So many Successes Start With Unabashed Failures

January 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Many of the greatest businesses and companies in the world were at one point utter failures. We all know this to be a true statement, and yet it is very rarely that we actually apply this logic to our own lives. There is a relevant reason as to why I am bringing this up today- mainly that about a year ago I made a big mistake, and I only now have come to terms with it for long enough to make a change.

Okay, maybe I was being a bit overblown by saying it was a big mistake, or any kind of significant mistake at all in the scheme of things; and yet, it was large enough that it made a decent impact on the way I worked.

I can admit that I suffer with incredible perfectionism, to the point where one small mistake would mean throwing out the baby with the bathwater. If only I could count the amount of times that I smashed Sculpey figurines because I made a mark in the wrong place as a kid. Seriously folks, things don’t change- I essentially did the same thing in the recent past, only this time it wasn’t a clay figure I could just rebuild. It was my personal ability to blog and put myself out there in the rudimentary form of writing.

It’s just this- I designed a blog for my own use relating to my experiences in marketing, got excited, flipped the entire thing in one sitting (let this be a lesson- regardless of if it’s a blog or a company, changing things overnight on a whim is a recipe for complete failure), only to realize that I had overshot my goals. Then I walked away.

Regardless of all of the ambition that I had put on this site, it was never meant to be a forum for marketers of the millennial generation to come together and talk about how great marketing is. One thing that I have learned over the last few months is that being in marketing is more akin to being a lawyer than being a social worker (sorry, guys. Generally speaking, it’s true.) We do not all hold hands- in fact, I have no doubt that if you offered a hand to one of your classmates, you would get less of a figurative bite than a literal one. For the most part, we are in this for ourselves, and anybody that says otherwise is lying. So here I am, no longer putting this site up as a forum, but as a conversation between you and I, where we can sit down as individuals and talk about the state of things.

“Melanie, you are so totally having a complex right now. What happened?”

I haven’t exactly gotten to that yet- but I will now. My desire for a writing partner went full-speed from inquiring about partnerships to basically pleading people to hear me out. It wasn’t pretty, I got slapped around a few times (not literally- but according to pain studies, your brain is unable to differentiate between emotional and physical pain. So one could say it had the same impact on me), and ended up being just as bitter as the rest of them. Not even close, actually- I’ll be a marketer that claims that I’m here to tell your story, and I mean it- and as I had not realize previous to my experiences, I can do it on my own. I am a student marketer, and here is my story!

So tld;dr, yup, in any words, take this as my apology, and a promise to write more. I can be in defense of marketing and show how much it can mean to the storytelling process without being a lawyer-type. After all, I am not in this career path for my own health (I mean this when I say it), I am here because I am in love with the stories of other people, and even though I could never make it as a writer, I can tell their stories through the immersion process.

With that, I give the farewell to Marquetting, and the hello to a site of my namesake- but which is equally if not more about you. 

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“Marketing is Dead”

July 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Damage Control- Lessons Amy’s Baking Company and the Government Can Learn About PR

June 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s pretty ugly out there, especially when your company’s PR consists of conspiracy theories and fans about to tear down your walls both literally and figuratively. At least, that’s one thing these months have taught us- and re-enforced among those of us in the marketing community.

Without taking any one side, I can tell you right now that the actions of both the government and Amy’s Baking Company aren’t any different in theory. Sure, a woman screaming at her customers (and occasionally speaking cat) has nothing to do with the belabored communication between a government and its people. Oh, but it does. And the message of both goes back to the same point- when damage control isn’t done, the damage will be significant.

Although there have been questionable actions by restaurant owners in the past, none have been as blatant as Amy And Samy of Amy’s Baking company. Featured in the finale episode of one of Gordon Ramsay’s many shows, Kitchen Nightmares, the finale episode showed the couple’s interaction with its customer as it is. One of the most notable lines in the entire episode featured co-owner Samy speaking candidly with a customer in his establishment: when the customer stated that there was “something wrong with the salad” although he couldn’t describe what, Samy took face-to-face action. He promptly told his customer that he, in fact, was in the wrong- the salad he had ordered was perfectly fine, and he didn’t know what he was talking about. Yikes.
That’s nice and all. Except it was broadcasted on national television. 

