Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Cut for Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2007 alone, there were over 1.4 million new cases of cancer reported and nearly 600,000 deaths related to cancer. Those numbers are staggering.

The truth is though, that it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t been touched by the disease. In 2001, I was diagnosed with Basal cell skin carcinoma which appeared as an irregular mole on my torso and needed to be surgically removed three times before I was clear of it.

My mother, who was diagnosed with encapsulated carcinoma, is a breast cancer survivor and my father, who was ill with a number of conditions before his death in 2006 was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Over the years, I’ve also lost two friends to cancer, Jean and Paul, and my friend Beth lost her mother to breast cancer over ten years ago. It’s everywhere.

Although I can and have financially contributed to cancer research such as the American Cancer Society and more recently the Stand Up For Cancer campaign, I wanted to do something more personal to support those whose life has been impacted by the disease.

For me, that came in the form of a very personal type of donation – my hair. Donations of hair can be used to make wigs for cancer survivors who lost their own hair through chemo therapy. I call my project of growing and donating my own hair “A Cut for Cancer”. There are several places to send hair donations and each has their own guidelines for how it needs to be donated, so if you’re interested in donating you’ll want to check out the links below to see which program is right for you.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Locks of Love

Wigs for Kids

In the end, I chose Pantene, after seeing actress and celebrity Hilary Swank appear on Oprah to donate her own tresses to the Beautiful Lengths campaign. Her encouragement to have others do the same was inspiring. Even though I don’t have the same high-profile exposure as Hillary or Oprah, I encourage everyone to consider growing and donating their hair so that cancer survivors needing wigs can experience your generosity first hand.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Marketing to Generation Y

As a marketer, it’s my job to know how to reach a number of different audiences and industries: B2B, B2C, manufacturing, high-tech, professional services. Each audience is unique but many times they share some similar traits across industries and age groups.

One consumer group however, is separating itself with an increasingly expressive and influential impact on the economy. They are “Generation Y” and they are catching the attention of businesses and marketers alike who are eager to tap into the largest generational consumer group since the Baby Boomers.

In August I was asked to share my perspective on how to reach this new generation of consumers at a Southern New Hampshire University breakfast forum. It was Part 2 of a 3-part Business Indicator Series for alumni of the University who now hold executive and C-level positions in the community. Additional Southern New Hampshire University alumni panelists included Mike Dennehy, political strategist and president of Dennehy Bouley, Ray Garon, president and GM for Manchester Radio Group (WZID, WFEA and The Mill) and Paul Gertin, Regional Sales Manager USPS.

The forum, “Gen Y” – The Evolution of Consumer Behavior, gave attendees a brief overview of who “Gen Y” represents, what they’re like, how they communicate and how they influence our business and consumer markets today.

Also know as Echo Boomers, (kids of Baby Boomers), Millennials, Gen, or the Net generation, this group is computer savvy, uses portable communication (cell phones, text messaging), and is technology forward. They know more than anyone how to find, parse and use the vast amount of available information to their advantage.

They are social, socially conscious, politically active and philanthropic on local and global levels. They thrive in environments where their input makes a difference and are vocal in every aspect of their lives, including consumerism. Demographically, they’re a sizeable force in our economy and are demanding attention.

If you’re interested in learning more, watch the entire “Gen Y” – The Evolution of Consumer Behavior discussion here.