Don’t Let Them Touch Your Nails

May 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

In light of my trip to Texas within the next few days, I decided to go ahead and give myself a manicure; D.I.Y style, of course.

You might be asking yourself “Melanie, really, this is dominantly a marketing blog. Is it just me, or does this topic of nails have nothing to do with anything?” You’d be right, but as I filed my nails into nice little rounded squares, I realized the seeming parallels that this small act had to everything that I have been striving for this year.

Striking internships, extending myself through clubs and activities, and challenging my perceptions of the impact I, and my generation, could make on the world of marketing itself.

Two words: self made

We are the innovators looking to make one change, big or small, to improve on the world we have been given. So, we start at the bottom with ourselves and work up.

I would try to make this comment literal here, but something smells funny. Literally.

Past innovators can only give us so much, and it is our job to expand upon it.

Enter: the “Don’t Let Them Touch Your Nails” philosophy

Look at your nails right at this moment- what do they say about you? Are they plain, manicured, or D.I.Y press-ons?

If you answered with one of the first two, you are merely taking what has been pre-fabricated for you. By all means, I do not condone a nice manicure every once in a while, and leaving your nails to rest from months of overuse isn’t a bad idea either.

Certainly, you can have a professional pamper your nails, but don’t let them define you by their standards. And if you don’t believe me, it happens- I once got acryllic nails which many people told me they liked on me. I didn’t like them much, I had expected something magical to happen, or for them to be inhumanly perfect after paying the salon what I had. But no magic or rainbow unicorns here- they just looked so average. Thus, I started working to paint my own nails with the same skill the nail techs had. But I had something they couldn’t give me- dedication and confidence, alongside visual difference.

Even the minor details count, especially when it comes to expressing yourself outside of the box. What many individuals in our generation have began to do is make the D.I.Y glamorous through personalization. And we’re not talking Lisa Frank stickers here, either.

This.

We not only look different, but we feel different and more ready to build onto the world before us.Taking the ordinary and making it so much more. It’s kind of like straying from the lines in the coloring book- but on this playground, we encourage it!

Build who you are from the ground up. Get a french manicure and watch how the nail technician shapes and paint them. So many people get paid to do exactly what they do- driven by pay and not by love. In the same way, shape not only your nails, but also your life; and do it with love.

Although this literal and figurative shaping may take time to perfect, work on it; others will see what you have made for yourself and spread your message through word of mouth and passionate work.

The outcome- look incredible, feel incredible, be incredible. This is the difference that visual differentiation can make through mental differentiation.

And perhaps maybe one day I will let you do my nails. Then, we can conquer the world!

They Are Not Buying Your Product, They Are Buying YOU

May 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Hello all! I hope you all have had a lovely extended weekend, and welcome back to the 9-5 grind! You can pick up your complimentary migraine pills from me on your way to work! (but not really)

In other news, over the past few days, I have been considering what really makes a brand tick.

Perhaps this is in light of my reading George Foreman’s “Knockout Entrepreneur” about his experience as the brand ambassador of his “Lean, Mean Grilling Machine.” Either that, or it is my utter fascination with marketing as a whole, but the concept of individuals as their own personal brand is a notion we just can’t ignore.

It’s kind of like that saying- “you are what you eat”, only in this case it’s more in the sense of “you are what you sell”

And while you night think it is your job, brand, or your possessions which define you, in reality it is the other way around.

Think about it; the plastics are not Dolly Parton, Dolly Parton is the one who decided to essentially make herself a barbie doll. It came in handy to end her short-lived movie career, but no loss there.

And think about Charlie Sheen- sex, drugs, and er-tiger blood. This man in himself is his own brand, A ridiculous one, but still a brand nevertheless.

“Hell yeah!”

These are all examples of negative branding, but they are some of the most clear examples of how a single icon can become the face of so many things.

How else could Charlie have become the poster icon of insanity and poor decision making?

In the same essence, you are your own brand. It is a concept that is relatively new to me, introduced in my Principles of Marketing class Freshman year. That is, the whole is a sum of its parts, the whole being yourself as a brand.

