Small Isn’t Irrelevant And It Isn’t Everything

What’s the definition of small?

According to one dictionary, it means “little in size”, “not very important.”

Does small always mean the same thing? Of course not. If one more person talks about ‘small business’ for instance, I shall scream loud enough for you to hear me no matter where you are. If someone talks about a small bug, what exactly does that mean?

Small fruit or big tomatoes? Or something else all together?

Small fruit or big tomatoes? Or something else all together?

Like many if not most words in language, small is open to interpretation. It’s fraught with context, meaning, emotion, opportunity, vantage point and myriad other influencing factors.

Small in the beer enthusiast world is particularly vexing to me. It seems that ‘small’ seems like a top or better choice to many when it comes to peoples’ beers. Hmmmm….Small breweries can be the best and the worst. Best because the microcosm that is the business (if they see it that way) can give time and attention to parts of the business that may be overlooked by other ‘bigger’ businesses. Worst because being the chief brewer, bottle washer, server, and bill payer will stretch people too thin thereby rendering all tasks nominally completed, if completed at all. Never mind time frames or attention to quality.

See the slippery and ridiculous slope here?

Female beer consumers and buyers look at small in various ways. Some choose to think that ‘small’ means the actual size of the footprint of the business or the capacity of barrels of beer made or the number of staff on hand or square footage of the taproom. Some choose to think that once a brewery exceeds a certain capacity, say graduating to a regional brewery (14K barrels+ per annum), they decide the beer’s no longer worthy.

What??

Small is a frame of mind. It’s only relative if you want to it be and you’ve chosen to define some sort of boundaries. The limits – or limitlessness – are yours to decide.

Here’s to unlimited. Everything is possible, small not withstanding.

Comments »

If You Didn’t Do What You Do, What Would You Do?

Kind of like the woodchuck…what would you do given no other influencers than desire?

It’s unusual to get a new question at a professional workshop wherein I’m the invited or paid presenter and educator. So last summer when a gentleman in the room asked me “What do you hate about your job?”, I was stumped.

Great people who expand my world = what I love, like Jennie/Dr. Chenergy (GABF 2014)

Great people who expand my world = what I love, like Jennie/Dr. Chenergy (GABF 2014)

His question caught me off guard for a few reasons.

  1. I focus on the positive and look forward, instead of for and at the negative.
  2. I’d honestly never considered that question in my mind, partially because I like what I’m pursuing and making happen.
  3. Hate is a really strong word – one I rarely use.

After stammering for a moment, and pausing for another moment or two, I’m sure I came up with some sort of response (I’d have to ask him to see if he remembers). What I do remember is that it made me reconsider what I DO like about my company and how I spend my days.

Life is either too short or too long, depending on your vantage point. Either way, choosing to invest the limited hours of life we get is a conscious choice and we should use it wisely. An old adage is still timely and true: Life’s short, play hard. I’d adapt it to this; Life’s short. Do what fulfills you and makes you happy.

FYI

What I Hate About (Any) Job: Arrogant people, selectively ignorant people, snobbery, and other garbage usually perpetuated by people. So I avoid those people.

What I Love About (Any) Job: Mind expanding positive people, interesting new experiences, flavors, travels, changing culture for the better, improving gender equity, having fun.

Comments »

What Needs To Change With Women’s Beer Group Names

This article is still very true.

And it makes me wonder when women and going to stop perpetuating and creating “clever” monikers for females beer affinity groups. Bad names do way more damage than they do good. Here’s some I’d strike from the list:

  • Pink Boots Society
  • Girls Pints Out
  • Pussy Cat Beer Guild
  • BABES

All of these are – perhaps well intended – and have intentionally chosen names for the groups that will only continue to hold women back. Education can’t be packed in a sexist wrapper and called good.

It’s absolutely mind-blowing when you consider they were created by women. What the heck do the men then think – “If she calls herself a girl/chick/babe/broad, then why can’t I?” And they’d be right. Double standards in public are a poor and stupid choice.

Cheers to smart women who are helping create progress - Ginger (c) with Krissy (l) and Rocky (r) of Snake River Brewing, Jackson WY - where they recently hosted a women + beer event

Cheers to smart women who are helping create progress – Ginger (c) with Krissy (l) and Rocky (r) of Snake River Brewing, Jackson WY – where they recently hosted a women + beer event

Correction of ills, overcoming everything from the female/male wage gap to prostitution, are all part of gender equity it’s a big picture issue. It’s global, local and everywhere we can and can’t possibly think of. It’s up to women mostly to stand up and say. Men, you need to speak up as well.

There is no room in my mind for any of these names to be related to beer. So let’s bring beer into the picture.

If beer’s been modernly perceived as a male drink of choice, and women want to get into it – great! They must do it with full respect to themselves. Cheekiness or being coy or clever with words isn’t helpful – again, it’s damaging and negates and reverses progress. Women are smarter than that. The days of going to university or college for women to find husbands should be dead. This behavior and thinking will never deliver full equity. Don’t be lazy and let this mindset persuade you into thinking it’s okay. It’s not okay.

