This week Lauren, my marketing coordinator, and I were in New York City – to say our trip was amazing would be an understatement. We enjoyed a perfect balance of business learning and connecting with new interesting people, hospitality highs and a little drama from Mother Nature.

The mission of our trip was to film a promotional video for my new book, Brand Turnaround, meet with McGraw-Hill’s marketing team to finalize book promotional plans and to experience the wonders of New York City. Mission accomplished, we did it all and more.

The Earthquake
The most dramatic moment of the trip must go to the Earthquake. I’m sure you heard about it, well we experienced it. We were at McGraw-Hill on the 42nd floor filming a video trailer for the book and suddenly the floor moved, the building swayed and we all felt a bit drunk without any wine. Even though it was a small rumble compared to what the West Coast feels on a regular basis, because it was so out of the norm for NYC, it was freaky and scary. Then an intercom voice announced what we all thought, it was an earthquake and to stay calm and stay tuned for additional information.

So since we were women on a mission, we went back to work, trying to get a good voice and visual take in before the announcer blared more warnings or updates.

Lesson #1:
Dwelling on an earthquake accomplishes nothing, soothing your nerves after a little high rise building rumble with shopping and retail research does wonders.

So after filming for a three-minute book promo, we had an excellent meeting with the McGraw-Hill marketing team. The book launch is going to be grand and memorable. We brain stormed on publicity and joint venture and Lauren and I showed off some of the book’s brand new promo tools, like our laptop skins, new website and blog, Brand Turnaround Tee shirts and even our custom Brand Turnaround bling that the marketing team will be sporting. Then we hit the streets to do our part for Manhattan’s local economy (buy stuff) and find idea inspiration.

Shopping is one of the best forms of market research any brander or business owner can do. Even if your business is not retail, when you shop ask questions, take pictures, look at the brand touch points like signage, packaging and décor and when you see something cool, ask yourself: How can I apply this concept to my brand or one of my clients?

The Eggs.
We ended up on Fifth Avenue and were smitten by Louis Vuitton‘s ultra fabulous windows display. The theme was Ostrich, eggs and LV’s best merchandise. The compelling idea was the big bird, he or she was huge, seemed at least 10 feet tall and extended from one window to the next. The head was in one window, the bird feet were in another and in others there were equally as mammoth bird eggs and all were dazzled with serious accessories. The split window look was not only creative, but engaged the viewer to follow the story in every window, instead of just stopping at one window and seeing one collection of their offering.

To see more shots go to Fashion Magazine

Lesson #2:
Merchandising is a critical tactic that builds brands. Whether you are a retailer with public window displays or a law firm with window boxes in an office lobby, these touch points are excellent opportunities to tell stories and should not be forgotten. And dividing something up, like they did with the bird, was an interesting way to present something, especially if it’s an unusual approach.

Is there a merchandising opportunity in your brand experience that can further express who you are?

The elevator attendants
We stayed at the Pierre Hotel, booked through American Express Travel. AMEX offers some very well-priced luxury travel deals with generous perks, like: stay three days, pay for two plus get breakfast everyday for two and $100 to spend anywhere in the hotel.

The property is almost one hundred years austere and elegant. The five-star everything from service, to ambiance, to food and beverage to gigantic fresh flowers was opulent. Part of their luxury brand was the attention to detail and the preservation of classic hotelier traditions. Every time you entered an elevator bank, a pleasant, professional staffer greeted you, smiled and made you feel like the most important guest in the hotel., pushed the floor button you needed and wished you a lovely day.

Lesson #3:
There was no heavy door to swing shut or any tricky floor buttons to push on these elevators, the attendants were there to deliver on the Pierre’s brand promise: the best of the best with impeccable white glove service.

What small touch can you add to your brand that reaffirms your brand essence? A brand essence is a brand’s DNA, it’s why you are here, how you are different, what your personality is and what you promise to deliver.

Got to run. Look for these topics in the next few days.

• How to brand-extend and not brand-dilute from Top Restaurateur Daniel Boulud
• Sampling trends and merchandising from hip, new Indian fare restaurant Junoon
• Video branding ideas from a super cool, online entrepreneurial TV by an insurance company
• What you can learn from a one scene Off-Broadway-production and apply to marketing
• Networking in NYC, it’s really such a small world
• A Book Review on Army of Entrepreneurs by Jennifer Prosek

Till next time, Brand on!