Passenger Vessel Association Keynote

stephen-wayhart-passenger-vessel-association-brandmillBrandMill’s Managing Partner Stephen Wayhart was honored to present to over 100 members of the Passenger Vessel Association of America at their annual PVA Convention at Maritrends in Long Beach, CA. Our friends from Pittsburgh’s famous Gateway Clipper Fleet recommended us to talk about “How to Price for Profit.”

Wayhart’s 3-point program highlighted and outlined an hour long discussion about how brands need to clearly cultivate, communicate and keep their unique promise. And, by doing do brands will create a system of meaningful and memorable proofs of performances that enable them to command full price.

The key telegram of the presentation is that most brands do not command full price because they’re priced too low! And, the reason they’re priced too low is because they do not offer a unique valuable experience and/or haven’t clearly and passionately communicated their dramatic difference with proof!

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Pittsburgh Brewing Marketer of the Year

Pittsburgh-brewing-brandmill-iron-city-marketing-awardBrandMill’s marketing partnership with Pittsburgh Brewing Company (brewers of Iron City Beer) helped earn the iconic brand its first Marketer of the Year Award (Consumer Products) from the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association. In BrandMill’s 11-year history, the Pittsburgh marketing firm has earned four Marketer of the Year and one Grand Marketer of the Year Award (performance-based) for its clients!


BUILD TRUST, IMPROVE PRODUCT AND INNOVATE
For the past decade and more, Pittsburgh Brewing Company has undergone multiple ownership changes, bankruptcy and moved its brewing operations 60 miles outside of Pittsburgh to City Brewing in  Latrobe, PA generating a ton of negative feelings and record low sales over many years for this historic Pittsburgh based brand established in 1861.

PITTSBURGH-BREWING-PIRATES-LANDING-BRANDMILLHowever, new Pittsburgh Brewing CEO Brian Walsh felt the time was right to drive favorable awareness about the brand because through his team’s hard work, relationships had been positively re- established with its wholesaler and distributor networks (10+ new sales people on the street vs. 1-2 over the past few years); the new contracted brewery operator was producing a higher quality consistent product (due to more modern equipment); relationships with Pittsburgh’s sports teams (Pirates, Steelers, Penguins) had been reignited and the brand was about to launch a new “craft” line under the name of Block House Brewing.

PITTSBURGH-BREWING-PIRATE-CAN-PRESS-KIT-BRANDMILLMARKETING COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
With a low, limited budget, BrandMill was charged to create a low cost/high impact “WOW” Communications Strategy to excite the media and regional beer drinkers and to show that Pittsburgh Brewing was here to stay and getting better. Pittsburgh Brewing wanted to demonstrate (offer proof) to its customers and prospective/lapsed customers that they should be proud to know that the brand was back to its exciting innovative times and wanted to re-earn its trust as the favorite beer of Pittsburgh Nation. One press announcement would not suffice and a flurry of media executions was required.

THE FOUNDATIONAL IDEA – PITTSBURGH BREWING COMPANY’S PRESS KIT PLATFORM
BrandMill decided that Pittsburgh Brewing needed a “Press Kit Platform” to communicate and integrate its multiple messages and created a low cost 4X-hit Press Kit Platform. All targeted Pittsburgh Regional Media would receive low cost/high impact (size, color, content) press kits (4x – repeatedly – over 4 consecutive months) to guarantee readership, interest, curiosity, follow-up and coverage.

PITTSBURGH-BLOCK-HOUSE-BREWING-PUMPKIN-ALE-CHOCOLATE-BOCK-BRANDMILL-PRESS-KITPittsburgh Brewing’s Press Kit Platform enabled it to generate quick and extensive favorable brand awareness throughout Western Pennsylvania about the brand’s new product launches of its Pittsburgh Pirates (baseball team) themed cans; its new Block House Brewing (Craft Entry) Brand (i.e., Pumpkin Ale and Double Chocolate Bock); and, its new Red Hot Iron beer to further extend and enhance its brand recognition of the favorite beer of Pittsburgh Nation!


LOW COST, LOW TECH, HIGH IMPACT IDEA
The uniqueness of this Media Kit/s (platform) is that it’s an ‘old school’ low cost and high impact effort wrapped inside a unique platform of four consecutive new brand launches.

BrandMill used common plastic and cardboard mailing tubes to safely transport glass bottles of beer along with a press release and related elements (mnemonic devices) to the production of each beer brand – i.e., themed Pirates cans, Pumpkin Spice candle and Blockhouse key to “unlock the flavor of the Pumpkin Spice brand, and Chocolates and Chocolate scented candle for the Double Chocolate Bock and Red Hot candies for the Red Hot Iron brand.The press kit platform demonstrates to the media the care and seriousness that Pittsburgh Brewing is taking with its announcements – a flurry of positive, exciting and innovative news that the media needs to take notice, because their readers/viewers/listeners will be greatly interested.

 

PITTSBURGH-BREWING-RED-HOT-IRON-BRANDMILL-PRESS-KITFLAWLESS TECHNICAL EXECUTION
The color, graphics, messaging and “surprise and delight’ contents of the Press Kit Platform set it apart from all other communications pieces the media typically receive such as a boring, 1-D press release. The unique sizes of the mailing tubes demands that the recipient open it and discover what’s inside. And, the media thought the effort was clever, fun and interesting and drove their interest in our Pittsburgh Brewing’s NEW NEWS!

 

CAMPAIGN RESULTS
Pittsburgh Brewing’s Press Kit Platform led customers to basically say that, “Wow, it’s great so see Pittsburgh Brewing is back to doing exciting things – I can’t wait to see what’s up next!”

PITTSBURGH-BREWING-MEDIA-TOUR-BRANDMILL

Pittsburgh Brewing earned tremendous regional press coverage from both Print and Broadcast channels. Pittsburgh Brewing’s CEO was interviewed extensively on local business talk shows via Pittsburgh’s CBS and NBC affiliates) channels. Pittsburgh Brewing’s Social Media channels (primarily Facebook) surged to improved performance/traffic by 40%+ with a tremendous, enthusiastic response and without broadcast or print advertising support!Pittsburgh Brewing’s Press Kit Platform helped it to increase its sales throughout Q2-Q3 while the major American Style Lager brands (Budweiser, Coors, Miller) earned negative sales for the same time period throughout the region. In fact, its new Block House Brewing Pumpkin Ale brand sold out in record time!
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Pitttsburgh Post-Gazette Features Shatterproof

Shatterproof-pittsburgh-logoMany thanks to Brian O’Neill of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for this great column we earned for our client Shatterproof, founder Gary Mendell and the upcoming June 25th Pittsburgh Shatterproof Challenge event at the Westin Convention Center Hotel.

We’re proud to report that the media coverage our BrandMill Public Relations team earned for Shatterproof both in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today LIVE Show has helped sell-out all rappelling slots!

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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 iPad Wine List Rocks

I 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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AMA Pittsburgh Marketer of the Year

Over the next two days, we’re participating in two separate presentations to the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association at the Duquesne Club downtown and to students at Chatham University.

My client John Graf – co-owner of the Priory Hospitality Group – and I are co-presenting and will review the success of our Winter White Wedding program which has driven first quarter wedding bookings by 400% and continues to rock – it helped us win the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association’s Grand Marketer of the Year Award!

The Priory’s Winter White Weddings are a true testament to the success of  “Blue Ocean Strategies” that profitably transform brands by pursuing low cost brand differentiation that makes your competition irrelevant.

To help you sail in Blue Oceans, click this link to review the Priory’s PowerPoint deck:
AMA Pittsburgh Marketer of the Year Priory Hotel 3.16.10

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