Every decision you make is just as crucial as that made by a billion-dollar industry.

You might think all you were ordering was a burger with extra cheese, but in reality this decision is the one which will cause the world to collapse in a firestorm while it rains small children

On a macroscopic level, that is.

Especially when it comes to the things you post online and the name you make for yourself. In the instance of George Foreman, he chose a path dedicated to bringing high-quality products to the common people. But it wasn’t the grill that sold itself- it was the charisma and genuinely loving character of the former boxer himself.

This is to say, be mindful of everything that you do, say, or think- these are the decisions driven by the intentions which will define who you are, and more importantly, the level of trust and respect you will garner from others.

On the other hand, you could also make a brand of yourself through negative reputation- but that’s usually frowned upon.

Unless, of course, you are a “rockstar from Mars”

How to Sell Anything in Under Five Seconds

May 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Have you ever seen something and just wanted to buy it? As in something you have never even seen before but seem immediately attracted to.

I’ve experienced this before and I’m positive that you have. For this post, I’ll call it the honey effect- it’s that golden warm feeling when a brand suddenly connects with you above all odds.

It’s the drive that causes us, like bees, to drove towards the sweet substance because it looks good. In fact, whatever the item is, it looks deliciously attractive.

image credit: www.gaia-health.com

Example A: this object looks so delicious, I think it’s worth a taste

Alright- maybe not always literally. But, it’s that feeling of gratitude when something, it can be simple, even like a box of cereal in the store, draws you in for the sheer perception the brand creates of their product.

It’s like an unexpected work work of art in the middle of a salvage yard, and that feeling of wow, this really is gorgeous. I am going to take it and hoard it forever in my secret den in the mountains.

I had this sudden attraction when earlier this week I received a perfume sample in the mail,  called Flora by Gucci. I am not sure if any of you have been following this line at all, but literally every part of their advertising for this line is stunning.

And the mail I got from them was equally as gorgeous. It came in a simple white envelope with Gucci written on the front.

Gucci?

LIEK GUCCI MANE?!

For whatever reason, whenever I come in contact with that name, it’s usually in context with rap stars and- er, pimps.

Until this came in the mail:

Gucci Flora samples

Where’d the rap star go?

What I got was not a card, was not a picture of a woman in provocative clothing, but a full miniature catalogue showcasing three perfumes next to beautiful images inspired by the scent.

honey effect– I ripped out the samples, looked at the effort that it took to compose this piece of art, and was sold.

It was that beautiful moment when the brand and I connected. They had not only targeted the right customer, but had gone above and beyond expectation through their attention to detail.

In the greater scheme of things, this was a “nothing” event- have you heard about the man who won the “sell a red brick” contest? He presented not only the beauty of the brick, but also the role of it in the scheme of life; it could be sold to anyone, and a chance to own an object which had built civilizations from the ground up. He pointed to the elephant in the toom, the bigger idea- the brick as a small step to greatness. He knew the inner beauty of his object, and he let it be his purpose.

Know your customer, show them the  beauty of your brand at the highest denomination, and defy perception. This, my friends, is how to sell anything in under five seconds.

Trials and Tribulations

May 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

In need of some inspiration? Here’s a dose of positivity: no matter how ridiculous life maybe at this moment, Carlie Sheen has it worse.

So maybe the focus of this post isn’t Charlie Sheen at all; although he is the perfect example of an individual who got what he deserved twofold.

image credit: scm-l3.technorati.com

“Blame it on the t-t-tiger blood”

No, what I am here to talk to you all about is adversity and overcoming it; when bad things happen after you have tried to only ever do good in your life.

yawn- “not another life lecture-hall-style rant “ you say. And I can promise you,  it won’t be. This is a journey of a year and a half which ultimately decided my attitude on life, almost ruined my life, and a year which could have very well landed me in the hospital or even killed me.

long story short, during my junior year at high school I was incredibly sick, and handed off to a number of quack doctors who only made my situation worse. I was out of school more days than I could count, constantly sick to my stomach,dizzy, nauseous, panic-stricken, and afraid to tell anyone. This is to say, it cost me a number of friends and essentially became a pariah on the sports team I was a member of, who accused me of skipping out. Some of these relationships healed. Others didn’t.

