I am just finishing reading The Mary Kay Way by Mary Kay Ash. I like to read, especially books about the titans of American Business. Mary Kay Ash was one of America’s premier women entrepreneurs and this book, originally released in 1984, has been re-released in the celebration of the company’s 45th Anniversary. 

In the book, she discusses timeless principles from leadership that are good for everyone to remember. Here are a few things that stood out to me: 

1. Golden Rule Leadership Mary Kay is certainly well-known for running her business in a manner that ensures you should treat other people the way you would want to be treated. 

2. People are the lifeline of your business.She understood that her independent sales force was the reason that the company did well.  She treated them well, compensated them for a job well done and provided lots of incentives that rewarded excellence. 

3. The invisible sign.She felt that everyone has an invisible sign hanging from her/his neck saying, “Make me feel important.” The world would be a lot better place if everybody remembered that. 

4. Praise people to success. Talking about the good that everyone has done and encouraging ways for them to adjust unproductive behavior is much more powerful than berating and belittling people. “Recognition is one of the most powerful of all motivating techniques,” she said. 

5. Enthusiasm moves mountains. As a passionate marketer, this one spoke to me. 

6. Nothing happens until somebody sells something. This is a critical piece for everyone to understand. 

I highly recommend the book and hope you get a lot of good out of it, too. 



A client of mine, Poise, Polish and Panache had just had an article published in the local Whittier Daily News. This start-up company provides etiquette training and is just getting established in the community. 

1.Congratulations! It is very exciting to be published in the newspaper and marks a great milestone in your company’s growth.

2. To all others reading this blog, don’t underestimate the power of PR. My client has already gotten several calls as a result of this exposure.

3. Plan your PR interactions. My client and I knew in advance that a reporter would be coming to her talk so we prepared for the interview in order to maximize the opportunity. Here is a summary of what we discussed: 

  • Understand what the reporter wants to get out of the interview. Ask questions about what kind of story, what kind of background information they will be needing, anything that can help you understand the objective of the story. Remember, reporters want to tell stories — interesting stories that capture the minds and hearts of its readers
  • Understand what you want to get out of the interview. Public Relations builds exposure for you and your business. Have three succinct messages that you would like to convey and be ready to communicate them.
  • Make the reporter’s job easier. Have a packet of materials with as many facts, figures, pictures, etc. as you can to help make the reporter’s job easier. This will smooth the way and ensure a good working relationship with the media. 
  •  Stay in control of the interview. Even if the line of questioning goes in a different direction, there are ways that you can conversationally get in the points that you want to make. Think about all the possible angles. 
  • Remember that you are always “on record.” Everything you say is fair game to the reporter, so make sure you are buttoned up (see the next point to ensure this!)
  • Practice, practice, practice. You can never be too prepared for a media interview. 

Again, congratulations to Poise, Polish and Panache, a company on its way to teaching tons of people proper etiquette, to gain more confidence in social settings and advance their careers as quickly as possible. See full article here:

Are you a High-Tech Snob?

Is there anything low-tech that you are doing right now? Anybody who reads my newsletter as well as my blog knows that I am a big proponent of all of the changes and opportunities that have been developed because of the surge of digital penetration and variety of Web 2.0 executions available to a marketer today. 

But I don’t want to forget the tried and true. I was working with a client, reading about the results from the sampling that they did at a movie screening college. As I look at the photos and saw a lot of kids engaged with the brand, I was reminded of how sometimes, it is the low-tech options that can be really good and that can do a lot for you. Door hangers, windshield flyers, branded premiums, and Tupperware-type parties are all still very viable. Are there any low-tech opportunities that you are passing by or turning your nose up at because it doesn’t seem sexy enough, because it is not on the cutting edge of cool? Don’t pass up on an opportunity just because it is not high-tech. In addition, maybe there are ways to make it high-tech, to tie it to all of the new media that is available. Maybe you do a postering campaign or a billboard campaign that has been around forever. So you add text messaging. Maybe you offer a printed piece of paper but you direct your consumers to a website where they can get free downloads. The possibilities are endless. Just make sure you are not high-tech snob.

