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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Pittsburgh’s Priory Hotel New Wing Celebration

We love working on Grand Openings, Grand Re-Openings, New Product Launches and more!

Next to having your own baby, it’s got to be right up there in terms of great days if you love marketing and public relations like we do!

There’s just nothing like holding a special exciting event to kickoff a brand’s ‘NEW NEWS!”

And, it truly comes down to what YOU make of it.

Public Relations is an art that’s not practiced enough in our opinion for lots of reasons.

The biggest reason is because it’s hard work and most people don’t like to “bring it” and put the time in that’s necessary to do an exceptional job.

The second big reason is that the majority of brands are simply boring and adequate and have no interesting stories to tell.  What a shame.

We’re honored to work with lots of great brands such as our good friends at the Priory Hospitality Group.

And, when they asked us to help them kick off the grand opening of their new wing we jumped at the opportunity.

In the picture above, we had all of the key people responsible for getting the Priory Hotel’s new wing open for business such as co-owners and operators John and Suzanne Graf, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, key employees and the architect, builder and interior designer.

The $2.7 million expansion of The Priory added 17 rooms, a 70 percent expansion of the hotel’s capacity. Located in the Deutschtown section of the North Side, the hotel expanded into a building leveled by fire two years earlier.

This picture is a great representation of a Grand Opening done right.

We kept all of these key figures and media appraised of the opening event far in advance with our custom “Countdown to Go” grand opening list and started months ahead of the event to make sure we didn’t miss a detail and to ensure that our execution was flawless.

The result?

We achieved widespread media coverage in Pittsburgh’s major daily and community newspapers and all television networks.

And, as important, we earned the continued respect, endorsement and marketing partnership from the Priory and the Graf family.

Here’s a link to an online story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It appeared on the front page of the Local News Section of the paper and is just one of several pieces of media coverage we earned.

As you prepare for 2012, think about the meaningful stories you can share with your local media and customers.

If you don’t have any, get to work on some. If you do, start planning – well in advance – to show and tell them!

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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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All Hail Duquesne Beer the Prince of Pilsener

Earlier this week, I attended the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association’s annual kickoff dinner at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory. I was delighted to hear Duquesne beer president Mark Dudash talk about how his wife Maria and he are reviving the Prince of Pilsener, Duquesne Beer. Here’s the back story from their Website – it’s a great one too.

Mark’s an attorney and a proud city of Pittsburgh guy like me – in fact, we went to rival highs schools – South Catholic (Beechview – him) and Bishop Canevin (Westwood – 28th Ward – me).  He might not be a “classically trained” marketer, but Maria and he are super smart marketers nonetheless – believe me. They didn’t jump into spending a ton of money in outbound marketing, but rather spent their money on creating a unique, high quality brand – a super premium Pilsener beer – at a fair price. And, with their inbound marketing efforts – via Faceboook – their raving fans are spreading their good word.

During his keynote, Mark repeatedly used words and phrases like, ‘loyalty, ‘having fun,’ ‘conducting your due diligence,’ ‘understanding your product’ and doing the right things right. Believe me…the Dudash’s are doing a ton of ‘right things right.’

When we consult with brands, we conduct a ton of research before we ever recommend marketing strategies, tactics and tools.

In fact, we start every new client engagement with a simple, initial 5 question exercise such as:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What’s your story?
  3. Why should someone care?
  4. What’s your dramatic difference?
  5. How can/do you passionately demonstrate and convey your dramatic difference?

Maria and Mark, may have not known the questions above, but more importantly, they sure know the answers and are hitting the cover off the ball!

I’m a big fan of Duquesne Beer – it tastes great and its a great brand – and will be rooting for them to “stick it to the man” – the man – or men – being the likes of Mr. Budweiser, Mr. Miller, Mr. Coors and more.

Good luck sweet Prince! We’re glad to have you back!

P.S.: Looking forward to you bringing back Ft. Pitt Beer too!

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Gateway Analytical – CSI of Pittsburgh

Congratulations to our super new client Gateway Analytical in Gibsonia, PA on its public grand opening this week. We’re proud to say we earned some well deserved publicity for the “CSI of Pittsburgh!”

