Friday, June 30, 2006


It has been a few days. The two people who actually follow my blog both asked me about this hiatus. I explained that, after reading blog after blog from my blogroll, I realized that most bloggers do not produce every day. Some sites have an entire staff lined up in order that they can submit every day! Some sites (like Southwest's blogsite) are daily updated by various random employees who work (not necessarily in a blogging capacity) for the company, which, by the way, I think is an awesome idea. But I am just one man! Anyway, I guess what I'm saying here is, I am cutting down on my blog-posting frequency. No doubt, marketing gurus across the country-nay, across the world-who seek the counsel of this teacher whose aspirations to transfer into corporate marketing landed him a badge-carrying interning stint in a small "cube" in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will surely be feeling deprived.

Welcome to my best friend (we'll just call him "Pup") to the blogosphere. Take a moment to check out his blog, WAIT...I THINK I HAVE A PENNY. His link is posted in my blogroll, so once this entry is archived, and you don't feel like digging around in my archives (who would do such a thing?), you can find his site there.

Like I Said...
As I was perusing the latest marketing/branding/advertising blogs this morning, I found one that captured an important aspect of what I have referred to as The Living Brand (see HBR, May 2005 and my previous blogs). In his blog entitled, "Mimicking Whole Foods Market," John Moore comments, "competitors can replicate products and programs but they can’t replicate people." Let me explain the context of this insightful quote: retail giants Wal Mart, Publix, and Giant have been jumping on the "Lifestyle Stores" bandwagon with their own earthy, marketplace branches. Moore predicts (and I concur-not that that really quantifies anything) that these stores will "fall short." This will occur, not because these companies have not done their best to replicate the physical environment experienced at WFM, but because they have not created the culture that WFM has created. Again, I qoute Moore, "It’s the people that matter more in creating a brand than do products or programs." I call this "The Living Brand." (Actually, Bendapudi and Bendapudi call it the Living Brand. I simply reference them.) I believe that creating this Living Brand is the platform of differentiation upon which CMO's, CBO's, C(enter whatever letter you like here that could possibly be the first letter in an executive title-namely, a marketing-oriented executive)O's should be working. You see, I can buy a product anywhere, from anyone, or from nowhere and no one (Internet). But to receive service that conveys the company's mission in a near-tangible way, that is what is going to keep me coming back, perhaps even passing a couple of similar retailers on the way (like I do when I drive past Kum and Go on my way to QuikTrip). Sometimes, I will even pay a little more at said companies, just to get their branded service (like what I always get at Car Toys, even though their entire staff knows that right now, I am just a poor teacher with little to spend on their pricey wares). But be warned: creating this type of corporate culture requires time and money. Is it worth it? Perhaps we should just ask the execs and stockholders (where applicable) at WFM, QuikTrip, Cold Stone Creamery, Marriott, etc., etc.


Chris Posey

Monday, June 26, 2006


Hm, it's six, twenty-six, o-six (or as some would say, ought-six). Isn't something bad supposed to happen today?

I Am No Ben Bernanke
Of course, as under fire as the new Fed Chair has been lately, I'm OK with that. But despite the recent criticisms of Dr. Bernanke, you have to admit, he's probably one hell of an economist. This is one area in which the two of us are quite different, (well, this and that grisly beard he has that extends much too low on his neck); hence, my lack of understanding about why marketing (and, some may add, advertising) is not the savior to the oligopoly. Mr. Bernanke probably understands why, and I think it would be great if he were to read this intern's blogsite (that currently, only 4 people are even aware of and maybe two of those 4 actually read) and explain to me why it is that banks, entertainment companies, oil companies, cable television companies, etc., industries in which very few companies hold very much of the power, do not spend their time, effort, and extra cash on differentiation. Consumers see many of these companies as commodity providers-two words that cause marketers to tremble in their cubes (see entry: Lunch 6-16-06--another 666-type date-there's something weird at stake here). Why would a client choose one company over another in these situations? Take the wireless industry. It's not like a customer is going to be able to get a significantly better price on a wireless phone plan from one wireless company over another. So why not differentiate, say, in the area of service? I like what Citi is doing right now (or at least, what they say they're doing-I have not experienced this personally): one of their most recent advertising campaigns implies that with Citi, you'll actually be able to talk to a human being on a customer service call rather than a computer. (And no, Sprint, having computer-generated customer service recordings with verbal pauses like "OK" and "Well..." does not make it seem any less like I'm having to deal with computerized customer service.) This is one area of differentiation in an oligopoly-the credit card "industry" (is it an industry?) that I believe is effective.
Why do I spend money on gas exclusively at Quiktrip rather than Kum and Go? Well, for one thing, every time I say "Kum and Go," I get this incredibly strong urge to giggle like a school-boy. But the real reason is that Quiktrip has separated itself from the rest of the pack by making the conscious effort to brand its employees (see post 6-23-06). I don't mean that executives heat up metal implements and press them into the skin of everyone they hire. I mean that Quiktrip employees categorically act different from other convenience store employees, they treat their customers differently, and they provide a service that is unique and valued by their customers (which leads into an entirely different discussion about satisfaction vs. loyalty vs. commitment advocacy, but I digress).
So, ologopolists around the world, rather than dissecting the pay scale of your already underpaid staff (read: high turnover rate), couldn't you instead make an investment in differentiation and become a mini-monopoly in your own, newly created, unique market? Dr. Bernanke, can you help me out here?