Building Brand and Brand Ambassadors

I gave a talk today on Building Brands and Brand Ambassadors to a group of executives in the financial services industry. The main thrust of my talk was to talk about the importance of marketing fundamentals and how savvy marketers are finding new ways to communicate their brand messages.

The interesting thing about this presentation was the reaction that most participants had.

None of the people in the room had ever heard of Twitter.

These were not ancient executives on their way out. These were people on the top of their game, in charge of new product development, in charge of managing their brands.

I talked to them about the availability of “social media audits” and the strategy of hiring brand ambassadors to communicate your brand message in the digital world. These executives were unaware that you could hire people to do such things.

So, for those of you who are selling services in the digital world, your message is not getting out there enough.

For those of you who are managing brands and are not factoring in the role of social media as a research tool, as a marketing tool, as an overall communication tool, you are missing the boat.

In short, there is lots of opportunity, endless opportunity for both buyers and sellers of such services.

How Big is Your Thinking?

This blog is aimed more at my entrepreneurial readers than anyone else.

I had the opportunity to stop in at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles that turned the Beverly Hilton Hotel into a cornucopia of today’s masters of enterprise. It seemed that everyone who was anyone was there to mix, mingle, see and be seen. I even met Rosie Grier, which seemed pretty random (at least to me, anyway). 

There were heads of venture capital groups, high profile celebrities, heads of entertainment and educational institutions. They were all there to try and find out what is happening in the world today to keep on top of trends. There were meetings happening in the lobbies about business start-ups deals that were being put together, management teams that were needed, and people calmly discussing multi-million dollar deals. 

Is this the world that you live in? Is it a world that you could live in? I deal with small-town businesses and big box suppliers. No matter what your industry, the question is, “How big is your thinking?” If you have a big idea, you should have passion about it. Understand that there are others who want to bring that passion to bear with you. 

All these “friends” of Milken, in their Savile Row three-piece suits, got to where they are by being passionate about what they do. They become well known for the things that they are passionate about. Arnold Schwarzenegger was there; everybody knows that he’s passionate about the environment. Andre Agassi was there as a founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation. The list of attendees runs like a “who’s who of people who are passionate about what they do.”

Make sure that you’re passionate of what you do.

Make sure you that you think big about your idea. 

You never know; you might find yourself in a three-piece suit someday attending the Milken Institute Global Conference.

Simple Marketing Advice

My son is a budding entrepreneur by necessity.

He got in some trouble and has to pay for a replacement of a lost article. Anyway, he asked me for some marketing help. Once we finished negotiating the “family rate” that I would charge him (three chocolate eggs and 8 jelly beans from his Easter basket), we talked about what he wanted to do. We developed a simple flyer to take around the neighborhood, asking for odd job housework or yard work. I thought the advice that I gave to him would be relevant to any marketer, regardless of whether it’s a neighborhood flyer or a commercial airing on prime time TV.

  • Hook me in-use a headline or creative “hook” to pique my interest
  • Keep it simple-tell me in a straightforward manner what you are offering
  • Make it visually appealing-someone should be able to look at your ad quickly and determine what you are trying to communicate
  • Be benefit-oriented-what’s in it for them? Why should they do business with you?
  • Inspire them-show them what life would be like if they used your services (or products)
  • Have a call to action-what do you want the customer to do? Call you? Go to your website? Have the specific call to action be big and bold

The resultant flyer has already caused one of the neighbors to call. Hopefully, this simple advice will help you generate business just as quickly!

Your Public Environmental Presentation

Environmental awareness has gone so much beyond an intellectual argument over the verity of Al Gore’s documentary. Regardless of your political leanings, as a marketer, you cannot ignore the business impact of your consumer’s perception of your environmental stewardship.

Some companies are going out of their way to offer eco-friendly products or deliver services in a way that uses less energy, produces less contamination, or leave less of an environmental footprint.

And those companies are reaping huge rewards.

But what if you are one of those companies not doing a lot?

As a marketer, it is your job to present your company in the best light possible. I have seen clients who do not think much about what they do or don’t do because it is not important to them personally. It does not matter what you think personally. It’s all about what your customers (or potential customers) think. And today’s consumer is willing to travel an extra mile down the road, or pay a slight upcharge, or put up with a small inconvenience if they know they are supporting a company, a product, or a service that promotes environmental friendliness.

