31 August 2009

The Trouble with HR

image While writing the first edition of my book way back in 2004, I ripped through it without much of a third eye – meaning, I knew what it was about but I had no idea what it was going to end up being.  When I received copies from my publisher, cracked open one, and finished it, I had a minor epiphany.  “This is really a book about HR.”  Kind of a shock, since I certainly didn’t plan it as such.  I’m one of those creative types, not a Human Resources person.

Since then, diversity has become a mantra.  (If you can have more than one mantra – is there such a thing as mantra multitasking?)  My blog is filled with diversity posts.  Here’s one with links to others:

Diversity = Productivity
image... Scott E. Page, a professor of complex systems, political science and economics at the University of Michigan, is a fresh voice... Rather than ponder moral questions like, “Why can’t we all get along?” Dr. Page asks practical ones like, “How can we all be more productive together?” The answer, he suggests, is in messy, creative organizations and environments with individuals from vastly different backgrounds and life experiences.

Of course, there’s this:

You Know Who's Boss -- Consumers
But Do You Really Know Them Well?
image … But what about consumers who feel disconnected? What about blacks and Asians and Hispanics who feel most brands aren't part of their lives, at least as they are filtered through the power structure of today's advertising business?
It makes all the sense in the world for ad makers (both clients and agencies) to be well-stocked with people who understand consumers, whether young people who fathom the mysteries of cyberspace, a good mixture of people who reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of our country, and, yes, even older people who understand the vitality and buying power of the great gorge of baby boomers overtaking our land.

Talk about the need for greater diversity in the business largely has fallen on deaf ears. Nobody likes to be told whom they should hire -- unless it can be demonstrated that hiring the right mix of people can improve the bottom line …

A new book by Johnny C. Taylor and Gary M. Stern looks like a good one:

The Trouble with HR: An Insider's Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best People
image Anyone seeking to get the best results for their organization must find and keep great employees. Yet many HR departments are still using cookie-cutter approaches to finding new hires. This book gives readers practical guidance on what they can do to attract, and hang onto, the best and the brightest talent. The book explores the latest thinking in employee relations, compensation and benefits, training, onboarding, and development practices. This is a unique, powerful book no one concerned with finding and retaining the best people should be without.

….  A 2006 study by IOMA found that companies with effective talent management practices retain employees for longer time periods and outperform industry averages by 22 percent. But most HR departments are still using the same old cookie-cutter approach to finding new hires.

And after reading this heartwarming piece by Michael Winerip of The New York Times, the timing is perfect for a book about The Trouble with HR.

Excellent tips from Mr. Taylor:

27 August 2009

Advertising to Baby Boomers Can Be Tricky Business

imageSometimes I stop talking about something because the point has been made and I don’t want to drone on.  Then whatever it was pops up again and NostraChuckus has to dig around in his bag of tattered, crumpled, verbal/graphic ether-dust.  It’s sort of nostalgic for me.

A recent ‘news’ story:

Advertising to Baby Boomers Can Be Tricky Business
imageWe have all seen our fare share of reverse mortgage websites or commercials portraying seniors holding hands on a beach watching the sunset and I’ve always wondered if that is the best way to reach baby boomers.

Wonder no longer.  From my book, first published in early 2005:

image At first it was refreshing to see folks over forty-five portrayed in ads and on the web—but now almost every 50+ site is centered around generic photos of smiling, vapid, mindless people in their fifties and sixties, usually in warm-up suits, always prancing around beaches, if not staring lovingly at one another, then in groups, arms draped and tucked every which way like groping octopi.

Up until a few years ago I had a section in my presentations that went something like this:

“Here are six slogans, corporate tags, mission statements, whatever you want to call them, for six web sites targeting Boomers.”


  “And here are the six graphics associated with the corporate tags.”


“Now, take out a pencil and paper.  It’s time for a test.  Match the graphics with the tag lines.”


A few seconds of silence, then chuckles.

Maybe I should slip these slides back into my presentations.

25 August 2009

Johnny Rotten Butter

I’m not a big fan of celebrities hawking products and services to Baby Boomers.  I’m not a big fan of using celebrities in any ads. 

There are exceptions.  Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner (not Boomers, but Boomer heroes) are professional and funny:

Maybe it’s because I’m a colonial rube – but I do like Twiggy’s spots in England (I also talk about the campaign in a recent online presentation):

Dick Stroud wants your opinions on three UK spots starring Boomer rock stars.  Two seem to me to be messed up, confusing brand babble – but Johnny Rotten always cracked me up and does so again:


Or maybe I’m a sucker for English celebrities. Or I remember how wondrous the butter was sloshed atop crumpets every morning.

Or the Rotten spot is amusing, well-done, and sells you butter.

23 August 2009

The Year I Saved My (downsized) Soul

image A reader review on Amazon.com of Carol Orsborn’s new book The Year I Saved My (downsized) Soul begins with “Carol Orsborn writes well.” I was planning on rolling out this post with similar praise.

Carol, Brent Green, and Yours Truly traipsed around Europe in September 2007. She also speaks well, presents well.

Even so, Carol has gone through the same stuff almost all of us have due to the economic downturn. It’s tough out there. From her book:

image Fighting for my survival, I spent my days performing, explaining, and defending, my nights worrying and fretting. To find even a half-hour a night to think about and record the bigger picture of what was going on in my life, and to fight my way back towards what really matters, required more of me that I had to give.

But still I had to try.

While BOOM: Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer (co-written with Mary Brown) has everything to do with advertising and baby boomers, (downsized) Soul tackles other issues (although the catalyst for her narrative happens to be the marketing myopia of a certain ‘cracker’ client).

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. Carol does an excellent job mining the mindset of many Boomers, women and men. Her husband has the best line in the book – and Carol seems to agree, since she’s quoted it more than once in interviews, on Twitter.

image Check out the first chapter of The Year I Saved My (downsized) Soul.

21 August 2009

Mature Marketing Around The Globe

Heavyweights are huddling in Switzerland:

image The 5th World Ageing & Generations Congress will take place from the 3rd to 5th of September 2009 at the Executive Campus HSG of the University of St. Gallen.

The aim of the World Ageing & Generations Congress is to address important topics related to demographic change and its effect on the labour market and social security, on health issues, on the development of new products and markets and on changing lifestyles in society.

Dr. Robert Butler will be delivering one of the keynotes:

imageOlder People’s Rights in the Century of Ageing: Time for a new United Nations Convention?
Robert Butler, President and CEO International Longevity Center USA (ILC-USA), USA
Organised in cooperation with the International Federation on Ageing (IFA)

A Special Session will focus on marketing:

In order to leverage the business potential of the silver market, corporations need to adapt their
marketing and advertising strategies and processes. Marketing research and market segmentation are crucial issues, as the silver market is very diverse, with the needs and wants of the mature consumers varying widely.

image The Session Chair and three participants are members of IMMN: Kevin Lavery, Dick Stroud, Florian Kohlbacher, and David Weigelt.

Yours Truly contributed to Dick Stroud’s book, The 50-Plus Market (Kogan Page), and Florian Kohlbacher’s book, The Silver Market Phenomenon (Springer Press).

So I’ll be floating around there in spirit, and in print.

Have a productive and fun time, gents!

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