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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Entrepreneur Growth Conference at Duquesne

Please join us at one of Pittsburgh’s largest entrepreneurship events and fuel your engine for the road to business growth.

We’ve accepted an invitation to speak at the 15th Annual Entrepreneur’s Growth Conference on Friday, May 10 at Duquesne University.  This conference is led by  Small Business Development Center at Duquesne.

Our topic is, ‘How to be a Marketing Rock Star!’ Client John Graf, co-owner of the Priory Hospitality Group will join me Stephen Wayhart.  Together, we’ll discuss the seven key brand building principles used by Rock legends such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and U2.

If you’re interested in attending let us know and we’ll send you a $20 off coupon – supplies limited. Click here for more information or to register now!

Hope to see you on Friday, May 10 and always remember to ROCK ON!

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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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The Marketing Man Who Hates Advertising

The headline in this post comes from a comment that great client and friend of ours said about me a few years ago.

And, he’s repeated it to me on a few other occasions too.

He said, “As someone who’s been in marketing as long as you, why do you hate advertising so much?”

I answered – and continue to defend myself – that it’s not that I hate advertising, it’s just that I hate bad advertising that’s created to try extort people into believing in or buying unremarkable products and services.

It simply doesn’t work. And, it gives my profession a bad name.

Remember…if you put perfume on a pig…it’s still a pig!

The facts support my argument that there has been a crisis going on in mass media for years and most advertisers simply continue to do the same sad things over and over again.  That is, they spend too much money on TV advertising when they should invest those dollars in creating remarkable high-value products and services.

For example consider these facts*:

  • Only 14% of people trust advertising
  • Only 18% of television commercials achieve a positive return on investment
  • The average ROI is just 54 cents per every dollar spent on TV ads

Now, let’s talk about the biggest joke and general waste of advertising dollars – the Super Bowl.

Just another advertising effort that gives my profession a bad name.

I dread tomorrow listening to all of the so-called Advertising experts and pundits on the national news and talk shows discussing which ad was ‘cute and funny.”  Ugh!

For years, I’ve said that advertising on the Super Bowl is a waste of money. It still is a waste.

Back in 2008, E-Trade premiered commercials during Super Bowl XLII featuring a talking baby (the now infamous E-Trade Baby) in front of a Webcam pontificating about investing and finance in an adult voice. The campaign continued into the Super Bowl XLIII piling on with communications on other channels such Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

And, it continues to this day. Why?

It has to be because it’s ‘cute and funny‘ because it hasn’t done anything to build sales and/or turn around its stock price.

For proof, check out this screen capture I took last night comparing the Dow Jones average (blue)  vs. Schwab (green) and E-Trade (red).  Still laughing?

Now back in 2008, I predicted that the E-Trade baby would rock in advertising recall and likeability and I was proven right. The 2008 E-Trade baby Super Bowl ad campaign earned high marks of 7th most liked, 3rd and 8th most recalled.

However, after the premiere of the E-Trade Baby campaign, I cautioned clients that now that the seed is planted, the E-Trade brand needs to ‘show and tell’ how it has helped real people more effectively perform with personal investing.  They would need to show proof! And, to this day I say, “Where’s the proof?”

There is none and that’s one big reason why their stock is performing poorly vs. other averages. The E-Trade marketing folks must be getting away with this charade by saying, “But, look at our Ad recall numbers! Look at how many golfers know the word ‘shankapotomus.‘ 

To that rationale, I say, “Who cares!”

We do a ton of hospitality work. And, I bet you that we’d drive huge recall numbers by putting a dead body in the front window of any one of our restaurants with a banner stating, “People are dying to dine here!” I’d also bet that sales would rapidly fall.

There’s an old saying that, ‘The only person who likes change is a wet baby.’

I agree and also agree that the E-Trade campaign (and possibly product/service too) needs to be changed if it ever hopes to have happy investors.

Enjoy the game and make efficient use of your day today by getting a something to eat or drink or go to the bathroom during the commercial breaks.

*Source: Justin Kirby & Paul Marsden (2006).  Connected marketing.  Oxford, UK:  Butterworth-Heinemann. xix

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Colussy Chevrolet’s Place in Americana

Chevrolet will be kicking off a huge celebration in early November for its 100th Anniversary.

And, what many people do not know is Pittsburgh’s unique role in Chevrolet’s history courtesy of the Colussy family.

