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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What's the Scoop on Summer Interns?

Summer interns…not to be confused with cheap summer labor. Marketing geniuses, a challenge for you to look at the young new professionals entering our business. What are you doing to ensure the success of the new talent out of college?

Summer interns are undoubtedly hired every summer to “gain experience”. What can you do, as a professional in your field, to give them that experience and blow their expectations of a summer internship away?

Start by treating them as a part of your team. When you are hiring interns, be sure to choose one that meshes well with your firm and who you can trust to turn projects and assignments over to. Without the trust in an intern, it will be unfair for them to be bored at their “internship” everyday and it can waste a lot of experience someone else, better qualified to work with your team, could gain.

Be critical. Interns are just now starting to see how the marketing world works. Look at their work and tell them what they could do differently or better. Or, if it’s great…tell them it’s great. As a student, I know that I am thrilled to have feedback on anything I do, just to make sure I’m being the best I can be.

Show them things. Of course interns can’t take over a client and do everything for them, but you can show them what your team is doing for these clients. So, maybe they didn’t have the opportunity to write the press release, but get their input on it…You never know what kind of new and different ideas they can have or how the feel about what your company is doing for these clients.

Interns aren’t just hired summer help to do your clerical work. It seems as though that kind of reputation is given to them, but it has evolved into much more over the years.

So, geniuses…Have you trained your intern and given them experience that can help them be successful in the future? I know I’m ready for the next step in my life, and I hope your summer intern is, too.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Stay on top of your A-Game

Marketing geniuses-In our fast and growing profession, it is sometimes hard to stay motivated and focused. Here are a few tips to keep you moving up the ladder to your success.

Promote Yourself: Think of this as marketing for the client who you know the most about…you! Focus on the skills that you possess and use them to your advantage. Look at your achievements and project a persona of maturity, professionalism and competence.

Establish Relationships: Networking is becoming more important now than ever and it can increase your visibility in your field. Building relationships can help you move forward in your career. Look for new contacts or mentors and keep in touch with previous relationships. Head out to the local areas in your town or get involved with the many organizations and programs that are offered. Here’s another extra tip: Look at your boss. What kind of priorities do they have? Find out what they want from you and look for ways to surpass the expectations.

Three Skills you MUST Master: Goal Setting, Effective Communication and Time Management. These skills are great for any profession. Work with your boss or fellow employees to set specific goals and timelines that are attainable. If you are communicating effectively with others, setting goals and managing your time to achieve them, you’ll stand out in the crowd.

Stay Motivated: YOU choose the response to your environment. Start each day with a positive outlook so that if a negative condition comes up at work, you have the mindset to handle it responsibly. Increase awareness of yourself so you can learn how to cope with stress and manage different circumstances successfully.

Be Cooperative and Make Others Cooperate: People are more interested in what is in a deal for them, not what you want. So, be smart about this. Approach projects with this attitude and show that both parties in the deal can win. This is a more effective way to communicate in negotiations and it usually leads to you ultimately getting what you wanted to begin with…and maybe even a new contact or client.

Career Growth requires you to be Proactive: Review your performances and ask for feedback. Look at the progress you’ve made and use it to identify new goals and growth opportunities. Try to scope out a long-term plan for your future. Always keep a list of the contributions you’ve made to your company and any successes you’ve had, too…That way, when you are discussing a raise with your boss you’ve got the right tools to explain why you’re worthy.

Take a minute to stop and evaluate your current job and see if you can make any changes that can directly affect you AND your company!

Thanks to AOL Jobs Articles for the information used in this blog.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What's the dollar value of a brand?

According to an economist on the Today Show this morning, products with a recognizable brand can charge 25% more than generics.

Still question the importance of good marketing?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wal-Mart Changing Marketing

There's an interesting WSJ story today about Wal-Mart. Two things of importance there. First, they are coming out with an new advertising campaign that is softer and more emotional. The new campaign sounds pretty good. It should play well, especially with women, who hold the majority of retail buying power in America. The campaign's goal is to strike an emtional chord. That's almost always a very good thing in advertising. (By the way, love to hear what marketing-to-women guru Marti Barletta thinks of this new ad campaign.)

Notably, the giant retailer is also pondering its positioning. We all know that Wal-Mart offers the lowest prices. It's been drilled into our brains with consistency of message, repetition and huge advertising investments. "Always Low Prices. Always."

The WSJ news story reports that one of the possible new positioning statements is "Save Money, Live Better." I don't know about you, but I'm not crazy about that one. In fact, I do not feel that Wal-Mart should try to reposition itself. No matter what they do, they will always be associated with "Always Low Prices." That is simply the position they've have attained. It is indelible in the global consumer mindspace. Pork will always be "the other white meat." Likewise, Florida will always be "The Sunshine State."

