Tag Archives: the branded blogger

Me and ADHD

 

I recently heard an adult complaining that their child was diagnosed with ADD and how they thought it was just an excuse for the kid’s laziness and lack of scholastic effort. I’m a walking example that can totally disprove this narrow-minded viewpoint.

Yes, it’s true. I suffer from ADHD (as well as some other things my friends might tell you!). I was diagnosed in the late 90s and from what I’ve learned; it is MUCH more difficult to spot in adults as opposed to children. As an adult, you’ve developed a myriad of compensatory methods to deal with the affliction, so it becomes hidden behind your quirks.

For me, it was trouble focusing, reading, staying on task…the usual stuff. As a kid, I knew nothing about it nor did anyone else, because it wasn’t identified as a real condition until long after I was out of school. No, I was just a hyper kid with poor manners and little or no will-power; or so I was labeled.

I was relieved and upset when I was diagnosed. Relieved because now I had a reason for the struggles as a youngster (and as an adult for that matter). Upset because it took 30-some years to figure it out. ADHD and ADD stem from a chemical “malfunction” in the brain. It has to do with the “gates” that control the amount of chemicals such as noradrenaline and serotonin that are released, and when.

Normal people have cycles of these chemicals that help them “wake up” in the morning and fall asleep in the evening. We do not. What happens is they are released randomly or continuously, so we are never fully awake or asleep. Hence the moodiness, lack of focus and so on. Ever wonder why very young kids with ADD/ADHD have so many temper tantrums? Because temper tantrums release the noradrenaline in their brains, and they will have those tantrums in the mornings to wake them up – self-medicating before they can even spell ADD.

“What’s it like”, I’ve been asked. Well, like this –  

You wake up and look around the room and see the pack of Eclipse on the show about our planet last night on the science channel narrated by Mike Rowe on the new Ford commercials and I’d like to drive a new Mustang GT on the Bonneville Salt Flats I’m sure my friend’s mom drove a ’67 Bonneville that was light blue.

Have trouble making sense of that? Welcome to the world of the ever-changing channel in the ADD brain. It’s not fun.  Think about reading sentences/books like that from first grade to your senior year of college. If someone you know thinks they may have it; check it out. The diagnosis and treatment totally changed my life, afterwards I was able to return to school and earn my degrees. It’s real, it’s not an excuse, it doesn’t make you or them a bad person…it’s simply an affliction.


If it Weren’t for Bad Luck…

 

Have I ever told you the story about my uncle Erving? You know – the one who won the NY lottery back in 1986 only to get hit by a taxi on the way to cash in his winning ticket. Uncle Erving survived but the ticket was dislodged from him during the impact and never located; he died penniless and angry just a few years later.

Or the one about my cousin Derek, when under severe marital stress committed adultery (the only time in his life, mind you) only to contract a severe case of syphilis, lose his mind and spend the rest of his days locked in a state asylum?

Seems my family has a history of falling victim to incredible circumstances. Like my great aunt Heather, who fell for a circus entertainer when she was just 17 years old and ran off from home during the Great Depression. A year after her leaving, Philo her high-school sweetheart, invents the television and becomes rich beyond his wildest dreams. Great Aunt Heather? She was stuck with a hairy strongman until their untimely deaths during a freak train derailment in northern Idaho.

No, my family has not been on the fast-track to fortune or success and has certainly seen its share of heartache and disappointment. I’m not sure about my future, but I can tell you I will be staying in today, avoiding women, the circus and any temptation to hit it rich on a Mega Millions ticket. Oh yeah, did I also mention it is April 1st!  Happy April Fools  🙂


March Mad Money!

I did some quick calculating and the end number was astounding…wait for it – ’til the end of this piece. We marketers dream about the day when we will commission the Holy Grail of commercials…the Super Bowl spot. However, a little digging finds another event that far eclipses the NFL’s championship game.

The Super Bowl ads ran about twice the rate compared to the NCAA tourney this year – $3M per 30 seconds as opposed to $1.5M for March Madness; however the concentration and shear number of games lends to a much bigger jackpot. The NCAA tourney games run at a rate of 33% advertising. Every one minute of commercials buys you – the viewer, two minutes of basketball action.

Multiply the per-minute cost ($3M) by the number of games (67) and the number of commercial minutes per game (40 – very conservative!) and you get – $ 8,040,000,000! Yeah that’s eight billion…with a “B”! By comparison the Super Bowl brings in around $300M. Madness alright…Mad Money!


