My career spans advertising account management, client-side marketing, global brand consulting and for the past 13 years, owner of branding and marketing firm Trajectory. The common denominator has been a focus on brands – creating, managing, growing and nurturing them.

So this cartoon from Tom Fishburne – Where Complacent Brands Go – really hits home. First, because we pour all of our energy each and every day into helping clients shape and guide the trajectory of their brands. Second, because we’re not quite sure if this reciprocal “brand” passion and commitment (sometimes perceived as distinct, or as a discretionary add-on, from growing business) always resides in the hearts of brand marketers and their leadership teams.

As per the cartoon, the complacent brands graveyard is filled with tombstones that read:

– Analysis Paralysis
– Followed the Same Strategy Year After Year
– Didn’t Take Challengers Seriously
– Dismissed Anything New As A Fad
– Stuck In The Status Quo

Now for those gravestones off in the distance whose messages you can’t make out, here’s what they actually say:

– Thought Brand Was A Luxury
– Didn’t See It Coming
– Could’t Afford To Invest (R.I.P.)
– Didn’t Think We Needed To (And Didn’t) Invest
– Thought We Could Do It Ourselves
– Assumed That Will Never Work
– Maybe In The Next Budget Cycle
– But It’s Never Been Done Before
– We Know What Our Customers Want

But life doesn’t have to end this way. You steer the fate of your brands. Let these unfortunate outcomes be your guide. Let them inspire you to take the other path that can lead to brand (customer and business) prosperity.

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Setting: A Dinner Party

At a recent dinner party (gluten-free fare I may add), a group of us were discussing the highly popular topic of how we are all trying to live healthier and more active lives – especially when compared to the (silent) generation that came before us. As a highly charged and active “beginner” boomer myself, I reflected on how I constantly remind myself that my physical and emotional health are inextricably linked to my quality of life, and ultimate longevity.

Advancing Total Health and Wellbeing

I, like others I know, proactively participate in preventive care and wellness activities to ensure I stay on course in managing my health. Because better health means better life (at least to me). And maybe this important lesson has been influenced by my years of brand marketing work for various health and wellness clients who are now increasingly focused on advancing total health and wellbeing (doesn’t hurt that health care reform is rewarding quality outcomes for this new model of care).

But I also know that better health (which enables active living) is only part of the equation for happiness (mine at least). In both my professional and personal life, how I look is also inextricably linked to how I feel (both inside and out). It can’t be overlooked that the ever-growing and ever fascinating world of anti-aging products and health services is geared to people just like me – those who want to feel empowered to take charge to ensure that what you see on the outside matches how you feel on the inside.

This idea is reinforced every day, at every turn (online, in beauty publications, on TV, at retail) as we see the endless barrage of consumer products and health-related solutions that promise to turn back the hands of time, or at least make them stand still. And many of them do, having branded and marketed several over the years, from the most advanced anti-aging skincare Remergent and Glissandra and beauty devices like the PaloVia Skin Renewing Laser to the latest anti-aging hair care products, organic supplements (we’re launching a new line in 2014), and dietary trends (organic and gluten-free are just two of them).

Back To The Dinner Party

Now that brings me back to the original dinner party conversation that triggered the discussion of living a healthier and more active life. While sipping my cocktail (also gluten-free), an acquaintance asked me what our agency did. After explaining that Trajectory charts the course and creates the momentum, that vital energy, a brand needs to connect with its consumers (strategically and creatively) for businesses in three (discreet yet interconnected) sectors – health and wellness, personal care and beauty, and leisure and lifestyle – the next logical question was why those industries.

After underscoring our collective team’s experience and passion for these spaces (we do live what we market) – to me, the ‘sweet spot’ between these categories seemed obvious. But it was not, and the conversation then centered on the premise that the consumer for these different offerings (whether health carepersonal careleisure) is generally interested in some level of self-improvement, enhancement and/or fulfillment.

Feeling Better + Looking Better = Playing Better

There is common ground that we can learn from and appeal to. Feeling better (great health is key to so much in life), and looking better (feeling in control and the best possible you), allows us all to enjoy life and the things we covet doing (whether travel is your passion or golf or running – or all three for me!). These three principles aren’t mutually exclusive yet they aren’t necessarily required for every client we work with. It is simply a different way of looking through the lens to understand what impacts our quality of life (and mine as a boomer consumer) and how we (as an agency) can make a difference in the lives of our client’s brands, and their customers. In the end, it’s all about being a healthier and happier you!

