Maria, the Greek model, I became friends with on my transit flight from Mumbai to Delhi in January 2014, told me that in Creta, where she is from, they use a lot of Turkish words in their daily language due to the Turkish influence on the islanders in the past. Among those Turkish words, according to Maria, Vegera was a popular one. I told her I had never heard of such a word before and asked her to explain what it meant. In her thick Cretan accent, Maria said, " When people sit together all night, talk , dance, eat and drink, sing songs, until the dawn. When they have a good time together around a table, that's when we say we make vegera." There are certain words in almost every language that echoes the culture, traditions and history more than anything. You can almost visualize the word in action in that culture- if you know it well. Since that time, I decided that's what my blog should be named after: "Vegera." It brings as much happiness to me as the word Keyf-i Alem ! Even though my blog's initial name Entry Level Philly and its objectives will continue to resonate throughout my entries, I believe that Vegera is more appropriate for the way I live my life- at least at this point in my life. So, this blog will be about anything from restaurants and bars I visit in Philly to my travels across the world and life adventures- which somehow make up a lot of crazy stories in my life!Lastly who is the author of Vegera? Oh.. just a usual type hailing from Istanbul, Turkey- trying to figure out where on earth she wants to travel next. Her name is Işıl Tanyeri and she is turning 25 in April 2014- and yes, she is scared. She is a graduate from Franklin & Marshall College, yes that Amish Town! Currently, I'm in Philadelphia, working as a communications specialist and do a lot of marketing/PR work for a small medical supply company, located outside of the city. I work with people-mainly athletes with disabilities. You'll probably see some inspiring stories that I come across, as you read this blog. When busy saving up money for traveling/ or concerts, i.e. busy with stressful work life, I like observing people, their behavior, interactions with others and drinking wine.This should be enough info on the author now. You'll probably find out more as you continue to read my entries... There will be a lot of personal opinions, feelings and emotions articulated.. Hope you stay long to make vegera with me .. Ciao.

Who I Follow

I’ve been reading a lot about building strategies and how focus groups constitute an important element of it- if not vital to that process. The books and blogs I read are mostly written by strategists at agencies who moderate  focus groups to get a better understanding of their clients' needs/ anticipations/ desires/ daily routines. Then their job is to share their results with their clients and discuss how to best come up with a strategy. 

Today, I had my first official focus group that I moderated. “If your career doesn’t take you where you wanna go, you take it.” I have been passionate about my job and helping people with disabilities, but I feel that as a company we need a change in our communication with our consumers as we’re hitting some road blocks-especially as a team not necessarily as a company- yet. 

So, I presented the luncheon series to our management team with the purpose of bringing some accomplished young folks in wheelchairs in our area together and have them say what they wanna say about catheters, living with a disability, medical supplies, daily issues.  These students/ recent college grads had so much to say and I felt privileged to be there at that moment for over an hour. 

We were about 6 people and I had about 10 written questions to ask even though I knew as conversation flowed, I’d  be asking other  follow up questions. One of my hesitations from the very beginning was how to present myself and my boss, who is there to make money but also excited to hear what these kids had to say. I was first reluctant to even mention I was from ABC. But then my boss introduced himself that way and I felt like it would be hypocritical  to not mention where I work and what our ultimate goal is. At that moment I realized that I was not only marketing the least marketable product in the world, aka catheter (YET, soon it will change i strongly believe!) and I was also moderating an in-house focus group with my boss wearing an ABC Medical shirt on. From another perspective, I thought that it would be beneficial for not only us but for the participants to know that we are indeed from ABC and were taking the time to meet these individuals because we care and value their opinions. Soon my reluctance turned into pride. Then, 2 participants kind of revealed they were with ABC medical, not in a very explicit manner but still sort of… One of them asked, “i guess I’m with you guys for about 6 months now? ” I tried to make a point that it didn’t matter at all, we were just interested in learning more about her. Then, towards the end, I was pleasantly surprised to hear them giving suggestions on what we can do that’s different from competitors. and those suggestions were quite big and worthy of planning well to pursue later! A few self-criticism both positive and negative

1- I could have introduced myself a little better ( again I think I was somewhat confused as to how to present myself still that’s why!) 

