Twitter + Vaginas = Brand Laziness

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Did you hear about the time US Airways tweeted a picture of a model airplane inserted in a woman’s vagina as a response to a customer complaint?  Oh that’s right, it wasn’t their fault.  They accidentally shared that picture.

Did you hear about the time Macys had porn posted to their Facebook page for an entire weekend and in the middle of those posts were other posts about their sales and products?  Oh that’s right, it wasn’t their fault, someone else posted those pictures or hacked their account.

The bottom line is both these situations could have been avoided or quickly corrected if someone had been watching the brand.  Companies are quick to jump on the social media bandwagon without having a committed plan to support those efforts.  Someone needs to be assigned (or numerous people) to watching the content that is going out or is posted.  In Macys situation someone had uploaded all sorts of lovely company posts to be automatically posted throughout the weekend which caused people to believe that they were ignoring the porn posts until someone stumbled into the office on Monday, engaged in morning pleasantries while drinking their coffee and finally checked out what was happening on the ole company Facebook page.

Social media isn’t easy and it’s certainly not for the lazy; whether it’s a lazy brand or a lazy social media administrator.  Yes, you can be hacked and mistakes happen but most situations can be avoided.  You have checks and balances for other areas of your business, such as accounting and payroll and someone proofreads the ads before they’re placed.  Why don’t you give your most important tool for brand awareness the same value?

2balance is a team of brand advocates and communications experts.  Our Digital Community Managers are committed to our clients’ social media tools 24/7.  It’s a major commitment that we understand and live by.

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 Don’t fall asleep on the job brand facilitators!

  Social Media + Engaged Digital Community Mangers = Brand Success

http://www.2balance.net

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Just Breathe

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ImageIt all started with a baby.

A baby that was too quiet.

A baby that was too still.

Please stir. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe!

I remember getting very close to my daughter when she was a newborn fearful because she was sleeping so peacefully for too long. I didn’t want to disturb her if she was just sleeping but I needed a sign that she was breathing. A pulse at her temple, movement in her chest or the faintest twitch so I could relax and let her continue with her slumber.

There was that one time. Something made me check her and she was blue. I jerked her up and she immediately awoke and began breathing and we both cried. After rushing her to a hospital where I continued to cry for three days, it’s was finally diagnosed as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and we were sent home with a monitor. It would go off occasionally, especially during the night and I would always rush in total fear to her room where the loud screech of the monitor would always stir her awake and back to breathing. That was 27 years ago.

I’m still checking pulses and breaths. First of my father who died a few years ago and then last year with an aunt who was diagnosed and succumbed quickly to cancer. I spent a great deal of time with her and her daughter in the end and my cousin and I would frequently get close to her and look for signs of her breathing.

Then there was the economy and our business. We were looking for signs of the economy inhaling and exhaling. It wasn’t the peaceful hard to see breathing of a healthy baby, it was the shallow breathing of death. Businesses were the brain and people were the heart that needed that breathing to survive.  Likewise the economy needed businesses and people to thrive.  Every day we check to make sure it’s alive. And it’s not just our own jobs; it’s every business we support, shop and use. We wondered if we would all be okay.  We saw a few breaths last year and were hopeful but for many companies it was too shallow, too late. They hung on as long as they could but couldn’t survive.

But now I see more life. We’re fighting back, fighting to breathe and move on.

The same exists for 2balance. I’ve continued to watch her pattern of breathing. Watching for her to inhale and exhale. There are too many people depending on her to live. A team and their families, clients and vendors, partners and friends.  And just like my daughter many years ago, her breathing is getting stronger and steadier. We made difficult decisions, cut back on expenses (and shoes), and even terminated relationships with clients that could suffocate us. The color of pink is returning to her cheeks.  I’m thankful to our team, families, friends and the wonderful roster of clients for which we’re so very blessed to be working with.

And what caused me to write this at 2:45 in the morning?  I awoke to a very quiet bed. No snoring to the right of me. No giggles (yes, he giggles in his sleep), and no sounds of breathing. I get close and listen for signs of breathing.

