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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Immaculate Reception Marketing Memories

Sprint PCS Immaculate Reception Billboard

I’m so looking forward to tomorrow, December 23 because its the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Immaculate Reception. I was 10 years old and was listening to the Steelers Raiders football game on the radio (local broadcast was blacked out) and heard the news LIVE!

What a thrilling end to a game that propelled the Steelers to future greatness. In addition, this single play would change a city and would forever be immortalized as the greatest NFL play in history!

Immaculate Reception Marketing Memories

Ranking just as high on my list of favorite Steelers memories, was back in December 1997 when as the Director of Marketing and Sales Operations for Sprint PCS, I came up with an idea to help us more effectively communicate our digital ‘call clarity’ position.

Sprint’s Immaculate Reception Print Ad

You guessed correctly – it was also around the same time as the 25th Anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.

To clearly position our new wireless phone service in a hyper competitive wireless phone market, I searched and found a high profile customer (football great Franco Harris) whose testimonial and personal brand matched up perfectly with Brand Sprint.

The marriage between Franco’s most famous play in football and Sprint’s unique selling proposition of digital call clarity, helped drive favorable awareness, considerable store traffic and effectively communicated our unique product positioning (the first and only digital phone service in the market). And, the timing was perfect.  The 25th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception coincided perfectly with our new product launch.

Franco Harris and Stephen Wayhart
25th Anniversary of Immaculate Reception
1997 Commercial Photo Shoot

Testimonials are one of the most effective methods of building brands, and Franco’s testimonial helped us to effectively pull together a strong brand building and sales effort.

Our strategy was so on target that Sprint PCS realized record store traffic and sales.

Now 15 years later, I’m proud to say our campaign – like Franco’s famous catch – has been immortalized by the NFL Network in its feature film A Football Life – The Immaculate Reception.

Click here to watch the entire video of the Show and be sure to check out the mark at 31:57 to 32:04 to see one of our ads!

Happy Anniversary Franco and thanks for the memories!

P.S.: See Case Study here. Also, many thanks to my boss Doug Cotton for giving the idea a ‘thumbs up.!’ And to photographer Harry Giglio, designers Kathy Kendra, Mark Power; Mike Cusick Sprint Director of Sales; and Sprint marketing partner Maria D’Abruzzo.

Click here to see a super video treatment of the 40th Anniversary Celebration and marker unveiling of the Immaculate Reception from Steelers.Com

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A Great Demo of How to Wow

In our client strategy sessions, we always discuss “How to deliver a ‘WOW'” because most brands don’t take the time to think how they can create brand buzz – or, believe they can!

Every brand has a ‘WOW” within them – cost effective ones to be nurtured with thought and care – that will effectively separate themselves from their competitors and carve out a unique branded value proposition, awareness etc.

For example, here’s a ‘WOW’ case study right in our own backyard by a small family owned window cleaning company based in Pittsburgh.

Their idea is a cool and commendable story. The idea was a simple lift of one that a firm executed  in another country.

This simple ‘WOW’ paid off big time too. The brand made a more favorable impression with clients, prospects, employees and for its potential little customers that will last a lifetime. In addition, this ‘WOW’ landed the company and its owners on the front page of Pittsburgh’s major daily papers, 6PM and 11PM TV news and more. Do you have a ‘WOW’ cooking NOW?  If not, why not? You can do it and get people buzzing about your brand!
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How to Get Your Pricing Right

I’ve always been a big fan of Tom Peters of ‘In Search of Excellence‘ fame and its because of him that I’ve studied McKinsey a ton. In fact, in many ways I’ve worked hard to build BrandMill as a mini marketing consulting model of the firm – and have always loved McKinsey’s 7-S Framework (developed by Waterman and Peters) too.

At the recommendation of Peters via a Blog post, I read a few books from former McKinsey employee Ethan Rasiel – ‘The McKinsey Way’ and ‘The McKinsey Mind.’ These books were a great help to me (still are) in building the processes of my marketing practice.

One little nugget that was worth a ton to me, was Rasiel’s insight about how company’s price their products.  In short, McKinsey believes most companies price too low because they haven’t taken steps to quantify their value – to prove and clearly communicate their worth.

TELEGRAM ONE – Most brands need to do a far better job at value creation and value communication!

TELEGRAM TWO: Raising prices is the easiest, simplest and least expensive way to profitably increase sales!

McKinsey argues that most brands price too low because they haven’t done enough work to prove (offer real proof – or make brand improvements to add additional proof) that their products or services should demand a higher price. So, most brands lower and lower their price or, discount and discount to a level that customer’s will say, ‘OK, that price seems reasonable.’

In our initial brand engagements we nearly always find two alarming opportunities to profitably build a small business.

First, most brands simply price their products and services following the traditional cost-plus (mark-up) model and never consider these other 10+ ways to find their right price.

12 Pricing Models

  1. Cost-Plus Pricing building price up from cost ‘floor’ generally on a percentage basis
  2. Elasticity Pricing – pricing to take advantage of known or perceived price elasticity or inelasticity
  3. Flexible Pricing – Pricing to meet changing competitive/marketplace conditions
  4. Follow Pricing – Pricing in relation to industry price leaders
  5. Loss-leader Pricing – Pricing an item/items low to attract buyers for other products
  6. Phase-out PricingPricing ‘high’ to remove a product from the line
  7. Penetration PricingPricing below the prevailing level in order to gain market entry or to increase market share
  8. Pre-emptive PricingPricing to discourage competitive market entry
  9. Psychological Pricing –Pricing at a level that ‘sounds’ much lower than it is like $99.95
  10. Segment Pricing – Pricing essentially the same products differently to various markets
  11. Skim Pricing – pricing at inordinately high level to hit the ‘cream’ buyers
  12. Slide-down Pricing – Moving prices down to tap successive layers of demand

…and more here – and more good stuff on pricing here too.

