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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Collateral creates Credibility

We are often hired to market clients nationwide through public relations, specifically earned media.

Through the earned media "pitching process", many stones are turned over to sell your clients new product or company to the press. 99 out of 100 times the editor or writer will say, "That's great and sounds interesting. Can you send me some more information about this?"

Before you get too far down the earned media path, it is imperative that your client has solid marketing materials (either printed or electronic) that portray them in a positive light.
These materials are building blocks of any marketing strategy. These must be in produced in advance of a PR push in order to establish credibility and educate the audience and in turn get published.

I'm convinced that timing in this business is everything. Putting your marketing projects in the right order will maxize your return and stretch marketing dollars.

Monday, January 30, 2006

More Definitions of Marketing

Continuing on the "Basics" series - here are a few other definitions of marketing that I find useful, helpful and accurate.

"Marketing is the process of finding customers and keeping them happy ... so that they keep coming back AND tell others!"

"Marketing is everything you do to make the phone ring, before the phone rings." (This is a bit dated now, so feel free to substitute "generate inquiries via e-mail" in place of "make the phone ring.")

“Marketing is a circular process, which can begin almost anywhere and never ends.”
-Craig Hartsell, Azimuth

"If you have 600 years to grow your business, depend on word of mouth. If
not, look into the power of [marketing] to accelerate and maintain business
Brent Barbee, Rutter Media (Morgantown)

“Marketing puts the ball in play. Sales puts the ball away.”
- Chuck Peck, CEO,

“The purpose of marketing is to make selling redundant.”
- Peter Drucker

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ringtone Reversal

Is it just my weird brain, or has there been a backlash .... or a reversal ... in ringtone chic?

For the past few years, complex, song-like ringtones were all the rage. And I will admit that I've had Snoop Dog and Beastie Boys on my Razr's ringer selection.

Today, I am hearing more people packing old-school ringtones that sound like a real mechanical telephone ringing. (Think 1977 Bell Telephone, avocado green, rotary dial.) Seriously, all the hipsters seem to be sporting bell tones on their cell phones.

What does this have to do with marketing? Nothing and everything, really. On the one hand, this is a quirky observation. On the other hand it reminds us that consumer tastes and preferences are ever-changing. We have to keep our eye on our audience, so as to observe and understand.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Santa Claus

Being in the business I'm in, I love commercials. I love to watch them, critique them and learn from them. Some of my favorite commercials are the Quizno commercials because let's face it, Bob's adorable. Although their latest commercial does not rank highly with me. It is the commercial staring Dave Lieberman and at the end Dave says to Bob, "next thing I know Bob you'll be telling me Santa Claus is not real." Even Bob has a puzzled look on his face. Before having our first child I would have laughed and went on about my day. Now that I have a child and have experienced her first Christmas, I cannot wait for her to continue to grow and watch her excitement and curiosity in Santa Claus continue to grow. I know one day she too will question the existence of Santa Claus but I hope that it is because of her own investigating and not because of some commercial she sees or something she reads. Should Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and any other childhood dream be left out of commercials? Whose to say. I know one must do what is right for their company and what will sell their products. I just hope that little dreams don't come to an end when the 30 second spot is over.

Monday, January 23, 2006


With the start of the new year, I feel that it is appropriate to devote a few posts on this blog to the basics. We'll begin with the definition of marketing. So, here goes ....

Marketing - a system of processes, strategies and tactics utilized to create an environment in which sales fluorish.

Friday, January 20, 2006


"When I stop reading, I start getting dumb."

This quote is attributed to my friend and former colleague, Andy Malinoski. The thing about this is it's oh so true!

I have always been an avid, voracious reader. However, for about the last six months, I have not read a book. And I'm embarrassed.

This week I had the chance to give a presentation on Marketing for Non-Profit Organizations. The preparation for it caused me to pull 3 or 4 marketing book down from the bookshelf. I've delved into one, which I am committed to finishing. My "to read" list is oh so long!

It's time for me to start reading again. I have been getting dumb for long enough now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I grew up using Barbasol shave cream. The one, clear reason I chose to shave with Barbasol was because that's what my Dad used. It was good shave cream. Not the best or the most expensive. In fact, it was one of the least expensive brands--but still good enough. It worked just fine for me.

As a marketing guy, I used to marvel that I had never seen or heard an ad for Barbasol. The product seemed an orphan ... abandoned. Its only "marketing" was its distinctive packaging design. Barbasol, in case you haven't seen it, looks like the barber pole. Thus the name.

This all changed recently when I heard a radio spot for Barbasol. It aired during a sports broadcast on my local AM station. Actually, I think I was listening to a Saturday afternoon broadcast of our outstanding West Virginia University men's basketball team. Presently ranked #12 in the nation - but that's another story!

The radio ad was a good one. Something I heard stuck with me. The sound bite that caught my attention was the voice talent saying, "I'm the first Barbasol spokesperson since Babe Ruth and Knute Rockne." For those of you who are not sports fans, let me tell you that is highly esteemed company. This factoid stuck in my mind for about two weeks until I had time to do a bit of research on the Web today. I learned that the new spokesman is Olympic Swimming Champion and five-time gold medalist Gary Hall.

Barbasol Real Men consistently perform in situations when it matters most. That’s why five-time gold medalist Gary Hall Jr. was named Barbasol’s inaugural Real Man. Time after time Hall has delivered when his team and country needed it most. Even out of the pool, Hall has consistently delivered awareness and funding in the fight against Type-1 Diabetes – a disease the once “World’s Fastest Man in the Water” suffers from himself.

