Dipping A Toe Into Influencer Marketing

When I joined the real estate startup, REX, in social media and content marketing, they had the beginnings of a social presence and were producing content for a monthly newsletter. My role focused on developing the company’s social and content strategy, defining how we would treat each channel, how we would message, create reputation, invite interaction, listen to the market and engage with people.

As a startup we had limited funds and most of the budgets were being invested in the product, systems or being spent on direct response channels. But we had an appetite for testing and learning- and dipping our toe into influencer marketing was certainly on our growth list. One of my favorite projects was a collaboration with an agency in LA called Zig Marketing. After a few meetings, and learning about our business, they pitched ideas to expand our brand awareness with influencer marketing. Zig specializes in building relationships between brands and bloggers, developing an outreach strategy, designing unique campaigns and implementing. They brought some interesting ideas but I didn’t think I could sell them internally. I knew I couldn’t ask the agency for a guaranteed return on investment- but I knew that’s what my management would be asking me. Tinkering with Zig’s ideas, I was able to find a creative way to limit our financial exposure at worst, make the program net neutral (our expectation) or, at best, be ROI positive.

The campaign we designed would have the agency sending proposals to 25 prominent bloggers who write for our target audience (potential home sellers in Southern California). To qualify, the agency reached out to bloggers they new and researched/connected with new blogs that fit the profile we defined together. The proposal asked if the blogger would be interested in working with REX on an experiment where the blogger would find a home-seller in their reader base and follow the process of selling a home with REX. It seemed brave to open ourselves and our process up to a journalist. As a new company our operating processes were changing daily and being optimized based on customer feedback. But we wanted the content that the bloggers created to be real and show how REX sells homes just as well as a traditional agents, better actually, but charging 60% less in commission.

If this marketing program could deliver 1 customer to go through this blogger-documented selling process, it would pay for itself and be net neutral. That I could sell to my management. The program would generate hundreds of thousands of brand impressions, posts, shares, comments, likes, and discussions- all great at building reputation but not exactly measurable.

Yes, I have direct response in my DNA- after 10 years of cost-per-lead marketing, who wouldn’t. But that’s not why this was my favorite project. Having a writer detail the process of selling with REX from the client’s perspective would be such an interesting story. Selling a house is one of the biggest financial decisions a person will make and the process is infinitely complicated. REX is a David in a David and Goliath scenario. As a company disrupting the traditional real estate market, REX has a big story to tell and lots of antagonists who don’t want the industry to change. Was I concerned that the process might break down somewhere in selling this house? Sure. Every agent has stories to tell about impossible situations. But we decided the risk was worth it. We didn’t know what client might sign up for this process, if their home would be easy to sell or if they would be reasonable on selling price. But we knew that even a bumpy story would show our strengths and humanity.

Two bloggers received our proposal and instantly understood why we created REX and why the real estate industry and their readers needed to know about what we were doing. Working with Zig Marketing they picked the angle of the REX story that interested them and would interest their readers. We didn’t tell them what to write and we definitely didn’t require any specific content. That would be overstepping the process and be disrespectful to the blogger. We had gotten a great break when Bloomberg Pursuits covered us the month before, but when we were written about by Someday I’ll Learn and SoCal Field Trips, it felt different. It felt like we had lit the match in the communities where we’re creating relationships- where we have billboards, where we have homes for sale, and where we are targeting digital marketing.

These articles were posted just a couple weeks ago, so we don’t have results yet. We are anticipating some traction from this and so far this project has been a great way to dip our toes into influencer marketing.

Read the articles here:

Someday I’ll Learn
http://somedayilllearn.com/better-way-buy-sell-house/
Bloggers Nate and Chelsea create a fantastic blog called Someday I’ll Learn which takes you along on their adventurous activities with four boys. Chelsea is a marketing consultant and writer and Nate is a photographer and do-it-yourselfer. They run their businesses from their farmhouse in Southern California.

SoCalFieldTrips
http://socalfieldtrips.com/howtosellyourhouseforlesswithrex/
Jilleen Butler is the founder, blogger and field trip coordinator behind SoCal Field Trips. SoCal Field Trips is a lifestyle blog dedicated to active families who enjoy adventuring out of the home and into the world of hands-on learning. Jilleen offers a unique perspective to thousands of families in Southern California.

