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Blowing Smoke – My Father’s New Cigar Cave

Posted on April 13, 2020 at 9:58 AM Comments comments (10)
Marketing communications is a creative endeavor; and we high-strung marcom types need our mental downtime to refresh the batteries of notion, concept and idea…this is about one of the methods I use to clear my head in order to give my clients my best efforts…
 
While not politically correct today, my father and I (and occasionally others), enjoy hand-rolled cigars accompanied by premium spirits. It’s a bonding rite as well as a mental-health break. And, this being Florida, the enjoyment at times is greatly reduced due to the repressive weather conditions of summer’s heat and humidity.
 
The initial thought was to carve out part of the family room as a glass-enclosed lounge next to the sliding-glass door leading to an outdoor patio that will be enclosed with a screened-in cage. This, however, is close to the main part of the house, and may have residual scent if so done. The office on the other hand, is in a more remote part of the abode – and hence lends itself well to becoming a multi-purpose room – where a cigar & libations lounge would be much more sequestered.
 
So, I approached the “boss” of the house, my mother, with the idea - though I expected some resistance. But she took it upon herself to research air purifiers (smoke eaters) and found one that fits the bill. Then, we sealed up the access door with casement insulation and a threshold to ensure minimal cigar-scent egress.
 
This has worked out well both socially, and from the “mind clearing” intent desired. (And of course, the escaping of the summer weather with enjoyment in an air-conditioned environment effect we were seeking.) The camaraderie and conversation have been both voluminous and energetic, not to mention cathartic – a win all the way around. (And the classical music in the background doesn’t hurt either – what snobs!)
 
While not for everyone, the “cave” has left us recharged and refreshed and rewarded us with a break from our online ministrations. Getting away from the screens periodically, and conversing in-person, has made for some great experiences and memories already – and we look forward to many more!

It’s that Time of Year again - Marketing Trends & Resolutions

Posted on January 9, 2019 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (1)

Happy New Year! And speaking of which, it’s time for those pesky but oft well-inspired resolutions. We here at Creative Collaterals resolve to better practice what we preach to our clients in terms of posting blog entries on our own website on a more regular basis! (As I’ve written before – like the cobbler with no shoes – we get so caught up helping our clients (our first priority of course) that we fail to help ourselves at times…;)

Our clients are, of course, priority one. We enjoy helping them turn their business dreams into reality thorough creative content, imagery and campaigns that helps them best market their businesses. In 2019, we’ll work to incorporate new digital marketing trends seamlessly into our clients’ collateral focusing on optimized web pages, email campaigns and e-newsletters to reach out to new prospects, as well as keeping in touch with current customers.

Some key content marketing trends for the coming year include:

  • Email – still the preferred way to communicate online – for both updating employees and colleagues, keeping in touch with others, and marketing goods and services
  • Keeping it Personal – for marketing to stand out in the age of increased Internet traffic – it needs to speak directly to recipients
  • Video – what started with YouTube for the most part, has grown with video streaming services from firms including Facebook and Instagram – video provides another great marketing channel for both enhancing SEO and getting information to and attention from an audience
  • Succinct Copy – time is precious, and long-form content has its place (white papers, thought leadership) – but quick answers for today’s busy audience are important
  • Social Media – with a focus on the right channel for your message – for B-to-B use LinkedIn or Google Business; for B-to-C use Facebook or Instagram; and use Twitter for both

Regarding email, Wendy Marx writes in ‘8 Content Marketing Trends That Will Fire Up Your Strategy,’ “Just how important is email in reaching and nurturing your audience? A study from HubSpot reveals that 86% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes. But does not mean that you should email simply for email’s sake? No. Consider 78% who unsubscribed from an email list complained about receiving too many emails.” Like most things in life – it’s all about balance.

We hope everyone enjoyed Happy & Healthy Holidays. We look forward to a Prosperous 2019!

Freelancing – Do What You Can Do & Not What You Shouldn’t Do…

Posted on June 2, 2017 at 12:04 PM Comments comments (0)
As the ole saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished.” We’ve all fallen into the trap of trying to help beyond the scope of a project – and been bitten by it.