Adding fuel to the flame, angry viewers further sank the company into infamy on every social media channel the Bakery used- most notably Facebook. However, instead of admitting their flaws and healing bonds through the internet, Amy and Samy flamed their own customers in a fashion that could be best described as self-satirizing.

The lesson here? Use PR for good. In a book I was reading recently called “Real-Time Marketing and PR” by David Meerman Scott, this point was deeply elaborated on; every opportunity of negative customer feedback is a contact point between an individual and a company which allows the company to prove its dedication to the customer. In the case of Amy and Samy, dedication nothing.

So what does this have to do with the recent set of issues with the government? It’s all about the response made in reaction to backlash. Although Amy’s Baking Company made clear their message (“get the Hell out!”), the American government has been sending its people a much different message- and one which is much more mixed.

In reaction to the recent Benghazi scandal, Obama took the stand to state the goals, misunderstandings, and intent of the U.S government. However, in the time between the event and Obama’s speech, the silence of the government created the kind of communication ferment that encourages negative sentiment. You could bet Fox25 was all over that.

So Obama did his part, announcing the government perspective (whether it was satisfying or not ultimately depending on your own perspective). However, I am left to wonder: even the largest of companies responds to crises in real-time by at least acknowledging misunderstandings and announcing a resolution, even if it doesn’t happen at that very moment and takes hours or days to plan. Where was the U.S. government in those critical hours?

The moral of the story being this- as soon as you know anything, negative or positive, fill your followers, customers, or patrons in, in real-time. 

Also, avoid doing things that are just immoral in general. Like screaming and yelling at customers.

Meow.

The Ugly Reality of the Economy Needs a Facelift

May 20, 2013 § 1 Comment

I woke up this morning with a very frightening realization of my reality in Marketing- the world, more often than not, is against me and my field.

Perhaps it’s a bit of a pessimistic view, and as a general optimist, it struck me. 
All things considered, I really couldn’t be in college at a worse time; although unemployment is continuing to drop, it still remains at around 8%, and the number of underemployed individuals even after they have graduated from college is staggering. According to the Center For College Affordability, 48% of college graduates are in jobs that don’t require college degrees. Yikes.

This is a reality that I can personally attest to, as well- one of my friends who graduated from Emerson College’s marketing program ended up resorting back to the minimum wage job that she held before college, and moved back with her family permanently for financial reasons. Even realistically, she was one of the lucky ones who was able to afford four years of education at a private university- three of my close friends have recently deferred from school due to the state of the economy, two of which have unfortunately had no other option but to completely drop out.

This is the world I live in, and despite the odds, I was convinced for the last two years that my college education would allow me to land an agency internship by my Junior year. My optimism did not hold up, and while I am honored to have an internship at all this summer, it is not what I had expected.

In my field of marketing, more specifically branding, the world is a place that won’t just open doors for you- especially without connections. My connections being dominated by classmates of my own age, it is enough to say that I won’t be given a managerial position any time soon (not that my current level of education warrants it), let alone any kind of lucrative marketing position -well- anywhere.

But enough of the pity party. So maybe the world won’t just open the doors to me despite how hard I may struggle to make my mark in a world that has already had every inch of it covered with people more well-connected and talented than I am. Maybe I will just have to break down the doors myself.

The question being- how do I and others like myself move one once we know the sobering facts? Should I personally stick my head between my legs and never show my face to the world again? I sure want to. But it’s not an option, and doing so would mean becoming submissive to a world that is bent against my favor. 

Maybe it will kick me in the face, but more than anything, I would like to shape the world into a way such that it will be favorable for not only myself, but my generation. A generation of talents that would otherwise be lost on a world already crippled by a poor financial state and closed doors.

Maybe all of us just need to pave our own way, creating our own business and stimulus for the economy in a back-door kind of way. I’m all for it.

Let’s get the pry bar.

It’s All Digital From Here

June 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

The other day I walked into an electronics store, and was met by a crowd of employees who appeared to be standing in a circle, bored out of their wits.

