BLOG ARCHIVE FOR: February, 2007


Social media

The launch of the Opportunity Zone is Quixtar’s first major foray into social media.  As I’ve posted elsewhere, we’ve decided to become part of the conversation about our business rather than simply observe it.

But as anyone who knows consumer generated media knows, this just scratches the surface of social media.

We’re now in the middle of conversations about where we go from here….and more importantly, how we use social media to help IBOs build their businesses.

Could you see a Nutrilite organic garden in Second Life?  What about IBO avatars? Should we use YouTube more strategically and share more messages in this medium?  Do you want to hear and see voices from the company through podcasts or vlogs?

I’ve always been one to focus on the message, but now it’s increasingly becoming about the medium.

I posted yesterday posing the question about brand versus product advertising but intentionally left this question for today…in a business built on one-on-one relationships, how does social media come into play in supporting IBOs and helping them build successful businesses?


Every day matters….one approach to building a brand

I posted earlier today about whether it was more effective to advertise a brand over a specific product.  And just a few minutes ago I just saw JC Penney's new ads.  They've moved from "It's all inside" to a softer campaign titled "Every day matters."

I have to admit to being hooked by the premise.

A broadcast ad titled "calendar" features images of a family going through its day…a woman getting ready for work, a dad on his way in after a day at work.  The dad walks by a rainy window that bears the message "be a kid again" and we then see him at a ping pong table playing with the kids.   These vignettes blend into a calendar and then into the message "Every day matters."   I was intrigued because I didn't feel like I was being sold…in fact, I paid more attention the second time around because I wanted to know what exactly they were trying to sell.  Of course, that all changes when you visit the Web site and see the dozens of brands you've just been exposed to in the spot.  But the ad carries a nice message that seems to indicate the company cares about the lives of customers.

I just Googled it and learned it's a "lovemarks" campaign (so named because of the book by Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi's CEO.)  Of course, Saatchi & Saatchi created the campaign.  The book  Lovemarks chronicled brands that moved beyond brand loyalty to brand fanatacism, like Harley Davidson.  It's a fun, quick read but doesn't really provide a lot of insights to companies seeking to create their own iconic brands.  The book, in and of itself, is a great creative expression, with pages devoted to a single idea or phrase and an author confident enough to let those ideas float out and trigger a reaction or just plant a thought.

And now, back to the regularly scheduled programming!




Build a brand or sell a product?

What's more valuable….building a brand or selling a product?

That's one of the questions we're pondering as we consider advertising for 2007.

Last year Quixtar dipped its toes into advertising, with national broadcast ads for the Quixtar opportunity and the Nutrilite brand and print ads in Newsweek here in the U.S. and Maclean's in Canada telling the Nutrilite brand story.  This is the first time there had been branded advertising for the business opportunity or product since Amway advertising was discontinued in the mid 1990s (with the exception of our minor participation in Direct Selling Association roundup ads in USA TODAY last year.)

Now we're pondering what has more value….building a brand story or telling the story behind a single product that will help IBOs sell it to others?

There are all sorts of marketing philosophies behind branding, and your answer to the question may be based on which one you accept.  And in some ways it becomes a chicken and egg equation.  Do you need a positive interaction with a product to build a brand (that's for those who believe customers own brand and define what they are) or can you build the brand based on what you want it to be and then fulfill it through product and customer experience (for those who believe the company owns the brand)?

Our question is a bit simpler:  What's more valuable to IBOs?  Would advertising focusing on specific products help IBOs find customers for those products?  Or does branded advertising create context that makes it easier for IBOs to sell to others?

What do you think?


Week three in OZ

Today marks three weeks of Opportunity Zone.

And in those three weeks we’ve gotten some interesting reactions to the launch.

Some people are really supportive — even some who have criticized us in the past (and present!) Others find this level of engagement interesting and worth watching, with maybe a touch of skepticism.  Others can’t quite figure out why we’re doing what we’re doing…and why we seem to be out “looking for trouble.”

To me, it isn’t a matter of looking for trouble…it’s a matter of dealing with the issues that are already out there.