By the time doctors had figured out what was wrong, I had already been thrown into some serious anxiety and my remaining friends, I could tell, were afraid for me.

This is the extremely condensed version of the story, although with the help of a good friend, I finally managed to distance the horrors of this year and a half by creating a short memoir film, which can be found here. I hope that this video will be an inspiration to you all to keep on going, even when the fuel tank of life seems to be stuck on empty.

there are two major life lessons which came out of this for me:

1. You can go your own way. Just like Fleetwood Mac said.

2.When you do go your own way, make it good

Highschool was an institution of conformity, and even as a public school student, the unwritten rules were even more stringent than those made by the administration. After my illness junior year, I really realized the “social rules” that I had been bound to were restricting past sanity. The “dress code” was Uggs, Northface, Hollister, and Abercrombie. I put these brands in a drawer permanently and started wearing heels. I showed up to my sports meets, regardless of the stigma I had accumulated, and enjoyed it regardless. I worked through the remainder of my illness and at the end of the year I managed to win the Principal’s academic award in sports my senior year. I remember seeing laughter in the audience. Frankly, I didn’t care. I had busted my butt, had avoided hospitalization for symptoms of the illness which could have permanently damaged me, and somehow maintained my grades. And for once, somebody had noticed.

Great things can come from pure willpower. When I got into college, fresh out of illness and in perfect health for the first time in nearly two years, I lept on literally every opportunity I could handle. College channel filming, Marketing clubs, designing a small fashion line, activism, news writing, and student government, to name a few. I had so much energy and felt renewed; but I soon realized that stretching myself in so many directions at once could be mentally harmful: I had some anxiety remaining from seeing my health falter so quickly and unexpectedly.

So, when I went my own way, the second semester in college, I soon decided that one thing would be my focus, for which everything else would fall to the side.  Marketing and business. In my overly enthusiastic way, I managed to land myself a referral from my first-semester marketing teacher to the head of the marketing department, who was ultimately responsible for placing me in a Senior capstone class the second semester of my freshman year.

But then I went furtherI auditioned to be a member of a national presentation team, earning the #8 spot in a class of 20 seniors, meaning I was on the team as a freshman; the second freshman in 12 years to make the cut.

In a little over a week, I will be flying to Texas to watch the competition.

If I hadn’t struggled so hard, I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today, and now I am a far cry from the outcast I had made myself by the end of high school.

I hope you, too can triumph over adversity and the trials which life presents you. Please remember this for me: never lose faith in yourself or life- everything is possible.

Zurker: the Social Network Democracy?

May 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Lately within the blogosphere, there has been news stirring about a new social network supposedly built “by the people, for the people”

The network is called Zurker, a seemingly strange possible reference and personal address to Zuckerberg of Facebook himself. The site promises that members will gain a part of the stock of the company should it go viral, trading in “vShares” from joining and recruiting members. This virtual currency, it promises, will be exchanged for a piece of the company itself.

This morning, I received an invitation to this site and signed up immediately. However, some things perturbed me about the site itself- who is the creator of this website? Where is the contract I need to sign onto to become an official company partner? And most importantly, why aren’t you like Facebook, and why don’t you want our money?

And clearly, I’m not the only one a bit weirded-out by this viral act of “goodwill.” Social media conspiracy theorists are already having a blast with this one, even though the network hasn’t even progressed past beta testing.

“I look happy because you are, essentially, driving people away from your own social network without any of my help. Bravo!”

Zurker is doing what thousands of small social networks have (failed to) do: be the rising alternative to the “social networking dictatorship” behemoth that is Facebook.

But what really differentiates this network from all the others? You, too, could own apiece of it- not only this, but you also have a say in what updates the site makes through member voting.