A cheesecake type calendar is circulating in the beer world of females who work at breweries in seductive poses. Women, this isn’t helpful or cute or even good. It’s simply perpetuating that you are the sum of your boobs and legs, smiles and eyes. Be the sum of your brain cells and backbone, your fortitude and intelligence.

The kicker for me is that the women voluntarily featured in the calendar I know to be otherwise smart women. What broke down? Where was the idea that “this is cool!” when all it does is further objectify them instead. Missteps and selective ignorance and blinders to what’s right, especially intentional ones, need to become extinct where women and beer are concerned.

If we can change the way people think about two universal planetary things (Women + Beer) we can indeed change the world for the better. I’ve seen it. It’s possible and I’m going to stay at it.

Here’s the good news: It’s easy to encourage and make change happen. Stand up, speak up, be vigilant. Women and men everywhere are responsible for making equity and equality happen.

Here are some groups who do it right:

  • Ales 4 FemAles
  • Crafty Ladies
  • Fermenta
  • Women Enjoying Beer

They’re highlighting education to a population that has not been focused on or considered to enjoy beer. They’ve chosen names and titles which build up respect for women learning about beer, not breaking it down. It’s about education first to a powerful population they recognize are curious, deserve full respect, do a majority of buying in the USA and are fun to have around.

Are you part of the solution or problem?

FYI – If you read this and want to take issue, you better be prepared to tell me how these groups and titles truly encourage equality and equity. No ranting from a lopsided perspective allowed (no, I’m not being hypocritical).

Comments »

Keys To Successful Brand Message

Successful brand message = reach + frequency

Reach of brand is the “where”:

  • Where can I find X beer
  • Where do I locate Y service
  • Whom do I call to find what I need

These are all considerations of the consumer. The female consumer looking to participate in beer wants and needs these answers.

Where in the world is your brand message? How often is it seen?

Where in the world is your brand message? How often is it seen?

Frequency of message involves:

  • Regularity or irregularity of communication
  • Method of communication
  • How often the message is delivered and to whom

Anyone can open a business. It’s developing a solid plan and continual evaluation and evolution that makes a brand great. Like Good to Great, there are many reasons entities succeed and many why they die.

If you want to be good, go ahead. If you want to be great, tune into brand message. These tips can help you get going in the right direction for success.

Comments »

How Funny Is Your Beer? AKA Beer And Good Humor

I want to talk about humor in your brand today.

Most people enjoy a pleasant experience. Beer has an inherently pleasant aspect to it, from the community around it to the celebrations that happen with it to the deliciousness our bodies enjoy. Fun is good and fun is appropriate with beer.

Humor used effectively and with respect towards all is an excellent element in marketing beer. In our research over the last 5.5+ years women have solidly stated that appropriate humor is attractive when they are making their buying and consuming choices as well. Here’s where it can get sticky – or not.

What precisely is good humor? What’s appropriate, to whom, and when? While there’s a subjectivity to humor there’s also a lot of (un)common sense that should guide us. Ask these questions of the brand to see if they pass:

1. Is there any sexism in the humor? If there is, in any direction, it’s inappropriate.

2. Is there any ageism or racism or any other -ism that degrades any population in the humor? If so, it’s inappropriate.

3. Can a three-year old see it, can a pre-teenager read it and can my grandparent read it and also think it’s funny or do they miss the humor all together?

Respect = Good Humor.

Respect = Good Humor.

Appropriate adult humor does not invite disrespect or insulting any population. This is the time to hire a pro outside the company to review ideas. I know since we’ve been invited to engage with clients who want a fresh eye to help the brand grow, not put off a potential customer or 10. Like Eugene Simor, President of Alamo Brewing:

“Thank you so much.  You pointed out much that I missed myself.  Very valuable info.” – per reviewing potential new label changes.

You can be clever and funny in a thoughtful manner. That’s what makes Carol Burnett and Bill Cosby and Ellen DeGeneres so funny – they humor us with reality and honestly funny stuff; never needing to denigrate or bring anyone down.

And here’s the kicker: Beer should be elevated, not brought down by people on beer companies that find toilet or racy humor suitable for their companies. If they’d ask themselves: Do I have a female in my life I care about? The answer would undoubtedly be yes – so relate those ties that bind and execute humor that respects those loved ones as much as it should respect your beer.

That’s where humor in beer is appropriate. Use it wisely and most likely you’ll get good feedback and consumer engagement.

2 comments

2 comments »

Be In It For Good

  • Remain connected to the experience and flavors
  • Be generous hosts – make everything feel easy
  • Who are you, what do you want, what do you want to say

The above thoughts all came from a friend and colleague whom I much admire, like and respect; Fred Bueltmann, New Holland Brewing & widely known as the Beervangelist.

Fred’s words often resonate with me as I believe the philosophy of what he is communicating is not prevalent enough in the industry. I’ll expound.

1. Remaining connected to the experience is where the consumer starts. The consumer wants to connect with your beer and brand. The industry professionals already involved need to constantly and emotionally remember this every day. The customer is who you are making the beer for. Yes, you have to love it yourself to really do it justice. That said, you can’t drink it all yourselves so keep one eye on the customer, always.

Be in it for good.

Be in it for good.

