brand strategy

feminism...it's time to get on board

It's a bonus post day and for good reason.

On this day in 1920, our lives as women in America were forever changed thanks to some extremely courageous, intelligent and strong-willed women. Some think the fight stopped there. It did NOT. Equal rights for women is still a topic that needs courageous, intelligent and strong-willed women to pick up the flag and demand change. We are not paid equally, we are not educated equally, our opportunities are not equal, our rights are often decided for us. 

So, like these amazing feminist women before me.

i am a feminist.

I believe wholeheartedly that we should all be feminist (women AND men). This isn't about bra burning and being angry, it is about giving all people access to equal opportunities, and an equal access to have their voice be heard. First step to this is to take what these women fought so hard to give us...a voice, and USE IT. So ‪#‎vote‬‪#‎speak‬ ‪#‎demandmore‬ It is a new wave of feminism folks, and it is global because we should care about women everywhere.

For more information on the long struggle for voting rights that women fought for in our country and the details of the 19th amendment that was ratified on this day in 1920...

 check out the National Archives.

Know your history and don't let it be in vain.

 

 

It's time to get on board.

Twisted Pigtails and Princess Puff's...now that is a great marketing choice

The best part of Super Bowl 50 for me...Hands down. The only bummer...I never ACTUALLY saw any of these DURING THE SUPER BOWL.

not cool...

So...just in case you didn't get to see any of these...it is my gift to you.

I know this isn't a real post but why would I add words to something so cool on it's own?  I can't decide which one is my favorite, which one would you choose?

 

thank you for casting a vote for the kind of world you want...

I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to Wednesday's post: Bloomingdale's: another example of what is wrong with the profession of marketing". It was a difficult post for me to write because I struggled to be neutral. I am passionate about what I do and have a special place in my heart for marketing that is target to women because I understand what it means to capture the hearts and minds of the female consumer. There is power in supporting and lifting up women in today's culture like there has never been before. It is because of this that I fight for women every single day.

Your responses and readership to the post (my most successful post to date) let me know that there is outrage and concern out there. This concern doesn't just come from women but men as well. We want more from companies and brands and we will speak out about it and "vote with our wallets". It isn't about being a feminist or overly sensitive. It is about understanding the responsibility we hold when we broadcast a message to the world. You came in droves to read this post and whether that was out of curiosity, agreement or concern is irrelevant, you came, you read, you provided feedback both here and on social media and you shared. You may not realize this, but in doing that you helped support my purpose. This is no small thing to me. Thank you is not enough. 

If you see any marketing or advertising directed at women that you love and think lifts up women and girls, send them to  me. I would love to focus on the good stuff that is out there, and there IS good stuff out there. Let's talk about them and support their business...it's all about voting with our wallets.


bloomingdale's ad: another example of what is wrong with the profession of marketing

 Actual Bloomingdale's ad from December 2015

Actual Bloomingdale's ad from December 2015

When I was a teenager, one of the pieces of advice I remember my mother giving me time and time again was to never accept a drink from a stranger and to make sure I kept my drink with me at all times. This was to avoid anyone being able to slip something in there and prevent all the dangers that could happen. I thought this was pretty good advice. Imagine my surprise when in December, there was an ad campaign for Bloomingdale's that promoted slipping something in someone's drink. In a holiday ad for the company, featuring a man and woman with the man "creepily" and " menacingly" looking at the woman in her holiday attire with the tagline "spike a friend's eggnog when they're not looking".

what?

Yes, I have expressed outrage over social media posts before and will probably do so again but I am so baffled by this one as a marketer. How is it possible that a room full of people saw this ad, the image, the copy and not ONE SINGLE person questioned whether or not it was a good idea?

how is this possible?

I have been in meetings with people to approve an ad and had multi hour meetings to discuss whether the wrinkle on a forehead or shadow on a cheek should be removed but this gets barely a secondary glance?
Now, there has been quite a lot of outrage in 2015 over a variety of different marketing campaigns or slogan t-shirts, red coffee cups that we could argue if "political correctness" has gone too far but this is not one of those instances. As with the family holiday card with women duct taped I posted about in December, how can anyone argue that this is a good or funny idea?