We’ve heard from people who have talked about our business elsewhere and given them a new place to speak out and be heard.  Other voices are new and offer different perspectives.  Those include some of the folks who are blogging at Ada-Tudes, like Jim Payne.  Jim wrote his first blog post for the launch of the Opportunity Zone on February 1 and has done several additional posts since then.  You’ll soon hear from Quixtar folks like Todd Krause, our director of sales, and Ray Alexander,  director of marketing.

And I hope anyone visiting the Zone has seen that we’re not just hear to talk, we’re here to listen and to respond.

We’ll be launching additional blogs in the coming weeks to introduce more ideas and topics, as well as voices, to the conversation.   We’ll announce them as they’re ready to launch, but visit the Zone often to see what’s new!


Urban Legends

A post to Ada-Tudes last night made me think about some of the misinformation that’s out there about Quixtar, Amway, and the business opportunities we offer.  So I thought I’d do a Letterman-style top 10 “urban legends” about Amway and Quixtar.

10.   Donald Trump never appeared on The Tonight Show (this one dates back to the Carson days) and said that if he hadn’t gone into real estate he would have done Amway.

9.     Bill Gates never said something similar on Letterman.

8.     The FTC has not endorsed Amway or Quixtar.  The FTC investigated Amway in the 1980s and found its business model to be legal and viable.  But that’s not an endorsement!

7.     We don’t own Barnes and Noble,


Road Trip

This weekend we were in Detroit for a surprise 40th birthday party for my brother-in-law Dale, an engineer at Ford.  I’d share pictures, but there weren’t any because we left the camera in the car and parked it three blocks away so it wouldn’t be seen and the surprise wouldn’t be spoiled.

We had a few hours to kill before the party, so we went to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.  I hadn’t been there in at least 15 years, and our kids were very excited about seeing Rosa Parks’ bus and the chair in which Lincoln was assassinated.  Both are part of a new permanent exhibit at the Ford, titled With Liberty and Justice for All.   You can take a video tour at the Ford’s Web site.

You can sit in the actual seat where Mrs. Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and hear her recount that small but signiciant act that started the Civil Rights movement.  The exhibit covers the independence movement leading to the Revolutionary War, the antislavery movement and Civil War, the Women’s Suffrage Movement and finally the Civil Rights movement.  Since our kids had been studying this throughout January and the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and during February as part of Black History Month, this was especially moving to them as it helped history come alive.

The prevailing message was one of tolerance and acceptance of differences of all kinds.

The party was a surprise and almost 100 people packed into a house to celebrate.  They had a very cool slot racing table set up by Motor City Racing and a tournament.  During the evening the winners of 24 qualifying heats went into the tournament (I won my heat by more than three laps).  I made it into the semifinals and was one of two women in the finals and wound up third overall.  The birthday boy won (and no, we didn’t let him win as we’re all pretty competitive and wouldn’t let anyone win anything without a fight!)

Is there a picture?  No, we left the camera in the car, parked three blocks away….

But I did see a little tolerance movement take place during these festivities.  An adult went up to my daughter during one of the heats and took the slot car control out of her hand, suggesting she go after him.  As I stepped forward to tell the guy to wait his turn, as my daughter had patiently waited her turn, my nine-year-old niece pushed past me and went after him herself.  She informed him that cutting in line isn’t allowed, that it was rude, and that he couldn’t push other kids around.

Here at the Opportunity Zone we’ve asked all who come here to learn and comment about our business to deal with others in a spirit of civil discourse — with respect for all.  On a very basic level it’s a principle of tolerance, allowing for the free expression of differing ideas.  It’s the kind of idea that wars have been fought over and lives have been lost to protect.   And that’s why it’s so important to allow.


Missing mention on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition update

We’ve been told that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is aware of the erroneous omission of donor mentions for the eSpring and Atmosphere units used in the Thomas family project featured on Sunday’s show and that their Web site will soon be updated to reflect Quixtar’s donation.

I’ll post here as soon as we know the Web site has been updated.

They apologize for the confusion this has caused.


Hiding from hope?