2. Remain connected to the flavors. I am a huge proponent of flavor, not style. Consumers 1. Don’t necessarily know about style 2. Consumers don’t necessarily care about style if they do, 3. Flavor is where the conversation needs to start with everyone, no matter their experience. Flavor is a common ground topic. Every one tastes and explores flavors. Start with this common denominator to make steady constant progress.

3. Be a generous host. Do all of your guests feel welcome to the brand? Do they buy your products on sale or off sale or both? What does the environment in which they purchase your beer look like? What do the labels look like? Who do they speak to? Who do they repel? Being generous implies a cognizance and awareness of Who The Customer Is. Many times the “who” is she.

4. Make everything feels easy for the customer, including buying your product and consistent taste of beer. Attention to quality is key here. Successful businesses, otherwise known as brands, build their worlds on consistency. Something the consumer can count on, to return to over and over again, for the experience they are looking for. How specifically consistent? That’s up to the company and what they want to be consistent. I can guarantee if you have a flagship beer (or more) they must be the same, every time to the consumer.

5. Who are you? Who you are is part of the story. The story is what the consumer, especially the female buyer and consumer, want to know and embrace. The story makes a brand.

6. What do you want? Knowing what your goals are, aka what do you want, is critical in every endeavor from playing musical chairs (I want to be around til the last chair) to businesses (I want to deliver a delicious high quality product every time).

7. What do you want to say? Communication is addressing your story and message forward, it’s called marketing – bringing your product to market. It’s a good word and a principle concept in building and sustaining a solid beer company.

Your female customers deserve no less. You deserve no less. Be in it for good.

Comments »

Small & Big In Beer

Small is not a size word.

Small is not irrelevant.

Small isn’t everything.

Big is not bad.

Big is not a size word.

Big is different from bad.

Big is different than good.

Small is different from good.

Small, big, good, bad. These are words I try hard not to use. They’re too subjective and fraught with personal influence that to call something good or bad is doing it a disservice.

Who are any of us to judge? What are our parameters? Who gives us the authority to make the call or definition?

Small, big, good, bad - all are based on perspective.

Small, big, good, bad – all are based on perspective.

When we’re talking about women and beer, it’s an interesting concept: small and big. Is the brewery small? If so, what does she think about it? And what’s small about it? Aren’t they big on heart and passion? Aren’t they big on trying to serve the community? Are they big on being small?

If the brewery big? What is big and to whom? What does big mean? How big is big? How big is small? How small is big? And where do you go from one to the other?

Think about how you use these words. Women aren’t a small population, though they still occupy a small-er portion of beer consumers. They are the big-gest buyers of all goods and services, across categories in America. That’s big.

I put my whole life into my business. That’s not small. And I dare someone to tell any business owner they have a ‘small business.

Rethink your words before they come out of your mouth or go on a page. Like a presenter once stated, we have “preconceived notions of how something should work base don what ti looks like.”

Women are big. Beer is small.

Beer is big. Women are small.

Which ones ring true to you?

Before you picture women or beer, close your eyes. Think with your brain first.

Comments »

Happy and Content are Not The Same Thing

So – are your customers happy or content?

  • Happy = delighted, pleased, glad.
  • Content = satisfied with what one has; agreeing.

They are different. A happy person can also be content, yet a content person is not always happy.

What you want is your consumer to be happy. A noticeable gladness is usually the desired outcome of an experience. To be content with an experience can mean it may fall short of happiness.

For example:

  • She was content to wait for the plane to arrive, even though it was late.
  • She was happy to wait for the plane, even though it was late.
Content or happy?

Content or happy?

What? The second one sounds off. Most likely because we are usually not happy to wait for something we expect at a certain time. And making her or anyone wait is usually a negative for the experience and brands she associates with the experience.

Can you always control it? Not really, though there is more you can do than most are willing to do. So figure out what you can control and work on those aspects. She controls her dollars so you want to address her properly.

Try this:

  • She was content to be served a beer of the bartenders choice.
  • She was happy to be served a beer of the bartenders choice.

Which ‘she’ would you rather be – happy or content?

When you’re in the beer business, you better be aiming for happy, not merely content. She has the worlds most powerful wallet, controlling fully 75 – 85% of purchases in America alone. Never mind on the global scale. Women are the primary influencing factor. So you want to make her happy by finding out about her, how she wasn’t to be addressed and then how to treat her as a population you want.

Content is not good enough. Aim for happy.

Here’s another view point on happy vs. content

Comments »

Why Beer (And The World) Needs More People to Understand and Practice Feminism

These are two outstanding articles written by a very accomplished journalists. More importantly these are two very thoughtful individuals who realize the full impact of the state of women in the world.

Read them. Ponder them. Change your outlook as needed. Pass them on.

FYI – here’s the definition of Feminism.

Sincere thanks to Tess and Rachel for such important powerful work.

Comments »

Talk About Flavor, Not Style

Seems that beer enthusiasts are consumed with talking about beer styles. Is this one brewed to style? Is this one not? How about which style beer goes with which kind of food? Which styles do you like or not like?

ENOUGH, I say!!

Beer also does not like people with prejudice.

Beer also does not like people with prejudice.

If you want to educate about beer, you must start with flavors first. Talking about styles don’t matter one malted barley kernel unless you know about flavor first. Jumping to styles is a bad tact and one that is sadly all too common.

