Lenz on Marketing

You Should Know: Michael Lo and Makan

We like introducing our friends in the community who we think make a difference to the culture through their vision, spirit, creativity, and hard work. Decatur is fast becoming known as one of the best towns in the country for foodies, and one of our new favorites is Makan, established near the square by Michael Lo and chef George Yu.

By John Manasso

Michael Lo always longed for authentic Chinese and Korean culinary experiences inside of Interstate 285.

And while the University of Texas MBA worked for seven years in corporate finance at Home Depot, he also yearned to do something entrepreneurial with his career. It was in his blood. Despite minimal formal education, his father, an immigrant from Fujian Province, which sits on the southeastern coast of China, retired at age 50 after running a chain of mom-and-pop Chinese restaurants.

Thus was the impetus in 2014 that give birth to Makan, one of Decatur’s most unique and up-and-coming restaurants. The amiable Lo acts as general manager, often greeting customers and providing a helpful explanation of the menu, and George Yu serves as executive chef. Yu was classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu and previously worked as sous chef at Midtown’s Ecco.

The two partners had known each other for years before going into business together. Their wives, both of Korean heritage, were long-time friends. When Lo went looking for a chef to help execute his vision for what ITP Atlanta lacked, Yu, who also is ethnically Chinese, represented an ideal choice.

In many ways, Lo is trying to accomplish locally with Chinese food what some celebrity chefs have done nationally with Italian food — that is, overcome the stereotypes of certain Americanized versions of regional cooking, such as the ubiquitous spaghetti and meatballs with tomato sauce.

Most Chinese food found in the United States is the Americanized version of Cantonese food, as Cantonese have comprised the largest immigrant group to this country. However, growing up in Philadelphia, Lo dined on his mother’s dishes of succulent steamed seafood and noodles.

“My personal goal is to create more understanding and more demand for better Asian food in town,” Lo said.

A recent trip to Makan (the Indonesian verb “to eat;” Lo preferred it for its easy spelling and marketability, and pronounced MOCK-in) would indicate that he is well on his way.

Makan, which rotates its menu about every two months, mixes some reliable favorites with others that fall a little more on the exotic side. Visitors should not miss the House Kimchi, a chef’s selection that is made seasonally, or the House Pickles.

Kimchi is a Korean preserving technique in which the food is brined. Typically, Makan brines its Kimchi for two weeks. In May, that made for a brightly flavored Napa Cabbage that held an appetizing crunch. The House Pickles, made of ramps and leaks, were equally pleasing, albeit with softer textures.

An unexpected surprise was the Sliced Hwe, which the menu labels as “Korean Sashimi.” Lo explains that many concepts in Korean cuisine are similar to those in Japanese — it’s just that purveyors of Japanese cooking have done a better job of marketing their product to the American public. The Sliced Hwe — in this case, sushi-grade salmon that melts in your mouth — comes with a delightful presentation of thinly sliced pickled vegetables, mostly cucumbers and carrots, and gochujang vinaigrette, a tangy spice paste.

Four Dumplings, Northern Style — dumplings and buns rank among Makan’s best sellers, not to mention best buys at $8 — are cooked-to-order and arrive about half the size of a fist. The wrapper offers both a light crunch and a soft chew. Inside, the natural flavors of the local ground beef and pork, seasoned lightly, play the starring role.

For entrees, Lo suggests a pair of beef dishes, one grilled and one braised. The Kalbi Marinated Hanger Steak would be the envy of any steakhouse, a light pink on the inside and crisp exterior paired with a ssamjang sauce (a wonderful mixture of fermented bean paste — similar to miso — and hot pepper paste). The braised beef shank is akin to the Italian Osso Buco with European herbs replaced by slight undercurrents of ginger and hot pepper. Also served with stewed carrots, onions and potatoes, the earthiness of this dish is cut by the mild acidity of braised kale and grilled cherry tomatoes.

Makan also offers a full bar program — on this night a lively birthday party filled the spacious bar area — and dessert. A simple sponge cake topped with gelato made from Korean rice wine and a thin stream of caramel provided an ideal coda.