Now I’m not advocating not helping your clients – but we, as freelancers, need to be paid fairly for our time. (A show of hands for those of us who have lost money on projects trying to satisfy an overly demanding client who’s always requesting ‘one more thing.’) In my experience, there are those who will never be satisfied; and do you really want to work with them anyway?

This column may be coming off as a bit negative – which is not my intent. The idea here is to acknowledge and support the notion that we all need to focus on the positive aspects and clients (vendors too) in our businesses – while minimizing the impact of the negative. Or, as the song goes, “Ac-cen-tuate the Positive.”

Personally, I went into marketing for two reasons; one, it enabled me to express myself in business in a creative way, and two, I’m able to assist clients in crafting their visions for their business – and see them come to fruition while helping them grow their firms.

And what could be more positive than that?? 

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BlackBerry Brandy...

Posted on January 26, 2017 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)
…or the journey to become closer to one’s grandfather

When I was a kid growing up on the west coast, my maternal grandparents were in New Hampshire, so we didn’t see them all that often. Annually we’d get together – they’d fly to California – we’d fly back east; but there wasn’t the continuity of an ongoing relationship.

Then, when I was ten years old, we moved to Maine as my father had received a promotion which required a transfer as well. Moving to New England as a California kid was quite the culture shock at the time. But it did allow us to see my grandparents much more frequently. And consequently I got to spend a lot of time with my grandfather, who taught me the other side of life – the non-city, non-rushed side of small town America.

At first I was resistant, thinking that, of course, city life was much better than being in “the middle of nowhere.” But he was patient, understanding the impulsive nature of children. He took his time with me, teaching me how to fish, work with my hands (a bit) as he was a carpenter by trade, and showed me how to enjoy the great wonderland of winter…

One of our snowy treks combined both fishing and snowmobiles, as we made our way to a frozen lake for some winter angling. Ice fishing, as I came to discover, is not only a freezing-cold-weather endeavor; but also a lot of work as you have to dig holes in the ice with augers to get to the fish! (Why not just wait until spring – and ‘plunk’ your line in?!?!)

On the way to the lake, bundled up in snowmobile suits with multiple layers of clothing concealed beneath, we encountered what turned out to be a semi-frozen creek. As we started across, the ice began to break up, causing the snowmobile to almost be lost in the water. My grandfather gunned the engine, getting us to shore, but the sled we were pulling (that he had built) containing all our gear, wasn’t as fortunate – smashing into the shore as we climbed out.

The sled’s front skies were gone, and the body was damaged but salvageable, but the issue was how to repair the little caboose – otherwise we’d have to abandon all the gear that we couldn’t carry on the snowmobile. Well, my grandfather examined the problem for a few minutes, and I could see he had an idea. He cut two saplings off a tree as makeshift skies, and using rope (that I believe he carried everywhere) and with me helping, tied them to what remained of the framework underneath; and to the top of the front panel of the sled.

Well what do you know – it worked like a charm all day. We continued to the lake, dug our exhausting (at least to a kid at the time) auger holes – and fished all day. When we had the holes dug and our camp set up, he pulled out a bottle of blackberry brandy. He said to me, “You did good back there boy. You didn’t panic, were helpful – and we got through a bit of a sticky situation without any real harm.” Then he handed me the brandy bottle from which I preceded to take a swig – enjoying the moment.

Looking back on it today; I’m very fortunate to have been exposed to both the fast-paced concrete city of Silicon Valley, and the often rural nature of New England. I have my parents to thank for one, and my grandparents for the other.

You may ask yourself what this has to do with marketing. Well, maybe not much. Except that marketing is all about making connections with people, isn’t it?

We Call Them Geckos

Posted on November 1, 2016 at 2:27 PM Comments comments (0)
When we lived in the Northeast, we had a balcony overlooking a pond with a fountain. It provided a great place to relax and unwind – the sound of the splashing water putting one in a restive state of mind. Every couple of days, there would be about a half dozen spiders on that balcony that had to be cleared away. It was amazing how they appeared without fail in a very short period of time.

