Whatever your profession, or business, it’s smart to watch the trends and outliers your industry during the year. One of the happy side effects of my doing this in my own field of marketing, is that I get to closely observe those who bring excellence to their marketing efforts. I call it High Performance Communication. Such efforts deserve praise. There are major industry awards given with lots of fanfare and fancy dress events: from the traditional Clios for advertising agency giants, to the Webbys for Internet mavens, and lots in between.
I have assembled my own eclectic candidates based on direct experience and personal observation throughout this year. The recipients are TMD Marketing Mastery Game Changers.
Often, masterful marketing efforts are folded into customer service or a core business philosophy. What makes them stand out is their commitment to bringing extra value to their audience(s). When I encounter such excellence, I love to acknowledge and thank people directly. But such efforts deserve some extra applause.
To make a bit of celebratory noise, I am inaugurating my Top Twelve for 2017. The number beside each recipient’s listing designates which month of the year I experienced their outstanding marketing skills. (1 = January 2 = February, etc., all the way to 12 = December.) Read
on for details about why each one was chosen.
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The Details: TMD Top Twelve 2017 Marketing Mastery Game Changers
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The Girl Scouts started the year of with a fabulous reminder that once a Girl Scout, always Girl Scout. Buying those cookies is an annul ritual I will happily maintain forever.
I remember what an adventure it was to learning about business way back when I was a young girl myself. Kudos to the Girl Scouts for keeping up with the times. They have all the modern Internet options, but have not lost the personal touch that makes all the difference. On a daily walk early in 2017, I cha across a homegrown cookie stand, and fell in love with the can-do sprit of youthful entrepreneurialism all over again.
The Boy Scouts must see the power of the Girl Scouts, as this year, they suddenly decided to invite girls into their fold. Not to worry, we can take it as a sign of respect. However, there will always be a special and unique leadership journey, and lifelong empowerment, in becoming a Girl Scout. We can look forward to more open dialogs on the roles boys and girls have open to them in childhood, which sets the stage for not only their personal journeys into adulthood, but developing cultural shifts in power sharing and respect for one another. | www.girlscouts.org (our earlier post here)
They started the year seeming invincible. They expanded their free tech phone support far beyond warranty limits, and reaped new loyalty and an ever-growing fan base. But suddenly, they hit a December snag when reports surfaced of “battery throttling” for older iPhones. As always, some praised their swift, homepage apology and make-it-right price cut on replacement batteries. They even announced free new software to diagnose battery strength. Both are smart responses. But Apple’s glass house is getting pelted with a hailstorm of lawsuits anyway.
This is an excellent reminder to anyone in business that all the goodwill in the world is a delicate asset that requires constant maintenance and clear communications. I suspect Apple is up to the task. Their glass-fronted stores are as jam-packed as ever with tiny kids, nerdy seniors, and every geek or hipster in between. iPhone X and AirPods red-hot-rare commodities. Stockholders even look calm as NASDAQ and Ameritrade’s chart shows an impressive market valuation for the year as a whole. | www.apple.com (our earlier post here)
Hilary’s makes a bold claim, and I bite. Coming across a packager of the “World’s Best Veggie Burger” while poking around in the frozen food section of a local grocery store, I am struck by this very bold claim. Having tasted fare more veggie burgers, fresh and frozen, than I thought could possibly exist on such a small planet, I am immediately skeptical. I have sampled far too many bad veggie burgers. Yet the marketing research geek and optimist in me promptly succumbs to its light green packaging, appealing photo, and artfully homespun typeface. I scurry home to test it.
To my surprise, not only are its cooking instructions accurate to the minute, even no my antique gas stove, but so is its claim. It is simply, deliciou. With or without added good like sautéed onions, mushrooms or broccoli, it taste equally good with of without bread and condiments. My faith is restore din both advertise, and the commitment to yummy food that M makes Hilary’s a welcome addition to my home cooked meal plans. When I contact HIary’s to thank them for this burger’s availability and let them know I would be blogging about it, they are as gracious as can be. Proof positive that healthy food can taste delicious, and look pretty, and the people behind it can be as nice as its packaging suggests. | www.hilaryseatwell.com (our earlier post here)
Is it possible to start a business when you are just four? Not just any little lemonade stand, but one that gets you on Shark Tank. AND earns a request from Whole Foods to carry your signature product in select US stores. AND finds you mentoring kids your age so they can start real businesses, too. AND establishing a winning speaking presence and a profitable company to fulfill a very big commitment to saving bees?