Please stir.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Breathe!

I gently stroke his arm and he stirs.  All is well, maybe I can now rest.

Sweet dreams. ~Sheri

Never Let Your Marketing Team Talk You Into This!

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It’s surprising to me the path companies will go down to supposedly “market” their brand. And often marketing or ad agencies condone efforts that to me are counterproductive to their client’s best interests and ultimately push a competitor to the forefront of the consumer’s mind. I call it “as good as” marketing. You’ve seen the signs – “We’ll match (insert competitor)’s price.” This tells the consumer you’re trying to be as good as your competition.
What are the problems with this type of approach? First your competitor can fire their marketing agency because they don’t need it. They have you to advertise their name and brand. I recently passed a business with a huge banner on it. The first thing that stood out was the competition’s name. I had to look twice to see why that business was advertising for their competition. Next I wondered why they had to take this approach. Can’t they stand on their own merits? Are they not quite as good as their competition but scrambling to catch up?
In these economic times, many people are brand hopping to find the best value but there are still those that are looking for the overall experience. If the same price is being offered, but your competition has far better customer service, more knowledgeable staff, well-displayed aisles, and a great marketing plan; it’s safe to say that the big banner splashing their name is only going to add to their marketing efforts and not yours.  I want my brand as well as my clients to not be conceived as good as but much better than my competition.

Outside the Cubicle

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SHERI I’ve seen great talent stifled in cubicles day after day until the creative juices are sucked out of them.  They have so many rules and policies stuffed down their throats they feel strangled by the environment they’re in.  Yes, there’s the token ping pong table or Wii game but they know it’s a death warrant to be seen actually using these pieces of “time wasters”.  Is it any wonder that creative blocks become the norm?   At 2balance we’re determined to keep ourselves challenged, fresh, energized, excited, and ready to experience something new.  We can’t just say we are open to new experiences; we have to actually create them and experience them.  This is why we have our 2bChallenge.  Yes, it’s normal events for many but it’s always a new experience for us.  This week we learned how to operate a front-end loader.  We went from a wonderful lunch and learn at Hickory Hills Country Club with client Betsey Miller of 2B Organized and then headed over to another client Regional Ready Mix to learn something way, way out of most of the team’s comfort zone.  What did we learn?  We are fearless!

JACKIE Our last “2b challenged” was the scariest for me.  Shooting the gun was a pure adrenaline rush; riding the zip-line was exhilarating, but climbing into the cab of the massive (at least from my perspective) front-end loader was intimidating.  The controls seemed easy enough to learn – gas, brake, forward, reverse, a single lever to raise and lower the scoop.  Not so easy when that big machine started rolling.  My mind went blank and simple statements such as “pull the lever back” or “give it gas” sounded like a foreign language.  Our instructor, and one of our favorite clients, was there with us to show us how to work the machine.  He walked us through the process of operating the front-end loader and then stepped aside to let us try it alone.  Even though he told us we couldn’t hurt the machine, couldn’t roll over, couldn’t mess up, I was frightened.  I did it though.  Perhaps awkwardly and without much style, but I walked away without a single injury to myself, my team or the equipment. Victory!

The day of our challenge, we attended a luncheon seminar at Hickory Hills Country Club presented by another of our clients.  I went from lunching with the girls to driving a piece of heavy equipment.  It made me realize how diverse our clients are, how lucky I am to work with so many types of people and types of businesses and how much I love what I do.  I have been challenged every day since joining 2balance and it is a wonderful thing to reach beyond what you think you can do and find that you can do whatever you set your mind to.

KATE Our latest 2balance challenge had me strolling down memory lane recalling my youth for two reasons.  One, it was much like playing in a giant sandbox.  Two, my Dad was in construction and I was around construction equipment growing up – but Dad never let me drive.

After a quick lesson, we each had a chance to try out our new skills and gain a whole new appreciation for those who drive heavy equipment daily.  When I told Dad how much I enjoyed our latest adventure he said, “It’s in the genes.”

