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Weight-Loss Marketing. Who to trust?

January 3, 2011

Oh no!  After wearing leggings, dresses and long cozy sweaters for the last few weeks, I was not aware until I put on my non-skinny jeans that I had put one a few holiday pounds. So,  needless to say I decided that my New Year’s resolution was to get those 5 lbs off and quick!

To the internet I went. First throwing out a tweet to my followers asking for tips. Stair lunges someone said, put lemon in my water, cut out the sugar, up the protein, try a detox pill, sit in a sauna… the tips kept coming. No wonder there is such a market for weight loss out there!

 



Bringing myself back to reality and not getting sucked into the advertising will now be my #1 resolution (replacing the lose 5 lbs quick). I know where I went wrong the last few weeks.  Too much sugar, gluten, and not enough trips to the gym are the culprits. Patience will be need to be my priority.  Tomorrow I will have my green tea, go to @LifetimeFitness and get myself back on track.

I support products and services that make us feel better, improve our health and add to our confidence! We just need to be smarter about our choices and not get caught up in wanting a “quick fix”. So, tomorrow the gluten is gone again, I’m back at the gym and will begin the new year with more balance, awareness and optimism.

How do we know what messages we can trust?  Who to listen to?  Who is accurate and trustworthy? The following people, places and things are some of my picks in the health and wellness industry. They give us choices and encourage balance. They don’t scam us, give us false promises or make suggestions that are unhealthy or dangerous.

 

Dr. Andrew Weil

Eat This, Not That (book)

Lifetime Fitness

Skinny Bitch (book)

Jaime Oliver (Food Revolution)

 

Top Business Branding 2011

December 30, 2010

Oh what a year it has been! Due to the economy, I had many clients who started their own businesses or transitioned to a new industry. Logo and branding requests, training on social media, product designs, and marketing guidance were among the many services I fulfilled.

Check out my latest projects >>

In the spirit of the New Year, I’ve put together TOP BUSINESS BRANDING must haves.

1.  Be authentic – Remember that you are your brand. If you are not truthful, you are presenting a false representation of your business. Perception is reality. Don’t get caught up in saying or doing what you think others want to hear. They will see through it eventually.

2.  Don’t Mix and Match – Are  your marketing materials consistent? Everything you put out there with your logo/brand should create an attractive visual presentation. Colors, fonts, images should all be the same and carry over from print and web to social media. There is nothing worse than inconsistency!

3.  Create an Experience – Generic marketing is out, experience marketing is in.  Consumers and clients demand and expect 100% from you, so you need to be prepared to dish it out. Know what you giving, do with style, grace and loads of personality. Think long-term and not immediate results. It’s better to create a positive experience and keep them coming back. You need your fan base.

4.  Find your Niche – What you do, sell, or provide does not appeal to everyone so don’t pretend it does. Find out who your end-user is and cater to them. Create marketing materials that are appealing to them, write content filled blogs, and determine services to meet their need. (I have discovered that my niche is small to mid-size businesses so I’ve created plans and services to meet their needs vs. larger corporations.)

5.  Explore and Connect – Successful business development and branding is achieved by creating a following. Remember that making connections, networking, and taking interest in other businesses and professionals is all part of expanding your own business.

6. Set your Goals – Don’t get caught up in being “perfect” or spend  hours comparing yourself to others in your field. That will only create insecurity and limit you from what you can achieve. Think of your marketing and business goals for the year. One thing at a time. Put your energy in and focus. The rest will come.

7.  Be Ready for Change – Our society is motivated by change. The next best thing is appealing. Although your business should be ready for change at any point in regards to technology, marketing, and trends, you should not compromise your brand in exchange. Small changes moving in a positive direction, exploring and connecting with your audience are the top priorities.

 

Happy new year to you and best wishes for success in 2011!

– Beth


Too Young to Text?

December 20, 2010

The decision to allow our 8-year-old to have her own cell phone was not easy one, but one of the better decisions we’ve made. The reason being is that she has Asperger’s Syndrome. Frustrated daily by the tasks of exchanging verbal dialogue, our daughter’s words and thoughts seem stuck in her head, unable to easily release. Although she has the ability to communicate, she lacks the initiative, and attempting to build relationships is not her strong suit.  With the phone, she texts both of her grandmothers and takes special pride when her text messages are received and returned. We gave her the phone to ease anxiety since she would worry and obsess about what to in case of emergency…coming home for school and no one being home, who would pick her up at an afterschool activity, the list went on.

As I sat at a dinner function this evening, I received a series of texts.

J: When will you come home?

Me: Soon, but they haven’t served dessert yet. Hang in there. Love you.

J: What time?

Me: Don’t know yet. Maybe 9:30

J: What in the world? I can’t wait that long!

Me: You can wait.

