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.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Marketing Fosbury "Flops"

The Marketing Fosbury Flops

To start this blog, get on your tennis shoes. We’re going to the track. High Jump…An event full of conditioning, strength and determination.

Many “Flops” can be correlated with high jump. Jumpers used to run and dive over the bar head first or come from a diagonal angle and scissor-kick their legs over. Then, at the 1968 Summer Olympics: a break-through in high jump that will never be forgotten

Dick Fosbury took an angled run to the bar. He then planted his outside foot and leaped backward over the bar, head first. An arch of the back and a kick of the legs and Fosbury landed on the mat, clearing the bar by inches. He took home the Gold medal.

Marketing is full of conditioning, strength and determination as well. Your conditioning is your creative thinking. Continually trying to think outside the box and come up with new ideas is a sure way to make you stand out. Determination is the hard work you put through to make things happen. Your strength is represented in the actions you take to achieve your goals. Your marketing, customer service and your employees are all carrying your team to win and succeed, whatever your contest.

Now, marketing has been known to have a few “flops” of its own. Often times, a technique may not be as successful as you had hoped. There are failures. The question is: are you ready to take the leap backwards over the bar? Are you ready to try something new?

You could land the gold medal … and your next client!

P.S: This blog was brought to you by Maple Creative’s Summer Intern, Julie Tawney…A High Jumper for West Virginia University Women’s Track Team (featured in the photo above).

Photo: Julie Tawney Big East Championships 2007

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Charleston a Hot Spot for New Business

Expansion Management, a business magazine for executives, released its 2007 “Best Cities for Business Recruitment and Attraction” rankings, developed with the National Policy Research Council, a non-partisan think tank dedicated to serving state and local policymakers. The magazine ranked Charleston eighth among other small metro areas for recruiting and attracting new business.

The rankings are based on analysis of the relocation activity of 19 million companies over the past eight years, which determined the most popular commercial relocation destinations. Charleston ranked eighth among other small metro areas such as St. Joseph, MO, State College, PA and Sioux Falls, SD. Other West Virginia cities included in the rankings include Parkersburg, 14th, and Wheeling, 17th.

Matt Ballard, President and CEO of the Charleston Area Alliance, says that the ranking is an indicator of the work of many, “This is a “metro”-ranking, so it is well-deserved recognition for those in our region who are involved in the business of economic development. Our commitment to a long-term economic strategy is only beginning to pay off.”

Bill King, chief editor of Expansion Management, said the states that made the list should consider it a validation of a strong local economy. "When faced with the decision of where in the entire United States to locate a new facility or branch office, the consensus of millions of business executives was to choose these locations for significant business investment," said King.

Ballard also believes that the merging of the organizations which now make up the Alliance is an important reason for the success in recruitment and attraction. “The Alliance as a merged entity can utilize a holistic approach to economic development and this has led to more success for our region.” Ballard says the Alliance is fostering strategic relationships to build on the success measured in the study, “In the end, a business wants to know that when it makes its final choice on a new location there is a high probability of success, and that they will have an organization like the Alliance to help them all along the way. We’re building relationships with location consultants and businesses now which will bring us even more success in the future.”

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RFID Labels Are the Wave of the Future

Fellow marketer and blogger Cae Besaw of Etiquette Systems in Ontario, Canada, wanted to inform all marketing geniuses about RFID labels. It's a new trend, based upon new technology, one we should be watching and leveraging. We thought it would be good information to share.

With their tracking capability and the potential of replacing cashiers, RFID labels are a controversial topic. RFID labels are already being used in humans, animals and passports. I’m going to talk about the definition of a RFID label, the uses of RFIDs, and the benefits of having a RFID label in your product.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. This is a method that stores and receives data with help of the RFID tags. All RFID tags are composed of integrated circuits and antennas. The RFID was created in 1948 by Leon Theremin who invented it as a spy tool for the Soviet Union.

There are many uses for RFIDs but in the end it’s all a step towards getting rid of price tags, reducing time at the check out counters and inventory management. Imagine how much time and money could be saved if there were no cashiers and you could track your inventory more efficiently. Picture what it would be like to live in a world where the shoplifter would simply not be able to get away with it.

An RFID label, although more expensive, can potentially replace barcode labels. Product tracking is a big reason why companies are getting into RFIDs. Preventing inventory errors will save you time and money. Many companies are changing with the times.

Wal-Mart requires all suppliers to put RFIDs in their products to improve supply chain management. Since this is one of the biggest corporations, other businesses are taking note and moving towards RFID labels. The move that Wal-Mart made toward RFIDs was a big deal when it happened and got people talking about the future of price tags.