Lo has big plans. He’s negotiating leases elsewhere in the area for other concepts than he can spin off from Makan.

“When we did this endeavor, we decided to do it in a very deliberately different way,” he said. “It’s meant to stand out and be different than what 99 percent of people associate with Chinese food.”

In essence, he wants to upend preconceived notions about Chinese and Korean cuisine.

So far, so good.

Now you know Michael Lo and Makan!

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Lenz presents Amplify Decatur, hopes to raise $25,000 for DCM

Lenz is proud to present the fifth annual Amplify Decatur, a concert series at iconic Eddie’s Attic from June 26 to 28 that hopes to raise $25,000 for Decatur Cooperative Ministry, a nonprofit that helps to keep families out of homelessness.

Since the first Amplify event (it was formerly known as Poverty Is Real) in 2011, Amplify has helped to raise nearly $50,000 for DCM and Lenz has served as the presenting sponsor each year. Amplify was founded by Lenz partner and vice president of marketing Mike Killeen, who remains an Amplify board member. Spencer Smith serves as Amplify’s executive director.

“Since our firm was founded 23 years ago in Decatur, part of our company’s mission has been to try to support the local community through a wide variety of public service, initiatives and sponsorships,” said Richard J. Lenz, founder, president and CEO of Lenz, who also has served as a founding member of the board of the AJC Decatur Book Festival, a nonprofit. “We are pleased that our efforts might help in some small way to alleviate the problem of homelessness for families in need. With this event, we creatively combine our love of music with positive action in Decatur to perform a public good. What Mike Killeen and Spencer Smith have been building with the organization is very smart, extremely effective, and inspiring.”

This year’s lineup is headlined by influential alternative country pioneer Jay Farrar and comprises six separate shows, including one on July 1 by Christian artist Brady Toops. Two of the founding members of the label-defying band Cracker, known for its big ‘90’s alternative radio hits, will perform two shows. Amplify Decatur also will feature a Kids’ Show performed by female duo The Wishing Jar and a Neil Young tribute that will include a number of notable local artists.

Jay Farrar

Jay Farrar

Currently, the weekend schedule is as follows:

  • FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 7:30 p.m.: Performance by Farrar, who has received critical acclaim for more than two decades as the founder of Uncle Tupelo, as a solo artist and as the leader of Son Volt. Farrar combines heart-wrenching vocals with songwriting that has been influenced by Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac’s free-flowing compositional style. Said Farrar of Son Volt’s sixth studio album, “Honky Tonk”: “Honky tonk music is about heartache, heartbreak, the road.” Instrumentalist Gary Hunt will accompany Farrar and Mike Killeen will open. Advance tickets are $25 and available at com.
Cracker

Cracker

  • SATURDAY, JUNE 27, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.: Acoustic performances by “Cracker Unplugged with David Lowery & Johnny Hickman.” Cracker recently released its 10th studio album, entitled, “Berkeley to Bakersfield,” a double-album that includes tracks on the “Berkeley” disc from the band’s original lineup – the first time in almost 20 years that they have recorded together. The “Bakersfield” disc pays homage to the band’s “California country” side. Over the years, Cracker has been described as alt-rock, Americana, insurgent-country and even, at times, as punk and classic-rock. Lowery and Hickman will perform as a duo. Advance tickets are $20 and available at com.
  • SATURDAY, JUNE 27, 2 p.m.: Performance by The Wishing Jar (for children ages 3 to 8 years old). As singer-songwriters, Humphries and Shelton combine beauty, whimsy and a touch of vintage flair. They will perform “Until Tomorrow,” a lullaby project of mostly original songs and an illustrated children’s companion book. Advance tickets are $8 for kids, $12 for adults and available at com.
  • SUNDAY, JUNE 28: “Out on the Weekend,” a Neil Young celebration, will feature local and regional acts performing mini-sets of Young’s greatest hits. Participating artists include Brian Collins with Craig Young, the Bitter Roots, Eliot Bronson, Doria Roberts, Jared & Amber, Adron, S. Connor of the Southern Gothic, Kristen Englenz, Rex Hussmann and Mike Killeen and some surprise special guests. Advance tickets are $15 and available at com.