2- the setting of the room was ok. next time I wanna make sure we’re more of a round table as opposed to a long rectangular. 

3- It was great we had pizza and beverages! 

4- I didn’t have a recorder but i think I did a great job taking notes, same with my boss. 

5- Questions were definitely thought provoking. 

6- I let them spend too much time on the first few questions and didn’t havee enough time towards the end. 

7- The purpose of the focus group could have been made a little bit more clear. I really wanted to have them sign a consent form, which i had actually prepared. But my boss said he’d have to run it by the attorneys to get their blessing on it. It was too late and therefore we decided we won’t do it. 

8- huge dilemma although I knew the answer: so there were 2-3 people who use supplies through a different company. At the end of the group, I did take their contact information to follow up. How appropriate is it to ask them whether they’d consider switching on a follow up email? Yes, Huge Dilemma! I run into this regularly as I befriend people and then feel super awkward to ask them to support my company. I shouldn’t though! I know I shouldn’t.  

Overall, especially for the first big focus group that I had to moderate in my life, It was a wonderful experience. The best part was to get feedback from the participants at the end that they enjoyed it a lot and found it very informative. If participants can take something out of a focus group too, then I say we’ve succeeded!  I personally took my notes and learned my lessons. The next one shall be a lot better, more organized and structured! Can’t wait! 

