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 28, 2006

Need to make your ads stand out? Try this.

CBS Sunday Morning recently ran a cover story on advertising in the U.S. It stated that in the 1970’s, Americans were subjected to about 700 ads per day. This seems almost quaint compared to the 3,000 different ad messages we see now. From corporations who will pay up to $15,000 to tattoo their logo on your forehead, to the not-so-subtle art of product placement in films and TV, it seems there’s no sacred ground left when it comes to marketing products.

Of course all of this begs the question, HOW can a business ensure their ads rise above the noise? To find out, Sunday Morning correspondents interviewed the top brass at some of largest ad agencies in New York. All of them said the same thing, i.e. if you want your ads to stand out these days, you’ve got to entertain the audience.

Recently I attended a dinner where seven people were imitating the Citibank identity theft spots with the old ladies. (“Sounds good ‘cause they free. Shoouuut.”) Now, when was the last time you heard of a credit card ad as dinner party conversation? My point is that lots of companies play it safe in advertising, but “safe” ads don’t encourage people to talk about your business.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

World's Strongest Man - Phil Pfister of Charleston

Congratulations to our friend, neighbor and client, Phil Pfister. This weekend Phil won the world championship, which was held in Sanya, China. Phil is truly a great guy, a father, a Charleston firefighter and community leader & servant. This is a great victory for Phil, for Charleston WV and for America!

Here's a post from the IronMind Web site:

It had rained the night before the last day of the 2006 MET-Rx World’s Strongest Man finals and the gray skies that morning looked ominous. It came down to the last event: Phil Pfister won the stones and the title.

As the start time of the first event approached, the weather was improving, which is to say it was merely getting very hot with jungle-like humidity. The hope had been that the very last event, the Atlas Stones, would be run around noon, but for reasons dictated by the government, the start time was pushed back to 2:30 and by then, it was pouring rain. At about 3 p.m. the decision was made to postpone the event until 4 p.m., with the idea that the weather might clear up by then, but if not, the event would just have to go on anyway.

At least in some quarters, there was a feeling that rain favored Phil Pfister over Mariusz Pudzianowski in the Atlas Stones - a wet surface would reduce Mariusz’s unquestionable advantage in foot speed, but the rain would also work against tacky, something that would hurt Mariusz more than Phil, especially given Phil’s longer arms. As someone very close to the core said, “Somewhere, Phil is doing a rain dance right now.”

It was still raining when the final event was getting underway, but when it came down to the final pair - Pudzianowski and Pfister - the pairing that would decide who would become the 2006 MET-Rx World’s Strongest Man, and who would finish in second place, the rain let up.

Pudzianowski led Pfister through the stones, maybe by a second, but on the final stone, Pfister was closing the gap . . . would it be enough?

You can play 17 holes very well and the title might come down the final putt . . . sink it, which is what Pfister did, and you get the win, but miss it and you drop the title, which is what happened to Pudzianowski.

Emotions ran high after, with Bill Kazmaier summing up a common feeling: “The 24-year drought is over.”

Somewhere, we hope that someone is telling Phil’s mother-in-law what a smart lady she is.

Consider this, Marketing Geniuses: Now wouldn't Phil be a great spokesperson and celebrity endorser for your company or product!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Welcome to a Marketing Genius in the Making

Those of you who do any public speaking will enjoy the following story. It demonstrates how we never truly know who is in our audience ... or whose life we might touch with our presentation.

About six months ago, I gave a 45-minute presentation on "Bootstrap Marketing Techniques for Your Non-Profit Organization" to a group of YMCA executives and staff. It was a good group, fairly energetic and tuned-in. I felt like I did an "OK" job as a presenter--not the best, not the worst. In fact, I recall that it was a very short, compressed presentation, and I recall feeling pressured by the time constraints of distilling a two-day curriculum into a meaningful, one-hour dose.

Fast forward to the present. I received the following e-mail message from a young woman who had attended that presentation. I have changed the name and some of the other information to protect her identity.

My name is Jane. I am the [title removed] for the Tri-County YMCA. I would like to let you in on a little bit of background about myself and the reason that I am contacting you. I am a thirty-two year old wife and mother of two. I chose to be a stay at home mother during the early years of my children's lives knowing that when they were older I would still be young enough to pursue my education and career. That time is now! I am working on my fifth year at the YMCA, within those five years I have worked in several different departments. Three years ago I became the [title removed], and last November I was promoted to [title removed]. Needless to say my career has been growing fast. One and a half years ago I enrolled at the local university on a part-time basis, and began taking general ed. classes not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. When my co-workers and I attended the conference in Charleston, and you spoke on the elevator pitch and bootstrap marketing my interest was peaked. I since then have changed my major to marketing. I am working towards an associate degree that can later flow into a bachelors degree, so thank you for inspiring me. The one thing that I am actually looking for is the title of one of the books that you recommended. You read some passages from it. The book discussed the different generations, what they had experienced, and how to appeal to them. I would love it if you could send me the title of that book and any others that you would recommend either for interest reading or research. I am very excited about hearing from you. Thank you for returning my call.

Sincerely, Jane

We just never know who we might touch in our work ... where it might happen ... or whom it might be. That's why it's important to always put your heart and soul into everything you do, whether at work or otherwise. And hey, if your work involves one of your passions, it can be pretty easy to do!

Won't you please join me in welcoming "Jane" to the marketing profession. I'm sure that she is a marketing genius in the making!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Good Quote from Sales Guru Jeffrey Gitomer

Found this in his e-newsletter and thought I'd share:

"It’s most interesting to me that every single company in the world tries to teach salespeople how to sell. Nothing could be more backwards or ineffective. What they should be teaching is how to position, how to promote, how to provide value, how to communicate, how to make presentations, how to engage, and how to connect. If you employ my first rule of selling, People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy, then you will understand that learning “how to sell” goes against the grain of human nature. It’s a hell of a lot easier to build trust by providing value than it is to make a sales pitch."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cookie Cutter Marketing

I am making an exception. One time and that's it. For years, I have said: "I will never accept a cookie-cutter marketing idea." Now, I am ready to eat those very words. Ironically, I have finally found one example of cookie-cutter marketing that is okay. It's actually quite good.

Instead of a cookie-cutter approach to marketing, which I vehemently oppose, this is a cookie cutter marketing tactic.

The image above is a cookie cutter. Well, it's a cookie knife, to be more precise. Allow me to explain how this is relevant. At our office, we have a tradition of ordering these huge, chocolate chip cookie "cakes" for birthday celebrations. We get them from our local Great American Cookie store. Recently the company began including a cookie knife inside the box with our order.

The cookie knife is great marketing. Simply great marketing ... for two huge reasons.

First reason: it is useful. If you get the big, huge cookie you need something to cut the cookie. That something is the knife. The Cookie Company has only recently begun supplying the cookie knife. It works. We use it. The beauty here is that the knife is adorned with the brand markings of Great American Cookies. Let's face it, they could have chosen not to supply the knife, or they could have supplied a crappy generic plastic knife.

There's a second reason that the cookie knife is great marketing. The cookie cutter extends the brand experience. Simply put, once the cookie is gone, the knife lives on to remind us about our delicious experience with Great American Cookies. You see, we never throw away the cookie knives. They wind up in our utensil drawer in the kitchen at work. There the cookie knives remain, as an occasional advertisement ... reminding us that Great American Cookies is still there, ready to help us celebrate our next important event. And, naturally, the phone number is right there for us on the knife itself.

Kudos to the marketing geniuses at Great American Cookies for adding a cookie cutter that creates an additional touchpoint for their tasty brand.