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, January 31, 2008

Chili's Dog Tags - Clever Recognition Tactic

These "dog tags" were spotted yesterday worn proudly by our lunchtime server at Chili's in Charleston, West Virginia.
One reads: "Give Back." The other says: "Get Ready."
[Pardon the blurry, lo-res photo.]
Why was our cheerful, charming waitress wearing dog tags .. and wearing them with such pride? These dog tags, she explained, were earned. It's all part of a new employee recognition program underway at Chili's. She can earn a dog tag by completing a learning module or receiving a praiseworthy comment card (or survey) from a customer.
I've seen some really bland, ordinary employee recognition programs. Think paper certificate. Think blurb in the internal company newsletter.
Bland this is not! These dog tags are cool. Unique. Visible. Hip. I think Chili's has really struck a chord with these trendy badges of honor!
What does this have to do with marketing? It's part of "living your brand." We're going to be engaging with you in many conversations about "living the brand" over the weeks ahead. Sound good? Interested?

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Creativity Worldwide

We recently had the pleasure and the honor of meeting with a visiting artist from Milan, Italy. As part of our involvement with the Charleston Area Alliance, we are often treated to unique and enjoyable opportunities like this one. On Friday, we sat down with Mr. Dario Cardenia, art director and proprietor of B & W Creative. That's Dario in the photo, third from the left. Lineup is as follows (left to right): Thomas White, art director - Maple Creative; Clayton Ray, designer - Maple Creative; Dario Cardenia, art director - b&w creative; Skip Lineberg, chief creative officer - Maple Creative. Photograph was taken by Matt Ballard, president & CEO - Charleston Area Alliance.

What began with "Benvenuto, Dario!" ended with new found respect, new friendships and some wonderful realizations. Working through an interpreter, the very helpful and talented Maria Baker of Allcom, we discussed our roles and our practice of art. Dario reviewed a sampling of Maple's portfolio. Then, we were treated to a wonderful presentation of Dario's considerable freehand drawing and cartoon drawing talents. As we discussed some of our common challenges, tools & equipment and the perceptions of artists, Dario offered the following with sweeping, "gathering" arm motions: "Worldwide, worldwide!" Some things are, indeed, worldwide. What was also very interesting was the fact that the art (the design, photography and printed materials) spoke volumes ... with little or no translation required. We also agreed that art is a product of culture and that, therefore, all art has a regional signature or personality.

Take a few minutes and check out some of Dario's work. You can even try the Italian version! We hope that we will have a chance to collaborate with him very soon!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Awesome MLK Tribute from High Rocks

High Rocks for Girls is a wonderful, non-profit organization that I've had the pleasure to learn about and support. Their mission statement follows:

The mission of the High Rocks is to support and strengthen young West Virginia women from all walks of life. Our purpose is to educate, empower and inspire girls, giving them the confidence to lead active lives and work toward the long-term betterment of our community. We believe that by investing in girls, we are creating a strong, vibrant, participatory community for all of us; we believe we are investing in the economic, social, intellectual, and democratic basis of our future.

On Martin Luther King Day, the group and its participants sent out this sensational tribute. I think it is unique, rich and creative as all get-out! Posted below is the transcript from their live performance of their MLK tribute. (I wish I had been there to witness it!) This is so inspiring to me about all that is right with today's youth!

Martin Luther King, Jr Day
January 21, 2008
High Rocks for Girls Presentation at the Lewisburg WV rally and march
The theme for this year was “Nonviolence” and focused on MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech.

Haley: Teenagers live at one of the frontlines of intolerance, one where race, class, and gender discrimination takes a raw form--in the cafeteria, on school buses, and in home room. Before it becomes quietly institutionalized or disguised as something else, we see discrimination -- up close and personal -- it’s unmistakable racial slurs, blatant sexual harassment, and threatening notes left on a gay student's locker.

Courtney: My fellow classmates, my friends, my teachers, my neighbors, there is so much violence that goes on within the walls of our schools. We are losing the battle being fought against us: the battle of violence and the way it is just accepted. So many students are made fun of and threatened over their differences. You tell a teacher or staff about someone harassing you and threatening you and you never see anything really being done about it. We people have to live with discrimination.

While the gun threat this year at our school was a very real danger the little things are just as bad, if not worse. I have friends who have rarely been in an argument without getting into fist fights, other friends are being put in the hospital with head trauma after being hit with a lunch tray. If teachers aren’t leaving class to break up fights between students some are bringing their own arguments into the class instead of teaching us the lesson.

