More Lexus Genius

Cool tool on their website shows the progression of data points.

 

Good ‘ole Lexus, their marketing makes me happy once again! I’ve seen their latest commercial about their superior crash test dummy, and I think it’s a great strategy.

First, they’re reenforcing the message that they are superior to their competitors. Not only do they use superior designs, they use superior testing methods. Since their tests give them more information, they can further improve their design. By highlighting the differences in the testing dummies, Lexus makes the customer question the founding assumptions made by competitors. How do you know that your car’s design can really handle that crash? If you’ve got a Lexus, you know that the superior testing practices have proven that your car is safe.

Second, Lexus shows that they pay attention to ALL the details, not just the look or luxurious feel of the car. Many of their competitors focus on a single feature, like safety or reliability, but Lexus’ new commercial shows that they’re focusing on all your driving needs. Each of their marketing campaigns show an increased attention to detail on a specific feature. The first campaign I mentioned, showcased Lexus’ acknowledgement of the need for convenience, with a secondary nod to the aspirational quality of their product.  Many of their billboards highlight the beauty of the design, with artistic shots of the car on a simple black background… it’s just gorgeous! This campaign shows their commitment to providing the highest quality in safety, and showcases their engineering prowess.

Finally, they follow it up with a great website. Their Engineering Amazing portal takes you to interactive tools, and shows you the science behind their superior crash test dummy.They engage the user on the site, and back up the claims in their commercials with data. It showcases not only the beauty in the design of the cars, but the beauty and precision in the design of everything Lexus touches, which instills more confidence in the customer that they’ve made the right choice in buying a Lexus.

Once again, Lexus delivers a knock-out campaign. Every interaction is professional, with a pin-pointed message to target their customer’s every need.

Morale Boost

Last week, I showed you some options for picture arrangements in my office. I’m nearing completion on my task to decorate the office, as requested by our Big Bosses. It’s a little funny how it’s all worked out, as many people in the office found it to be a really low-priority project. But now that things are starting to go up on the walls, the response has been great! People are dropping by my office to see what goodies were delivered for their corner of the office, joining me to stare at the wall and contemplate arrangements, and asking if I’ve got anything coming for that one wall right by their office. It’s turned out to be a great morale boost, and several people have told me that they appreciate the new art.

Sometimes you don’t realize how much something matters until you actually have it, and the little things make a huge difference in work and office satisfaction. Many companies do “morale events”, from monthly birthdays to certificates for good work. These events may seem a little silly, but they make a huge difference. Think about it: do you feel better or worse about your efforts if someone tells you “thank you”? Do you enjoy the office more or less with pictures on the wall? These boosts help motivate a dejected employee, inspire a bored employee, and make an under-appreciated employee feel like someone notices, and someone cares. I know I’m inspired when I walk into the office in the morning and see a gorgeous 30″x30″ engine staring at me! And all the compliments on my choice of decor? It’s a nice boost to my self-esteem.

So, if you’re a boss, do something nice for your employees… bring in donuts one morning, and your productivity might just sky-rocket. Say “thanks” to a colleague today, and let them know you appreciate their work… you’ll be surprised how much better their work on your projects becomes.

Grade Thresholds

Maybe I’m just frustrated at my poor performance on my Stats exam, but several people I’ve talked to agree that the professor has a high threshold for his grade inputs. I’ve talked before about the discrepancies between academia and the real world, but I’m wondering if we’re all correct that this scale seems a little weird.

The biggest source of fear about this grading scale, is that anything below an 86 is a C. This correlates to a GPA of about a 2.6, which means that if I score an 85 in the class, my lovely 3.9 is going to plummet. This strikes an extra amount of fear in me, particularly because I feel like I made something like an 83 or an 84 in Stats during my undergrad degree. Thus, even with “good” performance (for me, remember we’re talking about Stats here!), I’m still stuck with a terrible hit to my GPA. One student commented that surely there’s some kind of uniformity across the university, because otherwise, professors could make a 98 the threshold for a B or C. From my previous semesters, it does seem like most professors have a similar scale for grading, with only a point or two of difference amongst themselves, instead of the 5-8 point difference shown by this professor’s scale.

Fortunately, it seems that most companies don’t care about your grad school GPA unless it’s below a 3.0. And, most companies factor in the school’s reputation when evaluating GPAs in the first place. This leads to the debates about whether grades, GPAs, and scales are even relevant when predicting someone’s level of success, since you might be comparing apples to oranges anyway. If me and another student both make an 85 in Stats, but I get a C and they get a B, I look worse. Maybe it’s because I’ve never made a C in my life, but for some reason, a C compared to a B sounds much worse than a B compared to an A. It may also be that I think a C involves laziness vs. intelligence or “natural ability”, and that laziness offends me more than not having the ability in the first place.

Either way, there’s some trepidation about my final grade, and I’ve only had one exam for that class! I’m sure it will turn out fine in the end, but would you be worried if you were being graded on this scale? Am I bitter about the high threshold, or correct that it’s much higher than I’ve seen in previous classes?

Word of the Day

I got comments twice the other day about using “big words”, and I’ve had this happen many times throughout my life. I don’t think I use big words, but apparently my vocabulary is cause for comment. The aforementioned comments were a result of my use of the word “tangential” and “conundrum”. I was asked to spell “conundrum” and give a definition. This prompted me to say that I’d come back with more words, and we could have a word of the day! I think today’s word will be “proclivity”, and tomorrow’s word will be “mitigate”. Again, I don’t think either of these are big words, but I could be wrong.

