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.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Successful Event Promotion: Create WV 2008

The picture at left, while somewhat blurry and low-res, shows one important measurement of the success of an event: a packed house!

At Maple Creative, we measure a successful event in three ways:
1- Packed house, standing room only
2- Full media coverage
3- Smiling happy client

The fellow standing on stage is our smiling, happy client, Mr. Jeff James. Jeff, who is one of the most gifted, passionate leaders I've ever known, is the chairperson of the Creative Communities Team of Vision Shared. Working with Jeff and his team of passionate volunteer leaders (change agents), made promoting the Create West Virginia 2008 Conference "an easy sell." In Jeff's words, "I feel good that the event execution has been in Maple's hands this year. It's great when things are organized. Great work by your team.

In terms of full media coverage, the state's newspaper, The Charleston Gazette, wrote two excellent stories. One was published on the 2nd day of the conference; the other, a conference recap, was featured on the front of the Sunday business section. These and many other positive stories were the result of a strategic, statewide media plan that we implemented over a four-month period from July through October. In crafting this plan, we worked carefully to create compelling storylines that provided diversity and relevance by focusing on various aspects of the conference: keynote speakers, record attendance, entertainment, venue and diversity. In such work, it is important to offset media fatigue, helping to mitigate reporters' potential burnout on event coverage. Again, in the client's words,"Really great work…I’m hard pressed to think of any event I’ve read more about since I’ve been to WV the last three years."

When we talk about full attendance and standing room only, we are not exaggerating. The goal for attendance was 300, which represented a healthy 20% increase over the 2007 event. In the end, we had over 400 participants in attendance. Despite the fact that we over-prepared, we still ran out of lanyards and name-badge holders. And on the final session of the last day, a full assembly and keynote presentation, when we expected some attrition, the venue catering staff had to set up extra tables and had to rush to prepare extra lunch plates. What a good problem to have!

In the end, this success story is one of planning & execution, teamwork & passion and the implementation of a leadership team's vision!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

7-Eleven Harnessing Election Fever to Engage Customers

The marketing geniuses at 7-Eleven have found a way to engage their customers this election season. It's simple and brilliant. Right now, whenever you get a cup of Joe at any 7-Eleven, you can choose an Obama (blue) cup or a McCain (red) cup. Essentially, every cup is a "vote." Naturally, the whole campaign (not a play on words, really) is supported by a nice, clean Web site. And given the fact that 7-Eleven sells one million cups of coffee a day, the promotion has the potential to generate fairly relevant, significant results. As you'll see on the Web site, they've done this before, and their previous results have tracked closely with those election outcomes. Indulge yourself and take five minutes to check out this clever concept.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Event Attendance 54% Increase

Through the efforts of a hardworking team of marketing professionals and passionate volunteers, registered attendance for CreateWV 2008 Conference is up 54% above last year. We had three big media hits this week, including a Daily Mail story about our keynoter, Rob Kitchin. We'll be doing some live blogging from the event, guest writing a news story and assisting with a special satellite news feed of our interview with First Lady Gayle Manchin from the event site at Snowshoe, W.Va. Tons of excitement and tons of momentum are rolling into the Create WV Conference 2008. Man, I love my job!

For more on the strategic marketing plan for this truly special event, read on.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Marketing an Event: What's Most Effective?

October is peak event season in our world. Conferences, annual meetings and grand openings abound. We are working hard and having so much fun promoting an exciting, important event. The CreateWV '08 Conference is right around the corner, Oct. 20-22.

We've had the honor of promoting this event, again for its 2nd year, working with a very talented planning team and an army of enthusiastic volunteers. The strategic, layered marketing plan, which commenced in July, includes the following tactical elements:

  • Earned media - press releases, Op-Eds, feature articles, newspaper tab, radio interviews
  • Direct mail - two postcards and an invitation brochure
  • Social media - blog posts, blogger carnival, Twitter presence, Facebook - event, group
  • Buzz / WOM accelerators - traveling art display of creative cones, "No Misoneism"
  • Advertising - a few targeted program/newsletter ads, banners, Facebook ads
  • Sales offers - early bird special, group discount program
  • Web site, event Web site and blog - all working in concert
The conference is almost sold out, with about 400 attendees registered. The event registration process involves a step to ask folks: How Did You Hear About CreateWV? After 100 days, we've got a good set of data to show what's working to drive such great results:

100 registrations from Direct Mail

50 registrations from Word-of-Mouth/Referral

5 registrations from Media/News

* (the other 200 didn't bother to tell us. we'll forgive them.)

What can we learn from this? In our electronic communications world, marketing messages printed on paper are still important and can be very effective.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Higher Education Online - a Guest Post

Friend and marketing genius, Jennifer Wood, has graciously agreed to share her insights about marketing her "product" - the University of Charleston - via the Web to her target audience of potential student enrollees. She will be sharing a multi-part lesson with us, beginning with today's first post. Enjoy these fabulous insights!

Higher Education Online

Those three words can mean a variety of things. As a graduate student studying online, it makes me think of the research and assignments that go along with any academic program.  However, it also relates to my work duties.   I handle web site updates and electronic marketing for the University of Charleston.  The world of technology and electronic communication is vast and for many businesses, including that of higher education, it is imperative.

My days are spent promoting the University through our Web site, Facebook events/groups, Google/Facebook ad campaigns, and researching other ways to promote the institution.  We’ve recently started using Twitter and Flickr to showcase photos from events or to promote the event itself.  Anyone who works in technology-related fields is aware that our world is continuously evolving.  If I didn’t keep up with blogs, news articles, and attend trainings about upcoming technologies, I would be completely out of touch with the resources and mediums available to me and the University.  Even with all of those resources at my fingertips, I usually rely on hearing the latest and greatest from my other marketing and tech-savvy friends through Facebook or Twitter.  My network and the sharing of information mean everything to my work. 