There’s an interesting book on this year’s Harvard Business Review List of Breakthrough Ideas for 2007 about the role of hope in business leaders.  Hope is described as “a rejection of cynicism and dispiritedness” but most of us probably have more personal definitions.

Yet the article suggests that in a poll of business leaders, most avoid the word hope, suggesting that if an organization needs hope then it must be “hopeless.”  They may also feel that hope crosses the invisible line between business and matters of spirituality.  The research with business leaders over three years is recapped in the book Putting Hope to Work: Five Principles to Activate Your Organization’s Most Powerful Resource.

Yet hope is one of the concepts that inspire, and have inspired people for centuries to either achieve the unthinkable or overcome the impossible.  The authors suggest that hope is what allows people to survive unspeakable traumas like surviving prison camps or natural disasters.  The article cites studies that show people scoring high on hope cope better, perform better and are more competitive.   But more than anything else, hope means that people are capable of believing things can change and being agents of change.  Which is why hope has a place in business and creating hope should be an expectation of leaders.

Hope is one of the “Founders Fundamentals” Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel identified as central to this business (Freedom, Family and Reward are the other three.)  It is so pervasive an idea in our culture that for years people joked about Amway offering “soap and hope.”

Hope is what drives every IBO as they work to build profitable businesses every day, and hope is what inspires every prospect to consider Quixtar as a way to help them achieve their goals.

And hope to build a better business for all IBOs is what drives us here at Quixtar.  You’ve seen posts at Ada-Tudes about what we’re working on and our focus to create more profitable IBOs and especially help new IBOs make more money sooner.  Because when you have the hopes and dare I use the word dreams of hundreds of thousands of people riding on what you do, you’d better do your personal and collective best to make it possible for them to achieve those hopes and dreams.


Tooth Fairy derailed by bad weather

Last night my youngest lost a tooth….one of the canines in the front that had literally hung on and twisted around for weeks.  It fell out when she bit into a bagel yesterday morning.

So last night she got out the tooth box she'd made at one of those "make and take" art places and placed the tooth inside for the Tooth Fairy to find. 

But when she work up this morning, she was in tears because the Tooth Fairy hadn't come.

Her quick-thinking older sister suggested that the Tooth Fairy was blown off-course by the snow storms south of us.  Dad jumped in and suggested that if the Tooth Fairy was traveling anywhere around the I-94 corridor she probably had to turn back because of the snow and winds.  He then offered to paint an X on our roof so she could find her way….and was informed that the Tooth Fairy travels window to window, not rooftop to rooftop. 

I thought I really had my act together this week.  There were five dozen Valentine gift bags to pack for two elementary school classes, five dozen Valentines for classmates, four dozen Valentines for the kids in our child care, Valentine's goody bags for the girls in our Brownie Troop, gifts for three teachers and six child care providers and cupcakes for a class the girls have tonight.  But I fell asleep before taking care of the most important task of the evening…keeping a bit of childhood innocence intact.

So now the Tooth Fairy is drafting a note explaining her absence last evening and apologizing for not picking up the tooth and leaving a small reward. 

It isn't so much about doing everything right, but rather making things right when you don't.   And making sure you don't make the same mistake again.  I'm a big believer here on the job of understanding what went wrong, fixing what needs to be fixed and making sure you don't make the same error again.  Quixtar is as well, as we look at our business and what we need to do to make it better.  Jim Payne, Quixtar's managing director, has been posting about this in Ada-Tudes and you'll hear all of us talking more about that in the months to come.   Will we continue to make mistakes?  Probably.  Because moving forward and making changes means doing different things and doing things differently — and we're bound to make a mistake or two along the way.

As for my daughter, I'm sure all will be forgotten and forgiven when the Tooth Fairy makes her visit tonight and leaves a reward.   But I'll likely suffer some guilt for a while!



Coming soon to Extreme Makeover’s Web site….credit for Quixtar’s donation!

We learned today that Quixtar's donation of an eSpring water purification system and Atmosphere air purification unit will soon appear at the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Web site….soon!

Our contact with the show assures us they are aware of the omission error and will get the Web site updated soon.

I'll post again when this update is made with a link to recognition of Quixtar's gift.