FreshBooks Live Comes to PDX (a Recap)

FreshBooks Live Comes to PDX (a Recap)

“Brand loyalty is shrinking.”

“Everything you are doing should be memorable or creating experiences.”

“Eight six percent of all word of mouth happens in the real world. Real world is where the stuff happens. Do something in the real world and put it on social media, instead of putting it on social media and hoping it takes off.”

These are the words of Saul Colt (@saulcolt), otherwise known as The Best Marketer in North America and the Smartest Guy in the World. Don’t believe me? Go to his website.

His schtick in speaking to a crowd is unabashed and it works. We know it’s a schtick, because he does it for the laughs. He says he’s allowed one inappropriate comment per talk but he probably pushes the edge on that. He has a lot of experience working with brands as a consultant and forcing drumming up new ideas that are so beyond what the competition is doing. How does he do this? Acting on the belief that little ideas can be as dramatic and meaningful as the big ideas, and by using a secret sauce (more on that later) when it comes to making a really great experience.

I’m quoting Saul from the recent #imakealiving event put on by FreshBooks Live. They are traveling the country, hanging out with small business owners every month, providing them treats and some cool swag, and talking about what makes them tick. I am a FreshBooks user currently and though I almost broke up with them for 17Hats because I am looking for more automation in my workflow (how’s that for jargon) I’m still in the game with good ‘ol FB cause it’s so damn easy and reliable.

So, when I was invited to come to the event in Portland, OF COURSE, I had to go. Held at The Cleaners at Ace Hotel, I was psyched to meet a local bookkeeper/accountant immediately upon entering. (Side note: I cannot escape the accountant/CPA types wherever I go). We shared the same penchant for more activism and equity in the accounting world, hot pink nails and we even had a slight variation of the same business card from Moo. So. Good.

We weren’t there to just hear Saul, though he did get a chunk of time at the end to share some of his creative ideas for inspiration. There was a panel! I’m always up for a good panel. The panelists were:

Lindsay Wolff Logsdon, Head of the Brand Culture Strategy practice at Liquid Agency.

Meghan Sinnott, Brand Manager at Nutcase Helmets.

Reggie Wideman: a consultant for the Salesforce Customer Success Platform.

Rick Turoczy, a staple in the Portland startup community for more than 20 years and founder and editor of the blog, Silicon Florist.

Nathan McKee, an artist and illustrator who is inspired by comics, sports, music and other elements of popular culture.

Full disclosure: I realized halfway through the panel that I should be taking notes on what was being said, so this doesn’t represent the entire discussion, but will hopefully give you a few nuggets to take home with you.

On imposter syndrome:

Lindsay: “Everybody experiences this. If you don’t you are so self-deluded you are out of touch with your own talents. Ask for someone’s opinion.”

Rick: “I’m old enough where I found a comfortable spot. I do deal with entrepreneurs who are deeply suffering and are over-compensating. Every founder is lying to everyone in their lives. Nobody knows what they are doing. Every overnight success is 10-15 years in the making.”

Nathan: “As a creative, anything that I do, I think I can do better.”

Meghan: “My partner is coaching me to think like a mediocre white man. What would he do?”

Saul: “Faking it until you make it is more about tricking yourself until your mind and body catches up.” (Basically, it’s not about other people)

Other choice gems that I caught, you should check the #imakealiving if you want to see more:

Lindsay: “People stay at a company to solve a problem and then move on.” (Otherwise known as a “tour of duty”). “Life priorities change over time.”

Nathan: “I’d be doing this anyway (making art).” The fact that people are interested in it and I’m getting paid for it is crazy.”

Reggie: “Focus on what you’re good at and what makes you happy, then find a way to use that in your industry.”

Saul: “The contractor’s dilemma: I’m hired to be the smartest person in the room but the moment you tell the people who are signing the checks they are wrong, they don’t want you there.”

Speaking of Saul, what’s makes a really great experience?

1.  Make people laugh.

2.  Make people think.

3.  Create genuine emotions.

Good ideas hit two out of three.

And remember, you gotta have sizzle and substance when trying to reach people. Sizzle by itself doesn’t sustain.

One last thing: “If you don’t feel like competing on another person’s terms, just change the rules.”

Smells Like Brand Extension: Celebrity Fragrance Partnerships

Smells Like Brand Extension: Celebrity Fragrance Partnerships

Since Elizabeth Taylor launched the fragrance White Diamonds in 1991, pioneering the way for celebrity branding, other stars have dipped their fingers into the fragrance industry, hoping to capture the same allure. Smells Like Brand Extension: Celebrity Fragrance Partnerships

In 2011, Taylor raked in $200 million in annual sales for White Diamonds, pretty impressive considering the actress died at the age of 79 the same year. The legacy of her branding expertise still remains relevant, as more celebrities are jumping on the fragrance bandwagon as a way to expand their star power.