One should create her own career path. If it doesn’t take you anywhere, you take it where you want it to go.. As long as you stay focused, passionate and continue to bring  business to your company, no one can question you.  Become your own mentor if there isn’t one already that will take up the responsibility and that you can trust. It is truly a unique learning experience. Read and Write a lot. Open up your imagination, go on long runs, think.  Observe people and analyze their behavior. Read and write more on what you see.  That’s what I’m doing these days. Follow influential figures. Meet  leaders who can guide you and introduce you to others. You’ll soon feel the change. It’s incredible. Very positive. You’ll feel it in the way you think, the way you speak, the way you act, the way you create, etc.
Below might be the story where it all actually began for me… The moment of realization= The moment of fascination. Afterwards is a story..
One of the more inspiring and unforgettable moments of my work happened to take place at the lobby of the Hyatt Regency with two girls that I was supposed to train that day for their upcoming event. That didn’t work out because of other reasons, but what we ended up doing was perhaps the training of a lifetime for them and for me. For privacy reasons I cannot provide any names or details, but I think you’ll get the point anyway.
One thing I realized is focus groups are on their own the simplest way of advertising, aka advertising in disguise. Based on this insightful conversation I had with these two smart young women, let’s call them Becky and Emily, fresh out of college and who are very involved in the disabled community in various ways, I have been able to create original stuff that I personally think no one else in the company could have, because I spent the time with them and made the effort in listening and understanding them, challenging them and vice versa.  
One these girls is a customer  and is not involved with any sports; whereas the other girl, although not a customer of the company, a consumer and a great softball player at her school. Both were born with a birth defect.
One of the first questions I asked to the non-customer (Becky)  was what she thought about our brand when she saw us at events. 
I think you guys really combines the 2 worlds together both the medical world and the sports world. When you go to sports events, the last thing you want to talk about is products, aka caths. But, ABC is doing a great job in presenting it. It doesn’t feel like a hospital with ABC.
Catheter is a taboo subject for some reason. People like to talk about wheelchairs a lot more then about catheters. But, by having young and knowledgeable people out there at events, you guys make it look cool again. I would want to come up and talk to you. 
How about the logo and the motto? Does that give you the same cool and energetic feeling
It doesn’t make me think of catheters- which is awesome. It makes me think of sports, energy . I want to adapt believe and compete. it takes the medical taboo out of it. It doesn’t make you feel weird anymore. ABC is really a getaway to talk about things you don’t wanna talk about. 
How do you feel about seeing a wheelchair athlete on our brochure? 
I love it. I am a wheelchair softball player. i can relate to it. It’s not intimidating as other manufacturers that only show catheters on their brochures. It’s more marketable. 
Emily you don’t play sports. What do you like about ABC? 
I think for me the fact that you are very involved in charity work, social services is important. It’s not only about sales for ABC . It’s about giving back. So when I talk to people about ABC, I mention that a lot. 
Becky- I don’t want to be defined by my medical issues. Other companies out there really make it feel like that. Being a young person in a wheelchair it is different. Especially if you’re using catheters. 
Say neither of you has heard of ABC before and both of you use supplies. What would make you  want to find out more about ABC? What is the most important selling point for you about a medical supply company? 
Emily - I think it’s a combination. But, I’d deifintely mention the free catheter sampling program. In fact, if you could give it out right at that moment and tell them to come back and give feedback on it, that would be the best way to convince.
What would attract you to the table at an event? 
Seeing sports! And maybe some customer testimonials! Like if Matt Scott had something to say about ABC , I’d definitely consider switching. It’s like seeing Michael Jordan  drinking Gatorade. I want to drink Gatorade, too. 
Is there a type of catheter you prefer? Say I showed you a few of these brands. Which one would you want to use? 
- Becky: for me packaging is important. This makes me feel like I’m in the hospital. Really not interested in even trying it. This looks really big, but I like colors and all. This one is probably my to-go though. 
So, you guys made an interesting point earlier about wheelchairs. why is wheelchair not a taboo anymore but catheter is? 
Becky- Wheelchair is cool! I see all these athletes in their wheelchairs and they’re successful. But, catheter’s image is still very negative. I guess all these commercials or ads with caths featuring old people or sick people really made a bad image for the supplies. 
So do you think using famous faces, athletes, young people, “cool’ people would change that perception? 
Both- absolutely. 
Becky- Like when I’m at events, I see Xmax and then I see some other wheelchair company. i wanna go talk to Fernando and not to another company. Those guys are just so cool! Or Push Girls for example, they’re cool too. 
Emily- CH just wrote a book called “Push G.” You guys should partner up with them. 
Oh i see! Would you be interested in talking to us if we had a copy of the Push Girls book available at our table at an event? 
Both- Absolutely. 
Becky— Testimonials from people who are active like matt scott, or like T. Adams  on your table will really help.
The conversation went on and on .. As I said, full of insights, vast amount of information.It’s been more than 5-6 months since I had this conversation with these two remarkable ladies. Since then, I have been only thinking of materials that will resonate with our customers. As Jon Steel always says, include the customer at every stage of your strategy planning. Couldn’t agree more! You’re going to create a campaign to help you sell  something  to someone without knowing who that person is or what he /she is looking to see in a campaign? That won’t work, let me tell you that. 
Since this conversation, I have created the below ad campaigns that many people I know in wheelchair found it captivating, but the people in my company are indifferent to them. Now, I’m no creative, nor a graphic designer. I’m an aspiring strategy planner. But a planner must also be a good creative to at least inspire the creatives. Of course there is a lot more to be done to these images. But, they’re just a start…
Then, I’ve created a landing page to promote the  sampling program which will become the theme of our first social media campaign. I’m also working with two other organizations that we support but are dependent on our marketing expertise on generating traffic towrads their sites. The agreements have been made and we have already started working on them. 
So, yes things can still be exciting when you have a positive spirit and a curious character like I do to constantly want to learn something new about what I am interested in doing.  Again, passion,  staying focused and determination are key elements for success at least have always been for myself. If only I could become more optimistic… 
Hope you enjoyed reading it..



Reverse the classic method of your company: what- how- why

You can inspire action by first telling why, explaining how, and then say what.

Another great talk from Simon Sinek.  

A brand- a story- an image- an inspiration. Airbnb’s new logo demonstrates that whatever design you pick for your company, as long as you have a powerful story to back it up with whether it is real or a made up one, it doesn’t matter. People will appreciate it. Us, human beings love stories. This may be due to the fact that we were all brought up listening to our grand parents or parents telling us stories when we were little kids. For instance, bedtime stories were my absolute favorite time of the day, when I would crawl into bed, next to my grandma. While she was busy applying  almond oil on her face with that distinct odor i shall never, she’d tell me 3-5 stories a night. Sometimes stories repeated themselves or sometimes I’d request her to tell me my favorite one again. My grandma made the stories exciting, interesting which made me all curious about what’s next to arrive. Curious about the end, the product. Storytelling.. That’s how we all grew up with! Today, I found an article by UK’s Marketing Week online magazine on the top ranking jobs in the marketing industry. Master Story Teller is apparently one of the hottest jobs now, with high demand but little supply. I almost wished my grandma could still work. She’d make a hack of a master storyteller for a large brand! I think we are all reminiscing our favorite childhood memories with grandparents. We’re going back to our roots when we are looking for the next big story or a story teller. 

