The Villanova Wildcats: Our Melior Group People of the Moment

Last week at this time the streets were buzzing with Wildcat fever. From the moment I stepped out of my house and began the commute to work, I saw students past and present donning their Villanova blue.

It was a sunny, blue sky day with just enough chill in the air to keep you cool and comfortable. A perfect day for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship parade. The Villanova Wildcats brought energy and inspiration to Center City last Friday. Philadelphia has been awaiting sports heroes for much too long; our hopes are regularly dashed, but we keep on hoping!

 

Photo by Tim Keough, taken from the 16th floor of 1515 Market Street: Massive crowds gathered at the end of the parade route at City Hall.

Photo by Tim Keough, taken from the 16th floor of 1515 Market Street: Massive crowds gathered at the end of the parade route at City Hall.

This Villanova Wildcats team helps us believe that we, as a City, can always have hope, with our patience now rewarded with a championship.  That’s why the Villanova Wildcats Basketball Team is more than deserving of our Melior People of the Moment honor. Thanks to them, we all had a reason to celebrate. Whether you went to or are currently going to Villanova or are just thrilled about any Philadelphia sports team, it was a great moment to be a Philadelphian.

 

Editor’s Note:  Our featured image was taken by parade attendee and our resident March Madness fan, Melior President Linda McAleer.

 


For more information or to request a proposal, contact Linda McAleer at lmcaleer@meliorgroup.com or 215-545-0054 x104 or Contact Us.

Personalization

Personalization: Don’t Be Afraid to Actually Talk to Someone

An editorial in the February 19, 2016, Philadelphia Business Journal by Editor-in-Chief, Craig Ey, got me thinking about whether ‘personal service’ is dead and replaced by ‘personalization’.

Mr. Ey, after touting the growth, success and amazing benefits of electronic communication, offered that “person-to-person contact can be a great strategic advantage, particularly at a time when many of your competitors are relying strictly on electronic pitches.  I know they are because that’s how the vast majority of people try to establish or maintain a business relationship with me.”  He further complimented someone who actually called him on a telephone to introduce his company.

For so many of us, ‘business relationship’ is really about ‘relationship’… getting to know each other, thinking about the business issues we deal with, considering whether we can actually help one another in some way.

Being in the business of serving clients with market-based information and marketing research for over 30 years, I’ve been so excited about the advances in electronic communications and the ease and speed of delivery of necessary information.  Email allows us to quickly advise clients, to ask and answer questions at all times of the day, to assure the highest level of responsiveness clients deserve.

I’ve been reading recently about ‘personalization’ and getting confused as to what it means.  I read a review of a study that said that “marketers looking to deliver exceptional customer experience will increasingly turn to personalization as the key driver to maximize customer value… that customers expect that the brands will understand who they are, what their habits are, what they want, etc.”  [A shout-out to Altus Agency, the Marketing Minute; referencing Pegasystems “Predicting Routes to Revenue”]

I was hoping that this meant that organizations and their leaders are actually getting to know their customers and providing solutions based on who they are, what they value, what they think about.  But, I think I might have misunderstood the concept of personalization or maybe I’m a little jaundiced.  How can brands understand us?  Isn’t it the people working at/for “the brand” who have to understand their customers’ wants, needs, interests?  Shouldn’t we be reaching out to and actually meeting these customers and learning more about them?

Electronic communication has given us at The Melior Group a significant and dynamic platform for introducing ideas, getting prospective and current clients to think about things that might matter, identifying trends and the implications of them for business.  It has especially given me access to companies that I believe we can help with our services and those who may not be great fits (with both parties realizing this).  I’ve also met thousands of people on LinkedIn and other social media who are doing amazing things.

But, what we’re missing is the emotional and physical nuances that make for a productive business relationship.  How are people going to know we want to work for them and them us?  Like Mr. Ey, I’m a believer in the handshake, look you in the eye, actually chat, maybe smile (but not necessary) – the “huge advantage” that human conversation and engagement can provide.

In a service business like we have – and even a product-focused business where prospective customers have to choose among many alternatives when purchasing – it is not enough to be able to connect.  It is more about talking and engaging with customers, prospects, donors, colleagues, others with shared interests.  I really believe that people today want to experience the “real you.”  In that way, maybe we can actually “personalize” what we’re offering.

This takes me back to an ad I have long remembered… when I was talking to staff about why it’s not enough to rely on electronic communication… give a look and see how you feel about business relationships.

 

 

 


For more information, please contact Linda McAleer at lmcaleer@meliorgroup.com or 215-545-0054 x104.

