About Suzanne Appel

Over 15 years working in Internet Marketing on the client and agency sides creating strategies and managing advertising campaigns, budgets, forecasting leads/sales, website and application development, creative/brand design, promotions and analytics. I have a lot of passion for what I do and am best at working across Internet Marketing disciplines to lead and integrate the company’s multichannel online initiatives. I approach my work with a consulting eye to identify the key success measures and then create strategies to help us arrive there. I'm able to sift through large volumes of information to find the main thesis and direction needed to develop actionable plans. In my role at WellPoint (Anthem), a Fortune 30 company, I oversee several large initiatives developing marketing plans and designing campaigns with a specific focus on lead generation and sales acquisition through online channels. Previously I was leading the online marketing and e-commerce efforts for Qantas Airways North America. Specialties B2B and B2C online marketing, aquisition campaigns, direct marketing, online advertising, promotions, ROI marketing, email, website development, online product launches, campaign planning, loyalty programs, sweepstakes, e-commerce, being busy.

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.

Building On Your Strengths

My eyes have been opened. (Dramatic, huh?) I have always believed that I was an introspective person, old enough to know who I am and young enough to know who I want to be. The difference between last week (above) and this week is that I can put my finger exactly on my top 5 strengths.

If you haven’t taken the Strengths Finder 2.0 online test, stop reading this, go to Amazon, purchase the book (which has a unique code allowing you to take the online test). My Marketing department did this as an exercise and over 90% of the team agreed the results were shockingly accurate. What an experiment too! We had many core strengths in common- achievers, analytics, ideation, futuristic- but we also had some interesting outliers like woo, fairness and consistent.

The premise of strength-based research is that success can only be achieved by improving and operating from our strengths. To that end, we cannot become accomplished by trying to improve our weaknesses. It’s a common behavior to say, I’m horrible at xxx, so I’m going to take classes to fix it. The book argues that you can only become competent this way, but not excel. Managers who only focus on weaknesses, like parents, are only creating more problems. By focusing on our strengths we become happier, more engaged and our creativity shines.

See what you think. Open your eyes.

Book description from Amazon:Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? Chances are, you don’t. All too often, our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths.

To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in 2001 which ignited a global conversation and helped millions to discover their top five talents.

In its latest national bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more (see below for details). While you can read this book in one sitting, you’ll use it as a reference for decades.

Reinventing a Company Toy Drive with Social Media

Learnings from my latest cause marketing program at WellPoint December 2011

I’m very proud of the success and fun we had with our WellPoint holiday toy drive providing happiness to the families at the RAIN center in Camarillo, Ca. This was the first year we used social media for our internal Blue Crew programs. I designed the social media strategy using Yammer to seed our message to company employees. Using an Amazon Wish List helped make the wishes more real and provided reporting and tracking on the gifts that were received or needed.

Outreach was driven through Yammer (facebook for companies) where we created a new group for the Blue Crew and enlisted our colleagues to join and spread the word about the online forum. Building this group created an opt-in audience for our future campaigns too. Employees who provided toys or furthered our cause were awarded badges and called out on the news feed. Every day we would highlight a special wish reminding everyone how little it costs to make a difference. And with the Amazon wish list we eliminated the hassle of shipping so all employees from New York to San Diego could participate- and heavier toys (like a skateboard for Angela that came from a colleague in Maine) were not left out.

The program also acted as a Yammer sign up campaign though I don’t have the stats on that. Because the conversations we hosted were engaging and viral, we saw daily new sign-ups to the Yammer site that had been online for over a year.

Our Intranet editor posted this out to the company:

The Blue Crew had another great success with its holiday toy drive for RAIN transitional living facility located in Camarillo, California. WellPoint associates from across the country heard about the toy drive and donated 64 gifts for the children and families, far exceeding the wish list of 27 items. Many thanks go to Vicki Karayan, Marketing Coordinator, Sr. who organized the drive while Suzanne Appel, Internet Marketing Manager, drove internal awareness for the drive. “Day by day the Amazon boxes arrived and we saw the kids’ wish list fill up. It was so exciting to feel that kind of generosity from these amazing WellPoint Associates,” said Suzanne. RAIN supports families in our community trying to get back on their feet in this tough economy. Way to go!!

Amazon Wish List for Rain

RAIN supports families in our community trying to get back on their feet with in this tough economy. The RAIN Transitional Living Center has provided housing and services to families and single adults in Ventura County, California, to help with the transition from homelessness to permanent housing. You can learn more about them at http://www.raincommunities.org

Learnings:

  • Make it easy to donate, and make it real to know where the money is going
  • By removing the shipping issues we were able to make great gains on a short 2 week campaign at the holiday time
  • Technology isn’t for everyone so make sure to provide tips for people who prefer offline channels
  • Creating a universal, up-to-date wish list allows you to see your progress daily, add to the inventory, make adjustments as the prices change and delete items when someone notifies you they bought an item offline
  • Having the audience is critical, having the right message will help you grow that audience
  • When you love what you’re doing you’ll thrive to innovate

5 things a Facebook addict should do before giving birth

Life on the maternity ward has definitely changed since Facebook. Ever notice how you can spend hours on FB and look up and it’s midnight? That same bliss is ever-useful to distract you from contractions too. Since you’re about to be a new Mom (or Dad) and you’ll probably be in radio silence for at least a couple days to six months, Zuckerberg has perfect timing.