Mapping Content to the Customer Journey

As a part of every lead nurture program, brands use research, focus groups and customer service or sales logs and more to map their customer (or prospect) journey and the mindset of those people. Once this map is created, it’s easier to brainstorm what the person’s unmet need is at every stage that you can possibly answer with content or interaction.

I like to start by imagining the first question the user has where the answer might end up being my product. We can use data, interviews, and surveys to find the starting point where the consumer identifies their need. Using the iconic sales funnel and stage of the funnel, identify the steps your typical customer might take in researching the category, identifying the brands, differentiating the brands, determining their feature priorities, interpreting the brand personality, establishing trust, asking questions, viewing product materials, asking friends and finally, making a decision.

If the person is thinking about taking a vacation and my role is to sell Australia as a destination- the first question they ask could be, “Where should I go on vacation?” I can validate that by thinking- if someone has that question, do I want my product to appear in her list of answers? While I might not want to have a paid ad appear on that high funnel of a discussion, certainly an organic article or message would help. But maybe this is too high above our sales funnel. In any case, it’s important to know what the entire journey looks like and then decide what parts of the journey you can influence and should address.

Once you have the stages mapped you can start thinking about what the customers’ needs are at that point, what questions do they have and what content can you provide to move them forward in their decision-making.

While working as a senior manager of content marketing I developed our customer journey map to identify the right content at the right time. When creating the content topics ask yourself, ‘What information does the customer need to move forward to the next stage?’ Below is the result of one mapping project for a customer segment. I’ve had to generalize the topics to protect confidential information so imagine that the topics represent 1-3 pieces of content each and a variety of formats (articles, videos, graphics). In the example below we chose to focus our Phase 1 content on the four columns marked with letters. The letters represented their position in the funnel and familiarity with our products. It was our shorthand way to label the streams.

Lead Nurture Content Map

I like this very simple worksheet for a high level approach. I’ve created a few like this for clients but of course, you’ll want to customize for your own business.

You can imagine that much of these content assignments will be placed onto the map based on your own understanding and assumptions of the target audience. And that’s OK. Plan to create your communication program in phases and identify ways to test the content, the order of the content, the length of the content etc. You may be lucky and have starting points in your data and you may have to fill in with informed assumptions. There will be endless opportunities for testing and optimization based on the performance of the live creative. Don’t let the content planning task cause a roadblock, the real learning will come as the program goes into pilot.

Best of luck!

Building a Content Marketing Strategy: Assessing Tools

After a few years working on digital customer acquisition, our head of Digital Marketing was able to create a new team to address creating a Global Content Strategy. She asked myself and another colleague to join her in forming it from scratch. We started by creating our mission, taking stock of our assets and defining our future. We then presented our strategy to our business partners and got some great advice. We were the first division in the whole company to have such a team and were taking the lead exploring this discipline for, not only the global Diabetes unit, but for all other business units within Medtronic.

Our team was new, proving ourselves, and tasked on other large website-related projects at the same time. We met with stakeholders across the company to gain input on where the urgent needs were and where they saw the greatest opportunities. Adding to this, we were often communicating with our business partners in other regions across time zones. This didn’t give us much time to brainstorm as a team.

We were managing our action items and deliverables by hand- essentially with shared documents, meeting notes and powerpoint decks. We had several Excel files that we updated to keep track of our content ideas and progress. We would instant message and email updates. New ideas would come up and ideally we would talk about them in our weekly content team meetings and then they would be entered and followed on the tracker. I think many large companies still run content development this way though it is really inefficient, creates duplicate work, and information can get lost.

We knew we needed to nail down our process before we started involving authors from across the company. And we had a big need for instant access to answer questions from management around the status of different projects. Being able to easily see contributor notes, date stamps, content and revisions quickly would allow us to report up and show progress. The content we were creating wasn’t as technical as a clinical paper, but we were certainly aiming to create content intended to add value for physicians, scientists, engineers, investors and patients. The type of content we were creating were articles like a new partnership for manufacturing in China or the launch of new glucose sensors for type 2 diabetes. To get it right we could easily have up to 5 collaborators on a single article.

The process was working fine, but to scale this process would be difficult and there was regulatory risk of important revisions not being recorded. I defined our needs as:

  • Maintain a central repository of content ideas and drafts
  • Be able to hand projects off to collaborators, auto notify when their help was needed
  • Customize a workflow, track status of projects, assign delivery dates
  • Easily report project status/deadlines to management
  • Invite reviewers to make revisions, while allowing the content owner to see revisions, roll back or reply to revisions
  • Allow any team member to submit content ideas, create an outline and seek approval to proceed
  • Define stakeholders for each piece of content

I found some great solutions to our project management challenges. But one stood out after tinkering with it for a few weeks.

