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, May 29, 2008

Logos of the presidential hopeful

As we all know, a presidential election is on the horizon. If you did not know this, you must have been asleep for the past several months.

So while the news anchors and late-night talk show hosts discuss the issues and the controversies, I have been busy checking out the things that matter…

The logos.

And I must say, I think Obama is winning in the logo department; at the very least he gets kudos for originality. The design feels hip and new, it doesn’t resemble presidential logos of the past. Plus there is a nice subliminal message… a new dawn on America.

Hillary goes with a three-star three-stripe flag streamer underlining her name. First name of course. It makes for an ok design, albeit a design I’ve seen a million times before. It’s not necessarily memorable. That, and "for president" seems like it was thrown in as an afterthought.

And McCain is topped with a military star growing yellow triangles. Ok, we get it already. You served in the military. I must admit that it is refreshing to see him step away from the red/white/blue palette that every candidate seems to use. It is also simple and to the point.

Regardless of who you are supporting for president I’d like to see what others think about the logo design of the candidates (and sorry to all the candidates I left out).

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tap in to Your Customer’s Ego to Tap in to their Wallet: A Lesson From M&Ms

Starting next month, we’re all going to be able to print our face on that iconic candy that does (in fact) melt in your hands – M&Ms.

M&M Faces allows consumers to upload a photo to and print it on a batch of M&Ms with a personalized message. (Oh, the possibilities….)

This is marketing genius on so many levels, but here are my top two:

1.) M&Ms understands that we are now in a consumer-driven marketplace where customization is king.

2.) M&Ms understands that their product itself isn’t all that groundbreaking (i.e., candy-coated chocolate), so they’re setting themselves apart with truly groundbreaking promotions.

So, for being one of the first companies to truly initiate a dialogue with customers – anybody remember the contest where you could vote for the next M&M color? – and for keeping the conversation going – see above and - kudos the folks at M&Ms!

Hmmm.... Wasn't there a candy bar called Kudos at one point?


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Engaged Fans Promoting Starbucks on Facebook

The image at left is a screenshot of a Facebook application dubbed "My Starbucks." I received an invitation to join it by way of my Facebook friend, Betty. "My Starbucks" Facebook widget enables fans of Starbucks to have a conversation around their beloved brand.

It's also possible that engaged fans (like Betty) could persuade a few new folks to think about (or try) Starbucks, based on a personal endorsement. When Betty (or any trusted friend) points me to something they believe might be of interest to me, I am inclined to take a look. It's another marketing touchpoint for Starbucks. This is the power of social networking, the power of the groundswell.

The beauty of this, and the take-away point: "My Starbucks" was created by two college grad students from Wisconsin. It wasn't created by Starbucks. And it has 4,565 active users.

Repeat: Starbucks didn't hire them to do it ... or authorize them to do it. They were driven to do it on their own. And that carries far more credibility than if Starbucks created this and tried to dump it on their customer base.

Here's a bit of description from the introduction page:

About My Starbucks®
Starbucks® is moving from every street corner to a profile corner near you. My Starbucks® lets you sport your favorite drink, send drinks to your friends, and caffeinate your Facebook experience!

Update (Dec 14th)
We have been listening. There is now a drop down link on the order page to get "Advanced Options." Now there are tons more options to make your drink yours! Have fun, keep the ideas coming, but we do like to sleep some times! :-)

The developers of and this application are in no way affiliated with Starbucks®. This application is for the enjoyment of fans and customers of the company.

Supposedly, this widget enables users to order their favorite Starbucks beverage (in advance, online) via Facebook for pick-up at the Starbucks location of their choosing. From what I could see in the comments, the application still has a few technical kinks to be resolved. But who cares. In our new Web 2.0 environment, you only need to inspire some customers to become fans. Look what they can do ... to help you, or to hurt you. Starbucks has absolutely no control over this.

The point is this: Marketing geniuses around the world are learning how to tap into the power of Web 2.0 and social networks, benefiting from the groundswell!

And here's a great resource, if you'd like to learn more: Next Generation Marketing.

A fantastic new book from which to learn more: Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Referrals and Service Recovery

At Next Generation Marketing, we recently presented a great deal of information about referrals. I wanted to share some additional information and resources about this important topic. It's worth a deeper look.

We all know that people live, socialize and communicate within networks ... and today across social networks such as blogs, forums, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc. People talk about their kids, hobbies, their vacation destinations and their favorite sports teams; naturally people also share their experiences as consumers.

Studies prove this. The Coca-Cola Company conducted a study in the late 1960's and found that a highly satisfied customer is likely to tell four to five people, on average, about a positive experience. On the other hand, a bad experience will also be communicated—to an even greater extent. Coke learned that a dissatisfied customer is likely to spread the bad news to nine or 10 people.

Such information provides substantial motivation to the business owner to seek out and repair customer complaints. In fact, such situations create an opportunity for a company to inspire a loyal, engaged customer. (Remember, you cannot convert a customer to a loyal advocate. You have to inspire them to become advocates.)

When a company successfully recovers from a service snafu (i.e., makes it right for the customer and successfully addresses the situation), it can be a very powerful experience. The Coca-Cola study found that in service recovery situations the consumer is likely to share the news of the resolved problem with nine to 15 people. Today with the prevalence of social networking tools the numbers are likely multiplied. Still, the ratios are likely to remain intact.

As Justin Seibert explained: "You only have two opportunities to make a good first impression. One occurs upon initial contact; the other occurs after you've screwed up (and fixed things)."

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Three Marketing Guys

Search No Evil
Inspire No Evil
Speak No Myths of Evil

Pictured above (left to right): Justin Seibert - President, Direct Online Marketing, Wheeling, West Virginia; Skip Lineberg - Chief Creative Officer, Maple Creative, Charleston, West Virginia; and Jeff James - CEO, Mythology, Charleston, West Virginia.

