How Small Firms Can Build a Winning Facebook Profile

August 25th, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

Top Strategies for Making the Most of a Home Page on the Social Network
by Andrea Coombes


For most of us, a Facebook profile is a way to connect with our friends and to let the world know what we like.
For a small business, it can be a crucial way to attract customers.
When people search for businesses on the social network, a profile page is the first place they end up. In addition to posting engaging updates and vibrant photos to that page, owners can use the page to cram in details about the company that can give prospective customers all they need to know, as well as reasons to keep coming back.
Marketers, consultants and business owners say there are plenty of secrets to making a profile page as appealing—and detail-rich—as possible. Here are some of their best ideas.


Verizon Offering $6M for Powerful Answers to Four Global Problems

May 20th, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets


Verizon is now accepting applications for its Powerful Answers Award, which offers a total of $6 million in prizes for ideas that have the power to create groundbreaking change.

Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award invites innovators, developers and entrepreneurs to leverage Verizon’s technology to deliver world-changing solutions and social good. This year, the multimillion-dollar global competition will focus on four categories: Education, Healthcare, Sustainability and (a new category for 2014) Transportation.

Now in its second year, the Powerful Answers Award offers innovators a chance to take their ideas to the next level, as demonstrated by last year’s world-changing ideas Tiny Tap (Education), Smartvision (Healthcare), and Mosaic (Sustainability).

One $1 million winner and two $250,000 finalists will be selected in each of the four categories. In addition to the cash awards, Verizon is offering the innovators the opportunity to connect and explore collaborations with its network of business development and marketing experts and partners.

Applications are being accepted through June 30 at



10 Companies Thriving in American Downtowns

May 12th, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets


The migration of major companies from urban downtowns to surrounding suburbs has spanned decades. Across the U.S., commuters sit idly in traffic jams while cities become blighted by decreased business activity and population loss. But as more Americans move back to once-forgotten urban centers, top companies are doing the same — bolstering their bottom lines and revitalizing downtowns in the process.

1. Zappo’s CEO is turning Las Vegas into startup paradise

In 2011, Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh announced he was starting a $350 million fund to transform a blighted stretch of downtown Las Vegas into a hotspot for young entrepreneurs. Hsieh has big dreams with his Downtown Project – from “empowering people to follow their passions” to creating a “vibrant, connected urban core” and the “co-working capital of the world” — but with $200 million allocated to real estate development alone, he has a solid shot at making it happen.

Sara Corbett of caught up with Hsieh in downtown Vegas earlier this year. (If you’re craving a bit of inspiration, do yourself a favor at check the post out here. It’s really worth a read in full.) Less than three years after the initial announcement, the Downtown Project team is snapping up old motel complexes and commercial buildings that haven’t flourished in decades. They’ve also set up a $50 million TechFund to endow promising startups, Wired reported.

2. After 40 years in the ‘burbs, Panasonic moves to Newark

After the contract on its suburban office park expired, Panasonic North America relocated its headquarters to downtown Newark, N.J. Employee retention played a part in the company’s decision to choose Newark over flashier urban centers like San Francisco and Washington, D.C. But as TriplePundit founder Nick Aster discovered in an exclusive interview at Fortune Brainstorm Green 2013, so did social responsibility.

Although CEO Joe Taylor told TriplePundit that Newark wasn’t the most “financially lucrative” choice in the short-term, it happened to be smack dab in the middle of one of the best mass transit hubs in the U.S. — allowing the company to retain its top talent in an environmentally and socially responsible way. The 12-story headquarters was the first new office building for Newark in more than 20 years.

3. Target test-drives downsized stores to bolster city presence

Target has been headquartered in downtown Minneapolis for more than 50 years. The retail giant expanded its operations in the city in 2012, buying up additional office space across the street from its 250,000-square-foot headquarters — a move that buoyed the spirits of downtown property owners and investors.

Earlier this year, the company began test-driving miniature versions of its stores that will fit in urban downtowns. The first downsized TargetExpress store, near the University of Minnesota, will be even smaller than the CityTarget stores the retailer began introducing more than two years ago.

4. Dan Gilbert gives a boost to downtown Detroit

Dan Gilbert recently moved thousands of employees from his company Quicken Loans’ former headquarters in the suburbs to downtown Detroit. The conscious businessman has also purchased more than a dozen downtown properties in recent years and speaks openly about his commitment to revitalize the district.

5. New Belgium toasts to life in Fort Collins, Colo.

Bicycles outnumber cars in the parking lot of New Belgium Brewery's headquarters in Fort Collins, Colo.

Bicycles outnumber cars in the parking lot of New Belgium Brewery’s headquarters in Fort Collins, Colo.

