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Which way are you heading? To the top or the bottom??

Which way are you heading? To the top or the bottom??

I was watching George Strombolopolous a few nights ago and Seth Godin was a guest. Seth had some great opinions and projections, and he said it best with “either you are in a race to the bottom, or a race to the top.”

Business these days is unwielding, cut-throat, and yet ripe for the picking. It seems that people’s instinct is to cut their own profits in order to be the lowest price point to acquire new business. The problem with this slippery slope is that there is always someone out there that can do it for less. Then where does that leave you?

The middle-road is seeing the largest attack. Mediocrity is no longer good enough. This is the market that is having massive layoffs and closures due to having both ends of their carrot being nibbled on by the bottom/top race.

So what is left? Head for the top. Positioning yourself as a high-value, high-quality business will have people seeking your services, and be willing to pay for it. Be diligent in the quality of your work and do not second-guess your positioning.

Being ahead of the curve is an asset, but it is not necessary to be cutting-edge to be successful. All it takes is finding a untapped niche and creating it as your own. Research your industry, your location, your competitors’ offerings. Pay attention to what is being offered, and especially note what is not. Mining the findings will unearth some hidden gems.

SunChips making noise for the environment.

SunChips making noise for the environment.

I heard some comforting news this week. SunChips Canada has decided to keep their eco-friendly, biodegradable bags in circulation. Even after much heated debate about the bags being too noisy which has caused the US brand to  ditch the green bags.

Instead of returning to the original, land-filling packaging, SunChips has decided stand up to the naysayers with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek retort. See video here. On their Facebook page, SunChips is offering to mail out earplugs to whomever asks. Love it. They understand what is at stake here.

What is more surprising: That consumers find noise control is more important than reducing packaging waste? Or that a company has not bent to some noisy, public resistance and done an about-face. Choosing instead to stick to their guns and their environmental initiative?

Hopefully this sassy stance gets some justified PR and gives the “Sorry But I Can’t Hear You Over This SunChips Bag” Facebook group a revelation that this is bigger than their self-indulgence.

Zombies lumber into Sears

Zombies lumber into Sears

It seems that nowadays it is difficult to get away from lumbering zombies. After years of being in the shadow of the vampire (pun intended) it appears that the undead have found themselves in a social revival. There have been a surge of zombie sightings recently. From Hollywood flicks to video game to TV commercials, you can’t escape the fact they have become the latest “it” monster.

Just in time for Halloween, Sears has created their own take on zombie fun. They have created an extensive shopping site. While it is only a micro site that links to their real online store, nothing has been missed. Complete with English/Zombian translation capabilities, to a Zombie Gift Guide, and some great writing such as “tone while you lumber” and “brain stains be gone”, they have done a great job. And be sure to try the Zombie Friend Maker.

What fun they must have had. I can only imagine unleashing fellow zombie-loving Copelanders to design this. I can see the  gore on the walls already.

Check it out: Sears Zombie Site

Ethonomics

The latest buzzword. Wikipedia’s definition: the study of ethics in the marketplace. For years now, companies have been working hard to “Go Green” (it’s almost business suicide not to). What started out as company one-upper, has quickly become an expectation from consumable-conscious consumers. Purchase decisions are no longer just based on price comparison, or calorie intake numbers. The newest differentiator is how much wastage is saved through product creation, packaging and distribution. Not only does it benefit the companies bottom line, but it is also great for market positioning.

The numbers are staggering when auditing behemoth companies*:

  • General Mills has reduced yogurt packaging enough to save 1,200 tons of plastic annually.
  • Unilever has reduced water consumption by 63%, and CO2 emissions by 39%.
  • Frito-Lay have one-third of their factories at “zero landfill” status.

Small tweaks on their end make significant differences. Sure, they are saving the planet (as much as possible), but they are also attracting green consumers willing to buy efficient products. It’s a win-win. Now that’s good business.

While you might not have the distribution levels as Coke, Walmart, or Unilever, every bit helps. Our own office consumables have been dramatically reduced to do our part. What changes in your company can be made?

* sourced via fastcompany.com

The “Must Have” Christmas Gift for people on your Naughty List.

The Christmas season can be hectic enough as it is. People spend a lot of time searching for that perfect gift for loved ones and friends. There are lots of lists and flyers to assist in finding that special toy for Bobby, or the ideal trinket for Aunt Ruby. But how can you share your opinion of people on your naughty list? Coal is sooo last century. Is there something to show how you truly feel, and  that they need to clean up their act?

Here is a small collection. See anything you like??

  1. Nose Hair Clippers ~ eww.
  2. A vacuum cleaner ~ A step up from an iron or blender.
  3. A framed photo of yourself and/or your family ~ A reminder that you’re watching them.
  4. A years supply of diet food
  5. A one month gym membership
  6. The Snuggie ~ nuff said.
  7. The Snuggie for Dogs ~ ditto.
  8. Coca-Cola Branded Presents
  9. GrowaFrog Kit ~ Or go classic and get the SeaMonkeys

Where is my martini and lines of coke?

Perception vs. Reality. For years Hollywood has done a great job of portraying ad agencies as glorified frat parties, filled with designers lounging on couches with glamorous women, or playing foosball while mixing their micro-brewery beers with bowls of uppers/downers that can be found at the reception desk.

Gone are the days of 3 martini lunches and HR violation conversations of the Mad Men era. Say goodbye to the 70’s-80’s era of strippers and coke, black turtlenecks, and “I don’t do that, I am a designer” attitude. Oh the good ol’ days…

We now have Agency 3.0. Nowadays the lines have become blurred with what each employee offers. Our Account Reps know about composition, branding, and photography. The Creative department is engrained in strategy and client management. Employees are more diverse in their offerings. Strategy, Creative, Social Media, these are areas that they need to be strong in. ALL of them.

Sure we still have fun, it still gets the creative juices flowing, but the reality is that this is a business with a lot on the line. It is a result-based industry that no longer has room for frivolous partying on the client’s bill. Budgets are getting smaller, and expectations higher. It is hard to keep that in mind after a few stiff drinks.

Enough with the clichés. Now, has anybody seen my RedBull?