Chris Posey

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Weekend Blurb

Finally copied and uploaded my beloved badge. It is now nestled in my user profile for all to view. (Note: previously lamented moniker of "TEMP," and name spelling correction made by Sharpie-wielding wife. (Thanks Honey.)

Friday, June 23, 2006


Ah, casual Friday. Of course, I can't say that casual Friday is unique to the corporate world. While I have already experienced several corporate perks on a very tiny, intern-sized level this summer (see previous posts), I must admit that I also have the opportunity to wear jeans on Fridays as a teacher. So there's one shared perk.

The Living Brand
Have you noticed that, in general, customer service stinks? Who out there is administering surveys to determine public sentiment about customer service nation wide? More and more, it seems that the people who, of their own volition, chose a specific place to actively seek employment, endured days/weeks of training, shook their head yes and smiled about all of the job duties that were described to them, and then, intentionally donned some of the most ridiculous uniforms I have ever seen, have an air of indignation when they are asked to actually perform the duties of their chosen job. There are, however, a few diamonds in the rough. In May of 2005, Harvard Business Review published an article by Bendapudi and Bendapudi in which they defined "The Living Brand." In a nutshell, the two describe a "bond between employees and the brand" found at certain companies-Quiktrip and Wawa, two convenience stores, to be specific-and this bond is so consistent and so unique, it becomes as tangible as physical aspects of product branding (125). In a sense, the employees themselves become the company's brand. I believe this is essential in the service industry. There is so much bad service out there, the few companies who do brand their service employees will stick out (in a good way).

More of this throughout the summer.


Chris Posey

Thursday, June 22, 2006


One exciting aspect of my transfer into the corporate world, a transition that I hope will be facilitated by the marketing internship I am currently participating in, is the fact that I can see the building in which I work for miles away. As I drive north on Highway 169, I can look to the west and see the sky-scraping beacon in the distance.

This morning, I forewent my traditional morning chapter of CNBC's SquawkBox on my XM Satellite Radio, and opted instead for A Perfect Circle. I skipped ahead to track 7, The Outsider, my favorite Perfect Circle song. Unfortunately, I reached the climactic point of the song as I was creeping around a congested clover-leaf onto Highway 51; I simply felt robbed. As soon as the song finished its short denouement, I immediately replayed it, adjusting the volume until I thought I could hear my speakers buzzing. This concerned me, so I turned my stereo down to see if I could isolate the buzzing. I couldn't, and I realized that during my experiment, I had missed half of the song. I also realized that I was approaching the revered dual sky-scraping beacon I would spend the next 9 hours in, and I was not close enough to that favorite climactic point. I fast forwarded the CD to a point in the song that would allow me to experience this section before pulling into the parking lot. Despite the fact that I had ruined the experience thus far, I was able to enjoy the climax as I zoomed past the left-turning schmucks, which brought some small amount of compensatory pleasure.

Later, more about services marketing.

Until then,

Chris Posey

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

6-21-06,after lunch

New Wine in Old Wineskins
Just attended a lunch meeting with the Tulsa chapter of the BMA. (That's Business Marketing Association to those of you who, like me at this point, have not yet been fully baptized into the marketing industry.) The discussion was incredibly interesting: New media vs. traditional advertising. The speakers were all quite able veterans, two from web marketing firms (speaking loosely), one from the radio and television side, and one CEO of a direct mail company in town. There was a great deal of discussion about blogging, especially with regard to reaching Gen Y. The discussion inspired me to ask the following:

1. How can blogging be used in the corporate setting?
2. What industries may benefit most/least from blogging?
-and one of personal interest:
3. Is it now a necessity for new, progressive, up-and-coming marketers to be proficient in web authoring?