Upon further research, it appears that the manufacturer has begun investing again in the brand, following an almost 20-year advertising hiatus. It will be fun for me to see how the Barbasol marketing campaign plays out. And I just might switch back ... you never know.

My hat is off to the marketing geniuses at Barbasol (or their agency) for catching my attention with a first-rate radio ad.

Friday, January 13, 2006

My Virtual Music Box -- Pandora

It's rare to find me sitting in silence. I need a soundtrack behind my day. I just recently found the Pandora music portal and I'm hooked.

Pandora is the Music Genome Project™ -- the database of music databases with all genres including mainstream and obscure stuff -- and it's updated constantly. For more details check out

If you haven't already opened it, go to to create and customize your own streaming music stations based on favorite artists or songs and discover new music with the same qualities as your picks. Stations can be customized with a click of your mouse. Also scoring points for marketing genius, Pandora is set up so that if you like something you can instantly buy tracks from ITunes or CDs from Amazon.

I've been enjoying Internet radio for a while now and I already have a huge database of my CDs ripped to my computer, along with some downloads, so that I can listen to any of my favorites while working. Observation: With sreaming internet radio, satellite stations and the prevalence of IPods, it seems CD's are on the way to becoming the cassette tapes of my youth (records or eight-tracks for boomers!).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Friendly Reminder?

During a holiday-related trip to a local shopping center I was provided with the topic of this blog - customer service.

While at the register at a major retailer, I noticed that the monitor prompted the cashier with questions and comments to make to me and other shoppers. Can I help you? When I responded that I'd like to just pay for the purchase again a prompt - Can I put that on your xxxx card? The prompts continued with each being read by the cashier. Except the final prompt.

What was that last prompt? What was the cashier to say at the completion of the transaction and just before I left the store?

Thank you for shopping at.......

But the cashier never said anything. I was given my change, my receipt and sent on my way.

I was not upset. I was surprised though that this prompt - perhaps the most important of all the prompts - was the one the cashier chose not to read.

Has customer service declined to the point that one has to be reminded to communicate with the customer?
Are we guilty just as this cashier was of taking our customers for granted?

I certainly hope not.

Here's my reminder: Even if one fails at everything else, one should never fail in customer service. It goes without saying that customers are our lifeblood and should therefore never be taken for granted.

Maybe that should be the first prompt - for all of us.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

More Hidden Logo Elements - Goodwill

There is a very subtle, hidden design element in the Goodwill Industries logo. Can you see it?

Hint: it's a lowercase letter form.

Happy hunting!

Change Occurs

This is an odd post for me.

This week I began working for a new company.

I have left Maple Creative.

Skip Lineberg asked that I post a "farewell" blog to let folks know why you won't be reading my thoughts on marketing after today here on the Maple Blog.

I've joined a Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP) provider as their VP - Marketing and Communications.

The entire premise of the work that I will be doing will help small to mid-size employers throughout the United States gain control of their health care costs while improving the health benefits they can provide to their employees. Sounds too good to be true, but I've got research and outcome data to back up the promise.

I'm pretty excited about the next few months. The industry is growing like crazy. The competitive landscape is just shaping up. Our company has carved out a niche and the next twelve months should see our company grow - dramatically - by insanely focusing on prospects that can help us obtain our goal. We've called this Targeting here on the Blog.

Then, I'll communicate with them multiple times, in a variety of environments (face-to-face, print, online). Layering, for those of you that have been reading the Blog.

The message in the communications I have mentioned above will contain our new Unique Selling Proposition (read Rosser Reeves) and will drive home the unique benefit and promise that our company delivers: Positioning.

The field sales people will be given new tools, we are going to activate our current customer base by communicating directly with them, to make sure we keep the customers we have, so that every sale is a sale that grows the company: That's - Results Driven Marketing.

Etc., etc.....

So, to those of you that have found some interest or assistance in the information that I provided during my time as a Marketing Genius - I say thanks for reading. Know that I'll be practicing what I've been preaching.

Be Well and Happy New Year

Andy Malinoski
VP - Marketing
Vested Health

Monday, January 02, 2006

National Guard Marketing to Recruits

The National Guard has revamped its marketing program, according to an article by Mitch Lipka in The Philadelphia Inquirer (Dec. 26, 2005). Following research, the Guard has found what works ... what truly cuts through the clutter and reaches its key audience. So here's what the Guard is offering:

Free iTunes downloads on its Web site

Ads on pizza boxes in selected towns

Since October, the boxes have shown up in mom-and-pop pizza places in 700 to 900 college towns nationwide, said Lt. Col. Mike Jones, the Guard's deputy division chief for recruiting and retention. The Guard spends about 25 cents a box for the ad. A pizzeria owner would get the boxes free. Jones said that reaching the intended recipients in college towns through their well-established pizza-ingestion habit is cost-effective and leaves an impression.
Another cost-effective campaign has been offering a free iTunes download for those who view certain Guard material on the Guard's Web site and fill out their personal information. At a cost of about 87 cents a download, he said, it's a lot cheaper than spending about $8 to give away a Guard hat.
"You can't just be NASCAR and rodeo," Jones said. "You have to have a very rounded approach."
Kudos to the marketing geniuses at the National Guard for understanding their audience and for having a multi-faceted marketing plan.

Link to the article