Writer’s Block

Writer’s block happens at the most inopportune time.

It happens when the blank page is staring back, glaring, demanding that words be placed upon its pristine surface.

It happens when the pen is held precisely over the falsely-aged pages of the handmade Italian leather journal purchased just for the reason of inspiration and imagination.

It happens when circumstances of social importance overtake the calendar and force an attention be paid to justice when words can not capture the essence of what has taken place.

Writer’s block happens.

Write through it in tweets, posts, and notes on scraps of Post-Its attached to pages of books read to ignite the passion, to rejuvenate the soul, to awaken the spirit.

Writer’s block happens.

Write through it on pieces of newspaper that have an interesting quote or the backs of shopping lists mean to refill the coffers from an empty cupboard in the home office snack cabinet.

Write through the distractions of parades and serenades and holidays and birthdays.

Writer’s block happens.

The only cure is to write.

Keep writing.

Black Doctorates Clustered in Education, Ed.D. at Risk

This information is still timely, in 2014, as we examine the numbers of blacks with the PhD, the D.B.A. versus the Ed.D. If this degree is “needed” in order to move up the ranks in elementary and secondary education, one wonders if the degree is worth the investment of time. Would the M.Ed render black professionals in education “uncompetitive?” The question is even more complicated when one considers the prevalence of white women in the fields of education and those with doctorates, even at the elementary education level. Is this just used to be promoted?

Black on Campus

In Feburary a report on Black graduate students in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education moved me to blog on the clustering of Black graduate students in the fields of Education and Business. You can read that blog post HERE. This issue made the news again just last week when the Baltimore Times published “Fewer Blacks Earning Degrees,” an analysis of the current state of African Americans and doctoral education, written by education advocate Jayne Matthews. Click on the highlighted title to read this article in its entirety.

Early in her piece, Matthews cites the familiar statistic, that 36.5 percent of African Americans with doctorates hold those degrees in the field of education. She then goes on to explore some of the more disturbing implications of Black clustering in that field. Matthews reveals that the pursuit of the Ed.D. as a professional degree (commonly used as…

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Grading the Media

It was one of the most “enjoyable” panel discussions I attended in the wake of Mike Brown’s murder on August 9, 2014.

I hesitated to say I “enjoyed” the opportunity, presented by the St. Louis Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, to live tweet and examine the media’s coverage.

There were many journalists, some students, and citizens (including the still-controversial “citizen journalists”) who attended the Wednesday night event at Harris-Stowe State University.

Erica Smith at Live and Kern captured the tweets in a unique way that pretty accurately summed up the evening and the thoughts.

The media either helped or hurt the cause, perhaps the jury is still out on how well the local and national media covered the minute-by-minute events of those tumultuous early days.  There is still a story here to be told and there are writers, poets, dancers, visual artists, rappers, musicians, and yes, even journalists, who are using their skills to try to capture the continuing stories of a community, a region, a state, and a nation that has yet to comes to term with our racially charged past.

What grade would you give the media?

RePressed From Indie Hero: Agents. Qualified literary gatekeepers?

Agents. Qualified literary gatekeepers?.

 

I really like what Brian Marggraf has to say, if it happened to him, what do you think happens to the rest of us who write “niche” literary work – no vampires, damsels in distress, and protagonists that are black women living in the suburb!

More and more writers are doing just what he suggested.

My advice, take notes from Brian, be sure to have some trusted advisers to read it, own your copyright, and put it out there yourself.  So what if you don’t get that advance, at least you have it in the hands of someone who will communicate directly with you.

 

 

Who Determines One is a “Best Selling Author?”

I read a lot of books.  

I review a lot of books.   

I shop for a lot of books.

It is natural that my interest piques when, in this era of independent publishing, one touts themself as a “best selling author.”  The inquirer in me immediately wants to ask, “in whose opinion?”  I’m not referring to the noted and well named authors like J.L. Rowling, Toni Morrison, James Clavell, or Steven King.  I’m not even talking about Zane, Bernice McFadden, or Isabelle Allende.  No, I’m speaking about the one-book, self-published, authors selling their wares on Amazon, hoping for a write-up on Goodreads whose profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ tout them as a “best selling author.”

The classically trained marketer with the MBA from one of the top midwestern programs in the country automatically wants to do some consumer research and delve into some quantitative data (I still hate statistics!) to determine if this claim is true.  Exactly at what point does not become “best selling?”

Entrepreneurship in the arts is to be celebrated and applauded, we all want to control the rights to our creative output, to control the destiny of our work, and to reap the financial rewards.  Perhaps it is in that vein that these writers are engaging in a little more creative license and giving themselves a moniker not fully earned in the marketplace.

One such “author” whose independent book is self-published in the Christian marketplace, has all the marketing hype on a tiny book lacking substance. Another “author” has the same claim on a self-published urban genre filled with stereotypes.  There are the self-help books, the “how-to-get-rich” books, even some recipe and workout books all carry this same claim.

The New York Times Best Seller List is one thing.  If I make that list with my two upcoming projects, that would be amazing and I would proudly proclaim that on my bio.  If a writer’s work has not reached national acclaim, even national niche acclaim (say, top selling African-American, Latino, Native America, Asian American, LGBT America author) can they still claim this title?

What about top sellers at the bookstores?  We’ve lost Borders and only have two “national” brick & mortar bookstores left – Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.  Does it count if Amazon lists the top book and one is found there?  What about eReader? Or Local Bookstores?  Would that count if it is Left Bank Books, the Book House, or STL Books?  What makes it a top seller?  Is it a dollar amount or a volume amount?

I am part skeptic and even though I have degrees in marketing, am somewhat leery of marketing claims about some books.  I’ve seen some heavily hyped works that fall short within those first 50 pages.  Life is too short to read bad lit.

