part of the organizers due to lack of interest?

I had not heard of Philly Beer Week. This is only its second year - but still.... I think it was brilliant; so last minute: I didn't have enough time to "think it through" and therefore back out. It was exactly what I needed at that exact time: a weekend away, not too far from home, but far enough that I had to board my dog Ryan. He'll be four years old next week. The vet has him on a diet because he needs to lose "those last five pounds". The diet isn't working because when he gets hungry he just weases some cat food.

We've been doing quite a bit more email marketing at LMI this quarter. If you've got a list it is a great alternative to printed direct mail: no printing costs, no postage, no mail coordination.

I figure it has the same probability of getting tossed as a post card. I open all kinds of "spam". We all opt-in to lists with our favorites because we want to know what is going on; a sale? a restaurant review? a weekend away from the economic "situation"? Now that I think about it... I'm more likely to open and read an email from my favorite "marketers" than I am to sit down and rifle through a pile of mail after a really long day; could be that marketing budgets are being slashed and I am not receiving the volume of "junk" mail at home. See printing costs and postage! I still love a catalog. Keep 'em coming!

Back to Philly Beer Week. That email was extremely successful; not only did I book a hotel, I also bought tickets to the opening ceremony at Comcast Center. The Craft Brew Festival or whatever it's called is sold out. That was probably free money for Comcast Center because it will be a miracle if we get there by 7:00 :~(. We'll definitely be spending other $ too - we have to eat, and drink beer.

Then there is my shopping habit. Believe me, I know, this is NO time to be indiscriminately shopping, but I will.... even with the Botox in *gasp* two weeks!
I planned outfits and stuff - all based on motor cycle boots, because they are as classic as penny loafers - they just have allot of attitude. BUT my weekend bag won't fit enough clothes and shoes for me to be completely coutured. I have my heart set on something a little nifty, if not age inappropriate, from Urban Outfitters I can always wear my pajamas home if I don't find something cool and on-budget.

Let's hear it for email marketing! HIP HIP HOORAY!

I'm going to try Twitter from Comcast Center if we make it there. This is when I wish we weren't locked into a Family Share Plan where all of us signed up at different times. I WANT AN iPHONE! or at least a phone with a keyboard. I have a netbook but the battery will surely be dead by the time we get to Philly.

I'm going to map out an alternative to Comcast Center. I will be sorry to miss the pomp and circumstance - and high probability of Ad specialties in the form of mugs, t-shirts, hats, free six-packs??? Wish me luck :~).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Marketing, Cosmetic Surgery, and Turning 40!

Let's talk about something a wee bit scary today.... turning 40. I could cry just thinking about it. I do not FEEL 40. I still like hip clothes and shoes... except I feel like someone's embarasing Mom if I even think about wearing arm warmers.

I always see those ads on line about The Alternative to Botox - Mom Discovered It - Wrinkles Be Gone! I have to be honest, I've clicked on these ads a FEW times. I don't know. Fresh out of college I worked at a Department Store Make Up Counter. There I stood for 8 hours a day pushing miracle creams... and using them too. Maybe it was because I was young and these miracle creams are for the over 40 set (WAHHHH), but I got me some kind of mutant acne. It's no wonder I didn't make a career out of the Make Up Counter. My face looked putrid! It took 2 years of tetracycline and Retin A to get rid of it.

I'm taking the plunge the day before my birthday. I'm going to RPS Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery ( for some Botox, Restalyne - whatever they can do to make it OK fr me to wear arm warmers and motor cycle boots with skirts.

I feel pretty confident about the decision. Dr. Graff practiced in Manhattan. I'll bet she has beautified some stars of the stage and screen! My hopes are high. I have to be honest - we created her web site and I optimize the search engine marketing. I'm on the web site every day. She sold me! She looks so sweet. Maybe she'll tell me I look as if I'm just 29, go home you hipster! Get a Tattoo! Wear arm warmers!

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Stood Up and GOT It!

Dang it - I never got that sweater. To be honest, I just didn't feel like going shopping the day of the sale. HMMM, I'll bet they still have some mark downs. I shouldn't give up so easily.

I promised in my last post to praise the implicit, vital importance of traditional marketing/advertising. I feel guilty leaving web site promotion in the dust for a while... which, I suppose, is the point.