That moment when I walked in, like a buch of hornets from a kicked nest, they eagerly swarmed my way.

I had stopped by the store to pick up a few small things- an HDMI cable and an iPod charger that had been misplaced between Boston, Austin, and back. And while I felt fortunate to be waited on so eagerly, something struck me as odd.

In the entire superstore, there were no more than three individuals shopping. And then I realized that I was not being swarmed to because I was special (read: loved), but rather because there was nobody else in need of assistance.

“Best Buy, this relationship is over!”

in fact, as I mentioned, there was nearly anyone there. At all.

You have probably heard this before- that digital stores have essentially slammed physical stores into a mud pile and then rolled their faces around in it, but it is the kind of thing that doesn’t entirely strike you until you have been the only one in a vacant, formerly booming electronics store.

“huh” I thought to myself, “this place used to be the mecca of all things digital. What happened?” I wondered until the store associate handed me the cables I needed; a grand total of $80. My heart stopped, and I knew I had my answer.

$80 for two wires.

I pulled out my phone and bought the two cords I needed for a grand total of $8 as one of the associates suspiciously eyed me.

Melanie, 1; Electronics store, 0.

And yet one thing has shocked me ever since I left that store- digital shopping is indeed becoming the end-all-be-all, not because it is oh so much better than trekking out to the store, but because the stores simply are not adapting. It’s like that movie Hannah, where she is told to adapt or die. These superstores, apparently, are seriously considering the “die” option.

I for one know that I love to go out and physically see an object before I buy it, which is the magic of brick-and-mortar, but not in this world am I going to pay $80 to watch associates twiddle their thumbs awkwardly as I shop.

And yet stores like these have such a huge advantage over their competitors, which they are taking for granted like no other. Does Amazon have a staff of bright, technology-literate employees to wait on you hand and foot? No. Are they located by a scenic lake where the sun shines?

Nope- they are located by scenic 4chan, where the trolls live.

So what’s the problem? What we are left with is price, something which could essentially be compensated by one thing- their ability to sell themselves in the light of online shopping, where things are cheap and scams are rampant.

Electronics stores right now are dying out- by choice. They have physical locations, and yet they choose to not use them to their advantage, or even aknowledge the existence of their online competition.

“What’s this ‘Amazon’ you speak of?”

My suggestion? Drag those price trolls out from their caves and show them what electronics superstores are made of.  Price wisely, and, especially- get this; aknowledge Amazon, and then its weaknesses, in-store.

We have trained staff who not only know the products, but use them themselves- what about you, Amazon?

We can tailor your products to you- get to know you as a person, learn what drives you and help you live to potential with our help and products- that’s a bit tough to beat, huh Amazon?

Oh, and we are really here for you. After you buy your product, we will care for it like our first-born child. We will help you raise it to your standards and show you how to use this gorgeous product, and we will even take it upon ourselves to fix it and keep you on the edge of updates and technology. Amazon, you should probably be crying in a corner right about now.

Electronics stores, get yourselves together, and get your iPhone torch apps ready. It’s time to storm some internet troll caves!

Three Things You Learn About the East Coast by Being Outside of it

June 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Alas, my nearly week-long escapade to Austin, Texas has ended; but not without some new revelations at hand.

For the majority of my visit, I attended the Admerica conference which included the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) and attended seminars including topics such as the ethics of marketing.

Marketing ethic commandment #1- Thou shall not steal your client’s money and use it to buy a yacht (I know- I’m bummed about it, too)

But outside of these meetings, I got to see a very different perspective of what life is like on the other side of the country. For starters, there’s a lot more barbacue. But more importantly, it helped me realize some of the moderately rediculous social norms of us East-Coast centirists, the things we can change to improve our communication skills overall. Like adding more pulled pork to the menu.

here are the top three things you can learn about business and social relations by taking a step into the West:

1. Smiles are nice, but wishing them that they have a nice day while opening the door and smiling is better.

Courtesy is something that many East-Coasters like myself tend to take for granted; it’s almost as though we are driven by our desire to fulfill our own needs that we often times tend to downgrade our acts of kindness towards others. If there’s one thing Texas has taught me, it is that there is no restiction to how kind you can be. You must look outside of yourself to give those around you the “full package”- positive thoughts will translate to more positive feelings and in turn a larger extension of kindness to yourself and those around you.

