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!


A Demonstration of Brand Leadership

The juvenile political goings on in Washington D.C. these days is an embarrassment to Brand America and all Americans.

If you’re an American – as I am – regardless of the political party you belong to, you can’t tell me that you’re not sick of the lack of leadership by President Obama, the hatred that pours out of the Republican party (amazingly the entire party is divided between Boehner, McConnell, McCain and the Tea Party) and the sense that the Democratic party doesn’t get the fact we have a ton of debt!

The Republican Party appears to be so divided, hateful, juvenile and crazy that their behavior might be the catalyst to get Obama re-elected!

Remember the old saying, “The devil you know could be a lot better than the devil you don’t know.”

Uneasiness, uncertainty makes everyone upset – and no one wins.

The bottom-line is that the American people have little to no confidence in our top political leadership because there is none.

No one is leading and respect for elected officials – starting with the president – is at all time lows.

And, respect for Brand America around the globe has been diminished and there is not a lot of confidence in our Brand Promise.

The American people (Brand America’s) customers aren’t buying and it’s being proven everyday in unemployment figures, the stock market (down nearly 500 points in the last 5 days).

When it comes to the Federal budget, the overwhelming majority of American people:

  1. Want the debt ceiling to rise (and it will – we all know that)
  2. Want America to pay its bills on time (like most of us do)
  3. Want America to spend within its means (like most of us do – especially in tough times – balanced budget)
  4. Want America to reduce its careless and frivolous spending (like most of us do – especially in tough times – e.g., pork)
  5. Want less (and a more effective) government (reduce spending, benefits etc., – need term limits)

Why isn’t anyone listening to their customers? Why isn’t anyone leading?  Why do we feel that we can’t believe anyone?

Now, here’s a true brand leader and a great example of how they should communicate – Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

The following video is from his first address about the recent senseless bombing in his country – I love this guy.

And, here’s a link to a video and text of his memorial address (he rocks it out) for the Norwegian bombing victims on July 24th at Oslo Cathedral.

In both instances, Stoltenberg is sincere, authentic, real, comforting, believable and trustworthy. A credot to his country.

He knows the essence of Norway’s brand and I’m confident that he will lead his country to be an even better example of what it was before these tragic bombings.

He says that Norway will, “never give up on its values” and at the same time, I question whether America has.

Our politicians should be ashamed of themselves.

Question for you. Is your brand’s value system clearly understood and demonstrated frequently?

My thoughts and prayers go out to the good people of Norway and to those who passed away far too young. May God bless all.


A Memorial Day to Remember

As a marketer, I’m all for promotions and sales, but over the past few years, I have become increasingly sickened and saddened by the commercialization of Memorial Day.

Throughout this past week, my mailbox was overflowing with Memorial Day/Weekend sales messages and offers, my TV has been pounding me with offers and yesterday I awoke to find a free American flag in my front yard with a real estate agent’s business card attached to it.

So, when I discovered Steve McCallion’s series in Fast Company magazine about how to make Memorial Day for meaningful, it struck a chord with me.

I’ve always considered myself a patriotic guy, but confess I’ve strayed away from participating in the true message and meaning of Memorial Day. That’s why today and for future Memorial Days, I will pause to reflect and remember my family members who have served in America’s wars.

More importantly, I will pay homage and tribute to – and pray for – those who paid the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives in battle such as the following men who attended my alma mater Bishop Canevin High School in Pittsburgh, PA – Joel D. Coleman, ’63, James K. McAleer, ’64, Robert F. Bahl, Jr., ’65, James F. Engelmeier, ’66, Norman F. Benedik, ’66 and Ryan J. Kovacicek, ’01.

It is my hope that today and for years to come we Marketers and Americans will follow a new tradition of putting ‘Memorial’ back into Memorial Day.


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


How to Easily Win an Election

Political campaigns fascinate me. I pay close attention to races to learn from their marketing triumphs and mistakes and to apply my education to help our clients.

Brands can learn a great deal from political races. Like all businesses today, what’s needed in Politics today is not more marketing, but better marketing that surrounds a brand/candidate that has integrity, character and proof of performance.

