Thursday, November 2, 2017

Marketing 101

What does it mean to market? What is the purpose of marketing? Who is the marketer? 

Some may use the terms marketing and selling synonymously.  However, marketing doesn’t mean to sell products or services to one customer but to sell the vision and the appearance of the company to the general public as a whole.

The purpose of marketing is to show the face and brand identity of the company and paint a vision for the customer so they will know who they’ll be doing business with.  

The marketer is the spokesperson for the company.  Their job is to broadcast the company’s mission, goals, and services to a captive and targeted market of consumers. They do so by living and breathing the company‘s vision and feeling its pulse.  Adaptation is very important to successful marketing and will help anticipate and fulfill customers’ needs as they change. The conception and implementation of new ideas are keys for growth and the marketer must always be searching for unique ways to brand and expand the company. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Three Little Words

Three little words. Together they add up to less than ten little letters. When I was a child, I never heard my parents utter these words, at least not within my hearing. Maybe they were too personal for my Mom and Dad to say to each other while we were listening. But I would have thought they might have said them to me or my siblings, at least once or twice when we needed to hear them most. I knew there were families where these words were exchanged, but I guess I was never around when they were said. I even heard them used in songs and I remember thinking about saying them myself, but lacked the courage.

As an adult, I tried to say them, but found it difficult. Sure, there were times I felt like saying them, but I again felt too vulnerable or emotional to say them aloud. What if someone decided to use them against me? What if I were mistaken, using them to manipulate to get my way, or trying to evoke a similar response in the person I might say them to?  At any rate, I rarely said them.

My children seldom heard these words from me. Again, too vulnerable.  Too personal.  Too embarrassing. Too much for little ears to hear and really understand. What if someone else overheard them? What if they...   what if? I never said them often enough, especially when the kids were young.

As I've grown older, and hopefully more mature, I've realized how much I need to hear those "three little words" from time to time. And I've realized how much I need to speak them out loud to others, particularly those closest to me. They reap the benefits - but, more importantly, so do I.  In a family as large as ours, I have a LOT of occasions to say them. Those "three little words", spoken in honesty and humility, let us know where we stand with each other and give grace to our relationship.  They have the power to cover a multitude of hurts and slights. And they give the person hearing them permission to say those words to me when the time is right. 

Do YOU ever find yourself wanting to say those "three little words?"  Do you ever need to hear them from someone else?  In this age of uncertainty and harshness, maybe now is the time to start.  You can go first, if you like.  Say those words, those vital "three little words," and see what response you get.  Not ready yet?  Okay.  I'll say them first:   

"I was wrong."

Linda Wood Astala
October 17, 2017  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

When I Grow Up......

If you were ever a child – and who among us was not? – you were probably asked by someone, perhaps a teacher or a family member, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I know I was asked this question, and I know I probably asked my own children this question too.   Do you remember your answer(s)?  What did you want to do when you grew up?  And how close was your answer back then to the person you’ve become?

Did you notice the shift there? The question morphed from “What do you want to do?” to “Who do you want to become?”  Regardless of your day job these days - firefighter, nurse, airplane pilot, parent, white-collar manager, table-waiter, teacher, cowboy, surgeon, actor/actress, cashier, antique dealer, engineer, etc. – WHO you ARE has probably become more important to you than WHAT you DO.  That’s a sign of maturity, so if you’re not there yet, hopefully you’re heading that direction.

So, today, as you “sit a spell”, you might want to ponder who you have become as you’ve grown up. You might not be able to make any change in what you DO, but if you’re not satisfied with who you ARE, you can start any time. Trying to make major changes overnight is probably unrealistic and impractical, a set-up for failure. Start with a few small goals and gradually work from there.  Enlist the help of a friend, perhaps a friend who wants to make a few positive changes too. A friend can help you monitor whether your transformation appears to be constructive and sincere. A really good friend will be honest enough to “call you out” if your modifications seem phony or contrived. And a really, really good friend will affirm and reinforce the growth and progress toward your goals in a way that will encourage you and keep you on track.  If you’re successful, chances are you’ll end up enjoying BEING the person you’ve become, even if that person is still DOING the same day job.

~ Linda Wood Astala (9-27-2017)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sitting at Your Best Desk

Many of us spend a lot of our day sitting at a desk. If that's true for you, or maybe has been true for you in the past, I wonder what you were doing while you were sitting? Were you writing? Were you gazing at a computer monitor? Were you "getting organized?" Were you talking on the phone? Were you daydreaming?

Whatever you were doing when you were sitting, it was probably more enjoyable and more productive if you were comfortable.  Your mind is able to function optimally when you're sitting at a functional desk. The proper working height, whether you're sitting or standing, is vital. The amount of storage/drawer space is important. The work surface area, with proper size, cable-wire-management, and correct L-configuration should be both logical and personal.

