The 5 Pleasures of Mom 2.0

by Melissa on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 in brand | food/bev | loyalty | Marketing | media | moms | travel - (0 Comments)

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Mom 2.0 with 500+ bloggers, brands and yes, a few brave men.  Why was it a pleasure of an experience?  Let me count the ways.

1.       I had the opportunity to make authentic connections with like-minded individuals from around the country. This includes bloggers and brands like Bissell and Starbucks and those in between.
Confession: I am 100% obsessed with a certain brand’s steam mop.View

2.       Spending time with people you typically only interact with electronically is invaluable.  (Great to see you Meagan Francis!)

3.       Ideas, ideas, ideas!  From Raising America’s Shark-Tank style pitchfest to Dove’s fabulosity, I came back with tons of ideas, not only for clients but for Peppercomm.

4.       Did I mention the fabulous accommodations, view and event staff at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel?

5.       Watching the Mom 2.0 Summit evolve over the years and truly adapt to the current marketing environment and participants needs shows that Laura Mayes and crew really get it.

Angels in the Brand World?

by Maggie on Monday, May 20th, 2013 in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

haloAs a semi-lapsed Irish Catholic, my memories of halos are all stained glass windows and guardian angels. But, as you will see in my recent guest post to RepMan, halos have been finding their way into consumer brand and reputation conversations that go well beyond by Blessed Sacrament upbringing.

So what is this sought after halo effect and what can marketers do about it?  Read on for more on  Angels in the Brand World.


The Courage of Vision

by Jessica Sieff on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

1_rosie_the_riveter_flexing_her_arm_muscles_we_can_do_itIs there something to be seen in nothing? Is value inherent despite conditions? Have you ever found yourself asking those questions when stuck in the middle of a challenge? You have to create interest around a product with nothing specifically new or groundbreaking to speak of… You have a client that is stuck in the unfortunate reality of a struggling industry.

If you’re going through anything like that, these might be some of the questions you’re pondering. And if so, the answers may take something more than just creativity. They’re going to take vision.

Vision is seeing something in the nothing – and seeing it all the way through.

We’re quick to brandish our courage when it comes to our convictions but what about our vision? Cue the anecdote … When I was a kid, I remember watching an educational video about the World War II war effort that included clips of the Rosies who riveted and man and women on assembly lines in factories all across the country.

Those images defined “work” to me growing up. In my mind, it couldn’t get any better than blue collar and back yard barbecues on a suburban street.

Growing up in Michigan, seeing men and women on those lines was commonplace. We live in the city of Ford and GM and Chrysler. Even if you’re on the west coast of the state, cuddling up to the Windy City, there’s a sense of pride that comes from being born in the state that took the country by wheels and road.

Years later, a new picture of Detroit would emerge. Its downtown was virtually abandoned. Larger than life architectural structures stood gutted. Windows were broken out and the only thing filling old offices – natural light.

Now, all eyes are on Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans who wants to bring Detroit’s downtown back to life one business at a time. In a recent article for the Times, Gilbert’s quest to bring consumers, residents, workers and businesses back to downtown Detroit. It will be a mighty undertaking but what drew my attention to this story was the idea of vision.

It’s one thing to look at a blank canvas and imagine impressionism or the abstract. It’s another to look at something that has already been deconstructed into the dismal, broken down into blight and see possibility.

It’s the kind of thinking that leads to reinvention. The next time you’re stuck at an impasse or there seems to be no value in what you’re looking at. Take a walk, clear your mind and look again. You may just be on the verge of a new image, a new campaign a new destination for the task at hand.

Kids at Work

by Melissa on Friday, April 26th, 2013 in children | CSR | media | moms | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, launched nationally by Parade.  I am fortunate enough to work for an organization that not only understands work/life balance but embraces it. To mark the occasion, we had a group of six children in the office ranging from infants to age seven. Interestingly, they were all girls.   Check out a few photos here thanks to PRWeek.

As I commuted into the city with my twin girls, many commented on the huge number of youngsters on the train.  And while Peppercomm’s group happened to be all female – as did many on the train, the majority of thosOur Kids @ Worke commenting assumed it was Take Our Daughters to Work Day.  I wondered why that was. Is it simply because more women tend to participate and happen to have daughters who join them? Or do we think that girls will be more engaged (read: behave better)?

As part of their coverage, Parade, the magazine that launched this tradition nationally, published a story about Jackie DiMarco, Ford’s lead engineer on the F-150 pickup.  Jackie happens to be a woman and have twin daughters. She uses the day to encourage her daughters’ interest in math and science, and I hope, to dispel the ongoing stereotype that girls (and women) are not as interested or as talented in these fields of work.

The article focused on her rise in this particularly male dominated field where some have assumed prior to meeting her that she would be male and others have assumed that she would be more understanding of family commitments than a male manager would. Her response? Why would you think that?

Bravo to Parade for focusing in on what continues to be an issue in the workplace even though many believe it’s not.

Special thanks to Peppercomm’s culture committee for making this a meaningful experience (and truth be told, wrangling cats!).

