The Priory Hotel offers one-of-a-kind experience

PHG-PRIORY-SIGNMany thanks to Neil Strebig of The Northside Chronicle in Pittsburgh for this wonderful article we set up for our client The Priory Hotel. This article pretty much covers all that we advise to our clients to be successful to help them to profitable build sales.

In short, The Priory Hospitality Group is successful due to:

  1. Ethical, moral and inspiring leadership
  2. Developing committed and quality team members
  3. Giving back/being part of the fabric of its community and industry
  4. Tireless innovation and improvement
  5. Providing a unique, valued experience

And, we’re proud of our 10+ year partnership with the Priory Hospitality Group.

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How to Become a Marketing Rock Star

Clarion-University-Small-Business-SBDCBrandMill’s Managing Partner Stephen Wayhart recently gave a branding seminar to clients of Clarion University’s Small Business Development Center. In his one hour seminar to 50+ SBDC clients, Wayhart used Rock and Roll legends such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, U2, Jimi Hendrix and more in a metaphorical lesson to help businesses build an effective brand for long term success.

Wayhart’s simple “7 Notes of Marketing Rock Star Success” are:

1.Do What YOU Love
2.Embrace a Lifetime of Learning & Doing
3.Be YOU – Be Different – Be ‘Experienced’
4.Be Relevant & ‘REMARK’able
5.Build a DREAM TEAM
6.Generate Multiple Revenue Streams
7.Stand for Something BIGGER Than YOU
Rock on!
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Iron City beer plays ball with Pittsburgh’s sports teams

Pirates-cansHere’s a nice story that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently ran about our BrandMill client Iron City Beer and their local sports partners – the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers!

We’ve been working with Pittsburgh Brewing (Iron City Beer) for sometime now helping them to rebuild their brand presence and favorable awareness with the regional media and customers.  And, I’m proud to say that we’re tracking well together and the Pittsburgh region is going to like what we’re cooking!

As Pittsburgh natives, we’re proud to say that Iron City Beer is coming back strong!

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15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day

As a 50 percenter of Irish blood and a serial marketing professional, I thought I’d offer you dear reader, my 15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day to help you find your little pot ‘o gold at the end of a rainbow!

And, I’ll offer them quickly because I shouldn’t even be working this hard today as I’m 17 days away from – and preparing for – St. Patrick’s Day which is one of my many “high holy days” – and there’s a Guinness pint with my name of it at my favorite Pittsburgh Irish pub (Riley’s Pour House) and it’s getting warm! So here you go!

1. Green Marketing Lesson One – Making Money. Always keep money (making it or saving it) front and center of any marketing campaign. If you know anything about the Irish (and I do growing up in a large extended family), the majority have experienced challenging economic times and know the value of a dollar. So, incorporating zero based budgeting into your marketing processes will help you become more creative and help you do a lot more for less. 

2. Green Marketing Lesson Two – Sustainability. These days when you hear brands talk about sustainability, it’s related to the environment, but the basic pure definition of sustainability is “the capacity to endure.” Using the same color in your marketing communications reinforces your brand, makes your marketing work harder for you and enables your marketing to endure.

3. Green Marketing Lesson Two – Color. Design and color can help you communicate a great deal. Red – hot, stop; Blue – cool. etc., Keep in mind that all colors also come in a great deal of shades so don’t be boring and predictable.  Green has about 50 unique shades.

4. Create Multi-Sensory Emotional Appeals (e.g., appeal to people’s five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). In a prior post about, “Marketing with Sound,” I discussed the awesome power of sound, but you should also consider all of the ways you can appeal to your customer’s five senses. St. Patrick’s Day appeals them all with color, strong visuals of parades, people having fun; taste of ethnic foods like corned beef and cabbage and drink (pints of Guinness and shots of Jameson) etc.,

5. Appeal to One’s Ethnic Heritage. There’s nothing wrong with appealing to people’s ethnic heritage – net, different strokes for different folks.  In fact, it’s a growing and popular strategy due to our mobile society, immigration, single parent households etc.

Some of this strategy’s keys to success include knowing your market well, being aware of unique cultural nuances, being respectful etc.  Disney’s Epcot Theme Park’s World Showcase is a great example of ethnic marketing, but Denny’s Restaurants’ old Pancake promotion is not.

6. Be Inclusive with Your Marketing. As much of an Irish heritage appeal the holiday provides, St. Patrick’s Day is all-inclusive and welcomes everyone to celebrate – everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

7. Special Event/Thematic/Celebration/Holiday Marketing. Giving a unique thematic association to your marketing messages makes it easier for your customers to understand you and more immediately recognize you too. Tie-ing in to a major holiday celebration gives your promotion authenticity and a “reason why” you’re holding a sales event.

