MBA Mommy

Part MBA, Part MRS, Part MOM…..All ME

Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Dilemma

Posted by mbamommy on November 18, 2011

I have a problem.  Well, I think it’s a problem.  Maybe it’s not.  Maybe it’s a dilemma (are those even different?).  See, on one hand, I can’t figure anything out that’s actually wrong with my situation.  But, on the other hand I can’t figure anything out that’s right.  Something’s not quite fitting in my round hole/square peg life.

Wanna hear about it?  Great, I’m glad you asked.

I work part time right now. I work for this amazing company who’s agreed to let me do my job when and where I want to do it.  This is a company that is considered THE thought leader in my industry; one that I’ve admired since I began my career 10 (15!) years ago.  They pretty much have said, “So, what do you want to do?  OK, how about a mix of that and a little of some stuff that isn’t super interesting but needs a capable mind to manage it?  Yes?  OK great!  Now, how much do you charge?  OK, that’ll work.  Here’s your deadline.  Send the work in by then.  Thanks so much for the help and let me know if you have any questions.”

I am still able to do kidlet drop off and pick up.  I can still take Z to his therapy appointments.  I can still run errands and go grocery shopping.  I can still (in theory if not in actual practice) go to the gym.  And I am contributing to the family checking account.  I have one foot in the business world and one foot in MBAMommy-land.

Perfect, right?

And then this amazing company invites me to attend and work at their conference.  Again, this is THE conference for my industry.  One that I’ve wanted to attend since I began my career 10 (15!) years ago.  So, they fly me to a warm place, put me up in a gorgeous hotel and give me a job that’s fairly mindless but allows me to watch all the presentations for 3 days.  I don’t really have a whole lot of responsibility, especially compared to my counterparts working the registration booth and speaking with clients and being the collective face of the company.  I can just sit back, relax, and watch things unfold.  Hell, I even have time to go to the gym almost everyday.  No kids, little responsibility and warm weather for an entire week.

Perfect, right?

Seriously, how could I ask for more?

And therein lies my dilemma.  I don’t have a lot of responsibility.  I don’t have to be in front of the client.  I have one foot in the business world and one foot in MBAMommy-land.  And I sit back and I watch major events unfolding on both sides.  While sitting on the sidelines.

Back at home, poor J is dealing with one illness after another.  Before I left, Z had strep and croup and I was sick as a dog, staying in bed trying to get better so I could come to this conference.  So, J comes back from his own business trip and jumps in with 2 feet to take care of all of us.  2 nights before I leave, Z runs downstairs at 9pm to inform us that he’s just swallowed a nail.  And, off to the ER J & Z go.

See the watch pin?  Turns out we didn’t have much to worry about.  But that damn pin didn’t see the light of day until AFTER I’d already left for the conference.  Since I’ve been gone, J’s had to deal with gross kidlet issues from both kids and both ends (‘nuf said).  And, here I am, at this amazing conference, soaking it all in very intellectually.  Sleeping well, working out, eating like a queen and getting to know my co-workers.

Can you say Mama guilt?

But, the issue is more than just Mama guilt.  I’ve found myself in an awkward position here too because of the one foot in, one foot out situation.  The MBA in me is frustrated that I’m not busier, that I don’t have more responsibility, that I’m merely benched and watching everyone else work their magic.  And, when I am confronted with doing the polite chit-chat of getting to know someone professionally, I struggle because I’m most comfortable talking about kids and Asperger’s…..not exactly a hot topic at a business convention.  And, I’ve found it hard to explain my role and my background.  Below is an example of a recent conversation:

Co-Worker: “So, I’ve heard your name before….what is it that you do?”

Me: “Well, I work part time as a project manager, but I also dabble in sales stuff and research stuff and I’ve worked on X and Y and Z.  But, really I’m also a stay at home Mom to 2 kids that are in school full time.  My older one has Asperger’s so I can’t really go back to work full time because he still needs someone to drive him to his therapies and neither kid handles a full day with after school care very well.  But, I can work part time while they’re at school and still pick them up when school is over.  Hopefully someday I’ll be able to go back to work full time….”

Versus a similar exchange 5 years ago:

Client: “So, what’s your role at your company?”

