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Friday, October 24th, 2014

iPad Wine List 300x225 New iPad Wine List RocksI got my new iPad back in May – a moment in time I’ll always refer to as my “Christmas in May” and am having a love affair with it.

Sure there are things about the iPad that I wished it had, but the positives outweigh the negatives.

When I started to play with the iPad, I started to think thought long and hard about how we can apply it to improve our client’s business.

We do a ton of hospitality marketing work and this past summer, one of our great clients, Kevin Joyce owner of The Carlton Restaurant in Pittsburgh had closed his restaurant for two months for a much needed remodel after 25 years in business.

Kevin called me to go over some new ideas to kick off the new restaurant with a bang -  especially since his reopening was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, August 18 – opening night of Pittsburgh’s new Consol Energy Center with a concert by Sir Paul McCartney.

One of my first thoughts, was what could we do to:

  1. Reaffirm the fact that The Carlton has the biggest and best wine lists (15+ year Wine Spectator Award winner) – Great Wine is a big USP for the restaurant
  2. Complement The Carlton’s new 450 bottle wine library – the restaurant’s soul
  3. Showcase the fact that The Carlton offers the best wine dinners in Pittsburgh

In a snap, we thought, “Create an iPad Wine List to replace The Carlton’s 45 page paper wine list.” Using an iPad wine list would create a “halo” effect of flawless contemporary execution of the Carlton’s 45 page paper wine list and separate them even more so from the pack of restaurants they compete against.

As an aside – I know I may be biased, but I think The Carlton i the best restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh and I thought that fact to be true long before I started working for them…anyway…

Instinctively back in May, we Googled “iPad wine list” and could not find any U.S. restaurant using iPads for menus, but we found a great story about an Australian restaurant that swapped out its menus for iPads.

Kevin and I must have been doing a “Vulcan Mind Meld” at the time, because when we called him, he said he saw the Aussie story  and was ready to rock.

Our iPad wine list is not as aggressive as the Aussie menu – we prefer to walk before we run with the wine list first then potentially move to the food menu – but I can tell you that the iPad has significantly improved The Carlton’s brand image of Pittsburgh’s premier dining and wine establishment and improved wine sales too – customers love it!

We’ll soon cut a brief video explaining how the wine list works, but know these things:

  1. The iPad can be used to help lift your business
  2. Look for products and/or service executions that create brand “halo” USPs
  3. It’s better to phase in technology improvements to your business to flawlessly execute and gain an immediate WOW from your customers before someone else comes along and steals your marketing thunder and you look like a market follower and/or a “me too” brand**
  4. Great clients make great marketing firms

**Note: In the time we started to work on and launch The Carlton’s iPad wine list, there have been major news articles about iPad wine lists in use at Central Park South Gate restaurant (7.2.10),  Bones in Atlanta (9.13.10), III Forks in Jacksonville (8.11.10), but hey The Carlton had the first iPad wine list in Pennsylvania! More news to come as we continue to improve our iPad wine list effort.

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archery target bullseye 300x212 Always Aim to be the BestWe work with clients of all shapes and sizes – from struggling start up moms and pops to thriving market dominating multi-million dollar enterprises.

Recently, we were blessed to be introduced to Steve and Jen MacBride, a young married couple and co-owner/operators of The Archer’s Edge (TAE) in Oakdale, PA.

We assisted in their Grand Opening this past Saturday on National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Check out this news segment of The Archer’s Edge featuring Steve and reporter Kelly Frey of Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV (ABC affiliate) which will give you a good feel of the place.

Pretty good priceless PR for rookies – we’re so proud of them.

Proud because they deserve it. Proud because they “bring it.”

I’ve only known the MacBride’s for a few weeks, but I was impressed by them from the start and their desire to do great things.

I’m always surprised and saddened to visit businesses that simply just go along with the flow doing mediocre work and have no processes in place to “WOW” you. It’s all so boring, average, mediocre, dangerous and unnecessary.

