How about some common sense marketing?

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Lately I’ve been noticing a lot more marketing work out in the wild where brands are just talking to themselves. You know the kind of thing that I’m talking about. Instead of truly trying to connect with consumers, you’ll see brands just regurgitating corporate speak that doesn’t make much sense when you actually think about it. A former manager of mine used to call it smoking your own exhaust.

It happens all the time in the retail industry where stores tout their unbelievable “one-day only” sales. These “one-day sales” actually last two days because they just happen to have an extra day that is called a special “preview day.” I’m sure you’ve seen these and probably are just immune to them by now. They are the “can’t miss” or “once a year savings event” that somehow magically repeat themselves by the same retailers month-after-month-after-month. (I’m looking at you Macy’s.)

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why brands matter: thoughts from overseas travels

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Recently Leslie and I made it back home after a vacation overseas. Every couple of years or so we try to take a big trip in conjunction with our wedding anniversary and this time around we made the trek to central and eastern Europe. Our itinerary consisted of 10 days abroad where we split our time between Prague, Krakow and Budapest.

Overall the trip was fantastic. We did the tourist thing a bit, we did our best to live like a local, and we did more than our fair share of walking around. All three cities were charming in their own way, but I became especially enamored with Budapest.

One of the things I kept noticing and pondering on this trip was brands: why they exist and what kind of value they provide. Looking back on it now, it may have been somewhat silly to be thinking about branding and marketing while on an overseas vacation — but sometimes things become a bit clearer when you’re in a foreign land.

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word-of-mouth thy name is wits

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Ok, before I get into this post there are a couple things you need to know. First, I’m a big fan of the musician Aimee Mann. Yes, I know that her music is depressing.  And I will totally admit that I enjoy listening to indie music that’s on the slow and sad side of things: Luna, Yo La Tengo and Spain.  (This was especially the case back in the late 90s.)  Aimee Mann’s music is totally in line with this, but she is also endearing, charming and self-deprecating.  I really started listening to her when she scored the soundtrack to the movie Magnolia.  I thought the film itself was polarizing, but the album was fantastic.  Give it a listen when you have the chance.

Second, I’m a big advocate and proponent of word-of-mouth marketing.  I’ve written about it a few times previously on the blog, and I’ve tried to bring that discipline to my various roles at Best Buy.  In particular this is one of the reasons that I’m excited about my current role leading social marketing for the brand.

Ok, now that I’ve called those two things out, let’s get to it. Continue reading

special agent dale cooper, rosie larsen and learning something along the way

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I was a huge fan of the short lived television program Twin Peaks when I was growing up.  There was just something about the combination of the sleepy, pacific northwest setting, the cool musical soundtrack of Angelo Badalamenti, the eccentric characters (FBI agent Dale Cooper and his love of coffee, Sheriff Truman, Bob, The Log Lady) and the off center vision of David Lynch that utterly caught my imagination.  In the end, Twin Peaks had a short-lived run and I totally acknowledge that it lost its way during the second (and final) season, but that show has always stuck with me. Continue reading

SXSW 2012: a retrospective

I’m finally starting to get my legs back underneath me after being home for a full week following my nine day marathon in Austin for the 2012 SXSW Interactive and Music conference.  As I mentioned in my previous post previewing the event, my plan was to attend SXSW Interactive in a work capacity and then take some vacation time for SXSW Music.

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I’m not going to go on a deep dive on any one specific topic here nor will I write about my lessons learned should I go back next year (like the imperative to bring comfortable shoes or a portable battery charger for the iPhone).  There were some highlights, some lowlights and some just silly observations (like this or this or this).  It was a time for inspiration, networking, validation and just having fun.  All-in-all I had a fantastic time and as weird as it sounds I was a bit sad to leave Austin even after spending more than a week in the city during its most crowded time of the year. Continue reading

sharing some lessons learned from the social chair

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For the most part, I have not written too many posts on this blog that get into the day-to-day aspects of my job.  I have preferred to keep my entries at a broader level.  I try to talk about observations I see in the consumer marketing space.  Or I do have occasions where I’ll rant about the sometime silliness of corporate life.  But this week I’ll get away from that a bit and step into the weeds. Continue reading

customers and the moment of truth

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One of the parts of my gig that I enjoy has to do with on-campus recruiting.  I usually spend my time meeting with current graduate students and talking to them about what my role is like or how the hiring process works at Best Buy.  More often than not, students ask what it’s like to work for a retail brand.

For the most part, I’ve found that MBA programs spend a lot of time talking to their students about a variety of industries such as consumer packaged goods, financial services, consulting, etc., but retail brands don’t always get a lot of exposure.  (Now I will say that this is somewhat different for business schools located here in the Twin Cities because both Best Buy and Target are headquartered here in town.) Continue reading