8. Limited Time Appeal.
Having a hard date against a campaign creates urgency, excitement and traffic. Pretty obvious statement, but many marketers leave far too many campaigns without a clear end date and a sense of urgent appeal.

9. Spokesperson/figurehead/celebrity/image appeal. Having a Saint as your celebrity figurehead ain’t too shabby, but it’s the consistency of using the same appealing celebrity with a unique story is what works.

10. Iconic Marketing – Shamrock – brand, sell, profit. Mickey Mouse’s Ears, Ronald McDonald’s big red shoes, McDonald’s Arches and more.

Shamrocks do the same for today’s holiday – it’s the day’s badge of honor and identification. What’s your badge ID?

11. Rule of Threes. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the common Shamrock to teach the Celtic Pagans about the unique Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – 3 in 1 Godhead.

However, the “rule of three” symbolism in the good man’s teaching is relevant today as well because people’s minds are noisy and limited. Using the rule of three enables you to get them to remember you and buy-in a presentation or product mix selection. Small, medium, large; gold, silver, bronze; 3 bears; 3 blind mice; 3 Stooges (see more examples/proof here) – trust me – the rule of three rocks.

12. Be Positive. You won’t find a more positive group of people that the Irish. Despite all of their “Troubles” who else tells you that you can find a pot ‘o gold at the end of a rainbow? At Pittsburgh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past Saturday, people throughout the day referred to the cold constant rain as nothing more, “a little Irish mist!”

13. Be Nice. You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer bunch of people than the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day too.

14. Have fun and don’t take yourself so seriously. In this age of “political correctness” the Irish are for the most part a happy and fun bunch and most Irish demeaning jokes bounce of them like water on a duck.

15. Plan Your Luck by Working Hard. In my opinion, “the luck of the Irish” is based on hard work – simple as that. You’ve probably heard the saying, the harder you work the luckier you get!” Well, its true. The majority of Irish are no strangers to hard work and I believe – all things being equal – people that work harder and smarter than their peers will meet with more profitable success in a shorter period of time.

Got to run, my pint is getting warm.

Slan (Gaelic for “farewell for now”)!

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How to Build Trust in Brand You

Regardless of your political party affiliation or candidate preference for the USA Presidential election, I’m sure you’d agree that most voters will choose the man that they trust to be the best qualified and able to get the job done for the country.

Trust is critical to brand success and it is a dangerous deficiency for lots of brands as evidenced by the Gallup poll below.

Note that only 18% of those surveyed highly trust business executives! Building trust is a great way to differentiate your brand and bulletproof it!

The lack of brand trust is the basic reason for the success of customer/brand review brands such as Angie’s List, Consumer Reports, TripAdvisor, Yelp and more!

Gallup’s 2011 Trust Poll

Here for 15 ways you can start to build more trust in your brand today

  1. Be authentic, real, open, honest, kind and considerate
  2. Be consistent, competent, capable and deliver results
  3. Have integrity – do the right ethical things regardless of the consequences – even when no one else is watching
  4. Keep your promises – keep your word – walk your talk – honor your commitments – follow through – be on time
  5. Honor people in their absence – don’t talk behind backs or gossip
  6. Keep confidential things confidential
  7. Communicate your vision, values and expectations as clearly and fully as possible, but be open minded and flexible to change
  8. Create win/win shared goals with your customers and team
  9. Be present with people – actively listen to them
  10. Play no favorites – treat everyone special
  11. Criticize actions not the people – don’t judge
  12. Be understanding, compassionate and forgive and forget mistakes
  13. If you fail or make a mistake, admit to it and fix it, then fix the process and move on
  14. Own problems and take steps to fix them – don’t hide – be visible – be reachable
  15. Be generous and give without any strings attached
In short, keep your word and ‘show and tell’ – provide proof – ust like you did in Kindergarten to get the teacher and kids to like you and your ‘Show and Tell’ presentation!
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How to Build Brand Likeability

There are quite a few marketing lessons you can learn from the USA Presidential election race.For example, how to improve your ‘likeability’ can get you elected and/or have someone repeatedly buy from you.

Likeability is defined as, ‘The property that makes a person or brand likeable, that allows them to be liked.’

Trust and proof that you can deliver on your promises is #1, but all things being equal – especially when you compete in an industry with lots of alternatives – likeability is a key for brands to breakthrough the clutter.

Here are 10 ways to improve your likeability factor

  1. Be nice, kind and considerate
  2. Be giving and help others selflessly
  3. Be happy, positive and optimistic
  4. Be complimentary
  5. Be passionate and have empathy
  6. Be humble
  7. Actively listen
  8. Have good manners,
  9. Control your emotions
  10. Follow the ‘Golden Rule’
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A Great Demo of How to Wow

In our client strategy sessions, we always discuss “How to deliver a ‘WOW'” because most brands don’t take the time to think how they can create brand buzz – or, believe they can!

