Marketing Genius from Maple Creative

Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Finally Convergence Worked For Me

Who remembers the Cue Cat? The supposedly revolutionary scanner-mouselike-barcode reader that was supposed to create the bridge from print to web.

The deal was this: you'd scan a barcode in a print ad that would take you to a website.

Metro Newspapers and national news magazines pushed it. At the time I was in the newspaper industry - it was going to "save our business model."

So everyone out there with your Cue Cat, hold it up for a moment for me.

(Pause - while you search for it)

Oh, that's right, you don't have one. It didn't work.

Why, because technology can be cool and still not be functional. Technology can have a Wow factor and still not have utility. Especially if it goes against the habits of a consumer.

When you are reading a magazine, you aren't sitting in front of your PC just waiting to be launched into an ad for a new car because you scanned a barcoded ad in Fast Company.

So you ask, "what worked for you Andy?"

ITunes. I haven't listened to "my" music in years. I have kids now. It's either Laurie Berkner, 35 years of Sesame Street, or Kindermusic CD's. But ITunes has given me back my music.

I listen while I work. I listen at night. I don't have an Ipod - not hip to the headphones, but it's pretty cool that on a business trip with some folks I work with, we plugged a computer into my car stereo and listened to the best music from the 70's, 80's, 90's and today that we compiled ourselves.

We were our own DJ - and it was pretty darn cool.

I didn't get Napster. I was behind the curve.

I'm glad the Cue Cat is gone - it just never made sense to me, no matter how many times a publisher sent me his free Cue Cat he received in the mail to "integrate it into our marketing plans."

I'd just like to personally thank Mr. Jobs for giving me my music back.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

First Research Industry Profiles

First Research Industry Profiles

Ok, I am impressed. I filled out an information form to receive information from the company located at the link I've provided.

Within two minutes, I received a standard automatic response thanking me for my request.

Within five minutes, I received a response from a human being, asking the specifics of my request.

I responded.

Within ten minutes, the person on the other end responsed to me, knew specific information about our firm from our website, and provided me a complete answer to my inquiry.

Stunned - I have never had a resonse like this from an informational inquiry over the internet. I attempted to call the person that had provided me the information.

I received her voicemail.

When I hung up the phone, I was told that I had a call waiting for me. When I picked up the phone, it was the representative that I had been e-mailing for the past ten minutes.


If I have a need for the research they sell, I won't be looking elsewhere based on a poor service experience.

Not only do they have a useful service - there service in my first day with this company has been stellar.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Word It - the contest!

Graphic design gurus Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio have a fun contest running at their blog, Speak Up. The contest is called Word It. The rules are quite simple. Each week they select a one-word theme. Contestants submit an image (a photo, drawing or a word) that best depicts or describes the theme.

This week's theme was "Green." I submitted a photo of The Green Monster, and it made the cut. [polite applause, golf claps welcome!]

When I think of green, I think of The Green Monster, the mammoth left field wall at Fenway Park in Boston.

So anyway, that was fun! I think it's a great example of a thinking contest that is meaningful and rewarding. To me its much more fun than bowling with polar bears, etc.

You can check out Speak Up here: click this. I highly recommend that you add it to your reading list.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Design is THE business topic RIGHT NOW

The topic of design is the cover story of both Business Week and Fast Company this week.

Now that the U.S. economy is driven by ideas, information and entertainment, is it any wonder that design is so critical to business success? The United States of America has many if not most of the world's best design schools ... RISD, Harvard, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Cooper Union, Rochester, Chicago.

This makes me feel good about our future.

It also makes me feel GREAT about our company and our line of work at Maple Creative.

Web content management a process, not a project!

Here's an excellent commentary on how companies tend to approach their websites, culled from the blog of Jerry McGovern. Great point. Great, great point!

"I sometimes come across organizations that every couple of years decide to redo the graphic design of their websites. They know that their websites aren't working very well. Deep down, they know it's not because of the graphics; it's because content is badly organized and badly written.

"However, creating a new graphic design is so much easier because it can be treated like a project with a nicely defined budget and timeframe. The manager can say they have delivered something and everyone can be happy for a while.