A Resolute 2011

 

“Admirably purposeful, determined and unwavering”, that’s how the New Oxford dictionary defines the word “resolute”, the base of “resolution”.  Determined and unwavering is not how I would describe most of my resolutions! Only one I can think of have I actually held true, and not even 100% there. Two years ago I decided that drinking three Venti Starbuck’s coffees every day might be contributing to my overall anxiety, sleeplessness and need to whiten my teeth every other week. I can confidently say that after two years of almost no coffee, I don’t have to whiten my teeth as much.

Here we are (I say “we” to fashion some sort of community here) on the second day of the new year and I’m thinking about resolutions past, present and future. With the one exception, all past decrees have come and gone without much notice or purpose. So, what will this year bring?

I found myself thinking about this year’s promise at 2 am today…kinda strange but true. I had not thought about a resolution for 2011 leading up to January 1st, but for some weird reason I began to in the wee hours of day two. What can I do differently that will positively change my life? Should it be work-related, financial, relationship or health-based? No, none of those struck a chord with me. Hummm…dilemma, dilemma.  What can I realistically accomplish that I really should change?

One word, “Music”. “What”? I hear you ask? “Music”, not listening to, or downloading more but playing. See, I’m a musician at heart, though I barely have made a peep in years. At 2 am I got to thinking about my father who passed over a year ago, and remembering then that I had thoughts of blowing the dust off of the drums in the basement. Why? Because of all the talents he possessed and achievements (athlete, veteran, artist, computer pioneer), he would have always described himself a “musician”; and that love of music passed on to me. I never considered myself talented, especially compared to dad, who could play any instrument known to mankind (and had them all in his house to prove it!) but I did enjoy it.  

So here, day two I’m setting off to the basement (after 12 noon of course) and sitting down behind the kit to make some noise.  I’m sure it will annoy and anger some of me neighbors, but hey – I’ll need a resolution for 2012!


After Christmas Blues…

I’ve been anxious this past week and I’m just starting to define why. Leading up to Christmas (like, two months prior!) I’m consumed with what to get everyone on my list. I’m canvassing the Internet and the local stores doing research on everything from a laser parking assistant (trust me, it’s a real product) to the cleverest Hallmark card I can find. All of this frantic activity stops on the morning of the 25th. Even with all the moaning and griping I do about shopping, I find that I miss the hustle of it all after the holiday.

I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering the blues here; retailers must be going insane. After the rush to return the ugly sweaters and the imitation iPods, there’s not a lot of activity until we all go looking for Valentines’ cards, jewlery and over-priced chocolates. What is the solution? I’m not sure, but what if we developed (and marketed) gifts that have some immediate recurring revenue? The Wii and Blu-Ray players are a start, but even then the initial gift usually comes with a bevy of games and asssorted DVDs.

Retailers and e-tailers need to be thinking about how to bring those shoppers back shortly after the holidays; maybe it’s holding customer events in the store (e-vents online) that begin to build a community among the shoppers. Gaming contests, chefs teaching us how to properly use those new Ginsu knives or a class on getting the most out of our iPads. As marketers, we must keep the momentum going after the holidays or we’ll all be singing the blues this winter.


My Christmas Conundrum

 

Let me start by confessing something.  It’s been eating away at me for years and years. Whew, so here it goes…I am a horrible Christmas gift shopper! OK, I said it and now it’s out there in the open. I’m truly awful at every aspect of the gifting process.

I can never figure out what to get someone, even those I’ve known all my life (Hell, especially those I’ve known all my life!) Once I do decide on a gift, usually with input from friends; I’m sure I don’t shop for the best deal and almost always pay too much.  I can’t even wrap the damn things; my gifts are so easy to spot under the tree because they look like they’ve been wrapped by a kindergartener or a gorilla. OK, that’s not fair; I have in fact seen some gorillas do a better job than me.  

This year is no different, I’m stressing on what to get mom (she’s the most difficult to shop for on my list). Having dinner with a friend, I mentioned the problem and she asked what my mother liked. “Reading”, I said – remembering all the books I’ve given my mother on Christmases past. Then something amazing happened, instead of offering a book idea, she offered a “reading” idea. “How about a Kindle”? She asked. Wow! What a great idea.  So, I ran with it.

I had thought about them in the past for myself, and thought that the iPad might be a better buy, until I read a review about customers’ “love” for the Kindle. What emerged was an overwhelming preference for the “readablility” of the Kindle. Most quotes were from people who owned both gadgets, and the results were heavily favoring the Kindle because it is lighter and easier to hold in one hand, the screen had less glare, and the non-backlit feature was actually easier on the eyes!

The folks at Amazon should play up on this positioning but no where in the ads or campaigns have I seen direct comparisons to the iPad. I know when considering a digital reader, the iPad is in the evoked set of competitive products but the Kindle rates superior as an e-book reader. Maybe they don’t want to go toe-to-toe with Apple, but in this case I think they should.