Incidentally, I was informed of and invited to said lunch meeting by the creator of "Casual Fridays," a branding/marketing/management blog that you will find listed in my blog links to the right. Visit his blog. He has a lot of interesting posts.


A Rose by Any Other Name
How much do you suppose workers in the service industry are affected by the name of the company they work for? Assume that two hotel chains, one named after Clem Budget and one named after Alvin Superior were the same in nearly every way: same payroll, same resources available, same labor pool. To what extent do you believe that the employees of these companies would "live up" to the name of the chain? Is a company name a self-fulfilling prophecy with regard to its service employees? Despite the fact that Budget and Superior pay the same and have comparable facilities, how much does company name alone affect the service aspect of these companies? I know there has been much research on the effect a company name has on the consumer, but what about its effect on its own employees? Surely someone has seen/done any research on this. Pretty basic concept. This is the type of issue I would like to connect to research I am doing over a concept examined recently by HBR: the living brand. More about the living brand and my research plans later.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


The Transfer
I think that the question I have heard most as I have begun my MBA program is, "So what prompted you to make this decision?" You know, the decision to transfer from the education world to the corporate world. I always refer back to an epiphany that I had about two and a half years ago. I was working at Carrabba's. This was my third job. I was also teaching high school English, and I was (and still am) an adjunct instructor at a local community college. It was a cold, end-of-the-year month, yet another evening away from my soon-to-be-wife. I clearly remember, at the moment of the epiphany, I was standing in front of the dish pit, scraping the rejected remains of a stranger's meal into a trash can full to the top of similar contents. As I was doing so, two of the dishroom employees were laughing and joking as though these were the greatest moments of their lives. I could not understand what they were saying, and I had wondered if they were talking and laughing about me. (I am at times a little paranoid.) It was at that moment, standing near the bread machine that was so much trouble to clean that I thought to myself, "Something has to change." I knew that it was going to be tough to raise children on two teachers' salaries (my wife is also a teacher). And I knew that I wanted to provide for my wife and children differently. (I had no children at this point, but knew they would be coming in the relatively near future.) My wife and I have never wanted to be rich. We simply wanted to be able to live having only one job apiece (she was also working at Carrabba's and regularly teaching dance outside of her regular school obligations as the varsity drill team coach). We wanted to be able to spend time together, and to spend time with our children. Both of us have been heavily invlolved in school activities since we began teaching, sometimes obligatorily ("now that you are moving to the high school, how would you like to be the yearbook sponsor?"), sometimes voluntarily, and we are out of the house several times a week outside of our normal work hours. (Incidentally, to all who believe that teachers show up for work at 8:00 and leave at 3:00, you are sadly mistaken.)

Business has been an interest of mine in years past. I can remember about 9 years ago talking on the phone to guy who was at one time a close friend of mine about going the business route-namely into marketing. This was at a previous crossroads in my life, following a stint into youth ministry. I wanted to move out of the church in a professional capacity, and I was contemplating education or business. My friend had earned his MBA immediately after completing his undergraduate work, and was pursuing a career in marketing. I was interrogating him about his job and related jobs. Marketing was at that time an immature interest of mine. My friend was less than receptive to my contemplations-a response I get from most businessmen. I don't understand this response. Perhaps they don't like the idea that a person could go into business just as easily as one could go into education? Anyway, I chose the education route. I tell people that it is because of a family heritage in education, and while that is partly true, I'm sure that much of my decision had to do with an intense fear of math.

I began my MBA in the Spring of '05. My first classes were the foundational business law class and the foundational marketing class. I loved my marketing class from day one. I devoured the articles we were to read, and I looked for opportunities to speak in class every week (despite the fact that I truly had no idea what I was talking about). I can remember one evening that I wanted to comment so badly, that I finally blurted out some garbled combination of words and sounds, interrupting my professor in the process. Since that first semester, I have taken what I consider to be the most important class in my MBA program, an elective entitled "Services Marketing." It was in this class that I acquired an interest in an often overlooked aspect of marketing: the service industry. This class totally took me by surprise, and led me into a continuation of study over the topic this summer-a study of branding and the service employee.

I love my program and I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship so far this summer. My goals? Immediate: work at a marketing firm (and whatever other steps I need to take to do so). Long term: chief branding officer or something more entrepreneurial.

Thank you for reading my story.

Next time: a little bit about my independent study.