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Wellness – defined by the World Health Organization as “an optimal state of health,” concerning an individual’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state of being.  For reasons unsurprising (e.g. the obesity epidemic, outrageous healthcare costs, the 50+ segment which is the largest demographic in the U.S.), wellness living has made its way into the corporate and cultural mainstream. 

The healthcare industry is transitioning from a “fix-it” to a “prevent-it” model (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have estimated that chronic diseases, most of which are preventable, account for 75 percent of the $2 trillion spent on healthcare).  Both Mayo Clinic and closer to home Morristown Medical Center of Atlantic Health System are just two of the many healthcare organizations offering wellness solution programs for corporations aimed at enhancing overall wellbeing of employees (and therefore leading to greater productivity and lower healthcare expenditures).

We’re seeing industries blending together to offer cross-discipline services.  Fitness centers now offer spa/salon services (in addition to nutritional counseling and recreational programs), grocery stores are opening spas, spas position themselves as places to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul versus a place to simply get pampered – even giving birth to “wellness tourism.”

Opportunities for Brands and Marketers

Positioning. Brands that position themselves as wellness-focused (with multiple benefits) will be able to capture a larger audience – both the already healthy, looking to live optimally, as well as the chronically ill.  As an example, Aetna has begun to position themselves as a “health solutions and technology company, rather than just an insurer.”  As part of its strategy, Aetna has developed and implemented CarePass, a wellness application for consumers, available to both members and non-members for free, and has spent the last several years acquiring IT-related companies.

Marketing Communications & Actions. Crafting a life of wellness is fun and exciting. This vibrant energy needs to be reflected (so consumers can see themselves) in all cross-channel communications. Marketers can also (and more importantly) help educate consumers about wellness living and create tools/applications to aid them through their journey to optimal living. I’m a personal fan of Kashi, and appreciate the education they deliver through their Natural Living Library and Recipes We Love.

According to a HealthLeaders article based on a survey conducted by Virgin HealthMiles, “employees love wellness programs.  Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that they consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer.  And incentives play a big role in employee motivation—61% of employees credit the incentive as the key reason for participating.”

Partnerships. Having one singularly focused offering is not enough. Consumers want the whole package. They want to receive care for their mind, body, and spirit in ONE place. Companies that excel in one particular industry should consider creating mutually beneficial and value-creating relationships. For example, NATIRAR, known for it exceptional dining experience is teaming up with Miraval Spa so that the brand may aspire to its vision of providing nourishment for the mind, body, and soul to its customers.

A Change In Philosophy

Several years ago when I had worked for an integrative health practitioner (aka. a nutritionist), I was introduced to the idea of “wellness”.  At the time, I didn’t consider myself unhealthy, but I wasn’t living optimally.  So, I gave “wellness” living a try, reluctantly at first, but eventually embracing it whole-heartedly.  I began reading food labels, went from eating fast food/takeout to cooking almost every meal with organic/natural products, and sleeping earlier, made healthier lifestyle decisions that I knew would contribute to my overall happiness and wellbeing.

My philosophy for living has changed and with it, my purchasing decisions and behaviors.  I am not a singular phenomenon.  This shift towards wellness is not a trend, it’s a change in philosophy and it’s here to stay.




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We’re recently back from a fantastic 8-day trip to Amsterdam. If you haven’t been, put this city on your list.

Our hotel was equally fantastic. But it was our journey to selecting the hotel that weighed into this and helped cement the deal. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson (though no one is sure if he was the originator) — it’s the journey, not the destination.

Our journey was an example of leisure marketing at it’s best. A brand team recognizing that the trip begins as soon as the initial decision is made to get away. This particular hotel, above all others we researched, provided exactly what we needed and wanted. Leading with our interests, as if we had already talked to them about what mattered most to us as visitors to their city (which, as you’ll read below, they’ve been doing for years).

Here are five guest-focused benefits that distinguished this hotel from others:

Combination Of Owned and Earned Media

We saw their advertising. It was beautiful, aspirational, and really did capture the specialness of the hotel (but we only knew this after the fact). What made the difference was the strength of their owned and earned media presence. Their website in particular was exceptional in terms of its value-add experience. And their earned media (particularly the conversation via Trip Advisor and Yelp), provided an important third-party, believable source point for decision-making.

Mobile Responsive Design

Wherever I was, I was able to do my research, as the hotel’s mobile responsive website automatically changed to fit the device I was viewing it on (in my case, on my iPad and iPhone, and periodically at Starbuck’s drinking my Mocha Light [satisfying but low fat] Frappuccino).

Ongoing Prospective & Current Guest Conversations

This hotel is in constant dialogue with its prospective and current guests. Through the website, at the hotel, through formal surveys, its concierges and staff. They are dedicated to delivering the best possible experience, which only comes about through deep understanding of what audiences need and want.

