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Another marketing rant

I believe that Future Ashley will forgive another marketing rant because I know she’ll appreciate the reminder to remain passionate about messaging and branding! On with the rant…

I got a call today from a recruiter. First, she told me that my resume was “neat.” Almost 20 years of professional experience is … neat?! Next, she told me that the “social media mastermind” position she was trying to fill was a part-time, entry-level opportunity.

Let’s be frank: The exec who commissioned — or likely finally agreed to commission — a social media marketing role has little or no understanding of this thing called “social media.” He or she had probably been worn down by others and finally agrees that “social media” is a thing, and it’s here to stay. He or she thinks that hiring a minimum wage student to handle the social media issue for 20 hours a week will solve the issue of the board or share holder or other exec approval. For two or three months, that exec is going to be pretty proud.

The problem with hiring someone who can fog a mirror to handle your social media presence is that’s who you’ve hired to manage your reputation. “Social media” has become a thing that too many businesses don’t or can’t accept. I’ve been saying since 2008: People are already talking about you online. Do you want to participate in and hopefully control the conversation?

Offering minimum wage for a “social media mastermind” is a giant I DON’T CARE ABOUT MY BRAND to your customers. The commissioning exec thinks that he or she has checked that box — Hey, I’ve got a dedicated social media person! Sadly, that minimum wage-earning person gives not a jot for your brand, and has only the experience the commissioning exec thinks you need! I suspect that this particular position is looking for someone to broadcast a simple message, probably several times a week. What that person fails to realize is that social media is a conversation. It’s not enough to broadcast a message. You have to listen, respond, ask, and discuss. That person needs a brain between their two listening ears to craft timely, brand-worthy responses. You cannot simply broadcast your agenda.

Delighting your customers is the best social media strategy. Responding to customers while staying on-message is also a huge factor. Don’t offer minimum wage for your reputation management if you care about your brand or reputation.

All roads lead to marketing.

All roads lead to marketing in my world. I absolutely expected that some of my marketing-fu would help me in my wedding planning — I’ve worked with printers, so doing my own invitations and other stationery is fun and easy; creating a wedding website and app was pretty fun, too. I can maintain a mean Pinterest board that should be the envy of other brides! Fellow marketers, stick with me because you’ll share my pain.

I was perusing a wedding forum tonight, and I clicked on a thread that was supposedly about RSVP etiquette. The bride was worked up because five days before the requested RSVP deadline, only a third of her guests had responded. And she had even included a QR code on the invitation for their convenience!!!

The thread then took a turn for the worse: QR code enablement. As the self-congratulatory comments amongst those who did or will embrace the QR code on their wedding invitations continued — because it’s so easy and convenient for their guests! — I started laughing. I was staring at my iPhone and laughing. My first impulse was to email a former colleague who really fed my distaste for the QR code, but the email blossomed into this post. Some rants need to be saved for Future Ashley to re-read.

I used a QR code on my business card ... four years ago!

I used a QR code on my business card … four years ago!

My basic distrust of using a QR code for anything is that you have to rely on a random third party to ably deliver your message. You can generate your own QR code, and you can design and awesome mobile-friendly page, site, or microsite, but you are helpless when it comes to how your audience captures your code and renders your message!

My aforementioned colleague introduced me to the brilliance of Scott Stratten, who has some hilariously epic rants about QR codes, and I believe these apply to brides considering using QR codes on their wedding invitations.

“Think before we do!” says Stratten. Wedding planning, and a lot about life, is the same as marketing: Research and know your audience! Execute accordingly. Of every person on my wedding invitation list, I’m comfortable in assuming that I’m the only person who has ever used a QR code. But at least 90 percent of my invitation list have downloaded smart phone apps and all of them know how to visit a website. I’m skipping the QR code in favor of url and app download instructions.

Important stuff: Makeup and recipes

For my makeup junkies.

A while ago, I bought the famous Urban Decay Naked Basics pallet. Everyone raves about the UD Naked pallets, so I was thrilled to have the basic pallet.

I also impulse-purchased the NYX Natural pallet. I was thinking that I could examine the NYX against the UD and return one, but I found merit in both of them, and kept them both.

I’ve been using both of them, and I have to say that the UD Naked Basics seems to read muddy on me, no matter what I do. It could be my lighting, and it could be my technique, but it’s honestly not my technique. The NYX pallet isn’t perfect, but it works great! For those who can’t afford both, the NYX Natural pallet is a great option. Supplement with gel eyeliners and any sparkly highlighters you have.

For my food junkies.

I made a new dish that was straight-forward enough to make again, especially considering how enthusiastically my fiancee loved it. The “recipe” I followed was pretty vague, and that’s saying something for a person who never follows a recipe!

Sorry for no pictures, but I was all about the food.

  • Sear chicken breasts with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, about 3 minutes each side.
  • Set breasts aside; pour chicken broth and seasoning* into pan.
  • Cook breasts in pan until pink is gone.