Since 1991, New Belgium Brewery has grown from a few bottles in a basement to the nation’s eighth largest brewery — and it’s done it all in Fort Collins, Colo. While the brewery only employs 350 people in the city, its reach and influence is unparalleled.

As Trevor Hughes of the put it: “The brewery is something of a cultural touchstone for Fort Collins: The decisions New Belgium makes not only shape the beers we drink, but affect the kinds of bikes we ride, the racks we lock those bikes to and the trails we pedal along.”

Over the past two decades, the company has attracted tourist dollars, driven the use of solar panels and electric cars, and even helped change state law. Now, CEO Kim Jordan is taking her change-making business prowess to the East Coast — with the construction of a $175 million facility in downtown Ashville, N.C.

6. Futuristic hotel promises to revitalize downtown Houston

Hotel Alessandra will not only be the flashiest new hotel in downtown Houston, but it will also be the key to the district’s rebirth, the hotel’s architect told the Houston Business Journal in March.

“This and other projects are going to rejuvenate downtown Houston, bringing a lot of excitement and activity to the area, where people will live, work and play,” Kap Malik, design principal for the project, told the paper. “It will be a landmark building.” The 25-story luxury hotel is expected in the third quarter of 2016, just in time for the Super Bowl.

7. Little Caesars founder spurs big change in the Motor City

Dan Gilbert isn’t the only one that’s striving to rebuild troubled downtown Detroit. Little Caesars Pizza founder and current Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and his family have provided a steady stream of investment to the city for the past 25 years. Projects such as Comerica Park, the MotorCity Casino Hotel, Hockeytown Cafe and the renovation of the Fox Theatre have brought millions in revenue to the city. The latest will be a $650-million arena district for the Red Wings — planned for the city’s Cass Corridor.

8. Coca-Cola expands operations in downtown Atlanta

Coca-Cola's headquarters in downtown Atlanta.

Coca-Cola’s headquarters in downtown Atlanta.

Last year, Coca-Cola Co. announced it would open a 2,000-person information-technology office near its headquarters in downtown Atlanta, relocating some tech staff that had been based in the suburbs. With this most recent move, the company will employ more than 6,500 people downtown, reports the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

9. Northwestern Mutual doubles down in downtown Milwaukee

Although the company already maintains a hefty presence in downtown Milwaukee, Northwestern Mutual is doubling down with the construction of a massive, 1.1 million-square-foot office building in the heart of the city center. The project will create 1,000 construction-related jobs through 2017, as well as 1,900 permanent jobs for the city and millions of dollars in new tax base.

10. Companies steadily return to downtown Chicago

In recent years, at least 10 companies have relocated some or all of their business from the suburbs back to downtown Chicago, including United Airlines, BP, and Motorola. The district’s days as an urban ghost town are long gone — as both big businesses and young, talented employees ditch the suburbs for the city life.

5 Celeb-Backed Green Marketing Campaigns We Can Actually Get Behind

May 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets


Celeb-backed environmental campaigns are often sigh-inducing displays of greenwashing, but we’re all for giving a pat on the back when things are done right. Campaigns incorporating celebrities can bring the conversation to a far wider audience — an ultimate necessity if we hope to move the needle forward on issues like climate change and ocean health. With that in mind, this week we rounded up five celebrity-backed green marketing campaigns that we can actually get behind.

1. Leonardo DiCaprio buys a racing team to spur EV adoption

Actor and longtime environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio joined forces with high-performance electric vehicle manufacturer Venturi Automobiles late last year to enter a racing team in the the new FIA Formula E Championship, the world’s first fully-electric race series. The Oscar nominee’s name generated a great deal of buzz around the series and the concept of high-performance EVs in general — which seems to be just what he and Venturi had in mind.

“The future of our planet depends on our ability to embrace fuel-efficient, clean-energy vehicles,” the actor said of the partnership. His Venturi car will face off against Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Racing team in September, which is a clean tech showdown we can’t wait to watch.

2. Adrian Grenier’s SHFT woos the masses with shareable media

It seems whenever an eco-minded celeb is needed for a speaking gig, whether it’s SXSWeco or Ford’s annual trends conference, Entourage star Adrian Grenier is there to foot the bill. But beyond helping companies urge average pop culture buffs to give a hoot about the environment, Grenier is making waves in the sustainable business scene in his own right. His multimedia project, founded with business partner Peter Glatzer, drew the attention of partners like Ford, Virgin America and Stonyfield Organic — who all view it as a high-profile means of raising awareness around environmental causes like electric vehicle adoption and food justice.