Steve and Jen WOW you. Here are a few ways they WOW me.

  1. They have a ton of enthusiasm and passion for their new business, because they love archery and their enthusiasm is contagious
  2. They’re resilient because of their love of archery. They experienced a boatload of unfortunate and unforeseen challenges prior to launch, but their passion overrode all of them
  3. They “bring it” – enthusiasm, attention to detail, passion, excellence to their work
  4. Their goal is to be THE best archery center in Pittsburgh – not one of the best

I’m not a hunter and our business with TAE will not finance my retirement, but I’m a HUGE fan. Sure we’ve helped them a bit along the way with their PR and Marketing and will continue to offer our services. However, because their aim is to be the best (and they have plans to be), their future looks to b a bright one. We’re big fans and we will bust our tails to help them achieve their goals.

Great clients like the MacBrides make great marketing firms like us (we’ve got their back now) and when you build that kind of relationship everyone wins!

Always aim high!

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.”
- Les Brown

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s heaven for?”
- Robert Browning

“If you reach for the stars, you might not quite get one,
but you won’t end up with a handful of mud, either.”

- Leo Burnett

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peace dove1 300x292 9.12 Marketing LessonsToday marks a special day for all Americans, the 9th anniversary of 9.11.

This year, this special day of reflection has been marked by toxic amount of hate and anger. It seems to have started with the Islamic mosque that’s planned to be built near Ground Zero in New York followed by the planned announcement then cancellation of a misguided Florida pastor who  – along with his congregation – was planning to burn the Quran.

Where’s the leadership, compassion, common sense and class among Americans?

I can recall 9.12 and the feeling of concern we Americans had for the general health and welfare of others and how we came together as a family under one color of red, white and blue and the tolerance the majority of us paid to Muslim Americans.  And, then in the days and weeks that unfolded thereafter the amazing stories of heroism, volunteerism and love made me so proud to be an American and a proud consumer of BRAND USA.

Today, the American Christian pastors and followers who are spewing anger and hate toward Muslims are not true Christians and they are not following the maxims of Brand Jesus. They may think they are, but they are not.

Is there any place in the Bible that shows Jesus hating anyone?

No.

Jesus was tolerant, kind, understanding, welcoming and loving. He broke bread with tax collectors, prostitutes, the poor and more.  The only thing he condemned was the devil. And, when confronted with anger and violence – even his own brutal death – he said “turn the other cheek,” “those that live by the sword die by the sword,” and “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Building a religious denomination is no different than building any brand. If you want to attract someone to your brand, you’ll never be as successful as you could be by putting down your competitor. To be successful, you need to sell yourself. No matter how unfair, dishonest or terrible your competitors are you should never go there. Sell the positives of your brand and work to eliminate the negatives. And, I’m sure you’ll agree that there are a ton of negatives in all religions – both Christianity and Muslim alike – that could/should be fixed.

Full disclosure – I am a Christian (and American) and certainly far from sainthood, but the so called “Christianity” I see being preached and practiced disgusts and saddens me.

And, the Americans who are spewing hate and anger toward Muslims, are they the kinds of Americans that make up the kind of Brand USA we aspire to be and our ancestors fought to be?

No.

It’s crazy to imagine American Christians burning books – the Quran of all things. Book burning is actually against Constitution, nothing good has ever come of it and simply feeds into Islamic beliefs that American’s are against Islam. So utterly stupid and disgusting.

My Brand America is so much better than what I’ve been seeing. And hey, as a patriotic person, I certainly detest seeing the American flag being burned, but I respect and honor the freedom of someone who wants to do it.

Certainly, we’ve made our share of mistakes as a country in treating others unkindly (i.e. Native Americans), but our batting average of being a religiously tolerant land of freedom and a beacon of hope that welcomes everyone, is still pretty high. we’re far from perfect and far better than most countries but right now, we’re in a bad slump.

