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"What's the coolest thing you're working on now?"

That's the question Mary Malone, a customer engagement specialist who served on The Center for Health Design's board of directors when I was part of the leadership team, always used to ask at our social gatherings.

Of course that produced all sorts of answers, both personal and professional. And it gave insight into the person's passions and talents.

Usually, the cool thing was a project that had meaning and purpose for the person.

Right now, in my spare time, the coolest project I'm working on is a book about an annual family reunion my great-grandparents started 98 years ago.

I'm in-between doing cool projects for clients, but here are four of the coolest things I've worked on recently. Each was a fun, collaborative project that allowed me to contribute what I know as well as learn and grow.

1. Impact Project: J+J Flooring

When Ross Leonard, the former V.P. of marketing at J+J Flooring came up with an idea to give back to seniors and improve the quality of their lives, it gave my marketing work with this company more purpose and meaning.

The idea was to donate up to 5,000 sq. ft. of flooring to a day care center, senior housing, or residential care facility for seniors in underserved communities.

As project manager and the marketing leader for J+J Flooring's Impact Project, I crafted the messaging, helped come up with a name, and worked with a graphic designer to create the brand identity. I also developed the marketing plan, engaged Environments for Aging magazine to be our media partner, recruited expert advisors, and coordinated the selection process.

Because of pandemic-induced budget cuts, J+J decided to only award one Impact Project -- an assisted living facility in Tucson that is badly in need of new flooring. So while the impact isn't as great, it still will improve the qualify of life for seniors.

2. C.A.R.E. Channel Story Project: HHS

For more than 25 years, patients and family members had been calling, writing letters, and emailing the Healing Healthcare Systems (HHS) staff to tell them about how watching The C.A.R.E. Channel helped them while in the hospital. Staff, too.

As HHS's marketing consultant, I felt that capturing these stories on video would be a heartfelt way to promote The C.A.R.E. Channel in many different mediums that would resonate with prospective clients.

The C.A.R.E. Channel Story Project was the realization of that idea — beautifully executed by The C.A.R.E. Channel production team in collaboration with the Client Support team and other key individuals in the company.

My role was to provide input into the final videos and create/help execute a communication strategy for promoting the videos. It was rewarding to see this project come to fruition and reinforce what a tremendous impact C.A.R.E. has had on people.

3. Brand Identity and New Website: FGI

The Facility Guidelines Institute's (FGI) CEO Doug Erickson called me and said they needed a new logo. And they needed it in two months.

But you can’t just design a logo without doing some research first. You have to know who you are and where you want to go.

After convincing Doug and the other FGI leaders of this, I put together a team to develop a brand platform document that would establish FGI’s market positioning, key attributes, and target audiences. That document was used to develop FGI’s brand identity, supportive graphics system, and ongoing marketing strategy.

The result was not just a new logo, but a new website that is more engaging for users and easy for staff to update. The most meaningful part of the project for me were the interviews I did with FGI stakeholders to find out how they perceived the organization.

4. Sales Rep Outreach: J+J Flooring

Sometimes it's better to ask people what they think than to assume you know what they think.

That was the advice I gave to the marketing team at J+J Flooring when we started talking about how to better engage their sales reps in selling to the senior living sector.

I proposed doing 30-minute interviews with 10-12 sales reps to ask them questions about who they sell to, how J+J is perceived by those customers, and what the company could do to help them grow their senior living business. I came up with a list of questions, did the interviews, analyzed my notes, and presented my findings.

Not only did this make the sales reps feel appreciated and valued, but the work informed how to better communicate with them and how the company could better support them through new product introductions and sales tools. I liked connecting with the sales reps and learning a little bit more about them.

How About You?

What's the coolest thing you're working on now? Share it in the comment box below.

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Sara Marberry_013-Retouched-New copy

What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

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