Category Archives: Marketing

I Dare You to Color Outside of the Lines

Young businesswoman trapped in carton box

Do you ever get tired of being asked to “think outside of the box?” It’s such a trite statement. We’re all trying our best to be innovative and creative, but how do we do that in a world that has boxed us in?

We were raised to be constrained and controlled. For example, our elementary teachers taught us to color inside the lines. Our parents told us to become doctors or lawyers because they never achieved their dreams. Our professors taught us to the test, rather than teaching us to challenge the test. Our bosses squash our ideas in those bi-annual “brainstorming sessions,” because they don’t have the time or the where-with-all to understand how we’re thinking—we’re operating as mindless slaves.

What the heck? What’s so exciting about what’s inside that box anyway? Maybe the ugly holiday sweater that you’re grandma gave you? Come on. I’ll agree that thinking outside the box requires that we have a box in the first place. We need the content and context to move outside of it to create new worlds. Plus the control and structure to be inspired, because in some capacity it gives us the thrill of breaking the rules.

So, let’s drag ourselves out of the box kicking and screaming. Let’s challenge the thought that Apple is the most innovative company in the world. Look at the iPhone—it’s become a predicable package of sorts. What about 3M? Their management team requires that 20% of their products be generated by new product development. Now that’s an empowering opportunity to introduce disruptive change.

We can’t just watch the MBA’s from the sidelines anymore. And we can’t wait for someone to show us the way. We have to push ourselves to be assertive in meetings and breed the ideas of the future. Think about Dr. Suess’ Oh the Places You’ll Go. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

This is what you should consider:

Crush the Box

Although the concept of the box is necessary to understand, the idea that you can move beyond it is much more important. And the frustration of not being able to push the envelope is exponential. So why not challenge the norm? Refold or redesign the box. Force yourself to condense thoughts, ideas, and words that sometimes hold us back. Think in statements of 10 words or less—almost like a poet. You don’t need more than that to convey your point of view. And if you can do that—especially in front of the big wigs—you might just win the battle.

Read More

We read about 2-5 online, print, journal articles, or blogs per week. Is that enough? Well, when you think about motivating yourself or your people it’s probably not. If you’re devoting your time to reading industry journal articles, forget about it, you’re reading about history. You need to read broadly, move out of your industry, look at different companies and technologies to create something new. Look at new patents, determine what’s on the horizon, rather than looking at what’s already in the marketplace. Reading, outside your comfort zone, will give you the impetus to develop new, abstract notions, which may lead you to great new horizons.

Work Backwards

Writing the first sentence, of anything, is the hardest thing to do. You have to figure out how to change the pattern of your thinking. Start at the end product, and then move forward from there. You might find that the solutions to the problems are easier to develop first, than thinking about the nonsense that you need to fix.

Ask a Kid for Advice

My 9-year-old boy gives me great ideas about everything. The way I dress, the way I negotiate with my 4 year old, the way I think about the world. You name it and he has a resolution. A child’s mind is unobstructed by the minutia that bogs us down. They are real and authentic. I needed a product development idea just the other day and he told me, why don’t you ask kids like me—we’re the ones that are going to buy it anyway. Genius. From the mouth of babes.

When it comes down to it, we’re the ones that can manipulate the status quo. Thinking outside of the box isn’t like hitting a switch that allows a new idea to just turn on. It’s really about the will and desire to think differently. And with that desire, comes the ability to progress. So pick up the crayon and color outside of the lines. The distortion of that impulse might just lead you to a path of innovation and creativity.

How to Make a Viral Video: 7 No-Brainer Steps

By Zen Yieh
Chemists Know

If you’ve been dreaming of churning out the next viral video—or wondering why your last video masterpiece didn’t reach more eager eyes—let’s take it from the top. We did it, and you can too!

We’re speaking from recent experience with a UC Irvine Department of Chemistry video, no less. Allow us one little toot from our virtual horn: This baby took in over 50,000 views in less than one week. And those who watched, subscribed, favorited, and shared are still passing it on after 80,000 views:

So how did we do it?

Trust, us—there’s an actual science to this, so to speak. The biggest marketers in the world maintain top-secret personal theories. Here’s what we think worked for us.