J: So if I wait will you bring back a treat?

Me: Maybe.

J: Can you get me some cheesecake?

Me: Don’t think they have cheesecake.

J: Then what do they have?

Me: Don’t know. Goodnight. See you soon.

I had to appreciate this exchange. Mainly because in a verbal discussion, it never would have played out this way. Whining, complaining, and not being able to even have questions asked this specifically would have been challenging for my daughter. As an above average student who excels in reading and spelling, the texting provides a comfortable way she can communicate with us when she chooses. If you think about her daily life, you realize that she is having to adapt so much to other people, kids, and situations. Why not make something a little bit easier for her? Plus, it has made her relationships stronger and more special with family. Funny how she never uses her cell phone to make a call, only to text! Point proven.

So, when I opened the door on Twitter to a discussion on cell phone use in kids I immediately received two different view points. One from a fellow mother with a 15-year-old son and one from a former teacher. Here are their comments. I’ll let you form your own opinions.

XxMissMeXx I got my son’s first cell when he was 12 bcuz he is diabetic and I was worried about him being home alone in the afternoons. I’d worry constantly if my son didn’t have a phone… afraid to let him out of the house. No one rule works for every situation. Flexibility in parenting is key.

fleetssara No cell phones til kids are driving and only for emergency. No texting. I’m mean. Phones of teens in parents hands at 10pm. I see value in having an extra phone for kids to call parents for rides, etc. No need for calls or texts to friends. When I taught HS parents would call their kids during school day! No cell phones in classrooms-just lockers…didn’t realize how strongly I felt until you asked. : )

 

Our Ground Rules:

In setting up our daughter’s phone, I programmed in family and friend phone numbers and put in place parental controls. I deleted programs and apps she cannot use and there is no internet function. The only glitch we’ve had is when she snuck in on her 5-year-old brother and snapped a picture of him going to the bathroom. Ok, we had to laugh at this. That is pretty typical kid behavior! We did delete the picture and luckily she never figured out how to send it to anyone.

The phone can be taken away for bad behavior and texts and phone calls are monitored. The phone is not allowed to go to school unless there is a concern someone won’t be home when she gets off the bus. Teaching responsibility, manners, and providing caution such as not answering any calls or texts from someone she doesn’t know (just like not answering the door at home) are all important lessons for early phone use. You might not agree with our decision and that is ok. Every parent has the right to decide what is best for their own child.

In the News:

Social Media Guidelines for Children >>
Via @TweetReports

School Cell Phone Ban >>

Be a Little GREEN this Season

December 11, 2010

The holiday season is about tradition, family, and giving. However, this year I changed some of our traditions… out with the old and  in with the new! Our family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. So, needless to say it’s double the work (and fun too). This year I made a conscious effort to scale back both financially and also environmentally.

  • From Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons – it all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (www.recycleworks.org)


Gift Wrapping

Simple and classic, with a touch of creativity! A trip to the craft store and purchase of craft paper ($2.99) and ribbons was all that was needed. With traditional crayons, I decorated the kids gifts. They loved the personalization! The best part? After the gifts are open, the craft paper and ribbon can be reused for projects.

More ideas:

  • Use brown lunch bags and dress up with elements of nature (leaves, branches, etc.) or old buttons
  • Reuse newspaper or magazines
  • For kitchen gifts wrap with fancy dish towels, cloth napkins or a tablecloth
  • Tie an ornament, dreidel, or small toy to the packages

Holiday Cards

This is my virtual holiday card! Not only did I save on postage and time (since I despise stuffing envelopes), I was also able to send my card to more people. As a graphic designer,  I had the luxury of creating the card myself using design programs. If you want to do it yourself there are some online options to assist you.

 

Gifting to Others

Many companies are listening consumers and trends.  In today’s day, we are more eco-friendly and budget conscious. I was excited to see that Williams Sonoma sells a potted Colorado Blue Spruce Trees ($29.95) which comes with planting instructions.

Homemade Gifts like jams, flavored popcorn, soaps, and organic and natural beauty products are fabulous choices. Packaged nicely, they make personal and heartwarming gifts. Personally, I am a fan of sugar scrubs! Another idea if you want to take on the task, is a custom family/friends cookbook. This is a project I have created in the past. It does involve some work gathering recipes (start early in the year) and formatting, but recipients enjoy the gift for years. You can print the book on recycled paper, or just provide an electronic version via email.

 

The Alternative Tree

Each year, 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in the U.S. (Cygnus Group). Of those, about 30 million trees go to the landfill. (Environmental News Network).  I know we all love the fresh smell and tradition of a real tree, but for a more modern and updated holiday there are plywood trees and even removable stickers to put on the walls of your home. You can also use natural elements such as branches and dress them with ornaments. Get creative! This is a fun family project.