As the marketer in the company, it is your job to fiercely defend the most positive stance your company can support (or add new programs so that stronger environmental statements can be made)! Turn over stones, look long and hard to find what your company is doing. Do not settle for some namby-pamby answer– push deeper. Make sure that you are making as aggressive a statement as possible, because guaranteed your competition is.

To Text or Not to Text?

In a seminar that I was giving last week,we were talking about communicating with your target audience via all media available–including digital media. We got to talking about text messaging and the rise in text message advertising opportunities. There was a gentleman in his late 40’s who had sent a text message to one of his college buddies. This college buddy commented that he should not have texted him because it was costing him money. He was grumbling over the text message, saying, “Only my daughter texts me.” The gentleman in the seminar said that interchange made him skeptical about texting as a way to communicate with a target.

My response was that he needed to make sure that he communicated to his target audience in a way that his target audience wanted to be communicated to. If he were approaching someone in their early 20’s, undoubtedly they would have a cell phone package that included unlimited texting and therefore receiving a text message would not have been an issue. The phone is where so many of today’s youth spend their time, talking and texting to each other (in many cases, texting more often than talking). Texting is by far the number one non-voice activity used with a cell phone. But if you are speaking with someone in his late 40’s, texting is not intuitive and not their preferred mode of communication. In that case, then yes, sending a text message may not be the right thing to do. 

So should you start sending a text message? Well, it depends on who you are sending it to.

Teachers and McDonalds

Sometimes the juxtaposition of two brands can result in some delightful new ideas, expanding both brands so that they will be seen in a new way. This is why licensing works so well. There are licensed toys for television shows. You can buy your daughter a Dora doll. Sometimes, the resulting juxtaposition is humorous and delightful.

The other night, my children wanted to go to McDonalds because their teachers were working in the McDonalds serving meals in order to raise money for the PTO. The proceeds from the evening went to the school’s activity fund, and the kids had a great time. Just seeing their fourth grade teachers, third grade teachers, the second grade teachers standing behind the counter taking their order delighted the kids. The teachers had a very good attitude about the whole thing, and the parents, of course, were happy to buy the kids a McDonalds meal from their teachers to support the school. In this particular case, everyone wins. McDonalds wins because the place was packed. Teachers win because money is raised for the programs they want to run. The children are delighted because the idea of the teachers, normally so scholarly, serving at a McDonalds was so different that it becomes hysterically funny for them. 

In your business, there may be brands that don’t necessarily make sense at first but think for a moment of the potential impact of the two brands. You may find a new way to delight your consumers. It may be just the thing to pack your retail establishment or will bring them in droves to your website or buy your products in record numbers.

Step outside your normal sphere of influence for a minute and try to see if there are brands that you could partner with that would bring your offering to a whole new level.

Recovering from a Marketing Blunder

My 10-year-old had a basketball game this weekend. Right after a free-throw, he rebounded the ball and immediately put it back up on the boards to make 2 points. Unfortunately, it was 2 points for the other team. He forgot that it was the other team doing the free-throwing. 

Not to worry though. On the next play, when his team in-bounded the ball, he took the ball down the court and was able to score 2 points for his own team, immediately redeeming himself (to the relief of his team, his coaches, the ref, as well as all the parents in the stands). Thankfully, he did not let it ruin the rest of the game. He moved on – but I bet he won’t make that mistake again any time soon.

Have you ever had days like that where you just feel like you are doing more to help your competitors than to help your own company? I always think about what the marketing lesson of everything is (because I am always thinking about marketing). And here’s what it reminded me of: it’s never too late to make a change. It may be embarrassing, painful, or expensive, but you can always make it right. Remember New Coke? They bit the bullet, admitted they had gotten tied up with innovation and had forgotten about the consumer. When they went back to listening to the consumer, they were able to increase sales from 9 billion cases to 15 billion.

So here is the marketing lesson for today: when you believe that you’ve had a really bad day, or a really bad streak, or somehow “scored two points” for your competition, just re-double your efforts, re-focus on your goal and “score 2 points” for your own team. Don’t let it ruin your day/week/year. Think of my son and remember, it is never too late to recover.