Every business needs to have a great looking, user-engaging web site; I mean EVERY business, because more and more, every person is looking to their browser rather than their phone book for goods and services (that sounds so corny, but it's true). The phone book was never that great when you think about it. Unless a company is really huge and has a ½ page ad full of information about product lines and services offered, it was like a really bulky Information Dartboard. If I was looking up "high-end clothing" it's a crap shoot. What category do I look in? Then I either have to call 12 stores to ask if they carry what I am looking for, or drive to all of them. Time is money! No, time is better than money because you can never buy an extra allotment of time.

I digress. Traditional advertising, as in direct mail, outdoor, and magazine spreads not only drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar - they drive quantifiable traffic to your web site. Some examples:

1) Applebee's. I don't normally eat there, I don't normally watch television, but if I see an Applebee's billboard or catch a commercial on teevee... I'm THERE! I have no idea why. It looks like allot more fun than pork chops and peas at home. Kudos to their agency.

2) Direct Mail. As previously mentioned, I sort through my mail and separate the wheat from the chaff. The wheat is bills (no sense throwing them out!), catalogs (I'll look through almost any catalog) and simple post cards advertising from stores that have me on their mailing lists. My favorite pottery artist, Davis Salks, he has the post card down to an art, no pun intended. If I get a notice that he has created a limited edition line, I am on his web site in 5 minutes to order. If I get a list of shows he'll be attending, I hang it on the fridge and head to the shows. I BUY allot of his pieces.

3) Magazine Ads. As with the catalogs, there not too many magazines I won't page through. There are some super small companies out there offering things I WANT - but I'd never hear about them if not for them graciously placing an ad in a magazine so I can tear out the page (unless I'm in a doctor's office; other people do it - I can't), go to my computer and get some nifty yoga pants, home decor, gifts (you have to strike while the Mother In Law rooster-gift iron is hot!), you name it. I'm not condoning reckless spending in these crazy days; I'm saying as an advertising professional that people do have money to spend on things that you sell if they know how to find you - even if you don't have a brick-and-mortar. Better still if you have no physical location, a magazine ad will drive MORE and BETTER traffic to your web site. For example, gosh I go on! my friend visited from Oregon last summer. She had on the funkiest tribal print dress. I had to have it! She looked in the boutique where she bought it but they didn't have my size -so I asked her to look at the label. I looked up the designer on line and bought the dress. If the designer was a savvy marketer, she would have kept my email address in order to inform me of new lines. By now I forget her name. I guess I could look at the label - but really, you have to be in the customer's face.

4) Magazine Ads II. It isn't only specific trinkets that grab a reader's attention. Services, such as restaurants, cosmetic surgeons, hair salons, hospitals, physician practices and oh - antique stores.... benefit from a well-designed magazine ad. It builds "brand awareness" - in other words, lets people know you exist. They might not come on over this afternoon, but a really great ad, published on a 3-12 month schedule will keep your business in their minds. The magazine doesn't need to be Vogue or People; it can be a regional Style publication - which I LOVE. A further benefit: of course you will include your web address in the ad - therefore, you get more web traffic, more attention - who can forget you?

I know I'm long winded, but I'm a passionate advertising professional and a passionate shopper. I cannot emphasize enough, especially in this crazy economy, the absolute importance of marketing.

Visit our web site to see how simple it is to get your message to the masses. I just might buy something from you!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Then I Crawled