  1. Know your audience and create something that resonates with them. Our target viewer fell into a specific niche: chemists and scientists, current and potential chemistry students, and self-proclaimed science nerds. They’re a big group. From there, we wanted the non-science-minded friends they shared it with to enjoy it, too.
  1. Tie it into pop culture before the wave breaks. Most of us could only watch the first few parent-kid dance videos to Pharrell’s “Happy.” Yet leave it to Disney to create a film with a bubble that just won’t burst. After UCI Chemistry Department professors nearly went nuts listening to their kids singing “Let It Go,” they decided to join the bandwagon and rack up video views in the process. Writing new lyrics with a chemistry bent sure helped them get the original ones out of their heads. At least temporarily…
  1. Tell a good story. Keep your focus on the story and the emotion you want it to create over the number of views you’d like to hit. Do you want viewers to laugh? Cry? Both? Emotions make people share and share and share—especially warm, fuzzy ones. Touch an upbeat nerve and tug a heartstring if possible.
  1. Add elements people love. We’re all suckers for quick “I’m taking a break” videos with humor, pets (miraculous tricks or doing human things), weddings, blunders and adorable babies—as long as they have a unique spin. Keep it clean and family-friendly, but offer something that will get people talking.
  2. Rehearse to make it great; have fun to keep it fresh. Did you notice that our video’s lead singer was really, really into it? In addition to being a chemistry grad student, Gianmarc Grazioli is also a musician, singer and songwriter. (Raw talent helps.) Your video length also needs to be in proportion to its interest. “From the very beginning, we knew we had the difficult task of juxtaposing textbook-technical chemistry lyrics with a relatable, everyday main character and child-like humorous visuals in order to make the video appreciated both by actual chemists as well as enjoyable and accessible to any viewer,” says producer Shaunt Kouyoumdijan. “When we heard the chemists’ kids start singing along to our parody, we knew we made something special.”
  3. Add a catchy title and description blurb to capture attention. Then lead in with memorable music or a captivating opener. (Think: a suspenseful or adrenaline-packed opening film scene.)
  1. Get it out there. Yes, Facebook, yes Twitter, yes blogs, yes, share! Ask for comments and respond graciously. Consider tweeting it to a few select celebs who might appreciate the subject matter. Katy Perry and Taylor Swift (among many others) are just real people who have catapulted amateur videos to viral success through a simple click and share. Don’t be shy—overshare.

Implementing custom corporate education for improved productivity and bottom line results

By: Brian Breen, Director, Corporate Education, UC Irvine Extension

Competition is fierce in today’s increasingly complex business environment. As your customers demand that you deliver more than just good products and service, gaining and sustaining a competitive industry advantage will depend on how well your staff executes. Research shows that well-trained employees are more efficient, more satisfied and are proven to remain loyal to the company. A well-trained workforce is the key to building a long-term, sustainable advantage in your industry.

Bringing corporate training to your workplace ensures that your employees are all receiving the same quality education, getting the most relevant and immediately applicable skills and knowledge, while meeting budget and company objectives.

When implementing a corporate training program in your company, there are several considerations to keep in mind. Here I will outline the top three steps you need to take when implementing corporate education in order to ensure corporate success.


I. Set Training & Development Goals

Your first step is the most important: identify your organizational needs and goals.

You need to be able to answer the question, what are you looking to achieve from corporate training? Are you simply looking to update your employees’ skills, or prepare them for career advancement? Is it an enterprise-wide initiative that all employees be given training in a particular functional or management area?

Investing in training will improve your organization’s capabilities, productivity and bottom-line results. Understanding the importance of continuing education for employees and the long­term advantage of having well-trained, efficient employees is a big undertaking, logistically and financially. Your company can only be successful if it begins with capturing the right content and specific training needs.

Focus on management expectations, performance goals and expected outcomes to create individually-tailored solutions. The best learning experience for students is practical education with real-world applications. You want to give your employees the valuable tools that they need to help your company gain a competitive edge.


II. Make It Convenient

Once you know what you would like to achieve, it is time to look at the best methods for integrating training into your organization for the greatest impact.

A well trained staff is one of the biggest investments a company can make. Having engaged employees participating in the training is crucial to the success of the program. Offering flexible training options will ensure that your investment does not go to waste.

Consider weekday on-site classes, short intensive weekend workshops, online, hybrid or any combination of these. A custom solution will be more flexible, with a number of delivery options available to select from, and ready to be tailored to your business and employee needs.


III. Partner with the Best

Finally, you want to select a training provider that can help you achieve your goals with a custom solution designed just for your organization.

For the greatest success, it is vital that your training partner should be fluent in your industry, and with the way you do business. You should ensure that your provider can deliver high-impact, collaborative solutions.

The instructors leading your training program should be seasoned professionals in their respective fields, with a results-oriented approach. The instructors’ expertise and real-world insights in the classroom can result in immediate improvements in skills and capabilities as employees take what is learned in class and apply it immediately on the job.

The best corporate training solution provider for your company should take into consideration these key factors:

  • A pre-training assessment, building the foundation for a training program that meets company goals and addresses specific training objectives             
  • Development or adoption of a results-oriented program geared to meet your company’s exact needs
  • Selection of a provider that incorporates your company’s processes and systems into the curriculum to ensure immediate impact on performance    
  • Training delivery offered in flexible formats in order to reach all students without sacrificing productivity



This three-step approach toward corporate training will ensure that your employees learn and grow, ultimately improving productivity, and providing your organization with numerous benefits including:

  • An immediate return on your training investment
  • A better trained and more productive work force
  • Higher employee satisfaction and retention
  • Increased customer satisfaction




Hashtags: A History & Basic Guide

 By Lalida Sriyordsa


Every minute, social media is changing around us. With the evolution of popular sites like Facebook and Instagram becoming integral parts of everyday life, the way we market our companies and businesses must also adapt to the way society conforms.