I ask you, marketing geniuses around the world, what do you think? Should Wal-Mart attempt to reposition itself?

Here's the story excerpt (below)
Wal-Mart Raises Its Emotional Pitch

Wal-Mart Stores' back-to-school ad blitz aims to emphasize its product selection while striking an emotional chord with customers -- a sharp departure from its usual price-centric pitches.

New 30-second television spots are Wal-Mart's first major launch under Martin Agency, hired earlier this year. The new campaign comes as the world's largest retailer is anxious to keep a June sales lift going after disappointing spring sales.

Last year, the company promoted a more upscale image in a campaign that fizzled. This year's back-to-school push drops the once-ubiquitous smiley-face character and price "rollback" themes for a pitch in which actor-customers talk about how Wal-Mart fits their lifestyles. In one, actors recall childhood school-clothing choices while lauding Wal-Mart's low prices.

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I’m all for permission marketing.

If a company I trust asks for my email address, I usually give it to them because I want to know about their new products, sales, etc. does this pretty well. I’ve noticed that when I order a book, every couple months or so I’ll get a tickler email about a new release that’s similar to the one I purchased. As such, my relationship with Amazon is a nice give and take. I give them permission to email me and they don’t take advantage of that privilege.

But here’s where the train derails. Recently, I ordered products online from Red Envelope and Target. In both cases, I was required to submit my email address for confirmation purposes and shipping updates. No big deal, right?

If only.

Now – all of the sudden and without my permission – I’m getting about two emails a week from both companies with 20% off this or that, the latest gizmo, etc.

I get enough spam already, thanks.

The problem for these companies is that their incessant e-blasts have actually un-sold their products and damaged their brand. Not only have I NOT ordered from either site since the harassment began, but every time I see the name Red Envelope in my inbox I have to suppress a collective groan/ eye roll.

Now, imagine if someone had that reaction to your business. If that thought scares you (and it should) never send customers unsolicited emails. It’s OK to ask for permission to follow-up with them, but if they decline – respect that.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Success in Business

Here's one of the most memorable, humorous and essentially true statements I have ever heard about being successful in business:

Early to bed.
Early to rise.
Work like hell;
and advertise!

This comes from Oshel Craigo, the longtime owner-operator of several restaurant chains, including Tudor's Biscuit World and Geno's Pizza & Spaghetti. I heard him say this in a speech, more than 10 years ago. The line stuck with me. I happened to run into him last night at a business event.

On the one hand, it is great advice, especially for anyone in small business and especially in a retail-oriented business. Business requires amazing focus, tenacity and toughness. It's a dogfight every day. You have to show up. And it never goes away. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Personally, I happen to love it and would not trade it.

From a different perspective, his cleverly constructed advice-limerick is a genius line. In terms of speech making or message development, Mr. Craigo gave them something brief and memorable. The fact that it rhymes adds to its "stickiness."

A tip of the cap to Mr. Craigo and all of the other marketing geniuses who have the tenacity to compete and win in small business.

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You Looked at my WHAT Before you Hired Me?

Go ahead, Fess Up. If you’re on a blogging site reading entries from fellow bloggers, you can admit that you have probably checked your Facebook or Myspace account today. Caught you, didn’t we. :)

So, here’s the question. Just what kind of information ARE you posting on these famous networking sites? And, more importantly, are you aware of the risks involved with these sites?

Employers have caught the frenzy of these sites. They are logging on and checking on potential employees to see just what kind of activity is on their site. With everything from pictures, interests, previous jobs, groups and comments from your friends, an employer can learn a lot about you before you step foot into their office for an interview.

So, what kind of reputation have you given yourself from your profile? If you are allowing some promiscuous photos to be viewed on your profile or listing your favorite activities as “bar hopping,” you might not be sending out the best impression to others.

It is important to keep your information private, letting only your friends view your profile. Also, remember that the internet is uncensored…If you’re putting yourself out there, be ready for the risks and consequences that come along with it.

So, clean it up. Because if you’ve left anything behind, it could come back to get you!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What's The Media Appetite This Summer?

Marketing geniuses: Can’t stand the heat? Well, according to our friends at PR Newswire, it’s time to start looking to the fall and even the holiday season. Jump in and cool off.

Holidays: No, not Labor Day! Thanksgiving and Christmas…Don’t seem so shocked! It’s time to start getting things into the November and December magazines. NOW is the time to get information to the editors

Back to School: All kids will be heading back to school in the fall, so you guessed it…EVERY newspaper has to cover this topic in some way. Try to provide a different twist with your back to school ideas.