Jay-Z dropped his Gold Jay Z cologne for men on November 20 at Barneys New York, followed by a Black Friday rollout led by Macy’s and Sephora. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen just launched their dual fragrance line, Nirvana Black and Nirvana White, with a brief holiday preview in mid-December. One Direction’s and Justin Bieber’s fragrances have taken off in the consumer world of tween girls, and Halle Berry, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Taylor Swift all are showing their faces in big box fragrance displays across the country. Alan Cumming, an unlikely pick for this type of product, launched a fragrance called Cumming in 2004 and then a follow-up called 2nd Cumming (yes, really) in 2011. He donates his revenues to charity. Even Kelly Bensimon from “Real Housewives of New York” has made her debut with a perfume called In the Spirit Of.

“Launching a fragrance expands the portfolio for a celebrity and heightens consumer awareness much like a new album or movie release,” said Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst for the NPD Group. “[It] can introduce new or remind existing fans of why they like a particular celebrity. The financial appeal of this heightened awareness is that it can help drive sales of the fragrance as well as other celebrity products and promotions.”

The NPD Group suggests that the power of celebrity — especially in the women’s fragrance market — is still going strong. In May 2013, the top-five women’s celebrity fragrance lines combined (Beyoncé’s Heat, Britney Spears’s Fantasy, Lady Gaga’s Fame, Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely) accounted for 53 percent of the entire women’s celebrity fragrance market. This is high compared to the top-five fragrance lines in the total women’s fragrance market, which accounted for only 12 percent of sales value.

Basically, it can be a cash cow for a celebrity. In 2010, Parker’s line of bestselling fragrances brought in a cool $18 million, which is a decent chunk of change yet still a drop in the bucket compared with the $990.6 million she grosses at the box office. For Britney Spears, launching a fragrance line has proven to be a lucrative side project — since releasing in 2004 Curious, which has sold more than 500 million bottles, she brought 10 more fragrances to market, which have earned her $30 million a year in scents alone. Jennifer Lopez’s Glow perfume series, another big seller, brought in $11.5 million in 2012 — she just released her 20th perfume in October.

Allan Mottus, a consultant to the beauty industry, said celebrities sign on to fragrances for a licensing fee that can be upwards of three to five percent. But other insiders say a top celebrity who appeals to young women can demand $3 million to $5 million as an up-front payment for a fragrance launch plus a six or seven percent royalty on sales. And consumers are still buying.

“It’s all dollar sign driven,” said Erika Kauffman, senior vice president at 5W Public Relations. “The approach to the fragrance and the branding of the fragrance speak to and can impact the perception of that celebrity’s brand, for sure.”

Kate Zadah, founder of Mantelpiece PR, a hair and beauty PR agency based in London, agrees, calling these fragrance products “big money-spinners.”

“Without a doubt, celebrity fragrances provide a strong revenue stream for artists, so they’re not going to stop making them any time soon; in some cases, celeb fragrances can and have been known to eclipse the sales of a non-personality product,” Zadah said. “There are huge numbers of shoppers, young girls especially, who haven’t become fragrance snobs yet and are keen and willing to start a lifetime of fragrance wearing with a star’s product.”

On, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez, and Elizabeth Taylor are the four top-selling celebrities. “Celebrity fragrances always sell well on our site,” said Patti Kapla, vice president of business development for “We even have a special boutique dedicated to celebrity scents. That said, I am pretty sure this is reflective of the customer of the scent and not necessarily the customer of the celebrity themself.”

According to Grant, celebrities like Lopez have built a house of fragrances that evoke a variety of moods and olfactive preferences. “Having this sort of line and consistent introductions is like putting out a new music single each year. It offers consumers a fresh option, helps keep the celebrity top of mind, and generates incremental sales as older favorites taper off in sales.”

But what makes a fragrance successful? Is it pure celebrity? Is it a desire for an overzealous consumer to breathe in some of the “essence” of their obsession? Maybe a little of both. But one thing’s for sure — the fragrance has to smell good.

“If it is not truly a good fragrance, it’s not going to have any staying power,” said Faye Brookman, the critical mass reporter for “Women’s Wear Daily,” pointing to Spears’s Curious as an example of a fragrance that has been wildly successful.