Full event details can be found at AmplifyDecatur.org.

Founded in 1969, Decatur Cooperative Ministry alleviates and prevents homelessness in and around Decatur. Its programs include an emergency shelter for women and children, transitional housing for families, veterans’ assistance, and emergency relief for families on the verge of losing their homes. Its work has helped make DeKalb County a better place for more than 40 years and Amplify is honored to celebrate DCM. More information is available at DecaturCooperativeMinistry.org.

Based in Decatur, Georgia, Lenz partners with its clients so they can grow together. For more than two decades, Lenz’s specialized expertise has helped its clients to reach their goals. Lenz offers the full range of digital and traditional marketing expertise, including brand strategy, advertising, PR, website development, inbound marketing and more. Learn more at LenzMarketing.com.

The Amplify Concert Series leverages the universal love of music to fight poverty and homelessness at the local level. Specifically, the Amplify Concert Series selects local-level charities combating poverty on the frontlines and hosts music concerts to celebrate their work and to raise funds for them. Amplify concerts unite communities by inviting local businesses to sponsor the events and by increasing awareness. Most importantly, every dollar raised at Amplify concerts goes directly to the beneficiary. The Amplify Concerts Series is produced by Poverty Is Real, a Decatur, Georgia-based 501(c)(3) organization, working to educate communities about issues surrounding homelessness and poverty. Learn more at AmplifyDecatur.org.

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Lenz helped Harris Botnick and Worthmore Jewelers land an Executive Profile in the Atlanta Business Chronicle

In May, Lenz helped Harris Botnick and Worthmore Jewelers land an Executive Profile in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Former Business Chronicle staff writer and current Lenz media manager John Manasso developed the pitch and coordinated the interview. Congratulations Harris!

Download a jpeg of the story.

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On the highest pollen count in two years, Lenz and WSB-TV were there

It was an incredibly busy pollen season for Atlanta Allergy & Asthma – both in terms of serving patients but also in terms of the practice’s presence in the media, highlighting its expertise as a leader in its space.

Perhaps no day demonstrated that better than April 9, when the pollen count hit 6,152 – the fifth-highest count on record since Atlanta Allergy began compiling them in 1991.

Fortuitously, WSB-TV meteorologist Katie Walls had reached out to Lenz nine days in advance of April 9 for an occasional science segment that she reports. She had expressed initial interest in doing such a segment at a previous visit to Atlanta Allergy’s East Cobb office in March for a story on the start of pollen season.

Walls and her cameraman met us at Atlanta Allergy’s Kennestone office at 5:10 a.m. The Atlanta Allergy pollen collectors showed how they perform the count and gave WSB great visual images of the pollen spores under the microscope, which the Atlanta Allergy team projected on a computer screen.

After several hours of reporting – and waiting for the count to be finalized while imbibing copious amounts of coffee – the team moved to Atlanta Allergy’s Northlake location to interview Dr. Lily Hwang. In setting up the piece, Walls had expressed her strong desire to speak to an allergy sufferer.

Lenz set her up with one of Hwang’s patients, 10-year-old Samantha Manasso, who also happens to be the daughter of Lenz media relations manager John Manasso.

The piece aired in the 5 p.m. hour that day. Atlanta Allergy ended up getting three separate media hits from it, as it also aired during the 11 p.m. hour and again early the following morning.

Previously, in March, the pollen count also kept Lenz and Atlanta Allergy on their collective toes. After several weeks of closely monitoring the pollen counts through the late winter months, the public relations staff arrived early on Monday, March 16, expecting to send our first alert of the spring to local media.

The pollen count reached 188 that morning – in the “high” range, as deemed by the National Allergy Bureau (NAB). It marked the seventh day of the month that the count was in the high range.

