Monday, September 26, 2011

Affinity case study: Brand affinity from teenager to titan

Today we look at Lee Einsidler, philanthropist and CEO of Sidney Frank Importing Company, Inc., a company associated with some of the biggest brands in its industry. I had the privilege of interviewing Einsidler this summer for a magazine and online article. It was fascinating to hear how his affinity for a particular brand that emerged while he was a teenager later developed into an amazing career built on building brand affinity.

One of seven children, Einsidler was a teenager growing up in Long Island in a family of modest means; his father put bread on the table running a liquor store. Working there during his teens, Einsidler got to know the sales representatives coming in, each brand of bottled beverage, and the company image behind it. So it’s little surprise he would continue in the family business. But as a teenager, Einsidler’s vision was bigger than operating a small family-run store. He wanted to work for Seagram’s, which was the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world.

While Einsidler believed in his heart that he had a head for business, his high-school teacher was telling him he’d never amount to anything. So, in spite of his teacher’s judgment, he decided to take a few community college classes in sales and marketing, and then a few more, until he completed a full year of credits. Then, buoyed by that experience, he eventually went on to earn a bachelor’s degree with honors in 1978. He then used one of his father’s contacts to secure an interview at Seagram’s headquarters in New York and landed a job there. He fulfilled his teenage dream; however, no one could anticipate what the future would hold for him.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Building affinity via conversation: 'Rapport Talk' and 'Affinity and Beyond'

In my blog post titled "'What is affinity?': Networking event brings affinity to light" I capture a conversation describing how one can identify an affinity. Related to that is a post by Dr. Jeremy Sherman that I recently came across that outlines what he describes as conversation that is 'Shoptalk' vs 'Affinity and Beyond.'

Dr. Sherman provides detailed analysis, along with example conversations, in his Ambigamy blog post titled "The affinity paradox: How does eye-to-eye become eye-for-an-eye in casual conversation?" Dr. Sherman's 'Shoptalk' conversation involves comparing experiences without the need for agreement; however, 'Affinity and Beyond' conversation develops deeper bonds as there is an exchange of information involving shared goals and common vision as if on a journey together.

Reading Dr. Sherman's blog I was reminded of a fascinating book I read years ago by sociolinguist Dr. Deborah Tannen regarding gender differences in conversations, including what she categorizes as 'Report Talk' vs. 'Rapport Talk.' Dr. Tannen's book You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation describes how 'Report Talk' conversation is generally used by men to convey information and establish status, while 'Rapport Talk' conversation is generally used by women to convey information and build connection.

Over the years, Tannen's book has made a world of difference to me in improving the effectiveness of my personal and professional conversation among predominately male affinity groups and predominately female affinity groups, and her book's content continues to remain relevant today. Sherman's blog adds another level of insight into what we may instinctively feel as being 'on the inside' or 'on the outside' following a verbal exchange, and the conversation queues that lead to that feeling.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Employee affinity groups can help diversify workplace

While affinity groups form naturally in the work environment, a March 2009 article by Carmen Van Kerckhove explains how employee affinity groups can be aligned around an affinity for diversifying workplaces and charged with helping achieve business goals related to diversity.

Although Van Kerckhove has since moved on to other projects, as explained in her May 2010 farewell post on the blog she founded, continues and Van Kerckhove's article, titled "How Employee Affinity Groups Can Help You Recruit and Retain a Diverse Workforce," is worth a read. The full article is reprinted below.
How Employee Affinity Groups Can Help You Recruit and Retain a Diverse Workforce
By Carmen Van Kerckhove

It isn't surprising that employee affinity groups are a popular diversity tactic. They are easy to set up and inexpensive to run. And when they work well, they can help companies recruit and retain top diverse talent.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Affinity email: Affinity group needs and email services

Technology makes it easier than ever and at the same time complex to communicate with affinity groups. Your affinity contacts are growing increasingly educated and sophisticated and have developed expectations about their user experience as recipients of email messages and email newsletters. With high expectations and spam regulations, just one slip can obliterate a relationship.

When it comes to affinity email, what is the best email service provider for delivering messages and newsletters? Ideally, many community managers would say it is the service that matches the needs, interests, and technology level of a particular affinity group. However, from ongoing technology changes to evolving needs of affinity groups, the choice can be a moving target. Additionally, identifying, researching, and keeping up to date with the various email service providers can be time-consuming or costly. Email options may also be limited by budget, skill and comfort levels with technology, institutional policies, a one-size-fits-all approach by decision-makers, or other factors.

Thanks to Pamela Grow, I discovered Groundwire's 2011 Email Service Providers report that reviews a number of email providers that any individual, organization, or business may find helpful. However, it omits a provider that I've been test driving with one affinity group over the last two weeks. So, to add to that report data, this blog post includes my review of AWeber Communications email services.