So before the big “ahhhh” moment, here are some things you Facebook addicts might want to do:

1. Expand your network- make sure all your friends, family and anyone who might miss you over the next few years know you are about to be sucked into parenthood. Getting them all on Facebook makes maintaining all these relationships easy. This also means your parents, uncles, aunts and people who claim, “Oh I’m too old for that”. Lure them with baby pictures to be posted on FB only! You’re about to go into a new-baby cocoon where you barely have time to eat and shower- if they want to hear from you they need to get on board with Facebook.

2. Send last minute status updates so everyone knows where you are and when this is likely to go down. Important: Be sure to let everyone know that your hubby will call them or send a status update when it’s a good time to visit. I recommend you mention you will ‘schedule visits’. It’s pretty hard to be a new mom, get used to nursing, doctor/nurse visits and juggle 3 sets of relatives in a small hospital room when baby is fussy. Use a schedule to set time with visitors and give yourself blocks of time for naps and rest.

3. Download Facebook to your smartphone. That way when your darling baby is born you can upload their picture straight to FB for all your family and friends to see. No mess, no fuss. Having FB on your phone will also be great as you’re walking the halls of the delivery floor trying to get through early contractions. Remember that distraction breathing exercise from birthing class? Viewing your friend’s adorable baby photos from their albums might just do the same thing.

4. Have all your friends suggest a calming song to add to your birthing playlist.

5. And last, don’t second guess the baby names you have picked out. But if you’ve procrastinated or changed your minds, check out the GoodToKnow Baby Names Generator or Baby Names Finder from PajamaBaby.com.

Good luck Mom and Dad!

Safe Baby Products

I’m about to have a baby and enter the world of motherhood. The protective instincts are kicking in and I’m nesting my little heart out. I want the best for this little girl so I started changing the products we use at home for cleaning and my own shampoos, lotions, and deodorant. When I’m snuggling with my baby I want to give her every advantage for a healthy life. (Well, and eczema runs in my family)

And then my eyes were opened. If you’re an ‘ignorance is bliss’ kind of person, maybe you should stop reading now. I hate to ring any alarm bells or send other pregnant women into a tailspin. But here it goes:

You know that lotion you use, the shampoo, the laundry detergent- yep, they probably cause Cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues or are bad for the environment.

I wouldn’t state a problem without also giving you the solution- Cosmetics Database. Search for your current products by brand or category and EWG (the organization who created site) will show you the ingredients, what concerns they are linked to from scientific studies and then, brilliance, they rate the concern level so that you can determine how pure you want to be. A score of 0 is best, for me, over a 2 seemed unnecessary. When there are great products available with quality, clean ingredients, and the prices are only a bit higher, that’s one decision that is easy to make.

Examples:

Johnsons No More Tears Baby Bubble Bath and Wash- rates a 6/10, Health Concern: MODERATE, the red flags on this were related to allergies & immunotoxicity.

Banana Boat Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50 scored a 7/10! HIGH concerns: Developmental & reproductive toxicity, Endocrine disruption, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Contamination concerns, Biochemical or cellular level changes; Other MODERATE concerns: Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

This is not OK.

    If these are the ingredients they put in the baby products… why are they considered baby-friendly at all?
    California Baby
    There are some things I didn’t give up, and some things I gave up entirely (like fabric softener sheets)(poison).So what treasures did I find? Some fabulous brands like Weleda, Alba, JASON, California Baby and Avalon. You can price shop them online. But, if you feel immediately compelled- Target is starting to carry some of these more organic, natural brands in their beauty section, health food stores like Whole Foods stock them and try The Vitamin Shoppe. As a general guideline, the fragrance is commonly the problem. If you have a choice between two products, it’s likely the unscented is the healthiest.

    Please consider donating to the EWG to keep this database up to date and a tremendous resource for all.

Langa Township, South Africa 1994

The People of Langa Township

At the entrance we were greeted by drying sheep’s heads and the routine of shearing wool. Cows roamed freely with the hens in trash piles near the main roads through Langa.

Throughout the day there were uneasy warnings from the streets, a sour look while passing a shop, a scream of pain from somewhere off, signs posted saying, “One settler, one bullet.” And though I was not, and my people were not, of the Dutch decent that conquered South Africa 350 years ago, I felt a danger for having the features of them.

Thick metal shipping containers in the hot South African sun sound more like ovens than shelter. These corrugated, window-less shoe boxes serve as schools for the children of Langa, though walking in them with bare feet could leave you with blisters.

This is Langa Township and just a few of the friendly faces and warm hearts that greeted us with curiosity and laughed at these odd visitors from America. More than a town, this place was more about kinship. The children played freely amongst the housing as they did in the thick dry grass lots. And even though Langa had hundreds of houses and many different families, there was a feeling of community child rearing and a strong sense of communal support.

Escorted by ANC (African National Congress) members, I wandered in and out of streets, was welcomed to share the shade of the tin shack homes and was handed children to bounce in my arms.

But our visit was merely a distraction on a momentus day. Filled with a sudden energy and anticpation, the town prepared for a special visitor.

This afternoon they would welcome Nelson Mandela and hear his views on the past and the future. They would hear him speak about ending apartheid and an election that will never be forgotten.

“The Suit” must have shown me his Sunday best four times before I realized what he was trying to communicate. His pride lights up his face and his laugh could be heard like a confident chuckle down the street. He wanted his picture taken and I was honored to do that.