Those aren’t the only topics that the American Press is covering this season. Take a look at some more ideas to get your stories covered:

Business: If you offer a timeless piece that is always ready, newspaper and web site editors can fill space during their slack times. Some good ideas for this type of copy are a “Trend” or a “Technology” article.

Fashion, Beauty and Bridal: Skin care is always a hot topic for the season so focus on some tips to avoid sun damage. Also, spring bridal magazines are gearing up for the spring season so take advantage of the beautiful summer weather and get your photo shoot ready! Try a new focus on a back to school ad by coupling it with a fashion in a possible “Do’s and Don’ts for back to school.

Fitness, Diet and Nutrition: It’s summer which means we are wearing fewer clothes than normal. While we don’t have big, bulky sweaters and coats and long pants to cover our not-so-toned areas, it’s a great time to offer some useful dieting advice for the season. Or, get a kick-start into a fall workout program to be a knockout at your Company Christmas party.

Home and Garden: With an emphasis on environmental friendliness, the American Press is looking for those to be friendly to our Earth. Try pitching something that will maximize energy efficiency or conduct a home improvement with environmentally sustainable materials.

These sizzling summer topics can produce some great earned-media for you. Stay out of the sun and pitch some new ideas today!

Thanks to our friends at PR Newswire for much of this information.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Great Advice and Great Newsletter

Here's a wonderful insight in an excerpt from this month's "Jugglezine," a great e-newsletter published by the Herman Miller Company. What I love about most "Jugglezine" is its format: easy to read, useful and concise. Marketing geniuses always adhere to The Rule of 3 B's. Be brief. Be brilliant. Be gone!

Successful people know the power of stick-to-itiveness--whether it's used to launch a business or lose weight. In addition to not giving up easily, they also learn from their mistakes by embracing a temporary setback as a chance to reassess their game plan.Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, calls it "grit"--a quality that she defines as "tenaciously pursuing something over the long term." She believes it's more important than I.Q., grades, leadership skills, and talent when it comes to succeeding in work, school, and other areas of life. In her study of high achievers, Duckworth found that grit was one of best predictors of achievement for Penn undergraduates, West Point plebes, and national spelling bee contestants, among other survey participants.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Leading the Creative Charge in WV: Jeff James

We are excited to be working with Jeff James on the CreateWV initiative! Jeff is a marketing genius, who hails from Microsoft. For the past several years, Jeff led the Microsoft's Executive Circle program. Now, he has launched a marketing venture, Mythology Marketing.

Jeff and other leaders within Vision Shared have made great strides in advancing the creative sector of the West Virginia economy. They have identified, quantified, spotlighted and are now actively linking up the many creative people, places and networks that are found all across the Mountain State. You can learn more via the group's recently released whitepaper, "Culture, Creativity and Innovation - West Virginia in the New Economy."

Jeff is the lead blogger on the CreateWV blog, now a part of our blogroll. We are working feverishly on the launch of the CreateWV web site, which features tons of information, resources and social networking tools for the West Virginia creative community.

The Maple Creative team has been proud to have provided graphic design, Web design and public relations support for Jeff and his talented, creative cohorts! It is always a treat to work with a visionary and marketing genius like Jeff!

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Helping Community Service Organizations Make Connections

I had the pleasure today of leading a training workshop for a wonderful group of non-profit executives. This was a great group of community service leaders from West Virginia. The participants came from a diverse range of organizations, including:

Vista volunteers
Family resource networks
Homeless shelters
Mental health support groups
Community development organizations
Welfare-to-Work groups
Main Street organizations
Women's support & advocacy groups
Career training organizations

I have tremendous respect for the tireless, resourceful, passionate and effective leaders who are inspired to get the word out about their programs. They face many challenges, such as lack of funding, staff shortages and breadth of territory--not to mention complexity of message and audience.

Together, we worked to polish networking skills, audience mapping, message development and message delivery. The coup de grace was, undoubtedly, the videotaped elevator pitch session! (Again, great job everyone!)

This was all part of the annual Conference on National and Community Service, also known as the Faces of Leadership Conference. It is presented each year by the Volunteer WV organization. Everyone was eager to learn and share their insights, questions and experiences. It was made so much better by the presence, talent and energy of my talented co-instructor, Jennifer Wood!

Conference participants--a big welcome! Please leave a comment and say "hi."

Kudos to marketing geniuses everywhere who take the time to sharpen their skills and build new ones!

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Possibly the Coolest Thing I've Ever Seen!

Have you seen the new Surface from Microsoft? Words will not do justice. I urge you: go have a look right now!

Once you've seen it, tell us a few of the amazing possibilities that you see for this new technology.

Thanks to Mapleonian Emily Woodson-Tucker for always spotting the coolest of the newest!

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