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”)!


Marketing 3.0 – Kotler’s New Values Based Model

Since graduating from college, I voraciously read a new marketing book every 10 days and in my library you’ll find several books by the father of modern day marketing Philip Kotler.

What I love about the guy is that even though his book Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control, 13th ed., is the most widely used marketing book in graduate business schools worldwide he never rests on his success and still innovates and tinkers with his marketing theories and models of how marketing works.

I’m a big Philp Kotler fan.

Now, here comes Kotler again with his latest creation (co-written with Hermawan Kartajaya), Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to the Human Spirit.

The central theme of the book is based on the simple values-based (not value) matrix above which demonstrates how marketing today has shifted from Product-Centric (Rational Marketing – 1.0 era – e.g., Volvo = safety), to Customer-Centric (Emotional Marketing – 2.0 era) to today’s Human-Centric (Spiritual Marketing – 3.0 era ).

Marketing 1.0 and 2.0 were about how a brands products and services would serve its customers.  Marketing 3.0 is about how a Brand connect with the human spirit of its customers who desire that they assume their fair share of social responsibility for issues that concern everyone (e.g., environment, hunger, poverty, human rights, health and well being etc.).

Brands that behave and conduct themselves properly with regard to the environment, general community at large and create real meaningful demonstrable value that aligns with the social good will be welcome and respected.  The media will promote caring companies which will influence buying behaviors.

Kotler posits that most marketers are stuck in the past. His new model for marketing treats customers not just as consumers, but as complex, multi-dimensional human beings – customers with complex human spirits who are active, engaged, anxious, informed, creative and have the ability to easily connect with others.

Marketing 3.0 addresses the complexity of the human spirit and S.C. Johnson is just one of the many brands Kotler cites as those who are creating products, services, and company cultures that lead, inspire, and reflect the values of their customers.

This recently released book is on my shopping list. I sure wish brands like BP will read it and embrace its philosophy – make sure you do!


Top Ten Consumer Trends for 2010

Back in June, 2009 I presented my Top Ten Consumer Trends for 2010 at Duquesne University’s 11th Annual Entrepreneur Growth Conference in Pittsburgh.

I still believe these trends are on track, but I also believe in Pittsburgh-based Heinz Chairman and CEO William Johnson’s view that the he sees a long-lasting consumer shift to thrift and must carefully balance its business strategy in response.

I’m totally tracking with him and have dialed up my recommendations to clients that they need to create more value and more transformational quality experiences for their customers.

Brands need to recognize that when the economy does return to the positive, consumers are going to be more conservative in their spending, looking for more value and more unique, quality experiences than ever before. They do not feel safe with their careers or finances now and I doubt the majority ever will again.

Lastly, one other trend that we all need to dial up, recognize, learn, test, implement etc., is the “easiness” trend which is being driven by consumer’s lack of time and resulting in technology advances especially in mobile marketing and television entertainment and its Web-based convergence.  More to come on this trend and Web 3.0 (see Jessi Hempel’s January 8th article in Fortune Magazine) advances in future posts.


Do Better by Doing Good

veteransday2009Check out what restaurant’s like Applebee’s, Golden Corral and McCormick & Schmicks, Outback Steakhouse and others are doing to honor our awesome Veterans on Veterans Day.

A few weeks ago, one of my clients, The Priory Hospitality Group honored veterans of the Afghan and Iraqi wars a FREE Winter White Wedding! And, another one, 1902 Tavern in Pittsburgh’s Market Square is doing its part too.

There are a ton of examples of brands who give back to the communities in which it does its business such as Campbell’s Labels for Education and McDonald’s  Ronald McDonald House and more. In fact, U.S sponsorship spending on cause marketing is estimated to reach $1.57 billion in 2009, per the IEG Sponsorship Report, Chicago.

But can you do better by doing good? Absolutely.

While I first believe that everyone should do his part in helping others without expecting anything in return – pure charity – it’s best to strategically think of your cause marketing in terms of how it best connects with your brand’s cause and concerns of your constituents.

For example, a local restaurant may provide a benefit to Veterans today because everyone at that restaurant benefits from the freedom our Vets have protected for them.  Digging deeper, providing for a local school, emergency workers in the restaurant’s local trade area makes just as much sense because those people are likely current and potential customers and everyone is part of the same community.