Rooster Soup Company

Rooster Soup Owners Named Melior Group People of the Moment

Rooster Soup Company’s Twitter page asks this question, “What if you could help someone who really needed it, just by eating lunch?”

Rooster Soup Company is not just another restaurant opening in Center City.

It’s not just another place to add to your list of go-to lunch spots.

It’s not just another brick and mortar for Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook to add to their already stellar repertoire.

It’s a chance for every person who walks through the door and places an order to feel as though they are helping someone in need.

This month’s Melior People of the Moment are Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. They are the esteemed chefs and restauranteurs behind some favorite Philadelphia spots:  Zahav, Abe Fischer, Dizengoff, Federal Donuts, and Percy Street Barbecue. Rooster Soup Company is their newest venture, where the concept is to turn the unused parts of the whole chickens purchased by Federal Donuts to make chicken stock for a variety of soups to be sold at Rooster Soup Company, in addition to other menu items.

The benefits of this new restaurant are two-fold: perfectly good chicken parts will no longer go to waste and 100% of Rooster Soup Company’s net profits will go towards generating revenue for Philadelphia’s Broad Street Ministry, which provides vulnerable Philadelphians with meals and services such as a mailing address, access to free medical care, personal care items, and clothing.

Cook and Solomonov introduced their partnership with BSM through a Kickstarter campaign back in the summer of 2014 with the goal of raising $150,000 startup capital for Rooster Soup Company. They have since exceeded that amount. The most recent development in this campaign is the announcement of where Rooster Soup Company will live. According to the campaigns Kickstarter site, Rooster will call 1526 Sansom Street home.

In our view from Walnut Street, the hustle and bustle of Center City is palpable. We, The Melior Group, often find ourselves discussing the familiar faces we see every day or the new ones we have not. To say we feel connected to this city and its people would be an understatement. Combine that connection with our love for a new lunch spot and we’re sold. Because, it’s not what Rooster Soup Company is serving per se. It’s knowing you, the customer, is also serving someone else.

 


Author:  Emily Nydick

For more information, please Contact Us.

Michael Nutter selected Melior Person of the Moment

Introducing The Melior Person of the Moment

Taking a cue from Time Magazine’s just-announced Person of the Year, we’ve created the Melior Person of the Moment, a happy nod to individuals who influence our community and the region.

Our inaugural Melior Person of the Moment is none other than the Honorable Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia who ends his term in just a couple of short weeks.

Why is he our Melior Person of the Moment? Here are just some highlights of Mayor Nutter’s tenure in office:

  • Took the helm in 2008 during a national financial crisis that trickled down to the local government sector
  • Implemented Philly 311 to provide residents an easy to use system to obtain information on city services
  • Increased ethical transparency and accountability
  • Introduced several sustainability initiatives – Melior was fortunate to work with the Department of Sustainability on its EnergyWorks program
  • Improved visibility for Philadelphia and the region at a national and global level by encouraging large scale concerts and events to be held in the City (for example, Made in America, DNC 2016, the Pope Francis visit)

Throughout his tenure, we’ve also enjoyed the Mayor’s direct and realistic language to get his point across… often reflecting what the average reasonable person is thinking.

In 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series, Mayor Nutter spoke to the public about behavior. The night of the big win, the celebratory nature of the citizens of and visitors to the City got out of hand and he needed to take control in planning the parade through Center City, telling the public: “You can be joyous, but you can’t be a jackass.”

And, we don’t know any other mayor in the country who semi-regularly performs Rappers’ Delight as Mix Master Mike. [See his performance at Philadelphia’s annual Philly Fourth of July celebration here: http://6abc.com/entertainment/video-mayor-nutters-drop-the-mic-performance-of-rappers-delight/829440/]

In our view from Walnut Street, one thing about his tenure was perfectly clear: his love for Philadelphia and its people. He has shown a deep respect for the community and business leaders. Thank you, Mayor Nutter, for shepherding Philadelphia through some tough economic times, providing a balance of realism and lightheartedness and being the champion that our City needed.


For more information or to request a proposal, contact Linda McAleer at lmcaleer@meliorgroup.com or 215-545-0054 x104 or please Contact Us.

Personalization

To Paraphrase: People Still Need People! Seven Networking Tips for Personal and Business Success

We are all “Linking In” (on the professional side) and “Facebooking” (on the business and personal sides) to connect with old friends and meet new ones. We want people to know us, what we do, what we like and what makes us feel good. We want to show that we like people, have friends, have something to say, do things that entertain, educate and engage us. These social networking experiences also provide distinct and successful ways to introduce our businesses and our ideas, such that people might actually think of our companies or businesses as those they might like to work with or work for.