Promises Made, Promises Kept

The website advises that if you want to have a conversation beyond the online chat, a concierge will gladly get back to you within 24 hours. Which he did. Good thing, since there’s this prominent quote on the website from the General Manager – “Being successful means staying on top of things.”

Let The Trip Begin

Once we booked with the hotel, we received regular updates about what was going on in and around the city. Nice way to keep us engaged, surprised and delighted – before even beginning our (physical) trip. Which actually began, however, as soon as we made the decision to get away.

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Resort Image

Here’s an important piece of news for leisure marketers – over 55% of consumers (WNBC Survey) say they will take several shorter weekend getaways instead of the traditional vacation retreat.

So what happened to that opulent weeklong getaway, several times a year, far away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life? Given the lasting effects of the economic downturn along with changing lifestyle needs, consumers have become more attracted to drive-to resort getaways which offer long weekend experiences. Whether it be the family with small children who need a “kid-friendly” place with adult amenities, or the boomers who are now indulging themselves in more practical ways.

So how is the lifestyle and resort industry turning this trend into opportunities for growth and expansion, and what brand marketing strategies should be considered?

Mixed-use Resorts – Appealing to the Masses
Mixed-use resort destinations are growing in popularity – with hotels, recreation, entertainment, sporting activities, golf courses, spas, convention centers, and large-scale attractions combining. Many developers are implementing a four-season strategy to capture year round revenues – designing resorts with flexible indoor/outdoor recreational spaces that appeal to all ages, all year-long. And, by offering broad appeal amenities these resorts have significantly influenced the concept of “togethering” – multi-generational family getaways that had seemed to dissipate over the years.

Some exceptional resorts adopting this four-season strategy include,Crystal Springs – a world-class destination nestled in the rolling farmlands of NJ, offering everything from outdoor adventure experiences, to top-rated golf courses and luxurious dining and spa experiences. And, Woodloch, a lakeside Pocono Mountain (Pennsylvania) resort that prides itself on the traditional warm hospitality it has nurtured for over fifty years; providing a retreat for families with endless activities and entertainment, thoroughly embracing the spirit of spending quality time together.

The Conundrum and the Solution
The mixed-use resort has created both a marketing challenge and an opportunity for the hospitality industry. How to implement a cost-effective, results oriented marketing strategy that appeals to every demographic and every interest? Knowing that a one-size-fits all marketing approach is not going to be of interest to all consumers, all the time, and can also be cost prohibitive.

By leveraging a strategy that augments traditional (paid) advertising channels with (owned and earned) content, digital and social, hospitality marketers can better connect with and engage audiences. And, with more than 76% of travel planned online, establishing a strong and steady presence is critical. Consider:

• Content – not an option, a requirement. The advantages of content marketing are numerous (and measurable) – with brands now acting as “publishers” to engage in meaningful ways with their audiences. Implementing tools to “pull” customers to brands – i.e. blogs, social media, newsletters, webinars, eBooks, photo-sharing, and videos, are no longer considerations, but requirements to stay competitive and top of mind.

• Social Media and Mobile – increase need for responsive and/or mobile websites. Social media and mobile will continue to merge. Mobile has allowed social media to truly become real time, enabling consumers to create updates from their phone, while tagging friends or checking in – what a great opportunity for resort guests to share their experiences. And, with Smartphones representing more than 50% of new mobile devices being purchased, providing multi-platform access will be essential. If you don’t have the budget to invest in a responsive site, consider a mobile (.m) version.

• Photo-Sharing – will begin to dominate. Establishing a strong presence on photo-sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram provide powerful ways for hospitality brands to visually communicate their lifestyle messages. And, with Pinterests’ ongoing enhancements to the platform, hospitality marketers are presented with unique opportunities to curate, collect and highlight the very best.

• Marketing Videos – unrehearsed videos on the rise. Video is one of the most effective ways to engage web visitors. On a daily basis, more than 89 million people in the U.S. (ComScore) are viewing and sharing video online, including streaming video on mobile devices. Presenting videos in different ways (e.g. demos, reviews, special events and activities), will continue to influence decision-making, and including user-generated videos has added appeal since they are actual consumer experiences.

• Online Digital – establishing a strong, ongoing online presence. Over 90 million adults conduct travel searches online, so hospitality marketers need to be where these prospects are living. There’s no denying the marketing value of mixing owned, paid, and earned media, whether it be SEM, contextually relevant display advertising, or Facebook advertising.

