FREE isn’t always free

Everything comes with a price – whether tangible in the form of monetary exchange or an intangible like service quality and follow-up.

So before you jump all over a free product or service, think of what you have to give in exchange. It could be your contact details (meaning more spam), a decrease in quality (you want on-time delivery? Good luck) or after sales service (you are seen as one transaction, don’t expect after sales care from us!).

Free isn’t always free.


Get the Basics Right: Correct Your Bad Handwriting



Can you read that?

I spent the past day working through a list of handwritten emails for a client event and am appalled, blown-away, mind-blasted(?) by the really sh*tty handwriting a lot of people have. Excuse my language but why can’t people write with a pen/pencil anymore?

There were a good 20% of people that made me guess at their handwriting, so imagine them trying to write a memo at work on a sticky note. Sure, you can argue that a lot of things can just be printed on the computer now, but because nice handwriting is so rare nowadays (given our lack or practice being on our phones or gadgets all the time) that I get complimented for my neat handwriting every time I am at a meeting. Without fail. Every time. 

Do you think my clients would remember me as the girl with the neat handwriting? Probably not, but I guarantee you it’s a great plus to have. Clear writing correlates with clear thinking, and you can argue that people don’t believe in that…but what if you came across a client that did and your job depended on it? A good business person wouldn’t leave that to chance.

So get the basics right, pick up a pen, write a note, and see if your friend can read your writing. 

MYTH BUSTED: Is A Sale Is Just A Sale?


So my friend and I were having a conversation the other day (while watching Shark Tank), on whether a sale is just that, just a sale. 

Somehow the topic came upon the rumor of how the Abercrombie and Fitch CEO made comments about how he does not want poor people wearing his clothes. This spurred an individual, Greg Karber, to buy Abercrombie and Fitch clothing from thrift stores and hand them out to homeless people on the streets. So in a sense, you can say that Abercrombie had made a sale – right?

My friend then said: “Well, a sale is a sale. If you go buy a cheeseburger and throw it on the floor because it sucks and you don’t eat it, it’s still a sale.” 

I would like to argue that in both of these cases, seeing these as just a sale would make the whole process transactional and short-sighted. 

  1. Though Abercrombie and Fitch probably deserved that for the comments they made, the sale that was made is probably detrimental to their brand.
  2. Same goes for the burger chain. If the burger sucks the first time, do you think the customer would come back for more?

Both cases come to show that sales is a relationship building opportunity that YOU have with your clients to make them repeat customers. Your best prospect for tomorrow’s sales are today’s clients – so you want each and every experience to delight them. So a sale is not just a sale, it’s an experience that lasts in the memory of your customer (and determines whether or not they will spend more with you).

On Education: We Encourage Too Much Dreaming, Not Enough Doing


I have been a teaching assistant for market research, market analysis, and a range of other marketing classes for students for over 7 years (yikes! It’s been that long). From what I have experienced both myself as a student when I was an undergraduate, and from what I am seeing now from the other side as a company that works with students on guided projects, I have to say that education, in its current state, encourages too much dreaming and not enough doing. (For those of you wondering about the unicorn, I chose the photo because I’m pretty sure students see the real world as rainbows and unicorns right now and are pretty shielded from the potential hardship of building a career.)

Think about the projects you have been asked to work on while you were in school. You never had to prove that your ideas actually worked in the real world. I can’t count the number of times students have come up with a “sky’s the limit” marketing idea, only to blank out when questioned on the reality of their “conservative” financials. We have not taught them to implement. 

For any entrepreneur who has actually built a business from the ground up – by this I mean you had a plan, incorporated a company, got actual customers through the door, broke even, became profitable, hired staff, etc. you KNOW that the idea is 1% of the business; the remaining 99% is our sweat, blood and tears.

So why do we get stuck on teaching that 1% instead of the 99%, which is more relevant to what students will experience in the real world? Imagine if we asked students to come up with a business and actually implement the idea? That they would be graded on the actual sales results of whatever their campaign generated? They would definitely learn a whole different set of skills than just entering financials into excel and making a pretty powerpoint. 

So to all educators out there, whether you are a professor, teacher, teaching assistant, or whomever you may be who may have an influence on the next generation of students…teach that 99% – they will need it to survive in the real world.

Why You Should Exercise Caution When You Are Reading Research Studies/Reports


We are always reading articles that quote statistics from various studies conducted by well-known research companies. For those of who have ever taken an introduction to market research course, it’s obvious that you should exercise caution when you are reading research studies and reports.

The gist? Garbage in, garbage out. A lot of the studies either lack a proper set of controls, or just choose research candidates who aren’t representative of the “population” that they are trying to extrapolate to, or worse yet, they simply selectively report statistics that make their article look favourable.

This brings me to the article that inspired this post. A VentureBeat article says that Tumblr’s value to advertisers [is] undervalued by as much as 450%. This is definitely an interesting statistic, since there were a few behaviors I noticed in my own social media engagement (and in the report charts) that made me question that statistic. 

  1. I have made the switch from Tumblr to Pinterest. I strongly believe that Pinterest is an improved version of Tumblr on steroids, allowing a user to consume 8 visually appealing “posts” on one page (not to mention the infinite scrolling which keeps me stuck to my laptop for hours on end).
  2. They say Tumblr is a HUGE influence on eventual purchases. From the chart provided, it seems like the current statistics show otherwise, where Tumblr’s first and last click (meaning the first time a user is aware of the product and the last click is the one that leads to the purchase of the product) trails behind those of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. So is this report merely speculation? 

Do any of you use Tumblr (or have used it)? Do you still use it or have you switched?  Do you think it is being as drastically undervalued as the research claims?

Do they know who you are?


Have you ever wondered that?

If you are fantastic in the retail industry, do you think people outside of the industry would know?

So what happens when you want to break into the industry?

Case in point. One of my clients is trying to break into a new industry and reach a new demographic they have never done business with. When you look at their brand within their own industry, they are one of the leading brands; however, when you take a skip and a hop outside of their industry, I can confidently say that less than 5% of people in the new target market would know their brand or have any brand recall.

So what needs to be done when you want the attention of this new target market?

My client’s solution. Slap their brand on marketing collateral, post it everywhere.

My (proposed) solution. Have our brand logo and tagline on the marketing collateral in addition to having content that describes concrete achievements in our industry and how it’s relevant to the new target market.

Unfortunately the client proceeded without integrating my suggestions and it comes as no surprise that the initiative has been faced with mediocre results. I am not saying that by integrating my suggestions the initiative would have been stellar, but definitely it would have helped to better define who we are in the eyes of the new target market.

So before you throw yourself (and your brand) into a new market, stop and think, do they already know who you are? If they don’t, make sure to give them a reason to remember you.

Make Your Work Jaw-Dropping Good


I had to pause my workday when I saw the Valentino SS 2014 collection. It’s jaw-dropping, amazing, risk-taking and ultimately paid off in a big way. 

As I was making my way through each photo, I uttered words of disbelief (euphemism for involuntary profanity) and felt my eyes widen and jaw drop at some fantastic pieces. If you can make your work this good, jaw-dropping good, then rest assured you will succeed, in a big way. So make that your standard – jaw-dropping good.