Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

How to Bring a Sweet Valentine’s Day to Your Customer, Your Colleagues, or Your Sweetheart

In Advertising | PR | Creatives, Business, Inspiration, Viva-La-Vida on 2011/02/14 at 4:42 PM
Today is a day belonging to those who are in love. Yes?

Today is a day dedicating to Hallmark cards, chocolate, and bundles of roses. Yes?

Today is a day expressing your affection to those you’re in love with. Yes?


Chocolate for ValentineValentine's Day RosesWell, sort of. But not exactly.

I’d say today is a day making people around you to feel your love and appreciation, for being who they are.

And it’s never too much to say “Thank you, I love you” (or “I appreciate our relationship”) even Thanksgiving was only 3 months ago. After all, we all want to be loved.

Think about what you and I can do to make a sweet Valentine’s day (without filing a chapter 11 tomorrow morning).

  • What are the most valuable items of your recipient?
    Oftentimes we create surveys or ask questions to understand people we care about but then we miss the opportunity to take actions by showing these people “yes, we hear you and understand your needs.” I gave my boyfriend a pair of workout gloves because he once told me that he got callus by lifting weight on a regular basis. Even though I totally let off the secret by asking his hand size, I know that is something he will find it useful. And I guess we all want to deliver the same value by providing what our recipient wants the most.
  • What is your delivery method?How to deliver a Valentine's Day appreciation at workplace
    Have you every given something but did not get the expected feedback from the recipient? If so, consider how you deliver your message. For any type of appreciation, you want to make sure you find the right voice. If you’re in a B2B company and you would like to wish customers a Happy Valentine’s Day, utilize your staffs who are constantly in contact with customers. Your best delivery channel is your staff.
  • Are you creative enough?
    Let’s face it. We are all information overwhelmed. If you start typing “Valentine” on Google, you will find thousands of queries suggesting thousands of things whether it’s about dining location or gift selection. Among all the information we receive, only creative one stands out. I am often intrigued by creative messages coming from someone I’m totally not expected, and this year International Sign Association’s email message totally caught my intention. Do you have an event coming up? Do you have a new product launch? Consider utilizing Valentine’s Day to give your customer a sweet surprise!Creative email campaign - Valentine's Day
  •  What’s beyond an exclusive Valentine’s Day?
    I have seen some sites taking a step further and embracing the “pay it forward” idea by providing charity services or some very neat cause-marketing campaigns. (Read “Re-Booting Valentine’s Day for Good” from Fast Company) In a nutshell, Valentine’s Day is about love and making this world a warmer place. Yes?
What do you do to celebrate Valentine’s Day?





No, you Do care.

In Inspiration, Viva-La-Vida on 2010/10/05 at 3:48 PM
Have you often heard people say, “I don’t care” whether at work or in life?

For some reason these 3 words annoy the crap out of me.

Maybe it’s because I take things/words too literal (because English is not my native language) or maybe it’s just my stubborn personality that I would rather take responsibility than kick it somewhere else. In short, I think I care.

I have been reading Seth Godin’s book “Linchpin” and a very big part of his idea of being indispensable is to ship and to deliver. And for me, caring about something means you want to take the ownership and you want to deliver the project/mission, whether finishing up a no-brainer project or figuring out everyone’s schedule to make a social event happen. Whether big or small, caring about something is the first step of being an artist, or, a linchpin.

For a while I was convinced that I don’t care. But I realize as I stop putting my heart and effort into projects or life circumstances I become less happy because it feels like I am not even making an impact to either work or life. I was confused, struggled, and frustrated; then I say to myself, “maybe I do care or maybe it’s time to start caring and getting my hands dirty.”

There’s no excuse for not caring. Because once you stop caring, you lose the strength to make a difference or even to find the meaning of what you are doing. Aren’t we all trying to find a “meaningful life”? A meaningful life doesn’t exist in billion-salary-jobs, doesn’t exist in gigantic mansion in Manhattan, and certainly doesn’t exist in times when one sits there and whines about “I don’t care.” A meaningful life resides in the moment you & I start to put our heart into trifle things we do, pleasant or not. Nobody said it will be easy, but by being passive and not caring, one forsakes the opportunity of being an artist to make something better happen at the very beginning.

So from now on, start to care.

Stop Marketing & Start Engaging – takeaways from @unmarketing book tour Detroit

In Inspiration, Marketing, Social Media on 2010/09/29 at 1:41 PM

It all starts like this on UnMarketing. “Scott Stratten is the president of UnMarketing. Between blah blah blah and blah blah blah…..”