Jumping ahead to present day, we now reside and Florida; and while you’d expect the insect issue to be much greater (as everyone thinks), the reality is with more insects comes more predators. In the case of the spiders in the seating area – we have anoles – or as my wife and I refer to them ‘geckos.’ They wander all over the place outside, able to crawl pretty much anywhere. Only a few inches long and harmless to humans – they go after any bug they can get their mandibles around – in other words, we really like them!

They each have their own personalities and levels of curiosity. When I venture outside in the evening for my after-work libations of scotch and cigar; the geckos are there accompanying me. Some run and hide, cautiously peering out from a safe distance; while others will boldly sit next to you and keep an eye out for competitors, mates or an evening snack – eat those bugs!

My wife (who has no aversion to picking up almost any creepy crawly thing including snakes), will get the occasional gecko that intrudes into the house back outside by carefully using a broom if they’re near a door; or with a container and piece of paper otherwise. Back outside – eat more bugs!

We have a friend from the UK who has a severe aversion to our little anoles. Whenever she comes across one when visiting – she jumps and quickly heads in the opposite direction. She better hope global warming doesn’t affect the climate in Great Britain enough to support their invasion into that country…

The brown anoles/geckos we see all the time here are apparently an invasive species from Cuba that have driven out the native South Carolinian green anoles. The ground-dwelling browns have bullied the native greens onto higher elevations – where they now make their habitat in the branches of bushes and trees.

I have yet to see any green geckos (not being much of a tree climber since reaching puberty) but it seems they’re propagating just fine – and even adapting to their new environment by growing bigger feet – the better to cling to branches. Now that’s getting a leg up in life!

S~

The World – in the Palm of Your Hand

Posted on October 12, 2016 at 11:27 AM Comments comments (0)
There are palm pilots (or at least there were), palm trees, palm fronds as well as palm-named steakhouses, hotels and towns. And with today’s smartphones – you can have the world in the palm of your hand – both personally and professionally…

Our cell phones have become a part of us. We rely on them constantly as they’ve become much more than communication devices as they morph into clocks, cameras, web browsers, navigation tools and a host of other devices through an almost unlimited number of applications. In fact, according to a recent survey by the UK Daily Mail, making calls is now the sixth most common use of mobile phones and 40% of users say they could manage without the ability to make calls at all!

The study of 2,000 people by taxi app Hailo found that messaging – both sending and receiving texts and emails, surfing the Internet and the alarm clock feature all have become more important than making and receiving calls to users of smartphones. “Navigation apps such as Google Maps were popular too – with one in six respondents admitting they would feel unable to travel around an unfamiliar city without one.

“The study also found checking Facebook and taking pictures of others are carried out more frequently than making calls. Also on the list were the calendar function, (to remember appointments and birthdays), mobile banking and the news - applications that make day-to-day life a little easier.”

Tom Barr, Hailo’s chief executive, said: "The functions on a smartphone have developed and improved drastically over the past decade. With so many ways to keep in touch nowadays, people are using the functions that are convenient for them. As we get less and less time to ourselves, we need more convenience in our lives and less hassle. While calling can be more personal, it doesn’t always save you time."

From a business perspective, the ever-rising comfort level with smartphone technology and use opens up great opportunity to keep in touch with and engage the workforce, and business partners. These technologies, as well as future innovations, will continue to make our phones an even more indispensable part of our lives – keeping us constantly connected – and on top of the world.

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Keeping Pace in the Digital Age – Are You a Tortoise or a Hare?

Posted on September 19, 2016 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)
“There once was a speedy hare who bragged about how fast he could run. Tired of hearing him boast, Slow and Steady, the tortoise, challenged him to a race…” (From the Aesop’s Fable ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ on storyarts.org)

We all know them – the vast spectrum of people who adopt technology – some early and some late(r). Early adopters rush to integrate the latest offering into their lives; while others get pulled reluctantly into the future – kicking and screaming (at least figuratively – and some quite literally) all the way. While these two types represent opposite ends of the spectrum, there are of course a great many of us that fall somewhere in the middle…

Web and social media educators from On Digital Marketing have identified ‘The 5 Customer Segments of Technology Adoption’ based upon the ‘Diffusion of Innovation’ theory by professor of communications Everett Rogers. "Over years of research, Rogers identified some fascinating personality traits that help us organize how people will accept a new innovation. It turns out we approach innovations in the following ways:"