 That's it? 

That's it? 

Bloomingdale's, in true "QUICK PR TACTIC" thinking released a statement on Twitter to apologize. First of all, you didn't hear "feedback", the public was not expressing concern over "sizing" or the colors you chose for your campaign. The public expressed OUTRAGE and DISGUST at the not so subtle advertising you CHOSE that promotes a culture of rape and abuse towards women.

BUT....well if you apologize then everything is better right? Where is the accountability Bloomingdale's? Yes, this ad was "inappropriate" or JUST PLAIN WRONG and IRRESPONSIBLE.  Poor taste? Isn't that sugar coating things just a bit? I mean let's really take a look at this ad and what it is conveying to women all over this country, who, by the way are the same people who have built your business by shopping in your stores...remember 80% of all purchases are influenced by women?

In the ad you see a lovely young woman who appears to be enjoying herself. You also see a man who does't actually seem to be enjoying himself at all. He is not engaging with the woman in any way, they do not look like friends at all. In fact he is "leering" at her. The image conveys no familial "best friend" relationship either, instead it looks like just about every "stalker" portrayed on Law & Order SVU each week, only he is handsome. OH WAIT, is that the deal? Because he is handsome, the woman should be more than okay with him "spiking her eggnog"? I mean what woman wouldn't want such a handsome man paying attention to her? If you cannot sense my anger and sarcasm here, let me assure you I am being sarcastic and I am quite angry.

I am going to put anger aside for a moment to try and understand this. As a marketer, your job is to appeal to consumers that have the potential to buy your products, shop at your stores and support your brand. I think we can all agree on that simplified definition. Bloomingdale's, like many high end department stores are known for appealing to affluent women. You can make that assumption simply by walking in to these stores and the mix of product by gender. These stores typically have a much higher ration of women's products than men's. This alone should have caused some raised eyebrows when the campaign went around the table. I mean, what women is going to look at this and think "great ad, I need to go shop now"?

But wait...in 2012 Bloomingdale's was actually going after the affluent male consumer "Bloomingdale’s elevates in-store presence via BMW, GQ pop-up shops." Hmm...okay, that is 3 years ago but it could still be part of their strategy and with that approach to a male consumer, maybe they are less concerned with how a female might read this ad? But...even so, nobody said anything in that marketing meeting to raise concern over how this ad might be received? There is mention in this article about what a "good marketer" should be concerned with. I wonder if that quote was meant to be sarcastic?

With so many amazing marketing people looking for jobs in today's economy it continues to shock me that the people who continually get hired know nothing about consumer habits and thought processes. It amazes me that people still don't raise their hand when something is glaringly wrong. I realize that our profession isn't curing cancer but we still have a moral obligation to the people we market to. Yes, at the end of the day you could simplify the concept of marketing into the idea that it is JUST about selling a product or a brand but did this ad EVEN do that? Here in lies the struggle I have with our profession. We have to make numbers but we also have to be able to sleep at night knowing that we put something into the world that doesn't destroy it. 

Campaigns, words and imagery like this may get your name in the paper but do very little else. If you truly want to focus on the numbers and business growth then you have to think long term. How does something like this keep you in the game long term? It doesn't. It alienates your consumers old and new. 

 25% or by someone women know in an intimate way while 5% are committed by a relative -    RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network

25% or by someone women know in an intimate way while 5% are committed by a relative - RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network

Bloomingdale's, thank you for your apology but it does little to comfort me and the many woman in this country who are faced with the very real scenario of violence, rape and sexual assault in our lives every single day. The cause of this fear isn't just "strangers" and bad guys, it is the people we know, it is the people in our community. It isn't a funny joke or over-exaggeration, it is a real part of what we experience as women. The promotion, mocking and suggestion of anything that perpetuates this is not only offensive and disgusting but it is an irresponsible marketing and business practices that you should be ashamed of.