If you haven’t had a chance to read this Canadian guy’s marvelous insight about social media and modern communication, please read on my takeaways from his presentation last night. Scott is great, sharp, insightful, and…hilarious. And he absolutely shake my head with his ideas of social media and how to communicate.

Here are some ideas Scott threw at Detroit last night:

  • Social media ROI – “Forget about ROI. Social media sucks in conversion but rocks in building relationships & engaging conversation.”Takeaway: You have to watch Scott’s animation when he talks about ROI. Besides laughing at the idea of companies or #sm gurus using statistics to prove how important this new communication medium is, I was sort of relieved the concept Scott proposed, that neither Twitter nor Facebook is a shortcut for relationship. The 140-words-limitation might force us to make content more effective, but the key lies in how you use these social media tool, not to sell, not to blast, but to engage and talk.

    But again, as an in-house marketer, I get freaked out while being told the ROI is going to suck at any tool or medium being used. So there, I contribute to one of my favorite article about social media analytic tools http://www.dailybloggr.com/2010/03/social-media-monitoring-tools-analytics/ (sorry, Scott!)

  • All the social media channels should enhance one another. Build platform first, and establish individual stream for each platform.Upon writing this, I can still hear Scott screaming in my head, “Please, do NOT feed your tweet with Facebook status!” The difference between each platform (limitation of words & how people use it) reflects the complexity (and beauty) of communication. Some people like to read concise & straight-forward messages, (Scott’s recommended tweet length: 120 words) So when the person sees the unfinished tweets and has to click on the link, then being directed to facebook status, the communication flow has been interrupted.

    Takeaway: create unique content & feed the platform on purpose. Nobody likes to go through more than one platform to have a normal conversation.

  • Consistency is the secret of success in social media

    Again, among all the content frequency myth, Scott points out he hasn’t blogged for more than a month (confirmed. His last blog is back in Aug 2010) and he doesn’t want to blog for any of the SEO purpose. “Want best SEO for your blog? Then write awesome content!” Hopefully my blog about UnMarketing book tour is qualified as a half-awesomeness 🙂
  • Sometimes you just have to polarize

    I guess the concept scare lots of people as we all try our best to manage our online reputation. As we cater to more readers, customers, the core value of products or services gets diluted. This is a scary part for me too but I guess practice makes perfect. If you have some advice taking a stand and embracing all the feedback, please do share
  • Liking auto-tweets? Please don’t.

    We all want others’ attention or feedback but that doesn’t mean we can manipulate the way how communication works. True, if you set up your tweets to go out 3AM in the morning, people in the other side of the world more likely to read your blog or even comment on it. And chances are they will retweet or exchange ideas. But what happens after 5 minutes (action taken time after a tweet)? Nothing. (because obviously you’re asleep) This kind of communication drop does more harm than help to your content strategy because it ruins the flow. You may still be able to follow the stream and answer the questions, but the vibe has already been missing.

Overall, quite an eye-opening experience hearing a successful tweep talking about his strategy and passion. I remember times I tweet like a maniac and then just wait to count followers or Klout. Those times have gone, gone to the fundamental idea Scott has been pounding us on, again and again, that social media doesn’t speed up the purchase cycle, doesn’t all of a sudden win you a thousand new customers, it’s simply a great channel to start relationships.

How do you like to use social media engaging your readers?

Social Media for a Good Cause

In Inspiration, Social Media on 2010/09/16 at 2:29 PM

Let’s start off with a question: What do you use social media for? 

I believe we all have different reasons. While some people, like me, use it for information and engagement, others use it for a better cause. Like Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal) use his TV blog & tweets to shout out voices in our society that are rarely heard or gotten any attention.

Quite a few media & companies like Ford and YouTube have already jumped in sponsoring Mark’s roadtrip. Hoffington Post yesterday wrote an article about Mark empowering homeless people with social media. Mark’s presentation at Metro Detroit also had tremendous feedback. All in all these responses meant one thing – people, including you and I, are using social media for a good cause – to make the world better. 

While few are as talented as Mark, we can still contribute our efforts or influence for a good cause 🙂

  • Food Banks: There are quite a lot of food banks around. The one I started going to is called Gleaners– they bag hundreds or thousands bags of food each week and distribute them to families who can’t afford buying food for their children. Use your foursquares checking into these places and invite your friends to serve.