Try this instead:

1. First of all relax, make a conscious effort to not judge or argue. Make these conversations productive and enjoyable for everyone.

2. When talking with someone, anyone, about beer, start the conversation with “what kinds of flavors do you enjoy?” Make sure to qualify it by stating all flavors, not just beer flavors. The world will open up.

3. Ask a question and then listen. Try “what do you like about that flavor?” and let them talk. Stay silent, don’t argue.

4. Then start going back and forth in conversation, making sure it’s a diplomatic exchange, never judgmental. Enjoy yourself and plug-in to learn something new from the other person.

Talking about flavor opens up entirely new idea avenues for you and your guests. Your guests support the brand so always be listening. People want to talk to you about your brand, about what they think about your brand so be a diplomat and take it all in graciously. Very few people will maliciously attack a brand with a brand representative.

Talk about flavor. Leave style behind for now.

Eventually style will emerge as people grow and learn and it’s not critical to enjoying beer. What are critical are an open mind, open ears and grace.

Comments »

The Problem With Beer Companies

Is that most of them think they are doing great. They can’t make enough beer to meet market demand. They are up to the tops of their rubber boots just making the beer and getting it to market. So what’s the problem?

Shannon, 3rd Generation Distributor, one of our valued client partners.

Shannon, 3rd Generation Distributor, one of our valued client partners.

What they’re not thinking about is that with women as the dominant everything buyers (across categories) will be the future of their brands.

According to Gallup, the majority of men who drink alcohol drink beer. They also state that of women that consume alcohol only about 25 – 30% drink beer.

So why are companies and supposed beer smarties saying “we should look at Hispanics” or “we should look at 21 – 35 year old men.” I’m absolutely convinced that in order for the “small craft” brewers to get to the desired goal of 20% market share by 2020 the answer is Women. How could it be anything else?

With 70% of women not drinking beer, it’s an avenue any beer business must sincerely explore and address. Start with how the human population first divides – by gender, not ethnicity – and you’ll come out ahead. People are people, women and women, men are men. Everywhere.

Morgan & Sarah, Left Hand Brewing, valued client partners

Morgan & Sarah, Left Hand Brewing, valued client partners

Once you know how and why a woman makes a decision, THAT’S when you can make progress. Beside WEB, no one is asking these questions, in specific very few beer businesses are considering women as a powerful population.

Thank you to the clients and customers we have already worked with, who call us ongoing for our insight and expertise with their increased business success, and those who support us. (Please visit our Endorsement Page to see what some of our fantastic clients have to say.)

When you support WEB, you support women. And you end up being more successful yourself.

Comments »

Brand Guests & Experience Delivery

Take a minute to think of the last time you had a really comprehensively “good” customer experience. Close your eyes and reimagine it.

Now, take a moment to consider the last time you had a really mediocre or even negative customer experience. If you want to close your eyes go ahead. Maybe it just makes you simmer….

Which one of these instances was more recent? Which one of the scenarios is more prevalent and common? Was either of these related to beer?

If you are fortunate to be in the former, congratulations! Don’t let the goodness stop there. Ask yourself: do you extend that same positive experience forward, in your work? If you’re female what was the experience like and all about? Do you believe that being a female had anything to do with either a positive or negative event? If you’re a man, did you witness or experience any indicators that gender was a conscious part of the interactions?

As humans we judge. We often plug-in our predisposed feelings, opinions, and ideas before we engage. Prejudging is bad for everyone. Suspending judgment is better, digging into the experience with an open mind and smile, waiting for the actual to unfold.

Here’s one example for me. When I started presenting to audiences years ago, I always wanted a couple of things. One, for the audience to be full – the room and all the seats to be packed. Two, that everyone in the audience would be leaning forward, asking questions, and visually actively engaged and engrossed.

The reality is this: One – as long as the right people make up the audience, I’m happy, no matter the size. “Right” meaning those who really want to be there and are fully engaged in the event. Two – everyone listens and takes in an experience differently. The person with arms crossed and the back row sitter who looks like they are planning their grocery lists are often the ones taking it in the most completely.

Who's new to your brand? Give them, and repeat customers, your full attention.

Who’s new to your brand? Give them, and repeat customers, your full attention.

So I’ve learned to suspend judgment and assume everyone is listening. I address every single person in the area, whether they are part of the obvious audience or not, and include them in the dialogue. Every time I am happily rewarded by comments from various guests who comment, ask, and in general indicate they were in fact fully listening.

Your guests, audiences, and customers are always listening. While you can’t necessarily tell precisely when and how they are listening, how much they are taking in or how much they are talking about you afterwards, they are.

When you’re talking about and with women and beer, I can guarantee they’re paying attention. Be very sure to include them respectfully in your interactions. What you say is as powerful as how you act so be sure to factor those aspects in as well.

Your brand depends on consistency of expectations and delivery. Work hard to make sure you know this, always bear it in mind and delivery the best experience you can, every time.

To you it may be old hat, to them assume it’s brand new.

Comments »

Beer Is A More-than 5 Tier System

Beer in America emerged from Prohibition dramatically different then it entered the Noble Experiment.