All things being equal, having and spending more money on a campaign in all likelihood should help you win any race hands-down, but with a better brand promise and proof of past performance, politicians like any brand can whip a big spender with performance flaws.

The California Governor race one I’m watching closely. Meg Whitman spent a Republican primary record of $74 per vote ($71 million) to beat rival billionaire Steve Poizner ($63 per vote – $24 million) by nearly 40%. OK fine.

However, in a recent poll, Whitman is behind Jerry Brown by six percentage points – 49% to 44%.  Before her housekeeper scandal, she was running a bit behind Brown who’s running a frugal campaign (Brown only spent 50 cents per vote in the Democratic primary). The campaign looks to be a tossup.

If you want to increase your odds at winning a political campaign or any brand building effort you must:

  1. Have character, integrity, authenticity, transparency
  2. Create a meaningful cause (e.g., O’Bama’s “Change”) and act on it
  3. Stay on message and be consistent over time (e.g., O’Bama’s “Change”)
  4. Recognize that “all politics is local” – build a grassroots campaign – be committed to your true identity
  5. Work hard for your voters/customers, listen to them and deliver on your promises
  6. Be a savvy cost effective Internet marketer to give your constituents the tools to easily spread your good word – trust the power of networks
  7. Have a laser focus on current, but also emerging needs – there’s always a common need (e.g., jobs), but unique needs as well per segment/s
  8. If you commit to one message, make it an exceptionally strong emotional one like consumer brands do with cars etc. Certainly you need to appeal to both the rational and emotional side of people, but emotional is always stronger
  9. Communicate hope, promise and possibilities
  10. Be a Servant Leader and treat voters (customers) as customers

The Marketing Lessons of Politics

Did you catch this article, Grim Voter Mood Turns Grimmer – Pessimism Rises on Economy and War; Bad Reviews for Both Democrats and GOP in last week’s Wall Street Journal?

No one likes either party and is sick of all politicians. Nothing new here. However, if I were running for office today, my vision and mission would be based on communicating a simple three point message platform:

“No Tax Increases, Smaller Government and Cut Government Waste.”

Three simple points that would resonate with people.

Three simple points that are meaningful, measurable and doable.

One thing we can all agree on is that we’re overtaxed and government is not a good steward of our hard earned money. Lots of pain here.

I’d promise to reallocate all savings in government waste to fill any service holes in the system and/or use to improve infrastructure (drive job growth), safety, etc.

And, I’d bet I’d make some noise and possibly win.

Sure there’s a bunch of other tactical things I’d need to do to win such as raising money, recruiting staff and volunteers, creating communications literature, building mailing lists, media ads and interviews, creating and posting yard signs and billboards, and doorbell ringing, however it all starts with your strategy, your story, your message, your brand promise.

Remember, people don’t join causes, people join people with causes.

What hope and ideals and lofty goals are you promising to deliver?

It’s all about customer service and delivering on your promise.

So, I ask you, “What are the key pain points of your customers and prospects?”

Do you have a clear brand messaging platform to address their pain?

Can you list three key meaningful and measurable communication points to craft a rock solid messaging platform?

Politicians like any brand need a clear, unique, appealing message, delivered consistently over time to win. And, to get re-elected, politicians and brands need to deliver on the promises they made to their customers.

What’s your message? Are you delivering on it?

The 24/7 microwaved news and social media world has changed our times forever.

There are no guarantees that incumbent politicians and brands will win as easily as the did in the past, which is good news for all of us.


Lt. Col. Allen West – A Marketer’s Dream

I don’t have many favorite politicians – check that – I don’t have a one! And, I’d bet most of you don’t have one.

Until maybe now.

Republican candidate for Congress and former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel Allen West is someone I’ve been following throughout his race in the Sunshine State!

And you should too.

Allen West, is a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and is running this November as a Republican candidate for the United States Congress in Florida’s District 22.

Watch this video of West in action. No notes – pure passion and conviction – clear message coming from experience – a complete mastery of the power of video and the mastery of the public speech!

When the Republicans and McCain and Co., got outgunned and derailed by the Obama campaign in the last presidential election, there’s no question that one of big contributing factors was that they were far behind in mastering the New World Order of interactive and social media marketing tools.