Every brand has a ‘WOW” within them – cost effective ones to be nurtured with thought and care – that will effectively separate themselves from their competitors and carve out a unique branded value proposition, awareness etc.

For example, here’s a ‘WOW’ case study right in our own backyard by a small family owned window cleaning company based in Pittsburgh.

Their idea is a cool and commendable story. The idea was a simple lift of one that a firm executed  in another country.

This simple ‘WOW’ paid off big time too. The brand made a more favorable impression with clients, prospects, employees and for its potential little customers that will last a lifetime. In addition, this ‘WOW’ landed the company and its owners on the front page of Pittsburgh’s major daily papers, 6PM and 11PM TV news and more. Do you have a ‘WOW’ cooking NOW?  If not, why not? You can do it and get people buzzing about your brand!
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How to Build an Award Winning Press Kit

Many brands fail to take advantage building effective public relations into their marketing plans.  If they do, a majority fail to execute.

Take for example press kits to tell your unique story to the media. For as many years as I’ve been in the marketing profession, I’m still amazed at how many brands don’t take the time to tell a good story and package it in a way that excites the media who can then effectively excite the brand’s customers.

Here’s a great example of how to use an ‘old school’ press kit to gain media attention and coverage and win an award along the way.

For several years, we’ve been working with a super brand – Idlewild & SoakZone – the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and the third oldest in America.

In our certainly biased opinion, it’s one of the best park’s in the world for kids and families and it’s a grand testament to their hard work that now others feel the same way.

After a few years of being ranked ‘Second Best Kid’s Park in the World’ by the readers of Amusement Today Magazine – second to LEGOLAND – the Park finally burst to the top of the rankings and we wanted to shout from the rooftops its accomplishment in a unique way.

NOTE: In Public Relations and marketing in general, if you don’t make a big ‘to do’ about your brand’s news, how do you expect the media or your customers and staff to get excited and amplify your message?

So, recognizing that most media communiques are sent electronically these days, we decided to send an ‘old school’ press kit by mail. And, we packaged the press kit in a way that guarantees it will get opened and demands immediate interest and attention. In addition, because we needed to send the press kit to quite a few media contacts, cost effectiveness was key for our limited budget.

Take a look at the center of the picture above and see the colorful box with balloons on it? Well, we got that box from the good old U.S. Post Office for about $5.00 and it was big enough to carry a typical folder/press kit, an opening day ticket for our media day invitation, several cool items from the seven themed areas of the Park, our #1 foam finger/hand that was used in broadcast media and a FIJI water bottle that we used to promote the Park’s new Wowabunga Family Wave Pool (we stripped off FIJI’s advertising and relabled the bottle with the Wave Pool’s news).

The total cost for the box, chotchkes and mailing was about $25 per media rep and we got tremendous coverage for a Park that’s about a 90 minute drive from Pittsburgh – its closest major market. And, we won recognition from the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Don’t take for granted the good news and stories that people would love to hear about regarding your company, brand, people and more. And, make sure you package it in such a way to overcome the noise that the media and people get drowned in every day.

Lastly, to paraphrase/quote Seth Godin – if you want people to make ‘REMARK’ about you do REMARKable things!

And, we’re blessed to have such a remarkable client in Idlewild & SoakZone.

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New Website to Help Reunite Ireland

For St. Patrick’s Day, 2012 we launched a new Website for the Irish American Unity Conference. In addition, we revised their logo, launched a Facebook presence and coached them to continue their social media marketing initiatives.

The IAUC is a nationwide, nonpartisan, nonsectarian, chapter-based human rights organization working for justice and peace in Ireland. It’s mission is to bring all Irish, Irish Americans and others together on the basis of their common belief in Justice and Peace in a reunited Ireland. We wish them well in their peaceful endeavors to reunite Ireland. Adh mor ort (good luck to you) IAUC!

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No Luck of the Irish Needed for Great Websites

Just in time for the annual ‘Season of St. Patrick’ that starts March 1 – and for the Great Guinness Toast that starts tonight at 11:00 p.m. at Irish Pubs throughout the world – we’re proud to report that our launch of a new Website for our good friends at Riley’s Pour House in Carnegie, PA is doing great!

In it’s first 2 ½ days of existence, the page views for Riley’s new Website outperformed the former proprietor’s Website performance for the entire year! Yes, you read that right!

What’s our secret? A little luck of the Irish maybe?

Maybe a little luck – we were lucky to land a great client that’s for sure.

However, far more credit goes to having a good solid brand to promote with good old fashioned hard work, Public Relations, Social Media Marketing integrations and excellent SEO writing inspired by a few pints of Guinness!

Yes my friends, Guinness is good for you!

Slainte!

P.S.: To help you along in March, here’s an old post about the 15 Marketing Lessons of St. Patrick’s Day – enjoy!

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