Margie Ahnell, Senior Project Manager.Usually busy kicking ass and taking names on clients such as BSC, CTC, FIS, Genzyme, Honeywell, Novartis, NEAT, NxStage, Parallon, Red Hat and Trinity. And in my spare time, I like to walk fast and booze.
I am here to tell you about a little town I live in called South Boston, otherwise known as Southie. I have lived in Southie for about eight years now but I am by no means a native. Families have lived in Southie for decades, even centuries, and I can understand why. But of course […]
I am here to tell you about a little town I live in called South Boston, otherwise known as Southie. I have lived in Southie for about eight years now but I am by no means a native. Families have lived in Southie for decades, even centuries, and I can understand why. But of course with the positive, there are some negatives but let’s focus on the good right now, shall we?
1. I totes love my condo. All new everything and I have awesome condo mates.
2. Most nights you can hear a pin drop in my hood.
3. I ditched my car and donated it to karsforkids because I am in walking distance of three great markets and South Bay shopping center. And if I need a car…
4. Zip car has multiple locations within the area plus there is of course Uber.
5. I am in close distance to the airport (need that for going to see Mommasita).
6. New, good, restaurants are opening up all the time: Local 149, Lincoln, Stephies of Southie, Franklin Southie, Tasty Burger (which delivers I might add), Telegraph Hill, Amrheins (been there for centuries), and The Paramount.
7. It’s not wicked hard to find a bar. Whether it be a nice one (see the above) or your neighborhood dive bar. And who doesn’t like a drink every now and then.
8. Walking distance to Andrew Square and Broadway T stops which take me right into Harvard Square. And if I am lazy and want to take the bus, there are two locations directly around the corner from my house.
9. The projects are being re-done. Take a look at this: Old and New. I mean good googly moogly, can I live there in the new ones?
10.The fact that in the summer, I can walk out my door and in less than 10 minutes, have my fat butt sitting on the beach.
11.On the fourth of July, you can head up to Dorchester Heights (the highest point in Southie) and not only see the Boston fireworks but fireworks from towns all over the state, in every direction.
12.Sullivans on Castle Island – best lobster roll and fried clams evah!
Ya know, come to think of it, I am not going to talk about the negative. I am not going to mention the fatal stabbing that happened at my local market a half an hour after I left, or the shots fired on my street two years ago during hockey playoffs, or the crazy lady who lives in the projects across the street and shouts at her dogs like they are her kids, “Gino! Get in the cah! Come on Sebastian, let’s get in the cah!” Nah, I am not going to think about those things. Cause Southie has charactah and I like it!
So the next time you hear someone badmouthing Southie, tell ‘em you have it on good authority that the place is alright. And as the late, great, Robin Williams said, “the people are a can o’ corn.”
Matt Magee, VP Digital Strategy. Matt drives the strategy behind integrated digital campaigns and helps make sure they deliver results for our clients. He’s otherwise occupied playing loud guitar in a band and marveling at his twin daughters.
Every quarter or so, our account team asks our clients to respond to a survey about working with the agency. There’s the usual variety of questions, each with the usual 1–to–5 answer scale and the opportunity to embellish with commentary. The results are eagerly awaited and consumed by all of us. This time around, I […]
Every quarter or so, our account team asks our clients to respond to a survey about working with the agency. There’s the usual variety of questions, each with the usual 1–to–5 answer scale and the opportunity to embellish with commentary. The results are eagerly awaited and consumed by all of us.
This time around, I got to thinking about one client’s answer to this question:
“Is the agency easy to work with?”
This particular client gave us a passing grade, but also went on at length about how important this attribute is to them. Perhaps even more important than the smarts of our campaigns, the quality of the creative, even the results we generate and the rates we charge.
This answer was pretty surprising to me at first. After all, we don’t devote a lot of thinking or effort to being easy to work with. It’s not a line item on any budget I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing in our portfolio about it. When I walk into a big client presentation, I know I’m focused on whether they like the work, not on how much they like the working.