GatherContent

“From draft to approval: Streamline your web content production process.”

GatherContent offered a short free trial so we were easily able to see how this software would work for our team. Their product clearly would allow us to manage content in one place, create clear production timelines and responsibilities, tightly control markups, and automatically send due date reminder notifications. GC also had features we didn’t know we needed but loved. The tool allowed us to create a cover page for each piece of content summarizing what we wanted to accomplish with this piece. This would give all collaborators insight into what our core messages and goals were with the content. It would explain why we made the choices we made with each proof point so that others would not re-write or overwrite what needed to be there. For our work we wanted each piece of content to ladder up to our company’s tenants such as “meaningful innovation” so we created a field on the cover page for this. I thought the calendar functionality was exciting with drag and drop for deadline changes. It wasn’t something we necessarily needed because we couldn’t publish this out to non-users (like upper management). Our greatest unmet need was a way to report high level status of all projects to someone who wasn’t a user in the system.

GatherContent Article

The below graphic shows some snapshots of the product (L to R) what projects are active, who’s assigned, and the color box is the status. The second graphic shows the custom workflow and clearly where this piece sits. And last, this is an article detail page where you enter in your headline (and alternate headline options) and the rest of the content/copy and graphics.

GatherContent Overview

But I have some bad news. Not all teams are ready to adopt new processes and our environment was already fully-loaded with processes. We were asking colleagues to contribute content and assist with reviews on top of their existing roles. While the cost of the software wasn’t a big hurdle, we couldn’t get much support from colleagues to adopt the new process. We were really excited about GatherContent but in a large corporate environment, and with teams already slammed with process, we weren’t able to proceed with GatherContent. It was disappointing and we had to find other ways to streamline our work.

Creating a Content Development Strategy for a Global Brand

As a senior digital marketing expert at Medtronic Diabetes I was drafted to a new team within the organization focused on developing thought leadership content to attract the audiences we knew we wanted to address (physicians, scientists, engineers, investors, global experts, etc). Up until this point I was working with a team to attract potential customers (the users of insulin pumps) and win back previous customers. So this was a new venture with an entirely new mindset.

It has become pretty obvious that the role of digital advertising has been changing and decreasing in effectiveness as consumers develop banner blindness, ad blocking technologies become easier to install in your browser and more money is piling into online from offline. Content Marketing has become more critical as a way to introduce yourself to your customer months before they know they might be your customer. But it takes a well honed strategy, a detailed understanding of your brand voice and customer personas, a plan for lead nurturing, content development experts, and tools to provide analytics.

With the goal to establish an authentic environment that creates value for our global partners and customers we defined our content goals as:

  • Infuse our Diabetes Group vision into content
  • Convey our inspiration- why we do what we do
  • Look for opportunities to contribute and add value to our stakeholders
  • Take advantage of rare, timely, and critical events, highlighting our value
  • Create from a global perspective

We certainly had our challenges. We were concerned about gaining executive commitment for monthly content. We were only a team of 3 and wanted to recruit author/experts from across the company, but would that leave us vulnerable to employee poaching? And, of course, we have significant regulatory oversight and were not able to talk about product development, our competitive advantages or product-specific information without providing pages of disclaimer and safety copy. Our workflow consisted of an online marketing communications approval system that routed projects through no less than 4 reviewers, usually 8 were required, and took a minimum of 2 weeks.

Loving challenges as I do, and knowing we needed tools to help us, I began to research SAAS products in this area. I identified our need as:

  • Find a more efficient way to collaborate and report on ideas for content development
  • Allow several people to review outlines, copy, images, and video for proposed content ideas
  • Make the best use of our small team to guide and direct authors in producing content
  • Create 4-6 solid, new pieces of content each month
  • Create from a global perspective so that content created in the US could be extended to our marketing teams in the other regions.

There is a sea of content development applications that allow brands to create, source, syndicate, publish, and measure performance of content. As you can see in the graphic below, there’s a tool for practically everything. If you don’t identify what your specific needs and priorities are, you could easily go down a rabbit hole.