Some people are concerned about the tracking capabilities of RFIDs. If you buy a product with a RFID tracking device in it potentially whoever wants to could track where you are. This tracking is a way to figure out who is buying your products so
that you could better target the customer.

RFID labels are here to stay. They save funds spent on lost inventory and eventually may replace all cashiers with their “smart-cart” technology. To have an inventory managing system and a price tag all in one on your product label is really a sign of
technology on the rise. Putting a RFID label in your product will help you with your product supply chain management and will likely aid in building lasting relationships with corporate distributors that have already implemented the use of RFIDs.

In the end, RFID labels save you time and money and formulate happy clients and suppliers. Sometimes you must change with the times to keep your business up to date and fresh.

Now that is great advice for all of us! [Skip]

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Maple in Full Bloom

Subtitle: "Don't Drink the Water at Maple Creative"

We recently enjoyed a colorful, full-page feature article on Maple Creative in The Charelston Daily Mail. It ran during the week of Mother's Day on May 9, 2007. Thanks to staff reporter Mary Childress we were able to share a very special story.

The Daily Mail article told the wonderful news of a growing company and its growing families. You see, since our founding in 2001, there have been eight children born to Mapleonians--and there are two more coming in September of this year. All told the extended Maple family includes 14 children. As one of the owners and founders, there is nothing more gratifying to me than seeing young professionals settle down, attaining security and stability, while getting married, buying homes for the first time and starting families. That's what it's all about!

WHEN the Charleston marketing firm Maple Creative says it's a family friendly place to work, it means it. There's a baby boom of sorts going on there. Since the firm was established in 2001, eight children have been born to partners and staff members. "We also have two expectant mothers on staff, both vice presidents of the company," said Skip Lineberg, chief creative office and a partner in the firm.

"They are both due on the same date in September and that will swell our numbers to 10 children under 5 years old."

Employees Thomas White and Marc Lewis already had two children each when they joined the company. White's children are Luke, 10, and Sydney, 7. Lewis's sons are 5-year old Xavier and 3-year-old Gavin.

When Maple Creative was founded, the partners wanted the company to be a great place to work. "We started the firm to be family-friendly," said Lineberg. "We felt it was the right thing to do. We wanted to attract the best and the brightest young people and to keep them here," he said. "That meant we had to create family friendly policies and procedures that would allow our staff plenty of flexibility in their work time and environment."

The firm specializes in marketing, advertising, public relations, lobbying and e-business expertise. It is headquartered in the Sun Trust Building at 300 Capitol St. The Mapleonians, as they call themselves, are co-workers and friends. They have a lunch bunch that eats together every day and they know that bringing their children to work will not be an issue.

Chloe Lineberg and Katie Nester, both 5, were the first children born in the firm. "We had a year there, in 2002 where babies were part of our staff," said Lineberg. "We had campaigns to run and spent a lot of late nights working and tending babies."

Tracey Davis, vice president of operations, brought her 2-year old daughter, Zoey, to work with her every day during her first year. "We all work together to take care of each other," she said. "We've rocked many a kid to sleep when we were here on late nights.

"They call me 'Mom' around here," Davis said. "I'm the keeper of the toys and books. They're all in my office.

"In addition to Zoey, I'm expecting our second daughter, Addison, in September," she said. "All total, that will make 14 kids for us. We're all pretty good multi-taskers.

"We've talked about having a daycare center here and we hope someday that can become reality," Davis said.

For the families and staff at Maple, the company offers flexible work hours, personal leave time; an opportunity to work from home occasionally when needed; extended leave for employees for family illness; and a maternity leave policy where new moms can take the time they need before coming back to work.

Emily Bennington Tugwell, marketing director, started at Maple right out of college. Her son Liam was born four weeks ago. "When I began here, it was like everyone was having babies," she said. "It's such a supportive environment for families and kids here.

"When I was out of the office a couple of months back to meet a client, they said, 'Oh, not you, too,' when they saw I was pregnant," Tugwell said.

For Lora Franco, client services administer, being able to bring her 9-month-old son Samuel to work with her is a plus. "If I have an issue with my baby sitter I can just bring (my son) to work and know it's OK," she said.

Katie Nester, the 5-year-old daughter of Jim Nester, vice president for client services and, 2-year-old Sherman Lineberg, son of Skip Lineberg, also are familiar faces in the office.

Kim Gayton, vice president of creative services, is expecting her first
child Sept. 8. "With the supportive family here at Maple, it's good to know
that when my baby arrives, I can take the time I need," she said.

Contact writer Mary Childress at or 348-4886.

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Birth of a State. Birth of a Blog.