OK, there’s one Christmas gift down and only a few more to go… I wonder if Amazon offers gift wrapping?


Cyber This!

 

Well, is the recession finally starting to let up on us a bit? Maybe, if you look at, and take into account the sales numbers for this past Monday. To be more specific, online sales on what we now call Cyber Monday.  According to ClickZ we reached a billion dollars in sales online Monday for the very first time. I’m taking this as good news on a few fronts.

First, consumer spending is up this holiday season – way up; up 9% Friday, 16% on Monday; and that 16% equals well over $100M over last year’s figures. Next, retailers are capitalizing on online shoppers as Cyber Monday blew away Black Friday, $1.028B to $648M. Now, 2/3 of a million is nothing to sneeze at but topping a billion online is significant.

Lastly, consumers are spending more per capita. The average sale was $114 online versus $102 last year; up a full 12%. I’m encouraged by this news and I hope you are also. I mean really, when was the last time we had any increases in sales figures, let alone double-digit gains. Let’s hope this a sign of a strong 2011 to come!


Black Friday + Cyber Monday = $$$

OK, did you get caught up in the moment? Still full from your turkey dinner and in a daze from watching 47 football games in a row? Were you one of the many millions that filed into the streets last Friday searching for those bargains and deals? I can say I was not, not because I don’t like to shop…I can spend money with the best of them. But rather because I’m doing most of my shopping online this year. That means today I’ve been quite the Internet bargain hunter.

Black Friday is a marketer’s dream come true. What a concept (latched upon by marketers only a few years ago) of one day of the year to get a head start on your Christmas shopping. The term originated in Philadelphia in the mid-60s and became more of a national phenomenon a decade or so later. But not until the early part of this millennium did we marketers really get hooked into the possibilities here.  

Now, what used to be considered  the busiest shopping day of the year is that and much more. Black Friday deals now last the weekend or longer. Plus, we now have Cyber-Monday – the opportunity to buy more stuff at the speed of our keyboards, all from the comfort of home (or maybe the office!). Both days now positioned as “Must do” shopping events.

Big winners Friday were not much of a surprise; Walmart, Target, Best Buy and of course, Toys R Us.  Who will win today’s contest? I would think a few of the brick and mortars above will do well as they all have good Web presences. Tune in later this week for a look back at Cyber Monday!


Know your customers during the holidays – or “the Santas of Segmentation”

Have you ever heard of Icebreaker? Not the ships that pound throught the Artic blazing the way for lesser sailing vessels, but the outdoor clothing company from New Zealand. No? Well, me either until I read a recent case study on MarketingProfs.com .  This company has relatively low brand awareness in the United States, somewhere around 25,000 subscribers to their catalogs, but still pulled off a wildly successful campaign last holiday season.

Seems the smart folks in their marketing department set out to segment those 25,000 U.S. prospects. Now, I know the marketers in the crowd are already forming groups in their heads – Males 18-35, females 41 and up, blah blah blah! But Icebreaker decided to segment not by demographic, but by gift-giving habits…f-ing brilliant!!

They had segments like “it’s hot” for those who give cutting edge gifts, “Black Friday” for the deal finders, “Gift Guide” for the person who has trouble figuring out what to get everyone (this would be me). All in all Icebreaker had 11 separate gift-giving segments! So, each subscriber was “touched” many times, sales soared and the one’s who received the gifts were now aware of Icebreaker. Ho, ho, ho –  it’s off to the bank we go!


Yeah, but she has a great personality…

What do great brands have in common? Market awareness? A loyal following? Strong product or service image? Yes, yes and yes. But there’s more. Think of Apple, Scion or Abercrombie & Fitch; don’t those brands stand above in some way. Isn’t the bond between them and their customers stronger than most? How come?  Personality.

Yes, these brands, and virtually all powerful brands, have a certain aura about them. Just like humans, these brands carry an essence that people latch on to. Ever been to a party and there’s that one person who has everyone rolling on the floor laughing or is a captivating story-teller? A crowd grows around them as they weave a tale or tell a joke. We are drawn to people (and products) that make us feel good, intrigue us or enlighten us.

So, back to the brands. Apple is the slick techie who’s cool and knows it.  A&F is the stylish one who always is in vogue. Scion is the rebel but with a hidden sensible side. All personalities that people are drawn to; so much that we’ll wait in line outside the store to buy the latest Mac, iPad or Pod!

What does your brand say about you? What do your customers say about you? Are you enlightening, educative or fun? Think about those traits that would draw customers to you and play them up!