Me: “Well, I’m the Director of Client Strategy.  I oversee the account teams and help with strategic direction and business development.”

See the difference?  One is a great elevator pitch.  The other? Ramblings of someone who’s not quite sure of where she stands because she’s got one foot in two distinctly different worlds.

So, I guess my dilemma is this.  In MBAMommy-land, things are perfect.  I’ve found an amazing balance between work and life that I’ve wanted since I had kids.  I’m in a perfect situation with a great company.  I get to experience things I’ve wanted to experience my entire career but don’t necessarily have a lot of skin in the game.  But out in the real world, when i’m confronted face to face with those that have skin in the game, it’s not easily packaged and delivered.  At least not yet.  I’ve got my work cut out for me figuring out this new spot I’m in.

What about you?  Does anyone else out there have this same challenge of explaining the round hole/square peg you live in?

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My Little Mess Maker

Posted by mbamommy on July 7, 2010

About a month ago, I submitted a picture of Petite Syrah to BabyGanics “Mess Maker” contest.  It’s a pretty simple contest.  You upload a pic and then get everyone you know to vote for your kid. They pick monthly winners who receive a box of organic cleaning products.  Here’s the picture I submitted:

Cute, huh?  It was from her first birthday.  She really dug the cake.

Anyway, I promptly forgot all about the contest until the UPS guy delivered a huge box filled with these:

How cool is that?!  I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about cleaning products in my life (more to the point, I don’t think I’ve ever been excited about cleaning products at all).  But, these are green, organic, effective, good smelling…and best of all, FREE!  My only constructive criticism is that it came as a surprise; I didn’t get an email that I had won or a note in the box.  Just a sticker on the outside saying congratulations.  It would’ve been nice to get a head’s up.  But, hey, I’m not one to complain.

And, the timing of the surprise was fitting.  It was dinner time and Petite Syrah had just spilled milk all over herself, the table and the floor.  Perfect time for My Little Mess Maker to get cleaned up!

So, thanks to BabyGanics for the products; they’re already going to good use!

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Swagger Wagon

Posted by mbamommy on May 17, 2010

Pure marketing brilliance.

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Customer Service & Social Media

Posted by mbamommy on April 7, 2010

I’ve been out of the office for about a week and am still digging my way out of emails, which means catching up on my daily trends, recommendations and reviews.  One blog post I came across from eConsultancy struck a cord with me.  It’s an interesting take on how social media can add and/or subtract to your customer service.  Unlike most articles I’ve read recently, this one is saying not to jump all over a complaint but to manage those expectations.

I agree completely.  I do this on a regular basis….I call it “training your client”.  If a client wants to know how long a turnaround will be, I always give myself a day or two buffer.  In my experience, too many things can go wrong or take longer than you expect and as the responsible account manager/customer service rep, you don’t want to be the one delivering bad news.  Instead, you give yourself the opportunity to play the role of hero by managing their expectations and deliver (according to them) early.  An additional benefit is you also manage your internal resources and don’t cause fire drills or late nights.

This lesson goes back to my days of hostessing a restaurant.  I was taught that I had the ability to set the pace of the night and that I should try my hardest not to slam the waitstaff or kitchen (they had sharp knives).  Which, of course, causes bad customer experiences both internally and externally and we all know how against *that* I am.  I always had a go to waiter that could somehow miraculously get me out of a jam by turning a table quickly….and keep diners happy, but for the most part, if I was able to manage waitstaff and kitchen expectations as well as those waiting to eat, we all ended the night much better (and I got better tips!).

But, I (as usual) digress.  In today’s social media world, there’s so many ways for customers to complain (and they should if a company messes up) that a company could make the mistake of being hypersensitive and respond too much (and they should respond in a timely and well-thought out way).  If you respond to a complaint immediately and offer the farm as an apology, you’re only setting yourself up to create an expectation that you’ll give the farm away to anyone who bats an eye.  By managing expectations and treating each situation uniquely, you can make sure the “punishment fits the crime”.

Of course, I’m newly back from vacay, so maybe I’m wrong.  Thoughts?  Should companies jump all over complaints?  Ignore them as just noise?

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My recent epiphany

Posted by mbamommy on March 31, 2010

Have you ever heard of the job title “Chief Customer Officer“?  I have only recently and it’s been a complete game changer for me.  No more do I aspire to be a CMO….I want to be a CCO.

