Passenger Vessel Association Keynote

stephen-wayhart-passenger-vessel-association-brandmillBrandMill’s Managing Partner Stephen Wayhart was honored to present to over 100 members of the Passenger Vessel Association of America at their annual PVA Convention at Maritrends in Long Beach, CA. Our friends from Pittsburgh’s famous Gateway Clipper Fleet recommended us to talk about “How to Price for Profit.”

Wayhart’s 3-point program highlighted and outlined an hour long discussion about how brands need to clearly cultivate, communicate and keep their unique promise. And, by doing do brands will create a system of meaningful and memorable proofs of performances that enable them to command full price.

The key telegram of the presentation is that most brands do not command full price because they’re priced too low! And, the reason they’re priced too low is because they do not offer a unique valuable experience and/or haven’t clearly and passionately communicated their dramatic difference with proof!

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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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How to Build Trust in Brand You

Regardless of your political party affiliation or candidate preference for the USA Presidential election, I’m sure you’d agree that most voters will choose the man that they trust to be the best qualified and able to get the job done for the country.

Trust is critical to brand success and it is a dangerous deficiency for lots of brands as evidenced by the Gallup poll below.

Note that only 18% of those surveyed highly trust business executives! Building trust is a great way to differentiate your brand and bulletproof it!

The lack of brand trust is the basic reason for the success of customer/brand review brands such as Angie’s List, Consumer Reports, TripAdvisor, Yelp and more!

Gallup’s 2011 Trust Poll

Here for 15 ways you can start to build more trust in your brand today

  1. Be authentic, real, open, honest, kind and considerate
  2. Be consistent, competent, capable and deliver results
  3. Have integrity – do the right ethical things regardless of the consequences – even when no one else is watching
  4. Keep your promises – keep your word – walk your talk – honor your commitments – follow through – be on time
  5. Honor people in their absence – don’t talk behind backs or gossip
  6. Keep confidential things confidential
  7. Communicate your vision, values and expectations as clearly and fully as possible, but be open minded and flexible to change
  8. Create win/win shared goals with your customers and team
  9. Be present with people – actively listen to them
  10. Play no favorites – treat everyone special
  11. Criticize actions not the people – don’t judge
  12. Be understanding, compassionate and forgive and forget mistakes
  13. If you fail or make a mistake, admit to it and fix it, then fix the process and move on
  14. Own problems and take steps to fix them – don’t hide – be visible – be reachable
  15. Be generous and give without any strings attached
In short, keep your word and ‘show and tell’ – provide proof – ust like you did in Kindergarten to get the teacher and kids to like you and your ‘Show and Tell’ presentation!
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How to Build Brand Likeability

There are quite a few marketing lessons you can learn from the USA Presidential election race.For example, how to improve your ‘likeability’ can get you elected and/or have someone repeatedly buy from you.

Likeability is defined as, ‘The property that makes a person or brand likeable, that allows them to be liked.’

Trust and proof that you can deliver on your promises is #1, but all things being equal – especially when you compete in an industry with lots of alternatives – likeability is a key for brands to breakthrough the clutter.

Here are 10 ways to improve your likeability factor

  1. Be nice, kind and considerate
  2. Be giving and help others selflessly
  3. Be happy, positive and optimistic
  4. Be complimentary
  5. Be passionate and have empathy
  6. Be humble
  7. Actively listen
  8. Have good manners,
  9. Control your emotions
  10. Follow the ‘Golden Rule’
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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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10 Ps of Marketing

Throughout my career, I’ve used the original four (4) Ps (Product, Price, Place (Distribution), Promotion) with great success and the formula works quite well to this day.

However, over the last 10 years, I’ve added a few more Ps to my list.  These additional Ps have helped me provide a more thorough Marketing Audit and effective marketing mix. The 10 Ps have uncovered additional sales building opportunities and cost savings for our brands.

Here is my entire list of 10 Ps and a few related questions (certainly not an exhaustive list) to ask of your brand. Good luck with your answers!