The Lenz team put previous weeks of planning – updated media lists and sample language for a media alert – to work and quickly sent out our email to the media. We received our first nibble that day, as WSB Radio’s Sabrina Gibbons requested an interview with AA&A’s Dr. Stanley Fineman, a past president of the prestigious American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

The next day, we entered the office to see in our inbox that pollen count had essentially maintained itself at 187 and that the website of local television station CBS46 had requested permission to embed the AA&A website into its own for purposes of showing the pollen count. It’s important to note that AA&A is the only local provider of the pollen count as certified by the NAB.

Granting permission expanded Atlanta Allergy’s reach to more prospective patients. Web users can simply click on the link to make appointments directly with AA&A.

On Wednesday, the pollen count exploded. It soared to 1,793 into NAB’s “extreme” range, prompting Rachel Cushing wisely to decide we should send out another media alert. Using the language from Lenz’s email alert, AJC.com quoted John Manasso in Mike Morris’ 197-word story. A shorter version appeared in print.

The Gwinnett Daily Post called and we set them up with Dr. Judy Nam, who practices out of the county’s Hamilton Mill and Snellville’s offices.

The biggest news of the day came at 1:29 p.m. when we received an email from Carol Sbarge at WSB TV. She was hoping to set up an interview at one of Atlanta Allergy’s offices the next day for another reporter. After sorting out some schedules, we alighted upon a 10:30 a.m. interview at Dr. Fineman’s East Cobb office.

Before the day had ended, we received a call from Atlanta Allergy, informing us that 11Alive’s Keith Whitney had called one of the practice’s offices directly, based on a previous story he had done with one of the doctors there. He stopped by the Sandy Springs office and interviewed Dr. Kevin Schaffer.

On a rainy Thursday morning, we met WSB meteorologist Katie Walls at Dr. Fineman’s office on Johnson Ferry Road. She is an allergy sufferer herself and had a great deal of personal interest in the subject. She interviewed Dr. Fineman for what ended up being two stories, one that aired in the 4 p.m. hour and another in the 6 p.m. hour. She got a kick out at some plush toys hanging around the office that were in the form of dust mites.

Her cameraman shot footage of a sign in the office that indicated the extreme pollen count one day earlier and of a nurse preparing an injection for allergy therapy. He also shot footage of the numerous patients in the waiting room (taking care not to shoot anyone’s face without their permission; later, he asked for and received permission to shoot footage of a patient consulting with Dr. Fineman in his office).

Later, we supplied Katie with some historical pollen counts to provide her story with some context. This was the final product.

The week would not have been complete without one more hit. On Thursday afternoon, Mark Woolsey of the Georgia News Network (radio) called. He interviewed Dr. Fineman late on Thursdayfor a segment that aired on Friday.

By Thursday, the weather turned cool and rainy, dampening the pollen counts. But now allergy sufferers are now “primed” for April, when the pollen could hit its full bloom.

When it does, the media will know were to find Atlanta Allergy and Lenz.

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Lenz is currently seeking a full-time Media Coordinator

Job Title: Media Coordinator

Role:

Lenz is currently seeking a full-time Media Coordinator. The ideal candidate has:

  1. An understanding of and passion for digital/social media marketing and public relations.
  2. Experience with online and social media monitoring, reporting, media material development and/or media outreach.
  3. Experience with photo and/or video-editing software is necessary.
  4. In addition to being a strong writer and verbal communicator, Lenz needs an individual who is very organized, very productive, strong working on teams, and comfortable and flexible in a fast-paced, business environment.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Craft social media content across various social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) and schedule posts via third-party software
  • Assist in monitoring client digital reputations via social platforms, review sites, and general media
  • Compile monthly social, reputation, and media reports
  • Determine topics and write blogs posts for various Lenz clients
  • Assist with advertising research, monitoring, and reporting
  • Assist with public relations research and planning
  • Assist with promoting client events via event listings, blog posts, and other media
  • Assist with miscellaneous projects/activities with other departments, outside agencies, or other organizations as needed