The idea behind a CCO is to truly put your customers first in everything a company does: customer service, sales, account management, product development, operations, accounting, finance, HR, marketing, PR, R&D, etc etc.  Instead of just *saying* you’re customer-centric, this role is responsible for *creating* customer-centricity.  It’s perfect and is in line with everything I believe in and have blogged about.  Treat your customers well, treat your employees well, set up your company to acknowledge the importance of your customer and you will succeed.

And, here’s my new role model: Jeanne Bliss.  Every single professional mentor I’ve ever looked up to has been a woman and they all pale in comparison to Ms. Bliss.  This is as close to “girl love” (think Scrubs….”guy love“) as I’ve ever gotten.

I just ordered her two books, “Chief Customer Officer” and “I Love You More Than My Dog” and cannot WAIT to start reading.  Kind of makes me feel weak in the knees.

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Re-post

Posted by mbamommy on February 16, 2010

OK, I know I’m cheating a little bit, but given the crazy travel schedule I have this week (SF-SD via San Jose, Pasadena and Santa Barbara) I decided to do a blog re-post.  This one is all about Online Conversions Made Simple.  Hey, I always say I hate re-work and am all about efficiency.  Besides, I think the topic is worth the additional attention.

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The only constant…

Posted by mbamommy on February 8, 2010

is change.  We all know that.  But, I found this article from Wharton Magazine regarding the “21st century advertising” to be interesting.  It certainly makes it exciting (and challenging!) to be a marketing professional these days.

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I love a good “Fat-ty”

Posted by mbamommy on October 22, 2009

I’m going to say this right up front: I’m a wine drinker.  Back in college, I was a beer drinker.  And not even a good one at that (Keystone Light was my preferred choice as a freshman….oh wait, I was too young to drink as a freshman….just kidding.)  It wasn’t until I actually turned 21 that I started acquiring a taste for good beer.  And then I couldn’t go back to the cheap stuff.  And then I switched to mixed drinks and finally wound up with wine where I’ve happily stayed for many years.

OK, why the trip down alcohol lane?  Because I want to talk about the one beer that I LOVE…. New Belgium Brewing Company’s Fat Tire.  There are a couple other beers I’ll drink: Pyramid’s Audacious Apricot Ale and Brooklyn Brewery’s Brown Ale in particular, but there’s nothing like a Fat Tire after a tough day on the slopes, hiking, working in the yard or playing with the kiddies.

Forget that they’re serious about sustainability (so is Brooklyn Brewery) and it’s a damn good tasting beer (so is Pyramid Apricot).  Forget that they’ve got a fun marketing campaign, “What’s Your Folly” that combines new media and traditional marketing.  The reason why I LOVE them is because they’ve dialed it up when it comes to customer service.   Here’s the story on why I will forever be a HUGE fan of New Belgium’s beers (btw, this an excerpt from my email communication with them).

MBAMommy: I LOVE Fat Tire.  I loved it when I was living in Boulder and I love it still now that it’s being distributed in NC.  So, imagine my disappointment when I went to my local store and bought a 6-pack last Friday night and the first bottle I pulled out was only a quarter full!  Cap on tight, nothing looked out of place.  But, there it was….only 1/4 a Fat Tire to enjoy.  My 6-pack was now a 5.25 pack and I was bummed.  Luckily, I had 5 more to enjoy but wanted to let you know about the issue.  I even took pics of it to show you (if you’re interested, I’ll email them).  It’s never happened before and I hope it never happens again!

NewBelgium: Thanks for taking the time to write. Sorry to hear about the low filled bottle of Fat Tire. What a bummer! Our bottling line is supposed to catch those before they get packaged, but as you experienced, sometimes it misses one. I would like to reimburse you for the 6-pack. Let me know about how much you spent, your address, and your tshirt size. Cheers!

Mandy Miller
Quality Assurance
New Belgium Brewing Company

MBAMommy: Hi Mandy, Thanks for the quick response!  I don’t remember exactly how much I spent, but it was somewhere around $8-$10.  My t-shirt size is Medium (thanks!!!) And my address is: XXXXX You guys are awesome, thank you!