Until then,

Chris Posey

Monday, June 19, 2006

Lunch 6-19-06

My Phobia
I came to terms with my 170 pound medium build years ago. A question I am often asked is if, as a male teacher, I coach. I try to reply with something clever-this helps the question-asker not to feel so dumb for asking a scrawny male English teacher a question that implies some sort of physical ability, while at the same time, suggesting that clever aesthetes like myself do not require physical prowess. At least this is what I tell myself. However, despite my modest stance, I do not have too many phobias. I would hold a snake if it were offered. I see spiders as one of the most disgusting of creatures, but I have no problem approaching them for the kill and have even allowed a tarantula to walk on my arm. And while I think that one day I will board an escalator the will take me to hell without my knowing it, I don't mind riding them if it means I don't have to climb stairs.

I do however have one admitted phobia: plumbing. I can't stand to touch it, be near it, or even look at it in certain situations. Two days ago, I had to face my phobia. You see, our 20 year old house has been having some problems lately. The details of these problems will come later. Suffice it to say that I found myself on my knees in my front yard, intentionally touching "the dreaded apparatus" (from Seinfeld-although not in the same context). My most recent housing woes required that I turn off the water supply to my house at the water meter. For those of you who don't know, the valve on a water meter is very stiff and tough to turn-it generally requires the use of a water meter "key"-a piece of rebar with a T-handle at one end, and a slot at the other. To close the water meter, one must simply place the slot on the valve and turn. My step-father has one of these keys, and he brought it by, at my request. Unfortunately at the time of our planned shutoff, we were experiencing a torrential rain native to Oklahoma. But the job had to be completed. So there I knelt, being protected from the storm by my step-father who held a mini-umbrella that was no longer able to close and which happily boasted of its origin, New York Life, in blue letters which contrasted with the bright, white material that made up the umbrella. Kneeling in the soaked grass, I lifted the cover off of the water meter to discover nothing but dirty rain water. The water meter was full to the top of the stuff. I ran to my garage and grabbed a small plastic bucket which I had intended to bail the water out with. The bucket promptly disintegrated. So, in an act of desperation, I plunged my hand into the brown water, navigated to the valve-topped pipe, and blindly guided the key to my immersed hand. Of course, the key fell off multiple times required the same process each time. But finally, I was able to shut it off.

Chris Posey


Before I forget, if anyone can tell me how to change the formatting of the Description of my blog (the text above that talks about a 35 year old teacher moving to the corporate world), please let me know. I tried using HTML last Friday and it didn't work. Also, is it possible to insert a link in a current post that would take people back to previous posts?

This morning, I nearly forgot my badge and my insulated mug. I actually had to make a special trip by my house (more about this later) to pick them up.

Father's Day went well. It was my first one, and now that I have experienced Father's Day as a father, I have moved the day from just above Columbus Day or Arbor Day (remember the Arbor Day episode of The Little Rascals?) to the same tier as Christmas and my birthday. Selfish, I know. But that should be no surprise to you if you follow my blog.

For Father's Day, I received from my wife and daughter a golf shirt, a book, and a mug with my daughter's picture on it which will replace one of the two insulated mugs presented to me on the first day of my internship a couple or few days each week.

I am now reading the following books:
This Book May Save Your Life, by AM Homes
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
Positioning, by Al Reis and Jack Trout
Riding for the Brand, by Jim Whitt

The Homes piece was the book I received for Father's Day. I saw a review of it on the Today show recently and mentioned it to my wife. So far, it is interesting and contains good writing. I began the Chabon piece at the beginning of the summer, but put it down for 2 weeks while some people repaired our flooded house (more on that later). Several years ago, I decided that I needed to be reading Pulitzer Prize winners, so I went to Barnes and Noble with the same, fleeting inspiration I had last Friday when I began this blog, and I snatched up about 5 winners. I proceeded to slosh through Empire Falls right away. The others have sat on my shelf since. (Let's just say, Empire Falls emasculated my aforementioned inspiration). It was in a moment of guitar-lesson-taking, blogging-style inspiration, I picked up the Chabon piece, dusted it off, and began reading it. After 300 pages, it's just about to kill me-and I still have not reached that half-way point yet. Of course, the writing is incredible. But the plot-that aspect of literature that intellectuals are not supposed to care about but secretly do-is sucking my will to live out right through my eyeballs. The Reis/Trout piece is great. It is a marketing classic (and if you don't believe me, the cover will attest to this fact). These guys are great, and although the book is a tad repetitious, it is very practical and full of valuable information, especially for a newbie like me. I just started the Whitt piece. It was written by a local author and was given to me by my manager. (Man, I love this internship!) I have not been able to draw a conclusion about it yet. It is also book about marketing.