Minimum qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Media, Communications, Public Relations, or closely related field
  • Writing samples will be required

Required skills and attributes:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Understanding of differences between and best practices for traditional, digital, and social media platforms
  • Knowledge of communications/journalism principles and practices
  • Familiarity of AP style writing is a plus
  • Solid organizational skills and ability to multi-task
  • Detail-oriented
  • Ability to work on a deadline
  • Ability to work well both individually and within a team setting
  • Positive, enthusiastic, and hard-working attitude
  • Willingness to continually learn and hone your craft
  • Software skills and experience with editing, spreadsheet, and graphics programs

To apply:

Please send your cover letter, resume, and three writing samples to Rachel Cushing along with your salary and benefits requirements. Ideally, writing samples should reflect a range of topics and formats. If available, consider providing samples related to healthcare, nonprofit, and/or small business.

Thank you for your interest in Lenz!

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Lenz and Atlanta Allergy and Asthma launch new visual brand and website

Lenz recently partnered with Atlanta Allergy and Asthma to develop a new practice logo, visual identity, and website.

Founded in 1973, the AAA is the largest Allergy group in Atlanta with 18 locations and 18 board-certified physicians—and is the only National Allergy Bureau certified pollen counting station in the Atlanta area.

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Thoughts on branding, via Renée Zellweger

I hope everyone enjoyed the Academy Awards last week—I know I did.

If nothing else, the Oscars signal that spring is just around the corner. For me, it’s also an opportunity to guess which stars had work done since I last saw them.

Of course the biggest cosmetic surgery headlines of last year belonged to Renée Zellweger, who made news by emerging as a version of herself that many people thought looked…well, nothing like herself.

It’s unclear whether Ms. Zellweger had cosmetic surgery or not. And if she’s happy, I’m happy—it was the reaction to her new appearance that really resonated with me.

Naturally, I thought about business and branding! I can’t help it.

Companies re-brand all the time, and that’s a good thing. Organizations age, styles change, and cultural expectations evolve.

We tend to like it when our favorite brands take a hard look in the mirror, recognize that there are opportunities to improve their product and image, and take action—as long as they continue to remind us why we loved them in the first place.

That brings us back to Renée Zellweger. Plenty of Hollywood stars have had work done. Usually, they look a little younger, or thinner, or perkier, etc.

In Ms. Zellweger’s case, however, the Internet ruled that she had changed the essence of her brand. Her formerly hooded eyelids, which helped make her endearing and relatable to so many, were suddenly gone. Some felt like they didn’t know her any more.

Branding is an interesting thing. Coke can change their tagline every five years—if it still stands for happiness. And McDonalds can start offering healthy alternatives to the Big Mac—as long as they don’t get rid of the golden arches.

So, brand managers and Hollywood stars, take note: A nip here, a tuck there…no problem. But don’t change who you are.

—Richard J. Lenz

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Lenz Launches New Website for the Atlanta Center for Medical Research

The Atlanta Center for Medical Research (ACMR) is a national leader in conducting medical research studies since 1980.

Lenz is proud to partner with ACMR to refine the organization’s brand image, launch a new web site, and promote the Center through a PR and advertising campaign.

ACMR is beginning a new phase in its already storied history by opening a new, state-of-the art research center that is truly the first of its kind.

The new Atlanta Center for Medical Research is a $25 million relocation project from its initial design phase to its fully realized completion this month. The Center, located at the site of the former Southwest Atlanta Hospital Building, was entirely renovated and redesigned based on ACMR’s forward-thinking vision. It is 150,000 square feet in all and features a revolutionary open-source structure, which adapts ACMR’s existing model to improve the overall quality of medical research across the industry.

In this model, other researchers have open access to the Center’s state-of-the-art equipment and highly-trained, expert staff for their own pharmaceutical research studies. ACMR recognized the sheer size of the new Center as an opportunity to allow researchers without the infrastructure or proficiency in administering clinical trials to develop additional medications beyond what ACMR has the capacity for. This kind of progressive outlook reflects ACMR’s passion for medical research and his confidence in its potential to serve a greater societal purpose.