But, it is a fact that most successful business connections – be it for such reasons as a job search or a new business prospect – come about because we get to know the actual person we might want to work with or for. Getting to meet people, look them in the eye, and talk to them can be intimidating; but it really is necessary because, ultimately, people are buying you… trust in you, what you stand for and what you have to offer.

So, while online networking has proven to be a great tool, in-person networking… the form that includes actually being in the same room with people… is critically important. So, a little advice from a “networking queen”… Before you go to an event where networking will take place, consider the following tips:

1. Determine what your goals are for networking – e.g., meeting new business prospects, making some friends, meeting people who share your interests — and what types of people (or even specific individuals) you might meet there

2. Carefully choose what events/meetings you want to attend, so that the types of people you want to meet and the purpose of the meeting reflects your needs and interests; this may mean attending a few, observing the dynamics, and making decisions about which are right for you

3. Don’t be afraid to reach out while at these events; talk to the people next to you and nearby

4. Be genuine and authentic; we are who we are – it took at least 20 years to get this point, so be yourself

5. Come prepared with open-ended questions to ask people so that they can talk about themselves – isn’t that what most of us want to do anyway? Ask why they are a member or what about the event was interesting enough to get them to attend or what their hobbies are – it’s not about you, it’s about engaging others

6. Be a resource to others – ask if there is anything you can do for them; and be realistic in what you can and can’t do

7. Follow up quickly and efficiently – if you promise something, do it within 24 hours; if you can’t do what you thought you could, just say so (“it sounded like a good idea, but…”). The important lesson in networking is using it for good… being engaged, giving back, showing people you care, and recognizing the value of connection.


The Melior Group was founded in 1982 to bring the disciplines of marketing research to service industries. Today, Melior is one of the region’s leading research-based consulting firms, serving organizations in the education, non-profit, healthcare, government, leisure, tourism, and financial services/ insurance sectors.

For more information or to request a proposal, please contact Linda McAleer at lmcaleer@meliorgroup.com or Contact Us.

Pope's crowds in front of 1528 Walnut Street

They saved the best for last… A Pope Mortem

Pope's crowds in front of 1528 Walnut Street

Photo by Richard Williams, Crowds gathered on Sunday outside The Melior Group offices on Walnut Street in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia for the Pope’s visit.

Well, the Papal visit to Philadelphia is in the past and everyone is now counting up how many people were on which streets at which events. What difference does it make? We showed the world that we are a WORLD-CLASS CITY with a kind, generous, patient, and caring “att-y-tood” – a city that should and will attract world leaders.

It was all we in Philadelphia could talk about – should we stay or should we go? Are you closing your office on Friday, Thursday, Monday? What are those concrete barriers? How did the streets get so clean? But, all that conversation allowed us to be friends with those office mates we never talk to, to chat with the newsstand dealer who typically just hands us the paper and takes our money, to converse with the folks in the elevator who we never look at because we’re always texting or looking at our phones in the elevator. We now demonstrated that we had something in common and something to look forward to.

After what seems like years of preparation, we did it! The city leaders, the police and other security professionals made us feel safe. Sure, a few glitches in terms of waiting too long to get through security. But, were we ever worried about our safety? No.

As a market research firm, we couldn’t help but do a survey in anticipation of the event… we asked our respondents (an unscientific poll) how many people they felt would actually attend the final event on Sunday. The average projected attendance from our poll is 578,850… bet that’s going to be close to accurate!!! That’s why polling works!

Personally, I had only two major disappointments: 1) that there were organizations that were determined to price gouge during the celebration – come on, $40 to park in a lot in Chestnut Hill in order to walk to the train? One of my friends said a parking ticket for staying too long at a meter is only $25!

A sign reads

And 2) that more people weren’t able to take advantage of the wonderful restaurants and shops in Center City – the attention was on the event and not on everything that is going on in Philadelphia. We should now put more effort into demonstrating to these restaurants and shops how happy we are that they are there for us.

After Pope Francis visited D.C. and N.Y.C., he saved the best for last. For one of the largest cities in the U.S., Philadelphians’ friendship and warmth came through and we should all be proud of what we showed to the world.


The Melior Group was founded in 1982 to bring the disciplines of marketing research to service industries. Today, Melior is one of the region’s leading research-based consulting firms, serving organizations in the education, non-profit, healthcare, government, leisure, tourism, and financial services/ insurance sectors.

For more information or to request a proposal, please contact Linda McAleer at lmcaleer@meliorgroup.com or Contact Us.

