Friday, September 26, 2008

Amway Partners With Tina Turner: Mobile Marketing Is Simply the Best

This week, I had the privilege of feasting my eyes on Amway Global's Mobile Brand Experience.

It's one thing to read the description, and a whole different deal to see the Artistry motor coach and the Nutrilite semi-trailer up close and personal.

The Artistry vehicle is like a mini Artistry Beauty Institute. The products are nicely displayed along the walls, with salon chairs in the back, ready to pamper visitors.

right side of motor coach

back of motor coach

left side of motor coach

The Nutrilite vehicle is a whopping 1,000 square feet, modeled after Nutrilite's Center for Optimal Health. Inside it looks like a multi-media bountiful farm.

right side of semi-trailer

back right side of semi-trailer

left side of semi-trailer

I found out that Bob, a gentleman I met in January at Nutrilite in California, will be on the road with the semi-trailer. He is super knowledgeable, super passionate about health, and super entertaining!

Bob holding up the tablet of Double X we created.

The 20+ plant concentrates that we used make Nutrilite's flagship supplement, Double X.

And where will the vehicles be? For the next couple of months, they will be traveling across the country for the Tina Turner Concert Tour, which starts on October 1st in Kansas City.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Letters to Matt" - Part Three

The next day, I went to Paper Source to get a binder or scrapbook or some kind of book thing, and I completely changed my idea of how I was going to present this gift because I was finding nothing that was matching the nebulous picture I had in my head.

One of the happy workers suggested that I make the binder scrapbook book thing I had in mind. Yeah, I really had time and patience for that!

I decided to present the letters as letters. Loose. In a beautiful portfolio on beautiful paper.

I hurried home and printed out the letters before getting the kids at school.

Thirty-one letters.

9,700+ words.

After the kids were tucked in to bed, I sat Matt down and explained that I had a birthday gift for him and apologized for the tardiness.

I handed him the portfolio, he opened it up, and read the title page,

“Letters to Matt—a celebration of your 40th birthday”.

I said a few words, and then shut up.

He held the portfolio in his lap and didn't move. He was stunned. Speechless. Rather than look through the pages, he asked me who they were from. It was as if the pieces of paper were too precious to handle.

Letter writing...a quickly vanishing art form. Oh how precious is that ink on that paper.

He was experiencing that pull between wanting to devour the letters and wanting to savor each and every word.

As he sat mesmerized, I quietly got up from the couch and left him alone for the rest of the night.
Periodically, I’d glance over at him. Reading, taking it all in, stopping, walking away, coming back, resuming, reading, taking it all in, and repeating the process several times.

He sent me an email the next day, a simple “P.S. I’m still reeling from that wonderful gift.”

I am too.

Thank you everyone. Thank you.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Letters to Matt" - Part Two

In the middle of the following day, I remembered about my little project and thought I’d see if anyone had responded. I was SO excited when two people had already emailed their letters. Hot diggity!

The next several weeks were hard because I normally share my enthusiasm for things with Matt. I’d find myself ready to blurt out, “Oh I got another letter today!”, and then realizing, “Oh yeah, that’s right, he doesn’t know about that.” When you have zero secrets with someone, even keeping a “good” secret is a bit unnerving.

The deadline came, and I had twenty-something letters sitting in my designated email inbox. Then a few days after the deadline, I had three people ask if it was too late. No! A few days after that, two more people sent theirs in.

So now I had all these letters, which I hadn’t looked at, done anything with in those six weeks. Just let them “pile up”.

Now I was like, “Okay, you’ve GOT to finish what you started.” The task seemed daunting.

Thankfully, I had my aunt to help me talk through how the final product should look.

Questions like:
Should every letter have its own page, even if it’s a short letter? (yes)
Should everything be in the same font? (no, font choices are like handwriting)
How should the letters be organized? (by categories—family, friends, colleagues)
Should there be anything that unifies the letters? (same margins and same paper)
Should I edit/correct anything? (spelling, but not syntax or grammatical stuff)

I waited for Matt to go to bed, and I got to work. This was the first time that I read any of the letters, and I had to keep stopping. They were so thoughtful, so wonderful, so rich, so overwhelming.

All the different voices, different perspectives. And yet common themes, similar observations of who Matt is, from his friend he’s had since they played in a sandbox together, to his newest colleague, and everyone in between.