Ace Office Furniture Houston has a wide selection of used high-end executive office furniture, as well as new traditional and contemporary office desks. We can help you find YOUR best desk, the one that's right for you, so the time you spend sitting at your desk is time well spent. 

Linda Wood Astala (8-13-17)

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Storm Continues ...

"How did you do in the storm?" That question has been asked by us and of us with each and every customer who has walked into Ace Office Furniture.  Only a few - mainly because who has time to shop for office furniture when you've had three feet of water in your business - have said, "We took a real hit. I don't know if we'll ever recover."    Most of the answers have varied from "Oh, we did just great!" to "Well, we had a little water but nothing compared to so many."  At Ace Office Furniture, and in our homes, we were fortunate. We lost no furniture and had only a patch of wet carpet.   We were very fortunate.

The thing we all have in common, regardless of our answer to the question, "How did you do in the storm?" is that most of us are asking, "Why me?"   Ten percent of people in the Houston area may be asking why their property was destroyed, but another ninety percent is asking, "Why was I so lucky to be spared?", experiencing a type of survivor guilt. And regardless of the amount of water we had or didn't have in our homes and business, we ALL have experienced PTSS - Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome /Post Tropical Storm Stress.  We may find ourselves sleeping fitfully or sleeping much more than usual. We may feel kind of paralyzed or, the opposite, feel almost hypervigilant. We may catch ourselves watching the weather reports, particularly now that the East Coast is dealing with Hurricane Irma, with heightened anxiety, empathy for the Floridians that wait to return to their homes and sympathy for those who may have no home to return to.  If we had to evacuate during Harvey, we may freeze each time we hear a siren or helicopter.  If we had to boil your water, we may have difficulty drinking tap water even though it's been declared safe. 

We may wonder if things will ever be normal again in Texas - and in our own lives. So, we need to go easy on ourselves and give ourselves time to heal from the losses we and all of we have experienced, personally or vicariously. We will be normal again, but it will be a NEW normal and we will have learned, if we are fortunate,  some very important things about what's really important.  And I hope we'll continue to ask that question of each other, regardless of the situation:  "How did you do in the storm?"

~ Linda Wood Astala   (9-08-17)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Help Me Help You

Jerry Maguire. I'm not sure why, but today I was thinking about the movie "Jerry Maguire" and some of the famous (or maybe infamous) quotes from Jerry, the sports agent, that have become part of our popular culture.  "Show me the money!" for example. "Help me help you." "You're a paycheck player - you play with your head and not your heart."   "I love you. You complete me."  There are many more, but Jerry's  language is sometimes too colorful for this family-friendly blog.

Here is my favorite:  Jerry is talking to his football-player/client's wife and asks her "How can I make your life better?"  That one stays with me because at Ace Office Furniture Houston, we try to ask that question as often as possible, of each other and of the clients we serve. How can we help the man whose has been downsized from his large company find the right used high-end executive desk for his new consultancy business? How can we help the employee who is assigned the task of furnishing a dozen brand-new office spaces with desks, chairs, credenzas, file cabinets, and accessories?  How can we help the expanding call-center add cubicles to their existing set-up? 

"How can I make your life better?" Each one of our sales staff want to know that before they help you search for furniture, because your answers will help them know where to look. If we forget to ask, please remind us. 

Thoroughly Contemporary Millie? Not So Much

"Thoroughly Contemporary Millie."  That movie title just doesn't roll off the tongue, does it? And maybe that's because using the word "contemporary" as a substitute for "modern" isn't always correct. In terms of design, contemporary refers to a look that is new, fresh, timely, and constantly changing.  By contrast, the word "modern" refers to a period of time, that period of time which the movie, "Thoroughly Modern Millie" featured.  On the other hand, the TV show "Modern Family" would probably be more accurately titled "Contemporary Family."  Likewise, modern dance refers to a style which evolved early in the 20th century that rejected the rigorous structure of classical ballet. In contemporary dance, just about anything goes. Modern art refers to a style and philosophy of an entire era spanning decades and the term usually brings to mind artists such as van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso, to name the most familiar.  Contemporary art is what artists are typically doing now in the early 21st  century.

Theoretically, in the furniture world, including the world of high-end office furniture, modern refers to a style of furniture which became popular in the mid-twentieth century. Furniture that looks like this would still be called "modern." And strictly speaking,  contemporary refers to a style that is new, fresh, different from the era it follows.  It's difficult to define contemporary, but you pretty much know it when you see it. In reality, the world in which we live and work, these terms, modern and contemporary, are often used interchangeably.  And sometimes the styles are mixed.

That gave me something to think about as I sat a spell. In what ways am I modern - identifiable, consigned to a particular era?  In what ways am I contemporary - willing to look at things afresh, adaptable, streamlined?  And in what ways am I classic - structured, traditional, timeless? It seems to me each of us is probably meant to be a combination of all three styles!

The term for that would be "eclectic", but we'll save that style for yet another blog post.