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Posts Tagged ‘Home Depot’

The Introvert’s Nightmare — Promoting Your New Book

In behavior, business, culture, design, education, entertainment, Fashion, journalism, life, Media, Money, women, work on January 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm
Seated man reading a book

Solitude? It doesn't sell books!Image by National Media Museum via Flickr

Here’s a great piece by a writer friend in Psychology Today:

Writing seems a perfect career for introverts, since it entails many hours alone in a quiet room. That’s the fun part of the job. Easy, even. But once your book is published, the real work starts: Getting people to buy it.

The days of publishers spending big bucks on book promotion are long gone. Today, after you manage to sell the book to a publisher, you then have to sell it to readers. So people who have chosen the solitary life of the writer are forced not just to step into the spotlight, but to chase it down. Heck, you have to get your own spotlight, point it at yourself, and holler “LOOK AT ME!”

Ick.

But an author’s gotta do what an author’s gotta do. What’s it like? Here, from four introverted writers, is a mix of advice and fear and loathing.

Today is a day for me to sit still. I spent the last two days, from 9:00 to 6:30, traversing the enormous Javits Center, Manhattan’s conference center, attending the annual National Retail Federation Big Show.

There were 15,000 people attending and thousands of exhibitors, most of them people selling their products and services (from security cameras to signage to software) to retailers. As I stood in line to buy my coffee, Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store, a huge celebrity in this world, walked right past me.

But who should I address? What should I say?

One of the people I interviewed for my new book is the CEO of a software company who invited me to be the keynote speaker at his users’ conference — with major players in attendance like Kohls, Home Depot, Old Navy. Being a keynote speaker, while a fantastic honor, was scary enough, and I even did it while on crutches.

Scary or not, for my new retail book to take off — “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” (Portfolio, April 14, 2011) — I need to do much, much more of this sort of self-promotion, meeting senior executives with decades of experience.

No one could possibly work the Big Show alone, so two friends — bubbly, outgoing blonds my age — also worked the room handing out postcards for the book. I paid one of them for her time, $180 out of my own pocket for her labor and energy.

It’s not easy!

Approaching total strangers hour after hour after hour to explain why I/my book are fabulous requires a sort of psychic stamina few people possess.

Barb and Hannah did a great job and I’ve made some terrific new contacts for speaking engagements and book sales.

The whole thing is a little terrifying to someone who — today — is writing this wearing a T-shirt and sweats, no make-up, uncombed hair, face unwashed.

Writers do most of our work alone at home, interacting with sources by phone or email because so many of them live very far away; even if they’re an hour away, we often can’t afford the two hours’ wasted time traveling to and from their location. (Now that gas is already $3.35 a gallon here as well.)

So the HeyhowareyaGreattomeetyou! of determined, ongoing book marketing and promotion can be a real a shock to the system. Most writers are fairly private people, attached to a computer and printer for months, if not years, interacting for their book primarily with three key players — your agent, editor and publicist.

All of whom are on your side.

Then — boom! — you’re shot out of the editorial cannon and into public view, criticism, questioning and judgment. Fellow journalists whip out their notepads and cameras and it’s my turn to be listened to and quoted. Gulp.

I now carry hairspray and a mirror. (I normally often forget to carry a hairbrush, let alone my cellphone.)

I was interviewed for two videos yesterday and, totally by chance, by a reporter from Women’s Wear Daily as I sat in a hallway.

Here we go…

The Honey-Do List — Wait For Him Or Do It Yourself?

In business, design, women on April 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm
A picture shows a toolbox belonging to Lampre ...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Most men in a long-term relationship know the moment their sweetie really counts on them — when they’re handed (or asked, nicely, to consider) the honey-do list. For those who’ve yet to get or give one, it’s the list of household tasks summarily delegated to the man of the house.

Blogger Blaine Staat copped to his evasive maneuvers:

You see, the trick to dealing with the “Honey-Do” list is not to actually get things done, but to pretend that you’re getting things done. Let me show you what I mean.

Every Saturday morning when Catherine asks me what I’m going to be doing that day, I grab the “Honey-Do” list off the fridge, give it a very serious look, and say “I think I’m gonna try and knock some of these out.” What happens next depends on what she does.

If she stays around the house, I’ll make tracks outside and hang out somewhere for awhile, usually with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. After a few hours, I’ll spritz myself down with water to make it look like I’m sweating, cross off the first 5 or 6 things on the list, and then proudly show it to Catherine so she can see that I scribbled through some of the tasks. She’ll give me a big smile because she thinks I actually did something, at which point I’ll go upstairs and pretend I’m taking a shower while I rewrite the list in the bathroom and put the things that I had crossed off back on at the bottom of the new list. To her, it appears that I’m making headway, but since the list never actually gets any smaller she won’t add anything more to it.

And bada-boom, bada-bing, just like that I post it back on the fridge and I’m off the hook for another week.

Yet some women love their tools and toolboxes, their drill finger itching at the prospect of the next project or repair. This weekend I’m borrowing a cordless drill (mine has a cord but the garage has no outlet) to polish the grime and cloudiness off our car’s headlights. The living room window needs re-caulking and our balcony bench a fresh coat of paint.