Oh, and along the way, rebranding your company name as if that were the easiest thing to pull off. All while having time to play and enjoy life as a real kid, sensibly nurtured by a family who makes sure you have a childhood, too.
Meet MIkaila Ulmer, of Me & the Bees Lemonade, from Austin, Texas. “Buy a Bottle, Save a Bee,” is a pretty irresistible catchphrase, and one that has made her a shining, lemony-fresh, profitable success. Now 13, her website is an inspiration, and she’s got social media in the mix too, with her own Facebook page.
What difference can one kid make with all the challenges facing us in modern life? Just watch Makaila, and you’ll know the answer is a BIG difference. She’s saving bees, one at a time, and inspiring people along the way, one person at a time, one local kids-in-business event at a time. MIkaila embodies entrepreneurial energy and grace. Update: Mikaila helped Steve Harvey ring in 2018 Live from Times Square. Wow! | www.meandthebees.com
Living in California, wine tasting is a way of life for many. But even wine enthusiasts can’t get to all the tastings they want. How to find affordable yet delicious wines to enjoy on a regular basis? Fighting traffic is a bit of a disincentive even during vacation time. (Vacation time? That is in short supply for too many these days.) And yet, wine consumption is up and growing. Just since the year 2000, US consumption alone has grown from 568 million gallons to 949 million gallons through 2016, per The Wine Institute. And according to The Wine Market Council, in 2016, Baby Boomers and Millennial were wine’s biggest fans. USA Today says that Millennials drink almost half the wine sold today. This adds new meaning to a trending fondness for the color “Millennial Pink,” as various rosé wines keep surging in popularity.
Enter TastingRoom.com. This game changing company has decided to bring scientific yet pleasurable tasting to you. You may never have to venture out again/ They have developed a unique “tasting set” of mini-bottles that they send you to help you figure out your preferred flavor profile. No-one else has this available, and it’s clearly a competitive advantage,as well as a customer convenience. They use this to make sure you will later receive wines you really like, taking random guesswork, and wasted money, out of the equation. They arrange club shipments that meet your personal flavor and frequency preferences. Tasting Room even makes this strong promise: “Everyone’s tastes are different, and we want to make sure you only receive the wines that suit you. If for any reason you receive a wine that doesn’t meet your expectations, just let us know and we’ll promptly replace it or credit you for it.” | www.tastingroom.com
Some of you may be old enough to remember when a big national brand chose a white, highly coifed, fluffy-furred kitty cat as their brand “Spokes-Cat” and promptly gilded that lovely lily with black eye makeup. Eye make up on a cat? Argh. Well, we’ve come a long way. More pet food brands like Hill’s understand that dogs and cats are far more magnetic to us in their natural state.
I was so taken with Hill’s video ad shown here. (Click frame at right to see it on YouTube.) I felt a new spring in my own step! l played it a bunch of times just for the fun of it. Not only do they beautifully show puppies and older dogs playing, they have a fabulous sound track of scat singing that is purr-rect! (There’s a video for cats, too.) No big heavy-handed sales pitch. It sounds like our favorite old-timey Louis Armstrong to me, with a fun whistle added.(HIll’s says is is a “custom track” but is silent so far on who the singer is.) Hill’s is out in front of a new— and welcome— trend that several national advertisers are using online to go right to the heart of their message with visuals and music. Simple, quick, lively… and yes, addictive.
Hill’s website has plenty of “science” facts, figures, and details to validate their HIll’s Science Diet sub-brand and complement their wise choice to go for the fun in their videos. I dare you to watch this video just once, haha! Oh, and they just added a fabulous kitten playing with string on their home page here: | www.hillspet.com
He is ready meet you right now, on his crisply professional, fashionably tuned in website: “Hello! Welcome to my site. I’m Moziah Bridges and I’m the President and Creative Director of Mo’s Bows. Mo’s Bows’ mission is to make you look and feel your best while catering to the sometimes conservative, fun-loving lady or gentleman.”
In case you haven’t noticed, Moziah Bridges is a driving force, a true game changer, in the resurgence of bow ties.
