ShopperAnnie versus the Porn Star

Bet you didn’t know I chose @ShopperAnnie as my Twitter handle back in 2009 because there’s a porn star who calls herself Anne Howe. UGH!

Launching a professional consultant identity in the Shopper Marketing/Retail/Consumer Goods space is hard enough.  Competing with a nasty little porn star for a good ranking on a Google search for your real name – well that just gave me an incentive to work harder.

That’s why  when I chose my company name I added the word Associates – so I could use AHA! as part of my brand. I chose to expand my ShopperAnnie  “handle”  on my blog.

If I can slog it out on Google search with a porn star, think of what I can do for your business. Persistence pays off in the long run.

Shopper Marketing – Climb into the Soup Bowl

I wish my corporate friends in shopper marketing would get out of their silo’s and climb into the soup bowl for once and for all. Come on friends, think about your own real life behavior. You don’t thing and act in marketing silo’s…and neither do your targeted shoppers.

When will marketing people stop thinking the world of quant data is more important versus a world of measuring human engagement and relationship?

We live in the world of soup, blended with incredible flavors. Would you eat soup with only one ingredient? No. Layers of flavor are just like layers of integrated, synchronized communication. Seamless and tasty. And fulfilling to the shopper.

It’s time to talk more about what is real and what is bulls&*t in the marketing services business. I’m standing up in the kitchen with something to say about blended recipes. They work.

What’s your recipe?

 

Watercolors

What’ s the most visually appealing aspect of travel for you?

For me, it’s an opportunity to be near water whenever I can. And to enjoy the stimulating colors. From the deep olive greens in a creek to the stunning turquoise of the Caribbean, each one is sensuous and has power to mesmerize and to energize.

Watercolors come with built-in feelings that aren’t always reflective of what they can signify. Typically, the calm teal colors of the Caribbean inspire happiness and reduce fear of the vast ocean for me.

But when I look at this photo below, which I snapped on St. Kitt’s island at the point where the Atlantic (left) and Caribbean oceans meet, it morphs into a visual symbol of choices to be made.

It becomes clear to me that the turbulence of an ocean teeming with motion, energy and change is where I’m drawn mentally, even though physically it scares the hell out of me. Time to wade in and trust the tides.

Give me the waves!
Give me the waves!

Ice Chimes Ring in the New Year

ICE_HL

Usually, when I hear that pretty tinkling sound, it’s coming from my neighbor’s wind chimes that sing like the wind in Costa Rica.

Imagine my surprise in hearing the wind chime song from ice breaking up on a big lake on a cold gray windy New Year’s Eve.

The wind blew in from the north, and with temps in the high 20’s, a thin layer of ice on the west shore of Hubbard Lake began to crack and drift apart. I ventured out with my camera.

And while the pictures are cool, what I will always remember is how pretty that sound was on the lakeshore. I’ve never heard anything quite like that from a lake.

ICE_HL

Later that evening, the wind was howling and the ice changed to garish crunching and cracking which, despite a full moon, sent me back inside to find the memory of my special winter wind chimes that, to me, were singing Happy New Year!

Three AHA Moments – Words for 2013

This is the third year I’ve followed the advice of business leader Chris Brogan  – to select and post for all to see – three words that will guide the year ahead.

Last year I built my words around my business initials – AHA!

This year I’m jumping off with something that describes me and what I do very well. I got there because of a neighborly type newsletter Chris sends on Sunday mornings, which got me thinking  how nice it is to be centered, even in business, around human connections.  Chris is, and happily, so am I.

Homemade Soup. As a one person shop in consulting, I have mainly big organizations as clients, but I serve them in a most neighborly and personal way!

I blend solutions for them like homemade soup, getting it just right by referring to strategy recipes through lots of reading, research and combining of ingredients for a just right solution. So far the results have been quite tasty.

Impetus. Now here’s a word that has some oomph. Push, force, momentum and drive are all synonyms. If you know me, you’ll understand. I’m not one to let stuff lag. I can hear my biggest client laughing at this one. I’m all about looking out the front window of the bus and steering toward the future. This word will symbolize my intent to keep that focus forward.  Even if I have to pace myself sometimes.