So yes, stuff like this has always been a problem but has it been to this extent? My mom thinks school is how it used to be when she was in school. I keep telling her you don’t understand. It is almost as if education doesn’t matter anymore, as if violence has swallowed it whole. What are we willing to do to make a difference?

Miriah: These are Martin Luther King Jr’s six Principles of Nonviolence. We would like to remind you of them today.

Shay: Principle 1: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
All girls: We are brave
Kelsea L: Principle 2: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
All girls: We hold out our hands.
Josie: Principle 3: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.
All girls: We keep our eye on the real enemy.
Amy: Principle 4: Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform
All girls: Good can come of the things that hurt us.
Chelsea W: Principle 5: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
All girls: We fill our hearts with love.
Amanda: Principle 6: Nonviolence believes the universe is on the side of justice.
All girls: We have faith.

Makaila: Now we want everyone in the whole audience to repeat after us. Ready?
All girls with the audience:
We are brave (make them start again if it’s not loud enough)
We hold out our hands
We keep our eye on the real enemy.
Good can come of the things that hurt us.
We fill our hearts with love.
We have faith.

Ashley S: I LOVE the idea of a non-violent world! And I think anything is possible so a nonviolent world is completely possible. I think a non-violent world would be so great in so many ways but I also feel like if people like myself had never experienced violence the way I did that I wouldn’t feel so strongly about getting good grades and having fun at college and finding and becoming my own person. And never putting anyone through what I went through. I also feel like if people hadn’t been through such hard times like MLK that there wouldn’t be nearly as many people to stand up for what they believe IN so strongly!

Bree: Dear Dr. Martin Luther King Junior,
I am writing this letter to you today to get you caught up on some stuff. What you did during the Civil Rights Movement was awesome. It helps make people think that maybe everyone is equal. Now days we all go to the same school. We can sit anywhere we want. We are united in many ways. Some things you may not know is that today has changed, but in a different way than you maybe would have thought. People are still judgmental except this time it’s not just race, it’s gender and social status, religion, and what you wear. I think today is just as bad as it was back then. I think you would be very disappointed and try to start changing the world again. Being a teenager these days isn’t that easy either. We worry about what we eat, how we look, are we safe, is someone going to beat me, should I tell the world I’m gay, and so on. Life is tough sometimes and I don’t think it will get any easier, but I guess it’s just one step at a time. Sometimes I feel the world should just realize we are all humans and we are all equal. And once in a while, I feel a moment of hope.

Ashley McF: A moment of hope: When I came to High Rocks I felt welcome as soon as I set foot on the ground. All of them were so caring. It gave me a chance to say “Hey I’m like everyone else here. I usually don’t fit in to most places especially when it’s the first time, but the people here don’t care what you look like, how you dress, or if you’re rich or poor. This gives me hope that one day the world could be like this.

Adreanna: Another moment of hope: I came to this MLK Day march in Lewisburg last year. Everyone was so happy to see each other out on this day. As soon as I saw all the people and started meeting them I knew this was a place for everyone. Even though some of us weren’t black we still wanted to celebrate this wonderful thing this man did. This also gave me hope that one day everyone will be equal.

Heather T: And even when it’s not easy at first, sometimes you can find a moment when we people change, a moment of hope: I went to an immigration rights rally in Tennessee. When I first got there I was scared out of my mind. My group was one of the few white people and it felt like the Latino and African-American kids were giving us looks like we shouldn’t be there because it wasn’t about us – like they were looking down on us. I really thought we should just leave and go home. But then they split us into different little groups and we made up random songs and moved around. That was the beginning of us bonding. By the time we left, I knew we were all connected, all the same, just different colors and different personalities.

Miriah: So from every mountainside let freedom ring.

Amy: So let freedom ring in our high school cafeteria,

Kelsey C: Let freedom ring in the halls when we go to our lockers.

Rebecka: Let freedom ring when we meet somebody different.

Chelsea W: Let freedom’s ring resound with joy.

Miriah: Let us fill our hearts with hope.

Amanda: Let us hold fast to our dreams.

All: Happy Martin Luther King Junior Day!

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Valuation of an E-Commerce Relationship

Recently we've been working on an e-commerce project for a client. The client's project involves a major Web play. And so lately I have been scouring the Internet and reaching out to smart friends to find the answer to these questions:

1- What is the monetary value of a registered member (i.e., an opted-in community member) on a retail Web site? This person has purchased a product or content from you.

2- What is the monetary value of an opt-in, e-mail address for an e-commerce prospect. This is someone who has not yet become a customer but who has granted you permission to add their contact information to your database.