“So you mean I could not only get the perfect social networking site and get rich just by sitting infront of a computer?” you ask. Well, if things go to plan, although nobody, not even the members of the site, know exactly what this plan entails.

While the site offers a share in the business, what is neglected is the concept that should the company gain steam and the value suddenly plummet for whatever reason, you can say goodbye to stock money and hello to being in the red. Simply, it is not a pleasant idea, and yet the site does not address it in the least.

Not to mention, that the creator, Nick Oba, has had previous experience in small, democratic, start-ups like Zurker; and not the good kind of experience. Most infamously, on his most recent venture, he worked to create a “by the people, for the people” entrepreneurial magazine called Fortitude, which ultimately crashed and burned, leaving members who bought into the business given no compensation but an IOU note.

image credit: rj55.com

It looked like this.

He did promise his desciples re-payment in the form of Zurker stocks.Good intention or horrible business practices? This one is up to you.

But not that any of this matters anyway; if the world ends this year, I am sure there is no need for social networking in the afterlife anyway.

Too young to be “fired”

May 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Just a little while ago, I began watching the season finale of the Celebrity Apprentice, when a thought suddenly struck me.

What if I applied to be on the show?

I don’t mean the celebrity version; I am about as famous as a bag of bricks, but the traditional episodes. You know, with the normal people business moguls. Sure, maybe the show is targeted at a shrinking demographic of 49 year olds, but it could be worse, right?

image credit: tv series finale

Well, at least I wouldn’t be applying for this

The Apprentice has been on since I was legitimately about 10, and it was really nothing I aspired to. Back then, the most I really aspired to do was draw cat pictures and watch Rocko’s Modern Life. Which, I have to mention, was a fantastic show while it aired. that is to say, times have changed, and the world of marketing has opened itself up to me.

The Celebrity Apprentice would be a wonderful show to be a part of and to challenge myself, I thought.After all, I have already pursued the creation of my own business, Will Edit for Coffee, a college paper editing site, and am going to American Advertising Federation nationals in less than a month. Am I right?

So after making a declaration of overambitiousness to my parents, I hopped online to find and submit the casting application, only to promptly find I had made an utter fool of myself.

The casting age is 21. Another marketing dream thwarted by age, or thereof lack of. This ever-growing rejection list includes numerous internships at prestigious marketing companies, rude dismissals by marketing recruiters for being a freshman, and essentially putting myself out to a number of less-than interesting start-up companies. At least the start-ups wanted me.

So from these events I can deduce two possible realities for my future: either I will eventually lose my ambition from rejection, or by the time I am old enough to accept these offers, I will be a 60-year-old couch potato resigned to watching “Jeopardy” for the rest of my life.

image credit: wake-upworld.com

Self-portrait of Melanie, age 60

True story. But then, another thought. If  a book like Twilight can get published, maybe I can get a job offer from a decent company, or even be on a business show.

And I mean, this is Twilight we’re talking about.

“Sketched” Out

May 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

It seems like this week has been some form of digital equivalent to the 2012 apocalypse.

Facebook is being ransacked by news sources as tinder ready to burn in the social media world and now even sketchers is under fire.

It seems as though media deception is taking on a whole new level through the digital media, spreading like wildfire at a pace never before known.

So what is the most recent Sketchers debate about?

If  you have been out of the loop for the last few days, to keep it short, it is about Kim Kardashian’s buttocks juxtaposed with Sketchers brand shape-ups.

While the sneaker promised greater toning, greater calorie burn, and instantaneous celebrity status, consumers received none of these benefits, leading to a $40 million dollar lawsuit for “false advertising”

That’s three strikes for the Kardashians, who are infamously not only famous for nothing, but also their poor decisions in brand endorsement

Previous gigs include diet pills, shoedazzle.com, and of course their shamelessly self-promoting television show Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Image credit: bossip.files.wordpress.com

more like “Keeping up with the Lawsuits”

So boys and girls, here’s your lesson of the day; if it doesn’t work, don’t put your face next to it in advertising. No matter how pretty you think it looks.

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