An UBER Experience

by Catharine Cody on Friday, April 26th, 2013 in technology - (0 Comments)


Guest Blog by Kaitlin Miller


uberYesterday, I attended the 2nd annual NY Tech Day, the world’s largest startup event. The event is comprised of entrepreneurs exhibiting their startups to thousands of consumers, investors, first adopters, job-seekers, major companies, press and media. The booth activations for most all of the companies had very minimal company signage, no giveaways (other than food and candy) and in order to comprehend the company you had to talk to the founders.

While I was not impressed by most and wondered who would be around next year, one company stood out above the rest.  UBER, who market’s themself as Everyone’s Private Driver, had brand ambassadors who knew the company, signage describing the company and – best of all – they were giving away $20 gift cards towards your first UBER ride.

Although I had heard of UBER before NY Teach Day, after seeing them yesterday I actually decided to use the service for the first time last night. Maybe it was because I had my $20 gift card, but I am convinced I used them because I now trusted UBER and actually believed I was getting a private/profession driver to take to dinner (which I did).

The UBER app shows you the closet available driver (typically between 5-9 minutes from your pick-up location). You set pick up location and in a pre-set amount of time a black car will show up and take you to your destination.  Not only can you track your driver’s location, but you will even get a text when you driver is outside so you do not have to stand on the side of the street.

Using UBER was much faster and way more convenient than a cab and the driver I had was super professional. Although you do pay a premium to use UBER’s service (it cost me $18 to go from Herald Square to the Ainsworth on Park) when there are no yellow taxis in site it is very useful.


Reading the Signs

by Rebecca on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 in loyalty | Marketing | retail - (0 Comments)

Guest Post by Sam Ford

datavisionA few months back on a trip to New York City, I was standing in line at DataVision, heralded by City Guide NYC as “practically a New York City landmark,” when I eyed this laminated decree, posted next to the counter. It declares: “CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IS OUR GOAL!” IN ALL CAPS. And an exclamation point to boot.

Right under it, also in all caps…and highlighted is…ABSOLUTELY NO REFUNDS. DataVision may have had a range of issues that led to their “no refund” policy. But it seems it seems an odd thing to highlight if their top goal is, as stated, to achieve “customer satisfaction.”

I was reminded of that sign this week when I saw this Consumerist story from Chris Morran with a sign of its own. In this case, a specialty grocery store is charging $5 to anyone who comes into the store to look at products but then doesn’t make a purchase, for fear that they are looking at their store and then buying the products elsewhere.
Chris points out that, if the store’s prices are competitive, this shouldn’t be happening and that, if they have products not found elsewhere that people want, then it couldn’t happen, anyway. Most importantly, Chris asks us to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. If you were a new potential customer, would you ever want to go into the store to check it out, if walking through the door would cost you $5?

I’d take it a step further, though. If you were a regular of this grocery shop, what message does this sign send? A company that distrusts you. A company not confident in its offerings. And a strong deterrent to ever “swing by” the store again, if you’re just passing through.

I can’t help but wonder if either of these stores thought beyond the immediate economic benefit of their policies and into the message those signs send to the people who walk into their stores. If not, they may find out the hard way, when their sign eventually reads:



Sam Ford is Director of Digital Strategy with Peppercomm and co-author of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. He’s also a contributor to Fast Company.

Maybe Spring is in the air, or I’v288_a73bca5126_gallerye just been lucky, but customer service has been on the uptick in my life.

Take last Friday.  Headed to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway and of course I leave my tickets on my desk.  Of course, it was Friday and a holiday, so no dice on a messenger.  And truth be told, I did not want to give up my pre-even cocktail or be late for the curtain in order to make the trek back.

Enter the manager and staff from Blue Fin restaurant, one of the many delicious restaurants that are part of the BRGuest group.  As a pre-theater hot-spot getting a managers attention at 7pm would seem like a challenge and a big ask.  However, in this case the staff quickly got me help, provided me an email address and the manager (thanks David) went and printed my tickets out.  Seems simple, yes, but not expected.

And I think that is the key here.  A busy restauntant in Times Square is often too busy to stop and consider customer service, and sometimes a part of a larger restaurant group doesn’t think they have the same skin in the game as a sole proprietorship.  By taking the time they not only made my night, but helped BRGuest stand out.

So many restaurant groups and brands do a good – if not overbearing – job on mass marketing once you are signed up.  But a lot fall short on the experience when you walk through the door.  And it is the complete experience, not just one channel that matters.  While leaving tickets for a show may not be common customer issue, taking the time to solve it is a great customer relationship builder.  Brands can learn here it’s not just the draw in, or the sale (let’s face it, I was on my second drink when the tickets showed up), but the cross channel experience that keeps people talking and coming back.

Thanks again Blue Fin & BRGuest… don’t mind if I do.