I reviewed tools to help create content assets, platforms where you can publish assignments and find authors, collaboration tools allowing you to team think and edit, and so much more. In my next posts I will review some of the the tools I found, which ones I found valuable and the outcome.

Thanks for reading!

Stunning Creative Mercedes-Benz “Left Brain Right Brain” Ads

It’s very rare that something as common as advertising affects us on an aesthetic and emotional level. For me it’s usually the new car ads that I find even more underwhelming- the shiny sports car, and either an empty curved road or a gorgeous woman holding a martini. This category tends to be literal to a fault. The advertising team behind these brilliant examples is Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive Tel Aviv (Chief Creative Director: Gideon Amichay). There are three, double page spreads, that show that Mercedes-Benz is willing to take risks and that, at their core, they are innovators. From the colors, to the original artwork to the copy- the ads deliver a sense of the brand that is evolving, luxurious, intelligent, artistic, scientific and a leader.

From adsoftheworld.com

From adsoftheworld.com

“I am the left brain. I am a scientist. A mathematician. I love the familiar. I categorize. I am accurate. Linear. Analytical. Strategic. I am practical. Always in control. A master of words and language. Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers. I am order. I am logic. I know exactly who I am.”

mercedes_01_l

From adsoftheworld.com

“I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feat. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.”

mercedes_02_l

From adsoftheworld.com

Thank you to MB and Y&R Israel for breaking boundaries and using stunning visuals, unique concepts, and flawless execution to speak to us in an inspiring and intelligent way. I would be proud to hang these on my walls at the office or at home. These would be perfect over my bed since it perfectly defines my husband (who sleeps left and is left brained) and myself (right and right). Now, where can I find extremely high-res files!

I could bet that it’s not the same creative genius behind the agency’s own blog design. I hope it’s because they lock their A team in a room and only let them work on client projects.

Y&R Israel Blog 4/22/2013

Y&R Israel Blog 4/22/2013

SEO Isn’t Easy- Oh Wait…

SEO is a very valuable discipline in Internet Marketing, helping customers find your site, and only costs you the resources you put to work on it. Most marketers agree that SEO is a discipline that takes constant attention and staying current with technical issues that change daily.

Nope, SEO isn’t getting easier, but at least managing your personal brand online is becoming more accessible to the non-technical. If you’ve ever Googled yourself and seen a mix of your info, other people’s info and really random things, fixing this is now mapped out for you at BrandYourself.com. You don’t have to know much about SEO to improve the ranking of your name in search results- just a lot of clicking, cutting/pasting, and some writing.

Marketers know that SEO is worth it’s weight in gold- actually in sweat. The more effort you put into it, the more it will reward you with higher standings in the results and, following that, quality traffic to your pages. The team at BrandYourself.com has created a free, step-by-step process for associating your name with pages that have positive information about you. You help the tool link to the important sites, press releases, accounts you manage- and you tell it which ones are not you (even though you may share the same name).

How BrandYourself.com helps is by linking all of your social media accounts and 3 important content links to your BrandYourself.com profile page. Rich with keywords from your Bio, links to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles, BY is serving up a delicious plate of quality information about you on a search-engine friendly page. Taking it a step further, they walk you through ways to ‘boost’ the ranking of your social media profiles with tips like adding a picture, adding a link, or using your whole name in your profile.

If you’re a social media lover and you have digg, delicious, tumblr, blogger, wordpress (etc) accounts, you will be able to connect those as well.

It takes anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks for the search engine spiders to come out and crawl your pages again and populate the data into the results pages but BrandYourself.com has a tracking system in place to prove that their tools work. I can’t wait to see what happens with mine!

Here’s my BrandYourself profile:
http://suzanneappel.brandyourself.com/

Suzanne Appel

(This review is my personal opinion. I don’t know the folks at BrandYourself.com, nor have they given me anything to induce my review. FYI)

Imagistic Grantastic Awards 2012

Imagistic, an innovator in technology and marketing services, is taking holiday giving to a new high. The company, located in Westlake Village, CA, has expertise in business technology strategy, technology forensics, RFP/RFQ/RFI consultation, internet and custom software development, content strategy, project management, design, and information architecture. They have designed and built some fantastic projects for Hollywood.com, CarsDirect and Network for Good.

Until last year, they did like most agencies do and sent holiday gifts to clients to thank them for their business. Being on the client side I have received these gifts too and love it when I get something really creative and useful. From reading my blog you my might foresee that I love the idea of giving to charity in lieu of tangible presents. And that’s exactly what Imagistic has done.

