J.K. Rowling

Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of IER Partners, which has guided and strengthened brands of all sizes with savvy best practices for creating customers for life. Combining her passion of adventurous listening and working across diverse industries, her "outsider-insider" creative branding and merchandising expertise and objectivity has been valued by companies as diverse as Spanx, Ben & Jerry's, Celestial Seasonings, CHEFS and Boston Proper.  She holds an MBA and has dedicated more than 20 years to providing clients both domestic and international with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She is the author of  two books in which she shares her hands-on approach for both brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators, and BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants. You may reach her at asyverson@ierpartners.com.

I'm all for adopting an informal tone. I'm even perfectly okay with using slang and a bit of profanity, if necessary. But here's where I draw the line: Informal writing is not the same as sloppy writing. Casual writing is not the same as careless writing. At the risk of offending anyone, I'm here to tell you that far too much of what I read online falls somewhere between garbage and crap. Once my crap detector goes off, I'm gone—off your blog, off your site and out of your world.

It’s time to get out. Out of your cubicle. Out of your home office. Out of your company’s groupthink. Out of your industry’s bigger groupthink. Just get out. It’s time to get sideways. You’ll be amazed at what a little outside thinking can do to rattle your inside perspectives.

By Lois K. Geller Last Saturday night, I went with a friend to see the Harry Potter movie. I had read the book and was looking forward to getting away from work and being entertained. It was fun and it gave me some insights and lessons about direct marketing … 1. Harry Potter is supposed to be a children's movie, but it strikes a chord with many different groups of people. I sat in a packed Manhattan theater at 8 p.m. and the only kids in the theater were on the screen. There were seniors, teens, couples, singles, groups of people

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