In the next election/s, you’ll see that everyone will be on the SMM bus. And, it will be somewhat of a level playing field in terms of marketing execution since most everyone will be wearing a pretty nice SMM tool belt and carrying a well equipped toolbox.

Check out West’s Web site and you’ll see its complete with all the appropriate SMM tools however, his talent, integrity, character and clear brand message and performance rules.

Certainly money helps, but in this online, always on world we live in, citizen journalists can help West even out the playing field for his underfunded brand.

Watch out for the Allen West’s of the world (performance based brands with character, integrity and trustworthiness) and remember that tools are cool, but tools don’t rule because anybody can buy them and learn how to use them.

To excel these days, recognize that for today’s informed consumer, what truly matters is a clearly communicated and meaningful brand promise delivered from a trustworthy, proven brand. Guaranteed.

P.S.: I call Lt. Col. Allen West a Marketer’s dream because it’s so easy to promote a brand you believe in. I’ll bet West wins in November – this American Patriot prays and hopes that he does – we need more good people like him in government.


Marketing Lessons of Dr. King

Today is a special day of remembrance for me because I’ve admired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ever since I was a young boy.

King’s life’s work was to create a formidable movement of change and progress on the issue of civil rights in America – which he most certainly accomplished. In fact, his legacy has expanded to encompass not only the advancement of civil rights, but human rights throughout the world.

Dr. King and others in the Civil Rights Movement taught me a lot about living my Christian faith and American patriotism out loud, and both taught me lessons about marketing a meaningful cause.

First and foremost, their brand message was true, right and good – they operated from a solid foundation of truth and righteousness.

From having a spot-on brand message – equal rights – the Civil Rights movement created support (buy-in) of their cause with personal, touching, motivating and powerful storytelling imagery such as:

  • Segregation signs at water fountains, rest rooms, restaurants and hotels
  • Elderly women in their Sunday best being turned back from voting
  • Rosa Parks sitting in front of a white man on a bus and then being fingerprinted
  • White firemen turning high pressure water hoses on the old and young alike
  • White policemen leading German Shepherd attack dogs through black crowds
  • Innocent black children being escorted by soldiers on their way to school
  • Unarmed, peaceful marchers getting viciously beaten by armed police
  • Disgusting Ku Klux Klan marches, and burning crosses
  • Rampant black church burnings and bombings

There are certainly more, but I’m sure you get the picture.

All of these powerful images of factual accounts and experiences combined, provided a motivating case for drastic and immediate change.

Certainly, many images were created, but more often than not these images were created and spread virally because they were true, authentic and emotional which makes for a far more reaching impact.

The positioning message was a simple one of good vs. evil.

Dr. King persuaded, motivated and modeled the movement after Gandhi’s peaceful marches and protests with dignity and discipline. These non violent marches were impactful, but as impressive…if not more so…was the way in which he communicated his brand’s message of civil and racial injustice.

Two things I’ve always remembered in marketing are:

  1. People don’t join causes…people join people with causes and
  2. People typically buy first on emotion, then justify with facts

These two marketing maxims certainly apply to the Civil Rights Movement.

Do yourself a HUGE favor and listen carefully to Dr. King’s entire, “I Have a Dream” speech. The “Dream” speech is a masterpiece and it’s amazing how quiet the audience is throughout it too.

Here is a list of 10 Communication Tips from Dr. King that I picked up from his speech (see if you can pick them up and agree with them; and see if you can discover a few more):

  1. The perfect imagery setting of speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial
  2. The use of simple, small, easy to understand common words
  3. The impact of the repetitive nature of select phrases (e.g., “now is the the time,” “we are not satisfied,” “I have a dream,” “let freedom ring,” “free at last”)
  4. The effect of name personalization (e.g., my friends, you, me, we etc.)
  5. The effect of location personalization (e.g., he lists key towns and cities where many of the members of his audience live)
  6. The clarity of his speech – perfect annunciation and diction
  7. The passionate nature of his voice – how can you motivate people if you’re not
  8. The perfect pacing and changes in speech patterns (e.g., high, low, quick, slow)
  9. The use of short phrases and sentences to drive home memorable key points
  10. The fact that he used notes sparingly because he spoke from personal experience, believed in his message and thus knew it by heart – teleprompter be damned

Much is made about President O’Bama’s communication skills, but he’s far from being the skilled orator of Dr. King. The president has the Internet, a ton of communication consultants and speechwriters and his infamous TELEPROMPTER (which he uses entirely too much as a crutch). Dr. King had none of the tools that the President has at his disposal, but created such an amazing, impressive long lasting presence.