If you’ve ever seen images followed with the pound sign and a keyword (#swag is popular for the millennial generation), then you’ve at least seen what a hashtag looks like in the wild.

According to Lifehack:

“The very first hashtag EVER was #barcamp by Chris Messina. Due to this initial successful tryout (against the Twitter boss’s wishes) we now see hashtags as the first place to find information on the latest news and events on a global scale. Things happen on Twitter through hashtags faster than breaking news programs are able to catch them-the result being that Twitter is now a primary resource for many news stations.”

Without a doubt, whether you’re looking to reach audiences within a specific conference group or hoping to share your social media around the world, hashtags can (and should) be used as a valuable and fun tool to spread news.

Almost all social media sites such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Youtube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google Search, and Twitter all allow uses of hashtags that allow you to search for anyone who is interested in that keyword as well. In fact, LinkedIn is the only social media outlet that doesn’t allow the usage of hashtags.

Here are a few tips and tricks that can help you effectively use hashtags:

  • Feel free to use numbers, but no punctuation marks. #50thUCI
  • Keep it simple and think of your tone. For example, Nike’s #makeitcount relates to the brand’s theme and resonates.
  • Keep it relevant to your brand. Anything too vague such as #happy or #fun may not attract the audience you’re going for.
  • Be creative and feel free to make your own. Whether you’re using the hashtag to run a promotion, giveaway, or just adding news, creativity always gets bonus points #uciegiveaway

You can also use some great tools to help find trending topics and related hashtags:

  • Trendsmap shows latest trends from Twitter for anywhere in the world based on a geographic location
  • gives you the latest trending hashtags related to hashtags updated daily
  • RiteTag can also help you identify hashtags that get results and leads you to use them more

Have any awesome hashtags you’ve found success with or have any other tools that you use? Share with us below.

Business Marketers: Are New Facebook Changes Causing Concern?

Attention business marketers! You may have noticed that your Facebook’s organic reach has dropped, which some may say was bound to happen. Below are some eye-opening answers to questions and concerns you may be having.

Earlier this year, Facebook made a change to its algorithm again, which has altered which stories happen to appear in your newsfeed. This article “So Your Facebook Views Have Dropped, Huh?” – a repost from Small Business Trends, includes some fantastic tactical suggestions to respond to these changes.

Here’s an excerpt:

The bottom line: As experts advise, businesses both large and small should be willing to shift their social media marketing tactics. We suggest the best course of action would be to continue to reach your demographics with Facebook, but to also diversify the overall social media piece of your marketing plan by participating in Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

4 Tips for Recent Grads in a Tough Job Market


Authored by Adriana Maestas

As graduation season comes to an end, the reality of finding a job starts to sink in. The class of 2014 becomes the sixth consecutive class of graduating college seniors to enter a weak job market. Despite the continued bleak economic outlook, 84% of graduating seniors expect to find a job in their chosen field.  

Here are some tips if you just graduated and are looking for a job:

  1. Polish up your LinkedIn profile and while you are at it, it might be a good idea to scrub your Facebook profile of any pictures you might now be embarrassed of. Human resources professionals are becoming savvier about looking up the social media profiles of prospective employees. You want to represent yourself in a good light and highlight your achievements in any public profile. With LinkedIn’s focus on professionals, you can tap into pools of hiring managers and groups that share your professional interests and network online.
  2. Consider internships. Just because you may no longer receive college credit for an internship, don’t assume that employers are not looking for interns who have recently graduated. Sometimes working for free or a reduced rate will help you get a foot in the door. You can also volunteer and note that experience on your resume as well.
  3. Brush up on your interview skills. When you start getting call backs for interviews, have a friend or mentor ask you interview questions. You can even give your friend a copy of the job description so he/she can tailor some specific questions for you.
  4. Have patience, and don’t give up. Finding a job in this economy takes time. And the hiring process takes time, especially in the summer when people schedule vacations. Be pro-active, keep networking, and do something related to your job search every day.

Remember the first time you enrolled with UCI Extension?

We’ve heard from many of our students that the decision to “go back to school” with Extension isn’t easy. Our students are busy adults, and scheduling is just one of many concerns for adult learners considering an Extension class or program.

Will you share your thoughts with prospective students?

We’re inviting Extension students and alumni to participate in a video question-and-answer project that will help prospective students understand what’s involved in learning with Extension. How do you find the time? What are online classes really like? We’re looking for your perspective to help guide adult learners make an informed decision.

If you’re interested in helping, drop as an email at with your name, phone number and email address and we’ll be in touch soon. We know your time is precious and we promise to make this brief–just a few minutes.

Everyone who we select for the video interviews will get a basket of (quite nice) UC Irvine Extension gifts with our thanks. You don’t have to be in or near Irvine – we expect many of the interviews will be done using your webcam and Skype or a Google Hangout. We look forward to speaking with you!

Scott Rutherford
Director of Marketing, UC Irvine Extension