 

Eco-Friendly Holiday Resources:

 



The Social Media Cooler

December 8, 2010

It’s 6:30 am and @pacerpup is whining in her crate. The downfall to having our 65 lb yellow lab in my room is that I hear every sound and she being in close proximity, can see my every move.  I drag myself out of bed, pop open the crate and guide her to our fenced-in yard where she can do her business. I then do mine…which is by the way, making my coffee! First priority of the day.  Coffee in hand, I sit at the dining room table and boot up my PowerBook.  Let’s see what everyone is up to today!

Heading to the Water Cooler

As a marketing/graphic design freelancer, I operate out of my home office. This can be somewhat isolating and I sometimes miss the relationships with fellow co-workers. But, never fear, social media is here! Fashion tips from @fabuliss tech and industry news from @keithprivette #TweetnMeet with @ericamayer parenting/health updates from @marketingmamamn and fun conversation with bloggers @MollyinMinn and @sellabitmum fill that social craving.

Can social interaction make us more productive? I don’t know about you but my battery is recharged when I am interacting with smart and creative individuals. Whether it be through Twitter, Facebook or Linked-in, the ability we all have to connect with others at any time of day (and I’m a night owl) is addicting and fascinating.

Ultimately, we all want to be entertained. Which reminds me of a funny (or maybe not so) story of when I was in high school. One day, as my mother was going through the mail she became very upset. A $500.00 phone bill rested in her hands as she questioned me about the many recent phone calls I had made to a 1-800-teenchat. Late at night I would call then number and three-way with my friend Robyn. We wouldn’t even so much as participate in the conversation as listen and observe the social interactions. At .99 a minute needless to say this form of entertainment added up.

Social media serves many purposes. As businesses small and large continue to explore ways of gaining consumer loyalty, they are forced to get online and start listening. We as consumers have the ability to direct and guide them into making changes to products and services. Companies that do it right will soar while those that can’t connect, listen, and learn will sink.

The most popular question I receive from my clients who are entering the world of social media is “What do I say”?  My answer is always the same. “Say what you would say”.

 

Twitter is about interacting and not building followers >>

Social Media Shopping List >>


Although more than half of all large companies claim to have a presence onFacebook and Twitter, less than 25% claim to have a clearly defined social strategy.

What do you gain by using social media? Either personally or professionally? Share your thoughts and comments!

Don’t Steal my Stuff

December 3, 2010

My blog topic for this week, is about Fair Use and Copyright. There seems to be a lot of confusion out there regarding what you do have the right to use, and what you don’t. Many think just because a photo or image is visible on the internet it allows you to utilize it in your materials. Not always the case.

As a Marketing Consultant and Graphic Designer, I am constantly educating my clients about how to best protect their materials and information. However, I needed a refresher myself! As we explore the internet, we realize that individuals and companies are pushing the boundaries. Therefore, it is important that we continually address these various challenges.

The following information was provided by Attorney Sharra S. Brockman, Esq. Her law firm Verv focuses on protecting intellectual property: trademark and copyright registration, infringements, licensing, and right of publicity.

 

Fair Use & Copyright

Where It Blooms Blog Article, 11/29/10
(written by Sharra S. Brockman)

If you know your internet memes, you’re probably familiar with the recent Cooks Source debacle.  Blogger Monica Gaudio discovered that one of her original articles was ripped from her website and reproduced in a small, regional magazine called Cooks Source, without her permission and without remuneration.   When Ms. Gaudio emailed the magazine to request an apology, the Cooks Source editor, Judith Griggs, sent a return email which will go down in the halls of copyright history.  “But honestly Monica,” the now infamous email reads, “the web is considered ‘public domain’ and you should be happy we just didn’t ‘lift’ your whole article and put someone else’s name on it!”

Most people understand that publishing a creative work on the Internet does not release it into public domain and make it, therefore, fair game for “lifting.”  But what the Cooks Source situation has brought to light within my own practice is that a lot of confusion does exist about how a copyright is obtained and when a protected work may be reproduced under the “fair use” provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act.  What if you want to quote a snippet from a novel?  Or show a video in your classroom?  Or use photos on your blog?

To understand fair use, it’s important to understand the basics of copyright law. http://vervblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/what-is-copyright-anyway.html]

Although U.S. copyright law gives authors a number of exclusive rights to control the use of their works, public policy favors limiting those rights for certain types of uses.

First, consider the purpose and character of your use. Is your use for non-commercial educational purposes?  Will it transform the protected work by adding new types or forms of expression?  Will it add value to the original?  The Obama “HOPE” Poster by artist Stephen Fairey is an example of how hotly contested this factor can be.  Mr. Fairey relied on a copyright protected photograph when he created his famous “HOPE” poster during President Obama’s 2008 campaign.  This use ignited a copyright battle between Fairy and the Associated Press, which claimed ownership of the photo’s copyright.  Does Fairey’s poster sufficiently transform the original photograph into something new?  The answer will substantially influence the outcome of Fairey’s lawsuit.