As you’re planning for 2010 put a cause marketing initiative (make it part of your corporate DNA) on your calendar and you’ll find that you’ll do better in business when you’re doing good things and being a good corporate citizen.

You’ll also discover that:

  • Your staff will feel better working for you – corporate pride will rise
  • You’ll attract people because most prefer to work for caring companies
  • You’ll be more welcome and respected in your community
  • People will more readily recommend your company’s products and services to friends and family
  • People’s trust and favorability ratings for you will rise

Being a better corporate citizen is a key business strategy today and it will set your brand apart from your competitors. However, keep in mind that doing good doesn’t simply begin and end with promotional tie-ins. You also need to focus on:

  • Demonstrating how you value and care for your employees
  • Following ethical, open, honest and responsible business practices
  • Delivering over and above required safety and industry performance standards
  • Ensuring that your advertising is accurate and true
  • Treating your environment well
  • Having open channels of communication
  • Being an active member in your community
  • Embracing diversity
  • And more…

Certainly, one cause may not be enough of a rallying cry for all of your employees since everyone has personal pet charities that are only special to them. So, get your folks to contribute their thoughts in the planning stages. One end solution could be a corporate matching fund initiative.

In the same way, a single cause cannot possibly impact all customers equally (i.e., improve their emotional experience).

Also, you’ll find differences between public and private companies.  For example, some people do not believe that publicly traded companies should be using corporate profits for social causes, but you can stll be a good corporate citizen by being ethical, environmentally responsible, honest etc.

When you first undergo a cause marketing planning process it can seem daunting and you’ll have difficulty figuring out where to start with so many worthwhile charitable causes.

When this happens, remember these words from Mother Theresa, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

Just get started and do something.

Believe me, you do reap what you sow in life.

When you do good, others will do good by and for you too.


Great Package Design Sells

stop-n-grow designI’m looking forward to reading New Packaging Design by Janice Kirkpatrick (Laurence King, 192 pages, $35) after checking out its reference in Fast Company magazine today and the fact that German agency Jung von Matt’s shopping bag design for Stop n’ Grow (a German product that helps people to stop biting their nails and sucking their thumbs/fingers) made the cut in its list of 12 of the World’s Coolest Packaging Designs, I’m sure it’s a good one.

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, how many of you are “brown bagging” it?

Even if you don’t compete in the retail sector, can you improve how you package your “Brand You” brand, your Web site, your presentations, proposals, invoices and general emails?

Packaging serves to preserve, protect, promote and it’s even expected to be kind to the environment – does yours?

These days packaging should WOW people too!

In your marketing planning process for 2010, look for inspiring design examples everywhere and work on ways to create WOW designs throughout your organization. I assure you that you’ll separate yourself from common brown baggers.

To get you started, here are several more creative shopping bag designs that are sure to inspire you!

P.S.: Here’s another great idea by JVM to communicate the need for dental insurance in bowling alleys…BRILLIANT! This example proves that a great idea can transcend language differences and still communicate a core message.


High Voltage Marketing

BM BLOG chevy_volt_230mpg.03Caught this story on CNN.com this morning about the new Chevy Volt that can get up to 230 mpg! Talk about high voltage marketing!

I’m sure most if not all of you have cut expenses – especially marketing expenses to the bone – but what have you done to make your brand truly remarkable through innovation?

I truly believe in gamechangers like the Chevy Volt! What can you do – rather, what will you do to create a gamechanger for your brand, service, career etc.,?

If you do, you’ll reap dividends for years to come and be able to say with pride, “Recession be damned!”


Kerrygold Cheese and Butter

Kerrygold-irish-butter-bloc If you’re one of the tens of thousands of people who visit Costco on weekends and like cheese as much as I do, check out this Web site from Kerrygoldread here about how their unique cheese and butter is made and I’ll bet you buy some.

Ireland’s Kerrygold beautifully positions their unique story about of how their country is made for cheese and butter…

The temperate, year-round weather and moisture-bearing southwesterly
winds create a smorgasbord for our cows who dine on rich, fertile grass
in the rolling, green pastures that dominate our countryside. We rely
on a cooperative of small dairy farmers with centuries of cheese-making
traditions to turn the rich, sweet milk that is produced into the
finest cheese and butter in the world.