ANDREA When we pulled into Regional Ready Mix and saw all the big trucks, equipment and machinery, I knew I was already out of my element.  Sheri walked the team over to a monstrous tractor of some sort which she said was called a “front-end loader” and that we would each learn to drive and operate it.  Again, out of my element.  I was scared and uncomfortable and very nervous.  I shamefully do not know how to operate a lawn mower so how was I going to be able to maneuver a front-end loader that requires a ladder to get into it?   I watched Kate and Jackie take their turns but that did not help with my comfort level.  When it was my turn, I climbed way, way up and was given a lesson on how to drive but more importantly, how to operate the bucket.  My first few attempts were very nerve racking but then I started to feel more confident and actually enjoyed this challenge.  I went from fear, to comfort, to enjoyment in my accomplishments.  I realized how wonderful it can be to conquer a fear and to be out of your element.  This challenge was another reminder that we can learn new tricks and what a sense of confidence that comes with it.

VIGILANTE

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ANDREA     When I found out we were going to ride the new zip line in Branson, I had mixed feelings: excitement and fear.  On the car ride down, Kate (ever the investigator) shared with us all sorts of information about the new zip line including that it has the highest ZipRider launch point in the world and that we would be traveling at 50 mph.  That did not help with my fear.  However, once we arrived at the tower and I saw that it was enclosed and that we would be bundled in a secure seat, I suddenly felt calm.  As the attendant helped each of us into our zip line seat and gave us several safety instructions, I felt one last wave of nervousness but suddenly the gates were opened and the four of us were flying!  I loved the speed and the height and of course, the amazing view as we flew down the zip line.  I looked over and could see Jackie with a great smile on her face and then as we approached the end, Kate went flying by all of us, loving every minute of it!  It was great 2B challenge that again showed that stepping outside of your comfort zone can allow you to experience something wonderful that you might have otherwise missed.

KATE     Our latest 2balance team challenge pushed all of us well outside our comfort zones.  Even our fearless leader demonstrated a little fear anticipating a ride on the Vigilante ZipRider.  While the goal of these monthly challenges is to create new experiences and gain a different perspective, sailing off a 230-foot tower together with your teammates is certainly a bonding moment. The dread began as we approached Shepherd of the Hills and see the height of the tower and continues as we signed waivers listing every possible scenario, much like the disclaimers on drug commercials.  It wasn’t really fun, although very scenic, standing on the platform waiting to be strapped in to the harness but the worst/best point was when your knees are pushed against the gate and the gate gives way.  Major adrenalin rush. Then you start the amazing glide down the line and it is so thrilling but very enjoyable with a great view of the beautiful Ozarks.  I am so ready to go again. The next time Mom uses that old adage, “If Sheri jumped off a cliff, would you follow her?,” I’d have to say yes!

 

JACKIE    EXTREME zip line was the name of our 2b Challenge this month.  It certainly lived up to its name.  Before arriving at Shepherd of the Hills, Sheri and Kate provided some background on Vigilante – our chosen zip line.  “Tallest launch point in the world of ZipRiders.” “Only ten like it in the world.”  The questions were plentiful too, “will it be really fast or can I enjoy the scenery?”  “Just how high is it?” “Can we really do this?”  The ride to the top of the tower was thrilling for me.  Although I don’t mind heights it was clear we were not about to embark on a kiddie ride.  Strapped in, knees against the gate I experienced several emotions at once but underneath it all was pure excitement.  I couldn’t wait for the gate to open.  The ride was exhilarating, flying through the air, nothing but Ozark Mountains below me.  It was wonderful but as with most adventures, it ended much too quickly.   I won’t soon forget the feel of the wind in my face, the sound of the zip line, the beauty of our landscape or the smile on Kate’s face as she sailed past me to win the race to the bottom.