There are a number of ways fragrance lines get created. According to Kauffman, most commonly a fragrance company such as Coty (which, most agree, dominates the celebrity fragrance market) will contact celebrity management companies, ask for their roster, and see who’s available (a.k.a. who either doesn’t have another cosmetic or fragrance line they are promoting, or isn’t swimming in bad press). Conversations will take place, a marketing team will be fitted, a fragrance house will be chosen (typically Firmenich), there might be some back and forth regarding this and that, but ultimately, a new scent will be born.

Despite market slowdown in the fragrance and nail categories in the U.S., Coty’s adjusted operating income for fragrances increased 14 percent to $152.8 million from $134.3 million in the prior-year period, according to its first quarter fiscal 2014 results. And despite hampered overall growth, the powerhouse corporation points to Katy Perry’s Killer Queen launch and the innovative spirit and multichannel distribution strategy of Lady Gaga’s Fame, with its first black-to-clear juice.

For an up-and-coming celebrity, launching a new fragrance can propel you to the next level. 5WPR executed the Jordin Sparks “Because of You” fragrance launch in 2009. With the launch, Sparks was able to reel in more fans, get publicity in beauty and fashion press such as “WWD,” and also collect a licensing fee. Her star instantly began to rise with the extra exposure.

Kauffman was representing Preferred Fragrance, the scent company that distributed Sparks’s perfume, and they wanted to partner with a celebrity who was “affordable, aspirational, and available.”

“Nobody knew who Jordin Sparks was in 2008,” Kauffman said. “If you are a marketer working for a celebrity, it might be a good entry point for the licensing sphere, since fragrances tend to sell very well as a point-of-purchase item. And if it does well, you think, ‘Maybe we can sell her bigger in the licensing forum.’ Fragrances are just a great avenue from the brand perspective.”

Some celebrities prefer a more hands-on approach. The Olsen twins, for example, took nearly two years to develop their new fragrances, Nirvana Black and Nirvana White, with about 50 different concoctions, they told “WWD.” After being approached by Sephora, the twins partnered with Firmenich (which is also behind Jay Z Gold), working with noses Pierre Negrin and Honorine Blanc (also known for partnering with Beyoncé and Sarah Jessica Parker), for Black and White, respectively. The fragrances will launch in Sephora stores around the country and at later this month.

“Much depends on the celebrity,” said Grant. “Some are involved from the initial concept to the scent and packaging while others simply lend their name to a product that is basically designed and conceived by a fragrance house and marketing team.”

But for Zadah, creating a celebrity fragrance is never going to increase a celebrity’s brand currency, it simply provides another string to their bow. “If you’re not already held in high esteem by an adoring public, then producing a fragrance isn’t going to change that,” she said. “The production of an ‘own fragrance’ is a way for an already very popular personality to share more with its fan base.”