I remember thinking, “Okay Bridgett, this is Matt’s gift. You cannot freak out and upstage his gift with your blubbering emotions. Remember to have restraint and leave him alone to experience all of this.”

To be continued in my next post

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Letters to Matt" - Part One

What do you get a guy for his 40th birthday who really isn’t a gift kind of guy?

How do I acknowledge a milestone birthday for my husband, when a lavish surprise birthday party isn’t in the cards since most of his friends and family live out of the state and even out of the country, leading filled-to-the-brim lives?

How do I pay tribute to my boyfriend of nineteen years? What would be meaningful to him?

The idea came to me about six months ago, kind of out of the blue, when I was doing dishes or something mundane. Since Matt is a writer and loves, loves, loves the written word, what if I had significant people in his life each write him a letter marking his 40th birthday?

For many years, Matt has paid tribute to his friends and family by writing true stories, in newspaper form, about them. He even started to offer his services to those he didn’t know, as an amazing keepsake with "Your Front Page".

Knowing that I would absolutely do a terrible job if I tried to imitate Matt’s brainchild, I decided to let everyone else do the writing!

Originally, the goal was to have the gift completed by Matt’s birthday, which was almost two months ago. But at about the time I was going to break in to his laptop for email addresses and send out the request for submissions, Matt’s dad fell ill and his health rapidly declined.

Matt flew down to Florida and spent the last few days with his dad before his dad left for heaven on May 29th. No one knew just how gravely ill his dad was, as evident by this Father’s Day tribute Matt had written three weeks earlier, which was published just two days before his dad moved on.

Life was immediately different in our home after that, and I thought about abandoning my gift idea. But rather than abandon it, I surrendered to the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen in the time frame I planned, but that it was still worth doing.

So I sneaked out of bed on the eve of his birthday, gathered email addresses from his laptop, set up a separate “LetterstoMatt@” email account for people to secretly send their submissions, and I sent out emails to about 65 friends, family, and colleagues explaining my vision for the gift and giving a five-week deadline (which was extended another week since we ended up being on vacation on the original date).

It was 2 am, there was no turning back, I had no idea what to expect, didn't know who'd respond, how they'd respond, and therefore hadn't really worked out all the details regarding the final product.

I crawled in to bed, hugged my slumbering husband, and prayed to God that people would be inspired and I left it all in His hands.

To be continued in my next post…

Monday, September 8, 2008

Reality Check

The other day, I was having a mini-rant about having to make dinner for the umpteenth time, having to bring the car in for an oil change, having to do my gazillionth load of laundry, and having to do a bunch of paperwork for the new school year for the kids.

Later that day, my five-year old daughter was having a mini-fit about having to clean up her table before starting a new project.

My words to her were, “Why are you fighting reality? This is life. It is what it is. If you are going to fight reality, you are going to be one very frustrated little girl, and waste a lot of energy in the process.”

As has happened many, many, MANY times since giving birth to my boy and girl five years ago, the words I said to my daughter rang loudly. The words weren’t for her, they were for me.

Why was I fighting reality? The things I was ranting about are my responsibility.

Since then, I’ve started to make a list--kind of like you’d have if you were starting a new job and needed to know what your position entailed.

Actually, a few lists: As a wife, a mom, a keeper of the home, a business owner, a daughter, etc.

I list my responsibilities and a plan of action to fill those responsibilities for each role.

Some are easy to define, like providing good healthy and tasty meals and snacks for my family.

Some responsibilities may seem a little intangible, such as to honor, respect, and support my husband.

But then I’ve challenged myself in thinking what would that look like in action? As an example, walking away when talking to me, or rolling my eyes, or interrupting him, or not making a certain um, activity, a high priority, or acting like he’s really putting me out when he makes a simple request, are ways of not honoring, nor respecting, nor supporting him.

I’m not done with my plan of action. But one thing that became really is hard. Living a purpose-driven life takes focus, planning, and work.

I think I had been fighting that reality. Life is hard, but it sure is worth it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Why American Express Has My Loyalty

About two and a half years ago, we got a Gold American Express Card. They were offering a bunch of points (50,000) and waiving the annual fee for a year. As they say…”It was an offer we couldn’t refuse.”

Though there were great benefits that came with the Gold Card, they were currently unnecessary for us and our lifestyle, so the $125 annual fee was not a good investment. But we really liked the customer service of AmEx. So after the “free” year was up, we continued patronizing AmEx and switched to a Small Business Card.