Don't apologize to us on Twitter and think that it is enough. Make a commitment to do something more. Show some accountability for your actions and the actions of your team. Make your marketing and executive team get educated on not just spreadsheets and numbers but of consumer segments, psychology, sociology and gender. Make a commitment to be responsible to your customers.

goals require you put some skin in the game

I know I should have shared my goals with you before the 1st of the year and for that I apologize. If I am being honest, I started to a number of times but realized that like me, most of you probably were busy with friends and family and the hullabaloo that comes with the holiday and might not have the time to read blogs. So, I made the choice to wait until things settled a bit. 

This last step in the process is a little intense so I decided to only share with you one goal from each of my areas of focus. This way, you would be able to see the depth of information you should assign to each goal without getting mired in reading a 20 page blog entry.  


Health & Wellness

To Lose 25 Pounds by April 6, 2016

Goal:


Walk 10,000 steps or more each day

Eat 9 fruits or vegetables daily

No Fast Food

Quantify Outcome BE SPECIFIC:

 

 


to reduce sickness and allergy outbreaks

to be a better example to parents of why health is key

to boost self estee

Attach a Why:

 

 

 Holding my breath for the inspection this week. - Image Source:    Redfin

Holding my breath for the inspection this week. - Image Source: Redfin


financial stability, growth & flexibility

Buy a house by April 2016

Goal:


Work directly with financial adviser to allocate funds accordingly

limit wasteful spending - less trips to Target (sad but necessary)

Quantify Outcome BE SPECIFIC:

 

 


to create a home base (stability)

investment for future

To stop using frivolous spending as a creature comfort

Attach a Why:

 Day of the Girl with Girls Inc. PNW. - Image Source:    @2015 d-talx llc. www.dawnehanks.com

Day of the Girl with Girls Inc. PNW. - Image Source: @2015 d-talx llc. www.dawnehanks.com


purpose & passion

To book 5-10 speaking opportunities by June 2016

Goal:


Research local organizations, schools & universities for opportunities

Reach out to contacts with press-kit

build video profile on gigsalad and other speaker & experience forums

start writing

Quantify Outcome BE SPECIFIC:


Create base audience for expansion

build experience and connections

opportunity to live my dream

this is where the dream starts - it is the conduit for all other changes & opportunities to happen

Attach a Why:


love & relationships

NOTE: This was the most difficult one for me to work on this year and to share in a public forum. Because of this it may seem the least thought out. Please understand that it is very thought out but I am still working on understanding what this means for me. Like most things in life, it is a serious work in progress.

Meaningful conversations and meetings with loved ones monthly

Goal:


Talk to people, don't rely on text

Work to meet new people

Call and meet "just because"

no technology distractions

Quantify Outcome BE SPECIFIC:


It's no fun being alone and harder to maintain friendships as we age and people get married and have kids

find someone to share experiences, travel etc. with

to open up and trust more - being open to experiences and people

Attach a Why:


There you have it. A goal for each of my areas of focus in 2016. Hopefully this helps you commit your goals to paper and get 2016 off to a great start. Thanks for sticking with the 31 day goal setting challenge and sharing your experiences with me in the comments, emails and in social media. 2015 was a strange and interesting year. There were a lot of changes in my life with health and work and even location but I know like most storms, clear skies are ahead. Thank you for sticking with me and showing interest in what I have to say and helping be a witness to my adventure. Looking forward to great things in 2016.

habits make the man...err...woman

Anytime you make a goal or decide to "fix" something in life it is going to require some changes in your habits.

agggghhhhh

If you have ever walked around a bookstore then I'm sure you have noticed that people talk a lot about "change" and "habits" in self-help books. Apparently, that is because as a culture, we don't tend to enjoy change so much. How else do you explain the popularity of a book called "Who Moved my Cheese"?

habits make the man...err. woman

Let's define habits based on the categories we listed on Monday that might help us meet our more specific goals that we finalize next week. As a reminder, here are the categories, I am focused on.

