Sunday, December 15, 2013


This time of year is often a time for reflection. You will see many a blog post recapping the year that was (or in many cases the year that was not.) Since I have not written in quite some time, it wouldn't make sense for me to recap my year. Instead I'm writing this post based on a touching note I received from someone in the blogging community. Here is an excerpt of said note below...

"I am reaching out today because of your blog! My name is Cameron Von St. James and my wife Heather is an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma - a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When she was diagnosed, she had just given birth to our little girl, Lily. Heather was told she only had 15 months left to live. I was quickly thrown into the role of caregiver, and together we decided we would do whatever it took to beat the cancer. Nearly 8 years later, Heather is cancer free and doing what she loves most; raising Lily. Because she beat the odds and is one of few long-term survivors of mesothelioma, it is our mission to spread awareness of mesothelioma by sharing our personal story."

This note tugged at my heart strings for many reasons. First, I know plenty of people afflicted with the awful, insidious disease known as cancer. Many of them have fought the good fight and are winning, while others have not been so fortunate. It's a battle no one should ever have to face, but those that do are heroes in every sense of the word. Cameron's wife Heather is a true hero. She faced her cancer head on and came up swinging. As a mom I know that we want nothing more than to raise our children into adulthood. To hear that this opportunity was in jeopardy for Heather was unfathomable to me. Knowing that she beat the odds and is doing what doctors said she may not be able to do (raise their daughter), is simply remarkable. 

My first thought upon receiving Cameron's email was, "what can I do to help?" I quickly realized that of course can help! I have the power with this blog to share a wonderful story and bring awareness to the plight of those dealing with a rare cancer, and hopefully give others hope that they too can beat it. 

Writing this post also gave me a chance to think about things I am thankful for. Health and family are two things that come to mind. We often take our health & family for granted until something bad happens. Promise yourself (and me while you're at it) that you won't do this. Take care of yourself and keep family first and all else should hopefully fall into place. 

Thank you Cameron for reaching out to me and for reminding me, as another year comes to a close, to stop and reflect on what I'm thankful for. Here's to a fabulous 2014 filled with happy family memories, good health and happiness. Cheers! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When Parenting Becomes a Competition

One of the things I find incredibly difficult about being a divorced parent is the feeling of competition between me and my ex when it comes to the kids. Maybe it's just me (pretty sure it's not), but I get this overwhelming feeling of "they are having more fun with dad than they are with me" at times. Not always. Not often. Just on occasion. And when it happens, it sucks.

You see, I'm the everyday parent. I'm the "pick up your clothes, do your homework, talk a shower, go to bed" parent. I'm the one dealing with...well, life! My ex has the ability to do selective parenting. Having the kids for the more leisurely activities such as dinner and dessert (who doesn't love dinner and dessert?!) and every other weekend when schedules are much looser. Granted there have been plenty of times where they come home from his house complaining that they didn't do much. They are still kids after all, with an insatiable appetite for non-stop action. But I still can't help but have that competitive feeling -- comparing what they do with him to what they do with me and wondering where they had the most fun. I know it's wasted energy. I know that the kids enjoy time with me as much as their dad. Alas, I can't shake that feeling of not measuring up when they come home sharing tales of jubilee about things they did or places they went that did not involve me. I should be happy that they are happy and have a dad that cares about them and takes care of them.

Don't get me wrong, my whining here has more to do with me than anyone else. I get that and openly admit it. The kids are well taken care of by both sides, including our respective significant others and family members. I, on the other hand, find myself sinking into a rut of jealousy and I have to learn how to deal.

Suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I'm sorry we only offer that to new customers...

customer loyalty, customer retention, directtv
New customers only. You old faithfuls need not apply! 

I'd like to put businesses that do what Direct TV has done on blast. This is not the first time as an existing customer I've been given the shaft. It tends to be the M-O of many companies lately. "Free upgrades!" "Huge discounts!" "AAA members save BIG!" (I happen to be a AAA member btw, so this offer is a big time sucker punch for me.) The caveat in all of this is ... you have to be a NEW customer. NEW as in everyone that has been with you for however long is considered old and unimportant right? 

The stats on acquiring new customers versus retaining those you already have are no secret. I'm not sure what the exact numbers are, but I've read that it can cost anywhere from 5-6 times more to go after new business than to focus on your existing consumer base. The bottom line - you need to acknowledge your current customers. They are already fans of your brand for whatever reason (pricing, customer service, location, whatever.) Point is, you have their business and you should do your darnedest to keep it. 