In their “Benefits” section they simply state that:

There’s not much point in taking the purest rain, the most natural
green grass on earth, herds of contented cows, and centuries of
long-standing family traditions and messing it all up by mixing in
preservatives, hormones and unnatural additives into the process.

So we don’t. Ever.

Here is what you do get:

  • Cheese and butter made from grass fed (not grain fed) cows. That
    means a golden yellow hue from the presence of natural beta-carotene, a
    powerful antioxidant, and a higher concentration of Conjugated Linoleic
    Acid (that’s good).

When you finish reading through Kerrygold’s web site, ask yourself this question, “Is my brand story this compelling, honest and true?” Do you see a little “Green Marketing” at work here?

I’m sorry to say that I never thought about the benefits of grass fed cows vs. grain fed cows. However, today I’m a believer, raving fan and pro bono PR guy for Kerrygold and if you try their products you’ll be one too. I guarantee it.

P.S.: Try their Dubliner cheese and butter first and you’ll be hooked for life! And, you’ll agree that they deliver on their brand promise.


Radical Green Marketing

Last week, I attended a Green Marketing Summit given by the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association and learned some interesting new trends and developments in Green Marketing from:

  • Jacquelyn Ottman, Founder, J. Ottman Consulting
    who has a great book on Green Marketing and discussed her, "Five Simple Rules of Green Marketing," the "Triple Bottom Line" of sustainable development and how to use credible green marketing strategies to turn its risks into genuine business opportunities. Ottman is a Green Marketing expert and gave a super presentation.
  • Gary Saulson, Director of Corporate Real Estate, PNC Financial Services Group and their industry leading and trademarked "Green Branch." Gary discussed the positive economic and productivity impact of Green (Sustainable) Buildings and why building green makes sense for corporate America. He provided details on the design and construction of PNC's Firstside Center, one of the largest certified green buildings in the world, and the collaborated efforts to obtain a LEED Silver Certification.
  • James Bogdan, QEP, LEED-AP Manager, Sustainable Design & Green Building Initiatives for PPG Construction
    who discussed, "Beyond Environmental Claims: Driving Transparency from Product Manufacturers." James talked about some of PPG's Green initiatives and how several company's eforts and/or products claiming environmental benefits are being scrutinized. Such claims are requiring manufacturers to invest in research that qualify or quantify their benefits.

I'm certainly going to dive deeper into Green Marketing for several of my hospitality clients because it's the right thing to do and people are becoming more interested these days in how the firms they interact with interact with the environment.

However, don't you think this company is taking Green Marketing a bit too far?


Be More Than Green

Going green may be the politically correct way to go but according to a recent study from Yankelovich, marketers need to do more than advertise their green products because consumers still aren’t buying green simply because the product is green. 

Only about one-third of consumers surveyed felt "much more concerned" about the environment now than last year.

Lots of people feel helpless – less
than one-quarter
of consumers feel they can make a positive difference in the environment.

Plus, it’s not a top priority among consumers.

So what can you do?

Make and market your Green products need as better products, more cost effective and cleaner or they won’t achieve their true sales potential.


Detroit Needs To Bring Sexy Back

Car_salesThe New York Times recently reported that in June, the sales of new cars and trucks dropped to their lowest level in 10 years – maybe 15 years!

Here are some staggering facts: Ford was down 28%; General
was off 18% (and their stock has been at its lowest level in 50 years); Chrysler
dropped 36% and Toyota was down 21%.

Certainly the consumer shift from large to small cars due to the crazy gas prices and the economy is a key factor, but there is so much more wrong with the domestics.

When was the last time you heard someone say, "You gotta get that new (freely insert Ford, GM, Chrysler)
new car/truck? It’s a beauty!"

The domestic’s plants aren’t as flexible as the Japanese plants in terms of scaling quickly to meet the demand of more smaller vehicles so more tough times are on the horizon for them.

However, it’s hard for me to realize that so many people have been caught blindsided by the current economic challenges. Maybe it’s time to roll lots of fols in upper management – not just the good folks on the assembly lines.

Because think about it.  If the economy was good, I still doubt you’d hear someone say, "You gotta get that new (freely insert Ford, GM, Chrysler) new car/truck?

For Detroit to truly rebound and lead, they need to leapfrog foreign
makes, not just try to catch up in terms of design, alternative fuel

Enough with the sexy concept cars – make one for sale for crying out loud!  What a concept!