  • health & wellness

  • love & relationships

  • financial stability, growth & flexibility

  • purpose & passion

Did you define your's yet? NO? Well don't forget to check out Monday's post to catch up with us. "What are you going to pay attention to in 2016?" Once you have your categories of focus, it is time to determine what habits need to be part of our daily life to help us along our journey. Here are some of mine. Remember, try to have no more than 12. When you focus on too much, very little actually happens.

  • wake up with out snoozing

  • take vitamins daily

  • walk/work out daily

  • stop the glorification of busy

  • no fast food - cook more - more veggies

  • stretch daily

  • stop over-exaggerating and being overly dramatic - be okay with reality

  • love & relationships

  • initiate communication with friends & family better

  • remember special days and do things just because

  • gratitude journal and meditation daily

  • news/blogs - focused on my purpose

  • It's on the DVR, you can watch it later

 I found my list from a couple years back too...thought I would share it to give you a little more inspiration and examples. #waybackwednesday

I found my list from a couple years back too...thought I would share it to give you a little more inspiration and examples. #waybackwednesday

There you go, my...now it is your turn. It's the last step until we put pen to paper with a goal for each area of focus.

Can't wait to close out the challenge with all of you.

what are you going to pay attention to in 2016?

 It doesn't have to look pretty...thank goodness, you just have to do it.

It doesn't have to look pretty...thank goodness, you just have to do it.

Remember in school when you were given a writing assignment and you just went in and wrote your paper. It was a good paper. You were on fire. I mean, it may have been the best writing the world had ever seen, we're talking possible Pulitzer here. 

then you turned it in.

There were red  marks all over it. How dare someone mess with the next great american literature masterpiece! There was one glaring consistency in the red scribble across the page...did you make an outline first? Where is the structure?

After muttering under your breath, you think to yourself "how the heck did the teacher know I didn't do an outline or a rough draft?" or maybe you thought "my kind of literary genius doesn't need a rough draft." 

don't act like you never thought it...

Well, just like high school English class, it is important to outline your goals before you  just jump in all willy nilly. You want to make sure you know what direction you want your goals to head. In short, it helps to define where you want to focus your energies.

i promise this won't hurt

It is actually really simple, think about all of the notes you have been taking and the thoughts you have had about what you might want to focus on in 2016 and then put them into some overarching categories. Don't overdue it. Sometimes we set so many goals, it is impossible to focus on all of them. This will help you reduce and refine once you get to your overall goals. 

List the core areas of life you want to get results

Here is an example of my categories to help spark some creative thinking...

  • Health & Wellness

  • Love & Relationships

  • Financial Stability & Growth & Flexibility

  • Purpose & Passion

That's it. That is all you have to focus on today. Later in the week we will start actually putting our goals down into the areas of focus you specified and be on our way to starting kicking butt in 2016.

If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask them in the comment section below.

silencing women does not create peace on earth

I am taking a break from our goal setting challenge today because of a news story that has been making the rounds and causing some controversy.

 Silencing the women in a family is not funny. 

Silencing the women in a family is not funny. 

A family from Louisiana decided to do something a little different for their Christmas card this year. Upon doing so a firestorm was created on social media . Before I go on, let me stress that in no way do I think that this family or photographer intended to promote violence against women (as many of the comments on social media elude to). I do however think that this points to a larger problem, this family didn't see why this image might be sending the wrong message

So, why is it the wrong message? This picture  creates the illusion that silencing women of all ages is okay.

it is not!

It implies that getting women to shut-up can be celebrated with a thumbs up.

it cannot!

It implies that silencing a woman can be laughed at with a witty tagline.

it cannot. 


Research shows that the first step to violence and terrorism against any group of people is that of dehumanizing them. Making them less than human by reducing them to a body part or an object, or even by silencing them. All of this is destructive but the silencing is the one that hits me the hardest.

It can be argued that most people are looking to be heard. What happens when we take that option away? When we take away a person's voice, we take away their ability to fight, to be heard, to be understood. We become less than in our own head. We become unhappy, unsatisfied, uninspired. 