  • Retweets: Mark has now set up a site called “We Are Visible”with a list of “How To’s.” Read his article, RT those invisible people’s voice, and spread the words.

  • Slow Down, and Explore: There are many things / people in our society that need our attention. And you’d be surprised how much impact our little effort can bring if we are willing to explore and listen. So next time, instead of rushing into metros heading home, try to take a walk in the neighborhood and talk to people. If they have a story that needs to be multiplied, write a blog about it or tweet it. For social media is more than just a channel, it should be a connector bringing people’s distances closer. 


Like a Newbie

In Business, Inspiration on 2010/08/26 at 12:16 PM

Have you ever had this experience? Whether in a client brief meeting or when you interact with someone at work, you feel like knowing exactly what they are going to say even before they open their mouth?

Well, I do.

And we’ve always heard something like this: “you have to know your client / business” or “previous experience in xyz industry is a plus.” Professionals with experience are always considered adding value/ credibility into the project. But I can’t help but to wonder: what if we walk into a situation like a newbie?

Newbie doesn’t have to be someone totally have no idea what the situation is. Newbie can be like your first day to work and you have all the aspiration and passion about what you want to do & are capable of. You walk into a situation with minimum assumption, minimum expectation, and maximum enthusiasm, and you listen, without any prejudice nor “professional package.” And I feel, correct me if I’m wrong, that is when you get the most knowledge about what the project really is and what your client really wants, when you put your mindset away and embrace the new challenge like a newbie.

I try to travel as much as I can just to reset my mind but apparently I don’t have much luxury to do so every weekend. I take walks, doodle, or simply crawl into bed and shut my eyes. But I find it hard from time to time to really open up my mind like a newbie. Or maybe there’s no such thing like this, as you and I have years of experience, we just leverage our experience to make decisions. So my question, to all of you, is: have you ever tried to be a newbie? And if so, how?

2 Office Personas You Don’t Even Realize…

In Inspiration on 2010/06/18 at 5:21 PM
Many great books & authors have been talking about reshaping the ideology of “the office.” In Rework, the fast hiring process and big companies are interpreted as “strangers in a cocktail party.” In Seth Godin’s last blog, the office space is described as a “150 year old factory.”
True. With the advanced technology, we do not need an office. Yet why there are still so many corporations setting up offices, building branches, and staffing employees all over the place? Maybe doing so makes the company look good on press? But by keeping people in one building doesn’t necessarily turn them into collaborator or contributor. The office syndrome roots 2 different personas in both of us we don’t even realize: 

  • Nanny: Ever had the experience of “re-visiting” projects or cases over & over again? Ever had to remind those who you work in the same team more than 10 times about something that’s due within few hours? You get the point. Working in the same building makes all us nannies, whether you want to be one or not.
  • Baseman: Even I’ve only been to 1 baseball game in my life I get the point of basemen standing on their bases waiting for that single home-run to send them home. Same scenario happens in offices, “I’ve waited 3 days to get that document from so and so and it turned out to be a week…” We’ve been waiting others’ to hit the ball, to score, or to make things happen. You would imagine you can just walk over to the person’s desk and score, but nah…office doesn’t make us batting champions.

I tried my best to avoid falling into these personas, but over time I see tiny influences in office space that hold me in. Thoughts? I wish I’d have the luxury working in a coffee shop yet still make things happen.

What kind of personas do you have in your office?

“Never Mind the Valley, Here’s Our Moto-Town, Detroit”

In Inspiration, Marketing, Social Media, Tech & Trend on 2010/04/19 at 3:49 PM

Inspired by Future Midwest conference last weekend. 2 day. 13 sessions. ¥ ideas & sparkles generated within and beyond.

Before attending the event, I’ve always been reading Read Write Web‘s “Never Mind the Valley” column and wondering when and how Detroit is going to be the next city. In this past conference, still had no answer to my question, but I know Detroit will. Not a Michiganer from the beginning, but after watching a great clip http://vimeo.com/11021663 displaying the rise, fall, and rebirth of Detroit, I can’t help but to be proud of being in Midwest. Whatever people from the east or west coast might think, this cornfield is gonna have something big happening.

