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Archive for the ‘business partnerships, advertising agencies’ Category

I think in the business world, we become driven to succeed – or perform, always risking being trampled.  We have come of age in the world of many options, much information, and the innate desire to make a difference.  It starts out with the idea of being good at something, then – in my world, the competitive nature kicks in and you plunge forward. Over the last couple years of my business life, I have cycled through those feelings more than once.or twice…

When 2015 rolled around, I vowed (once again) to apply my skills and be the best version of myself I could be at the time. I know what I do like the back of my hand, but I felt the desire to create something new and different. I wanted to start a non profit. No small undertaking, and in paperwork alone can be a daunting task. If you are anything like me, I can make myself take the eye off the ball very easily by distracting myself with other “jobs”. I have continuously pulled my mind back to the focus – much like my meditation focus – back to the breath. As a result, there was a strong possibility I would lose a couple clients I currently work with and enjoy helping.  It was a risk, but I trusted if I just put one foot in front of the other and not lose focus, it would all work out.  THIS is a very unnatural state for me, and I had to work hard to maintain it.  I did not force, cajole, argue, debate, negotiate – I just let it unfold.  I was rewarded with renewals, and for that I am grateful.

All of this is great – for today, I just keep moving forward and TRUST that I am on the right path.trust word in letterpress type

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One of the hardest things to do with any client – no matter what profession you are in – is managing expectations.  That sentiment holds true in other parts of our lives, but that is another blog.  Working with a group or board it becomes even harder due to the fact there are many different sets of expectations as to outcome of project or goals.

A great example of this is a current project I am working on that has many different components attached.  The initial stages of this project my role was that of administrator and organizer.  As usually happens, with my background in sales, a few weeks later some separate duties involving sponsorship were added.  Fast forward to one month out from this event and there is some squawking on the part of one of the group wondering why I hadn’t been more successful with participants.  Through this process I have been seeking participants along with sponsorship but had not focused on this one component because it was not an original part of the discussion.  At this point I am failing someones expectations simply due to the fact it was assumed I would be taking care of that component.  Never-mind all of the successful things I have accomplished for this group – because I did not manage this particular individuals expectations.  My expectations were not met as well as I had assumed they would be gathering their own attendees.  All due to a lack of communication like working a maze of large boulders.

Image.aspx2It always comes back to that, doesn’t it?  Even when you spell it all out, something inevitably will drop through the cracks.  I suppose an expectation should be something will fall through the cracks, as perfection is elusive.

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January was as most January’s were only a little more frenetic with the crazy weather in the Midwest. So, after a particularly busy holiday season – with two less weeks between holidays – everything seemed very amp’d up. Mostly the clients. It seems those schedules that we all try to enforce and stick to, i.e. “Let’s have the year laid in by Dec 15th” were less likely to happen than my Detroit Lions going to the Super Bowl. Sad, but true.
Fast forward to early February, and a couple clients are asking where we are at on certain issues. Normally an easy answer, but not so this year. Everyone is behind, and understanding that is an important key to keeping everyone from jumping off the ledge. It may be your deadline, your “perfect” date to align forces, but there are forces stronger than you and we need to learn how to judge those times.
So, in lieu of a normal one week call, make it one and a half weeks and perhaps it is a brief email. Gently move back into discussions with a compassion for someone who possibly is pushing many deadlines. Having been on both sides of the desk, it never ceases to amaze me how some reps think you should bend over backwards for them. That is not the way it works.snow Trust me you get more flies with honey than you do vinegar.

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A couple weeks ago I was lamenting the fact that I did not feel like I fit into any particular category within the current business environment.  This morning, while having a lengthy conversation with a friend/peer it occurred to me that I was not that far off base.

You see, I was thinking along the critical and self berating terms, when in reality I should have been kinder to myself as it relates to my skills.  Without sounding too pompous, I am good at what I do, I have great knowledge about my industry and I should just shut off the ass kicking machine and get on with it.  I decided 10 years ago to push forward and create my own place in the world because of the uncomfortable and skewed world of inter-market hiring practices.  Especially in my market where people seldom leave, and the same group of people just keep rotating the atmosphere while newer “stars” come up underneath and join the constellation that is Detroit Media.

Of course I am going to feel left out of a world that only hires to make an impact and buzz in the market, not what is best for the company.  Having been in the market for over 15 years – I am damaged goods.  No longer the “glamor hire” that will get tongues wagging.  Case in point: this friend I was talking to has enormous amounts of media smarts, she is good with clients, knows how to sell media and is well liked among her peers.  So, did she get the job?  No.  This company hired a young man with limited media experience who had “good contacts”….translation: a green media person who was recommended by a buyer, or who they could give a limited list to and have him harvest the rest.  Most likely someone coming from a smaller station, another medium, or worse a friend of a friend.  Did I mention my friend is in her early 50’s?  Hmmmmm.

Now, all that being said, it is easy to judge, easy to complain about the inequality of hiring practices, the bitterness felt when you get overlooked because of your age.  What I find most interesting is that all of these people doing the hiring are in that same age group.  I wonder how they would have responded if they were the ones in the interview chair.  Well, this I know for sure: within the next 5 years they will get their chance.  That’s how we roll.

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Can you feel it?  That rumble coming up from the ground?  It is the sound of creativity making its way into the hearts of people in the Motor City.  I am especially happy to living in Detroit right now because of it.

Sure, Detroit has haters…a LOT of them.  For some reason it is important to use Detroit as the benchmark for all that is wrong with the U.S.A.  We were too married to industry causing lack of public transportation, we had diversity until the riots of the 60′s sent a lot of people to the suburbs.  We are not what the media would have you believe however.