Check out this story by Teresa Lindeman which we earned for our newest client Colussy Chevrolet on the front page of today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Business Section – Colussy Chevrolet, A Place in Americana.

Chevy Runs Deep In Pittsburgh, PA

Congratulations to brothers Tim and Jon Colussy who now lead the third generation ownership of Colussy Chevrolet in Bridgeville, PA for their well deserved recognition. Chevrolet’s oldest dealership in America is now in its 93rd year of operation since 1918.

It’s true when they say that Chevy runs deep. Chevy runs deep in Pittsburgh, PA and a little deeper in Bridgeville, PA.

P.S.: Here is the first Road We’re On’ video from NYC’s Mother ad agency in preparation for Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary.  It’s the first in a series and features Bridgeville, PA and Colussy Chevrolet.  Enjoy – it’s excellent.

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Thanks for Making a Dent in Our Universe

Our world lost a great man yesterday – Steve Jobs.

Jobs impacted my life in numerous ways through not only his great innovations and style, but also in his words.

Here’s my top 10 list of Steve Job quotes that have resonated with me over the years.

God bless you Steve and many thanks.  You’ll be missed.

Steve Jobs Top 10 Best Quotes

  1. “We’re here to put a dent in the universe, otherwise why else even be here?”
  2. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
  3. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
  4. “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity.  Simple can be harder than complex. You need to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple, but it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
  5. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
  6. Remembering that you’re going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
  7. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
  8. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
  9. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone elses life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
  10. We don’t get a chance to do that many things and every one should be really excellent because this is our life.”

…And, one more thing!

10+.    “You know a design is good when you want to lick it.” … And, “Design is not what it looks like.  Design is how it works.”

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Idlewild & SoakZone Repeats as Best Children’s Park

Congratulations to our super client and all of our super friends at Idlewild & SoakZone for repeating as the ‘Best Children’s Park in the World!’ Here’s the press release we put on the wire earlier today.  What a well deserving bunch!

Idlewild & SoakZone Repeats as Best Children’s Park in the World

LIGONIER, PA – September 17, 2011 – Today, at its Golden Ticket ceremony held in Santa Claus, Indiana, Amusement Today Magazine (http://www.amusementtoday.com) recognized Pennsylvania’s Idlewild & SoakZone (http://www.idlewild.com) as the ‘Best Children’s Park in the World’ for the second consecutive year.

“The Golden Tickets are awarded based on a poll of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans worldwide,” explained Gary Slade, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Amusement Today.  “Since the inception of the best children’s park category in 2004, Idlewild & SoakZone placed in the top two, and placed first in 2010.  It’s a testament to Idlewild & SoakZone’s perseverance in providing a unique family- friendly entertainment value in such a beautiful park setting.”

“This honor means a lot to our dedicated team members, who work hard to provide a fun, family-friendly experience every season.  To be recognized as one of the best is fantastic news for our guests and the Laurel Highlands region, who have supported us for over 130 years,” said Park spokesperson Jeff Croushore.  “We’re overjoyed to once again be named Best Children’s Park and wish to share this award with all of our fans, both the young and the young at heart.”

For more information about the 2011 survey results, visit: http://www.goldenticketawards.com/

ABOUT AMUSEMENT TODAY’S GOLDEN TICKET AWARDS

Amusement Today is an amusement industry trade publication based in Arlington, Texas.  Introduced in 1998, the Golden Tickets are the most prized awards in the industry. Amusement park fans worldwide are asked to rate the top parks in 25 categories. The 2011 international poll was the eighth for children appeal in its 14-year history. For more information, call 817.460.7220 or visit http://www.amusementtoday.com.

ABOUT IDLEWILD & SOAKZONE

Founded in 1878 as a picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild & SoakZone (www.idlewild.com) is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America.  Featuring seven theme areas, operations run late-May through Labor Day with “Hallowboo,” a Halloween-themed event, taking place in October. Idlewild is part of the Palace Entertainment family of parks that hosts over 14 million visitors annually at five theme parks, two animal parks, 10 waterparks, and 21 family entertainment centers. For more information, call 724.238.3666 or visit http://www.idlewild.com and http://www.palaceentertainment.com.

