Frontline Mom

A Little Spice of New

January 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

With the dark cold days winter upon us, I sometimes feel the natural inclination to settle into my ways, hibernate a little more and stick closer to my knitting. I guess when it is 9 degrees outside that’s only normal but in my opinion, not for long. Sure, I’m all about having a routine and counting on some predictability in life but I am also a believer in adding a spice of newness as often as possible into my life.

Trying something new doesn’t have to be exotic – it can be as simple as trying out a new running path, or picking a different genre of book out of the library. It might be signing up for a class that is out of one’s comfort zone or choosing to explore a new cranny in the city, visiting an off the beaten track museum or trying out a new restaurant. Yesterday, for example, my husband and I took to the kids on adventure to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago where we explored submarines, airplanes, trains, old circuses, the science of storms, the recent moon landing of Curiosity. What a great place to open the mind – and be inspired by invention and innovation, both new and old!

I find that when I try something new, I have renewed energy and often rekindle my appreciation for the “tried and true” things that had begun – for whatever reason – to become less inspiring. Trying something new brings me fresh perspectives, new stories to tell and renewed energy and provides me with inspiration to enhance what I doing by brining new inspirations to the folds or at times better ways of doing things or solving problems. Embracing the new little by little also enables me to come to work a bit more prepared to challenge the “status quo” and the “that’s the way we’ve always done business around here” mentality that so often blinds companies to new opportunities and causes them little by little to settle into their ways, at the expense of innovation and long term growth.

What do you think or do or try today that’s new?

Three Sins of Customer Service

August 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Few things bug me more than a business that claims me to be their customer when they don’t treat me like one. A few examples:

Example one: “Thank you (not) for your business”.
My daughter was in a gymnastics class for two years. She loved the class, and each month I set aside hard-earned money to ensure she could attend. After two years, it was time for her to move on as she no longer could attend the class given a schedule conflict. I contacted the gymnastics program: “My daughter has loved your program but starting next month she will no longer be able to attend, can you cancel her enrollment please?” The response was stark and simple: “Yep, we’ll do that”

WHAT? No “thank you for your business. We’re sorry to hear that your daughter is moving on. Thank you for your business. Do you have someone else in your family or a friend who could benefit from the class?” Nothing. Nada. Truth be told, I had planned to enroll my younger son in this class but of course, given this stellar customer service I decided against it!

Example two: “We don’t know you”.
I recently went to my local branch of Bank of America. For an official form I was asked to get a Bank Manager to witness my signature. The Bank Manager refused to honor my request saying that they can’t witness signatures because they can’t profess to “know me.” What? I have been doing business with this same bank for five years at least, have a credit card with them, had a mortgage with them (they sold my mortgage to another bank), and I’ve run in several Bank of America sponsored races. Ok, thanks – you don’t know me? You know everything about me – my home value, my current assets, what I spend my money on…even my race t-shirt size and my race times! I love when businesses want your money but don’t want to admit having a relationship with you.

Example three: “No follow-up”.
My daughter also recently took a dance class at our local park district. She really enjoyed it, but I couldn’t stand the fact that that dance teacher did not make any effort to update the parents as to the progress of our children. No forms sent home, no closing recital, no classes open for parents to attend a session. Apparently this dance instructor forget who the really customers are (the parents). When parents inquired, the teacher responded, “they did fine.” Well, the class and the kids might have been just fine, but with no follow-up or feedback, this dance school did not do fine by me, losing my trust and my business.

Lesson learned: Having a customer isn’t a given right. It takes work, personal engagement, follow-up and appreciation. Customers can and will vote with their feet. Don’t take us for granted…We can go elsewhere. I know, I just did.

The Toys of Childhood

February 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

My kids have been enjoying all the great gifts they got from their relatives and from Santa. Enjoying with them all the last Christmas loot to arrive in the house got me thinking about all those fun holiday gifts I remember I was lucky enough to get as a kid,

Legos, Lincoln Logs, TinkerToys and simple wooden blocks made for countless hours of city and building building outside my apartment building with my neighborhood friends. I also loved the the Little People, particularly the School, the Castle and the Garage. By the time the city with all its Little People was through it looped around a big bush, down the stairs and around the corner. Talk about imagination gone wild.

My first Atari set, while certain to be continued a prehistoric instrument by five year old, was the absolute best. Asteroids, Space Invaders, Pac Mac and Donkey Kong let to countless hours of fun and an occasional fight with my brother who often wanted to play his favorite games first.