SHERI     I wanted to enjoy my summer this year.  I hate cold weather more and more and was looking forward to all that summer has to offer.  I wanted to be outside with friends and be active.   I went to Whitewater with a friend and we rode ever ride including the seven story high slide.  I jumped off a 30+ food cliff with other friends and nearly broke my leg and now we were going on the Vigilante ZipRider.  And I’m afraid of heights!  I guess because of the horrible feel of the fall with the two previous adventures, I was the one the most nervous of the zip line when we were being harnessed in at the Shepherd of the Hills Inspiration Tower.  It terrified me!  But when they opened the chutes and we were set free to sail, I LOVED it.  I learned exactly what I was hoping to learn.  We can have bad experiences that make us afraid to try something new and amazing.   The same holds true for love, friendships, adventures and work.  Someone referred to our 2bChalleges as “team building” but I call it “client building”.  We at 2balance have built an environment where we go to work each and every day with our dear friends.  We have a supportive environment that I can’t imagine being any better than what we experience every day.  Our 2bChallenge is designed to push us outside of our fears and try something new so that we’re always looking for adventures and something outside the ordinary to help our client’s brand.  Maybe in the coming weeks we’ll be inspired to create some Vigilante, free-sailing branding opportunities for our adventuresome clients!   In the meantime I wonder what the next 2bChallenge will be.   And thanks to our team that will jump right off the cliff with me!

Pinkie

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"Pinkie"

ANDREA When Sheri pulled out “Pinkie,” her pink 38 revolver, and said that we were headed to the shooting range, I got so tickled at the thought of these four girlie women in dresses and heels headed to target practice.  I think the security woman at the target range was as surprised as we were to see us and she let us know that we were not her typical clientele.  Kate (who cannot navigate Springfield any longer after being gone less than a year) volunteered me to go first.  I was very nervous.  After donning the attractive glasses and ear protectors, they sent me into the freezing cold shooting gallery.  Randy spent a few minutes teaching me how to shoot and then let me go for it.  Again, I was very nervous.  As soon as I shot the first bullet, my entire body reacted.  My ears hurt from the incredible explosion, my body had adrenaline rushing through it and I began to sweat profusely.  I couldn’t wait to get the gun out of my hands and sat it down immediately while announcing “I don’t like this.”  I was told I needed to shoot one more time.  Again, I was very nervous.  But, I also was determined to experience this more fully and picked up the gun and fired again and again and again.  I became more comfortable with each bullet but also began to realize the incredible weapon that I was holding and the magnitude of damage that is possible.  I gained a new respect for firearms and their power.  I was happy to finish my round and get away from “Pinkie” but also appreciated the opportunity to try something that was out of my comfort zone.  It was not a physical challenge, but a mental one, and I was proud that I was able to complete something that frightened and challenged me.

KATE Talk about something outside of my comfort zone–today was my first time shooting a gun and it was such a rush.  But I very much felt the weight of responsibility in handling the gun (in spite of the fact that it was pink) and was quite nervous.  I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to be nervous about shooting a gun. While I hope I never have to use one, I’m glad to know that I can.  (Andrea, I still know my way around Springfield.  I just can’t talk and drive at the same time, proving my husband right.)

JACKIE What a rush.  I was asked to reach beyond my normal day today and do something challenging, something that was new to me.  Shooting a .38 revolver, pink no less, definitely fit the bill.  I was surprised by the power and humbled by the power of that little gun.  Such a tiny action–to pull the trigger, but oh what a powerful reaction.  I was fearful, nervous and elated all at the same time.  I guess that is the essence of a challenge, to push through the fear so that we can feel the elation of conquering that which scares us.

SHERI Yes, I own a pink revolver.  It was a “gift” and something I never expected to have in my possession.  I’ve been fearful of anything more powerful than a BB gun my entire life.  But here it was – a gift.  I put it away and didn’t think about it and then after hearing about recent home invasions decided that I should at least know how to shoot it if for some horrible circumstance I was forced to protect myself or my loved ones.  And so off I went to my first visit to the gun range at Bass Pro. I loaded it twice and fired and was a good shot.  I then took it home and put it away.  Until yesterday.  When thinking about our first 2bChallenge, I decided that it was time to pull “Pinkie” back out and let everyone experience what I had.  The first thing I noticed was that shooting a gun was nothing like I imagined from all the movies and television programs I had watched over the years.  A revolver is much more powerful than I anticipated.  It demonstrated true life is nothing like the movies.  It made me understand that I could be hurt as well as the target I was aiming it.  It reminded me of the responsibility that I had while handling a little pink revolver.  It confirmed that I could do things that were completely outside of my everyday world and do them well.   I think the team all learned something about themselves in this first 2bChallange.  And we all learned that Kate can hit a bullseye on her first shot…

