Posterous is Stupendous

posterous-logoI first discovered Posterous through Steve Rubel (big fan) and recommend you try it on for size. Posterous is a new, dead simple, easy, sexy and free blogging platform. The “secret sauce” of Posterous is that it acts more like a Blog hub. Rather than trying to pull people back to your site, it allows you to easily deliver your unique content where your readers are living life. I’ve been doing a deep dive into Posterous for the past few months and among many things, I love its email-to-Blog feature and free style form – check it out!


American Marketing Association – Pittsburgh Chapter

AMA InsertAs president of the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association ( for the 2007/08 season and members of the programming and communications teams, Stephen Wayhart led the 63 year old Chapter into the record books by building the largest membership of Pittsburgh marketing executives in its long history and achieved its highest increase in Revenue-to-Expense Ratio of 122+%!

AMA Pittsburgh Chapter goals were met working under an aggressive “Raise the Marketing Bar” Mantra.

The Chapter delivered more member value (3X the number of speakers than prior years), more innovative programming offerings such as Summertime Marketing Mixers, Fall and Spring Marketing Summits (Digital and Target Marketing) and Pittsburgh’s first Marketer of the Year and Hall of Fame event!


One Page Case Studies

GuinnessThroughout the early 80’s as a Golden Flash undergraduate at Kent State University I mastered many a case study under the tutelage of Professors’ Guinness and Jameson to name just a few, however in my last year I had a Marketing Case studies class that put me on the right track.

We were taught (presumably) an abbreviated version of the popular Harvard Business School Case Study Method. With all due respect to Harvard, whether this method entirely relates to their method is beside the point.  The plain and simple truth is that crystallizing a one page marketing case study works wonders.

Here are the 5 Steps to writing a one page marketing case study:

1. Define the Key/Central Problem in One Sentence

Seems easy, but very tough to do. For example, a retail firm I worked with in the past had lots of problems. Was it poor advertising? Maybe? Was it our sales closing rates – actually close rates were high for the industry. Net, the central problem was that “We did not get enough foot traffic through our doors to generate the number of sales we needed each month to meet our plan!!”

2. List Assumptions

Assumptions are statements of conditions that will stay in effect if you choose to do nothing. For example, “Our advertising is controlled by national marketing and we will have little influence over our message.”

3. List Alternatives

For example, “We could spend more money and advertise a local message.” List more here.

4. Recommendation (Choice of One Alternative in Step #3)

5. Rationale (Why You Chose Your Recommendation)

State why you chose this particular alternative – course of action – and provide a convincing fact-based point of view.

I continue to use this problem solving method today to crystallize every client engagement and I’m sure it will help you do the same.  Try it!

P.S.: I still benefit and enjoy the teachings of Professors’ Guinness and Jameson and a few more. And, I’m still benefiting from the teachings of my old Kent State marketing professor who I believe was David Ratz. Dave if you’re out there, thanks a million!


Whiskey Rebellion II

We led the “Whiskey Rebellion II” marketing strategy and rebranding of the Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation (F.A.C.T.) ( campaign to, “Axe the 10% Drink Tax”imposed by Allegheny County government on Pittsburgh area restaurants, taverns and banquet halls.

We provided expert Web site, email marketing and analytics, Web 2.0 strategies and executions and Public Relations counsel which led to national media coverage by the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal and a ton of media coverage throughout the Pittsburgh region!

Our award winning and record breaking marketing effort helped F.A.C.T. collect over 40,000 signatures (nearly 2X required) for a ballot vote of the people – the largest collection of Referendum signatures in Allegheny County history!

And, BrandMill won a first place Marketer of the Year Award in the Hospitality, Entertainment, Sports category from the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association plus three first place Renaissance Awards (Best Public Affairs Campaign, Best Press Kit and Best Poster) from the Pittsburgh Public Relations Society of America!


Do You Sell Black Cows

blackcow CANDYWhen I was a kid, my friends and I rarely had any money to spend on stuff like candy, pop and comic books at a little grocery store in called Luzier’s in Westwood – the 28th Ward of Pittsburgh.

However, from time to time, in our travels through people’s backyards and back alley’s we’d find old pop bottles which were worth two cents! And, if we’d collect enough through our pooled earnings we’d have enough to buy something at the store. Let me tell you, with an empty Coke bottle worth two cents, that special something at Luzier’s better be worth it and have lots of value.

For us, that special something was nearly always a Black Cow sucker!


Black Cows had a simple value proposition.  They tasted great and lasted a long, long time and cost a nickel – just two and half empty Coke bottles!