3. Pharrell Williams signs on to design shoes from ocean waste

If you haven’t heard, singer, songwriter and producer Pharrell Williams owns his own textile company (seriously). Called Bionic Yarn, the company is part of The Vortex Project, an initiative with Parley for the Oceans to turn plastic ocean debris into yarn and fabric.

Earlier this month, Williams signed a deal with clothing maker G-Star RAW to design a line of denim made from the ocean waste-derived fiber. And yesterday he announced that he’ll do the same with adidas — designing a line called Originals x Pharrell Williams set to debut this summer. While creating consumer products from ocean waste is nothing new to those familiar with sustainability, Williams’ famous name surely brings a new audience to the table — which, to drop one of the artist’s top hits, makes us pretty happy.

4. teams up with Coke to promote recycling

Back in 2011, musical artist and producer teamed up with The Coca-Cola Co. and other brands to launch EKOCYCLE. The stand-alone brand initiative is dedicated to helping encourage recycling behavior and sustainability among consumers, particularly youth, through “aspirational, yet attainable lifestyle products” made in part from recycled material. The line has already featured Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, New Era hats and Levi’s jeans that “close the loop” by using recycled feedstocks to create products that consumers actually want to buy.

This year the artist, Coca-Cola and Global Citizen are promoting the EKOCYCLE #ADayWithoutWaste campaign to encourage consumers to recycle and reduce household waste. Scheduled for April 9, the recycling campaign aims to inspire people to look at everyday patterns of waste consumption in an effort to make even the smallest change that will result in environmental protection. If everyone took the pledge to reduce even one piece of waste this year, imagine what we’d achieve.

5. Top names put a face on the victims of climate change

Years of Living Dangerously, a documentary series set to premiere April 13 on Showtime, provides a compelling introduction to the people and places affected by climate change.

Drawing top top names like executive producer James Cameron, actresses Jessica Alba and America Ferrera, and actors Matt Damon and Harrison Ford, the series aims to put a well-known face on climate change victims — as celebrity correspondents interview everyday Americans and local NGOs. Filming locations include Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant, the Asheville Beyond Coal rally and Charlotte, N.C.

The impacts of the film are yet to be seen, but handing the mic to everyday people, who continue to struggle with the effects of climate change and pollution but are often forgotten by the media, is a great idea in our book.

Source: Triple Pundit

Case Study: Michael’s Naturopathic Programs

April 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets


In 2013, Global Industry Analysis, a large research organization, released a study that estimated that the global vitamin and mineral market will reach total sales of $30 billion in 2015. This is one-third of the total sales within natural, organic and healthy products marketplace, which is reported around $91 billion. Not bad. However, despite overall size of industry, it has been showing slower growth in recent years. This has been attributed to a number of factors including economic crisis, regulation difficulties, and a saturation of products in mature markets. Today, the choices are many for consumers and the competition is steep.

What’s more, with the advent of social media, and the growing influence of the Internet, consumers are more educated and “connected” than ever before. So what’s a 30-plus year old brand to do in an exceptionally cluttered market place? For Michael’s Naturopathic Programs (MNP), it was getting down to basics.

We asked a broad range of industry buyers, sales reps and MNP staff what was meaningfully different about Michael’s brand versus the plethora of other choices out there. The answer was evident.

Michael’s Naturopathic Programs work! Not true for many other brands we found. But for MNP for over 30 years, their time-tested, complete formulations nourished the body and gave it exactly what it needed. We also learned:

• MNP strives to inspire people to better heath

• Have solid, long-term reputation for excellence

• A reputation for transparency and quality ingredients

• Affordably priced

• One of the only products in the market with a guarantee

• High-potency formulas that are appropriately formulated

• Products are therapeutically formulated for specific health concerns rather than single vitamins or herbs

• Contain vitamins, minerals, aminos and herbs, unlike other brands

• Naturopathically oriented

So how do you distill this down to a few words that would convey their promise of value, and pop on the new packaging we designed? NOTE: It’s important when crafting an advertising branding line that the message isn’t generic. Meaning delivering a line or phrase that any other brand could say as well. Can’t tell you how often we see that.

For Michael’s, we came up with three words that said it all: “Tried and Truthful”.  No other brand in this category could say that. And that’s what makes a powerful marketing message. A position and memorable line that you, and you alone, own.

What’s the message you own?

Mind Over Markets receives the Go Green Advertising Awards

April 2nd, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

gogreenaward logo


We are thrilled to announce (brag) that Mind Over Markets was the recipient of the 2013 Go Green Advertising Awards (GGA Awards) for our work with Growstone, a manufacturer of horticultural products and growing mediums made from 100% recycled glass from NM landfills (oh yeah!).