But it occurred to me that this is in fact more important than the work. It may be more important than… anything.
Yes, a lot of resources get expended and energy gets exerted on making the things we make. Ads and apps, sites and strategies, content and contracts, positions and personas, research and reports. They’re all hard to make and deserve the effort it takes to make them well. They all matter.
But they don’t last. The campaign ends. The video isn’t played anymore. The landing page gets taken down. The top priority, the unmissable deadline, the 17th revision fade into meaninglessness.
What doesn’t fade? People treating people well. Relationship. Connection. The flow of respect and appreciation and reasonableness that people use to make a hard job easier for each other.
Of course, when you have all that, it’s amazing how all the other things tend to fall into place.
Hugh Kennedy, Partner, EVP Planning, Healthcare Practice Lead. Hugh joined PJA in 1992 and still loves coming to work. He also writes The Secret Life of the Life Scientist, a blog about marketing to those who discover. Hugh has three Swiss Mountain Dogs, two children, and one husband.
Ling Valentine is boss of LINGsCARS, a highly successful car-leasing site based in the northern English town of Gateshead. Ling was born in China and came to the UK in 1988. After earning a BSc in Applied Chemistry and an MSc in Environmental Management, she started a car leasing service with a website that upends […]
Ling Valentine is boss of LINGsCARS, a highly successful car-leasing site based in the northern English town of Gateshead. Ling was born in China and came to the UK in 1988. After earning a BSc in Applied Chemistry and an MSc in Environmental Management, she started a car leasing service with a website that upends every convention about the retail experience. With more blinking lights than a pachinko parlor, LINGsCARS features karaoke, games, a walking chicken, and phenomenal customer service, the true secret to its success. Unconventionals caught up with “Ling Vader” at the headquarters of her rapidly growing enterprise.
Unconventionals: The experience on your car leasing website goes against the convention of just about every other car site out there. Where did your inspiration come from?
Ling: It’s because all other car-leasing sites do it wrongly. It’s a herd mentality. They think it’s about cars, but it’s not. It is about people, and trust.
Unless you are a big name on the Internet, people will have doubts whether they should commit or not. A new car is a big proposition, and even leasing one means committing £15,000 or $20,000 over the term. If you credit-check most companies in this lease sector (at least in the UK), you find that most are either new-ish, penniless, in debt, unprofitable or a combination of the above. In fact, it’s often hard to find who runs many of them. They just trade under faceless names. Often they use off-the-shelf car leasing websites, re-branded for them, or they create a basic shell website.
LINGsCARS is so very different. I am me. I am profitable, my business has a high net worth (over £1/2m), I’ve been trading 10 years, and I am transparent. People trust me. I do everything very openly on the web. I reply instantly and have the best online customer chat program in the world. Every communication is transcribed, saved and secure. Customers have full access to a full history of what was promised, said, and done. I have an excellent reputation and am the best at car leasing in the UK, possibly the world. I’m real.
Some people get fixated on flashing gifs or bright colours, and miss what really matters to customers. I was inspired by the frustration that no one did this business well online, and when I saw the industry my husband was involved in, I thought I could do it far, far better.
Unconventionals Why do you think people respond so positively to the buying experience you’ve created?
Ling: My buying experience is the best in the UK, maybe the world. People respond positively and negatively. Some will like it, some won’t. So what? I am cultivating trust. But I am not twisting arms, and it’s just a fact that I will polarise opinions, so I don’t concern myself with that. If we guess that 10% of my website visitors look at me favourably and understand my ethos and want a car – I am interested in that 10% (or 5% or 1%; whatever the % is). I’m not really interested in the other 99,000 visitors. I will interact with anyone, have fun and chat, but at the end of the day, it’s about customers and money.