July is National Ice Cream Month!

Here at Melior’s office in Center City Philadelphia, ice cream is always on our minds. We are literally surrounded by ice cream, gelato and frozen yogurt shops. So when we realized that July is National Ice Cream Month, we thought it was necessary to embark on a very important research project…

 (Click image to enlarge)

National Ice Cream Month Graphic

A New Vision for Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park

We’d like to congratulate PennPraxis and the Penn Project for Civic Engagement for their work on “A Community Vision and Action Plan for East and West Fairmount Park,” a year-long planning process to make East and West Fairmount Park more accessible and enjoyable for all Philadelphians.

As supporters and frequent users of Fairmount Park, Melior is honored to have participated in this project and we are excited to see how Fairmount Park improves over the next several years. Visit Plan Philly to find out more about this project, the results of Melior’s community surveys, and details about the upcoming launch event at Smith Memorial Playground on May 13th.

 

The Season for Giving

Season for giving: holiday charity gifts

By Elisa Foster

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”  – Nelson Mandela

Maybe it’s the hyper consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Perhaps, it was this touching New York Times article about the realities of homelessness in New York.  Or, maybe it’s because after the recent passing of Nelson Mandela I was overwhelmed with memories of volunteering in South Africa ten years ago.  Most likely it’s a combination of all of these things, but this holiday season I have a stronger than normal urge to give back to my community.

It started a couple of weeks ago when my local Ten Thousand Villages sent me an email about its Fair Tuesday event – 15% of the proceeds that day would go to Maternity Care Coalition, a friend and client of Melior.  So, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to stock up on some of their beautiful handmade, fair trade Christmas ornaments.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who felt the need to be charitable that day, which has also been declared #GivingTuesday.  According to Blackbaud, a nonprofit technology provider and #GivingTuesday partner, people gave over $19 million in online donations on #GivingTuesday, an increase of 90% compared to last year. While this year’s #GivingTuesday received more media attention and nonprofit participation than last year, Blackbaud’s CEO suggests this drastic increase in donations signals the beginning of a movement towards a more philanthropic culture.

Speaking of philanthropic cultures, Melior’s commitment to philanthropy continues to thrive.  Throughout the year, Melior employees volunteer, serve on boards and make charitable contributions to support a number of nonprofits and charities – and we’re proud to recognize some of these organizations here:

If you’d like to extend the spirit of the holidays beyond #GivingTuesday, I encourage you to donate or volunteer your time to your favorite organization.  For suggestions in the Philadelphia region, check out the organizations listed above and see our round-up of giving and volunteer opportunities below.  Hopefully, this will be our first step to maintaining the spirit of giving throughout the New Year.

If you have suggestions for additional giving opportunities and programs to support, please add them in the comments section below!

Holiday Giving Round-Up

When Life Gives You Lemons: The Power of Social Media Marketing

A bowl of lemons - turn them into lemonade by using social media marketing

By Sindey Dranoff

As a lifelong Philadelphia-area resident, I consider myself pretty well cultured – I keep up with the growing restaurant scene, I purchase theater subscriptions, and I regularly attend performances at music venues in the region.  Yet, until earlier this month I had never attended a Philadelphia Orchestra concert – and if it wasn’t for social media I would still be an Orchestra wannabe.

The Philadelphia Orchestra was scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall on October 2nd, but because of a labor strike the concert was cancelled at the last minute – let’s call that the lemons.  The Orchestra leadership quickly decided to offer a free pop-up concert for the people of Philadelphia – the lemonade!

How do you let an entire city know that their world-renowned orchestra will be performing a free concert at 6:30 that evening?  You use social media and email marketing, then watch what happens – in this case, the Kimmel Center had a full audience.  How do you let the rest of world know the concert was a success?  You do something usually frowned upon at a performance: encourage the audience to take out their cell phones.  At the end of the concert the conductor asked the audience to take pictures and videos and let everyone know about the concert and the Orchestra on social media.

This is a great example of how marketers and market researchers can capitalize on the success of a viral campaign – the Philadelphia Orchestra was able to attract a new audience (including myself).  We already know that social media is an increasingly important tool in market research.  As the technology to track and monitor social media advances, researchers have increased access to meaningful, up-to-date information.  And, what could be more meaningful than media created and distributed by audiences in real time?

The Orchestra’s use of social media points to a valuable opportunity for organizations and researchers:  encouraging audiences and customers to engage with a product (or performance) and document their experiences can produce a wealth of information.  Furthermore, there are endless possibilities for organizations to use this information to enhance and support their marketing initiatives.

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