Archive for February, 2011

Don’t Shortchange Yourself

February 22, 2011

The poor economy has caused much belt-tightening over the past couple of years, with everyone wanting to get the most bang for their buck. To me that is recognizing value, not necessarily finding the cheapest price. It can be easy to fall into the trap of being a penny-wise but a pound-foolish. Sure it is great to come in under-budget, but don’t under-cut your project in the process.

Know your limits and rely on other people who can bring something to the table. Find vendors who will make suggestions to improve your original idea or who have a special talent to enhance the final project, making it great as opposed to good. Sometimes getting it great does cost more financially, not much more, but more.  But what are the long-term rewards of standing out with great work and valuing exceptional quality? And what are the pitfalls of just being good. Is good, good enough for others?

I acknowledged my limitations when my husband and I had an addition built on our home. It was not a large or complicated, and, as a designer, I knew exactly how I wanted it to look and flow. I could have sketched it out and worked with the builder but we hired the architect who drew our original house plans. If we were going to spend a lot of money to build it, why would we scrimp on one of the most important points in the process? We wanted someone who did this work day-in and day-out and knew things about home design that we would never know. Sure it cost more, but the outcome was much better than anything I could have done. Not only did the architect make great suggestions for adjustments, but he also informed us of new building materials that provided greater efficiency. Most importantly I was assured of not making a costly mistake or having multiple change orders during construction (cha ching, cha ching). The additional cost of the architect probably saved me money in the long run and significantly improved the outcome.

So when doing anything in life and work consider value. Is saving the extra dollar really doing just that? Don’t shortchange yourself. It may end up costing you much more than that dollar in the long run.

We can start reforming health care by fighting obesity.

February 14, 2011

I’m sure you have read about Michelle Obama’s obesity campaign “Let’s Move” that promotes healthy choices regarding food and exercise for children. We all know this is a serious issue – about 2/3 of adults are overweight or obese and about 1/3 of our children are. 

There are a myriad of reasons for this. Let’s start with poor food choices, constant snacking and super-sized portions. It’s even been shown that school age children who eat school lunches are more prone to be obese than those who bring lunches from home. For the most part, our children spend their extra time watching television and playing video games – they don’t exercise.

 I must admit that I’ve read about these statistics and about the growing concerns associated with obesity, but my eyes really widened when I read an alarming article about how stroke rates are rising among children and younger adults. 

 According to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011, CDC analysts reported:

  • strokes in children 5 -14 years of age increased by 31% among boys and 36% among girls
  • in males 15 – 34 years old, rates increased by 51% and in females 15 to 34 years, it increased by 17%.

Although definitive links are unproven, it is suspected that obesity and hypertension are contributory factors.

To make matters even worse, at this same conference it was also reported that:

  • drinking diet soda daily is linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and vascular-related deaths
  • high salt intake may double the risk of ischemic stroke, independent of sodium’s role in hypertension.

So, in layman’s terms, those diet soft drinks and potato chips and French fries that so many of our children consume, are upping their potential risk for disease – in the near future rather than in their golden years.

Another recent study by researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, indicates that feeding an infant solid food before 4 months of age raises the child’s risk of becoming obese by the time they are toddlers.

Physicians and hospitals particularly see the fallout from obesity – diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular problems, etc.  As Lee Schwamm, MD, vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said, “If we don’t control traditional risk factors – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – we’re going to have a wave of cardiovascular disease in 10, 15, 20 years.”

 So, whether you agree politically or not with Mrs. Obama’s hoped-for-legacy, this is a wake up call for all of us as parents (and, yes, I know that many of you are already waging this battle with your children).

 The effort we put forth right now may very well save our children from early years of prescription usage, treatment by both physicians and hospitals and the ravaging effects of early onset of diabetes, heart disease, and even early stroke.

 So, I don’t know about you, but I think I will pass on the chocolates for myself and my son for Valentine’s Day.

A Celebration of Geekery. Or This is Not a Rehash of the Super Bowl Commercials.

February 7, 2011

Volkswagen and Star Wars team up to promote the new Passaat via the Super Bowl.

Thanks to Twitter and the #brandbowl hashtag, I got 90% of my Super Bowl TV spot chatter out of the way last night. So rather than give a Donnie Deutsch-esque rehash of last night’s leftovers, let’s talk about something new: activating audiences.

Not just any audiences, passionate audiences.

Generation X parents who love Star Wars. People who love their VW Beetles so much they already want the brand-new redesigned one that’s not on the market yet. People of all ages who hoover the crumbs out of Dorito bags when no one is looking or don’t even care if anyone is looking. People who waited for the Verizon iPhone for years. People who have never really thought about Detroit before last night but now swell with pride at the thought of Motor City.


As much as I disliked many commercials, some did a fine job of saying “We know how much you love our brand. We don’t care if others don’t get it or don’t like it. This is for you, Mr./Mrs./Miss Brandgeek. Now go Tweet about it!”

It’s official. The Super Bowl commercial has evolved.

The days of holding spots under top-secret wraps for months just to enjoy a thirty-second spotlight that says “Hello there. We are a leading brand.” are gone. And good riddance. Today’s champions share Super Bowl commercials before the pregame even starts and make them an integrated mix of social, paid and earned media. And some brands go for two by lavishing their brandgeeks with love in the process. An effort that usually scores legions of brand-new brandgeeks.

If you’re lucky, you have brandgeeks out there. Make this the year you not only find them, but actually throw some love their way.

It’s a Force worth having on your side.

Is Being the Closest Hospital Enough?

February 1, 2011

Travel around the country, especially in smaller communities, and it’s amazing how many community hospitals use little more than the selling point that they are close to home. Often, that or some form of it will be their tagline.

Our experience is that just isn’t enough. One, our research shows consumers know exactly where the closest hospital is, so telling them something they already know well isn’t likely to change their minds. More important, the more profitable consumers – the commercially insured – can and will drive for care they think will make a difference.

They not only want the care to be closer, they want to know it’s at least as good as, if not better than, what they’ll find at the larger facility 30 minutes or an hour away. In other words, convenience is not enough to keep them from making the drive.

Check out this very successful campaign we created for Meadows Regional Medical Center to turn the shorter distance into a life-saving selling proposition.

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