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.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Another Question from the Audience: Social Networking Sites

Conducting marketing training is one of my favorite activities in the spectrum of our practice here at the marketing firm of Maple Creative. At our workshops and seminars, I always collect questions from my attendees. The ones that we don't address in class often make good blog topics.
Q: Is there any reason for an organization to build their own social networking site instead of using ones that already exist?

No! Rarely can marketing questions be answered succintly. Now, here are three, straightforward reasons why no company or organization should attempt to build its own social networking site:

1- Traffic - You need it. Today, you have none. Facebook, for example, is viewed on a daily basis by 12.9% of all Internet users. It's the 5th most popular Web site on the Internet. It has many great, built-in applications (join group, events, bulletin board, chat, form sub-groups, one-to-many and one-to-one communication, etc.). Facebook has tons of traffic--and it is free! By contrast, it takes tons of investment and a great deal of time to build traffic for your new site.

2- Experience - You are late to the game. You have little to no experience. Existing sites like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook, have a deep track record. They are continually striving to improve and refine their products, based on insights gained from their experience and feedback received from users. Let the experts do the hard stuff. Adapt and customize their applications to suit your needs. To do otherwise--at this juncture--is a total waste of time and resources.

3- Convenience - Your target audience is already using certain social networking sites. They may be using several, in fact. Plus, they have 2 - 4 email accounts to visit and manage. The last thing they want is one more Web site to deal with today. Build your presence and place your social content in a convenient location--one that your customer base is already visiting. Make it easy for your customer; don't burden them with something else to worry about.

There are many other Web sites that have a social networking element (or elements). Flickr (photo sharing), YouTube (video sharing) and (content tagging and sharing) are but a few. These might be a better social networking solution for your company or organization than Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. If you want some guidance on which social networking site(s) to build your effective platform upon, you have two options. You can certainly poll your audience directly to find out their preferred sites. When in doubt, ask!

You might also refer to The Groundswell, a wonderfully eye-opening and well-researched book by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff that explores the social media habits and trends in today's world. I highly recommend this book. It gives great insights about social media preferences according to demographic and psychographic factors.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Pepsi Co. has been changing a lot lately, as seen in the previous two blogs about Pepsi and Tropicana (a Pepsi-owned brand).

In October 2008, Pepsi announced it would be changing the design and identities of their key brands due to decreased sales. The new designs have been making their rounds about the blogosphere for a while, but the new packaging is just beginning to hit store shelves. 

The sales drop could explain why the “new look” of these brands looks… well… cheap. It seems Pepsi is hoping the simplified cheaper-looking designs will cause consumers to grab their product before CocaCola’s expensive-looking design. 

Today… Lemon-Lime! 

Optometrists rejoice!

Once a sunrise on an ice-capped mountaintop, Sierra Mist is now a blur. Why they chose blurry as a design concept, I’m unsure. A commenter on the Global Package Gallery said the new design “is clever in theory, but just makes me feel like I'm going blind.” 

Mtn Dew, now more x-treme

The biggest change to Mountain Dew is the name, perhaps to reach a younger audience… one that is accustomed to shortening words in this texting/instant messaging era. The new branding hasn’t hit the official Web site yet, but I look forward to seeing what they come up with.


* A sidenote… why are both of Pepsi’s lemon-lime drinks named after mountains and moisture? I can’t wait for them to unveil Appalachian Fog! 

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Monday, January 26, 2009

What a Nice Surprise: Top 100 Business Blogs!

Earlier this month, I was notified that Marketing Genius blog was tapped for a new honor. What a nice surprise it was to be chosen by the folks at Web Design Schools Guide as one of the Top 100 blogs for small-business cost-cutting inspiration! And in a time when almost every company is tightening the belt, it is an especially nice way to be recognized. We're listed along with some great bloggers, including Seth Godin, John Jantsch (Duct Tape Marketing) and Ben & Jackie at the Church of the Customer. Check out the full list at:

Top 100 Blogs For Small-Business Cost Cutting Inspiration
"In this economy, everyone’s looking for ways to cut down, and small businesses are no exception. One of the best ways to save money in business is to examine your annual expenses and consider how you can decrease those costs. Thankfully, there are some pretty amazing resources to help you figure out new ways to do just that. Check out what we consider to be the top 100 blogs for resources and inspiration to cutting your small business costs in 2009."

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is Packaging Design Moving Down-Market?

Chatting recently with colleague Andrew Carnwath about packaging design, he mentioned the new Tropicana look. His take on the new design is that it looks less expensive now (i.e., cheaper). The conversation prompted me to take a look at Tropicana--and some broader questions.

Others have shared Andrew's observation that the new design looks cheaper. As noted by the folks at Under Consideration on their "Brand New" blog: "This new packaging feels, at best, like a discount store brand with what looks like, again, at best, rights-managed stock photography if not outright royalty free."