Brewery, Sioux Falls SD USA

Brewery, Sioux Falls SD USA

One component of our current beer and alcohol beverage system was that regulatory powers were given to states. Here’s the current line up:

  1. Brewery or Importer (defined here)
  2. Distributor (NBWA definition)
  3. Retailer (Iowa’s definition page)

A few of our colleagues have statements and information on the current system – here are two:

This said, here are the layers we see.

  1. Grower. Who’s making the raw agricultural ingredients for beer? How should they be included in the conversation?
  2. Processor. Who’s preparing any ingredients that need processing before they enter beer, like Malsters and hops pellet plants?
  3. Packaging. Who’s making any packaging involved in packing ingredients, packaging beer, and labeling and display pieces?
  4. Brewery. Is the beer made on premise? is it contract brewed to order?
  5. Legal entities. Federal, State, Local. All have a say in the regulation of beer and alcohol in America. It’s a miasma out there, to say the least, in that there is no universal regulations.
  6. Transportation. Who’s involved in transporting the beer, safely, chilled, and securely to its destination?
  7. Sellers. Whether they be the brewery (where legal) or retailers, who’s the one pouring and selling beer?
  8. Consumers. This is the component that’s the biggest rub to WEB. The consumer is rarely talked about in the pyramid that is the beer community in America.

A hot topic right now are “Franchise Laws” as they are called. They’re under robust debate in the current 3 Tier System. Dig around online to find more info. There are, of course, various stances from the various parties with a stake in the game.

How many tiers do you count?

Comments »

Drinking Responsibly

Drinking responsibly. What does that mean to you?

A quick search online yields a lot of possibilities to think about. Here’s one resource, and another, and yet another.

What do you know about drinking responsibly? Read up!

What do you know about drinking responsibly? Read up!

To me it means a number of things, among them:

1. Being educated in ABV (Alcohol By Volume) in various beverages available, knowing what quantities of those beverages looks like in various glasses.

2. Under-drinking. I am very aware of how much alcohol I consume, never aim to get drunk or even tipsy, and drink water between beverages as much as possible. When I’m teaching and presenting, I take the responsibility seriously and do my best to limit tastes in small portions.

3. Having someone to count on and call as needed, for myself or others if and when situations arise.

4. Never drinking in games or contests. That’s a total knothead thing to do and denigrates the effort and resources behind all alcohol beverages.

5. Knowing something about what I’m drinking. I’m a learning enthusiast so am ever seeking educational insight on what interests me – alcohol is one of those topics. There are so many resources this day and age to tap into; find some that interest you and get to it.

6. Knowing when to intervene for someone else, whether they think they need or want it or not. It’s never cool to not help someone out.

No matter where you are in the community of consumption, be aware. Teach yourself, seek education, talk to people and read. Knowing about alcohol goes a very long way toward success and smooth sailing for everyone, whether you imbibe or not.

Comments »

Who Holds The Power?

Who’s in charge of your business? I mean, who’s really making or breaking the mold, who’s shaking things up for progress, and who really gives a damn?

Is it you? Do you care about women as a marketshare? Does it bug you for people to talk about a human population as a “marketshare” or would you prefer something softer and fuzzier?

Females are half of the population on Planet Earth. If you think it’s important to know this, you’re right. If you don’t care, it’s time to start caring.

Sylvia gives a damn. Do you?

Sylvia gives a damn. Do you?

If you’re in the beer business, in any way, shape or form, you better care. Women make the majority of financial decisions in America. Do you care about that? If you’re involved in the manufacturer of boxes used in shipping beer, you better care. If you’re a grower of an agricultural component of beer, you’d better care. And if you make and market the beer, you absolutely better give a damn.

Why? Well, start by asking yourself this question: “How many females do I know that I care about?” All ages of females apply. How many can you think of? Three? Twenty? One hundred?

If you can honestly say you have at least one female to care about, guess what: you care.

Caring about females in our global human population makes really good sense. It’s good business too. Hopefully it’s part of how you think about the world at large. And it’s great politics. Since all businesses are political in some way, however quiet or loud, giving a damn about females is critical to business survival and success.

When you’re looking for reasons to care, I’d invite you cruise through our website. With 5.5+ years of content, we’ve covered a lot of ground in asking and gathering women’s’ opinions about beer, their relationship to it and all manner of qualitative psychographic insight on why women engage (or don’t) with beer.

For those of you who already give damn, I salute you! Contact me and ask how we can help your efforts increase in efficacy and meaningfully. For those who are slow to get on board, now’s the time. Call me for help.

Everyone needs assistance and needs insight that they don’t or cannot get themselves to be successful. As the saying goes, no person is an island. In the world of women and beer, WEB is that resource. We go well beyond beer too (other industries welcome to inquire).

Women will give a damn when you do.

Comments »

Wimbledon, Beer & Sex: The Obvious Thing To Do

Point today: All marketing matters. From tennis to beer. When beer companies of all sorts see that taste buds don’t care which gender they accompany, then all beer will be elevated, everyone will have a better time of it, and progress will be made.

