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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A to Z of Marketing: I is for Innovation

To succeed in business you have to change and adapt. That is very easy to say and hard as heck to do.

In addition, to remain successful you have to have the awareness to see and understand how your customer base is changing. With that awareness in mind, you can begin to adapt your product or service offering to cater to their needs and desires.

When Canaan Valley State Park was built, more than three decades ago, it was focused on the needs of customers. Those customers, the Post-War Cohort group and the Leading-Edge Baby Boomers, were very much into golf and tennis. Wisely, the state park was built with a half-dozen tennis courts, like the ones shown in the photo at left.

Fast forward to 2007, guess what percentage of vacationers play tennis? Only around 9%, according to credible estimates I've seen recently.

So that presents a considerable dilemma. Tennis courts are big. They occupy a large quantity of real estate. Today, every square inch of real estate in a resort or park has to be utilized toward creating a phenomenally great experience for your visitors. In essence, every piece of land, every asset, has to generate revenue. Anyone in the tourism business today had better figure out what kinds of things today's (younger) visitors get excited about. What are Gen-Xers and Millenials (Gen-Y) willing and eager to do, or try, or see? (Pay money to do.)

Well, one thing they love is adrenaline. What if you provided a place where they could bungee jump, spin around and hang upside-down in midair at 20 feet off the ground! Tell you what: the young man in the photo at left was loving it! (And so were his buddies. )

How about skateboarding? And rockwall climbing. Or paintball? Yep. Those things work. Now you're talking ... creating some interest and excitement!

So guess what! Our friends at Canaan Valley Resort State Park have taken 2/3 of the tennis courts, which were forgotten and underutilized anyway, and converted them.

From State Park to Skate Park!

And from tennis balls to paint balls!

This is a superb example of real awareness and innovation. Truly impressive!

Kudos to the marketing geniuses at Canaan! They knew that in order to survive and thrive they had to innovate.

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A to Z of Marketing - H is for History

This one is for all of the aspiring Marketing Geniuses out there who are looking for a way to stand out in a crowded business.

What do the following words mean to you?

“When you’re only Number 2, you try harder. Or else.”

The answer is that they are classic advertisements, still regarded as among the best in the field.

“Lemon” is the infamous Volkswagen ad that successfully launched the company in the United States.

“When you’re only Number 2, you try harder” is the campaign that, in the words of advertising legend David Ogilvy, “made life miserable for Hertz, who was Number 1.”

“1984” is the futuristic, game-changing television spot for Apple Computers.

Why is this important?

Because if you want to compete at the highest levels of this industry (or any industry for that matter), you have to understand its history. In other words, you have to know where the business has been to make sense of where it’s going. In fact, I strongly believe that this knowledge drills down to the heart of who is passionate about their profession and who is not.

To get started, check out ad bibles such as David Ogilvy’s Ogilvy on Advertising and Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising. For more of a beach-read history, try Mary Wells Lawrence’s A Big Life in Advertising. There are plenty more to choose from of course…. the point is that you become the best by learning from the best.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

World's Strongest Man - Phil Pfister

Our good friend and neighbor, Phil Pfister, is headed to Anaheim, California, to defend his title. The World's Strongest Man finals will be held September 21 - 23. Phil has once again made a strong showing, reaching the finals, to compete against rival strongmen from Poland, Estonia, Sweden and England.

Good luck, Phil. Bring back another title!!

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Monday, September 17, 2007

A to Z of Marketing: G is for Generational Marketing Theory

Wouldn't it be cool if you could anticipate the type of photograph that will resonate with your audience?

How great would it be if you could use more powerful or more persuasive examples or stories with a given audience group?

What if you had some insight, in advance, about how a particular audience members will behave as consumers? Who might respond most favorably to a discount? By contrast, who might be more jazzed about a beefed-up warranty?

Looking at this proverbial marketer's wish list, all of these things are possible with generational marketing theory. Cool, huh!

