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.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Coke Attempting to Redefine Liquids

It appears that Coca-Cola is attempting to change public perception about its soft drinks. If you've followed discussions about soft drinks, you may recall that caffeinated beverages, such as Coke and Diet Coke, have been getting a bad rap. Many fitness and wellness publications have been saying that such beverages do not help to keep the body properly hydrated. There has also been, historically, a great deal of other criticism about the poor nutritional or wellness properties of soft drinks.

In response to these circumstances, Coca-Cola Corporation has launched The Beverage Institute. Here's the link to the Web site and an excerpt from the homepage copy:

Thirst is your body's way of telling you it needs fluids. But it can't tell you what to drink. That's up to you.

Some beverages simply satisfy your natural taste for sweetness. Some have calories. Some don't. Some relax you. Some energize you. Some give you important nutrients. Some help you perform your best. And some can even help you manage health concerns like cholesterol.

That's why it's so important to understand how your beverage choice affects your overall health and wellness -- and make every drop count.

Notice the logo in the Web site banner ... similar to Coke's logo. Reminiscent of the logo, but not identical.

The site is full of content about the hydration, nutrition and health aspects of soft drinks. It appears that most of it is research-based information.

Whether you agree, or disagree, with Coke's approach in launching The Beverage Institute, marketing geniuses out there would likely agree in acknowledging the campaign's cleverness.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Worst Ad Placement?

The following observation was sent to me by a client today:

"I was watching a special on A&E called Skinheads USA and during one of the breaks they ran a commercial for Bosley’s Hair Club For Men. Couldn’t help but think that was wasted advertising dollars."

Apparently, a very cogent observation.

Kudos to my client, who is a marketing genius in his own right!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More Marketing Basics: The Four C's of Marketing

Last week, we covered the four P's of marketing. This week - let's take a look at another categorization system--the Four Cs. This system is newer, and in my opinion, is applicable to a wider range of marketing challenges. The old system of four P's was created before the service/information economies were born--and thus it is best applied to the marketing of products, especially mass retail products.

Now, for the 4 C's:

C - Customer
Who is your customer - or prospective customer? What are their needs? Where do they live; where do they work; and what do they do for fun? Where do they get information?

C - Competition
What competitors exist in the market space in question? And what are their strengths, weaknesses and positions?

C - Cost
What will your product (or service) cost? How does this compare? What effect will the cost of your product have on it's perceived value (or position) in the competitive marketplace? And most importantly, what are customers willing to pay?

C - Communication
How will you communicate your offering to customers? What modes of communication are available to you (or your client)? Which will be most effective ... and what will be the strategic mix of communications?

*C - Collaboration (We've added a fifth C)
Can you identify allies or partners who might be willing to help you promote your product or service? Can you share a reciprocal Website link? Is it possible to negotiate a cooperative marketing allowance or program with an organization (or company) that has complementary needs and objectives?

The 4 Ps ... the 4 Cs ... what use is all of this? These are purely and simply tools for analysis and planning. Yes, we really use them ... really think about them. And I encourage you to refer to the four C's or the four P's when you are planning your next marketing program or campaign.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What Burger King, Molson Beer and Smoking (Anti-Smoking, actually) Have in Common

Good times and bad health? Having a burger, washing it down with a beer and topping it all off with a cig? Maybe, but that's not what this post is about.

The answer is: CP+B. These brands have all been represented by a Miami, FL idea shop/ad firm Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. They handle some huge brands and they're breaking some rules, if there are any; but they're also blazing trails. I keep seeing ads or other, sometimes sneakier marketing, and going, "Wow! How clever."

Whether you love or hate the style of their work (I think the're BAD in the best way), I bet it's got your attention. Check out this link to learn more about their culture, their clients and their business model. Very interesting.