The second fair use factor relates to the nature of the protected work. It is beneficial for educational and societal purposes that facts be freely distributed and made available to the public.  For that reason, fair use is more often found where the protected work is heavily fact-based as opposed to creative.  Similarly, fair use of unpublished works as opposed to published works can provide exposure for works that might not otherwise be available to the public.

Third, consider the amount and substantiality of the portion used. The “20% rule” that suggests you can use up to 20% of a protected work without infringing is a MYTH.  Instead, look at how much of the whole you would like to use, and ask how memorable that portion is within the whole.  Using the “heart” of a work – that passage or riff or image that makes up the essence of the original – is less likely to be fair use.

Finally, ask yourself how your use will affect the potential market for the protected work. Will your use deprive the copyright owner of income – will consumers come to you for access to the protected work instead of the copyright owner?  Will your use undermine a potential market for the work?

No single factor is determinative on its own.  Rather, you should think through all the fair use factors when you’d like to use a protected work. In a lesson Cooks Source would have done well to learn, when in doubt, ask for permission or use works that truly are in the public domain.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments!

 

Not Oprah’s Favorite Things

November 24, 2010

First let me say, I am NOT Oprah….so there will be NO gifting of my Favorite Items this year. Maybe someday…but not today.

What determines our favorite things? What makes us fall in love with a product, celebrity, book, movie, person or item?  They are in a sense fulfilling a need or want and doing it effectively that we keep coming back for more. Thus creating brand loyalty.  What makes you try a new product?

With that said, I’m sharing my favorite 25 things!  A combination of items that I trust, am loyal to, and which fulfill a need. I encourage you to post and share your favorite things as well!

Beth’s Top 25 Things…

  1. Maroma Incense Leaves I discovered these at @WholeFoods Each box contains 4 each of two different leaf fragrances plus a ceramic incense holder for burning.
  2. Pillow Pets Someone gave my kids these last year and they sleep with them every night!
  3. Snuggle Socks from @relaxadaisical and Life is Good. The most amazing thing you’ll ever put on your feet! I sleep with mine, wear them around the house and they add extra warmth in the winter in my boots.
  4. Fingerless Gloves I was inspired after meeting with my client @FontandInk who had actually hand-knit her pair. I found mine at @Nordstrom Cozy, funky and I have my fingers free for working on the computer, texting or tweeting…always a must.
  5. LUSH Lip Scrub by @LUSHcosmetics
  6. Firefly Lane by author Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite books!
  7. Mrs. Meyers My favorite scent is the Geranium
  8. Mary’s Gone Crackers Gluten-Free cracker made with organic brown rice, organic quinoa, organic flax seeds and organic sesame seeds.
  9. L’Occitane hand lotion is one of my favorites! Made with shea butter it’s an amazing moisturizer.
  10. The Notebook (movie) Although I did read the book too but am a fan of the movie.
  11. #TweetnMeet with @EricaMayer get to know others while answering creative questions that Erica dishes out.
  12. Wii (ok, this is ONLY on my favorite list NOT because I play on this but because it entertains my kids!)
  13. Adage Advertising Age inspires me and provide loads of information in the industry.
  14. Women in Networking @MNWin I have been an active member for a couple of years and have met creative and inspiring women in all areas of business.
  15. Pacer (our dog) @PacerPup We were gifted her by our Aunt and Uncle when we attended the PACER benefit in May, 2010 she was part of the silent auction. Now 8 months old, she brings our entire family joy and keeps us on our toes.
  16. Bananagrams is a fun game for the whole family! Be prepared to be addicted. Better than scrabble!
  17. Fossil watches They are affordable, functional and have great styles.
  18. Epsom Salt For years I’ve been a fan of Epsom Salts. I put them in my bath. They are a great detox for your body and have other benefits.
  19. Coffee I could not live without my coffee! My favorite drink is a White Mocha Americano from @Starbucks with a splash of soy milk (just in case you ever want to buy me a coffee!)
  20. Bethenny Frankel because she has humor, is ambitious and very real. Natural food chef, author and real housewife.
  21. Keurig Although this could have gone under my coffee favorite thing it deserves its own category! Life changes. We love it.
  22. Shark Cordless Vacuum I know what you’re thinking, I’ve included a vacuum on my favorite things?
  23. Health Magazine and my US Weekly
  24. iTouch but wished I had bought the iPhone
  25. IKEA need I say more?

Whew!  I think I’m sweating…. as you can probably tell I could extend this list of my favorite things but for now we’ll stop.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season! Hopefully some of these items inspire you to think out of the box and try something new.-

– Beth