My question remains somewhat unanswered and perhaps up to the reader.  What exactly makes one a “best selling author?”

 

 

 

So, Really, What is the difference between Sales and Marketing?

There is a difference between sales and marketing.  Really, there is.  Even if job boards will show up lots of commission sales jobs under a search for “marketing.”

My degrees are in  marketing and management (undergrad) and marketing (grad).  I taught graduate and undergraduate students.  One of the biggest and most confusing discussions among students was if there was a difference between sales and marketing.

I tell them to think of sales and immediate feedback, reward, if you will, and an immediate “thing” to walk away with.  I give my students the image of the little kids in the summer with their homemade lemonade stand or the high school band holding signs for a car wash.  There is a service or product for sale – right now – and a price set – if you purchase right now.  I tried to stay away from the “used car salesman” type analogy, although, that would also work for the illustration.

Most sales professionals – from business-to-business, pharmaceutical reps, insurance, or retail shoe stores – are on commission.  They have a “goal” that must be reached within a certain time frame.  They, by nature, are aggressive, after all, their bread and butter depends on you buying what they have to sell right now, regardless if it is the right product for your needs. Sales is immediate, instant gratification, right-now, short-term in view.

Marketing, on the other hand, is more long-term in approach.

Marketing (brand managers, product managers, marketing managers, etc.) are approaching things with a strategic, long range view.  They are more concerned with things like image, equity, and relationships.  Yes, they want you to choose their brand (product or service) over a competitor (think Coke and Pepsi), but they are interested in how their brand intersects with your life and how.  They want to know why you choose Coke over Pepsi, why people are willing to pay more for Abercrombie t-shirts versus one from JCPenney.

Marketing is about lifestyle and awareness.

We, marketers, want you to purchase our product, that we then track to understand the demographics of our customers.  We create categories and needs.  We tell a story and remind you of that story and how your life fits into the narrative.  Marketing is about feeling and aspiration, the wanting of the image that goes with shopping at Target versus Wal*Mart or Whole Foods Market versus Shop & Save.  It is the illusion, in some ways, and the illustration in others.  Marketing reminds you of where you are and who you are, as well as gives you a glimpse of who you can be…with my brand, of course.

To think of the difference, think short-term (sales) versus long-term (marketing).  Think tactical (sales) versus strategic (marketing). Think comic strip (sales) versus epic novel (marketing).  Think reality show (sales) versus cinematic movie (marketing).

In the world of business, entrepreneurship, and enterprise, there is room for both, it is just important to understand both and never confuse them.  It takes years to be an observer of humanity and society and translate those observations into trends and future products versus convincing someone to buy something immediately, even if it is not meeting their needs.

Sales and marketing can learn from each other.

Marketing can learn from the way sales can observe who is really ready to buy and identify immediately what objections may exist…and offer immediate and plausible solutions (like in-store financing, discounts, etc).

Sales can learn from the way marketers observe society and understand broad, strategic trends that direct the precise creation of brand images, colors, trademarks, and registrations.  Sales can understand the why behind their brand being better than another for a customer’s need and help translate that in terms the customer can understand.

The difference between sales and marketing can be summed up by this visual – imagine a farmer’s market and someone trying to sell all the eggs in their basket right now to the customer versus educating the customer about why your local farm, organic, vegetable fed, uncaged chickens produce a superior product – and have that customer come back week-after-week for just YOUR eggs…this is the difference between sales and marketing…in a nutshell!

 

Mindspace to Heartspace

Mindspace, that illusive place that companies want to occupy, to “own”, to track, to manage, to predict, and to serve.

Marketing engages in research, observation, and “gut feelings” to make conclusions about how customers interact with our product, brand, or service.  Is Coca-Cola recognized worldwide and beloved by many because of its taste? Or is it because it made connections with the customer?

Memories, moments, and marketing intersect when a product, brand, or service connects with significant moments in a customer’s life.  Emotions are a part of what guides the purchase, whether it is the college student away from home the first time and has to purchase laundry detergent for the first time or the little girl who remembered how wonderful it felt to have her first surprise party featuring specialty made cupcake, she will associate warm feelings with that taste.  Marketing helps to connect those emotions time and time again.

More than advertising, more than sales, more than a product on a shelf, marketing is about stories.

Let Tayé Foster Bradshaw help you write one that will reach your customer in their heartspace.

 

Tayé Foster Bradshaw is ready to serve you, your place, your time, your budget, your goals.

Words connect the soul and speak to the heart

We are here to help you write the story of your brand, product, service, or non-profit.  Do you want a social media presence but are unsure of how to tweet on Twitter? Want a facebook presence but do not have the time to keep it updated?  Would like to blog but need help formulating the thoughts?

Let us be your writing and communication headquarters!

Writing is the spirit of what we do here at Tayé Foster Bradshaw Marketing & Communications Group®.  We are here to help take your concept, ideas, passion, and desire to reach your audience and translate it into the medium that makes the most sense.

Are you a non-profit with a small budget? Do you manage a doctor’s office or health practitioner reaching out to a new audience? Are you in educational services and want to guide high school students to college?  We can help you do that.

We will bring you our passion for writing and, experience in developing social media content, product marketing, branding strategies, higher education, non-profit management, and government offices.

Let’s sit down over a cup of coffee and discuss your needs.  We will work with your timeframe and help you develop the strategy that makes sense for your goals.  We are focused on YOU and what YOU need.  YOU are our MOST IMPORTANT CLIENT. 

We are a boutique firm and bring you the skills of a marketing consultant, the passion of an educator, the curiosity of a visionary, and the imagination of a writer. 

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Antona Brent Smith, MBA, President & COO

Call us. 816-878-3935

Email us.antonabrentsmith@gmail.com or tayefosterbradshaw@yahoo.com

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