The answer of course is: "It depends." But thanks to good friend and marketing guru Jeff James (a Microsoft alumnus), we can all refer to the following primer.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is the dollar value of a customer relationship based on the present value of the projected future cash flows from the customer relationship:

Customer Lifetime Value ($) =
Margin ($) X (Retention Rate (%)/1+Discount Rate(%) – Retention Rate (%)

In a web ecommerce scenario, that should be relatively easy to figure out based on the average dollar amount of a sale, average frequency of sale, etc. On a site where ad revenue is generated, it can be more complicated, but still doable.

Prospect Lifetime Value is the expected value of a prospect minus the cost of prospecting:

Prospect Lifetime Value ($) =
Acquisition Rate (%) X [Initial Margin($) + CLV ($)] – Acquisition Spending ($)

Acquisition rate above refers to your closing percentage, i.e., the percentage of prospects who will actually buy. In the case you reference below, the firm should have some idea of what percentage of prospects come to the site and registers, and what percentage of the registered prospects turn into buyers before they could factor this value.

Finally, here are a couple of other good sources for this topic and related ones (e-commerce, e-mail marketing, search engine strategies, etc.):

Marketing Sherpa

If any of our marketing genius readers have relevant info and would like to contribute to the knowledge base, please leave us a comment.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

2007 Holiday Retail Report A Mixed Bag

According to this excellent report by ComScore, the Internet economy (or eCommerce if you will) has been quite robust lately. Internet spending was up 19% for the 2007 holiday season over the previous year. That is incredibly strong! For the record 2006 was up 26% over 2005, but that does not dampen the robust nature of the 2007 holiday e-commerce retail spending data.

But what about traditional commerce? How's the old economy doing? Despite a strong, promising start (Thanksgiving weekend traffic was reportedly very strong - measured at 6.5% increase vs. 2006), bricks-and-mortar retail was weaker this holiday season. According to the New York Times, consumer spending for the 2007 retail season was up only 3.6% from 2006. The comparable year-over-year rates of increase were 6.6% and 8.7% for 2006 and 2005 respectively. [The analysis in the article also adjusts for higher gasoline prices to conclude that the net increase in retail spending for 2007 was more like 2%. Still it was an increase. That's not entirely bad.]

Finally, there's more of the overall holiday retail assessment to be gleaned from the following report from Thomson Financial (via ddi magazine online):
According to a preliminary same-store sales tally by Thomson Financial, 16 retailers missed projections, while seven surpassed forecasts and one met expectations. While weak results were posted across all retail categories,apparel retailers, such as Limited Brands Inc. and Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., were the hardest hit. Limited reported an 8 percent decline in same-store sales--financial analysts had predicted a decline of only 4 percent. However, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. reported same-store sales increases for December. Wal-Mart's same-store sales rose 2.4 percent, surpassing a forecast of 1.8 percent, while Costco posted a 7 percent increase in same-store sales, above the 5.6 percent prediction.

All in all, the 2007 holiday retail season was a mixed bag: somewhat weak overall, with a few bright spots. The notable exception was online retail, or e-commerce.

Any marketing genius who dares to say that the Internet is becoming increasingly important to business success is absolutely correct!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Calling All Charleston Area Bloggers

A couple of friends are working to jumpstart and rejuvenate the local bloggers group. It was known as CAB and met on Friday mornings at Taylor Books. [I was never able to attend yet, due to scheduling, but always wanted to join. Always heard good things coming out of those meetings.] This promises to be fun, informative and possibly even entertaining!

Oncee wanted me to spread the word. I'll post again with the date/time of the next CAB meetup.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Do You Have Collaborative Superpowers? Should You?

What's your superpower? Do you have super-human Ping Quotient? Or is your Longbroading ability off the charts? And how's your Mobbability?

According to game designer and future forecaster Jane McGonigal, we all have workplace super powers. Jane and a colleague (Jason Tester) developed a very cool, fresh view of what it takes to succeed in the work-world today. Their thesis, which I wholeheartedly support, says that we all have collaborative super powers. Check out this eye-opening, ten-slide presentation: 10 Collaboration Superpowers on SlideShare.

If you haven't heard of Jane McGonigal before, you will. If you'd like to learn more, why not check out her very inspiring, informative blog. Jane presents herself as a game designer and game researcher, but I say she got a healthy streak of marketing genius, too!

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Still Don't Believe in Blogging?

For nearly five years, we've been touting the benefits of blogging for small business. But hey - don't take our word for it. Check out what the New York Times is reporting.

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