Generational marketing theory, also known as cohort group theory, holds that humans are affected by certain life-shaping events that have a strong impact upon our beliefs, tastes and consumer tendencies. As we share these events at various times of our lives, especially during our adolescent or formative years, it causes us to become more alike with respect to our cohorts or generational peers. Without getting too deep into the theory, it also says that we are affected in similar fashion by government and media practices. Other societal factors play a role in this too: medicine, technology and the economy.

Now, what are some of these cohort groups? You'll recognize several--
Generation X
Leading-Edge Baby Boomers
Trailing-Edge Baby Boomers
Millenials or (Gen-Y)

In short, Generational Marketing Theory says that our world can be sorted into generational groups of people who share common hobbies, interests, thought processes, buying patterns and other behaviors, based upon their shared life experiences.

Consider how different the value systems of those who lived during the Great Depression are from those who lave lived their entire lives during prosperous periods. The theory begins to make sense, doesn't it?

Here's one, quick example: Gen-X versus Boomers - buying habits
Gen-Xers love to shop around and are very price conscious. They are voracious pre-shoppers and are masters at using the Internet to evaluate one offer versus another. In total contrast, Leading-Edge Boomers are very much driven by convenience. They are the utlimate impulse buyers. Big spenders, these Boomers see it and have to have it now.

Before you begin to shout, "Hey - don't stereotype me!" Please understand that this theory is only used for high-level shaping and direction. It is never definitive. Nor is it a replacement for research. The theory certainly understands and allows for individuality. Still, it is very useful.

There's more here on Generational Marketing Theory, should you wish to learn more.

For those marketing geniuses who really want to deep dive, go buy a copy of Defining Markets Defining Moments, by Geoffrey E. Meredith & Charles D. Schewe, PhD. Hungry Minds, Inc., New York, 2002.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

A to Z of Marketing: F is for Flighting

Ready to double your exposure and your effective frequency, while not increasing your advertising campaign budget by even one extra dollar? The solution involves an easy, though not obvious, tactic called flighting.

Here's how flighting works. Let's say you have $48,000 to spend on advertising for one year. The average human would allocate the budget in even, equal increments. The monthly budget would be $4,000, right? That's just good common sense, no?

Yeah, well, that's one way to do it. But certainly not the smartest way.

The marketing genius knows to organize his campaign into strategic flights. Flighting is pretty simple, really. The basic concept is to concentrate your advertising around key periods. You keep the budget the same, but when you're on, you are on strong. When your are off the flight, you go completely dark. Your audience will perceive that you are advertising--even during the dark periods, since you have made a stronger impression with them during your intensive flights.

The savviest of national advertisers do this. McDonalds and Coke utilize flighted advertising. They do not advertise year-round; it just seems like they do. When is the last time you saw a Coke ad? Was it Super Bowl or holiday time? Was it during a championship sports season? Perhaps it was during an entertainment awards show? Point is: Coke doesn't advertise on any old mundane Monday in mid-summer. Neither does McDonalds. Nor does Nike.

Now. back to that $48,000 advertising budget. The marketing genius would find out the key seasons or opportunities for advertising and allocate the majority of his budget into flights that correspond to that time frame. Let's say that Fall and Spring are crucial times. Here's how a flighted campaign budget might look:

January - Dark
February - Dark
March - Dark
April - $8,000
May - $8,000
June - $8,000
July thru September - Dark
October - $8,000
November - $8,000
December - $8,000

Half the time--at the most important times--the advertiser will have the effect of twice the impact, or double the frequency. Who cares if no one sees you during weaker periods? They are probably not ready to buy anyway. Flighting is psychologically proven and cost productive. Flighting works. Try it on your next campaign, and watch your marketing results take flight!

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Monday, September 03, 2007

A to Z of Marketing: E - Essence

If clarity is a sign of effective marketing, then how do you get there? The answer lies in finding a product’s essence. Once you boil away all of the fluff, the essence of the brand should be its greatest consumer benefit.

In fact, it’s well-know in marketing that if you are about to launch a full-scale campaign with ads, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, etc. that you should always start with the billboards first.


Because effective billboards use seven words or less – thereby forcing you to hone in on your product’s core advantage. And forcing you to practice that other great e-word - “edit.”

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