Plus, value-based pricing packages and pricing and revenue management software tools for dynamic pricing rock too!

Second, we find that most small business brands have a tremendous opportunity to improve their unique ‘WOW’ experience (a bigger, more unique and meaningful ‘WOW’ – clearly communicated – should justify a higher price), but lack the process/es and/or a desire to raise their bar of excellence because they get caught up in the day-to-day business at hand.

Face the facts.

You can’t control what your government or competitors do to negatively impact your small business (so stop your whining), but you can control and lead your brand to more profitable times with an improved approach to pricing and innovation.

Right?

Ok – back to pricing.

There’s certainly not enough time/space in this blog post to cover all you need to know about it (hey, we’re happy to help – just call us at 412.401.0555 – or email me at stephen.wayhart@brandmill.com), but we recommend that you make time to improve your ‘WOW’ (The Experience Economy is an oldie but goodie) and read a few good pricing books (and study hard) to help you more effectively do it.

Here are three excellent pricing books we highly recommend.

  1. Full Price, by Winninger
  2. Pricing for Profit, by Furtwengler
  3. The Price Advantage, by Baker, Marn and Zawada

We wish you good luck and great marketing!

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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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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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Be Wary of Vulgar Marketing

Back in December of 2009, Nicorette launched a $15 million integrated marketing campaign complete with a fictitious ‘Suckometer’ around the bold statement that, Nicorette makes quitting smoking suck less. In addition, it was the GlaxoSmithKline brand’s first foray into social media.

Nicorette Makes Quitting Suck Less Campaign

As a quick backgrounder, here are a few select statements from the Nicorette Website.

There’s no way around it, quitting sucks. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do in life. That’s why quitting can be a challenge. To be successful, you need to overcome both your physical addiction to nicotine and your psychological addiction — the urge to repeat the same smoking routines every day, like smoking in the car and after meals. …Sure, quitting will always suck, but Nicorette makes quitting suck less.

Does Vulgar Marketing Work?

When the campaign launched, I thought it was a cheap, vulgar marketing effort and still do. The campaign is still running so, I wanted to see if it’s working. In short, I’m not exactly sure how the campaign is doing, but here are a few things I discovered.

There was a HCD Research/Mediacurves survey conducted in 2010 among 300 viewers of a new Nicorette gum ad and showed that nearly half of smokers (49%) were more likely to try to quit smoking after viewing the ad.  The majority of viewers (80%) felt the ad was extremely or somewhat effective, and more than one-third of smokers (34%) said that they would be more likely to use Nicorette gum to help them quit their smoking addiction.

The numbers are fine, but we all know that people don’t always do what they say they’re going to do. So, I’m not convinced of the strategy.

Does Nicotine Replacement Gum Work?

I’m not sure if the gum works, but I’d bet that they sold a ton of it. The thing is, even if you sell a ton of product, if it doesn’t work, what does that say about you and your brand long term? Without brand trust and integrity based on a positive experience what does the future hold for your brand?

This eHow article reports that…‘normally, there is only a 5 percent success rate of smokers quitting their habit for a full year (without the use of replacement products), which makes the success rate of Nicorette Gum between 7 and 8 percent. Not the best odds. …Of the top five “quit smoking methods,” not a single nicotine replacement gum made the list, including Nicorette Gum.’

Great Products Lead to Positive Word of Mouth Advertising

After 1.5 years and spending $15 million, Nicorette’s own Website only has one success story! Are you kidding me? If Nicorette Gum is such a great product, why aren’t there a ton of people in TV ads, on YouTube and Facebook raving about the product?

I’m always a bit leery of brands that spend a ton of money on marketing (and vulgar, uncivil advertising to boot) because let’s face it, if the product was so great, people would be spreading the word on their own. My advice would have been to take the $15 million and build a better product or service – one that truly works and adds value – customers will come, rave about you and spread your good word.

P.S.: Full disclosure: I’m in my late 40s, a nonsmoker and far from being a prude, however I am offended, not impressed or motivated to purchase by cheap, vulgar, uncivil and classless marketing. And, I firmly believe that if in fact Nicorette’s product is a super terrific one, they would have sold as much if not more product with raving customers who quit smoking once and for all. Net…they wouldn’t have had to ‘go there.’ Nor should you…ever!

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Show and Tell More to Sell More

Just got back in town to Pittsburgh, from two glorious weeks throughout Italy and Switzerland.

Ugh!  What a state of depression I’ve been in since! Can’t wait to go back!

We saw some amazing, breathtaking sights such as the Sistine Chapel, The David (I’m a big Michelangelo fan), The Vatican, Pompeii , the Amalfi Coast, Capri, and much more.

However, one man/woman made creation that simply took my breath away as a marketer was the Gelateria (gelato) stands and stores throughout the various Italian cities we visited. They seemed to be on every street corner!

And, what a merchandiser’s dream of flawless execution.

Believe me, even if you were a severe lactose intolerant individual, you’d cave in to any one of these Italian gelato taste bud blowing experiences.

You would not be able to resist it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As these pictures show, the merchandising of these Italian Gelateria’s are without peer. And, the taste delivers on the merchandising promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My question then is, “What are you doing with your merchandising to create a brand experience such as these Gelaterias?”

P.S.: For a great tour guide for Italy, the Holy Land and more, check out Fr. Anthony Nachef’s Proximo Travel. And, tell him Steve Wayhart sent you!

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