If you are interested in tennis, you know the Wimbledon just finished up. I happened to be in South Dakota with a dear friend who is a die-hard fan, so we watched together. I’ve never watched very much tennis on TV before – though rarely watch any sports on television so it’s not the game in particular.

It was fun to watch with my friend, the long time player and enthusiast cum comedian. I’d go to her house to do so again….

In reading a follow up article today in particular I want to quote a snippet from Forbes online. The debate, if you want to call it that, is which woman will earn more money – Petra Kvitova or Eugenie Bouchard – following their Wimbledoning per endorsements.

Kvitova was the first tennis player born in the 1990s to win a Slam. Now she’s the first to claim two. Despite an affable if shy personality, ridiculous shotmaking and crowning achievements at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, Kvitova has lagged the off-court sponsorship dollars less accomplished, more conventionally attractive players like Caroline Wozniacki make.”

Game. Set (not Sex). Match.

Game. Set (not Sex). Match.

This doesn’t need to be true. (And what is conventionally attractive in a global age?)

They’re both supremely talented players. Progress will happen when we get past the  Beautiful Athlete Syndrome and into reality that talent – and taste – is blind. Stand up, use our backbones and squash sexualization of personage and focus on talent and ability.

“Martina Navratilova, the Czech-American legend who won a combined 59 major championships in singles and doubles (incidentally, she’s Kvitova’s role model), told FORBES last year, ‘The obvious thing Petra can do is doll herself up: high heels, makeup, premieres. But that’s not who she is.’ “

The obvious thing to do is to do the right thing: stand for quality, hard work, determination, and attitude. Not what her legs looks like, how she wears her hair or anything else  that continues and perpetuates the objectification of people.

The Obvious Thing to do her is to change direction of this accepted practice. Petra clearly knows how to take charge. She can change the world for the better if she chooses the obvious thing: command respect.

Game. Set. Match.

Comments »

Food Writing Inspiration

I just spent an hour of time searching for various authors and writers on-line (are they one in the same? not sure…) The list of folks I pursued came page after page in the Best Food Writing 2013, Edited by the very capable Holly Hughes.

Why I invested an hour of my life in looking for people I’ve yet to meet was inspired by the book. I want to hear more of what they can share with me, help me learn , point me in different directions and in general make my world more.  Lots of the people I looked for are on twitter, so there I went. I don’t use Facebook nearly as much (rarely personally too) so that’s out. LinkedIn request feels stalkerish if I don’t know them. So bring on the twitter stream chatter…

The Best Food Writing series has been around for a number of years and I came across it on display at my local library. “What the heck”, I thought as I picked it up. I love to read and I love food. I’ve now read at least 5 of the collections.

Ms. Hughes chooses extremely well written essays and groups into various concepts which she, as the editor, organizes. Of course they’re well written – I imagine the plethora of food writing each year is enough to fill a few navy yards worth of pages!

The essays are thought-provoking, thoughtful, interesting, enlightening, educational, disturbing, fun, funny, serious and meaningful. I found when I read one of them – the essay on “what is local” – the whole argument of “craft beer” rang loudly in my mind. It’s exactly the same thing. Not one to spoil a great opportunity, I recommend you find the book and read it. Buy it, get it from your library – if they don’t have them request the series.

Concepts that are truly universal are flexible in what key words you can insert, i.e. instead of “local” insert “craft”.

I’ve had a mixed relationship with the word craft as it goes with beer for a long time. Part of it for me is that craft is a label and having had some public school teaching experience I found labels and titles are more damning and limiting than they’re helpful.

Read the book, read the essay. Tell me what you think.

Comments »

Brewers Are Shooting Themselves In The Foot, AKA Don’t Be A Gender Idiot!

Check this out: My Fine Husband, a professional brewer (17 years and going) came home the other day and relayed the following story.

Another local brewer, nano and newer, came into the place of his work this week and related a story with the recently commenced local beer week celebration. This brewer hosted an event every night of the week (great) to feature their beers and celebrate. Good so far.

He proceeded to say that for one of the events, the brewery owner invited a local winery in (during beer week?) to offer to the female patrons (why??) and was mystified, even felt sorry for the winery as they hardly sold any wine (??!!!). My husband was dumbfounded. And not just because he has the inside track being married to me. I don’t feel sorry for stupid people who should know better. This is the kind of person the beer industry needs to get rid of.

It gets worse.

This brought to mind a previous brewery he’d worked for that offered wine to women for their mug club membership.

Don't be a Gender Idiot

Don’t be a Gender Idiot

What a frigging minute: These are establishments that supposedly want to build business, serve all their customers and develop new clients, yes? Then why the hell are they doing things like this? Why aren’t they contacting the expert in the industry (WEB) to learn more, increase their knowledge, awareness and savvy in new business development.

While these stories make me laugh, it’s a bitter laugh – these people should not be in business, or in this business, if this is the way they approach the female customer. Absolutely unforgivable. And no, there is no forgiveness here.

These people are being selectively ignorant and it’s embarrassing to the entire community – never mind completely disrespectful to women. What a total and complete insult to assume women don’t want beer. Women want flavor and that comes in all shapes and sizes.

Would a winery offer beer to its male patrons, because some idiot drank the kool-aid (so to speak) that men only drink beer?! Of course not – or at least I hope not.