The President and all of us can learn a great deal about tolerance, patriotism and doing the right thing from Dr. King AND we can all learn a great deal about how to be a Marketing Rock Star too!

Happy Birthday and Rest in Peace Dr. King.


BrandMill Wins 3 Pittsburgh PRSA Renaissance Awards

Fact WRII Poster finalLast Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) honored the region’s
best public relations campaigns and tactics, as well as its most admired communicators, during the 2009 Renaissance Awards.

Held in the East Club Lounge at Heinz Field, the Renaissance Awards were emceed by Andrew Stockey,
anchor of WTAE-TV Channel 4 Action News. In attendance were some of the country’s leading communications professionals representing global agencies, Fortune 500 corporations, and elite higher education

An independent judging panel from the Los Angeles Public Relations Society of America evaluated nominations for more than 40 award categories, such as special events, media relations campaigns, and direct mail pieces. The top entries earned the coveted Renaissance Award, while runners-up received the Award of Merit.

I’m proud to report that the Pittsburgh Public Relations Society of America honored BrandMill with three First Place Renaissance Awards for Best Public Affairs Campaign, Best Press Kit and Best Poster for the Whiskey Rebellion II campaign to “Axe the 10% Drink Tax” in Allegheny County.

These three PRSA Renaissance awards complement BrandMill’s and F.A.C.T.’s (Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation) Marketer of the Year award in the Sports Entertainment Hospitality award (and third runner-up overall for Grand Marketer of the Year) for its Whiskey Rebellion II campaign given by the American Marketing Association of Pittsburgh this past December.

Here is a link to the Pittsburgh PRSA’s press release about the 2009 Renaissance Awards.


10 Marketing Lessons from Brand Obama


I try to stay apolitical in this Blog, but WOW…how can a marketer not comment on this landmark Presidential campaign? What a unique game-changing marketing performance and case study! What a two-year marketing ride choosing between Brand McCain and Brand Obama.  No matter if your guy won or lost, you can learn a great deal about marketing by scrutinizing why Brand Obama was the brand more Americans preferred.

The main reason why Obama won was that he/his brand was uniquely different!!

However, here are 10 more reasons why Barack Obama’s marketing campaign rocked America’s house:


1.    Brand Obama stayed on the singular message of CHANGE!
2.    Brand Obama was a better storyteller. His oratory skills were spectacular and his messaging was focused and clear. His classic speech on race…WOW, it doesn’t get any better than that.
3.    Brand Obama’s internet marketing strategy was superior. Viral media, engaging media all excellent.
4.    Brand Obama built a bigger permission based database which led to record donations.
5.    Brand Obama reached beyond its base to be inclusive and nice to others to convert
6.    Brand Obama was clear and calm. Any leader can row a boat when its calm, but can they do it when the water is rough? Obama showed a calm demeanor through the entire campaign and people were looking for calm, cool leadership and not the cowboy arrogance of Bush.
7.    Brand Obama executed better – flawlessly. He never seemed to make a mistake.
8.    Brand Obama worked to pump up the pumped up. He reached out to other groups unlike his base, but they were interested in change.
9.    Brand Obama attacked actions not the person. People respect those who do not attack ther person, but rather his/her actions.
10.    Brand Obama satisfied customer’s main need to fix the economy. In mid September when the race was getting a little tight and the banks started to collapse, McCain said, “The fundamentals of the economy are strong!” Well, Obama’s team jumped on the statement which showed he was a bit out of touch not recognizing the famous line of the Clinton campaign, “It’s the economy stupid!”

Here’s a good New York Times story that adds a bit more texture to my argument…Hail to the new Chief! “Yes we can” learn terrific marketing lessons from this campaign. God bless America.