*The recipe I used called for fresh parsley, thyme, pressed garlic, and lemon rind. I actually used lemon rind, fresh pressed garlic, oregano, sweet basil, and parsley.

Serve with green beans and fresh rolls for a bucket of yum!

Socknado!

 

Laundry Armageddon 2014

Laundrageddon-turned-Socknado

Laundrageddon turned into Socknado! I unearthed about two dozen pairs of socks for donation or wear. The Socknado purge also led to another purge of nearby drawers. Goodbye ratty socks and things, hello neatly folded socks and clothes!

I took out a huge bag of trash last night, and 90 percent of the bag was full of the aforementioned purged ratty things. I have another metric ton of usable clothing to donate to Genesis Women’s Shelter.

Before I got ready for work this morning, I added even more clothes — professional-looking stuff that I’ll never wear again — to the donate bag. One question that came to mind was: Why did I move this stuff at all, knowing I didn’t want or need it?!

This evening while unpacking another box, I decided to keep something that I haven’t used in several years. It’s nice, I like it, and imagined myself wondering in the future where this particular item was. But I realize that this internal conversation is how I ended up keeping so much more stuff than I should have.

I hope Future Ashley is better at purging stuff. I also hope Future Jeff is as patient with said purging!

 

Cleanse and purge for a new year

Friday, work gave me a birthday cake so good I teared up. Next time you need a cake, allow me to suggest the red velvet from Nothing Bundt Cake, mine was the Center of Attention edition. Being the center of attention was a little nerve-wracking, but totally worth it for that cake!!

Such a decadent indulgence means I need to work it off, right?! I gave myself a day off from unpacking and organizing.

For my birthday, I gifted myself with a pedicure, lunch, solitude, and a few (ok, 12.5) units of botox. After a late lunch with family today, we came home to chip away at the unpacking and organization stuff. I unpacked another box, but more importantly, I launched Landrageddon.

Laundry Armageddon 2014

Oh, the socks!

Unintended consequences of unpacking, organizing, and Landrageddon: The socks! Oh, man, the socks! I knew I had some unmatched socks floating around, but after gutting my sock drawer and emptying one of two laundry baskets, these are the unmatched socks I’m facing!

And still, I have another laundry basket to wash…

Selling it!

Way too much of my brain has been focused on lead generation for too long! I find myself continuing to struggle with maintaining a branding mindset, which is odd because my passion for marketing is actually more branding than lead gen! I guess shifting between the marketing languages one speaks is like shifting between any other languages one knows.

If I knew of anything I could so easily sell right now, it’s getting a massage. And the power of sound-proofing. And the wonders of clean sheets. And the glee of being engaged.

I had the best massage yesterday. I can’t recommend Julie Burkhart enough! We worked together years ago, and I loved her so much. She was a nail tech with an awesome sense of humor and great attitude, and I was a naive esthetician thinking that every esthetician was in the business for the same reason I was — to help people. Julie has been a massage therapist since then, and wow does she have the touch! Unlike many massage therapists I’ve had, she does not skimp on the reflexology on the hands and feet, nor does she torture the legs with excessive pressure to the shins. She was not afraid to dig into serious problem areas, AKA my softball-sized left shoulder knot that has been festering since the beginning of January. If you ever need excellent help from a genuine therapist, ask me for Julie’s details!

I’m wearing my Fitbit again after losing the case for it that clips onto my clothes. If I could sell a pedometer to anyone, I would tell you how informative it is to at least know how much you move around and, likewise, how much you don’t. The sleep tracking of the Fitbit is also really informative.

Parenthetically, one of the great things about having a fiancé is that he reaches all the tall stuff for me! Seriously though, I love coming home to him every day. I enjoy being engaged more than I thought possible! Everything is different, but I can’t explain it.  Perhaps it’s our new home, or learning new communication techniques, or just spending more time together. Note to self: Get engaged to Jeff every time you can. He is endearing.

Marshmellows!

First, I want to go on the record to say that I’m so happy to be on the gleeful side of change.

Veronica Mars movie

Veronica Mars movie

Second, what I asked for  for my birthday was to see the movie Veronica Mars. Hoo-to-the-ray, we saw it tonight! Friday nights I generally prefer to chill at home, but Jeff was up for it, and so we saw Veronica on the big screen!

That movie had so many references to the TV show that I need to watch it again. And again, and again, and again. I can’t wait to own it and have every line memorized. I know I missed a lot of jokes and many references, but the ones I got were, to quote Logan, epic.

Oh, Logan.

I’ve read some reviews of the movie, and the majority of them are by people who never saw the show. The comments range from the movie being too dark to having too much voice over. These were characteristics of the show, and a nod to the film noir detective stories. Jeff was only vaguely familiar with the show, and he thought the intro set the movie up well enough to catch viewers up and set the tone for the film.

If an AMC is near you: Go see Veronica Mars! It’s witty, chock-full of pop culture references, suspenseful, with a big dish of mystery.

Veronica Mars Team Logan Team Piz

Veronica Mars Team Logan Team Piz

P.S. Don’t tell my fiance, but I’m both Team Piz and Team Logan. And Team Dick!