And the folks at Brand Curve observed that the new design looks generic, stating: "I'm assuming that Tropicana didn’t mean to turn its packaging into a generic knock-off, but that’s exactly what’s happened. They’re not fooling anyone. The cheap looking 7-11-esque packaging doesn’t make me feel any better about forking over a whole lot of money so my kids can get their Vitamin C in the morning."

To its credit, Tropicana has dealt with the packaging redesign on its Web site, providing a nifty, helpful "juice finder" application. I'll give them credit for that. Tropicana explains, "We've given our products a little love - or squeeze - as we call it. It's a new look and a new energy, but when it comes to the juice, it's just the way you like it."

In times of economic recession, does it make sense for a company to position its product line(s) as more affordable? Is it smart for a company, like Tropicana (owned by Pepsi), to use a down-market design of packaging to broaden its appeal. Perhaps they were intentionally attempting to give Tropicana a more affordable, broader look and feel. Such moves could conceivably increase sales and resonate with new market segments. Conversely, a down-market move could also backfire. The old design is shown below for your reference.

So, marketing geniuses, what do you think? Was it an intentional, strategic design move? And in the general sense, do you like or dislike the new Tropicana package design?

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pepsi logo

Late last year, Pepsi unveiled a new look and a new campaign, which some have said looks similar to President Obama’s highly popular campaign logo (which I blogged about several months ago HERE.)

 A visit to the Pepsi “Refresh Everything” page lets visitors “speak their mind as a new president prepares to refresh the nation.” A commercial was released around New Years with the logo acting as the “O” in many words…“optimism,” “good times,” and yes, “hope.”

I wonder if Pepsi is present at the inauguration today?

Best wishes to President Obama and his family!



Bonus Hidden Logo Design:

There is a little treat when you look at the letters of the word “Pepsi.” You may have to tilt your head to see it.

(Hint: Think of the past!)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coming Soon: New Advertising Campaign for Maple Creative

Wow! I am so excited. We have a new advertising campaign in the works. And it's a doozie!

I'm not saying that because it is coming from my company. The concept was not my idea. In fact, it resulted from a recent great brainstorming session that we held at Maple Creative. Sure, we are a marketing firm. Advertising is one of our strong suits, in my opinion. But this new campaign is special.

Precursor ideas had been formulating for a couple of months, and in this recent session the "Group Genius" effect produced something that I believe is truly great. We decided to focus our 2009 ad campaign on creativity. Discussing the preliminary concepts around the brainstorming group helped us to come up with a brand-new idea, one that is better than anything any one of our talented individuals could have originated. It was inspired by many people and many discussions. That's the beauty of it.

While our new campaign is strong in the idea department, that is not enough to fuel its success. It involves a layered, multi-prong strategy. This new campaign lends itself well to print and multi-media formats. It will also adapt well to social media, such as Facebook, You Tube, blogging and Twitter. Finally, it is sure to generate buzz, with its experiential "on the street" elements.

We can't wait to show it to you. Stay tuned!

PS - The book "Group Genius" by Keith Sawyer is a very good read. I am about half way finished reading it. It is great to have an enriched understanding of the process that we utilize, nurture and treasure at Maple Creative.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Creating a Niche - Toothpaste

With few, if any exceptions, every human in the developed, civilized world has his or her brand of toothpaste. What's yours?

I've been a Mentadent man for about the past 15 years. It's a happy marriage. I am not looking. And I'll bet you are not giving much, if any, thought to switching your brand of toothpaste.

Given such market conditions, how does a consumer products company sell more toothpaste?

They have to create a niche. And, out of the nothingness comes "Night Time Toothpaste."

I didn't think I needed a night time toothpaste. But Crest thought I did.

Crest didn't set out to convince me to drop my regular (i.e., daytime) brand of toothpaste. They did not attempt to out-mint or out-whiten the competition. No, they totally avoided the notion of competing along the same tired, old "battle" lines.

And indeed, that was a wise marketing decision, because I would not have switched ... and would not have done anything new. Instead, they created this new category of night time toothpaste. It's a whole new space, really.

Crest caught me off guard. I thought, Maybe I do, in fact, need a night time option. So the other day at the supermarket, I purchased a tube of Crest Night Time Toothpaste. I'm giving it a trial on the pearly white for a couple of weeks. We'll see how it goes. If just one half of one-percent of Americans do what I've done, Crest will sell a million-plus tubes of its new product. And that's a start. Those are incremental sales for Crest, in an otherwise stalemate market.

Kudos to the toothpaste marketing geniuses for creatively finding a niche and filling it!

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Let's Welcome a New Blogger!

Please join me in welcoming my wife, Lisa Sherman Lineberg, to the blogosphere! Lisa's new blog is part of her new wellness consulting company. I'm so excited for her in this new venture, which blends and aligns all of her expertise--exercise physiology, nutrition, supplementation--into one focused offering.

Hop on over to and take a few mintures to post a comment for her.

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