Photo courtesy of Jason Keeling, photographed at Next Generation Marketing, Huntington, W.Va. May 13, 2008.

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Marketing Rock Star - Elizabeth Pellegrin of CAMC

CAMC Chief Marketing Officer Elizabeth Pellegrin was our lunchtime marketing Rock Star. She spoke to the sold-out crowd at Next Generation Marketing in Charleston about a day in the life of a CMO and the high-level view of the fit for new marketing in the overall marketing mix.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More - Next Gen Marketing - Huntington, W. Va.

Justin Seibert in action, making a compelling point about customer engagement at Next Generation Marketing, an intensive, high-impact marketing workshop.

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Next Generation Marketing Huntington

Jeff James engages the audience around new rules, new marketing. Our series continues tomorrow in Charleston, then later this month in Morgantown, West Virginia. We'll wrap up in Martinsburg on June 12. Thanks to everyone who attended today! Great to be in the learning space with you.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Next Generation Marketing

A few hours ago, we finished preparing for the Next Generation Marketing workshop. Tomorrow is our first stop on the roadshow. So it's off to Huntington, West Virginia, and the Pullman Plaza Hotel. Here are a few highlights from the content presentations:

  • Sticky Stories
  • Scandal
  • Petroglyphs
  • Archetypes
  • Detractors
  • Raving Fans
  • Engagement
Sounds like something fun, doesn't it! Hey - if you use your imagination that list could be the storyline (chapter titles) from a Harry Potter novel (the one where he conquers the villains to the delight of everyone before winning the girl). Or not!

I am excited to learn from Jeff James, Justin Seibert and all of our guests. Plus, I can't wait to hear Snowshoe Mountain Resort CEO Bill Rock talk about marketing a mountaintop destination.
And we picked up some press over the weekend in the Charleston Daily Mail and Huntington Herald-Dispatch!
Several seats remain in Huntington but Charleston (on Wednesday, May 14) is almost full to capacity. Check out our nifty event info site and register before it's too late!

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Brand Tags - You Must Check This Out!

It is very rare that we repost content from other blogs or point our readers to other Web sites. Our policy, by contrast, is to offer original thoughts, observations and perspectives. In the case of Brand Tags, we find one of those very worthy exceptions that's worth encouraging you to go see. The creator of Brand Tags is Noah Brier, a New York communication strategist and observer/reporter of media trends, especially those related to Web 2.0.

Most marketing professionals and those among the audience who are marketing enthusiasts are students of brands. If you are like me, you enjoy getting inside a brand and understanding the associated perceptions, the factors that influence and constitute a brand's position. Brand Tags is an extremely simple and well done tool that has been created to solicit and analyze such perceptions. It is a tool that I could see becoming widely adopted in the professional practice of brand development. Brand Tags is the proverbial "simple, elegant" solution.

Kudos to Noah and his team for creating this innovative, promising Web application! Go check it out and please post your thoughts in a comment here.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ethical Void in Marketing?

A couple weeks ago I attended a presentation on ethics in business in Charleston, West Virginia. The presenter, a tenured professor from a respected local university, was commenting on how consumers are justified to expect honesty in corporate communications. Telling the truth was right and just and a mark of corporate integrity, he explained. Then, recognizing the need to clarify his statement, he paused to note the following exception: “Well, except for marketing and advertising. We all know that marketing communication is inherently full of lies.”

I almost fell out of my chair. What was plain to him was entirely troubling to me. He was inferring that marketing is devoid of ethics.

Maybe I should not have been so shocked. After all, Seth Godin, one of America’s most popular and respected marketing gurus, published a book entitled, All Marketers Are Liars. (And he’s a marketing guy!)

It troubles me that marketing is plainly perceived to be full of lies. How did we get to this point? More importantly, what can we do about it? Help me out with your thoughts and suggestions, my dear marketing geniuses.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Sign of the Times and of a Smart Marketer

Likely, sales have been slowing for this jewelry retailer, as is the case for many retailers across America. Delfine's is an established, respected jewler in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. The just hung this banner a few days ago. The eight-foot wide vinly banner reads: "Long-term wife insurance."

I love two things about it:

1- Delfine's is doing something proactive; they're trying something new! And how many people would just cut the prices and not do anything to pull people in to the store?

2- They understand the benefit of what they are selling! When a man buys jewelry, he's not purchasing a gem set in precious metal. No, he is buying the insurance of keeping his wife happy. Does anyone remember our "Five Benefits" post from a couple years ago. It's worth a re-read. And the jewelry-buying husband certainly enjoys benefits #3 and #5 from my list. Maybe you do need to re-read the "Five Benefits!"

Regardless, I commend Delfine's for their witty "Wife Insurance" banner ad. And I am anxious, as always, to hear what the marketing genius community has to say!

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Monday, May 05, 2008

New Animal Planet Logo

This is the new logo for the cable television network Animal Planet. The network is a favorite of my three-year-old son. We watch many of their interesting programs together. He likes the Meerkats and most of the monkey features (not surprising, and perhaps quite genetic, if you know me very well!). Some of the shows with the sharks and lions are "too scary." But that's not the point.

I am not too keen on the new design. What do you think of it? To my eye, it seems too cluttered, too busy. What's with the sideways "M"? At a quick glance, my eye sees "A PLANET" and something resembling an angular "3". Are they trying to imply that the planet has become too small for all the animals? That animals have become squeezed into our planet? Or is it just poor design?

And now here's their old logo. It still looks pretty good to me.

Which do you prefer?

Did they improve or detract from the brand identity?

Let us hear from all of our marketing and design geniuses out there!

A special thanks to our friend, Andy Malinoski, for pointing this out to us.

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