The arrival of my Big Wheels finally made me one of the cool kids on the block. I loved braking it as it raced down the hill near my Grandma’s home. WIth the right level of braking at the right time, it made an amazing turn that was the envy of my neighbors (not that I always made the turn…)

I don’t think anyone forgets their first tricycle or bicycle. Even President Obama has released a now-famous picture of him riding one as a child. My favorite bicycle was by far my yellow, banana seat bike although my red Ten Speed I got at age 12 was also a top memory. Lots of toys are fun but as kids, what we often play with the most is what stays in our minds whether its the dollhouse, the skateboard, the very first baseball mitt, or maybe the swing set.

Playing board games with my kids has given me a great excuse to buy the games I loved as a kid – Hungry Hungry Hippos, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, many make the list. I’m looking forward to Battleship, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly and Clue when they get a little older.

Growing up, I suppose that to this list of toy treasures, my first Valentine’s heart candy should be added; the first time I received flowers from a special someone, and the first time I bought myself my own album (Billy Joel’s Glasshouses)with my own spending money.

What toys or games do you remember most from childhood? What makes them special?

Steve Jobs, an innovation hero

November 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The evening I found out Steve Jobs passed away on October 5th I was running about my home trying to locate my IPhone which I can’t seem to do without. My four year was playing a game on my husband’s IPad and I was listening to ITunes on my IPod (which replaced the stereo in my living room years ago). My husband was surfing the web – yes on his Mac.

Apple is clearly one brand and company that has changed my life, and I know I am not alone.

Upon hearing the breaking news, I was stunned and saddened. We have lost a formidable national hero and a global innovator. Some people, recalling the impact that Steve had on their lives, have left flowers and apples at neighborhood Apple Stores. Others have turned to Walter Isaacson’s recounting of Job’s life, and still many more have simply bought a song on iTunes, downloaded an App on their IPad or have talked about his passing on all forms of social media imaginable.

My favorite social post was from a friend, forty years old like me, who facebooked a retro picture of herself as a kid with her Apple Computer. Wow, that brought back memories – Apple was the first computer I ever touched when I was a child. Today Apple continues to enchant me with their designs and technologies. Job’s legacy is everywhere around me – some might even call it the IWorld.

Jobs didn’t just lead the team that brought the above gadgets into existence — he was also a visionary of the computer-navigating mouse and touch-screen, the personal computer, legally downloadable music, and cloud computing. Through Pixar we thank him to infinity and beyond for the Toy Story movies.

Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs. You will be missed.

Marketing to Moms – key ingredients (but no single recipe) that works

June 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

As a working Mom in marketing I get a chance to market to Moms but as a Mom I also get exposed to others marketing to me – the great and the good practices, the bad and the ugly. No small surprise that Moms are a major influence behind consumer spending; the ones who not only make purchases (such as food, clothing, cleaning supplies, etc.), but also live/love to tell about them. 

Nearly 46 percent of moms often tell a friend about a business or website if asked, according to data collected in January 2011 by Lucid Marketing. Another 52 percent sometimes tell a friend, while only two percent never do. The point? Get Mom on your side and she will promote your business, product or service. Here are a few dos and don’ts of marketing to moms.

Do use social networking sites. 71 percent of Generation Y moms said they have a network of online friends, compared with 64 percent of Generation X moms, according to Lucid Marketing. Get your message across to moms via popular social networking sites, such as Facebook,, and, to name a few.

Do support a cause. While most U.S. consumers have a better image of a product or company when it supports a cause, mothers are even more sensitive to this approach. According to a 2010 study from Cone LLC, 95 percent of moms believe cause-marketing is acceptable. In fact, 73 percent of moms will try a new or unknown brand because it supports a cause, and 26 percent of moms will purchase a more expensive brand because of the same reason.

Do give free stuff. One of the best ways to influence moms of all demographical backgrounds is to promote free products, items and discounts, according to a Retail Advertising and Marketing Association survey conducted by BIGresearch. On a scale of one to five, when asked what types of promotions most influence their purchases, moms said: free samples in the store (3.9), free samples delivered to residence (3.6), loyalty cards (3.5), and special displays (3.4).

Don’t generalize. Although every mom is a parent, they should be treated as individuals. Some moms like to prepare light, healthy meals while others make hardy comfort foods. Some moms stay at home while other moms go to the office. Craft a unique marketing message that doesn’t offend moms by making a generalized statement.