Team Challenge

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Challenge.  We say we want “something that challenges us” especially in relation to a job or adventure.  But we often believe it’s someone else’s responsibility to challenge us.  

Comfort.   We all like comfort although we know that it often leads to complacency, boredom and even laziness. 

Explore.  We declare we want to explore and discover new things and we call ourselves insights “leaders” but often we’re only rehashing what someone else has discovered or delving into the things that we’re already comfortable with.

As a challenge to my team to not become too comfortable with who we are and what we know and where we explore; we will be delving into new experiences that are certainly outside the box for us.  What I want to do is force us outside of our comfort zones.  Experience things that we don’t experience on a day-to-day basis, build trust in one another as a team and help us to understand that we need to constantly be pushing ourselves to explore and create new opportunities for our clients.   The only way this will be a learning experience is if we all support one another through our fears and insecurities which is part of what 2balance is all about.

Tomorrow we will start our first exercise and we hope you will participate along with us.  Read our blogs, call to join us and make recommendations on what you would like to see us tackle.

I’m the Anti-Hero

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Auntie, Cousin and my Granddaughter

I recently posted on my FB page and announced to friends that I had registered to become a potential bone marrow donor.  I was surprised and somewhat embarrassed that many people commented that I was a “hero” or “very brave” etc.  Those terms didn’t apply to what I was trying to do at all.   In fact I’m an anti-hero and fear grips me to my very core.

If I were a hero, I would be able to save the life of my aunt who is suffering from ALS.

If I were brave, I would be comfortable that we all die, we all face suffering and we’re all going to be whole and happy in the afterworld.  I’m neither of those.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, nick-named for the famous baseball player that so gallantly suffered from this horrific monster, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy.   My beloved grandmother died a horrible death from ALS and it to this day is one of the most devastating events in my life.   She choked to death.  Her mind was completely in tact yet she couldn’t communicate, eat or walk.  Only approximately 10 % of cases are known to be genetic or inherited from a parent.  Lucky family I have, this disease continues to rock us to the very core of our beings.   Auntie is a beautiful soul who has touched my life in so many ways.  She even confiscated my first Stephen King novel because it was too racy for an 11-year-old to be reading.  I waited many years before attempting one of the horror king’s books and she was right – they were not appropriate reading for someone who was both naïve and scared so easily!  Auntie is the true hero, while no longer able to talk or eat food, she continues to have a positive attitude, cook delicious meals for others and even drives. She’s brave beyond imagination, continuing to go for walks, attend church and celebrate family.  She would never let you know that her time is so preciously short.

I’m having an annual Mother’s Day luncheon this weekend that she has attended for the last 22 years.  I know that she will arrive on time, possibly with her daughter and great grandchildren and make everyone else feel special without saying a word.   She will compliment my food without tasting it; she will recognize the effort I made with the table setting, gifts, etc.  She will make me beam with pride that I was able to pull off such a lovely affair.  She will play with the great-great nieces and nephews, she will write funny notes to her sisters and we will all have amazing memories of laughter brought on by the oldest of five sisters.  She will even hug and thank me when she leaves and follow that up with a wonderful handwritten thank you card.  And the fear that grips me is that this will be the last card I receive from her.  The last Mother’s Day we’ll celebrate together.  One of the last few times we’ll be together.  I remember back to my early years when Auntie lived in California.  They would come to visit and I would cry along with my grandmother when the visit came to an end.  I cry now.  Yes, I cry from fear and because I wish I could be the hero she is to me.