A subsidiary of Pittsburgh’s ChemImage, Gateway Analytical provides advanced analytical testing for the forensics (police, FBI, etc.), materials science and pharma industries, and helps each to speed up their testing and reduce their costs.   The company offers services that relay vital information about product quality and investigate regulatory noncompliance issues-all things that are more relevant today and more important than ever before because of America’s growing concern regarding health and safety.  Plus, an increase in government regulation over the safety of consumer products will increase the need for testing laboratories such as Gateway Analytical.

Along with the ceremonial ribbon cutting led by PA Congressman Jason Altmire, the grand opening included guided tours of the new 3,000-square foot facility, and brief remarks from industry experts and community leaders, including representatives from PA State Senator Jane Orie’s Office – Ashley Sisca – and from PA House Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s Office, Mike Hritz.

Check out this awesome feature story (and video) for KDKA-TV by Rick Dayton.

Here’s more from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and the Pine-Richland Patch. More to come.

All of us at BrandMill were proud to part of Gateway Analytical’s special day and it’s history!

Photo: Dr. Ryan Priore, Jim McGlone, PA Congressman Jason Altmire, Dave Exline, Mike Hritz, Ashley Sisca, John Belechak and Dr. Oksana Olkhovyk

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Super Bowl Ads Are a Waste of Money

As a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I certainly was disappointed with my team losing Super Bowl XLV.

However, I was more disgusted as a marketing professional when I viewed the number of lousy television commercials. What a waste of money, time and space.

When you consider the average Super Bowl commercial placement cost over $2 million and another high six figures to produce the spot (net about a $3 million investment per spot) do you really think that the majority of these so-called top brand marketers effectively took advantage of the highest rated Super Bowl ever?

Talk about opportunity lost!

Nielsen reported that Super Bowl XLV was the most viewed television show in history with a record breaking audience of 162.9 million viewers!  And, for the life of me, I cannot understand how some of these ads were approved to run.

Where’s the exciting new news? Where’s the compelling reason to buy? Where’s the interesting campaign launch? Where’s the accountability? Where’s another ETrade Baby Campaign for other products?

For me, I don’t buy into the argument about the “view buzz” metrics on YouTube. If brands think that “bigger is always better” and marketing is all about awareness and buzz, they’re way off track.

You want the awareness and buzz about your product or service to be about people having conversations such as, “Hey, did you try X? It sounds like an awesome product…let’s check it out!” I’d bet there weren’t many (if any) conversations like this happening during the big game.

Hey, I could put a dead body in the window of a restaurant and drive buzz and awareness, but I don’t think you’d want to eat there!

I can’t recall one ad that has or will influence me to inquire about, buy or refer their product. Not a one…can you?

And, if I hear one more person say that an ad is ‘cute’ or ‘funny’ without remembering the brand name I swear I’m going to choke on my Terrible Towel…much like my beloved Steelers did!

P.S.: Having said all I want to say about the total lack of accountability, campaignability and creativity (I subscribe to the old adage…’it’s only creative if it sells’) in this year’s Super Bowl commercials, I am looking forward to seeing where the Chrysler 200 heads with it’s Imported from Detroit effort. I am interested and hopeful it helps drive them business. It seems like an interesting platform to work from. But, what do I know, it ranked low on USA Today’s Ad Meter. Go figure.

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10 Ways to Build Brand Trust

If you’re looking for a way to truly build your business in a uniquely profitable way, put a plan in place to build customer trust in your brand.

I say unique, because when you consider this chart, you’ll see that many industries are not highly trusted. This online U.S. Harris Poll was conducted on November 8 and 15, 2010 among 2,151 adults 18+.

Trust in a brand (personal or business) is the keystone of all relationships. By doing the right thing/s, you an earn a person’s trust, but it’s easy to lose it – and you can lose it quickly – practically overnight regardless of your past reputation.