Wednesday, June 20, marked the 144th birthday of the State of West Virginia. While that was reason enough to be excited, it was not the only cause for celebration. Wednesday also marked the birth, or launch, of a cool, new blog, A Better West Virginia. I'm pleased to share with you the following message from its founder, Jason Keeling, as we wish him great success.

Today marks West Virginia Day (144th anniversary of statehood), which serves as a reminder of the state's rich history, and provides occasion to reflect upon its future. Communication professionals within the state have a significant role to play in building and promoting aBetterWestVirginia. Those outside would benefit from learning more about the realities of our unique state, and in doing so helping to break down the stereotypical imagery of Appalachia as "backward."

There are many forward-thinking organizations, businesses, people, and initiatives in West Virginia, it's simply a matter of "getting the word out." It is in this mode of thinking that is being launched today, and although the site isn't designed to cover marketing and public relations specifically, the discussion of West Virginia culture and economy will certainly be relevant to these disciplines.

Thanks to the
Maple Creative team for the opportunity to post here today. Marketing Geniuses in the state and across the globe are welcome to join the conversation at aBetterWestVirginia.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Welcoming an Exciting New Blog to the WV Scene

I have received advance announcement that Jason Keeling's new blog will launch tomorrow. I know Jason. He's a great guy with some wonderful insights to share. He truly understands the value of collaboration, cooperation and teamwork.

This new blog, appropriately titled, A Better West Virginia, promises to focus on helping make West Virginia a better place to live and work, through informed discussion of public policy issues and cultural issues. Can't wait to see it!

Kudos to Jason Keeling, and marketing geniuses like him, who have embraced blogging as a business tool and as a means for effectuating positive change.

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Spirit of the Valley-The Real Impact

Two boys anxiously awaited the end of the school year like all kids do. But their story was different. This summer, they were going to get to stay with their real dad. He had filled their minds with stories of fishing and playing outside in the warm weather with sunshine beaming down on their heads.

Their mother was thrilled. A single mom was struggling financially to care for the two boys. A summer with their dad could give her the time she needed to get back on her feet both financially and emotionally. Then their father called to cancel the plans.

Dreams of their fun summertime in the sun vanished before the boys’ eyes. Their father broke another promise. The boys cried and wondered what was to become of the summer. The mother stared in disbelief…wondering what to do next.
A friend told the mother of the Charleston YMCA Youth Summer Program. She knew she did not have the finances available to pay for a summer program for the boys and was hesitant to call. It was a decision she will never regret.

The boys’ applications were expedited and the Y gave their mother the help she needed to pay to join. A letter written to the Y to later explain the thankfulness of the family gave the greatest meaning to the Y’s youth summer camps. “They wanted to go to camp everyday. They got up, they got ready and they were actually excited to go. Thank you so much for helping my family in such a time of need. ” The Youth Summer Camp at the Charleston YMCA helped this family’s nightmare turn into a dream come true.

With the help of outstanding members in the Kanawha Valley, the YMCA is able to help several children each year. These individuals possess a principle of leadership and responsibility, they contribute and advance our valley and make it a better place to live, work and raise a family. They are respected and are an example for others to follow.

Each year the YMCA honors an individual in our community with The Spirit of the Valley Award, also called “Our Community’s Nobel Peace Prize” recognizes an individual each year who gives their time and resources when the valley needs them. Their commitment, persistence, good judgment and joyful heart enrich the lives of those in our community.

This year’s winner Dr. Ed Welch is the President of the University of Charleston. He has contributed greatly to the growth of the University and his contributions have affected our community directly for the last sixteen years. With a designated charity of the University of Charleston Scholarship Fund, his focus on improving the education of our children is impacting their futures.

We applaud the efforts of the YMCA of the Kanawha Valley and salute Dr. Welch!

First-Class or Third Class?

What's the difference between first-class postal service and third-class?

Give up?

Carriers are required to move first class mail everyday, whereas with standard (i.e., the new PR word for "third class"), carriers have up to five days to deliver. Also, all first class mail that is undeliverable (missing zip codes, etc.) is required to be returned to sender - undeliverable standard mail can be trashed.

Now you know.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Where’s the Strategy?

Sometimes it seems the strategy involved in marketing today is as tiny as the hamburger in the old “Where’s the beef?” ads. What gives? Have marketing professionals been relegated to simply placing ads? Maybe some, but that’s not why I entered the game.

Anyone can purchase space in a newspaper. Where the rubber hits the road in this business is strategy. Clients hire agencies – in theory – because they rely on us to tell them what to do with their marketing dollars and how to do it. And yet, I see a lot of guesswork going on.

Perhaps I should have titled this blog “Where’s the research?” because it’s the research that gives marketing recommendations a leg to stand on. It’s not about pretty pictures and clever copy. It’s about getting into the head of your client’s customers and finding out what pushes their buy buttons.

