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    Karen’s latest article in the Business Journals touches on the personal impact of the recent round of major layoffs at Target Corporation. Join in the conversation by leaving us your comments.

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    My phone was ringing off the hook Tuesday with news and updates from friends at Target, which had just laid off 1,700 corporate employees.

    All the messages brought me right back to my own experience in 2009 when I was part of the marketing layoffs at the Minneapolis-based retailer.

    That uneasy feeling, the pit in your stomach, the sadness of saying goodbye to colleagues, the reality of packing your office and walking out the door with the news media standing there taking video — UGH! It all came rushing back and felt very raw. I understand those going through the turmoil. You can never brace yourself for something like this even when you know its coming.

    When I got my news in 2009, I had just gotten married, moved into a new house, and found out I was laid off the day after arriving home from our honeymoon. Ouch. Talk about a tough re-entry! It took me a few hours to get my head around it enough to even call my newly-minted husband and tell him that the honeymoon really was over.

    But what ended up being a very difficult time was also rather liberating. I’m a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason,” but I understand not everyone subscribes to this philosophy.

    Six years later I can reflect and share a few of the lessons from my rearview mirror.

    It’s OK to take time for yourself

    This may seem like the furthest thing from your mind when you’ve lost a job, but it can be very therapeutic. In fact, I would argue that this time CAN be part of the job search process — if used effectively.

    I was able to take a couple months of downtime to get reorganized and refocused before I made decisions about what’s next. This time also allowed me to slow down and listen to what my instincts were telling me, rather than jumping into something I might have regretted later. I’ve spoken to others from my “Class of 2009” who also felt the same way and were glad they had some time to digest and recalibrate.

    If finances allow, it could mean taking a dream vacation that you’ve been thinking about but didn’t have the time off. It could also mean re-evaluating your passions and career — maybe making a change, going back to school, or moving to a different city.

    It became crystal clear to me after a couple months that I needed to open my own agency, which many people along the way had told me I should do, but now the choice became so much easier. It was something I never would have done if not given this “opportunity.” If you take time to really understand what you want to do and can clearly articulate it, this will also help others in your network be able to help you when the time is right.

    When there are peaks and valleys in my business, I try to come back to the value of taking some down time for reflection and repositioning my compass.

    Continue reading the rest of the story in the March Business Journal here.

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    Karen’s latest article in the Business Journals touches on the biggest advertising event of the year, the Super Bowl. Join in the conversation by leaving us your comments!

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    It’s always fun to play Monday morning quarterback when it comes to the Super Bowl ads. There are always some fan favorites and some duds.

    The tone and messaging this year was decidedly subdued and serious, attempting to create a brand connection through emotions and meaningful content told through the storytelling format.

    As I listened to the morning coverage and thought about the ads from Sunday night’s game, I wondered what ads I would do differently.

    What if any of these products were my clients — how would I have advised them? What may have turned an average ad into an outstanding one? What were the advertising and marketing principles at play?

    Here’s what I came up with:

    1. Turbo Tax and the Boston Tea Party

    The first ad I would want a “do over” for is the Turbo Tax spot that appeared early in the game. It featured a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party — but reimagined the outcome without paying to file the tax. It highlighted the company’s “Absolute Zero” free federal and state tax filing.

    There were a few reasons I didn’t like this ad, but first and foremost is the fact that they already have a successful campaign running called, “Taxes Are Your Life — Only Simpler.” The current campaign cleverly shows various life events that impact your taxes, and that doing your own taxes online should be easy, making it less intimidating to the general consumer. It’s the perfect combination of humor and product positioning. Turbo Tax also uses the tagline, ” It’s Amazing What You’re Capable Of,” which instills confidence and empowerment.

    The Super Bowl ad seemingly abandons the current campaign with this one-off historical piece. The ad is dark and heavy, leaving the consumer to either follow the ad until the end to understand the product or make a snack run.

    We are in prime tax-prep season, so the timing of the ad is perfect, but the execution was not. Not only was this an expensive spot to run –— at 60 seconds, it cost almost $9 million in media — it also looked like an incredibly expensive spot to produce with a large pool of talent, costumes, a set and props.

    Advice:

    If I were to advise this client, I would look for a way to expand and build on the current campaign — perhaps with more humor around the life events that impact our taxes. Think of the funny scenarios you could build around having a baby, moving, or even starting a business! The ads would always drive back to the message that doing your own taxes online is easier than you think. I think this is a strong and important message, coupled with the tagline, and they should continue to utilize the equity they’ve earned here.

    Marketing Lesson:

    Don’t change just for the sake of change (or the sake of the SuperBowl)

    Continue reading full article published in the Business Journals here…

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    EXTRA! EXTRA!

    BUSINESSJOURNALSThe team at Station K & Company is proud to announce that our leading lady, Karen, is now a Contributing Writer for The Business Journals!  Her first article appears today and will be published nationally in all 43 Business Journal Markets.  Enjoy her inaugural piece and join the conversation by posting your thoughts and feedback!

    5 Business Lessons From My Life In A Sorority

    Greek life at most college campuses conjures up images of all-night parties and rowdy fraternity guys. But there’s a side of fraternity and sorority life that most people don’t see unless they’ve been part of it. At its core, Greek life — specifically being in a leadership role in the chapter — is hands-on training for many essential life and business skills.

    Most fraternities and sororities have an executive council of leadership (“Exec”) that runs the chapter, spearheading things like budgets, rushing new members, and philanthropic activities. Each member of Exec is responsible for his or her elected office plus the house as a whole. As an active Exec member— and eventual president of my chapter at the University of Minnesota — here are some of the incredible lessons I learned that still apply to my career today.

    1. The art of diplomacy

    When you lead a group of more than 100 women, you’re going to experience tension, especially when you have to live with them while leading them. You can’t go home at night and tell your spouse about your crazy co-worker and come back the next day with a fresh start — you also have to eat dinner, participate in events, study, and maybe share a room with other members who may not like the decisions you make.

    The art of diplomacy helped me understand that:

    • What you say is just as important as how you say it. People usually give the benefit of the doubt, but only if leaders are honest and straightforward — especially when it comes to difficult decisions.
    • You need to be empathetic. As a house, we were wired to work as a team, so when one person was impacted by something, it impacted everyone. Listen to what’s being said (and what’s not being said) in any situation, and seek to understand first — deal with facts first and emotions next. Both play a role in leadership and decision making.
    • It’s important to maintain positive and constructive relationships with people, whether you live with them or not. Believe it or not, you can be civil even if you disagree with someone! I’ve found that using candor, humor and authenticity usually yields good results.

    2. The basics of running a business

    Just like any business, Exec makes difficult decisions regarding expenses, staffing and house rules. The committee is responsible for the full operations of the house year-round — things like feeding the chapter members, paying house bills, budgeting for activities, and dealing with unforeseen expenses. If you didn’t do your job, you were going to hear from 100 angry girls who had to take cold showers!

    3. The right thing to do might be against the rules

    One of the other responsibilities of the Exec team is establishing and enforcing house rules — including taking action if chapter members needed to go on probation for not following the rules or meeting the sorority’s mandatory GPA. You can imagine how sensitive and difficult this was.

     

    Continue reading full article here…

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    Ring the bell! Station K & Co is pleased to welcome our newest client, EnergyScapes Inc. 

    EnergyScapes is a company that believes landscaping for energy and resource conservation improves our environment. Douglas Owens-Pike and his team have over 20 years of experience in the Twin Cities metro area. Douglas is also a renowned author and speaker in his field.

    Looking for some inspiration to get you through these winter days, check out Douglas’ book at BeautifullySustainable.com.

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