Black Cows were like a long flat Sugar Daddy (only BETTER) covered with a thick layer of dark chocolate on a stick.  You could do a variety of enjoyable and disgusting kid things with a Black Cow when it was in your mouth – you could lick it, gnaw on it, suck it, chew it, twist it around and more.  Plus, you couldn’t eat it with your mouth closed so its word-of-mouth value was huge too.

Believe me, if you were knocking back a Black Cow, anyone near you knew it first hand because it wasn’t something easy to disguise. And, another great thing about Black Cows was that once you bit into one it was impossible to share – another great kid feature.  Net – Black Cows were exceptionally kid friendly.

I’m not sure if they still sell Black Cows, but I wonder if you offer one at your business.

That is, do you offer products and/or services of high value and do you offer a unique experience too?

I’ve been a big fan of Seth Godin’s over the years and love his Purple Cow lessons too.

However, if you offer a Purple Cow and a Black Cow, you’d really be on to something awesome!

Remember, your value equation is simply the quality of the experience you provide divided by your price.

Create and sell Black Cows and Purple Cows too!


How About Some Provocative Cars Detroit

DeLoreanIn the past few weeks/days, I read an article in Ad Age titled, What to Expect From Chrysler’s Marketing Chief: Provocative Ads. And, an article in Automotive News titled, Chevy review is latest sign GM wants ads that provoke.

Provocative ads aren’t going to make Americans part with tens of thousands of dollars for a new car, but I’m sure provocative cars and trucks would – I’d bet $25,000+ – what a concept!

Speaking about concepts.  Every new car show I’ve attended – and I’ve attended many over the years all over the country – people are always amazed and excited about concept cars, but you never see them on the road! What’s with that?

What a shame and what a waste of our taxpayers dollars.

I was compelled to read both articles because of my early career in Automotive marketing and the concern I have for the industry and how it impacts our economy. We should all be rooting for Detroit to succeed  because when they do – we all do.

Research says that less than 20% of people who walk into a dealership buy a new car and drive away with it. These stats lead me to believe that Detroit lacks provocative “WOW” brands! I’d love to see the statistic about how long an average visit is!

Here are just a few more points I’d advise Detroit to mull over:

  1. Next to getting married, buying a new car is one of the most involved decisions one can make and auto manufacturers these days have to give real, tangible reasons to buy their products not just fancy ads
  2. Word of mouth (peer reviews, personal experiences, testimonials etc.,) is the most influential form of communication in a car purchase vs. ad campaigns and provocative new models would drive WOM
  3. Performance, design, efficiency, value etc., contribute more to WOM than Ads
  4. Mass media has lost a ton of influence, so big budgets and splashy ad campaigns are no longer necessary when the majority of people search online first – and search a lot online – when in the market for a new car. Brands could reduce their marketing ad spend and either reapply the savings to reduce the price of cars, put it back in design or more added value features
  5. It’s all about the cars – car marketing chiefs and their minions need to get more involved in the design/production effort by representing the customer and being their voice in the board room

Come on Detroit, you can do better!

P.S.: Is there another John DeLorean out there – maybe a slightly more disciplined and better funded one?


Be a Marketing Giant Slayer

Michelangelos_DavidMichelangelo was a painter, sculptor and a poet – a Renaissance Marketing Rock Star Triple-Threat!

I’ve been a big fan of Michelangelo’s for years – so much so that printed on the back of my business card is one of his famous quotes to serve as a branding reminder, I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

As legend has it, the quote was attributed to Michelangelo, when someone asked him how he created his David masterpiece.

I find the quote inspiring when it comes to solving brand marketing challenges for new and older established brands as well.

It’s amazing to me that Michelangelo began his epic work on the 17 foot David when he was 26 and finished a mere three years later when he was 29 and his masterpiece has lasted and been admired for more than 500 years.

When I take on a branding engagement for one of our clients, I’ll often reflect on Michelangelo’s quote about David, I’ll ask myself questions such as…

  • What is this brand’s true, singular essence?
  • What is it’s core reason for being?
  • What problems does it solve?
  • What were the creators’ reasoning for creating it in the first place?
  • Why should someone care and what’s its story
  • What is its dramatic difference and how can it be demonstrated

What Michelangelo was saying was that he saw the potential of the marble – yes, the angel was inside – all he simply needed to do was chip away the excess.

How many brands – maybe even yours – started as a beautiful angel, but over the years became encased in marble and weighed down with other product lines, features, price discounts etc.,?

I see it all the time in restaurant marketing with establishments that have huge menus, but do not do a single thing well – let a lone remarkable – and have no signature dishes you’d drive 20 miles to enjoy and pay full price.