And if we want to elevate the status of our profession (and ourselves as marketing professionals), we can’t just guess about that.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Greetings to Marketing Geniuses Around the Planet

From Botswana to Budapest ...

From Tamil Nadu, India to Oxford, England ...

And from Egg Harbor, New Jersey to Emeryville, California,

Hello. Welcome. We are glad you are here!

The evolution of this blog has been fascinating. It begin in March 2004. We won the "People's Choice Best Blog in America" award (honorable mention) from Marketing Sherpa in 2005, which was a big boost for us. When we reached the traffic level of 90,000 hits per month in 2006 that seemed unimaginable. Today, we are enjoying 140,000 hits per month. We have 170 subscribers who receive every post via e-mail. There are countless others who read our content via RSS feed or by finding our content via Google (or other search engine). Thanks to all of you!

We promise to continue to provide thought-provoking, useful, relevant content about marketing and things related to marketing. Our goal is to post 2-4 new commentaries per week. We'd love to see your suggestions or requests in a comment on this post.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

All Together Now: Close the Gap!

On June 7 at 10 a.m., hundreds of West Virginia breast cancer survivors and activists will gather at the Appalachian Power Park in Charleston to tell their state legislators they MUST close policy, research and funding gaps that keep thousands of women from receiving breast cancer screening and treatment that could save their lives. Then we'll celebrate our accomplishments with a day of fun - including games, food, and a "run of the bases" for children.
We need you, your voice and your passion for change - so mark your calendars with a pink ribbon and join the fun on June 7!

For several years, we've been involved with and supporting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in their quest to eliminate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease. There's an important event coming this week: a rally at Power Park in Charleston. Please come out and support this very important cause.

And a big thanks! to fellow bloggers Jason Keeling and Matt Ballard (and Jama Burton) for also helping to publicize this week's rally.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Demonstration: A Powerful Marketing Tool

One of the most powerful tools is marketing is the act of demonstration. Here in Charleston, West Virgina, one of our local community groups is trying to increase awareness of environmentally friendly and energy-efficient construction methods.

Instead of running advertisements, the Charleston Area Alliance opted to build (with the help of many generous, community minded partners) a demonstration house. EcoDwell is a house, a project and a state-of-mind! Here's an excerpt from the EcoDwell Web site:

EcoDwell is a "green" house that has been built in the East End of Charleston, West Virginia. EcoDwell uses state-of-the-art materials and building techniques to make it as energy efficient as possible. We expect energy costs to be half that of a similar sized house using traditional building materials and techniques.

I had the chance to visit and explore the beautiful EcoDwell home last week. It is gorgeous and cleverly designed. Suffice to say that I would buy it. And for the listed price of $120,000 it is a steal, in my opinion.

Kudos to Susie Salisbury at Charleston Area Alliance and the other marketing geniuses who helped bring this world-class project to life!

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Friday, June 01, 2007

The Art of Persuasion

There's a community group here in Charleston, WV, known as East End Main Street. It is a wonderful, dynamic and progressive group that's charged with promoting, nurturing and facilitating the development of Charleston's East End section as a great place to live, work and play. Various representatives of the organization had made it known to us through several channels, both official and unofficial, that EEMs might need some assistance from Maple Creative. As is often the case with non-profit community groups, they had little or no budget to fund this project. A bootstrap or pro-bono request - not that uncommon. That's all well and good.

Stay with me now. Here's where this story gets really interesting, especially if you're a marketing genius. Friday, May 25. The day before the three-day, Memorial Day weekend. Envision the Maple Creative office suite. Enter Marc Weintraub ... with a push cart and cargo in tow! Marc, who is a EEMS board member, came to visit and to introduce me to something. Marc is an attorney, by trade. But now I content that he is also a marketing genius.

After extracting me from a meeting, Marc introduced himself. Then, he introduced me to his cargo.

"Skip, I want to introduce you to your new gift. A few of us on the board thought that you and your Maple folks might have an interest in beer," he began. "This is yours to keep. Share it with your colleagues. Enjoy it," Marc continued. "Call us next week and let us know if you'll be able to help with our project."

I unzipped the cooler and was treated to the sight of a case of beer on ice. And not just any old Milwaukee's Best. No, the good stuff. Blue Moon Ale. Corona.

Nothing gets stuff done like a cooler full of ice cold beer. Beer cuts through the clutter. Beer makes a statement. It closes deals.

And that, my friends, is the art of persuasion.

[Of course, we said, "Yes, we'll do it." Be sure to check back in the weeks ahead to read about our collaboration with East End Main Street.]