How do I know that? Well, he has a terrific licensing deal with the NBA. Yes, the very NBA that sets the pace with its high-profile roster of b-ball superstars, and now they want you wearing bow ties! Mo’s Bows in fact. How did they find him? “ESPN hired me to be a fashion correspondent for the 2015 NBA draft. And after that, that’s when we sparked the deal.” —NPR Interview with Audie Cornish.
He got started when he was nine, his grandmother a creative resource, his mother a business resource. He plans on design college in 2020; this is a young man whose word you can count on! | www.mosbowsmemphis.com
What’s in a name? Often much more then meets the eye. The Gentle Barn embodies a vision that began with one gifted, loving woman, Ellie Laks Wiener. Her mission is simply stated: Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.”
As their website says: “The Gentle Barn rescues animals from severe abuse and neglect who are too old, sick, lame, or scared to be adopted into homes. We are sanctuary to horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, llamas, peacocks, emus, cats and dogs. Once rehabilitated, the animals help us give hope and inspiration to children with the same stories.”
I had the honor to visit Ellie’s original location in Santa Clarita, California four years ago. I got to hug cows, cuddle with a very sociable chicken, and hang out with so many barnyard animals with the sweet personalities that powerfully gentle treatment brings out, plus two delightful senior dogs. Ellie has performed even more miracles since then, further expanding her vision to widen the scope of The Gentle Barn. There are now three locations across the U.S., California, Tennessee and Missouri, with more planned. Her work with abused children and children at risk is equally as extraordinary. The animals and the children heal each other, under the compassionate and expert guidance of The Gentle Barn’s devoted founders and staff. Ellie and her husband have found their life’s calling, and life is better because of their work. | www.gentlebarn.org
How do you reinvent “old” media? Just ask Steve Olsher.
He is a lifelong entrepreneur, show host, and visionary guide behind Reinvention Radio. What he’s done is add new media to old media in the form of a live radio show and special segmented podcasts. And not just his own podcast, which he’s been quite successful with in its own right (with a terrific team.) He teaches others how to start their own podcast. Even better, he teaches how to make it successful. He’s the author of several books himself, including the popular “What Is Your What.” Steve is committed to inspiring others to reinvent themselves so they live life to the fullest.
But here’s his latest game changer. Steve created something called the “New Media Summit.” The first one was in San Diego in September. Now, most entrepreneurs have been to summits of all sorts, from mass sales-fests to pricey VIP events. We’ve all listened to speaker after speaker on stage, only to see them whisked away to some secret enclave after their stage appearance, rarely venturing forth on their own.
Steve did it differently. He had a full complement of highly successful podcast hosts there, to share their ups, downs and earned wisdom, which as terrific and well worth attending for. But Steve raised it to a level I can’t recall seeing elsewhere. The featured “Icons of Influence” podscasting stars mingled with attendees throughout the 3-day event. Informal, spontaneous conversations were plentiful, incredibly valuable, and authentic. Even mom was there, meeting attendees, and contributing her smart & elegant energy. Tracking the results, Steve was able to verify after the summit that 100% of attendees were booked as guests on podcasts. No one walked away empty handed. No kidding, that’s a game changer. Not surprisingly, their is another summit already scheduled and gaining momentum for this coming April. Tune in… | www.reinventionradio.com
The power of art and film lies not in their numerical stats, mind boggling as they are in this case. 125 painter (selected from 5,000+ applicants) worked on the animation, painting more than 65,000 frames, which were then narrowed down to a much smaller number in a highly refined process involving live actors as well.
I was able to attend a pre-release screening and Q & A with Dorotea Kobiela, the woman who who conceived and co-directed the film. She was so self-effacing, and so respectful of the collaboration required to bring so much artistic talent together. She marveled at her own audacity, a sweet send ef humor about her own naiveté in hindsight, unaware at that early moment how many award nominations and prizes Loving Vincent would amass. It is up for a Golden Globe, and we’ll know within the week if it wins, as it surely deserves to do.
The creative originality of this film can best be appreciate on the large screen, though after its initial ru which beam in October, and its festival screenings around the world, most will see it on our modern era’s much smaller screens. I suspect the power of Loving Vincent will transcend even a reduced image size.