Detroit is quickly becoming the nerve central for all things creative.  Creative technology, creative thinking, creative funding, creative living.  We are sick and tired of you feeling like you haveIMGP0113 something on us.  I lived in Chicago for awhile.  When I moved back I felt like had to sell this city back to the people who lived here, they were believing the hype.  No longer.

For the record; Chicago has a 10.25 sales tax, think Kwame and Coleman were corrupt?  They actually auctioned off city jobs under Daly.   No offense to the Detroit Bad ass gangs – but Chicago gangs make ours look like West Side Story.

At the front end of all is this is artists.  Detroit and the state of Michigan over indexes the rest of the country in creative jobs.  Look, you will see it — Artists buying homes in Hamtramck, Artists living in New Center.  People like Dan Gilbert and others investing in a city that has all the same markings as any world class city and then some.  We have a riverfront, we have history, we have talent and we are running with it.  Do yourself a favor and look to Motown for your creative needs, we are ready for our close up.

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In the advertising and marketing business we constantly try to keep up with the trends and interests of the population so we can best serve our clients.  These days, its a little bit like catching mercury on a desk..just when you think you have it…it slips away.  It is especially difficult to catch the female viewer/listener/reader/follower.  I think women’s interests and triggers are as varied as their lipstick options, or as the flowers they plant, or jobs they juggle.  It seems as though, like women, we need to be all things to all women.

The ads we see on television are still focused on either the “average mom” in khakis with a mop in her hand, or the harried career woman trying to have it all.  There is no happy medium, which in my opinion, is what women are starting to achieve.  We see more women taking time to network – with EACH OTHER..or new “fluffy” social websites, like Pinterest.  No disrespect to Pinterest, but it is clearly a women’s social network.  Try as they might, you will catch the occasional male interest attempt amongst all the great recipes or patterns for pillows, but the dominate theme is women.  And that is okay, I don’t know about you, but I feel a little bit of a shift.  A shift not to a subservient role for women, but a mutual respect and partnership between women and men.

Now, I realize there are a LOT of exceptions, women still rank lower on the pay scale overall, but we are making progress.  It is important that we continue to remember that it is progress not perfection.  Today’s woman doesn’t kid herself into thinking she can have it all, she just wants what is good for her, and if it applies, her family.  She is willing to pay the extra money for a good hair product, if it what it says it is.  She is more discerning and pays closer attention to how you position your brand.  Don’t kid yourself by underestimating the female consumer.  She still makes the decisions for a household, sometimes with, sometimes without her partner.  She isn’t willing to compromise her integrity for the sake of brand loyalty, she wants to believe that the products she buys are as loyal to her as she is to them.

In the world of advertising and marketing it is always paramount to know your client, and in this day and age, you have to keep up with the changing landscape to find them.  Once you have them, don’t take for granted they will stick around by treating them like a number.  One great example of that is the CitiBank Women – they send out occasional (read closely – not obnoxiously regular) emails with great tips about finances.  Their newsletters are timely, thoughtful and succinct.  No three page dissertations, they understand how much time we have, how much time we are willing to devote to a newsletter, ( approx 15 secs – or ten words) and capture the reader with a bold topic, brief strategy and then sign off.  Follow their lead and the lead of other companies that successfully market to women.  By knowing them and their interests, their hopes, and their lifestyle you will not bore them, patronize them or lose them.

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I had promised myself I would write a post at least once a month – seeing my last post was in February, it appears I have let myself down.  Or have I?  In this digital age of connection, I am feeling an awful lot of pressure to keep up.  “I write on my blog everyday”, “The Wall Street Journal wants my blog”… We are barraged with updates, successes and profiles of people who are my peers, friends and casual acquaintances.  These people let us know when their child is valedictorian, when they reach a career milestone, when they land a big fish…the end result is that as happy as I am for them, it brings out an inferior feeling for me.  I consider myself successful, I am not blowing the doors off, but that was never a goal.  My motto is and always has been; “I just want to make my house payment and work with people I like”.  So, I am accomplishing that and having some fun along the way.

Google the sentence “self esteem and social media” and you will see a plethora of columns, articles, and reports about social media usage and self esteem.  Like most professionals I have been trained in the art of looking over your shoulder and being wary of your peers.  We have all fell prey to the “friend” who steals your idea, takes information and spreads it around, and some not as malicious activities.  Either way, these false relationships can be harmful to your psyche and can wreak havoc with your self esteem.  Seeing the person who brings an idea you have had in the back of your mind forever actually take action and launch it becomes a missed opportunity and creates a pressure to constantly stay moving forward.  But frankly, I am tired of the constant push forward.  I have to remind myself I can’t do it all, but the internet prods us to keep up by allowing us so much access to the people we consider our peers.  This person is now “connected” to that person, (someone clearly capable of helping them in some way) and it is glaringly obvious.  I feel a little jealous when someone is a “friend” or “contact” and not one of mine.  That type of thing resurrects grade school gym class thoughts, when it really is no big deal.  Networking is an integral part of the business world, but the internet and social media have amped it up to a level no one could have predicted.  It allows us access to individuals previously out of reach, and used appropriately it can be an excellent tool.  How many times have you run into a business acquaintance who references keeping up with you on one of your social websites.  Even though it is intended to work that way, it still makes me blush a little.

My addictive nature encourages me to check my social media sites a couple of times a day, my Facebook page is a great way to keep up with my friends and distant family.  It has helped nurture relationships never before possible – some random woman in San Diego with as much addition to her pro football team as you do yours and an affinity for a certain swear word.  It has also ended a few close relationships because of its forum type nature we have a tendency to feel safe behind our keyboards and spout off about topics we know we should avoid.  The internet, social media and the amount of information we have access to on a regular basis has created a society of narcissists and over achievers.  I think it is time for me to take a step back and start implementing those ideas I have and quit watching others successes.  Just as soon as I finish this blog post.

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