I will now close-I need to meet with my manager to find out what I will be doing today. I realize I did not mention what prompted the change from education to the corporate world. Maybe at lunch.


Chris Posey

Friday, June 16, 2006

Lunch 6-16-06

I just downed a surprisingly good Arby's sub right here at the very desk I am producing this blog from. I ended up using my lunch hour to get a haircut (uh, yeah I wore my badge), so I had to do my eating in the cube afterwards.

My Cube
Yes, I have my very own cubicle. You may think, "You're stuck in a cubicle?" But actually, it's not so bad. I don't see it as my only space-I see the entire floor, nay, the entire sky-scraping building as my space. My cubicle is simply a place where I can get some quiet privacy when I want to do some work. When I began here on June 1, I was shown to my cubicle (or "cube" as most people who know their way around a business office call it). Outside my cube was stapled a piece of paper with my name on it. I was pretty excited that I was already claiming space in the building. Then, as I entered, I saw on my desk an array of mini-insulated thermoses, water bottles, and other chachkies, each lovingly embossed with the company name and logo. I was elated, and I now alternate thermoses, red-and-blue, each day, and of course, as I drink my coffee each morning, the logos must face me.

The Lunch Hour
I referred previously to my lunch hour. This is also a new phenomenon. As a teacher, I eat when the students eat. I get 55 minutes to eat, a time period rigidly defined by sounding bells at its beginning and end. I meet other teachers in the lounge (going out to eat, and certainly getting a haircut, would simply not be possible in this block of time) and typically, we discuss students. All of you who wonder if teachers sit around and talk about students in the teacher's lounge during lunch, the answer is a resounding yes. But at my internship, I can take lunch, pretty much whenever I want. As long as I don't have a conflict or something that needs to be finished immediately, I would dare say that I could eat lunch as early as 10:00 AM or as late as 3:00 PM. A couple of days ago, I had to see my doctor (nothing bad). The only time he had available was 10:20. I ran it by my manager at the beginning of the day, and a couple of hours later, I was in his office.

Soon, I hope to get to a potentially significant topic of this blog: marketing.
Next time: How does one decide to go from teaching to the corporate world?


Chris Posey

6-16-06 8:46 AM (CST)

It was destined to happen. I realized this morning as I was meeting with my manager that I, like thousands and thousands of people out there, had something unique, something essential, something compelling to offer the one or two people who accidentally typed my blog address into their address box and, by force of habit, read what was presented to them on the screen; hence, this blog.

My gift to the two of you: the details of how a high school English teacher is attempting to make the transfer into the corporate world.

Certainly some of you are thinking, "How can you make such a move? How can you tempt the devil? [and from those of you hard-core hippies] How can you sell out like that?" Well, perhaps my [no, I'm not going to use the word "rantings"-I'd like to see how many times that word is used in blogspace] observations over the next 2 months will answer those questions. And if they don't, I really don't know what else to tell you.

On June 1, 2006, I began a marketing internship at a car rental corporate headquarters located in Tulsa. I don't have the time right now to share with you all of the experiences I've had in just the past two weeks. Those nuggets will come over time. Suffice it to say, the experience has been good. Once I learn how to use the scanner here, I hope to upload a picture of my ID card-an item I proudly clip to my belt each and every work day (and the occasional indulgence on weekends). This item is a great source of pride for me, as it is the first token, the first tangible representation of my transfer into the corporate world. The only fly in the ointment is the fact that on said badge is a word that brings a degree of sadness: "TEMP" in bold, capital letters. I'm a little embarrassed for people to see the word. It is a constant reminder that my time as an intern here is going to run out soon. Everything else on this key to the breakroom, key to the 5th floor, key to the entire sky-scraping building is just right-well, except for the fact that they misspelled my name. They left the "y" off of my last name. But my wife, who has the uncanny ability to duplicate most types of printed text, Sharpie-ed in a "y" for me.

I must adjourn this session, but no doubt, I will post more again this very day. Blogging, like the guitar lessons of my adolescent years, will probably be a practice I partake in heavily at first, only to taper off after a short amount of time.


Chris Posey

PS-We all know now that I am currently an English teacher. However, please do not spend your time scrutinizing my spelling, grammar, style, etc., for I will be making no attempt to preserve the English language in this Blog.