The people who do respond positively get the best car buying experience on the web. Currently, as I type this, my admin department is typing and posting replies to customer queries in an average of 2 minutes 16 seconds. My car credit proposal department is doing it in 3 minutes 39 seconds. I set a four-minute benchmark between 9am and 6pm UK time. That is one example why customers respond positively, because the service is so good. They can often post a comment or question, stay online a minute or two and get an answer. In writing. No other car dealer in the world will do that. In fact, most car dealers AVOID putting things in writing because they don’t want their lies to come back and bite them.
Unconventionals: The author Andrew Davies has noted that LINGsCARS is a good example of hedonic decline, where getting the thing we want actually makes us less happy than wanting it. Did you design your site so that leasing a car would be an interesting journey as well as a purchasing experience?
Ling: Yes, I designed my website to be an interesting journey, but not really as Andrew Davies described. Mainly, I am pragmatic, and a lease car is a massive decision to make on the web. Very few other websites ask for that sort of commitment. So I designed my website so that people remain on it for a long time (if they are interested in a lease car) and the longer time people spend, the more likely they are to commit. It’s that simple, really.
I also want them to have fun, as people can become very stressed making these big commitments. I want my website to be memorable as well. So there are many aspects to my thinking, but they are all simpler than Andrew’s explanation.
Unconventionals: Are there other Unconventional businesses out there that you admire?
Ling: Well, I admire businesses that speak plainly. Ryanair is a great example. They make it clear that they are there to make a profit and don’t mess on with lots of other rubbish. If you want a cheap flight, Ryanair are best in the UK. I like websites that do what they say on the tin.
On the other hand, I dislike people copying the current Apple/Twitter type of big-type, boring websites that simply doesn’t give enough information. I also dislike websites with small or spitty photos. I dislike websites that don’t declare the parent company clearly. And I dislike websites who use “we” instead of “I”.
Unconventionals: Finally, what’s with the chicken?
Ling: The chicken is a real chicken, at my farm. We filmed it for fun. It took two whole days. Why not? No one else has a chicken. People like chickens. I would prefer a cat, but cats are hell to film.
Brooke Tobiasz, Account Director.
Brooke joined PJA in 2012 and is responsible for building client relationships and trying to make her co-workers laugh. Outside the office you can find her in or on the water in Boston Harbor (It’s not really that dirty anymore).
Tomatina 2014, Bunol Spain When people describe working in an advertising agency, they often use the phrase “work hard, play hard.” My experience at the Tomatina in Spain this summer certainly fulfilled on “play hard” portion of that saying. There were 22,000 people crammed into tiny streets throwing 125 tons of tomatoes at one another […]
Tomatina 2014, Bunol Spain
When people describe working in an advertising agency, they often use the phrase “work hard, play hard.”
My experience at the Tomatina in Spain this summer certainly fulfilled on “play hard” portion of that saying.
There were 22,000 people crammed into tiny streets throwing 125 tons of tomatoes at one another – there was a plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong. I’m not sure what I expected, and I was trepidatious to say the least. However, what I got to see was a side of humanity that was very rare. 22,000 people from many countries, speaking many languages, and of every age, reverting to a completely child-like state in a no-holds-barred food fight. I highly recommend checking this out if you ever get the chance.. Its a great way to recapture childhood with people from around globe.
Mike O'Toole, President.In addition to running the day-to-day operations of PJA Advertising, Mike is the host of the Unconventionals Radio Show.
It seems odd that a large corporation would launch a campaign that’s neither proprietary nor tightly controlled. So when American Express — a not-so-small business — created Small Business Saturday, they must have envisioned a great opportunity. And with the President and U.S. Senate’s support, in addition to countless Mom & Pops, it’s clear they were […]
It seems odd that a large corporation would launch a campaign that’s neither proprietary nor tightly controlled. So when American Express — a not-so-small business — created Small Business Saturday, they must have envisioned a great opportunity. And with the President and U.S. Senate’s support, in addition to countless Mom & Pops, it’s clear they were on to something.
Join me as I chat with several guests including one of the leaders behind Small Business Saturday, Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly. They discuss how the initiative was started and how it has helped small, local shops gain a fair share of the holiday shopping season.