To those who aren’t progressively thinking forward I say: Fail. It’s time for you to fail if you are this naive to what women want, want to try and are interested in learning about.

The first brewery is also terrible at calling women “girls” – yikes. By one of the female owners even. I guess birds of an ignorant feather flock together.

Why do I do what I do? Because crap like this is inexcusable. And that’s what it is: crap.

Don’t you dare stand or sit for it. Please don’t patronize or support businesses of any sort that allow and therefore perpetuate and support backwards sexist thinking. You put up with this – you miss an opportunity to speak up and affect positive change – then you’re just part of the problem.

Join me in being part of the solution.

 

Comments »

Writing Deadlines: Reality, Timelines & Impressions

As an occasional freelance writer, I understand that due dates and deadlines loom large for writers and the publication wheels that grind forward.

That said, I found the following conversation confounding. If you’re going to write, the subjects you contact don’t have a vested interest nor do most care (not in a cruel way) whether you write full-time or not. That’s irrelevant. I don’t write full time and I still take my commitment to what I do write with full credence and weight, no matter the assignment.

What they do care about is a writer doing their homework, looking for information on how to best contact their desired subject, and a little bit about what they are about as it pertains to the questions the writer has. To not do your homework in advance is a bad reflection on the profession you’re representing (journalists and writers) as well as rude to the subject.

Here’s where we started:

“Hello Ginger,

My name is [XYZ] and I write for the [ABC]. I’m doing a story for the upcoming edition focused on [topic here]. I was chatting with [another beer colleague] and he said you’d be a fun person to interview for the piece. I think I pretty well have a timeline pieced together for the story … but would like to get some comments on what factors may have lead to the microbreweries kind of taking off when they did and some thoughts on what distinguishes our scene and our brews. I apologize for the last minute nature 1, you were a later referral 2, but my deadline is Wednesday evening 3, so if there’s anyway you could find a moment to give me a call or let me know when might be a good way to reach you 4 it would be much appreciated.

Cheers!”

Hmmm….let’s dissect:

1. Apologizing up front, while it may seem like a good idea to some, it’s a bad idea. It makes the writer look frazzled and time not well-managed.

2. I’m fine with being a “later referral.” That said, invite me in a different way. How about ” I was talking with XYZ and they said I should contact you. I realize it’s later in the game and would welcome the opportunity to talk with you as I also think you’d be a great fit.” *

*this indicates the writer has done even a small amount of research on the person, me in this case, to see about suitability.

3. Your emergency and due date is not my urgency. Period. Pressure is good for making diamonds, bad for requesting interviews. Like a good friend and valued colleague in the industry told me once, she decides which interviews to give base don her schedule. It’s that simple: don’t put a your deadline on the subject.

4. The writers’ grammar is poor. A red flag off the bat! Next, I’ve got a Contact Us page with directions and a form to help guide. Many don’t take the time to see and fill that out, so it’s not a huge deal  – though using it indicates a higher level of professionalism. As well, my direct HQ number is on every page of my website. It tells me this writer is sloppy and not doing any homework, especially since I have my preference for contacting me clearly stated on my site.

With an extremely full work schedule this month and wanting to be available, at first I replied in the positive, with a time and location option that worked for me within the writers’ time frame.

So I told them:

“845 am confirmed this time.
Advice: Do some simple basic research on your subjects before contacting them. My number is in my email signature, always – as well as online, on every single page of my site. People are more likely to be available to those who do some homework. See you in the morning.”

Then I got to thinking.

No, this writer hasn’t done their diligence, their due date doesn’t work comfortably for me, and the publication (with respect, quite frankly though) isn’t going to do much for my business. We all have to make choices. Not all press is good press. Good press to me and my business is well done, professional, helpful, and tuned into the subject.

Once I replied with my change, I also stated:

” Hi – After more thought and looking at my calendar, I’ll bow out of meeting with you tomorrow. The month of June is extremely full professionally and personally, and while I appreciate you’re wanting to talk, your deadline doesn’t jive with what my priorities are. Next time you’re in search of and have a week – two weeks of time for the piece, feel free to call me. I wish you well on the article. Cheers – Ginger”

The writers’ reply amazed me in the lack of professional commitment, again – how much time you put into something is irrelevant. Do it like you mean it, being a positive reflection of the entire industry. Again I’ll bring up a very poor attention to grammar and spelling. Woof! While I think they are well-intentioned, the writing skills as exhibited in their emails alone turn me way off. Why give an interview to someone who’s either not getting proper guidance, or is writing for a low quality publication?! That simply doesn’t work for me as it then can reflect negatively on my business, however incidentally related.

Here’s the writers’ reply, my comments in red.