Customer advocacy is also nothing new these days. More and more brands are focusing their energy on turning their loyal customers into super fans. You want people that are passionate about your brand to not only keep coming back, but to tell a friend, family member, heck even a stranger, about how awesome your company is. Yet, more and more companies ignore this fact and focus on new business only. 

I happen to pay through the nose for my Direct TV service. I came on board because of a discount and better service offering a couple of years ago. I enjoy my Direct TV service (particularly the NFL Sunday Ticket package ... every game, every Sunday. Woot!) Yet because I'm already on board I am no longer eligible for the same things that "new" customers have access to. Not only that, but I get direct mail up the wazoo with some fab offers that simply don't apply to me. Why can't I get a free DVR upgrade? Why can't I save $200 for being a AAA member AND having your service? Oh right, because I'm old hat. You have my money and signed contract with the threat of taking my first born should I cancel on you and go elsewhere. So to you, I am no longer relevant. (PS - my first born is now a teenage girl so trust me if you take her, we would be considered even.) 

Guess what Direct TV and all you other businesses out that there that give your existing fans the shaft ... we matter! And by George we are sure as shiz not going to take kindly to being given a perpetual backseat to your goal of acquiring x amount of newbies each month. I get it, new sales are a big deal. No one said you shouldn't dedicate time and effort on new business. But you need to stop ignoring us oldies but goodies. As is evident by this blog post -- you have been put on blast! Take note and change your ways or risk losing loyal customers in droves. 

That. Is. All. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

There's no Stamos in our 'gurt!

chobani, greek, yogurt

There’s no Stamos in our ‘gurt!

Chobani is my favorite Greek yogurt. Ok it's the only yogurt (Greek or otherwise) that I even eat! It's delicious. They offer a variety of flavors in combinations you may not think would taste good together. But they do! And they've just recently begun offering bite sized yogurt - smaller packages of their awesome flavors for those of us that want smaller portions. What a concept! Perfect for snackers like me!

john stamos, greek

Now you may be asking yourself "Courtney, why the post about yogurt? And what the heck does this have to do with John Stamos?!" Patience young grasshopper...I'm getting to that…

As anyone who watches TV probably knows, there is a Greek yogurt commercial in which two women are eating yogurt in the kitchen and one says to the other that while eating this specific brand of yogurt the next man you lay eyes on will look like John Stamos (the most famous Greek out there. Except for maybe George Stephanopolous....but I digress!) The women proceed to indulge in their yogurt while staring at the doorway to the kitchen. In comes a guy who automatically appears to them as John Stamos. 
Genius right?! 
Genius until the following happens...

As you can see from the above exchange, I associated John Stamos with Chobani. Because in my head the only Greek yogurt I know and consume is Chobani. As marketers I think we've lost sight of what's important in our advertising. Sure John Stamos is a cool dude to have in your commercial, but if someone doesn't even remember the name of your product, or confuses your product with another brand, then how effective was it to shell out big bucks on a big name celebrity?! I had to Google the phrase "John Stamos yogurt commercial" to find out what brand of yogurt was even in that commercial. Not to mention the fact that this "other" yogurt has an incredibly difficult name to pronounce! Did they learn nothing from Haagen Dazs?! Again I digress...

The point here is to get back to the basics of marketing. Your product should be at the forefront of your messaging. Not John Stamos. Simple things like focusing on your product name, perhaps having it said aloud (by John Stamos) in the commercial, would have helped. We all know that eating yogurt will not cause famous people to suddenly appear in our kitchens (if it did, I would have a stockpile of yogurt in a bunker!) so why not focus on why I would really want to choose your yogurt over another brand. What makes it better? Does it taste better? Is it cheaper? Is it easier to find in my local grocery store? 
Let us not forget the four P’s of marketing 101 when we start the creative development process. Having extraneous things in your ads can be fun and creative, but can also cloud people's judgment and cause confusion, especially if your product is new to market. Remember the product life cycle people! Your marketing efforts need to coincide with where your product is in the eyes of your consumer. If you are the new kid on the block you need a different approach than brands that have been around the block a bit longer than you have. With all the noise we deal with as consumers, make your product stand out or it will be left in the outer banks of your customer's memory. If your product is easily overshadowed by a celebrity endorsement, how compelling can it really be? 

My apologies to Chobani for confusing them with another brand of 'gurt. I am now ├╝ber clear that there is no Stamos in yours.

Read my version of this post on MarketingProfs blog as well: Daily Fix