10 Ps of Marketing

  1. Product – Discuss and review needs and opportunities pertaining to design, technology, usefulness, convenience, value, quality, packaging, branding, sizing etc.
  2. Price – Discuss price strategies such as cost-plus, loss leader and more. See ‘How to Get Your Pricing Right.’ And, discuss potential cost increases (cost of goods, labor, insurance, taxes) and sales impact.
  3. Place – Discuss and review needs and opportunities with regard to retail operations, wholesale, mail order, internet, direct sales, multi-channel, USA vs. Europe, headquarters etc.
  4. Promotion – Review special offers, BOGOs, advertising, endorsements, direct marketing, free gifts, Groupon etc. See ‘Think and Plan for Christmas in July.’
  5. Promise – Discuss and review whether or not you’re truly delivering on a unique brand promise.  And, if you don’t even have one – get one.
  6. Positioning – Discuss and review ways in which your customers position you (it’s all about them and their beliefs not yours), where you want to be positioned (e.g., low cost provider) and plans to get there.
  7. People – Review needs and opportunities regarding culture, employees, interns, management, customer service etc.
  8. Performance (Proof) – Discuss and review ways you can prove your brand promise. Are you using testimonials, have you won meaningful awards. Success begs Trust – how to you prove your trustworthiness?
  9. Process – Discuss and review checklists and critical paths of making things, delivering things, hiring people.  Look for ways to speed up processes and decrease error rates.
  10. POW – Discuss and review unique ways to surprise and delight customers that make you special in their eyes. Work to bulletproof your dramatic difference.

I hope you find this exercise helpful in building your brand and helping you to uncover sales building and cost savings opportunities!

Good luck!

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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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Target’s Super Black Friday Ad Campaign

Kudos to Target and its Ad Agency Weiden + Kennedy for their spot on Black Friday advertising campaign featuring this overly excited and anxious shopping FANatic.

And, file this effort in my “Darn I Wish I Did This Ad Campaign” folder.

Target is using 5 spots from last year (why not – who says an old great campaign can’t be re-engaged?) combined with another 30 online.  And, he talent casting, honest copy, imagery, sound and smart campaign integration (see all 35 videos) off and online is simply brilliant and off the charts.

It’s a great example of how ad campaigns should be run. Read Adweek’s take on it here.

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BrandMill Helps 86 Breast Cancer

For nearly 10 years, we’ve been a supporter of the American Cancer Society and its mission of celebrating more birthdays throughout western Pennsylvania. We’ve participated as a Board Member, Marketing Committee Chairperson and general volunteer.

However, this year is shaping up to be one of our more meaningful, gratifying and fun years as we’ve helped the Pittsburgh Region (New East Central Region) more effectively promote its Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Event.

The NFL and locally the Pittsburgh Steelers are huge ‘Strides’ supporters. And a year ago, we proposed the idea of using popular (and future NFL Hall of Famer – if we had a vote) Steelers Hines Ward as an event spokesperson asking people to help, “86 Breast Cancer!” Note: The number 86 is Hines’ number. FYI – to “86 something” means to get rid of or eliminate.

Well, this year the Steelers and Hines agreed and helped the ACS air a unique Public Service announcement with Pittsburgh’s NBC affiliate WPXI-TV and news anchor Peggy Finnegan (a breast cancer survivor) to “86 Breast Cancer” which is what number 86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is striving to do – and encouraging Pittsburghers to do!

Note: Hines and Peggy are joined in this first picture with American Cancer Society Regional Vice President Glenn Callihan.

Over and above the ’86 Breast Cancer” idea, we’ve supported the ACS brand as its Facebook marketing coach, initiated a sponsor meeting with the local Chevrolet Dealer Marketing Group of Pittsburgh (who raised nearly 15% of the total donations to date) and set up a television interview on Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA-TV s Pittsburgh Today LIVE show.

Tim Colussy, Corina Diehl, Glenn Callihan, Kristine Sorensen

We’re always excited to work alongside brands to help them maximize all of the storytelling opportunities they have available to them and show them the way so they can even do it more effectively themselves. And, they are!

And as a result, I’m happy to report that the American Cancer Society’s 2nd annual Pittsburgh Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk held on October 29, 2011 on Pittsburgh’s North Shore (just outside of Heinz Field) involved more than 3,000 walkers and helped raise nearly $300,000 – nearly twice the amount raised in 2010.

Participants included teams from Western Pennsylvania corporations, businesses and organizations that formed Making Strides teams, as well as participation from individuals, including breast cancer survivors, family members and friends.

Of course, the fight is not over yet! Donations will continue to be accepted in order to help the American Cancer Society reach their fundraising goal. Donations can still be made online at cancer.org/stridesonline or by calling 1.888.227.5445.

Proceeds from Making Strides Against Breast Cancer support the American Cancer Society’s life-saving breast cancer research, education, advocacy, patient services, and community partnership grants for women in Pittsburgh.

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