Smart Cookies Everywhere!

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A little salute to all the smart cookies we know!  This is a favorite – my Mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dressed up just to make you smile.  These would be perfect for exam study groups, graduation parties or because it’s time for a snack.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

1 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup coconut

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips and/or toffee chips, optional

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend sugars and shortening. Add beaten eggs. Sift dry ingredients together and add to first mixture. Stir in vanilla, coconut, oats and nuts. Mix well and drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Flatten with the floured bottom of a glass. Bake in 375 degree oven until light brown – about 8 minutes.

Meet Courtney Seiter and Buffer

lM8OzyGsQdfGYzY3iniEdhW4TsMz3VtyX3fp1a2Ve7gCourtney Seiter is a great fount of information on social media and culture.  She is a writer and editor at Buffer, focusing on the intersection of social media and workplace culture. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Fast Company, Lifehacker, Inc. and more. On the side, she’s the co-founder of Girls to the Moon, an amateur DJ and an excellent dog petter.
1. Tell us about Buffer and what makes it different from other social media tools.
Sure thing! Buffer is a tool that helps individuals and companies share easily to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+. Buffer will help you find the best times to post for the most engagement, and then you can fill up your queue so you’re always in touch with your audience. We offer great analytics so you’ll always know how you’re doing and have the insights you need to keep improving. I think our customer support sets us apart; we treat each and every customer with the utmost respect and gratitude, because they’re why we exist!
2. We understand that Buffer has a unique organizational structure, unusual employee benefits and commitment to total transparency.  Tell us a little about it.  
Buffer is a very cool and different type of company; I feel very lucky! We’re a remote team of 60+, with teammates scattered all across the globe. We get together every 6 months or so at a different location–we’ve been to Cape Town, New York, Sydney, Reykjavik and next up in January is Honolulu! We have cool perks like unlimited paid vacation ( plus an extra bonus you only get if you take a vacation!) and free Kindles and all the Kindle books you can read for yourself and your family. We’re also very devoted to transparency as one of our 10 core values, so anyone can learn all about our salaries, our revenue, our team demographics, and what every cent of their subscription to Buffer goes toward. (P.S. We’re hiring!)
3. How are you creating a welcoming environment for teammates and customers? 
Awesome question! Our customers come from all walks of life, all around the world; and we believe our team should reflect that diversity in order to make the best product decisions and create the happiest and most inclusive culture. We have a unique opportunity to add teammates from anywhere in the world! So we’re working toward being very deliberate about growing our culture in a way that celebrates our unique differences. We’re getting news of our open roles to new, different and underrepresented groups and tracking closely how we’re doing with growing the team in a diverse way. We have a lot of important work to do here, and a lot to learn. It’s an exciting project to work on!
 
4. What are you currently working on?  How does your role affect inclusiveness at Buffer?
My role at Buffer is a mix of culture, content and inclusivism, which is such an awesome opportunity. I edit and write for Buffer: Open, our blog that focuses on workplace culture topics. I get the coolest opportunity to share the stories of my teammates, open up about how we work and promote all kinds of unique and innovative workplace culture strategies and movements. It’s also a perfect fit for sharing openly all the experiments we and others are trying to create more diverse and inclusive work environments.
5. What’s new for social media in 2016?  Do you have any crystal ball prognostications for the new year?
I loved seeing the rise of tools like Periscope and Blab this year; it felt like a return to the kind of real-time engagement that made social media so special from the start. In 2016, I predict and hope for more movement in this direction, toward more authentic moments and conversations!
6. What are your passion projects outside of Buffer?  
 
I love working with kids to create a more just future for the next generation. I am a founder of Girls to the Moon, a startup that works to empower young girls to own their confidence and passions. And I’m a tutor and volunteer at Fannie Battle, an amazing program providing resources for underprivileged youth in East Nashville.
7. Bonus:  What didn’t I ask you that I should have?  
Hmm, good one! Well, if you’re in need of any book recommendations, I’ve been reading a book a week throughout 2015 focusing on awesome lady authors. You can find all my selections here!

Our Favorite Business Productivity Tools for 2016

Screening-Trends-and-Predictions-for-2016We all need an array of productivity tools to help us work, share and survive our hectic marketing life.

What’s on our list?  19 Things we can’t live without!

1.  Buffer.  Okay, refer to our story on Buffer.  Buffer allows us to post content to multiple social media platforms in one easy click.  There’s even a handy browser tool that allows you to post while you are reading.  Link all your social profiles and share immediately or schedule posts for later.  Also Buffer has a beautiful social media image creation tool called Pablo.

2.  Socialoomph.com.  Our secret tool.  Socialoomph also allows us to post and schedule content as far in the future as we want, and as often as we want.  When friends say, “I see you on social media all the time; I don’t know how you do it,” I just smile and say thank you!

3.  Latergramme.me. This tool allows you to schedule your Instagram posts in advance.  Once your posts are scheduled, you only need to publish from your phone.

4.  Feedly is a news reading app that delivers news from RSS feeds.  I am still missing Google Reader but this is a good way to harness quick access to articles.

5.  WordPress is the blog platform I use for both LipstickEconomy.com and our website.  We have used WordPress for six years and often use it as the platform for websites we are building.  You can’t beat its open source platform and easy-to-use content management system.

6.  Google Analytics.  There are great new demographic and behavioral features in reporting now.

7.  FreeConferenceCall.com.  Yep, it’s free.  Conference calls for up to 100 people for six hours, although who would want to be on a call with that many people.  You can also record calls with MP3 playback.  Recording is helpful when you do interviews or don’t want to take notes.  We also use UberConference which has similar features and document sharing, also free.

8.  DropBox  and HighTail.  Dropbox is used for storing and sharing files and photos with clients and partners.  HighTail is great for storing and sharing large files easily.  We use HighTail for transferring large graphic files quickly and easily.