Did you have $10 words in elementary school? Because I did. My teacher liked to explain that words have value, and if you use bigger words or more specific words, you add more value to your writing. Thus, “everyday” words were only worth $1, words from our vocabulary list were worth $5, and any fancy words we found on our own were usually worth $10. We didn’t actually get any money, but she frequently referred to our assignment requirements with phrases like, “Use at least one $10 word and one $5 word.” Granted, we were in second grade, so even $10 words weren’t THAT interesting. I still talk about $10 words, and I always get funny looks when I mention it.

If nothing else, $10 words give your writing a little flavor, spicing up the everyday blog post just a little. The only caveat (should “caveat” be a word of the day?)  is making sure you’re understood, and using fancy words sometimes detracts from the meaning (think jargon-laden technical writing or legal writing.) So, readers, any ideas for a word of the day?

Groupings

Almost immediately after yesterday’s venting post, I noticed an interesting idea (well, maybe just to the marketing nerds!). Sometimes you just need to let the stress out and things will come to you! Anyways, my inspiration came in the form of trying to hang pictures around the office. I’ve got three photos of engines in one company’s product line, and I wanted to hang them together in a group. Here’s my version of the arrangement:

Arranged by color: silver, blue, silver

I tend to notice colors and crops first, so my initial grouping placed the photos with the “odd” color in the middle, just to keep things even.

My boss, and industry veteran, suggested this arrangement:

Arranged from largest engine type to smallest engine type

He felt that the engines should be arranged from the largest engine type to the smallest engine type. Based on his experience and viewing of photos from aviation, planes, engines, and parts were always arranged either smallest to largest, or largest to smallest. There was some order to the arrangement based on hard data, not color or crop.

And finally, another colleague suggested this arrangement:

Arranged with engine fans framing the non-fan engines

Her assessment was based on factors similar to mine, thinking that you should have the two engines that look like fans on either side of the engine that does not look like a fan. Again, she was going with symmetry that made sense to her mind as her eye saw it.

So how does this relate to marketing? The first application that comes to mind, is grouping things together in a grocery store. Cross-selling is a basic concept in marketing that basically says you should put complementary products together to increase the sales of both items. For example, putting salsa in the same aisle as the chips makes sense, because people eat chips and salsa together. However, salsa could also be placed in the hispanic foods aisle, the condiments aisle, or the sauces/gravy/mixes/marinades aisle. Groupings are an integral part of a store planner’s job, and as my picture example shows, people often group things differently. What happens if I associate salsa with chips, but your brand of salsa isn’t on the chip aisle? If I’m only looking for salsa as grouped with chips, you lose out on me even looking for your product!

Groupings are extremely important in marketing, and how your customer makes connections to your product can make or break the sale. Are they looking at color, hard data, or pictures to determine which things “go together”? Have I missed any other groupings of my pictures?

Thoroughly Uninspired

Well readers, I didn’t do well on my Stats exam. Let’s take a moment for the shock that the professor managed to grade that exam overnight! Further, our biggest tradeshow of the year starts in less than a week, so the stress is piling on. Add to that a paper that’s due in about 2 weeks comprised of content that has yet to be submitted from some group members, and I’m thoroughly uninspired. I keep trying to find the cool marketing tactics in day-to-day life, or the really interesting MBA ah-ha moment, but quite frankly, I’m too stressed to see the interesting things right now. This is nose to the grindstone time, and it’s a little disheartening to feel like I have no creativity.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I leave for Las Vegas in just a few days, and some GORGEOUS prints arrived for the office. I feel like I’ll snap out of the funk after an invigorating walk around the tradeshow floor. For now, I’m taking Seth Godin’s advice about writing to relieve writer’s block.

On another note, I’ve been asked about my workout habits by several different colleagues today. The questions are generally phrased as, “You must work out, you walk fast, ” or, “Wow, you have a lot of energy… do you workout a lot?” This is usually said while trying to keep pace as I make my rounds between the offices, or trying to follow the words racing furiously out of my mouth. I tend to think that I walk at a normal speed, and everyone else is just slow, and maybe it’s not that I talk fast, but others should listen faster? 🙂 Either way, I’m apparently determined to pass my frazzled state along to anyone who crosses my path.

So, any other tips for getting my inspiration back? I’d contemplate for an answer on my own, but I’ve got to run!

Teach Others to Teach Yourself

I’ve got my first statistics test this evening, and I’ve been pretty stressed out about it for the last week. If you remember, I’m not a numbers person! However, attending a study sessions with my fellow classmates yesterday afternoon actually made me feel much more confident in my ability to do ok (note, not AWESOME, just ok!) on this exam.

It turns out that the one thing I actually really understand was the one thing most of the session attendees didn’t understand. Thus, I was able to walk them through the steps I took to solve the problem, and it helped solidify my own approach. I’ve found that teaching others really helps me teach myself. When I was preparing for my economics final, I went through some of the problems on a white board, explaining all the steps to my husband as I worked my way through. In both cases, there were questions about why I did it this way or that, where I found a piece of information, and how I ended up choosing one line of reasoning or another. The “why” is a great way to approach problems, as it keeps you from just memorizing one formula for one situation. Since I knew why I was taking certain steps, I was able to apply them to several different problems.

I found that one of the study attendees was able to work through some of his own questions by walking us through some examples. He’d found a much faster way to solve one of the problems, and he gave us the steps to complete the problem in half the time. The session was worth it just to pick up that Excel trick!

So, wish me luck on the exam tonight! Next time you’re confused, find someone to teach the subject to… you might realize you know more than you thought!