Shared Responsibility: The New CSR

by Rebecca on Friday, March 29th, 2013 in CSR | loyalty - (2 Comments)
St. Louis Panera Bread cafes have been testing a 'pay what you can' model for several years

St. Louis Panera Bread cafes have been testing a ‘pay what you can’ model for several years

Did you know that there are five Panera Bread cafes in St. Louis that will allow you to pay whatever price you wish for some turkey chili (in a bread bowl, no less!)? And that they’ve been doing this for three years? Now, the national chain – which is based in St. Louis – is bringing this concept to all of its 48 locations in the St. Louis region. Patrons who order the chili (suggested price $5.89, including tax) can pay whatever they wish and all above-cost proceeds go right back to the community, funding St. Louis hunger initiatives.

Panera implies that this program shares the responsibility of addressing hometown hunger. It sounds like it’s effective: the head of its foundation (Panera Bread Foundation) estimates that 60 percent of customers continue to pay the listed menu price, and the remaining 40 percent is split between customers who pay less, and those who pay more. What a great way to involve consumers – with very little effort from the consumer.

The company does not promote this in their communication efforts. No advertising, no massive PR blitz. As a consumer, it’s music to my ears and makes me want to absolve my love-hate relationship with bread, run immediately to Panera and purchase a turkey chili bread bowl – at full price. As a marketer, however, part of me wonders if Panera might be selling itself a bit short in letting both loyal and lapsed customers about this effort. I don’t eat at Panera on a regular basis, but knowing one opened a few towns over, I’m now more inclined to stop in – even though the pay-what-you-can option isn’t available here in California.

Other brands, such as Yoga to the People in NYC (and Seattle, SF, Arizona….), follow a pay-what-you-can model and attract droves of dedicated followers and brand enthusiasts. One just questions how this model impacts the bottom line. Maybe that’s not all that matters for these brands. For Panera, it appears to be here for the long-haul and I have no doubt their brand will, too.

aboutyoupicThis is a tale of my love for two men. As an old fashioned journalist (despite my age), I’m almost hardwired to love newspapers. And I do. I love them. And I love Warren Buffett. I love him for loving newspapers and being one of the rare few left around here who sees the medium’s viability. In fact, if Warren Buffett is reading this – Warren, call me.

“News, to put it simply, is what people don’t know that they want to know. And people will seek their news — what’s important to them — from whatever sources provide the best combination of immediacy, ease of access, reliability, comprehensiveness and low cost,” Buffett is quoted as saying.

Everything about our lives today points in the direction of not just a trend – but an actual societal need to connect to our communities. Whether those communities are defined by a zip code or a cultural interest doesn’t matter. It seems as though we are all desperate for communication with each other and just because there are so many social media channels for this – doesn’t mean they all fulfill our needs for the information that matters most.

For communities that do fall within a certain zip code, newspapers are the source of those matters: the state of our children’s education, where our taxes go, the public safety of our neighbors. When the act of sitting down and digesting the roundup of a city council meeting is lost for good – that’s when we’ll see a breakdown of local governing institutions.

Now… I also love Patrick Cummings.

Patrick Cummings is the editor of a new tablet magazine called Evolve by Again Faster Equipment. CrossFitters will be familiar with the Again Faster brand. If you’re not a CrossFitter, you may not find this magazine of interest enough to subscribe – but the first issue is free and I highly suggest you check it out.

Evolve is everything a tablet magazine should be. It’s a blend of focused writing, strong imagery, audio and video. Read about a female athlete who is redefining strength in her community and then click on the icon to the left to hear her tell more of her story in her own voice. Read about the effects of community inspired athletics like CrossFit on the brain. Watch one athlete tell his story of finding redemption after two years in a state correctional facility.

Where Evolve gets it right is by creating a balance between the arts of letters and images. It’s a unique experience that seems made for the tablet – unlike those who are trying to adapt their current publications and end up with a scanned magazine you flip through.

Traditional forms of media can live on new digital platforms – but it takes starting from scratch with the same mission.

I can love a newspaper that smells like ink and run to my tablet when I know a certain publication is waiting for me to download the latest issue. I’m in love with two formats. And there should be more people like me, I say.

I admit I am a sucker for every points and gold club out there.  From my United Airlines status to the Starwood Preferred Points to Hertz Gold, I am constantly chasing the perks where I can get them, I mean who wouldn’t.  But this past Friday, an unexpected perk (potentially not eveimagen tied to my membership) totally surprised me AND made me a Hertz renter for life.

Here is the story.  Twenty minutes till flight leaves Dallas Fort Worth, just spent 90 minutes on a 20 minute drive due to an accident on the highway, and pull up into a huge line at Hertz Returns.  Sounds pretty bleak, right?  Well not that day (thanks girl at DFW Hertz).  When I pulled up my boss and I told the woman directing cars that we were potentially going to miss our flights.  She sprung into action, telling us to not even take our bags out of the trunk and to get back in the car; she would drive us to our gates. Unexpected and unbelievable. And we both made out flights thanks to Hertz.

When I dug further I found that this practice is a Hertz commitment and something that is not advertised but communicated as needed.  I guess people would take advantage if it was common practice.  But last Friday, when I needed it most, it was truly a brand practice that was all about me.