Reflect. A calming word, but also a very stimulating concept. My creative muse is a huge part of my life; taking time for the art to balance the pace of strategic work is vitally important to my success, but also to my soul.  This is a year I plan to be more forthcoming about doing and sharing my artsy pursuits.  I’m also doing a lot more singing out loud. Praise songs do indeed lift my spirit high.

I’m starting by reposting the photo below, which I had made into a puzzle this Christmas for my relatives who own and graciously invite me frequently to their up-north lake home where this was taken.  I cannot thank them enough for being so generous.

Big Lake
Big Lake

I’m so excited by the energy that’s moving me forward into 2013.  I can feel it….2013 is going to be a fantastic journey. Amen.

 

 

 

The Grabbing Power of Visual Icons

During a recent visit to Target in search of new earbuds to replace a pair that got stepped on, I found myself standing at the electronics counter making a purchase. While I am in fact a shopper that notices many things, clutter around a retail counter rarely gets any attention. Mainly I think its annoying and in the way.

But, in the midst of paying, SOMETHING ICONIC caught my eye. It was on a typical rack of gift cards –  a sea of clutter that’s hard to read and impossible to shop, in my humble opinion.

But these babies jumped out at me big time. Why?

These icons spell “pleasure” to the brain!!

 

Because my brain is patterned to recognize the two images as associated with pleasure. So, while out of context in a store versus on a screen, they break through the clutter and get noticed.

Nice work, Apple.  I almost gifted myself on the spot. Almost.

Peeking into Retail Windows

What ever happened to retail windows that could cause a shopper to pause and ponder?

These windows did just that.

Thank you, Louis Vuitton, for your design point of view – worth taking a moment to appreciate. Amidst the crowd on King St. in Charleston, you managed to not only bemuse, but also to reflect the scene on the street itself.

 

Louis Vuitton retail window – Charleston, SC

 

Get Working on Tomorrow. Today.

We better get working on tomorrow. Today.

With a wary eye on the future, it’s way past time to start thinking, seeing and acting differently. Businesses today are trying to change, but still unwilling to break out of deeply rooted operational habits like control, predictability, standardization and faster is better.

One of my inspirations for doing differently comes from a wonderful book titled Presence. 

Its primary benefit to me, apart from an introduction that is phenomenal, is the concept that there is an art to seeing. The idea is that if you can learn to see differently, the whole becomes more than the sum of its mechanical parts. New ways to think about solutions to challenges emerge from the belief that organizations are living systems that can be thought of as a moving whole. If we can see broadly and more holistically by practicing suspension of our existing bias and habits, we can experience the phenomenon of “letting come”.

For tomorrow to be better, we need to become more aware and attuned to what is emerging and organize around it.  Instead of trying to fit emerging ideas into our habitual constructs of today.

Human systems are changing fast. Enabling change to serve the whole without the constraints of our industrial heritage of parts is hugely challenging. The path forward requires different actions from each of us today.

I think the concept of “presence” is a wonderful way to approach the future with more confidence and hope.

 

 

I’m totally upside down!

Putting a camera in front of my face is one of my favorite ways to use my brain. For me, when I’m using my vision and perspective with the equipment, I’m also allowing my brain to do its own thing with whatever I’m working on for business.

The beauty is the dual outcome. I get photos that please me and ideas that please my clients.

What’s not to love about that?

Here’s a little treat of a photo on a clear fall day at Big Lake in Northern Michigan. I love this reflective world we live in!!

The world on the lake is wonderful when it’s upside down.

 

Crackin’ with McCracken

A few years back I sat in a conference hall enjoying this jitter-bug kind of of guy flit about the stage and roam up and down the aisles ranting about human culture and marketing.

I was riled up, excited by this McCracken guy, being a former student of both anthropology and marketing… and then of course I had to go back to work.  I’m lucky my work combines these disciplines nicely, working through various models for innovation and insight.

Today, I’m more excited than ever, reading Grant McCracken’s new book “Culturematic” because the main theme is about blowing up the models and provoking the world with experiments that probe the possible.

It’s easy to love this kind of a book. It’s hard to get paid to do the kind of work he’s recommending. But it’s 100% possible to invigorate your mind with this thinking.

I’m gonna get crackin’ on finishing this book and give my mind a nice big long rope to play with. This is business conversation worth joining.