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Best Amusement Park for Kids and Families

Idlewild and SoakZone Best Park for Kids & Families

All of us at BrandMill are happy to report that one of our super clients – Idlewild & Soak Zone in Ligonier, PA (about an hour drive from Pittsburgh) – is now open and operating its 134th season of summer fun and has made a huge splash with its new water park attraction, “Wowabunga” Family Wave Pool.

New Wowabunga Family Wave Pool

 

Wowabunga features intermittent waves suitable for both younger and older guests as well as a “beach” area perfect for guests looking to soak up the summer sun. See awe-inspiring cirque entertainment all summer long at Cirque Extreme – Under the Big Top and enjoy the following special events – all included with the price of admission – and with free picnicking too:

  • June 13 – 17 & June 20 – 24 – BOGO Days
  • June 19 – Firefighter/EMS Family Appreciation Day
  • June 27 – July 3 – Showcase of Stars
  • July 4 – Fireworks
  • July 5 -8 – Antique & Classic Car Show and Parade
  • July 11 – 15 – Mister Rogers’ Neighbor Days
  • July 18 – 22 – Meet the Marvel Comic Super Heroes (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America)
  • July 25 -29 – Christmas In July
  • July 31 – Cheerleading Competition
  • August 12 – Italian Day Festa
  • August 22 – 26 – Car Load Days
  • October – Hallowboo!

For more details, check out this recent video on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today LIVE featuring Park Spokesperson Jeff Croushore.

About Idlewild & ZoakZone

Founded in 1878 as a simple picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild & SoakZone is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America. In addition, it is rated the best kid’s park in the world by Amusement Today magazine and the best park for families by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Idlewild features seven fun theme areas such as SoakZone Waterpark, Story Book Forest and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.  Seasonal operations run through Labor Day and “Hallowboo,” a Halloween-themed event, takes place in October. Idlewild is part of the Palace Entertainment family which hosts over 13 million visitors annually at 40 locations across the country.  With 8 theme parks, 11 water parks and 21 family entertainment centers, Palace is the largest operator of water parks and family entertainment centers in the nation. For more information, call 724.238.3666 or visit http://www.idlewild.com and http://www.palaceentertainment.com.

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Priory is SBA family-owned small business of the year

L-R - Priory co-owners Suzanne and John Graf and GM Tim McGlothlin. (Photo/Kelly Thomas)

Congratulations to a great client and family – the Graf family, owners of the Priory Hospitality Group in Pittsburgh, PA – for being recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Family Owned Business of the Year!

See story here.

All of us at BrandMill are proud to serve as a marketing partner of the Priory Hospitality Group.

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Justin Bieber is No Michael Jackson

He’s simply Justin Bieber.

I caught this Hollywood Reporter story announcing that, “Justin Bieber Tops Michael Jackson for U.S. Box Office Crown.”

Now, I like Justin Bieber and certainly this story is newsworthy, but stories like this lead people to think that he’s on his way to being a better performer than Michael Jackson.

Justin Bieber is NO Michael Jackson and I confidently doubt he ever will come even close to achieving the success of MJ.

In late 2010, Forbes reported in its article, The Rich Afterlife of Michael Jackson, that Beyonce, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and Madonna each raked in over $50 million, but the late, great Michael Jackson made over $275 million – more than all four artists combined! WOW!

Michael Jackson is the Richest Dead Celebrity

In addition, Forbes ranked Michael Jackson the richest dead celebrity in 2010 because Brand MJ earned more money than all of the artists on the list combined and more than any living artist or group.

Again, not to take anything away from the “Biebs,” but when he makes that kind of loot when he’s dead and buried, then maybe you’ll have an argument.

Similarly, before and throughout the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, comparisons between BYU’s Jimmer Fredette and LSU’s Pistol Pete Maravich were constantly being discussed. And, similar to my statement above, Jimmer  Fredette is no Pistol Pete Maravich.

Don’t take my word for it, read ESPN’s Rick Reilly’s story here.

The point of my Blog post is not to slam or hate on Justin or Jimmer – I like and respect them both a ton – my rant is more about people and brands being obsessed with comparisons to each other and to competitors.

You need to enjoy your own success and respect others too. And, to achieve long lasting success you can’t rest on your laurels and you should simply work hard at being better than YOU used to be – not how someone ELSE is/or used to be!

Focus your BRAND YOU efforts on improving YOU and maybe read this book too.

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