The common thread for hospitality and leisure marketers is a plan that maximizes reach and relevance, in real-time, while minimizing cost. The key is implementing a plan that continually provides insight and utilizes that knowledge to refine and optimize on the go. With over half of all travelers seeking shorter weekend getaways, they’re primed for your invitation!

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Turning 50. It’s just not that big a deal. At least chronologically.

But it is for the marketers who’ve coveted these people in the past. Because the 10,000 of them who turn 50 every day are no longer part of their 18-49 in-crowd. While they’ve seemingly had them on their radar screen forever, their signal is now lost.

For the marketers whose brands are being consumed by the 50+ market – which is an exhaustive list that includes far more categories than not – marketing to boomers (and seniors) represents a lucrative opportunity. But this group doesn’t think, feel and act like it’s predecessors.

So you really need to know them in order to resonate with them. Understand (and empathize with) their attitudes, beliefs, motivations, realities and fears. And do this based on their different life stages, because 50+ as a target audience is just about as useless as 18-49.

So what does this mean for brands? How can they better capitalize on this (largest and fastest growing) audience segment? Here are some imperatives, written with an underlying belief of ours that this audience deserves better (more respectful and more useful) marketing.

1. Today’s 50+ audience is keenly focused on health, well-being, and vitality (60 is the new 40). Those brand’s that genuinely reflect these values and help their 50+ audience achieve this tri-fecta will forge stronger emotional connections with, and achieve maximum return from, this demographic which controls 50% of all discretionary income.

2. This segment is 18 years wide, and not homogeneous. From parents with kids in school, to those contemplating retirement to those waving sayonara to their 40+ year careers. So segmentation, understanding, insight and action (as well as appropriate inaction) are keys to ensuring your brand’s relevance in their lives.

3. What’s inspiring and delighting to some, doesn’t cut it across the board. So marketing to boomers and seniors requires proactively and holistically shaping offerings (knowing for example, that experiences trump things and that having it their way [no reference to McDonald’s], among other unique characteristics, is part of their mindset).

4. Speaking of “holistic”, think 360. From developing and tweaking products, to developing packaging, collateral, online content, experiences, promotion, through to execution of your advertising and even retail presence. Are you really speaking and acting in ways that are relevant to their lives, or are you merely paying them lip service.

These just begin to scratch the surface. Designed to at least get you thinking about the kind of brand platforms and marketing that these people deserve. Because the failure to address their specific interests, values and concerns just might be detrimental to your business.

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It’s in every brand marketer’s job description to ensure their brand stands for something. That something (“one-thing”) that helps the brand stand out and apart from others in its space. It’s what’s expected. But what’s expected doesn’t always stand out and apart. Because, it’s expected.

So, why not take a stand against something. Go against the grain. Compel people to take notice. Like Mini Cooper’s doing. Its “Not normal” campaign from Butler, Shine Stern & Partners, Sausalito, Calif. pushes the brand’s peculiarity to stand out from brands like Chevrolet’s Spark. You can read the article here.

Tom Salkowsky, Mini’s marketing chief, says it’s a continuation of the brand’s long-time strategy of turning left while the rest of the auto companies turn right. “We’re a feisty, small brand. We’re a featherweight in the ring with heavyweights. We have to stick and move,” he said.

Good advice for all brand marketers regardless of category, as:

• most brands really are the “feisty, small brands”

• who are duking it out with heavyweights with resources to match

• and who must leverage everything in their marketing toolbox to tell and demonstrate their story in ways that ultimately enrich people’s lives

The essence of a great story (great brand story) is that it takes you in a different direction from the one you expect. It invites the reader (the consumer) to think in an unexpected way. Sort of like going against the grain and “standing against something.” Like Mini!

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Retirees spend approximately $93 billion on prescription drugs every year.

Good reason for Rite-Aid and Walgreen’s to capitalize on the changing health care climate, and the growing array of healthcare options. Their new “marketing to boomers” initiatives are reviewed in this article – Drugstores Going After Baby Boomers’ Dollars.

Rite-Aid is rolling out a campaign promoting its new wellness 65+ loyalty program, while Walgreens re-named its “Take Care” in-store clinics to “Healthcare Clinics” to attract new customers by addressing chronic diseases prevalent in older Americans, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. According to Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson, “the chain has the opportunity to move from just convenience to more health, daily living and beauty.”

While retail brands have an opportunity to create in-store experiences and offerings that foster stronger relationships and truly build loyalty – this marketing to boomer strategy should extend well beyond retail to all the “health, daily living and beauty brands” sitting on those stores shelves. And for these brand marketers, the key is to consider (beyond the in-store experience) how to make the brand experience come to life for boomers at every touch-point: online, on-the-go and everywhere else.

