Monday, March 3, 2014

The Month of March: In like a Lion Out like Lamb; Get Organized Become Productive

Organization and productivity go hand-in-hand. And the truth is there's a difference in getting things done and being productive. Organization is key to long-term productivity.
While this month comes in with roar many people start off with clean slate, which gives them opportunities to create the “new you.” This is a great way to start something new and it can help you become organized. Some of the most successful people in the world are habitual and organized. Boring? Yes. Effective? Absolutely.
And at times I will admit that I do become a bit obsessed with being organized.However I do it in the end because it makes me feel good, positive and successful. The truth is, I need those type of days to get organized—even if they are organized with blocks of free time—for me, organization is key.
A few reasons to be organized:
  1. Trustworthiness: Trust is necessary in all facets of life. Relationships—business and personal—are established and continued based on trust. Being organized will help you keep commitments, manage and prioritize relationships, and maintain a reputation for being reliable.
  2. Stress: Stress is in excess all around us. Being organized is a habit, and habits help us to deal with all the stress in our lives. Even when things are busy and spiraling a bit out of control, you can rely on your organized system and stress less about the little things.
  3. Effectiveness: Being organized leads to being effective and tackling what is in front of you with a greater focus. It allows you to be single-task oriented dedicating your full focus to the task (big or small) at hand.
But organization doesn't come naturally to everyone. Everyone has their own ways, but there are a few essentials we all need to get and stay organized.
How to get organized:
  1. Passwords: There are too many passwords in the world to keep track of. Make a list of all of your passwords that you can access from anywhere (easy accessibility is a must!) and make sure you update it regularly. App suggestion: 1Password
  2. To-do list: Make a to-do list every day. Putting things on paper (physical paper or on a screen) is the easiest way to see what you have to do right in front of you. It’s the best way to prioritize and knock things off the list as you get them done. App suggestion: Workflow
  3.  Documents: Documents control our lives these days. Personal, financial or work related—our lives are filled with documents. Organized them. Give them folders and put them in their correct place. App suggestion: DropBox
How to stay organized:
  1. Don’t procrastinate: Procrastination leads to disorganization and an overwhelming amount of things to do. Prioritize your to-do list and get it done. This will lead to productive days, every day.
  2. Stick to your system: Make being organized a priority and stick to it. Having a reliable, organized system you can rely on will only help in every aspect of life.
  3. Designate a place for everything: Finding and using a tool/method is easy—making a habit of it is hard. Even if it means creating a new folder or location for something that just popped up, give it a place to live, and the repeat.
And there's no better time than the present, so go get organized!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Online Review Sites: Real People, Real Reviews or Just Spam?

Online review sites have been popping up right and left. However, Yelp has been the king of them for some time.
Just recently Yelp was named one of the top 10 innovative companies to watch by FastCompany.  With more than 117 million monthly users, this online service offers reviews from restaurants to doctors and has over 47 million online reviews and counting. 
But how did they become so successful? Yelp's developers are not just extremely insightful, but they've started to recognize the delight which people share information online and have capitalized on the notion of letting people connect this to their own identity.  Now Yelp users are able to do more with the site than rant about horrible service they've received at House of Waffles.
Nonetheless the social aspect of Yelp has allowed those to sign up and connect to one another on more personal level through the forums. This gives people the opportunity to get to know their neighbors in a virtual sense and learn to trust their judgment.  This platform allows users to get what they want while strengthening the primary structure of the website. But the truth is, the tagline really says it all.
Yelp also has an intense spam filter that might actually be considered a little over doing it However you won’t find that on City Search, which is littered with made up reviews from companies hired by other companies trying to push crappy products or services upon people they must consider extremely gullible idiots.  At times, I’d prefer to not have the filter on Yelp until my profile is established than to try to sift through the garbage on a site like City Search, which is actually doesn't really work. 
Yelp’s Fatal Weakness: 
However there is one aspect of Yelp that makes me want to tear my hair out.  If you've ever wanted to experience a nightmare in real life than try and update the information for your business.  That content is often “locked” by the administrators.  And getting someone on the phone to change it for you is nearly impossible because Yelp, like the head cheerleader from your high school days, their too busy for your phone calls.
However Angie’s List excels in this department.  I was shocked to discover that when calling them for an info update, a real live person answered the phone on the first ring! Soon after I was transferred to another human without any hold time or ridiculous music.  And here’s how the conversation went once that polite fellow picked up:
Customer Service Representative: Hello, what’s the name of the business?
Me[I told him]
Customer Service Representative: Okay let me pull that up… Oh, it looks like there are multiple listings of this business, I’ll send a request to merge those. What can I help you with today?
Me: Uh that was it and you’re awesome.
Customer Service Representative[laughing] We hope to provide the best level of service to our clients, given the nature of our business.
Me: Hmmm do you think you can you get a hold of Yelp for me?
The truth is, Yelp has to much on their plate, like Facebook. Got an issue with Facebook? You can waste an hour scouring the unhelpful FAQs, but you definitely won't be able talk to someone from the company.
Don’t get me wrong, Yelp is extremely useful, and however I hope they don’t over-extend their services the way Facebook has done.  They stand behind their position to allow free speech without allowing businesses to hush it up with bribes. Plus their open to criticism that they receive on their Yelp review page. And there’s a ton.
Yelp’s has a straight business model. So long as they don’t get greedy, the entire US will be Yelping in no time!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Brand Mascots: Hate them or Love them?

