always on our minds

How marketers learned to sell more lettuce and why it matters

January 21, 2015 By: Heather Ward

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a talk at the Harvard Business School given by Ranjay

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a talk at the Harvard Business School given by Ranjay Gulati, and I learned something about marketing that I’ve never forgotten. Gulati’s research at the time focused on the difference between an outside-in (customer-centric) approach and an inside-out (product-centric) approach. In order to explain his case for the outside-in approach, he used the example of lettuce manufacturers who kept trying to improve their product by asking about where people would prefer to buy it or how much they’d pay for it. One day, they took a step back and asked their customers about how making and consuming salad fit in with their busy lives. By shifting the question away from the product and understanding the larger context of people’s lives, they discovered that people wanted to eat more salad but...

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It isn’t always easy to do the right thing

February 21, 2014 By: Heather Ward

It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong in a disagreement or to tell a restaurant that unfortunately they’ve under-charged you

It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong in a disagreement or to tell a restaurant that unfortunately they’ve under-charged you for your bill. But at the end of the day, you can feel pretty good about yourself. And it’s likely that the people in your life will respect you too. Brands today are expected to be more human and more transparent than they’ve ever been. And like the person who lies to your face, a brand that doesn’t live up to its promise will struggle to earn your respect.  Successful brands are no longer just telling you their stories; they’re living them. And their stories are less about what they do and how they do it—the ones who stand out most know why they do it. Their “why” serves as their mission, which clearly informs their brand values and their decisions. CVS Caremark’s decision to stop selling tobacco...

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At the end of the day, we’re all human

September 6, 2013 By: Heather Ward

We may be biased, but we adhere to the philosophy that there’s never been a more exciting time to be

We may be biased, but we adhere to the philosophy that there’s never been a more exciting time to be in marketing. Brands are being held accountable to new standards. The days when ad agencies and marketers could sit in a room, drink whiskey à la Mad Men, and decide exactly how people would view their brand are remnants of the past. Brands today need to be transparent, authentic, and connect with consumers’ values. It’s a tall order indeed. But it also means that there are more opportunities to connect with customers than ever before. Chobani, now the #1 selling yogurt brand in the country, has emerged as a great example of a small no-name company who built a brand based on non-traditional marketing methods. And in the past couple days, the story about a batch of contaminated yogurts has...

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A tale about Holland-Mark, Skidmore College, and a horse head

May 1, 2013 By: Heather Ward

As an Account Manager here at Holland-Mark, I wear a lot of different hats. But when I went to Skidmore

As an Account Manager here at Holland-Mark, I wear a lot of different hats. But when I went to Skidmore College for a video shoot back in December, I couldn’t have imagined that I would end up wearing this particular one. As part of an initiative to take Skidmore’s “Creative Thought Matters” brand positioning to the next level, we were filming six social experiments to show what makes a “Skidmore Mind” unique and hear from real students why creativity matters in all aspects of life. When we went to set up the “Curiosity” experiment, we discovered that our location had been double booked. By the time we relocated and were ready to start the shoot, the student who was supposed to represent the Skidmore mascot (a thoroughbred) had to run to class. Before I knew it, I had taken her...

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The Business of Joy

April 2, 2013 By: Heather Ward

I recently attended a client convention out in Las Vegas. IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, has been one

I recently attended a client convention out in Las Vegas. IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, has been one of our clients for many years. Every spring, thousands of club owners and operators, fitness professionals, consultants, developers, and investors flock to the IHRSA Convention & Trade Show to learn about the newest trends in the industry and share knowledge with one another. This was my second time attending the convention, and I was blown away by the amount of positive energy in the fitness industry. I spent several hours wandering around the trade show floor and couldn’t help being drawn to the Zumba booth. They were blasting fun latin music, and three dancers were leading a group of convention attendees through a sample Zumba class. That evening, I went to a fundraiser to support ALS research called the Zumbathon....

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