Less than a week later, I received the t-shirt, a check for $10 and Mandy’s business carf.  Not so unusual, right?  Here’s the catch.  It was a check from New Belgium, hand written and signed by Mandy.  Why is this so impressive?  Think about it: the company is empowering its employee, Mandy Miller, a “Quality Assurance Analyst” to write and sign checks as she sees fit.  AND, she’s giving me her direct contact info, not just customerservice@newbelgium.com.  I’m sure there’s plenty of checks and balances (pun intended) internally for my friend, Mandy, but it’s a really nice personal touch from the customer’s perspective.

So, let’s review.  They made an error in their product delivery.  They responded quickly, they fixed it personally and threw in a t-shirt (which is awesome, by the way).  How much do you think that cost them?  $10 for the reimbursement, $5 for the t-shirt….add in postage and Mandy’s time….probably around $25?  For $25, they bought a lifetime customer, free publicity and a couple inbound links to their site. 

Not a bad ROI.

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Mommy-hood changes everything

Posted by mbamommy on October 12, 2009

Wow, do I love when the g’rents are in town.  I actually had a chance to read my eMarketer daily email before noon today!  That’s a good thing considering the article I just finished….all about how Moms and women without children differ in their attitudes, likes and dislikes regarding online marketing.

OK….that’s not really mind blowing, right?  But once you read the article….ask yourself “Why?” it gets a little more interesting.  In summary, the article says Moms are more willing to receive promotions, coupons and discounts that pertain to their lifestyle while women without children didn’t want all that ‘stuff’ in their inbox.  In my opinion, that makes perfect sense.  As a woman without kids, I had more disposable income and more freedom with my time – so I could go out and buy things when and where I wanted.  As a Mom, not only is my disposable income less, my freedom is as well.  It’s much easier to do my shopping online and through my inbox than it is to drag 2 kids out to a store.  And, coupons, discounts, freebies rock – especially when they come right to me!

I’m just glad to see marketers paying more attention to women as a subsegment of the population and further subsegmenting that population to better target a group that has buying power.

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Staying ahead of the curve

Posted by mbamommy on October 10, 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a first adopter of new technology.  I typically wait for the 2nd or 3rd iteration because by then the cost and the kinks have diminished.  Plus, I can learn from other’s successes and failures.

For example, I started this blog about 6 months ago.  I created a Twitter account (@mbamrsmom) and bought a CrackBerry around the same time.  And, I’ve been using Facebook and LinkedIn for about a year.  I’d like to believe I have a handle on these channels of communication.  I am by NO means an expert, but I’ve dipped my toe in and found the water to be nice and warm.

So imagine my surprise when my daily email alerts (I know, email is so 2000) start making noise about Google Wave and Web 3.0.  Wave conversations: realtime feedback on your marketing successes and failures sounds amazing, but I’m a little lost on the How of it all.  And 3.0?  I think I’m still at 2.1.

How silly of me to think I was staying close to the curve.

I’m a firm believer that social media/marketing, along with all the other channels provided by technology: mobile, email, PPC, SEO, banner ads, websites, etc etc need to be communication channels that are part of a bigger marketing/branding/PR plan.  And which channels you choose needs to be dictated by where your customers are.  You could have the most amazing blog, tweet until your fingers fall off, and be #1 ranked on Google, Yahoo! and Bing but if your core customer only reads the sunday newspaper, you’re not speaking their language.  It all boils down to customer service; as does everything in MBA Mommy’s opinion.  Know who you’re talking to, make sure you’re offering is relevant, get in front of them and tell your story.  If you’re correct in your analysis of the situation, your marketing plan (and subsequent sales) should work.

But, I digress.  This post is about staying ahead of the curve….which I think is getting more and more difficult to do.  Google WaveGoogle Sidewiki3.0Augmented Reality?  *Oy Vey!*  The problem with staying ahead of the curve is we sometimes lose sight of where the curve began.  As essential as it is to stay on top of trends and opportunities, it’s equally important not to get too caught up in the Next Big Thing that promises to answer a marketer’s prayers: ROI, Analytics, one-to-one marketing (oh yeah…and SALES!) all wrapped up with a bow.  Know your customer and let *them* tell you which tools make the most sense.

Maybe I’m just getting old….

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