  • Innovators (2.5%) – the first individuals to adopt an innovation. Innovators are generally found to be risk takers, young, among the highest social class, have great financial lucidity, very social and have closest contact to scientific sources and interaction with other innovators.
  • Early Adopters (13.5%) – the second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation, these individuals have the highest degree of opinion leadership among the other adopter categories. Early adopters are typically younger in age, have a higher social status, have more financial lucidity, advanced education, and are more socially forward than late adopters.
  • Early Majority (34%) – Individuals in this category adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This time of adoption is significantly longer than the innovators and early adopters.
  • Late Majority (34%) – Individuals in this category will adopt an innovation after the average member of the society, approach an innovation with a high degree of skepticism, and after the majority of society has adopted the innovation.
  • Laggards (16%) – Individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation. Unlike some of the previous categories, individuals in this category show little to no opinion leadership, typically have an aversion to change-agents and tend to be advanced in age.

From my own experience, I fall into several groups – some personally and some for business. For my work, I try to keep up with current online technologies for writing, social media and communications as these are the tools of my trade. On the personal side however, I don’t often post or communicate on sites like Facebook or Snapchat – although I do text on my antiquated ‘dumb’ phone.

And the moral of the story is – we all get ‘there’ – eventually…

No One is an Island – (a brief) Evolution of Computing, Connectivity & Communicating

Posted on August 25, 2016 at 10:12 AM Comments comments (0)
There was a time not so long ago, when all the computing power we’ve come to depend upon in our daily lives was just a gleam in some scientist’s eye. Starting from early punch-card processes developed in the early 1800’s to calculate large volumes of numbers; to today’s smartphones, watches and tablets – computers have evolved from serving the needs of governments, the military and big business to become immersed in our everyday lives.

"The computer was born not for entertainment or email but out of a need to solve a serious number-crunching crisis. By 1880, the U.S. population had grown so large that it took more than seven years to tabulate the U.S. Census results. The government sought a faster way to get the job done, giving rise to punch-card based computers that took up entire rooms," writes Kim Ann Zimmerman in 'History of Computers: A Brief Timeline.'

Ms. Zimmerman goes on to explain that in 1890: “Herman Hollerith designs a punch card system to calculate the 1880 census, accomplishing the task in just three years and saving the government $5 million. He establishes a company that would ultimately become IBM.”

‘Computers’ started out as a series of cogs and gears, and as pointed out in 'A (very) Short History of Computing' by Brian Whitworth and Adnan Ahmad of the Interactive Design Foundation, "…only became practical in the 1950s and 60s with the invention of semi-conductors." The authors note that aforementioned IBM emerged as the computing leader in the 1970’s; while software became more dominant in the 1980’s with Microsoft leading the way with ‘ordinary people’ tools like word processing.

The 1990’s featured the introduction of many of the technologies and tools that we leverage today; the World-Wide-Web, Internet and Google provide access to untold amounts of information and connectivity for everyone. Today’s social media apps let people keep in touch and share information, while giving business professionals avenues to market and sell their wares.

Today’s technology - keeping us all connected. Or as poet John Donne wrote:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

And speaking of connectivity – Creative Collaterals – Contact Us & Get the Word Out…

Spring has Sprung – Fun Facts & Interesting Trivia…

Posted on April 27, 2016 at 12:04 PM Comments comments (0)
Ah, the season that brings a good portion of people out of their winter doldrums, spring is upon us. A good time for making sure your house is in order as regards marketing plans too – before the summer vacation holiday season begins. (You know how hard people can be to reach then)! Spring is a great time to consider and establish which campaigns for blog, white paper, media releases and other content to put in place keep your business running smoothly.