 Rather than ramble on about the research, check out this amazing series by    Jean Kilbourne    to learn more about gender in the media.

Rather than ramble on about the research, check out this amazing series by Jean Kilbourne to learn more about gender in the media.

Some of you may be reading this and think that I am giving this photo/concept way too much energy but you would be wrong. There is a wealth of evidence to back me up. 

I studied "communications" in school. I decided it had a broader reach than a traditional marketing degree. With this I chose to spend a large part of my time studying gender and kids. I knew that this is the direction that the business world was going and wanted to better understand the consumer that I would potentially be marketing too. I now work in marketing and realize the approach I took is rare. Very few if any marketers actually take course work focused on gender, psychology or sociology. Maybe a class here or there, but no real emphasis on it. This is why I struggle with my profession.  At it's core, marketing is convincing people to buy, do or act. It works with the psyche and what motivates people. It is great responsibility. 

Unfortunately, it seems sometimes like marketers are worse than the stereotypes of lawyers. I say that because in my experience very few people in marketing actually know anything beyond the "business" part of marketing. Marketing is so much more than that. It is about knowing how people think, what they desire and why and using that information for good. How can you do this if you don't know anything beyond the numbers?

Marketing shapes the way we look at the world, whether we like to admit it or not. Marketing and media shapes the way we see and feel about ourselves subconsciously, it convinces us what we want and what we need. Herein lies the responsibility. Do we use this power to do good and make the world better or do we use it to make a buck? Are they mutually exclusive? 

I would argue they are not.


 From Killing Me Softly

From Killing Me Softly

We live in a visual society, one that puts emphasis on "seeing is believing". Instagram has exploded on the scene, as has Snap Chat and a number of other social networks that focus solely on imagery. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? If it is that how can we remain complacent with imagery like this family photo or any of the images on this post? How can we claim ignorance as to what these image are really saying?

How can you call yourself a marketer if you don't know how consumers digest the imagery and content you are putting in the universe?

my opinion? you can't.

I could continue to go on about this but realize this is an much bigger subject than a single blog post. So I will come down from my soap box for a minute and get back to the point Did this family have ill intent when creating this holiday card? of course not. Does it speaker to a larger problem in our society? Of course it does. I couldn't let today go by without at least addressing it. I won't apologize for this big soap box because I believe so full heartedly in it but I will work to better formulate my thoughts for future posts.

 

I would like to say one more thing regarding the "witty tagline" that says "peace on earth". The silencing of women will not create "PEACE ON EARTH". In fact, it is the attempted silencing of women that is causing so much destruction, war and terror on this place we called Earth. 

Ready...Set...GOAL

The time has come. Self reflection has occurred and now we need to get to work. This s the hard part because you actually have to put pen to paper and plan.

but how?

 I would love to tell you that I did this but THIS IS NOT MINE. I found it online and was like WOAH, holy moly this person is a    talented doodler. 

I would love to tell you that I did this but THIS IS NOT MINE. I found it online and was like WOAH, holy moly this person is a talented doodler. 

I mean we have all these ideas but generally when it is time to put them to paper they just fly right out of our minds. I hate when that happens. Here is what I do. I am a scribbler. I cannot seem to focus on anything unless there is a piece of paper in front of me and I can scribble, doodle or just in general make the ink move across the page. OH YES, I was the girl who wrote down the name of my crush on my notebook a hundred times surrounded  by hearts. I even have old projects from school like a wooden toolbox that is scribbled all over with the names of boys, cool phrases (well I thought they were cool in the 7th grade) and miscellaneous other things I cant even decipher all these years later. The same can be said for my work notes. I never have to wonder about someone stealing my secrets because you would need a decoder ring to get through my notes.

strangely though, this is actually productive for me. It channels my thoughts and somewhere in the mess of undecipherable doodles and hearts galore, a plan takes place. Now I realize that not everyone's brain works the same way mine does BUT I am here telling you what works for me, so it can't hurt to try right?