Imagistic has created a grant worth $20k in consulting services and will award the prize by selecting from the best applications. I’m honored to be a judge for 2012 and to help to select the project that will contribute the most impact toward bettering our planet.

From the Imagistic website: Grantastic from Imagistic

We would bang our heads trying to think of cool and innovative holiday presents to send to our clients and partners. We’d done it all – Mugs, Red Staplers, Canvas Bags, Feel Good Bundles (tea, incense and organic goodies) – you name it, we’d sent it.

So last year we decided that we were finally going to do something different. Rather than sending a cool tsotchke (one that will most likely end up in a landfill), we decided it was time to give away something with value – something that gives and keeps giving. We realized the idea was right in front of us. Why not give “ourselves” away?

So we decided to offer a grant of our services to one company or organization that doing something to better our planet. Isn’t that fantastic? We think so – in fact. we think it’s Grantastic!

I’m so impressed with the generosity of this agency and their clients who share this value and forgo their luxurious gifts in order to contribute to the winning cause. Applications have been submitted and are ready for the 2012 judging. By the end of March the winning project will be awarded $20k in technology and business services, the results of which will benefit the world for years to come.

Happiness at Work – Who’s Responsible?

It’s human nature to want to be part of something important and to feel relevant and uniquely needed. After years in our careers those desires get sanded down a bit and replaced by confidence, armour and some healthy reality.

In an economy like this, where we have an employers market, there’s less focus on retaining employees, career development, team building, and succession planning… though we’ve seen reports that employee happiness contributes ROI. Well, except for the Digital space.

I ran across this shining example of a new company who is committed to its mission and has created an environment that cannot help but attract committed, high-achieving, positive people.

HealthTap.com, Palo Alto, CA

Sure, they have job descriptions to describe the skills they are looking for, but they also have illustrated clearly WHO they are looking for:

You’re passionate about what you do: Being passionate about everything we do – from coding to creative design to building our physician community – ensures we’re always at our best.

You have a change-the-world-attitude: Everyone likes to talk about changing the world, but we’ve got the special kind of excitement, capability, and dedication to make it happen.

You want to build a great company with us: It’s a lot more exciting to be the one who shapes and builds a truly great company where people love to work than to just hear people talk about how they did it later.

You are adventurous: It’s about the journey, and not just the destination. It’s important to take risks with a fearless spirit, and to embrace successes and failures in the spirit of learning.

And let’s not forget the silly pictures of everyone in casual attire with dogs and babies in the office. In the Bay Area where the market is reversed, where it’s a employees market, and talent jumps from place to place, it’s a completely different paradigm. This company is about the people, about helping people and about passion. But if they have constant role changes, managers who don’t gain consensus, or excessive stress this passion isn’t a guarantee for a happy staff.

It doesn’t come down to money. Research shows that sales, productivity, and accuracy increase when the team is happy. Where is the real stumbling block?

  • Companies still think it costs too much money to make employees happy?
  • They don’t feel responsible for employees happiness?
  • It’s too much effort to implement or measure?
  • They don’t know HOW to make employees happy?
  • Companies think employees should find ways to be happy

I believe it’s the last two. What creates happy employees is not free food or holiday bonuses. Employee engagement is not tangible and takes really understanding the culture you have created and how that culture changes from year to year. The company can only create the environment, the flavor is added by the staff.

Ultimately, in life and in work, we are all responsible for making the most of our lives and work, for our happiness, continued training and succession planning. When you rely on yourself, you make it happen. Discover what you need at work to make you happy. You be the difference.

President’s Day 2012: Who’s Your Fav?

Someone asked me who my favorite President is. It didn’t take me long to answer. I love JFK because of all he did for Civil Rights. JFK believed in his core that the freedom our forefathers imagined should include equality for all citizens, even ones that our forefathers didn’t give rights to. JFK knew that this was his challenge to face and that it was critical that he succeed. He made great gains in registering African American voters, appointing African American’s to leadership positions, desegregating the schools and public places and eliminating discrimination in housing. He did this regardless of the anger, strong-arming and danger that accompanied this mission.

During Kennedy’s Inaugural address on January 20, 1961, he said, “All this will not be finished in the first hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first thousand days, nor in the lifetime of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”

He wasn’t about the first 100 days and picking low hanging fruit to prove delivery on campaign promises. He wasn’t about posturing.