Maple Creative, being a smaller West Virginia firm, is hardly in competition with this group, but I like to think with some of the innovative ideas coming out of our little shop, someday we could be!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Marketing Basics: The Four Peas

Well, actually, it's "The Four P's" of marketing, of course. Just thought I might get your attention with a silly, quirky headline.

Any lesson on the basics of marketing would be incomplete without discussing the four P's of marketing theory. We use this model, sometimes, when planning and thinking about a marketing plan or campaign for a client.

P - Product (replace with Service where appropriate)
What is your product? More importantly, what are the benefits of your product? How does your product compare to your competitors' products? Does your product contain the features, functions and benefits that your customers desire?

P - Price
What price can you reasonably and effectively charge for your product? What impact, in terms of sales volume and revenues, does pricing have in your marketplace? How have you arrived at your conclusions regarding price; have you talked to any real customers?

P - PlaceWhere will your product be sold? Specifically, where will it be placed (presented, display, situated) in the store or marketplace?

P - PromotionHow will you promote your product? Would it be effective to advertise your product ... or will it be promoted through demonstrations? Perhaps you should consider an earned-media (or PR) approach to promoting your product. How do you know ... what does the research indicate?

As any marketing genius knows, there is a very important fifth "P." That one is persistence.

There's an alternate model, which uses words beginning with the letter "C" instead of "P." Look for our post on the Five C's of marketing ... coming soon!

Real Estate and the Thin Market

We are in the process of selling our home and buying another. This whole experience reminded me of the "thin market" phenomenon.

The real estate market is a thin market. So, too, is the car market. The conditions that lead to us wanting to buy (or sell) a house (or a car, for that matter) do not happen very frequently. For us, it seems like about once every 5 years or so. But when we are in the market, we are IN the market.

By contrast, the market for restaurant meals, or groceries ... or even clothing is a broad market. One might say "a thick market." The conditions at which my level of desire and my interest level are right for me to buy these types of items--such as food and clothing--occur fairly often.

Want proof of the thin market phenomenon? I can go for years without ever looking at the real estate circulars or tabloids. I rarely look at the real estate or open house section in the newspaper. I do not visit real estate Web sites very often. No, I don't do any of these things regularly EXCEPT when I am in the market. These past several weeks, however, it seems that we are on the real estate Web sites every day, just hoping to find that perfect "new listing." I get excited when the new Kanawha Valley Real Estate Guide (a local real estate tabloid) comes out every other week. Lately, it seems that we are sprinting out to the driveway to get the Sunday paper, rip it open and find the week's open house listing.

Kudos to those marketing geniuses who understand thin market dynamics and how to capitalize upon them! Oh ... by the way, do you want to buy a house? It's a nice, two-story brick home on a cul-de-sac. And did I mention that Jennifer Garner grew up in the house that I presently own?

Friday, February 10, 2006

More Basics of Marketing: MMA

There are three basic parameters to analyze in addressing any communications (or public relations) challenge: message, medium and audience.

M - message

What is your message? It should be succinct, consistent and it should be crafted and refined based on the audience and the medium. Is your message controversial or subjective? Do you have research or polling to substantiate your message?

M - medium

What medium will be used to communicate your message? Is it e-mail, or a newspaper? Is it radio, TV or word of mouth? What considerations or trade-offs come with your chosen medium?

A - audience

Who is your audience? What are their needs, concerns and level of comprehension? What are the predominant demographic and psychographic attributes of this group?

When it's time to study, understand and plan any communications project, whether it be a press conference or an ad campaign, you are wise to begin with the basics: message, medium and audience ... or MMA.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Bowl XL - Great Game. Great Ads (for the most part)

First, I couldn't start any blog on Super Bowl XL without first congratulating the Pittsburgh Steelers for winning their 5th Super Bowl. As a huge Steelers fan I am ecstatic. And I have to point out that during an appearance on talk radio Friday afternoon I discussed what to expect in Super Bowl advertising. When asked for a prediction of the game I said Steelers by 11. XL final score - 21-10 Steelers.