GGA is (their words) “the most elite, national-level advertising awards program developed specifically for the promotion of green-themed products and services.” Basicially, they recognize excellence in green advertising efforts. This particular award was for our design and concept of Growstone’s logo. Check out their green American flag here. It says it all, doesn’t it?

Black flag  - 13X19-1

How to Make Money from Consumers’ Sustainable Behavior

April 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

An online tool can help executives build a business case for sustainability, say nonprofit business network BSR and consultancy Futerra. The Business Case Builder, developed by BSR’s Sustainable Lifestyles Business Group, which includes brands such as Carlsberg, Cathay Pacific, Disney, eBay, Hilton Worldwide, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Mars and Mondelez, aims to guide firms through six steps to help them sustain economic value from encouraging consumers’ sustainable behavior.

The online tool is the result of a BSR and Futerra survey earlier this year that found the majority of 54 companies expect sustainable lifestyles will deliver growth, innovation and sales by 2018. Some 40 percent said their company is encouraging consumers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles — but they also said consumers are only mildly interested in sustainability. The biggest barrier to sustainable lifestyles, according to executives, is the lack of a business case.

The six Business Case Builder steps are:

  1. Right behavior: Identify the consumer behavior that will have the most significant sustainability impact. Do this by identifying the business’ biggest environmental impacts through a materiality process and determining consumers’ role through a life cycle assessment.
  2. Right value: Focusing on the right business drivers. The tool identifies six — regulation, risk, reputation, market, sales and innovation — each with a series of subcategories.
  3. Right tactics: Identify the tactic that is most likely to change consumer behavior and deliver economic value.
  4. Right benchmark: A strong business case is built on precedent. The tool includes about 30 case studies covering four areas: waste and resources, energy and water, healthy living and sustainable products.
  5. Do it right: Learn from global brands how to build value — functional, emotional or social — for the consumer into the plan so the consumer receives benefits from changing behavior. For example, Sprint’s Buyback program, which gives consumers money to recycle old phones, collected 40 million devices between 2001 and 2012. In 2012, the company gave consumers $75 million; Sprint saved $1 billion. And Levi’s WaterLess jeans, which use a finishing technique that reduces water use in the finishing process by up to 96 percent for some styles use, taps into consumers’ desire to help the environment. In 2012, the WaterLess collection saved more than 360 million liters of water and the jeans now sell faster than standard Levi’s jeans.
  6. Celebrate it: Providing evidence such as case studies and feedback to help BSR and Futerra improve the tool.

Source: Environmental Leader


When Good Is Not Good Enough

November 11th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets



Leaders of two of the most successful nonprofit organizations argue that the sector needs to shift its attention from modest goals that provide short-term relief to bold goals that, while harder to achieve, provide long-term solutions by tackling the root of social problems.

Many of the fastest-growing nonprofit organizations begin with well-intentioned interventions and relatively naive ideas about the magnitude and complexity of the problems they aim to solve. Share Our Strength and KaBOOM! are no exception. By some measures our organizations were successful US nonprofits—growing rapidly, engaging numerous partners, and improving the lives of tens of millions of children.

Yet all the while, the problems we were tackling—hunger and the lack of opportunities to play—were getting worse and even accelerating in recent years as the economy took a downturn. More than 16 million kids in America now live in poverty, up from 11.6 million in 2000. For Share Our Strength, we knew the grants we were providing to feed hungry people were benefiting the recipients, but we confronted the hard truth that one in five American children struggles with hunger. Similarly, for KaBOOM!, we witnessed how children who played on our playgrounds benefited physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally, but we faced the fact that one in three children is obese or overweight, and one in five suffers from a mental illness, with rates of depression higher than ever before. The list goes on.1

Share Our Strength and KaBOOM! realized that to make significant progress, we had to move beyond simple solutions to complex problems, and we had to answer anew, in a much bolder way, the most critical question of all: “What does success look like?”

A variety of factors combine to make this dynamic so pronounced. Some are external and macro, such as the challenges inherent in solving problems that affect people who are politically voiceless and the value our culture places on the immediate over the long term. Some are internal, like the failure of imagination or the fear of failure that leads us to the easier, less expensive solution rather than the solution that addresses the underlying problems. Some are both, like public pressure to keep nonprofit salaries and overhead low, and internal acquiescence that can constrain necessary and catalytic investments in people, technology, and systems. The result is often like filling a glass of water one drop at a time. Impact dissipates and evaporates, and the glass seems never to be more than half full. To solve big problems we need strategies sufficient to fill the whole glass.