SATC Kinda Sucks

SATC Kinda Sucks

If you don’t want to know what happens don’t read further.
I’ll be the first to admit, I am addicted to this show. I didn’t have HBO when it was on (still don’t but that’s beside the point) but rented the seasons on DVDs and just spent hours on end, in bed, watching the episodes (hey, I had a sexy girlfriend at that time, ya know, with usually a Michelob Light and some gossip mag thrown in for good measure)…I knew where the show left off, I saw it all go down, and yes, was invested (as I still am) in the characters.
But ding dang! The movie. It’s been a mind fuck for me all day.
See, Big and Carrie are in bliss, in love, happy, yada yada yada. They decide to buy this swank pad (well, he buys it, cause he got the bling), he casually asks her to marry him, matter of factly, over chopping some sort of dinner ingredient. She agrees. He builds her a dank walk-in closet, in which she puts some fancy $525 shoes in to make it hers.
Then she starts planning for the wedding.
Writer socialite that she is, she’s in Page Six, got a Vivienne Westwood original design as a dress, a spread in Vogue, and Big is kinda freaking. The guy has commitment issues anyway, add to the mix that it is his third wedding and we know any minute the dude’s gonna bail and leave Carrie, our Carrie, FUCKED.
Meanwhile, her ladies all got their own schtick going on. Charlotte adopted a cute Chinese baby she names Lily. Original, no? Samantha is with her model boy toy, living in a phatty LA beach house and totally unhappily domesticated. And Miranda is stressed out but bored living in Brooklyn with Steve and her young’n Brady. When she finds out Steve-o has a one-nighter cause they haven’t been rolling around for awhile, she gets pissy and moves out. Fun times!
So… the wedding. We know what’s going to happen. Big calls her the night before kind of freaking out and Carrie, blissed out with her girlfriends all giggly and shit, has to talk him down off a cliff. “Yes baby, it’s just us, me and you.” Not a direct quote, but you catch my drift.
The next morning, she’s all dolled up in Couture with a blue bird feather on the side of her head and some very depressing, dark music is playing as she heads to the ceremony. Hey now, Mr Scorer, coulda make it anymore obvious?! Big has been trying to call her, but Lily conveniently scoops up Carrie’s cell phone so it’s oblivious to her he’s gonna bail. It’s only until they arrive 25 minutes late to the New York Public Library (yep, that’s where it is folks, hosting 200 peeps) and they realize he hasn’t shown up that they decide to call the fuck, who just pulled away from the curb of the place. She calls him, he tells her he can’t go through with it, she has a very composed meltdown. Friends take her away. Samantha deals with the guests. He realizes he freaked, tells driver to turn around. Their limos pass on the street. He calls her name. She gets out of the car. Bashes him with hundreds of dollars of flowers. She is dejected and humiliated. He, hated by all in the theater.
Oh G-d. Must I go on?
She spends a good portion of the movie reeling from this. The girls take her to Mexico, where she was supposed to go with Big on her honeymoon. She spends DAYS in bed, sleeping. She is so sad, so depressed, so in denial, so unwilling to deal. It’s not until Charlotte, who has been eating pudding the whole time on the trip for fear of getting sick from the food, unintentionally swallows water in the shower, gets the stomach gurgles and shits in her pants, that Carrie starts laughing again.
So, she rebuilds her life. She hires Jennifer Hudson as her assistant (who is adorable) and she gets her shit in order. Aside from this, Samantha is hilarious with her one liners. Miranda has a sour attitude and Charlotte, well, she’s just blah. I went with a coupla older ladies who thought the film was racy, which is laughable, because the sex scenes they did include just seemed to be added to remind us, hey, this is Sex And The City, and not some depressing dramedy we’re watching on Lifetime.
To conclude (because you know what, I’m boring myself even writing about this) Miranda tells Carrie that after an interaction with Steve at the rehearsal dinner, she told Big that “you guys are crazy to get married, it ruins everything” which creates a beef between them for like three days, Charlotte gets pregnant, and Samantha has the hots for some neighbor dude who is having sex everywhere she can see and propositioning her at the same time.
But the real douzy is this. Charlotte goes in for lunch at some upscale joint when she is a week away from her due date, sees Big (who she has been fantasizing about giving the riot act to) and tries to run out without being seen. Big, of course, sees her, follows her out and then guess what, people?
Her water breaks! oy veh!
He drives her to the hospital, she has her daughter and then Carrie comes. Big has by this time left. Charlotte’s husband (what’s his name, Harry?) tells Carrie that Big’s been trying to get in touch with her by writing and that she should call HIM, because he hasn’t been able to call HER since she threw her cell phone into the ocean in Mexico after finally listening to his wedding day voice mails.
Oh shiz. Here we go.
Now she’s got a 347 number. Poor broad.
So … really, I am going to conclude with the summary here: Steve and Miranda go to counseling, meet up on the Brooklyn Bridge after two weeks without speaking (suggested by the therapist, aka if both show up at designated spot, they agree the past is forgotten) and decide to go at it again. They are now googly-eyed. Samantha leaves Smith Jerrod (or whatever his name is) because she’s too hot to trot to be preparing meals for an over-highlighted model. Jennifer Hudson, er, um, Louise ends up getting engaged to her college sweetheart who told her he didn’t think she was the one, and goes back to St. Louis but leaves a bunch of mail for Carrie to open.
And then Carrie.
Our Carrie then realizes all the letters are via email and doesn’t know the password to Louise’s folder, but then the LOVE keychain that Louise always carried around and gave her before she left fell off her desk. Lightbulb moment! And there they are, all the love letters Big could never write and still can’t, poems by various old dead white dudes all lined up in her inbox. (See, that’s why she wanted to get married in the library, so she could be around all the great writers with great love stories.)
He’s sorry. He fucked up.
(the fact that I personally identify with Mr. Big is beside the point and another story for another time)…
And yep, it just so happens to be the last day, down to the last hour, to go get those shoes from that dank walk-in closet because the new owners are changing the locks or some shit. So she books it uptown. And guess who’s there? Guess! Come on!
Fucking BIG!
He was going to get the shoes to her somehow.
She RUNS towards him, not before a dramatic pause. They embrace. They lay on the carpet admiring the closet. He gets down on one knee. He proposes. He puts the shoe on her FOOT cause he doesn’t have a proper diamond. I am holding my head at this point.
Kill me now.
She wears the suit she originally knew she should wear to marry Big before she got “Carried Away.”
Oh G-d.
It’s just the two of them in the courthouse. But it would have been nice to have the girls there, no?
That’s why he called them! They are right outside! OMG!
They go to Denny’s. Cause it’s love that matters, right?
The end.