So get some sort of notebook (hopefully, the same one you have been using for your reflections the last 16 days). Sit in front of the TV or some other form of entertainment that is relaxing yet not too intense. (In other words, watch mindless TV that doesn't require too much attention...no back episodes of Game of Thrones, Lost or House of Cards here, you don't want to get too distracted.) The distraction here is actually your notebook NOT the tv. 

 Sadly, not mine either. I was struggling with my computer and images today so had to use some from online...but how cool are they? Love this by    Bea Barros

Sadly, not mine either. I was struggling with my computer and images today so had to use some from online...but how cool are they? Love this by Bea Barros

Every few seconds, write something down. It can be a sentence, a word, a cute little drawing, whatever you want. It should however be related to something you would like to do next year. Maybe it is small like "lost 20 pounds". Maybe it is bigger like "get a raise" or "have a baby". Doesn't matter. No further details are needed today. All you have to do is scribble all the possibilities. We will dig into them later and organize them into something that looks like goals with real tangible action items to them. For now just scribble and jot things down. No pressure. Not coming up with anything, look up at the tv and laugh along with Leonard and Sheldon. Turn on some music, grab a hairbrush and dance around the room a bit...boom idea comes to you, jot it down and keep dancing. 

The only rule...try to fill AT LEAST one who piece of paper with your thoughts. If it takes a couple days, that's ok. Just keep your notebook near by and grab it when an inspiring thought hits you. 

That's it. Wednesday goal setting work complete. We are at the half way point everyone. That means we are about to finish the year ahead of the game because we are going to have a plan for 2016 that takes us all to the next level.

can I get a what what?

My apologies, I got a little excited there. If you did raise the roof and say "what what", my sincerest gratitude. If you didn't, give it time, you might get excited as you start writing things down. For those that did it but don't want to admit it...it's ok, I get it. Maybe next time.

extra...extra...read all about it, this girl's got style ya'll

I don't know if you know this or not but I'm not always considered "fashionable". You're shocked aren't you? I know, I am too. I love fashion, don't get me wrong. I love picking out outfits and putting them together but I guess when you are more comfortable in sweats and flip-flops than spanx and heels you don't exactly build a reputation for being "super stylish".

That being said, the fashion world is taking notice of little old me. Oh, yeah, you read that right. In October I had the honor of speaking for Fashion Group International of Greater DC. The catch is, I wasn't actually speaking about what I was wearing, although I guess I should be happy it wasn't some sort of "Fashion Police" or "What Not To Wear" sneak attack. (Although, how cool would it be to meet Clinton Kelly? YES PLEASE, I love him.)

WOW SQUIRREL...

Anyway...I got to speak to a group of retailers, designers and business owners about the mysteries behind the business of retailing in a fashion world. We talked about consumer segments, social media, merchandising and the challenges of small retailers in an increasingly online world. To add to this, FGIDC and their members put together a stellar panel of experts and asked me to moderate as they shared their experiences and challenges in the industry.  

 Talking to the group about the rise of women in the economy and how it influences the way they retail.

Talking to the group about the rise of women in the economy and how it influences the way they retail.

My outfit might not have been totally up to par but I'm working on it with the help of The Written Runway so look out fashion world I'm coming for you.

In the mean time, check out the awesome write up from FGIDC that they posted this week. Maybe titling this post,  "this girl's got style" was a little overzealous but I had to get your attention somehow right?

Hope you're crushing the goal challenge this week. Don't forget to check out all the posts in December and join the challenge with us.

 Click here to read the article and check out all of the awesome stuff Fashion Group International in Greater DC is doing. Special thanks to the team at FGIDC, the panel of experts and the city of DC for a fun and informative session. Shout out to    AnDCreatives Duo    for the great images and video.

Click here to read the article and check out all of the awesome stuff Fashion Group International in Greater DC is doing. Special thanks to the team at FGIDC, the panel of experts and the city of DC for a fun and informative session. Shout out to AnDCreatives Duo for the great images and video.