Here my 10 ways to build trust:

  1. Be authentic – be real
  2. Lead with integrity and humility
  3. Be honest, don’t lie and always tell the truth
  4. Be objective, fair and consistent in your actions
  5. Don’t gossip – respect people in their absence
  6. Keep your promises by doing what you say you’re going to do
  7. Don’t take people for granted – anticipate needs, don’t just react
  8. Be open and transparent on your dealings and provide clear information
  9. Always do your best and give your engagements everything you’ve got
  10. Be a Servant Leader by putting others best interest ahead of your own

If you follow these 10 ways to build trust in your brand, “they (your customers)” will come again and again.  Trust me.

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Brand Building In a New York Minute

I’ve posted in the past about how important speed is to your business success and it’s never been more true in this always on 24/7 world we live in.

To see real speed up close and personal, visit New York City as I did last week. The Big Apple has a unique pace all its own and you sense it as soon your plane touches down at JFK.

On my flight, I read where the Empire State Building will mark its 80th anniversary in April, 2011. The 1453-foot, 102 floor icon – the world’s tallest skyscraper for 40 years – was an engineering miracle when it opened for business in April, 1931 and still rocks on today.

For a lesson in speed, check out the ESB story and you’ll discover that the building frame rose more than a story every day and no building like it has matched that rate of ascent to date. General contractors Starrett Brothers and Eken, the best skyline builders of the day, built the ESB in a record 11 months and it was a marvel of modern engineering – a 1453-foot, 103-story testament to the ingenuity of man. Again, this was 80 years ago!

The contractors, SB&E started with nothing but courage, determination, expertise and vision. They had no existing equipment or materials that would be match this huge never been done before task. Their success was achieved through pure will, insight, creative logistics and a super skilled and well managed labor force.

To build a better business in 2011, think of ways to improve the speed of your business and when you think you can’t go any faster think of the Empire State Building!

For a fascinating book to pump you up fast read Building the Empire State.

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How To Profitably Raise Your Prices

In your price increase or decrease discussions always remember this old marketing truism, “Price is only an issue in the absence of value!”

In these tough economic times (and even in good times) so many of us are afraid to raise prices primarily because we know in our hearts that we’re not offering a clear value and unique experience.

If you want to profitably increase your sales, you can start by offering some WOW and then make sure enough people hear, understand and can easily act on your offer!

No matter what times we live in, people do spend money.  Sure, shoppers may be a bit more wary and discriminating during down-times, but when you offer true, visible, demonstrative and meaningful value, you can make more money and be more profitable selling your products and services at higher prices.

Pricing is a skill and an art that requires some planning and testing. You might gain some short-term market share and sales with discounts, but it could take you years to gain back your competitive positioning. And, if you are a luxury brand you could lose your brand identity while competing on low prices and turn your brand into a commodity.

I’m certainly not a fan of taking advantage of customers with higher non-justified pricing, but there are win-win ways to build profits for companies and build customer satisfaction at the same time.

Here are just some of the ways you can increase your pricing. Some good…some not so good.

Change package/serving size. CPGs do this a lot by reducing the package size a bit and related price, but your cost per ounce and/or pound increases.  How does that make you feel when you discover you’re paying more for less?

Bulk/Bundle/Combo pricing/Price a la carte. Pricing your goods or services a la carte is a good way to increase prices and then show some extra value when a customer chooses to buy in bulk (think cable companies, McDonald’s combo meals, ride all day packages at amusement parks).

Raise grandfathered prices. You can rationalize a price increase message to your ‘pioneer’ customers because ‘costs do go up,’ but if/when you do raise prices on these folks, you need to recognize your customer’s loyalty with a little extra added value to soften the blow.

Raise prices for new customers. A much easier way to raise prices instead of a general price increase across the board.

Schedule a price increase. This helps prepare your customers and carefully inform them of the reasons why you’re increasing their cost of doing business with you.

Offer performance based guarantees. Providing performance based assurances on your higher priced products is a great way to justify higher priced goods and services.

Add a little extra value. Again, adding a little extra makes your offering a little bit better and helps people more easily digest price increases.

Be different – be unique. The very best way to sell your offerings at a higher price. In fact, add a guarantee and a little extra value and you’ll become a much admired and desired triple threat.

You can be a unique necessity or discretionary product or service too – it is profitably achievable.  When you strive to be the Apple, Disney, BMW of your industry you’ll be able to command your price and see your profits soar.

I guarantee it!

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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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