Seeing your website as a process creates a lot more challenges, yet it is the only way to go if you want to deliver quality results. Who's going to update the staff directory? Will it be left up to each member of staff? What happens if a member of doesn't bother to update? Who's going to ensure metadata is of a high quality? Who's going to ensure content is well written?"

This is a simple indisputable. Sometimes the truth hurts, doesn't it?

Web content management a process, not a project: May 10, 2004: New Thinking by Gerry McGovern: "Web content management a process, not a project"

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Skip's Views on Understanding & Managing Young Professionals

Last year I published an article in West Virginia Executive on understanding and managing the Twenty-Something Professional. This is a nice follow-on to the preceding item here, which was clipped from the excellent blog Speak Up.

Incidentally, the aforementioned article is one of the most popular and widely read items that I've ever published. I received tons of feedback (from both younger and older professionals), along the lines of "Amen" and "Finally." As a result, I'm currently writing a book in conjunction with my former colleague, Emily Bennington. It is entitled Monday Morning Mentor. We will be promoting it at the upcoming Book Expo America (BEA) 2004 in Chicago and hope to have it published in 2005.

Here's the link to the article that I wrote in 2003.

Hiring Young, Recent Graduates — Why or Why Not?

This item is clipped from an excellent blog called "Speak Up." I read it regulary.

"This is a hiring dilemma faced by firm principals and creative directors everywhere. Hiring recent graduates definitely has its business advantages, such as maintaining low salary overhead. But it also has its disadvantages, such as a higher need for supervision and hand-holding.

I emailed a few local studio owners and asked for their honest opinions on the subject. In return, I was given some very frank answers."

Click the following hyperlink to read the full blog entry:

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Entrepreneur: What does that really mean?

Are you one?

Am I?

Shouldn't everyone be one if they are in business?

I have had the opportunity to be involved with the formation of an ELS League (Entrepreneurial League System) in our area.

This concept creates an organization structured around the idea that to be successful, entrepreneurs need skills. The best way to help a person be successful is to get them to understand the skills they have, don't have, and need to acquire.

As entrepreneurs acquire the skills defined by the system, they move up in the league. AAA to AA to A then to the Show.

The system is based on a very high level of collaborative effort among business leaders, service providers, and entrepreneurs.

I'm writing about this because the theory is really cool.

The economic development impact of this organization after it is built and running (the goal is to have 300 entrepreneurs networking and being coached within five years) is tremendous.

The problem: deciding who should lead the organization.

There's even money available for the project.

Finally, here's my question: has any one seen, participated in, or been successful with an organization that did not have a true leadership role making the final decision on things?

Is it possible to create a completely collaborative organization?

Just asking for feedback if you have an opinion.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Renovations, Relationships & Women

My CFO is building a house.

Well, technically ... it's built. He and his wife are moved in. But they are far from settled.

You see, like every other story I've ever heard about dealings with contractors, my colleague is TORKED OFF in a major way at his builder. From what I gather, the contractor won't finish the house, he refuses to honor promises and just generally frustrates the ever-loving daylights out of him. The conflict has ranged from minor frustration to outright shouting matches. I have to give my CFO a huge deal of credit for being tolerant, patient, forgiving and willing to bend.

Long story short: they were supposed to be IN the house before Christmas 2003. That's over four months ago. Today, lawyers are involved and actions are pending. All of which is to say that the topic of contractor services has enjoyed an elvated state of awareness in my noggin of late. And that's what led me to this item on PRWeb. It is written as advice for contractors in dealing with women clients. I think this information is applicable for ALL service businesses and for BOTH genders.

In reading the piece, I was reminded of a few impossible-to-ignore statistics about the percentage of purchasing power embodied in the female portion of the marketplace. The story cites research from Tom Peters:

“Women make 94% of home furnishings decisions…91% of housing decisions…80% of major ‘home projects’ decisions…67% of all household investment decisions…and 83% of all consumer purchases.”

“Women ROAR."

"And when they roar happily they tend to be much more loyal than male customers. When they’re unhappy, they talk to their friends – not to do a business wrong, but to process what’s happened, and to gather different viewpoints of the situation."

PRESS RELEASE: Renovations, Relationships & Women - Tips for Contractors to Keep Everyone Happy