9.  Google Drive.  I use Google Drive for several organizations and clients where we need to easily share documents and files.  And you know, it’s free and awesome.

10.  Timetrade.com or ScheduleOnce are great tools for setting appointments online.  Excellent tools when you are scheduling interviews for groups of people.

11.  Grammarly or Hemingway.  Great tools for checking your grammar, your verbosity and your penchant for run-on sentences.

12.  Basecamp.  We use Basecamp for managing large projects with our clients.  Basecamp is considered the most popular project management software.

13. Emma and MailChimp for Email.  Why two?  Well, they offer different things for different clients.  Emma is changing constantly with great new features.  One of the things they offer is beautiful templates and custom creative.  Emma’s reporting is easy-to-read and they work well with franchise organizations.  Besides, they are a Nashville company!  Mailchimp is free for lists up to 2,000, good reporting, easy-to-build templates and cute illustrations of chimps.

14.  Canva and Pablo 2.0.  Both build amazing graphics for social media.  We love and use them both.  Powtoon is also a great resource for quick little videos with  templates ready for customization.

15.  SurveyMonkey.  Research is important for all businesses.  SurveyMonkey is good for informal research,  formal research and even collecting contact information.

16.  LinkedIn is both social media and a contact resource.  Download your connections to start your contact or newsletter list.

17.  Evernote.  Free note-taking app that is perfect for someone who saves everything.

18.  My iPhone.  My phone, my camera, my lifeline.  What else can I say?  Also a portable charger for traveling.

19.  Hubspot, Salesforce or Contactually.  CRMs for the real world based on the size of your business and pocketbook.

 

Yes, Testimonials Still Work

Redmond_elaine_300x250Testimonials may be one of the oldest forms of marketing and for good reason.  Testimonials are a way of capturing word-of-mouth in digestible stories.  The power of authentic testimonials continues to be important in marketing.  And the facts support it.  Some 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and a whopping 70% even trust unknown users.

That’s why healthcare advertising depends on testimonials.  We do a good bit of research with hospital patients and we frequently ask where people get dependable information on healthcare.  And 85-90% of those we ask say Friends and Family.  Testimonials are just a way of growing our universe of friends and family.

But testimonials have to deliver the goods.  The target audience must perceive the testimonial is real, from someone like them.  The message must be authoritative, trustworthy, credible, very specific about results, and relevant to the audience.  Video and photography help deliver the authenticity of the testimonial.  Academic research shows that people are more likely to believe a statement if it is accompanied by a photograph, so the images of your case study need to be the centerpiece of your testimonial.

Recently we asked patients of Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome, GA to tell us their Redmond story.  And the response has been overwhelming.  We heard some incredible stories like Barry who had a major cardiac event while driving down the highway at 50 miles an hour.   And Scott who had a massive heart attack running up the high school bleachers.  And Elaine who thought the nurses who treated her were angels.  Even more people have stepped forward to be screened for possible heart and stroke symptoms.  So that more hearts and lives continue to be saved in Northwest Georgia.

A New Brand Strategy for Integrity in Today’s Marketplace

Brand Wise has been working with Integrity Solutions to bring their brand new relevance for today’s marketplace.  The company provides sales training, customer service and coaching solutions for many Fortune 500 companies.
integrity-portfolioThe brand needed a new face and new ways to reach their target audience.   Integrity Solutions now has a new brand identity, a brand strategy, a new website, a content strategy and new ways to communicate with their audience through social media, email campaigns, and new delivery systems like Populr.  Brand Wise worked alongside Ah So Designs to provide a website that is just as responsive as Integrity Solutions.  Ross Jones at  2theTop Design  provided SEO expertise and  Marla Ink Productions provided succinct new white papers for the website.

Website Launch for Lakeshore Senior Communities

Lakeshore Senior Communities have been providing wonderful personalized care to seniors on two campuses in the Nashville area for many years.  When they came to Brand Wise, they felt they needed an update to their logo and their look and feel.   The new brand identity includes an updated name and logo identity for the parent company and the two Nashville facilities.

The original Lakeshore Estates opened its first senior care facility in 1952.  More than 60 years later, the non-profit has two signature facilities – The Meadows in Bellevue and Heartland in Donelson.  The senior communities now have a new brand identity that matches the warmth of the personalized, Christian care they provide for their residents.  The new look is enhanced by engaging photography of their residents.

Take a look at the before and after of their new website.

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Minnie Pearl Still Winning Awards!

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My friend Katharine Ray, Director of Communications & Marketing, at The Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation called to let us know that their “Celebrate Minnie Pearl and Her Legacy Campaign” has been named a finalist in PR News’ Nonprofit PR Awards in the category of Marketing.  They will be traveling to D.C. to collect the award for the campaign that celebrated the 25th anniversary of MPCF and the 100th birthday of Tennessee legend Minnie Pearl.

The Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation is a completely free support service for cancer patients and their families and caregivers.  Those impacted by cancer can receive one-on-one guidance for important needs such as –

  • decision support regarding clinical trials, treatment information, and options
  • personalized guidance
  • nutrition and side effect management recommendations
  • emotional and practical support

Brand Wise was happy to assist with the marketing planning for the fun salute to all things Minnie.  The year was based on storytelling because everyone has a special memory of Minnie.  The year included lots of Howdees, celebrations, pictures, t-shirts and even bumper stickers that said Visualize Minnie.  The heart of the celebration was the more than 100 Minnie Moments collected here, including everyone from governors to friends to celebrities like Dolly Parton and Marty Stuart.

I have included one of my favorite moments.  It’s a friend of mine who keeps Minnie’s spirit alive among her many friends, and tells a “right funny little story”  about being robbed on the train from Grinder Switch.