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.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Harry Beckwith Says the #1 Problem w/ Marketing is….

… a complete lack of clarity.

Hear! Hear!

I see it all the time – businesses that sacrifice being clear for being clever. And it’s a money loser in marketing if ever there was one.

I should know.

In a former life, I was the headline writer for a lifestyle magazine in South Carolina. Sometimes, I would proudly submit what I considered to be a brilliant ad - and then sink as no one got it. Example: I had a restaurant client who wanted to advertise their new Jazz Night. So I spent hours writing an ad that read like a Ginsberg-esque beatnik poem. I loved it. The client loved it. So we ran with it.

Well - the ad didn’t work and Jazz Night died.

Meanwhile, another restaurant client was raking in customers with an ad that read like this:

½ Price Appetizers
Monday – Friday

Clear. To the point. And everything my ad wasn’t. So as you’re creating marketing materials for your business, try this experiment:

Picture your target customer. Remember that he has no idea what your business is or what it does (even if you think he knows – pretend he doesn’t). Now picture him walking down a crowded street with a cup of coffee in one hand and a screaming kid in the other. He sees your ad for a fleeting second as he passes by.

Did he get your pitch? Did he catch your name?

If not, go back to the drawing board and keep trying until he does.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Harry Beckwith Visit

I had the honor and privilege of meeting and hanging out with marketing genius Harry Beckwith last week. Harry came to Charleston, West Virginia, to serve as the keynote speaker at the West Virginia Conference on Entrepreneurship 2006.

For those unfamiliar with Harry Beckwith, he is the author of several best-selling books, including Selling the Invisible, The Invisible Touch and What Clients Love. I have read his books and the pages of my copies are filled with notes, highlighting and tabbed sections. Selling the Invisible was named as one of the top ten business books of all time. Harry is an accomplished brand builder whose clients include Target, Microsoft and Gillette.

Harry was gracious with his time and ideas. He was humble, kind and unpretentious. I had the pleasure of taking him to dinner and a brief tour of Charleston. Most impressively, he was impeccable with his service and quality in engaging with our conference steering committee as our keynote speaker. Whenever we needed information and whenever we had questions, Harry was easily accessible and quick to respond to our queries. [Thank you, Harry!]

From his presentation, I was reminded of the importance of storytelling in marketing. Marketers must be great storytellers. Harry shared many compelling stories and examples with our group. I recall his story of a successful direct-mail campaign for a high-end jewelry merchant--gems and the story of The Yellow Canary.

So, I ask you, fellow marketing geniuses, does your brand tell a story? Do you enable customers and prospects to engage with your brand on an emotional level in compelling fashion?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Marketing or Word-of-Mouth?

Many folks say or think: "Why should I spend money on marketing. Can't I just rely on word of mouth to grow my business?"

It is not an either/or matter. Word of mouth (WOM) is a form of marketing. In fact, WOM is one of the most important, credible and effective forms of marketing. Let's face it, people make buying decisions based on trust, especially on recommendations from those they trust. The simple fact of the matter is that good marketing reinforces and stimulates WOM. An advertisement, or a billboard, or a piece of marketing literature can remind someone to make a referral--or ask for a recommendation or assessment. In fact, I believe that you should design your marketing program with the notion of having your promotional messages stimulate WOM as one of your primary objectives. It does not have to be, nor should it be, viewed as a choice between WOM and marketing.

One of my friends in the business says, "If you have 60 years to grow your business, relying solely upon word of mouth is fine. If you don't have that much time to wait, you had better start marketing."

Credit to that marketing genius and friend for articulating it perfectly.