In today's society, brand mascots have been used effectively as communication tools for consumer brands. These communication tools often spark conversations and trend on social media websites, but with all the hype that surrounds brand mascots evidence is much more than just talk. 

According to an article published in June 2013 in USA Today, brand mascots garner much more related social buzz than celebrity  spokesman. For example, the Pillsbury Doughboy has 10 times more social buzz than celebrity endorses such as LeBron James with Nike. However in today's society, media creates the buzz and generates trends that spark someone's interest. According to Slate Magazine, these associations are so strong that even toddlers can make judgments based on mascots alone. 

Back in the day, I remember watching on TV and seeing Mickey Mouse, the Energizer Bunny, and Captain Crunch, however as social media becomes much more integrated in our society many characters from my childhood are now reappearing on YouTube (Like Mr. Six from the Six Flags commercials?) and Twitter which started to engage with consumers and fans, which ends up generating more direct interaction with the consumers and brands. 

While some brand mascots have been keeping up with the times and have started using a digital platform like Tony the Tiger, Flo from Progressive, Mr. Clean, The Green Giant, Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome. (Fun Fact: Characters that have been introduced throughout the company are his mother, Mama Tony; his wife, Mr. . Tony; his daughter, Antoinette; and son, Tony Jr. -- who were all introduced over the years but later dropped.)

It all started in 1951 when Leo Burnett wanted to introduce the public to four different characters. The most popular character would become the character on the box of Sugar Frosted Flakes permanently.Tony the Tiger competed against three other animals – Newt the Gnu, Elmo the Elephant, and Katy the Kangaroo. Within a year, the public made their decision that Tony the Tiger won the competition  and the other three were put out to pasture.

Because at the end of the day, They’re Grrrrreat!

What can we learn from success of brand mascots?
Mascots that have taken off and have changed a company's brand recognition involves a company taking risks. The people at Kellogg took a major risk when they hired Leo Burnett and allowed them to use Tony the Tiger as their brand mascot. With that leap of faith, they went forward with the ideas for radio spots, TV commercials and other types of advertisements which other brands whose mascots are equally as quirky and unique. 
If all else fails, move on to what’s next. Bud Light is a great example of a brand that has changed their mascot from time to time, creating enormous buzz and generating numerous interpretations, however not all of these interpretations were as popular as others. 
When Brand Mascots Go Wrong

The truth is, consumers only like a small percentage of brand mascots according to Business Insider. The main reasons consumers don't like brand mascots include vagueness, obscurity, creepiness and just plain dumb. Brand mascots that meet the “most hated” criteria belong to fast food brands. While McDonald’s mascot, Ronald McDonald, has been in the public eye for decades, he isn't as love-able as other mascots in other industries. Perhaps it is because other mascots are much better engaged with consumers? Ronald McDonald might not be as successful as other brand mascots is because many kids and adults are scared of clowns.
So at the end of the Day, what exactly makes a good brand mascot?
  • Name. .
  • Benefit. 
  • Product.
  • Target audience.
  • Relationship.
To sum it all up, the best and most memorable brand mascots make you feel something. You may not with how a mascot is created, but you still will recognize the brand and respond to their advertisement, however you see fit. 

So take a moment and think: What's your favorite brand mascot?