As I was saying last week with regard to keywords in an AdWords campaign: "Our client's customers were not looking for them in the same way we thought they would". I'd like to elaborate on that a bit.
Our client's customers DO find them (their web sites) but not always in a particularly predictable or strategic manner. For instance, this morning I ran a Search Query Performance report for a Cosmetic Surgery campaign. Everything looked great until I came to the line where our beloved client is ranking #1 for, "boob job prices". I assure you, that is NOT one of my thoughtfully chosen keywords!
The Cosmetic Surgery campaign was the first campaign that I created on my own and I (THINK) I was lucky. It was a brand new web site that our agency designed. The site development, was, as always, a collaborative effort between the client and the creative team.
I was a pup - so I spent way too much time generating page after page of keywords with the Keyword Tool. The more the merrier! To be fair to myself, I was doing my Google homework as I went; both Google and the blogosphere learned me that your keywords HAVE GOT TO BE relevant to the site content. I studied the copy on that site until I had it memorized.
It took some time, and I am NOT patient, but gradually our keywords gained better and better quality scores. In addition, the actual ad positioning on the search results improved. Success!
It is paramount, ne plus ultra - there is NOTHING more important to driving quality traffic to your site than having a graphically engaging, user friendly, professionally designed and programmed web site.
I love (obviously) Google "sponsored links" or pay-per click advertising for driving traffic and creating raving fans; but if the ad takes the user to a bland site with no way for your business to interact with the customer in a meaningful way, it is pert near useless. I think of the sites I click on while shopping on line. I dutifully type in my very specific search query, but 9 times out of 10, both the organic and paid results don't take me to a page where the THING I desire is located. If I want it enough I'll poke around the site and put up with all the re-directs trying to find it... but most of the time I give up, check Ebay and then really give up. Par example - Helmut Lang Cashmere Turtleneck comes to mind. I searched high and low online for this darling of a sweater. I still don't know if I can live without it. I guess Ima gawna have to because every site that points to said Heart's Desire, leads to something else entirely!
Then I get to thinking, WHO is managing these pay-per-click campaigns? Do they know that every time I get desperate and click on the ad again, they are spending marketing dollars? Probably these sites carried my sweater at one time - in that case, when the sweater was no longer available, the webmaster should have uploaded a new site map - so as not to disappoint me, and other potential customers. A case could be made, that once on the no-sweater site, I may purchase something different. I didn't. Not on a single site out of nearly 20.
Search engine marketing is essential to any business; either local search or national or even global. In this weird, scary economy, search marketing allows an advertiser to reach the customers who want to buy from them - at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing vehicles, such as print and radio.
Traditional advertising platforms still have a vital place in brand awareness and product/service sales. But if your customer is looking for something very specific, such as the coveted Helmut Lang Cashmere turtleneck, they will probably look online for that retailer. I certainly didn't consider checking the newspaper. Which reminds me - a local boutique is having a sale this weekend... I got a piece of direct mail! They are looking at a potential sale - a bag full.
Next time I am going to tout the vital importance of traditional advertising/marketing vehicles. Wish me luck with the sweater!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Was Born

I work at a small, some may say, "boutique", advertising agency. We like it that way: zero bureacracy, zero useless meetings, free-flowing creativity and best of all, flexibility.

In order for us to remain small and flexible, we all have to wear many hats; Master of Many Domains - our business cards could be four feet long!

For example, I am the Controller. It sounds pretty fancy - as if I have a CPA, or Great Caesar's Ghost!, an MBA. It just so happens that I majored in Philosophy in college but I REALLY wanted to be in advertising, so I took the long way and got in any way I could, which was doing the Bookkeeping, which is also being the entire accounting department.

I like the symmetry of numbers. There is a certain beauty to the simplicity of the correct path through a transaction.... and back out of it. There is even creativity in Accounting in that there is not always one solution.

I digress. I am the Accounting Department at LMI Advertising I am also the Office Manager. It's all fun until someone gets bored. The Universe abhors boredom, therefore, boredom must be a vacuum (I had to sneak a little logic in there, stay true to my roots).

I got bored. Then the Universe dropped Google in my lap. At first I simply tallied up the click throughs and the cost in order to bill our clients. No fuss, no muss. It was, however, not only boring but a royal pain the butt.... UNTIL someone asked me to create a couple of campaigns.

I was like the old deer in the headlights. What to do? I had never created a campaign. I hadn't even bothered to look at conversion rates. There was no way I could "lose face" by asking where the heck to begin, so I jumped in feet first - and loved every minute of it.

You could not keep me out of my campaigns for ten minutes. I was researching the ins and outs of optimization on the web all day long and on weekends too. Negative keywords! Mirabile dictu!

The Keyword Tool! Lookee here, four pages of keywords! Obviously I had allot to learn.

Enter chance, Serendipity? I found Lunametrics in one of my strolls through the internet forest. They were hosting a full day of training on Google Analytics. I got on a train in my pajamas (in order to carry my laptop as well as a change of clothes) and off I went.

I was born. I had used GA in my day to day analyses of our campaigns - but what wonders to behold! This was a great class. I learned how to use GA in a methodical manner; there really is a method to the madness (I mean gobs of data under all of those buttons).

The most important Aha! moment I had was doing a content drill down. Our clients' customers were not looking for them in the same way we thought they would. I can have four pages of keywords but if they aren't the words our clients' customers are using to find what they want, none of them matter. The fact of the matter is, the Lunametrics Folk were so nice, so approachable and so, so knowledgeable: I had no choice but to throw myself into our Google campaigns with every spare minute I have.

I even went so far as to study like I was writing a thirty page paper for a graduate Philosophy of Language course, just to take the Google AdWords Professional exam. What good is know how without a little title and logo to make it look as pretty as it feels?

In my next installment I will elaborate on the importance of a really great web site to go along with a Google campaign. Right now, I have a burning desire to engage with my campaigns! Until then, Cheers!