But healthcare marketers, and marketers in general, need to proceed with caution. Because boomers, like every other audience segment (and which is actually comprised of multiple sub-segments), exhibit unique attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. There are also physical, emotional and lifestyle realities that distinguish the 50+ market from younger generations – and these realities evolve as people move from middle age to old age.

The 50+ audience represents a lucrative opportunity for those willing to genuinely embrace this enormous, growing market. But knowing who they are, how to connect with them based on their motivations, and what they want out of your marketing is an important requisite for success. Time will tell for Rite-Aid and Walgreens!

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The concept of energy is at the heart of our culture at Burberry and comes from a deep core of shared values.

These are the words from this TED talk of Angela Ahrendts, CEO, Burberry. Her talk addresses why we need energy, what makes it work, how it can be communicated and where it takes us. As we’ve built Trajectory around “creating new energy“, it’s gratifying to see that a prestigious brand like Burberry embodies and lives this ideal.

Three key takeaways from her talk:

1. Amidst pervasive feelings of fear, distrust and uncertainty – the response might be surprisingly simple. A powerful force we’re all born with – energy.

2. Passionate, positive human energy can provide a counterbalance to the disruptive negative forces of an age of unprecedented change. Through it comes confidence, inspiration and the power to transform things for the better.

3. Energy, at the heart of Burberry culture, comes from a deep core of shared values, based on:

• Trust – single-handedly the most powerful source of positive energy and once in place, unlocks a freedom and peace to explore.
• Intuition – teaches us to use our natural inclinations to protect the possibilities rather than simply accepting the probabilities.
• Belief – builds alignment and creates confidence. Belief is what sets energy in motion, and creates the success that breeds more success.

Please watch the video. And please do share your comments.

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Mobile is consuming your customer’s lives. Are you a part of it?

What’s the first thing they see when they wake up in the morning and the last thing they see when they go to sleep at night?  Their spouse?  Kids?  Sparky, their pet cat?

For almost a third of mobile users (and there are 4.3 out of 7.1 billion of you; Source: Communities Dominate Brands), it’s their phone and almost half of them sleep with it by their side so as not to miss a single comment made on the Facebook status they JUST posted.

Current mobile statistics are equally fascinating (and scary), starting with the fact that more people own a mobile phone than own a toothbrush? Really?

Some other stats:

–   44% of smartphone owners in the US say they are interested in making in-person payments with their devices. (Source:

–   67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating  (Source: Pew Research Center)

–   29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without.” (Source: Pew Research Center)

–   41% of people have used a mobile device to browse for a product after seeing it in a show or advertisement. (Source:

–   It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users, 4 years for the internet…50 DAYS for the “Draw something” mobile app (Source:

Marketing Opportunities

If you’re a marketer, these stats should only be fodder for your next campaign. Mobile tools and technologies – GPS, near-field communication (NFC), SMS alerts, QR Codes, mobile apps, augmented reality (AR) – are opening a new world of possibilities. Curated below for your convenience and enjoyment are a few examples of how savvy marketers are utilizing mobile to galvanize audiences to engage with their brands.

  • Google Play: At an Australian airport, travelers were able to scan a QR code from an NFC-enabled digital billboard to directly download Google Play products (books, music, movies).
  • Retailers via iButterfly: Mobile app iButterfly takes a unique approach to couponing using AR technology.  Users can “catch”, collect, and share butterflies (each one holds a coupon).
  • BOS Tea: Applying social media and NFC technology, BOS Tea employed a brand engagement campaign that allowed consumers standing near their vending machines to receive a free bottle by posting #BOSTWEET4T to their Twitter accounts.

Nary (or at least numbered) are the days of simple display advertising.  The best campaigns will integrate multiple platforms (combination of social, mobile, traditional) to engage audiences in an all-encompassing way and empower them to meet their goals.

But Proceed With “Their” Value In Mind

Shorter attention spans and myriad thirsty competitors.  On average, the typical person has an attention span of 8 seconds (down from 12 seconds in 2000), refuses to wait 10 seconds for a video to load, and receives about 5,000 marketing messages/day (Source:  While the good news is that people are checking their phones constantly (90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of being delivered), the bad news is that they want to ignore or delete the inundation of marketing messages they’re receiving daily.  So it’s critical for brands to add value to their customers’ busy lives through relevant content that’s based on their interests, not interrupt with loud, flashy ads (think Starbucks with their quick mobile payment system or Nike with their fitness tracking tools).

It’s an exciting time for branding and marketing – as there’s more opportunity than ever before to better understand and respond to your audiences’ functional and emotional needs.

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