Yesterday was another reminder of why we really like that company.

I got an email the day after our bill was due. A thoughtfully written email, basically saying, “Hey you didn’t pay your bill and it was due yesterday.”

I was in a panic and we immediately called them to pay over the phone.

This is what I love about AmEx: Not only did they waive all fees for paying 24 hours late, but they didn’t act like it was some huge favor they were doing us.

We have years and years of pre-AmEx experience with other card companies, and the difference of how this phone call went is like night and day.

The woman on the phone looked at our account, saw what great customers we are, realized that this (paying late) was a fluke (my excuse was that I was so wrapped up with the kid’s first week of Kindergarten that I forgot to schedule the payment online, like I normally do) and kindly took care of it all in less than two minutes.

In a world which lacks great customer service, common courtesy and genuine people skills, the employees of American Express are a breath of fresh air.

And it's smart business.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Artistry - True Science - True Beauty

In my previous post, I laid out my background in and respect for the world of advertising--as well as the irresponsible abuse and misuse of advertising that some engage in. My case in point was a L'Oreal ad and a Garnier Nutrlitioniste ad and website, touting "clinical studies" to make sketchy claims about their products.

Any company seeking to use science--legitimately and ethically--to help sell their product, I recommend they take a lesson from Artistry.

The company, one of the top five selling prestige brands in the world (according to Euromonitor), employs clinical studies in the right way.

This Artistry ad shows a silicone skin replica, which is thoughtfully explained as an actual impression of the skin used to measure improvement in the number and depth of fine lines. Based on that replica, the ad then lays out objective proof of this product's effectiveness:

Artistry Time Defiance Intensive Repair Serum, based on the measurements of this silicone skin replica, shows that in 14 days it:

Improves skin clarity by 261%
Reduces the appearance of fine lines by 99%
Improves the skin smoothness by 83%

The scientifically based data are more than a few cuts above the subjective opinions rendered by women in the L'Oreal ad and on the Garnier' Nutritioniste website.

In addition, companies would do well to stand behind their products as Artistry does.

The company backs every one of its products with a 180-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. That’s six whole months.

So even if after using an Artistry product, a customer finds it doesn’t meet her standards for whatever reason, she gets all her money back.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ad Claims, Bad Claims

I grew up in the Ad World. My mom was a rep for photographers, illustrators, and commercial film directors. Her husband was a creative director for one of the top ad agencies in the world (Foote, Cone & Belding) before opening up his own shop along One Mag Mile in Chicago.

I did voiceovers, jingles, print ads, and commercials from the tender age of ten.

It’s a world that is fun, exciting, and highly creative.

The Oscars of the ad world are known as the Clio Awards and can be more entertaining than those who strut along The Red Carpet.

It’s a fascinating industry, watching how one builds a brand, crafts an image of a product or service or company, communicates their “story,” and provokes emotion from their audience.

Having said all that, it ticks me off when advertisers puke all over that world with misleading junk.

Case in point:

This L'Oreal ad uses graphs in order to paint a picture of their products' effectiveness.

And look! There’s a “clinical study” to back up their claims. Oh wait, what’s that little (*) mean? Hmm, let’s see…oh, here it is in tiny print, laid out vertically, to force you to turn the magazine sideways to make it out: “Based on consumer evaluations of 38 women using the lotion and 43 women using the serum and lotion.”

Since when did consumer evaluations become a clinical study? Were the forms presented on a clipboard from guys wearing lab coats?

What is this ad really saying? It’s saying that:

in their opinion, 28 of 43 women believed their skin looked younger,
in their opinion, 35 of 43 women believed their skin looked stronger (just what does "stronger-looking skin" look like?)
in their opinion, 26 of 43 women believed their skin looked brighter.

Here's another ad from Garnier Nutritioniste. Their fine print to back up their "clinically proven" claim just states "Based on a clinical study". If you go to their website, buried, is their study.

"Clinically tested and reviewed by dermatoligists and nutritionalists" (What does this mean?)

"In 3 weeks: Skin is radiant, fine lines are visibly reduced and women saw more even-toned skin." (How radiant? How much reduced? Women saw?)

In my next post: my advice to any company seeking to use science--legitimately and ethically--to help sell their product.