This one’s for my ladies!

Angela posted about her jam this morning, Discoball World. It’s a good jam! But here’s one I’ve been rocking out to today while packing, packing, packing:

Honestly, though, I still have no clue what he’s saying, even after all these years. I know the first line, the ba da dap part, and then “… if I save some money, and keep my grades UP!” Don’t care. It’s still a great jam.

Year of Life Changes: He popped the question edition

I have a fiancé! His name is Jeff, and a few weeks ago he said to me, “I just want to be a hero for you.” And he is. He’s the hero I never knew I needed, but still everything I’ve been praying for.

He was concerned about ruining the romance and element of surprise, but I could only handle so much unknown stuff to worry about, so he did confirm that a proposal was forthcoming early this year. I’ve been alluding to it, but I didn’t know any details. I even told a coworker on Friday that I was convinced that he didn’t have a ring yet. He had reservations for dinner last night at Mercy Wine Bar, one of my favorite places and where we had our first date almost two years ago. At dinner, I could tell he was nervous, and I was, too. If the huge pile of leftovers in the fridge are an indication, we hardly ate.

He proposed with a rose

He proposed with a rose

I have snapshots in my mind of Jeff walking toward the table after dinner with a long-stemmed rose in hand and a huge grin on his face. Aww! right? Oh wait, why is that rose sparkling?! He got to the table and said, “I love you!” and I said, “I love you, too!” And then he was down on one knee in front of me and I saw the ring and I was vaguely aware of a dull roar around us as people realized that there was a proposal in their midst. I wish I could remember what he said exactly, but it was something about how happy he is with me and would I marry him. I said yes, but I was shaking and oddly scared to let him put the ring on. I was afraid it wouldn’t fit — what an odd thing to fixate on in that moment.

We took some time to sit together and just bask in the moment, assisted by the champagne our server brought out to us, but that didn’t last too long. We walked to the nearby Whole Foods for some champagne and dessert, went back to my place and sat out on my balcony to talk about the experience because it was a gorgeous night after a beautiful warm spring day. (Today, however, it’s freezing and ice is falling from the sky. Welcome to Texas, y’all!) It was too late to call my parents, but Jeff couldn’t wait, and I couldn’t either, so we started sharing the news.

Aquamarine engagement ring

Aquamarine engagement ring

About the ring: Very early 2013, Jeff took me to a jewelry store under the guise of wanting to walk around the mall for awhile. He would have moved heaven and earth that day to get me any ring in the store that I said I wanted, I have no doubt. Why do I believe that? Because he did move heaven and earth to get me the ring that I eventually wanted, and he did it in a timeframe that was comfortable to me and best for us.

I’m one of those tree-hugging, people-loving, think-global-act-local, put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is anomalies in Texas. As part of that, I did not want a diamond. I have a conviction about the diamond industry, and I want no part of it. I have a whole rant about diamonds; I won’t get into it because I already know it, but I hated the idea of Jeff spending his hard-earned money on some belief that “diamonds are forever” because of a heinously funded marketing campaign that started in the 1920s to convince people that a man should spend X times his income on a particular rock or metal. (OK, I worked most of the rant into that. Whoops.)

I wanted something different! Jeff and I are special snowflakes, and no one else’s relationship is like ours, right? After a lot of deep reflection and discussion — I made the joke more than once that if a sapphire is good enough for Princess Diana, it’s good enough for me! — we started looking at everything, everywhere. I’m obsessed with Art Deco, sapphires, and making sure my relationship with Jeff is perfectly us. Our first date was on my birthday, so I thought it would be so sweet to have aquamarine, my birthstone, in our ring. I was adamant that Jeff not take on any debt for a ring. Basically, I set some tough limitations on the poor guy’s options, because it’s easier to go to a big box ring store, get credit, and buy a diamond. To me, that just reinforces what’s wrong with that industry, but nobody asked me. Luckily, Jeff cared about all of my concerns and wishes.

So much of the unique stuff we found and loved was expensive, and that was disheartening. I had a chat with my college roommate about what I loved and the realities of the ring industry, and I realized that I really wanted a specific look. After that, I researched like the crazed researcher that I am and found a jeweler in Boston that offers highly customizable pieces with certified jewels.

Jeff got me exactly what I wanted: A bezel set aquamarine with a white sapphire halo in white metal. Dreaming about a ring is a superficial thing, I know. I always believed that pining for the perfect ring is kind of a mean measure of “did he listen to me?” As much as I loathe these tests, I love that my fiancé went beyond my wildest dream! Perhaps I’m a hypocrite in that story because I didn’t want bling, but I wanted bling. I wanted something with sentimental value. And I so got it. When I stare at the ring for too long, I start to cry. Jeff, my hero, understood my sentiment without judgement and made my dream a reality.

I know I’ll have so much to write about the actual wedding stuff, but we’ve decided to wait a bit to get started with that. We can’t wait to celebrate our life together and our families and friends, but we are enjoying the glow of the recently engaged! I have a finacé!

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