Laura Brady

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.

Report cards. Just hearing those two words can generate angst even if you are no longer in school. They can raise the hairs on the back of your neck even if you were once a hard-driving honor student with such stellar grades that your parents proudly put bumper stickers on their cars. Report cards in the business world have the capacity to generate that same fear. We all want to measure up and never down. But what if I told you that with a few tweaks to the process, report cards can actually become a brand-enhancing tool you shouldn't live without?

I have a sign above my desk that cannot be argued with: "A year from now you may wish you had started today." Author Karen Lamb's advice gently nudges me toward action steps no matter the size of my goal, nor the type, personal or professional. It is advice I share with my clients, as well.

By Alicia Orr Suman A variety of strategies—including delving deeper into acquisition lists, increasing space advertising and using the Internet—are helping Wolferman's reach its true potential. Wolferman's catalog was a business with far more potential than was being tapped when Williams Foods purchased it from former parent Sara Lee Corp. in 1999. Steve Trollinger, vice president of Shawnee Mission, Kan. consulting firm J. Schmid & Associates, and someone who has worked with this specialty foods catalog firm since 2000, recalls, "Not only did Wolferman's prior management fail to take advantage of opportunities in building the business from a list perspective, they really were

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