“I can appreciate being busy for sure -this isn’t my full time job or anything, [wow!!] I’m just a free lancer doing it because I love my community and do what I can to promote and elevate it.[then invest in yourself and the people trusting you to do a good job] Thanks for the advice, for some reason the full signature didn’t come up when I opened the email, but I’ll take note. [I find this very hard to believe, as I self check this regularly] I had contacted you just after the referral and typically knowing the inside outs of a person isn’t all that necessary before an interview has even been granted. [strongly disagree – bad grammar…again] Plus, when it’s the website of an organization, typically I don’t assume the number listed is the director’s cell number. [why not? It’s clearly stated on the Contact page that it’s my number] I appreciate you considering it though and will keep you in mind down the line. However, being a bi-weekly publication, our deadline comes a little quicker than people might be used to around here. [if you know it’s every two weeks, then you can still plan ahead] Generally, I’m getting about 5 days notice (especially challenging when the first three of those are a holiday weekend). [so? try calling on a weekend – you’ve nothing to lose] Whether it’s been the sheriff, city council members, or the owner of the local baseball team it generally hasn’t been a big deal thus far to just call and hit someone up for an interview. [it’s not a big deal – you simply need to get your poop in a group] Some people are busier than others I suppose. [untrue – we all have 24/7 and have our own priorities. set yourself up for success by being more organized and focused on what you choose to do] Thanks for considering, I look forward to meeting you in the future.”

I do wish the writer well and hope they get some sorely needed professional development. Cheers to those who set the bar as professionals in the writing and journalism community. To them, I’m much more inclined to be available.

Comments »

Connected To The Experience: Put On A Pair Of Customer Shoes

“Remain connected to [the] experience. Be a generous host.”

These are wise words that apply to just about every business circumstance, driver, and mission statement. If they don’t, they need to.

When’s the last time you put on a pair of Customer Shoes? Walking in the shoes of your customer is critical before opening a business as well as regularly during the life of the operation. Literally walk through the spaces, calling the phone numbers, navigating the website and online tools, and visiting and experiencing the facility with customer eyes and sense.

  • Does it all flow easily for them?
  • Does it cover common questions that will arise?
  • Does it match the brand name and image?
  • Does everything make sense?
  • What can be improved, streamlined, and better?

These are really straightforward and fruitful exercises to conduct when you’re honest with yourself and can be constructively self critical towards improvement.

Put on some Customer Shoes and see how you're doing.

Put on some Customer Shoes and see how you’re doing.

Too many establishments of all shapes, kinds and sizes neglect this element of doing business: The Customer Perspective. A recent hotel stay brought this to the surface for me. I’m truly curious how many hospitality lodging businesses book themselves a room, go through the entire process of staying, paying and being in the facilities they try to sell to others.

Here are just a few things I encountered at a recent hotel stay:

  1. The bed was a Sleep Number bed, with a broken mechanism. So the mattress was semi-inflated, differently on both sides (queen bed) so it felt like I was rolling around on a squishy water-bed, with a noticeable trough in the middle. It made for poor sleeping.
  2. The room temperature regular system was confusing at best. With a wall unit and its own operating panel plus a wall thermostat 15 feet away with no indication they were connected or how to coordinate and regulate, it was frustrating and cold (!).
  3. No recycling. Anywhere on premise. In this day and age, this is unforgivable.
  4. The curtains didn’t fully close to block light for sleeping and to ensure outside privacy, they weren’t designed to either. Indeed, the hotel had a trades person suspended from the top of the building doing some sort of work right outside my room at one point with an easy view inside.
  5. The bathroom door was awkward at best, opening in to block access to the shower tub, which meant in an otherwise nicely appointed bathroom, you had to shimmy around the door, half closing it to navigate to get in and out. Why don’t more hotels utilize the brilliant idea of pocket doors?
  6. The in-hotel restaurant needs special attention. “Only One?” – what kind of greet is that?! Do hosts/servers greet “Only 5?” The size of a party should be acknowledged with open arms, never “only” or “just.” For the solo traveler it’s especially irritating.
  7. The restaurant was silent but for the regular voice level gossip of the staff. Some soft music would be in order to make it feel more welcoming.
  8. The oatmeal was soggy and the plate on which the bowl was perched rose ever so slightly in the middle. So when I poured in a bit of milk, it was lopsided and very close to overflowing.
  9. The “seasonal fresh fruit”….I didn’t realize melons were early summer seasonal fruits. Because they’re not. Nor was the watermelon or anemic honeydew. This is just plain lazy. A small-sized “cup” of this seasonal fruit was $2.75, which was also totally overpriced. Don’t hold hotel guests captive if they choose to eat in-house.
  10. Last was the exposed outlet under the desk in the room. Not only unprofessional and unsightly, also potentially dangerous.

What did I like about my stay? It was literally blocks from where I needed to go to and fro, the bellhop was helpful, pleasant and friendly; they offered complementary newspapers and airport shuttle; complementary wi-fi (which every hotel should offer and build into their rates); the room was clean and otherwise comfortable.

If the staff, from bellhop to the president of the establishment, walked through the process from booking to checking out they’d develop a much greater property and therefore business. It’s a crying shame really and completely avoidable.

Will I stay there again? That’s a toughy, though most likely not. When the time comes, I’ll remind myself of these facets of the place and see what else is available.

Get a pair of shoes. Customer Shoes. Try them on and walk through your business with them. See what you notice and make positive changes. If you need help and find this exercise tricky, then hire a mystery shopper or customer service pro who will give you an audit.

Every business and organization that wants to stay alive and thrive should be doing this, at least once a year, better 2 – 3 times, with various people chiming in.

Now get out and go for a walk.

Comments »