I felt as though the film was being painted as it unfolded in each moment I was viewing it. As I struggle for words to descitbe it, Loving Vincent reminds me of the energy and visceral presence of live theatre. Imagine a film with that kind of alchemy. Vincent Van Gogh died at an early age, completely unaware of the power his long-ignored art would gather as decades, then centuries unfolded. His life remains mysterious to this day, filled with unanswerable questions. This film is a fitting tribute to his own complex journey into artistic immortality. | www.lovingvincent.com
Dennis Langlais has a champion athlete’s mindset, Yes, natural ability and talent is a must. But without hard work, talent is not enough. Why? Champions learn early that there are other gifted naturals just like themselves. Yet only a small number are willing to do the hard work it takes to become the best in the world.
Dennis loved baseball and basketball, but BMX freestylng became his passion as soon as he was introduced to it. (What is it? Biicycle motocross stunt riding on BMX bikes; an extreme sport that consists of five disciplines: street, park, vert, trails, and flatland.) All the hard work Dennis put in paid off, yielding world travel, sponsor support, competition prizes, superstar status, and fans galore.
However, he faced what all athletes do: “forced retirement” when still relatively young. Some endure career-ending injuries, and others simply age out as younger competitors work their own way forward to earn what is now their turn to have. Dennis has the kind of drive to make him a lifelong entrepreneur, and his passion is now podcasting— he hosts The Five Minute Bark, named for his intrepid companion, Codie Dog— and coaching others so they can have the kind of busness success that is beyond their own self-limiting beliefs. To support his goals, Dennis has invested in and is building a state-of the-art SAAS software system for podcast guests to use to increase and manage their bookings. Since I have a tendency to be intrigued by beta-information products, I jumped in with Dennis as an “early bird.”
This is when Dennis achieved Game Changer status with me. There were some aspects of his new beta system that were puzzling, and so I reached out on social media with some questions. Lo and behold, Dennis picked up the phone and called me right away. It turns out we both love solving beta-test puzzles, and he was generous enough to work out some software tweaks with me, to my benefit (and as he graciously said, his as well.)
What I admire is the commitment Dennis has to future customers he hasn’t even met yet. He pushes his own learning so he can deliver an escalating level of value. Rare enough in the world of business, where too many owners wall themselves off from customers. But even better, Dennis invited me to stay in touch with anything else I might notice or want to help with. He has a natural big-picture desire to build the best system he can, to benefit the most people possible, while grounded in the here and now, not some vague slogans or platitudes. This is game-changing customer service that warms my heart. I always want the next person to benefit from a problem identified and solved: with Dennis, they will! | www.fiveminutebark.com
We seem to have morphed from the Information Age to the Information Overload Age. There are plenty of media channels available to get your message out into the world, but they don’t all work equally well.
It’s one thing to blog on your site, or post short snippets of text and badly-lit videos on the usual social media giants. But it is an entirely different reality if you have a book up your sleeve. Traditional publishing may as well hang out a sign that says “Unless you are already famous and don’t really need us, don’t bother to contact us.” Amazon is the new juggernaut squeezing both retail sales, and the self-publishing author. Amazon is happy to give you plenty of tasks to get your book(s) listed, but their customer service, while admirably polite, is fundamentally flawed due to their decentralized decision-making.
Along comes IngramSpark like a breath of fresh air. A recent collaborative book project I am involved with gave me a first hand look at how they handle customer issues. I can only say this: They are superb. My issue was a bit out of the ordinary, and I was facing a crunchy financial deadline, so I reached out to more than one department in the hopes of sparking some speed. No one refused to help me, and no one reprimanded me for going outside the nine dots. Not only did each person I spoke with express a willingness to take ownership of the issue, they actually reached out to each other to get us all on the same page, so to speak.
We got things resolved quickly and they earned my trust in the process. In deciding to explore their website further, I discovered the image at right: The Author’s Guild (founded in 1912 and still going strong) Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community. Since herding authors is way worse than herding cats, this award says something (very good) about IngramSparks’ diligence and patience with their creative audience. | www.ingramspark.com
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I hope you are inspired reading about these fine people and businesses.
Let’s imagine 2018 as a new beginning where this way of being becomes the norm. We can all benefit from marketing’s capacity to deliver High Performance Communication for the benefit of all concerned.
Best wishes for this exciting New Year of powerful possibility!
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