The season of spring is known as a time of rejuvenation and growth – just what your marketing efforts should accomplish for your business! But we discovered that there are a great many interesting fun facts and intriguing trivia associated with spring. Here are just a few of the curiosities we uncovered from RandomHistory.com – with a few of our own thoughts on the matter…

  • On the first day of spring, a person at the North Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, beginning six months of uninterrupted daylight. A person at the South Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, signaling the start of six months of darkness (Luke - come to the dark side!)
  • Spring almost always arrives on March 20 or 21, but sometimes on the 19th. The reason the equinoxes and solstices don’t always come on the same day is that Earth doesn’t circle the sun in exactly 365 days (How imprecise!)
  • The first spring flowers are typically lilacs, irises, lilies, tulips, daffodils, and dandelions (Tulips - as pictured above)!
  • Holidays that occur in spring include Easter, Passover, April Fool’s Day, Earth Day, Arbor Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Cinco De Mayo, and Holi (festival of colors in India) (Not to mention the beginning of summer vacation which gets an early start)
  • One long-term study found that, at least in the Colorado Rocky Mountain region, spring begins, on average, about three weeks earlier than it did in the 1970's (Hello - global warming...)
  • The myth that it is possible to balance an egg on its end on the spring equinox is just that: a myth. Trying to balance an oval-shaped object on its end is no easier on the spring equinox than on any other day (We tried it, and they're right! It was a slow day - okay?)
  • According to tradition, if a groundhog does not see his shadow after emerging from his burrow on Groundhog Day (February 2), spring will come early; if he sees his shadow, winter will last for 6 more weeks. The day has its roots in the Neolithic Celtic festival of Imbolc, which marks a seasonal turning point and also involved animal prognostication (Also a really good Bill Murray movie)
  • The term “spring fever” refers to a both psychological and physiological symptoms associated with the arrival of spring, including restlessness, daydreaming, and increased sexual appetite. While the exact cause is unclear, scientists believe that increased light, more exercise, and more bare skin influence hormone levels (And the wearing of fewer clothes doesn't hurt either...)
  • The U.S. spring season is culturally interpreted to be the day after President’s Day, which is the Tuesday after the third Monday in February, and ending on the Friday before Memorial weekend (Yeah - the heck with the calendar!)

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How Does Your Garden Grow? Nurture Relationships to Ensure Growth

Posted on March 1, 2016 at 11:06 AM Comments comments (0)
In much the same way that a garden needs attention and caring, we must also nurture the relationships of our clients, employees and business partners. We all want to be treated with courtesy and respect, and relationships that are nurtured properly help ensure ongoing positive growth of both the relationship and the business. People rise to the occasion for a firm that they feel is taking care of them – so making the loyalty and dedication a two-way street is paramount.

But how does a company consistently motivate and engage to meet the needs of a diverse group of employees – and by connection - the clients and business partners as well? Easily accessible avenues of communication and feedback are important tools to keep ‘your finger on the pulse’ of what peoples’ wants and needs are. As quoted in the Corpmagazine.com article ‘If You Aren’t Nurturing Growth, You’re Failing Your Employees,’ “Empower your employees with honest communication and clearly defined goals, and you’ll see just how hungry they can be for a bigger role in your company’s success.”

Plant the Seeds
Starting from the very first contact with a firm, a prospective employee, client or business partner should get a positive feeling about the organization – excited to have the opportunity to work with the firm. From the person who answers incoming calls, to the people who interview applicants, a company’s employees should project that they are professional, enjoy their jobs and like their firm – such that others will think that they’re missing out on something by not working there or doing business with the company.

Create a Fertile Atmosphere
Career-minded people are looking to work for, and with, companies where opportunities for growth exist. Talented professionals usually want to advance in an organization and seek firms where a path for career advancement is offered. But studies have shown that the professional side of things is not the only motivator for people. An atmosphere of creativity and ‘fun at work’ have also shown to be big factors in whether people choose to work for/with a firm – from the selection process – through choosing to remain for the long haul. Thus, an environment for personal growth should be considered as well, and a firm would do well to offer and encourage social interaction between professionals as another motivator.

Perform Ongoing Maintenance
Maintaining a productive and motivated workforce and client base is an ongoing challenge – one that requires continuous open communication to thrive. All too often, a firm’s ‘best and brightest’ depart for new horizons – and the company wasn’t even aware that any issues existed. Making communication open, honest and ongoing should be a high priority for any organization that wants to retain its experienced professionals and customers.

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