Going forward as Brand USA, Brand Christianity, Brand You, Brand Whatever, if you want to be successful,  I assure you that you’ll greatly increase your odds of success if you follow the “9.12″ example of:

  • being a hero to others and a Servant Leader
  • sacrifice your short term goals for the goals of the greater good
  • lending a helping hand and being kind, considerate
  • freely give of yourself and be a caring person
  • looking for the light in yourself and others
  • being positive and hopeful and lift others up
  • being a good listener and open to other points of view
  • being tolerant and understanding
  • being nice and loving

These are the attributes of the faith I want to practice, the country I want to live in, the life I want to lead, the business I want to run.  How about you?

Today, we pay tribute and honor to the heroes who gave everything of themselves nine years ago on 9.11 and the days beyond and those who lost their lives and their families.

Today should never be a day of hatred, but a day of personal reflection on our heroes and how we can all be heroes of peace and love and leave the world a better place for generations to come.

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john belushi food fight Why Burger King Will Never Beat McDonalds

John Belushi in Animal House Screams "Food Fight!"

As a former McDonald’s marketing guy, I pay attention to references of the so-called “burger wars” – as some people still call them – but please they’ve been over for years!

I ask you, “Is it really a war when the number one kid on the block – McDonald’s – continues to open up it’s marketing can of “whoop-ass” on just about any retailer that serves food and/or beverages and on average does it better, faster and cheaper than anyone else?”

The answer is, “No!”

What went wrong at Burger King, by Dan Mitchell in the September 3rd issue of Fortune caught by eye and he’s spot on in so many areas as to what’s wrong at BK.

However, I’d argue (and I’m proud to say without reservation) that the main reason Burger King will never beat McDonald’s, is that “Mia McFamlia” still walks founder Ray Kroc’s talk when he famously said, “We take the hamburger business more seriously than anyone else!”

McDonald’s personnel, owner/operators and partners have always worked together and have been in it to win it from day one. Sure, they got a little of track a few years back – who doesn’t after being so incredibly successful for so long – but Burger King has been off track for over 30 years!

McDonald’s recognized  awhile back with its “Plan to Win” initiative that to quote Pogo, “We have met the enemy and they is us!” So they got back to work and focused more on themselves and satisfying their guests changing needs. Bravo.

OK, so McDonald’s takes the burger biz more seriously than BK and others. You get it you say, but I know you want more substance.  OK…here’s 5 more reasons why Burger King will never beat McDonald’s.

  1. All of McDonald’s staffers, owner/operators and partners (or at least 99% of all of them) own stock in the brand and know that if the brand improves so does their financial situation. All of BK’s corporate behemoth owners (before and now) own other things.  McDonald’s is (practically) all McDonald’s.
  2. McDonald’s is just plain better – they’re more innovative, financially astute and they execute better.
  3. McDonald’s owns 100% (OK 90% plus) of the real estate the restaurants sit on which provides enormous cash flow and bankable assets
  4. McDonald’s owner/operators are part of the fabric of the communities in which they do their business, they’re involved in the communities, are operationally excellent and are not absentee landlords
  5. McDonald’s constantly reinvests in improving their restaurants, operations, staff and more.  BK is just now trying to get around to it

So, do you really think Burger King’s new owner, the Brazilian-backed private equity firm 3G Capital can ever beat McDonald’s? Neither do I.

BK is way behind in the pack.  They haven’t even been number two for a long time. And if you think the view never changes if you’re not the lead dog well…

P.S.: Here’s one more case in point about the lack of commitment by BK to challenge McDonald’s. About 15 years ago, I was part of a team organized to help put Burger King out of business in downtown Pittsburgh.  The BK franchisee was selling and we simply turned the heat up and got a great franchisee to take over some of our corporate restaurants. BK closed up all of their restaurants then and have never reopened in town to date. I know Pittsburgh isn’t the Big Apple or LA, but come on!

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