Now on to the topic of the other game on Super Bowl Sunday - the Ad game. Let's talk about a few of the good, the bad and the ugly - in my opinion (I look forward to all our readers' thoughts).

The Good
Anheuser Busch
Are you really surprised? With more than 5 minutes of advertising at a cost of $25 million, Anheuser Busch scored several touchdowns (more than the Seahawks (couldn't resist). The first ad featured mayhem in an office as employees looked for beer hidden throughout the office. Each ad was better than the one before - the magic fridge, the bear in the woods, the husbands on the roof and of course the young Clydesdale.

The "King of Beers" may have shown once again that it's also the king of Super Bowl Advertising.

Congratulations to Dove for combining the perfect song with winning images. A big score in their first entry into Super Bowl advertising.

Unlike many of the dot coms Career Builder. Com has managed to establish itself in Super Bowl advertising. Their monkeys ads are funny and a mix of obvious and subtle humor (did you ever notice the name of the firm is 'Yeknom'?) The only improvement on these ads would be to focus on those looking to start a career not solely those looking to make a change.

Ameriquest Nationwide
Sprint's Crime deterrent Phone

The Bad...& The Ugly
While the ad will likely be effective in driving traffic to the site, it just wasn't that good. Can we please put an end to the 'wardrobe malfunction' spoofs? It was funny for a while...for a while. Can we move on? It is on that alone I wish ABC had rejected the 14th version of this ad as well. That having been said, congratulations for success in driving traffic to your site.

Burger King
Maybe this ad explains the 11-year hiatus in advertising for Burger King. Until Sunday, the King ads have been great. Strange at times...but great. The Whopperettes...not so great.

What was that? Was it 'the bad' or 'the ugly'?
It was Both!

Every Super Bowl Sunday there are winners and losers. In advertising and football. For the teams that played, the game is over; they won or lost and move on. For many advertisers the game is just beginning. They've reached a fragmented market in more than a third of the country. What will they do now to keep in touch?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Basics of Marketing: First Law of Marketing

Here's the first law of marketing, at least in my book:

Perception is reality.

It doesn't matter what you think should be ... or hope for ... or wish that customers believed. It does not even matter what you know that you know.

What matters most--the only thing, really--is what prospective customers perceive about your company, its people and its product/service offering.

That is the first law of marketing!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


As I listened to the State of the Union speech last night, one word stood out to me. It was foreign to me. One word did not flow easily through my ears into my brain. That word was switchgrass. Most, if not all, of the other 5,000 or so words were familiar-- terrorism, ethanol, healthcare savings accounts, etc.

In the president's remarks on the energy shortage and the need for alternative fuel research he mentioned that the nation needs to develop or refine new fuels to power our automobiles. He mentioned ethanol, as an example, citing that it could be produced not only from corn, but also from wood chips and switchgrass.

My first question was: "What the heck is switchgrass?" It is a prarie tallgrass that is native to North America. Switchgrass is very hardy and it grows rapidly. It shows promising characteristics as a feedstock for ethanol and also for home heating in pellet stoves. To learn more about it you can go to Wikipedia. I also found via Google a three-page white paper from the Iowa State University extension service on guidelines for growing switchgrass as a biomass fuel. Iowa, by the way, seems to be leading the way, with activity also in Kansas. There's also a pretty comprehensive article on the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center's Web site.

My next question was: "Who the heck got this into the State of the Union?" That answer remains elusive. But we can be relatively sure that some lobbyist somewhere leaped into the air, fist-pumped and did an end zone celebration dance, immediately after the president said the word switchgrass.

So what does this have to do with marketing? Not much, unless you're in the business of marketing (or lobbying for) switchgrass and its producers. (Maple Creative is not, for the record.) Just thought you'd like to know.

Kudos to the lobbyists and marketers for switchgrass for introducing it to most of the nation by way of a very high-profile messenger, nicknamed "W."