When you look deeply within a brand or yourself for that matter you’ll see an angel emerge too – if you you hard enough.

Do it. And then, do everything in your power to help your angel soar!

If you do, I assure you that your “David” will be a Giant slayer!


New Diamond Shreddies

shreddiesIt’s all a matter of perspective.

One person’s garage sale is another person’s treasure trove.

This campaign for Shreddies is from last year, but I just came across it again.  I love it.

The ads feature comparisons between Post Shreddies and it’s new Diamond Shreddies.

Check out this Assembly Line Ad:

After my laughter died down, I realized that for my 2010 marketing plans for my client’s brands – as well as my own – I need to go back to the drawing board again to see how we can fully exploit all the features and services we provide to all of our audiences. And, can we simply twist and turn a few things to shed new light on a different angle on our products and services to drive more sales? Can we shake things up a bit more, twist them, flip them upside down, turn things around 180 degrees – or maybe just 45 degrees?  How about a little nip and tuck or maybe an entire facelift?

You should consider doing the same – we all should – because business as usual is not going to build your or my business – those days are long gone!

Check out this hilarious focus group commercial:

Here’s a link to Post’s Shreddies Web site:


Email Excellence

Email PopularityMost of the seminars and workshops I’ve given over the past year have dealt with improving Brand’s Social Media Smarts. Many in my audience tend to gasp, yawn or say, “get on with it” when I open with the fact they they need to get better at executing email marketing.
We marketers are always hell-bent on the next “new-new thingy” (e.g., strategy and/or tactic) instead of slowing down just a bit to make certain we’re striving for flawless execution on the prior “new-new thingies” we’ve somewhat abandoned to make way for the new “new-new-thingies!”
Email is still the “Mac Daddy” of online marketing when it comes to driving ROI – the Direct Marketing Association says it’s $45.06 vs. $1.00 – so, it makes financial and common sense to work harder on improving your email marketing excellence.
See this recent post to see how well your open and click through rates compare to your industry and list size averages.
Even though Social Media Marketing is all the rage and gaining ground, email still rocks!
None of these marketing tools are silver bullets – but they’re all big bullets and when you integrate them together, that’s where the magic is!
Sure, SMM will impact email marketing and other forms too, however it won’t kill it.

The MarketingSherpa (BIG FAN) chart above, shows one view of how email is used to share information – an activity central to social media sites. You can see how dominant Email still is when it comes to information sharing!

When you look at all forms of media over the past 50-100 years, you’ll see what Marketing Sherpa sees and that is, “a pattern of aggregation and adoption rather than replacement. Some media suffer in the exchange, but none are eliminated entirely. More commonly, their uses become more refined.”

I agree.  How do I know? Well, I’m 47 years old, I’m a Marketer (traditional and Social Media too) and I still enjoy my reading my newspaper in the morning and I love to listen to Mike & Mike on ESPN radio in the morning.

That’s right. I still read newspapers and listen to the radio and watch TV…don’t you?

P.S.: I use Twitter for writing telegrams – R.I.P Western Union.


25+ Ways to be Classy

the-golden-ruleThese days, people and brands that have Class are few and far between.  My take is that having Class can help you build an incredibly successful personal and professional brand for not a lot of time or money.

Here are 25 ways to be a classier brand.

  1. Be a nice, polite person/company
  2. Be genuinely interested in anyone you meet
  3. Be generous of your money and more importantly your time
  4. Seek to help people (especially to those who cannot help you or ever repay you) and be charitable without seeking recognition
  5. Have compassion without seeking personal gain
  6. Take ownership and responsibility for your actions, don’t point fingers or make excuses
  7. Select arguments carefully – walk away from 99% of all fights
  8. Surround yourself with nice quality people with impeccable character and integrity
  9. Listen more than you talk
  10. Watch your language
  11. If you’re a know-it-all keep it to yourself
  12. Don’t gossip and respect people in their absence
  13. Don’t be a braggart or celebrate due to someone else’s failure or loss
  14. Don’t insult others
  15. Don’t criticize and knock people down – build them up
  16. Don’t follow the crowd or feel pressured to fit in
  17. Respect people
  18. Respect yourself
  19. Be modest
  20. Treat victories the same as failures
  21. Recognize people who help you achieve success
  22. Live with elegance and grace
  23. Search for help, knowledge
  24. Be open to change to improve yourself
  25. Be considerate and respectful of everyone

25+. Honor your word and keep your promises.

25++.  Follow the Golden Rule which is the “do unto others” one.  Not the one that says, “He who has the Gold…Rules!”