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How Do You Market Healthcare?

We get this question a lot, and our answer is that you should market healthcare much like you market anything—by telling stories that change or reinforce your audience’s behavior.

Sure, that’s easier said than done. But, remember, patients aren’t just patients. They are fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters—in other words the same people who buy Coca Cola and vote in elections.

For many years, Lenz has practiced the philosophy that healthcare decisions are made much like other buying decisions, and that the best marketing practices should be directed towards prospective patients.

Our clients appeared on billboards, TV ads, and social media networks long before their competitors—because patients (and even doctors) consume and are influenced by media too!

Hopefully, this perspective has positioned us and our clients especially well for the increased consumerism in healthcare that we know today.

So, marketing healthcare is a lot like marketing other products. Some key points related to our philosophy include:

  • Lead with the goal, then develop the strategy; only then consider tactics and execution.
  • Invest in market research; do not assume that what you think you know is correct.
  • Marketing works best when it is fully integrated; each marketing channel and program should be strategically oriented and complement the others.
  • Tell stories.
  • Track, measure, report, and analyze results against the stated goals and objectives.
  • Remember, patients are consumers. They have the information and access they need to make healthcare choices. Your marketing strategy should reflect their individualized needs, wants, and preferences.

If you want to work with Lenz, please let us know. We’ve got a great team that is eager to help quality healthcare businesses reach their goals.

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I’m not losing it here. Maybe I’m finding it.

As I get older — and hopefully wiser! — I have found to my own surprise that my emotional life has grown more intense. Instead rushing to every possible opportunity, meeting, event, and experience while stressing over every last detail of what I am doing and what is happening to me, I am finding myself pausing — for a moment — to take everything in.

While I am maybe not “sweating” the small stuff like I used to, I am enjoying and appreciating the little moments much, much more. Even the experiences that in the past would have been negative or anxiety provoking, I’m finding enriching.

Whether it is the smell of a newborn baby, or the warmth of my wife’s hand, or my daughters singing raucously around the piano, or my brother’s bad jokes, or the voice of my father who at 83 still wants me to know he’s the boss … I’m finding it all increasingly more poignant and moving.

Ok, I’m not losing it here. Maybe I’m finding it.

Looking back, it feels like the news this past year has been singularly awful. The recent barbaric massacre of 145 innocent school children and teachers by religious zealots in Pakistan is appalling, despicable, ignorant, and frankly beyond words to describe. Insane.

Closer to home, we had a totally senseless murder of a beautiful woman who was meeting friends for a nice night out in downtown Decatur, only to be gunned down by a sick individual who also was killing random homeless men with his 45-caliber handgun.

Maybe in this crazy world, we need to stop more frequently and take some time to appreciate each other. And make sure we soak up the gift that we have been given of the natural world, which we are part of despite our efforts to dominate, exploit, and separate ourselves from it.

When was the last time you smelled the pine-scented woods on a cold morning? Heard the wind whisper through the autumn trrees? Or felt the warmth of the low, winter sun on your face?

How many sunrises or sunsets have you seen this year? And how many will you see next year?

It is the “holiday” season, when the calendar forces us to stop and give thanks, celebrate our religious beliefs, and show appreciation to each other. Which makes it a beautiful time of year, and needed. Despite our lists and rush to make others happy, everyone seems a little warmer, nicer, and happier.

So, though I feel this way all year, I want to thank all of our great clients, many of whom are true friends, who have believed in Lenz and supported us, as we have worked very hard to support you.

Your resources given to Lenz don’t go to our off-shore bank accounts; they go to the wonderful individuals and families here at Lenz and have a major positive impact. Not only do you sustain us with food and shelter, which should not be taken for granted, but you also help us to provide healthcare and education, and support the hopes and dreams of many. So thank you today and every day!

Happy Holidays to everyone and Peace on Earth.

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