Aside from the inspiration, there are indeed some very hardcore strategic concepts from various great sessions:
– Moving from acquisition to retention is key to the business. (via @joejaffe “Flip the Funnel“)
– Everything is no longer the way it used to be (ain’t we surprised about that!) Public Relations (and any types of marketing, in my opinion) becomes a two-way mutual relationship. As much as marketers would like to create buzz, we are no longer in control of the relationship. Our customer / audience just gonna say what they want to say. (Takeaway – so grab your seat or oxygen mask & be prepared!) (via Beth Harte @BethHarte)
– Realize & plan for social analytic lifecycle: discover, analyze, segment, strategize & integrate, and execute. Utilizing data mining & analytic tools (Trensmap, MediaBank…etc) (via Ken Burbary @kenburbary)
** Ken’s fantastic presentation is now available at http://kenburbary.posterous.com/consumer-insights-and-analytics-that-drive-di
– Being a challenger brand (I suspect Scott was suggesting local startups & entrepreneurs to brand themselves as a challenger, agreed?) requires different approach, grounded brand idea, study outside of category & other challenger brands, and finally building identity via social media. (via Scott Huaman @scotthauman)

At the end of the conference, although physically exhausted from all the learnings & “networking” (Ok, I said that, I am actually trying hard to put myself out there to be sociable because I am that shy), I am emotionally invigorated by these two very specific speaker that I wish myself live up their spirit & philosophy from now on.

Sam Valenti, a Michiganer, an entrepreneur, and a lead-thinker. Just like all the other presenters, he shook up our minds during his “permeable Brands,” presentation, but it was his last slide that said, “the scariest thing, for me, is not dying. It’s the thought “oh shit, I wish I’ve done…” instead of “oh shit.” before I die” 
I was so lucky talking to Sam soon after his presentation. Great guy – simply love him & his motto.

Blagica Bottigliero‘s story telling melted me, and I’m sure her presentation inspired just as many people at Future Midwest. A Michigan girl in big city like Chicago, Blagica touches every aspect of life, career, and relationship with her lovely heart & intelligent mind. I most certainly am going to check out her http://www.galsguidesummit.com/ from now on 🙂 (Note to self: start embracing life by traveling by myself!)

All in all, success. Kudos to the great team behind the scenes, kudos to all the people who make the event, kudos to all the tweeps who spice up the session, and kudos to myself –  shy as always but surely found her survival way in social media jungle. Like my Twitter name says, @evyfindstheway, right?)  

“I’ve seen the future, and it works!” It certainly works at Future Midwest!
(Sorry Ben for stealing your favorite quote from Michael Hanlon. Ooops!)


Where is your passion? Marketer?

In Inspiration, Marketing on 2010/02/09 at 9:13 PM

Marketing, by definition, is the “art of matching the user’s needs with a product or service.” It’s also about creating demands, fulfilling needs, and polishing your brands. But for me, marketing is a passion, a skill to communicate with every audience, and an enthusiasm to keep up with consumer behavior, technology, trend, and your own life.

I was arranging all the textbooks and case studies from my BRAND MANAGEMENT courses taught by Prof. John Dix yesterday. Still vividly remember him giving the most touching lecture at the last course about how a marketer should pursue marketing with creativity, continuity, and consistency, and how we, a marketer wannabe, should keep our heart young and passionate with the career, I couldn’t help but to wonder whether this passion only stays at school.

Don’t get me wrong. I read market news and Tech-Crunch almost everyday if possible, and am also a huge fan of the popular social media networks. Every time I learned something new or some fun advertisement campaign, I would be as excited as a baby. But does that mean I still have the passion?

In a role as a marketer, you and I can be cheerleaders, firefighters, facilitators, or even Tom Sawyers. We deal with all kinds of people, fixing all sorts of mission impossible. Our creative pitch gets denied or our brainstorming idea being rejected, and I just couldn’t figure out if there’s a bottom-line before the reality sinks in and eats off all the creative juice, and more importantly,  the stubbornness to keep on going.

And yes, every walk of life has ups and downs and I probably am just at a cross point to sort out my next step in career. But I would really like to know any feedback, any stories, from anyone who happen to bump into this scribble. So where is your passion, marketer?

Passion, Walk of Life.

In Inspiration, Marketing on 2009/10/22 at 2:28 PM
~ It’s not about how much you know, it’s about how open you embrace knowledge


No Word can express exactly how I feel at this moment.

I still work 40+ hours a day, feeling mostly brain-dead when I get home

But regarding the conflict between my passion & reality, I think I find a fine tune utilizing my inspiration of marketing, branding, and PR, jazzing up my job responsibility and harmoniously collaborating with my colleagues. And then here’s my passion again. I love being a marketer, and yes, always a dreamer, and my own cheer-leader.