I started thinking about the similarities between what JFK and Obama faced in their terms. Why was JFK so successful and Obama, not so much? Is it the whole bi-partisan problem?

– JFK helped us stay out of nuclear war with Soviets
– Advanced anti-discrimination laws
– Helped recover from stock market crash of 1962 & drastic unemployment rates

So what’s your opinion on who did it better and why?

Read a poem I wrote about JFK from college!

Remembering Howard Goldberg, Qantas

When I think of Howard I think of him more as a friend or family. But he was also my previous boss at Qantas Airways and my mentor. While I was trying to connect with my feelings over his recent passing I started sifting through old files. I ran across a document I wrote nominating Howard for an eXcel Award- a Qantas internal recognition award. I don’t think Howard ever knew I submitted this for him. Politically, I knew it was a long shot so I just didn’t mention it.

Here is that letter circa 2005:

I have had the opportunity to work with many powerful and entrepreneurial managers before and thrive well working with visionaries. But above all other Presidents, Vice Presidents, and CEOs I have followed, Howard Goldberg manages with the most important leadership characteristics.

Customer and Company Loyal: Howard runs the sales and marketing department with the mission of improving our relationships with our partners and customers. He finds ways to reduce strain and barriers that would otherwise hinder our partners’ success. Every contract and project created or overseen by him assures that the company’s best interest is first and foremost. Howard leads by example and it is very easy to see his loyalty to Qantas and his genuine love of his staff, the product and the potential for growth in N. America.

Challenges the staff: Howard doesn’t have to create superficial expectations and milestones for his staff. In his own way of showing his motivation and eagerness to succeed, Howard challenges his employees to achieve increased results and improve our region’s earning potential. He leads through encouragement when he focuses more on what we are doing right than on what we are doing wrong. Consequently, we are all motivated to keep improving and optimize our methods for the good of the company. Personally, Howard takes the time to meet with me and discuss my strengths and foster my career.

Chief Fireman: In the course of every project, problems arise. Howard has a unique ability to not only listen but to also advise the best ways to solve problems. No matter how busy he can get, he always makes time for face-to-face meetings to help us straighten out our business issues. It takes a lot of energy to juggle all the projects and personalities in Sales and Marketing but Howard has proven incredibly adept at being a chief fireman and leading us to find ways to prevent future outbreaks.

Respects Me: Howard lets me do my job the way I know it needs to be done. If I find myself in conflict with a colleague, vendor or policy, I can always ask Howard for advice. No one likes to be micro-managed. By allowing me the latitude to do my job and set my own course, he is actually gaining productivity from me. I feel more invested in my position and work to achieve my personal best with goals that are set very high. The best bosses manage by being very clear about what’s important and what are critical success components of a job or project.

Howard encourages us to stretch and take risks. Taking risks is essential to the field of online marketing. There is nothing ‘tried and true’ for this new and evolving form of marketing. It is only by trying new strategies and media partners that we can test and measure for future success. Great leaders encourage employees to make mistakes (small ones). Even more important, they treat those mistakes as learning opportunities.

Howard recognizes our strengths and thinks of his employees as individuals. He is very supportive and effective at nudging me toward the goals I have set for myself. He praises my work when I am heading in the right direction and is available with helpful advice when I go off the path. He celebrates my success, which makes me more motivated to exceed previous performance.

Has a sense of humor: One of Howard’s most endearing qualities is that, a long time ago, he learned that having a sense of humor is an important survival skill. It is with this optimistic and funny outlook that he guides us through budget cuts and swings in bureaucracy and helps his team weather many situations.

Shares information: In a company that receives directives from head office, it would be easy to feel lost or disconnected from the company’s mission. Howard makes it a priority to continuously communicate pertinent information and elicit our responses and feedback.

Howard comes to work everyday with a refreshing outlook and genuine goal to help Qantas grow revenue and create lasting relationships. He always tries to make customers happy and present Qantas in the most favorable light. It is with great enthusiasm and pride that he leads his team.

Howard has the unwavering respect and admiration of his staff because he has earned it. It does not take 5 years working with him to see that he is a man of his word. Truly most of us hold Howard in such high regard that we follow his decisions and advice and are eager to make his team a success. He is a model boss and a major contributor to the success of Qantas North America. He is an amazing, caring boss who I personally and professionally respect and recommend for an eXcel award.