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, September 30, 2004

The Friday Memo

At Maple Creative we have begun sending a Friday Memo to all of our clients. It seems like such a basic thing to do, especially for those of us in a service industry. Yet, in my experience, I've found that very few firms send clients a Friday Memo.

What is a Friday Memo? It is a simple, one page memo that contains a summary of all that we have done for a client for the week just completed. It communicates progress and status information on projects that are in progress. It might also contain reminders to the client contact about decisions or approvals that we need from them. The memo lists a few, key things that are upcoming in the weeks ahead. Finally, if appropriate, the Friday Memo might contain one or two potential opportunities or insights for the client's consideration. It is nothing more than succinct information in bullet-point format.

We have found the Friday Memo to be a difference-maker for our firm. It takes very little time to do. It requires discipline to do it consistently. Best of all, clients absolutely love it. It's one less thing that they have to worry about--our project ... your project. When they receive and read the Friday Memo, clients are instantly informed and up to speed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Boundaries – Real or Imagined?

So many of our West Virginia clients sell only in West Virginia. Why is that? This phenomenon goes back to the principle of placing all of one’s eggs in one basket. It is not good business strategy. Like many of you readers, I am a proud West Virginia native. I’m not so proud as to think that Maple Creative can survive and thrive solely by servicing West Virginia clients. Likewise, I am not so proud as to overlook the fact that my beloved Mountain State is a flat to declining marketplace across most sectors of its economy. Columbus, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Pittsburgh and a half-dozen other vibrant market areas lie within easy striking distance for most of us. We’ll always be a West Virginia company, but we will not place all of Maple’s eggs in the West Virginia basket.

We recently conducted an evaluation of ten potential expansion markets for a client in the business services sector. We studied numerous market and cost-of-business parameters and helped them identify Columbus as the most viable market for business expansion. What’s your best out-of-state market opportunity? If you are ready to discuss your next strategic expansion move, give us a call or zip us an e-mail message.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Gateway: The Explanation

Recently, I posted a short essay and posed the question: what happened to Gateway Computers. The company seems to have disappeared.

I found the answers on Gateway's website.

Gateway acquired e-Machines, a competing PC manufacturer, in early 2004. It paid $262 million, including $41 million in cash. (Surprising to me was the fact that eMachines was the #2 ranked PC manufacturer in the U.S. desktop PC market and #5 in laptops.)

Gateway closed all of its retail stores in April 2004, opting to sell through major retail department stores. Gateway's own retail stores generated $1.2B in revenue in 2003. This action also resulted in the layoff of some 1,500 former store employees. New retail partners include Wal-Mart, Sams Club, Circuit City, Office Depot, CompUSA and Best Buy.

Gateway has cut its sales, general and administrative expenses by 30%, or $240 million per year. Its stated goal is to keep SG&A expenses below 10% of total revenues.

This information in aggregate pretty much explains Gateway's lack of visibility.

The 10% benchmark, incidentally, is equivalent to what Dell spends on SG&A. However, Dell employs a drastically different marketing strategy--it sells direct to consumers.

Another point worth considering, in my opinion, is what value did the former Gateway retail stores provide in terms of visibility. The stores, at the very least, served as a visual reminder of Gateway, almost like a billboard or a bricks-and-mortar ad.

How visible will Gateway computers be in department stores like Circuit City or Wal-Mart?

How actively and aggressively will its retail partners advertise and promote Gateway products?

Stay tuned. We'll have to wait and see if the company's new marketing strategy works.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Gateway to Nowhereville

Where is Gateway Computers?

No, not the company's headquarters.

I mean where did Gateway Computers go? Why did it disappear?

I haven't seen a Gateway ad on TV or in print for several months. For that matter, I haven't seen one of those quirky yet lovable cow-spotted computer shipping cartons in quite a long time, either.

Hmmmm. Puzzling.

Maybe the company is going down the tubes. Maybe the Gateway folks are stockpiling marketing dollars in preparation for a big holiday blitz in a couple of months.

I'm curious. I will let you know what I discover about this.

(This blog posted via my home Dell desktop computer.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Position This - Burger Wars

Is this scientific? No. Was it pretty cool? Yes.

We were talking about positioning in a class I teach on a local university this week. I asked those in the room to tell me where they would go and eat if they could: Wendy's, Burger King or McDonalds.

A funny thing happened:
McDonalds - 1 vote
Burger King - 6 votes
Wendy's - 12 votes

I grouped them based on their votes and asked the to come up with the reason that they would go to that fast food restaurant.

More neat stuff:
McDonalds - taste
Burger King - chicken, choice
Wendy's - taste, open late

Then I asked them to tell me what each business told them was their unique selling proposition. Whamo! This was the coolest part of the exercise.

"Old fashioned. Good taste"

Burger King
"Have it my way."

" " - crickets. No noise. They couldn't remember.

Look below. I waslooking at a room full of foolks who weren't "Lovin' It."

I guess we'll see.