So, as an avid reader (aka “groupie”) of the Marketing Genius blog, I find a great deal of helpful information here.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some helpful hints for higher education marketers.  I look forward to reading your comments and your suggestions as well.

Lesson #1: Know your audience.  I know…it sounds elementary.  When we’re young, we think that we will never lose touch with our youth.  Truth is: we do.  I overheard someone say recently, “The last thing that a student wants to receive is an email. We should send them a letter.” Ask a 17 year old how often they look at snail mail that comes to their house or if they go to the post office and you’ll realize that it is greatly less frequent than the number of times they check their email, MySpace, and/or Facebook.   The comment was made by someone who has worked in higher education for longer than I’ve been alive.  I do not doubt their competency. However, it can have a negative effect on enrollment and retention when you’re out of touch with your audience.   When your main source of revenue is from people who are between the ages of 16-24 (give or take a few years depending on the level of nontraditional students), you need to rethink your strategies. They may utilize channels of communication that you aren’t comfortable or familiar with.  Burying your head in the sand and hoping that MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and the other social networking avenues will just go away is probably not the best approach.  Understanding how they communicate, how they make decisions, what they’re looking for, how they look for it….the list of things that you should know about your audience goes on and on. You can’t afford to be out of touch. 

Young entrepreneurs are popping up everywhere in this age of continuous communication and technology.  MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, and many other websites are not only popular but they were all created by young entrepreneurs. There’s another new “kid” on the block in the world of online content and communication.  In the latest COLLEGE Issue of the New York Times, Jordan Goldman is featured for the creation of a website that provides a “real” look at colleges and universities.  For Unigo, Goldman’s company, you need to think: YouTube meets electronic campus tours.  It is an unscripted, candid look at colleges through the students’ eyes.  The content is posted by students regarding the university they attend.  This provides a students’ perspective to prospective students.  To be honest, I read this article and was very excited.  Then the old school PR voice in my head got louder.  I realized that it would be content that we can’t control. In the times of YouTube, Facebook, online blogs, and many other avenues for students to praise or ridicule their alma mater, we have to let go. If we want prospective students to see a real side of our institutions (not just the administration’s approved messages), then we have to welcome these avenues of promotion. Goldman stated in the NY Times article, “It’s just harder to look at them as the main source of information. If you’re a college student, you are as much of an expert on being a student at that college as anyone.” 

Videos that I’ve watched on Unigo are shaky and many of the “videographers” (I use that term lightly) didn’t use a tripod. However, the information from the students is compelling. Students featured in impromptu video interviews state reasons behind selecting their school.  Some discuss their academic selection, social interests, and other things they “love” about their school.  They are also mentioning things that they wish were different and heed warnings to incoming students about things to ask or to prepare for.  So, I encourage you to get your current students involved in your marketing.  Find out what they are looking for, their interests, and their preferred means of communication.  Most students are quick to share information on their college experience. Most of them are also very candid. Allow them to have a voice.  Giving your students a voice is the most important marketing strategy for any institution.

Here are some links to check out--

NY TimesThe College Issue:

NRCCUA’s Enrollment Power Index: 

A review of college web sites with student subjects. Students rate your site based on several criteria.  UC received an A- this year (for our size), which is up from last year.  However, we still have much work to do. Feel free to visit our site and send me any critiques/comments.

Final Week: 9

My job is to:
Select a company that you believe does a successful job in implementing integrated marketing communications. What metrics are in place for this company to measure its success from an IMC perspective?

Any takers?

And keep 'em coming on the final project topic too!!

Thanks so much everyone!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Week 8

I am to select a direct marketing ad from my mailbox, a magazine or television that I don't find particularly effective. Describe the product or service being marketed as well as several aspects of the offer (e.g., price, payment terms, time limit, premium, incentive). What changes would I suggest to improve responsiveness to the offer? What changes would I recommend to improve back-end results (i.e., to generate better, more loyal customers rather than just more responses)?

Any suggestions marketing geniuses?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Who Can Solve It?

You tell me.

This probably oh, so obvious hidden design element is a part of the campaign making the public aware of the climate crisis.

The message of this campaign is, "WE Can Solve It"--subheaded by "WE Can Solve the Climate Crisis".

An excerpt taken from the 'About Us' section of their webpage:
The We Campaign is a project of The Alliance for Climate Protection -- a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort founded by Nobel laureate and former Vice President Al Gore. The goal of the Alliance is to build a movement that creates the political will to solve the climate crisis -- in part through repowering America with 100 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources within 10 years. Our economy, national security, and climate can’t afford to wait.

So when you find the design element, tell me what you think...about the logo and its message.

FINALLY, you say..."not another class question"
Don't worry...I'll be back with those in no time! =]

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This post brought to you by the letter C

A friend pointed out this neat tidbit today...
A certain university and a certain fast-food restaurant share similar logos... can you guess which ones?

HINT: The university is playing Marshall this week, and the fast-food restaurant has tasty chicken!

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IMC Case Study's still about 3 weeks away, but with 3 conferences/events that are scheduled right around that time as well...I thought I should get an early start on brainstorming for the project.

My job is to select a real-world company that has a specific marketing challenge and write a case study about it....

First I ask:
Any suggestions for companies with obvious marketing challenges--a company with enough history and information as so I can efficiently gather enough information to formulate a case study (that must include graphs, charts, data tables, web links, supporting documents, etc.)

Second I ask, from those of you who have written their own case study:
Do you have any suggestions or tips as to how to make the process of writng smoother and less-stressful [than I anticipate it to be]?

Again, thanks so much. Hope to hear from you!

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