Collective impact is one approach for solving problems, but one can use it to tackle a problem at a large or a small scale. If solving social problems is what we aspire to achieve, we need to set long-term, bold goals that acknowledge the magnitude of an issue. Defining a bold goal changes the game, leading to different decisions that set us on a new trajectory, which ultimately leads to greater impact, faster.

We recognize the pathology we describe because we once practiced it, making many of the same mistakes we now bring to the fore. We unintentionally shortchanged ourselves and those we meant to serve until time, experience, and perhaps some wisdom taught us to use a more strategic—and potentially effective—approach. Now we have embarked on a new course, one that focuses less on the transactions involved in the delivery of direct services and more on exerting the influence necessary to solve problems at the magnitude they exist. By ensuring lasting and significant change for all those affected by an issue, we are aiming for transformational change.

Share Our Strength and KaBOOM! aren’t the only organizations focused on transformational change. In 1996, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids embarked on a mission to reduce tobacco use among kids. The smoking rate among US youth dropped from 36.4 percent in 1997 to 18.1 percent in 2011.2 Malaria No More adopted the ambitious goal to end deaths from malaria in Africa by 2015. Since its work began, malaria deaths have decreased 33 percent in Africa.3 And from 1988 through the early 1990s, the Harvard Alcohol Project sought to introduce a new social norm in the United States: the “designated driver.” By 1991, 52 percent of Americans younger than 30 had served as a designated driver. In the three years prior to the start of the campaign there had been no change in the annual number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities; from 1988 to 1992 the nation saw a four-year decline of 24 percent, from 23,626 to 17,858.4

Though it may seem counterintuitive for a sector already struggling to support, sustain, and scale up its impact—our approach calls for nonprofits to embrace a much heavier lift. We must look beyond short-term achievements that please funders, staff, and stakeholders but yield only incremental change, and instead hold ourselves accountable for the harder-to-achieve long-term outcomes that will ultimately solve social problems.

Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR)



Case Study: Happiness Santa Fe

November 4th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets

In 2011, the United Nations passed a unanimous declaration urging member nations to place the “Pursuit of Happiness” rather than economic growth at the forefront of their development agendas, and to find ways to measure its success. Programs aimed at assessing well being, and coupling the results to formulate public policy, have spread across the globe from Bhutan to Brazil to the United Kingdom, and to Australia, Canada, and China.

According to Dr. Merle Lefkoff of the Center for Emergent Diplomacy, “Across the planet, people increasingly demand that we replace the current global, consumption-based economic system, measured by GDP, with a new system, called Gross National Happiness (GNH). GNH is based on a comprehensive list of conditions that lead to human happiness and well-being. They include measures of satisfaction with life, the health of citizens, community vitality, social support networks, access to education and to the arts, protection of the environment, and governance that reflects the desires of the people, among other life-enhancing indicators.”

Here in the U.S., the Seattle-based Happiness Initiative is leading a campaign for citizens to take a well being survey that has now been used in many communities around the country — including Santa Fe, New Mexico, our hometown.

The Center for Emergent Diplomacy asked us to help brand our city as a Happiness City. We were happy to do it! Knowing that the root of this movement goes way beyond measuring prosperity through material growth to include the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment, we came up with the branding line, “Happiness is the bottom line” with a graphic the flies the face of what we would normally equate with any “bottom line”. We made sure we didn’t use the the color of money or IBM blue to communicate this. Instead upbeat and and happy hues were used. The City of Santa Fe and the Center for Emergent Diplomacy ran with it and invited members of our community to take the Happiness Survey — coupled with a week of activities for Santa Feans to learn, experience and embrace what a Happiness City really means.

Got a Happiness City story you’d like to share?


Greendex: Consumer Choice and the Environment—A Worldwide Tracking Survey

October 29th, 2013 by Carolyn Parrs , Mind Over Markets


For the fourth time, National Geographic has partnered with GlobeScan to develop an international research approach to measure and monitor consumer progress toward environmentally sustainable consumption. The key objectives of this unique consumer tracking survey are to provide regular quantitative measures of consumer behavior and to promote sustainable consumption.

The survey was taken in 17 countries. The results are surprising, and each time National Geographic conducts this survey, the results shift.

The top-scoring consumers are in the developing economies of India, China, and Brazil, in descending order. Those in emerging economies continue to round out the top tier of the Greendex ranking, while the lowest scores are all earned by consumers in industrialized countries. American consumers’ behavior still ranks as the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of the study, followed by Canadian, Japanese, and French consumers.

If you click on the image, you will be taken to the interactive infographic on National Geographic’s page. This survey provides interesting insight to how to approach different sectors of consumer behavior across the globe.

Where does your country stand?