Donating stem cells from my bone marrow isn’t being a hero; it’s doing something that I selfishly wish I could do for my own.  It’s a way to rid me of the pain and guilt I have as I will continue to celebrate Mother’s Day and all the other holidays that follow.  It’s a way to honor someone that I cherish even without them knowing.  It’s a way for me to try and get control of what I have no control over.  I pray I can save someone’s child, parent, sister, brother and most especially their dear Auntie.  The only reason I’m sharing my decision to hopefully donate bone marrow is not for recognition I don’t deserve, it’s to hopefully encourage someone else to take that step and maybe save a life – maybe of someone I love.

Pushing Through the Pain

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Life is an incredible thing.  Right when you think you’re living a fairy tale, the Evil Queen feeds you the poisoned apple.  On the other hand when you think things can’t get any worse, they usually don’t – something quite enchanting can happen to make you realize the important things in life.  Every day life comes at us and it’s our job to make the most out of it.  Yes, even with the Evil Queen lurking in the background, I believe that we have tremendous control over our own destiny.  I believe that positive attitudes help us make the best of every situation allowing us to attract positive people and experiences.  Yes, sometimes things suck but they’re usually isolated instances in an otherwise glorious existence.  The last couple of years have been particularly hard on my family, a close-knit group where there is no fighting and backstabbing – just loving support for one another.  Yet the inevitable is happening, we’ve been struck with several devastating illnesses and deaths.  After a recent happy occasion I sat down and cried because there is so much to miss yet so much to remember.  During the difficulty and pain there have been new ones born and couples joined in marriage.  Much laughter along with the tears.  I once heard a cynic say “we’re born to begin the journey toward death.”  I’d rather look at it as we’re born to make a difference in this world.  People have made the wrong assumptions about me, excluded me or even disagreed with me.  I don’t want to be afraid to take a stand because I don’t know how someone else will view my opinion.  I want to dance my way through the fears to do the right thing.  Let them say what they will and do what they want.  Let the bad come at us.  Let’s push through the pain and know that we’re here to do the right thing, the good thing, the sometimes excruciating thing and bite into the poisoned apple to become the hero in the fairy tale of life.

Amy Winehouse – I’ve got a roommate for you…

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I try to find the best in any situation. Call it my survival instinct, optimism, glass half-full attitude or naïveté, but I believe things happen for a reason. That’s the viewpoint I’m taking on the current economic outlook. It’s affecting 99.9% of the country in one way or another. Higher gas and food prices, fuel surcharges added to items you didn’t even know required fuel and a reduction in business for many companies which leads to lay-offs or other cut-backs.So what good can we possibly find in these times? Believe it or not, I think it can very well save our young before we as a society totally ruin them. With examples of what teen life “should” look like on television their expectations of life are nothing short of warped. With such shows as “My Super Sweet 16” and the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and others who flaunt wasteful spending; we’ve allowed it to become a full-fledged crisis in our own communities. Teenagers don’t want to re-wear clothing; expect to carry purses that cost in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars and drive cars better than their parents drive. And we let them get away with it! We feel that we’re bad parents if they whine; cry or if one of their friends is driving a new model car. We aren’t teaching them any social graces what-so-ever. In my own small world many years ago, one girl stands out as having it all handed to her. The latest and greatest in clothes, make-up and everything her heart desired. She was beautiful and… cruel. Now she looks years older than her actual age, and lives a miserable life. Why? Because no one taught her compassion for others, how to share what she had and to build a meaningful life for after her looks were gone. There’s not a kind, gracious thing about her. She still wants to be spoiled and the center of attention so she’s left without friends, a job or the material things she so greatly depended on for so many years. Now can you imagine this happening to the majority of a generation? Yes, there are still some lovely young souls out there that volunteer, don’t think they need their nails done every week or to drive a better car than their folks but they are quickly becoming the minority.

Let’s hope as we’re forced to make cutbacks during this recession, the first items to go are non-essentials for the teens. Encourage them to work part-time jobs and to learn to budget their money for their fashion needs. If not, I think technology and the medical fields won’t be the big industries to be in – I think it will be rehab facilities.