As someone who enjoys working with her hands — away from the bloody computer keyboard! — I love having a list. The sweetie? Not so much. I can’t blame him, by the weekend weary from a crazy job and long commute, by which point the pleasures of the driving range or the golf channel look a lot more alluring than the honey-do list.

I’m not alone in my love for a good set of tools and the satisfaction that comes from using them —  more hardware stores are starting to cater to women. I was bowled over recently at my local Home Depot by the first female I’ve met in that world, Marilyn, a 50-something employee who was the best salesperson I’ve met in decades: smart, funny, super-knowledgable.

“I love hardware,” she told me.

I own my home so I want to take good care of it. While living alone, I designed and built bookshelves and a cornice and my partner and I have built three simple plywood flowerboxes (whose copper flashing feet are both decorative and functional) now heading into their fifth or sixth season. I can’t imagine a life without full toolboxes near at hand.

Barbara Kavovit, who markets tools made specially for women, carries a pile of them wherever she travels — airport security a perpetual challenge:

I love talking to seatmates. Inevitably, when I sit next to a woman in business class, I hear about how their husbands, boyfriends or partners have a list of projects to do around the house. To a one, they always say that the jobs never get done.

I always reply that they can do it themselves. I started my first business after hearing my mom and her friends complain about how many jobs needed to be done around the home and how their husbands were too lazy to do them.

Most of the jobs really aren’t that tough. It just takes some common sense and some good directions. One of the things I’ve always stressed is that women need to be prepared for life’s little emergencies. A good tool and good directions on how to use it can solve a lot of problems.

What’s on your list?

Who, really, will pick up the hammer/pliers/drill and get it done?

Women Want More — New Global Survey/Book Finds Many Marketers Clueless

In business, women on November 3, 2009 at 7:46 am
The Proposition or Man Offering a Woman Money

Honey, what can I get you? Image via Wikipedia

There is upheaval in the workplace, radical change in the marketplace and a struggle for influence in govermment and society as a whole. It is a revolution of, by and for women — driven by a desire for more: for ongoing education, better ways to nurture themselves and their families, increased success as executives and entrepreneurs, higher earnings and better ways to manage and leverage their accumulated wealth.

So begins a fascinating new book, “Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World’s Largest, Fastest-Growing Market” by Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, of the Boston Consulting Group.

It is a revolution of dissatisfaction in which women are using their checkbooks to vote no on large sectors of the economy, including financial services, consumer electronics, consumer durables and healthcare…Too many companies continue to make poorly conceived products, offer services that take up way too much of women’s precious time and serve up outdated marketing narratives that portray women as stereotypes.

According to the authors, women control $20 trillion of consumer spending — likely to climb to $28 trillion in the next few years. Yet only a very few companies, some familiar to Americans like Gerber and Banana Republic, really get women, they argue. These companies, they say, follow the four R’s:

They recognize the value of women consumers and research their needs, studying carefully how their product or service is consumed. Whatever feedback they get, they respond, and refine their offerings.

The worst offenders, (not surprisingly to any woman who’s ever used them) in order:

Investments, cars, banking, life insurance, physicians, car insurance, work clothes, hospitals, personal computers and lodging. I can certainly vouch personally for the first two categories. In both instances, ready to hand over significant sums of hard-won, carefully-saved cash, I was treated like a very slow three-year-old, in both instances by male salesmen. The first, trying to sell me investment products, I blew off. The second, a car salesman who started explaining the car’s features to my boyfriend instead of me, didn’t deter me from buying the vehicle, but, really, what a moron. I enjoyed watching his reaction when I paid cash.

Like men, women work hard for their money. Unlike some men, though — often also juggling what sociologist Arlie Hochschild called “the second shift” of childcare, eldercare and/or housework — they face severely limited time and energy.

As a consequence, they’re short of patience and hungry for understanding and respect  for these severe limits on their energies; anyone hoping to part them from their cash needs to get it. But they don’t. Seems pretty basic to me, but apparently few businesses still  understand these essential drivers of female consumption — or resistance to the most seductive and costly of advertising or marketing campaigns — whether in Calcutta, Beijing or Orlando.

I went to Home Depot last weekend, dreading the whole thing. I wanted to get in and out, fast. A lively, fun, super-competent sales associate named Marilyn, a woman my age, sped me through the aisles within minutes, helping me locate and buy hardware, light bulbs, lumber, a saw, hinges. I was delighted. I was also stunned. When was the last time anyone gave you such efficient, knowledgeable and friendly service?

This book, which isn’t a quick read but packed with interesting data for anyone interested in how and where women around the world spend their money,  is based on a survey of 12,000 women in more than 40 geographic areas, who were willing to answer a staggering 120 questions. Women everywhere told the researchers they’re overwhelmed, tired and worried about money; managing household finances was the top challenge for 48 percent of respondents, and not enough time, said 45 percent.

Time is the most important lever that suppliers can use to win women over to their products and services. If they can reduce the time it takes to buy or use a product — while still delivering the other necessary benefits — they can change from being an inflicter of pain and frustration to being a provider of leverage and convenience.

What makes women extremely happy? Pets — 42 percent. Sex — 27 percent. Food — 19 percent.

Check out the survey here.

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