But I digress.. 

Airbnb’s logo, by itself, may not be the greatest logo out there. By the way they call it Belo. Belo- belonging.  When people start reading about the story behind Belo watch the video on Airbnb’s website that shows the story behind the logo itself, then all the other fun stuff  they launched, like the “create your own belo” and Share your Stories section, .. it’s all intended to support the same idea of belonging . Everything in the website goes back to backing the  new logo of AirBnB. 

As a marketer, I salute the creativity, originality and the buzz the company created around the world. Now, please read the LinkedIn story on AirBnB by Suzi Pratt.

I’ve always been a firm believer that hard work and determination pay off in the end. I’ve started doubting that…
Human relationships work like two mirrors. When faced each other you gain a thorough insight into the other person’s mind, an indefinite amount of views. Having Empathy allows you to find out who you are in relation to who the person in front of you. When positioned properly, Both mirrors reflect each other’s characteristics and enable one to build a strategy tailored towards the other mirror’s personality traits. When mal-positioned , mirrors speak a different language, which makes it hard to build anything substantial. Perhaps a fake relationship, one in which both parties lack trust in each other. This rule applies to any human relationship possible, parent- child, couples, agency- client , and even leader-employee.


The partnership could have huge implications in the development of tiny, invisible computers.

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(via cooperhewitt)

Let’s admit it: Samsung’s ad video, the Wall Huggers, is genius. As an iphone user, I was able to relate to every awkward situation the wall huggers were in, Yes, i’m indeed a wall hugger too and I’m not ashamed of it Samsung!! :)

iPhones do have a battery problem there is no question about that. Is Apple doing anything to fix it? As said in the video, ” the next iphone is arriving soon. Hopefully the battery life will be longer!” As all iphone users, we all face this challenge. And it’s definitely inconvenient to have your phone’s battery die. Then why are there still more and more iphone buyers and users than any other phone out there? Why is everyone still going for an iphone? It is in fact the lovemark that Apple established, the many touchpoints it has created with its customers that have gone beyond anything anyone has ever established. It’s the Iphone addiction.
A self observation and watching people around me have led me to think of a possible ad video campaign for Apple in response to Samsung. Instead of going defensive on the video and taking a back step Apple should go with a humorous video embracing the fact that yes, sometimes the battery can become an issue. But, the crucial point is to capture the moment; the very last moments you and your phone have. When you know it will die, but you still cannot put your phone off.  Here is the story for you to visualize:
Mia is a young professional in her 20s. She likes going out with friends, taking pictures and sharing them on facebook and instagram. She is on Twitter and follows prominent figures both in media, politics, entertainment, and in PR, which is her profession. She checks her emails on a regular basis and chats with her friends who live abroad using watsapp. Don’t get us wrong, She is in fact more social and have more friends than many of her friends. Her iphone battery is usually below 30% battery. A samsung user would not understand the feeling of not being able to use her phone. For her, it doesn’t make much difference in her life. So she’d shut it off right away. Mia? She ‘s aware she has below 30%. She also becomes aware when her iphone is at 20% and 15%. She knows she’s going to have to say bye to her iphone soon. So, why not spend those most precious moments with the iphhone rather than shutting it off? Her sister who lives in Paris just had a baby and she often sends pics of the newborn via watsapp. Mia could see another picture of her niece if she keeps her iphone on- OR NOT. So ther you go, she is content. He iphone is at 1% and she receives the last pic of her niece. And the Iphone dies.

I think this could be a pretty humorous video, if it had been directed well and ever published in response to Samsung’s Wall Huggers. So Apple: Embrace the truth and be proud of it because it’s your loyal customers that want to use the iphone till the very last split second of its life. For Samsung users, it doesn’t matter as much..  

Just random thoughts on advertising.. 

We used to dance in the rain as #kids #childhood #nostalgia #rain #summermansoons ☔️#philly #yazyagmuru