2. If somebody is being overtly kind, it does not mean that they are trying to lure you in to kick you under the bus

A stranger with a drink cooler comes up to you and offers you a lemonade.

What do you do?

If you are from Texas, you ask them about their business promotion. If you are from the East Coast, you assume they are trying to poison you, most likely giving them a nice serving of death-stare as you power-walk in the other directon.

“Freebies? Random stranger being friendly to me? RUN!”

Us East-coasters, having a stranger tolerance level somewhere in the negative level, automatically assume that anything or anyone that seems to kind or cheery is always a secret plot to stalk us and strike us down after they break into our homes and steal our children.

More than once, I had kind people start talking to me with limited effort on my part. And get this- it’s almost like they are genuinely interested in you. Now that’s impressive.

3. No, hugging and respectful physical contact will not give you a life-threatening neurovirus

One thing that shocked me- Texans actually show one another their affection in public. And I don’t mean PDA here, ladies and gentlemen, I mean like friends casually hugging. Whoa.

In the South people just seem to be a lot less guarded about their kind feelings for one another, and they actually express it not only verbally, but through gentle gestures like pas on the back and hugs. Although the Boston area is not necessarily the most touchy-feely, it’s better than those New Yorkers whom I am sure you know, who are the equivalent of hugging a prickly pear cactus.

“Aww it just looks so huggable, don’t you think so?”

East Coasters seem to generally have  an allergy towards a lack of personal space bubbles, making close encounter excusions, like the MBTA, a challenge in itself.

These rules are not only applicable to social relations, but to business as well. I am by no means asking you to give your boss a gut-wrenching bear hug when you walk into worl tomorrow morning, but I am advocating to make kind, genuine behavior a common facet of the intrpersonal marketing and business experience.

Well, what do y’all think?

Wanna hear a joke? Freshman Interns!

May 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Summer’s here already, and honestly I’m shocked this year went by so quickly.

So my next order of business now? To find an internship to carry my time over the summer and avoiding the all-too familiar summer lazies- definition; doing jack squat with more than three months of freedom.

I already have a number of offers, including a small B-to-B company and an even smaller start-up, however what I really want is a big-time internship at either Arnold or Jack Morton Worldwide. If you are familiar with the marketing world these are two North-Eastern based companies based in the U.S who have global accounts and reputations.

so what’s holding me back? Enter: being a college Freshman

more than a few companies are Freshman intolerant, meaning they take a single look at my resume, see my graduationyear, and proceed to laugh in my face.

Image credit: Wikia

“let’s take a look at this here: participation in a Senior capstone class, participation in a national marketing event hosted by AAF, wow you look pretty cut out for this position. What’s this? Graduation year 2015? AHAHAH. No.”

And it’s not like it’s happened once, either

It’s happened at least FOUR times

So what’s an overly ambitious freshman like me to do? Be persistent like no other.

I am convinced that one company had had enough of me when I happened to meet their recruiter in person at an internship fair. Our conversation went something like this:

“Hello! Are you a [company X] representitive?”

“Yes I am. What can I do for you?”

“Well I have been trying to get in touch with you guys for the past three weeks because I would love to intern at your company!”

“you’re that Freshman, right?”

“uh- what?”

“I’m the company intern recruiter, and you called and emailed me”

“oh really? Good to meet you in person!”

“Okay, well we don’t hire Freshmen”

“not even if they have the experience of a seasoned Junior?”

“not really” 

“I’m a member of the American Advertising Federation, I’m a business owner (willeditforcoffee.com, by the way- check it out!), I have designed an entire campaign for the student activist group Students Against T Cuts, I have a minor fashion line, I  …”

“good day, Melanie”

“er…lovely to meet you, too”

 

does anyone else see something wrong with this?

If you are the head of a big-shot marketing company, I will gladly stick my neck out for you. As long as you provide me with lots of real-world opportunities and root beer.

-Mel

 

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