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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$6 Google AdWords Campaign Lands Dream Job

For anyone looking for a new job (pay attention college grads) or trying to get that next big sale and running into a roadblock because you can’t get the attention of a key decision maker, check out this brilliant job search strategy by copywriter Alec Brownstein.

  1. Brownstein used Google AdWords to target Ad Agency Creative Directors on Madison Avenue in New York
  2. He bet 15 cents per click that these Creatives were no different than the rest of  us self absorbed people who Google ourselves
  3. What the CD’s saw when they Googled themselves was a personal ad from Brownstein – BRILLIANT!
  4. Young & Rubicam offered him a job!

Note: Brownstein’s Google Job Experiment YouTube video has been viewed over 500,000 times!  Rock on Alec!

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Modern Family Marketing Rocks

…and “Average Joe Marketing” is for losers!

If you’re wondering why your “family-based” marketing strategy isn’t working like it used to, maybe it’s because you’re treating everyone the same. Sure you should treat your customers the same with regard to being respectful and being nice, but your marketing should treat them different with uniquely targeted messaging, services and products.

Today, America is a big diverse nation of over 300 million, with no single dominating household arrangement. America’s “nuclear family” of today consisting of a married couple with their own kids is a prejudiced old-fashioned, out-of-date model often seen as the quintessential average American family.

In 1970, 40.3% of U.S. households were nuclear family ones, but today these households count for <25% of all American households. And consider these facts:

  • Married couples without children count for 28.7% of households (bigger than nuclear ones)
  • Single households – single persons residing alone – count for 25.5% of households
  • Single male households are about 11% of all households

Telegram: There are no average American families – no average Joe’s or Joannne’s!

If your marketing is “family-based,” make sure you’re speaking the right language and using the right visuals. A big reason, this year’s big TV hit series and family comedy Modern Family is doing so well!

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Email Timing and Testing Best Practices

For our clients, I find that emailing campaigns early in the morning and early in the week provide better results. Early morning emails work better for us because it’s easier to get people’s attention before they jump into their daily activities. See B2B Magazine article here and this eMarketer chart which both agree. I’m sure early morning deployments work well for both B2C and B2B businesses alike.

Giving people ample time to react and respond along with a respectful reminder works wonders too. Marketers forget that not everyone opens their email every day and often their addresses are personal (non business) and may only get opened once a week.

Email timing is critical to the success of a marketing campaign. And, deciding the right time of day, and the precise day to deploy your email message is as important as the message itself, but many brands don’t pay enough attention to timing.

You need to get the timing right because your message competes with every other message received by land line phone, mail, social media and smart phones.

Pivotal Veracity discovered that the average elapsed time between when messages are first sent to when they are first seen is growing to about 26 hours.

See their report here: pivotal_veracity_email_engagement_index_q1_q3_2009

In addition, another email marketing best practice involves testing.  Email testing is pretty easy to do and I continue to be amazed by the lack of it by brands of all sizes. eMarketer reports that only about 63% of Marketers test their email campaigns! Ugh!

According to a recent ExactTarget study, 40% of email marketers’ lists are unengaged recipients and another 44% have a low level of engagement.

Different strokes (messages) for different folks is key to having an engaged database.

So, what can you test?  What should you try? Well, just about anything and everything! Check out just some of the opportunities in this chart:

Marketers need to  maximize message relevance and avoid sending email subject matter to people who do not care to receive it.

Try creative copy split-run email tests by taking your list and divide it in half (or thirds) and simply test two/three different subject lines or calls to action or other features such as copy, design, offers or more.

Start testing your email marketing campaigns. It’s easy…just do it!

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AMA Pittsburgh Marketer of the Year

Over the next two days, we’re participating in two separate presentations to the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association at the Duquesne Club downtown and to students at Chatham University.

My client John Graf – co-owner of the Priory Hospitality Group – and I are co-presenting and will review the success of our Winter White Wedding program which has driven first quarter wedding bookings by 400% and continues to rock – it helped us win the Pittsburgh American Marketing Association’s Grand Marketer of the Year Award!

The Priory’s Winter White Weddings are a true testament to the success of  “Blue Ocean Strategies” that profitably transform brands by pursuing low cost brand differentiation that makes your competition irrelevant.

To help you sail in Blue Oceans, click this link to review the Priory’s PowerPoint deck:
AMA Pittsburgh Marketer of the Year Priory Hotel 3.16.10

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Irish Asked to Boycott Denny’s

File this Blog post in your, “What were they thinking” folder!

From very reliable and ticked off sources, I understand that Denny’s restaurants have been airing a disrespectful television commercial degrading the Irish by offering unlimited pancakes or fries in celebration of the ending of the Irish Famine.

Mama Mia!

If this is a joke, it’s not even close to being funny. The Irish Potato famine (An Gorta Mor) which caused the suffering and death of 1.5 million Irish due to forced starvation and related diseases is nothing to celebrate.

It’s a blatant insult to the Irish and they’re mobilizing.

For you Brands involved in Social Media Marketing watch how this unfolds.

I’m sure Denny’s will pull the Ad, and some talking head (whose head and whose mini-me heads should roll) will say, “I take full responsibility…yadda…yadda.”

But, is a simple apology enough? I don’t think so.

Watch the Irish mobilize and give Denny’s their own version of a Grand Slam – the marketing bozos at Denny’s deserve it!

Here’s a protest letter (AOH Denny’s Letter) from the president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

First, they offend African Americans (who knows how many other people since) and are made to pay $54 million in Race Bias Suits, and now this asinine insulting ad?

As a marketer (and a restaurant and hospitaly marketer too), I’ve been amazed by the amount of positive coverage (Super Bowl Ad) in the mainstream marketing media about Denny’s Free One Day Breakfast campaigns.

As for me, I prefer a Denny’s tagline in Time Magazine, “Denny’s: Where the Food Is Free and Drunks Can Pee!” because I believe in truth in advertising!

Full disclosure – I’m 50% Irish and a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. And, I haven’t been a big fan of Denny’s since the African American incident. I go out of my way to get my eggs over medium at a local independent Mom and Pop joints and will continue to do so.  I suggest you join me.

FYI – I called the following Denny’s Customer Service number (1.800.733.6697) to demand that they pull this ad off the air, and they said, “I apologize and we’re aware of people’s concerns and we’re working to pull the ad.”

Some answer.

Note: The old days of a customer telling 9-12 people of her negative experience is way over.  With Social Media, it could be thousands. Brands need to raise their game, because if/when you pull a stupid act like Denny’s, you’re going to get blasted!

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The Kids Are Alright Part II

In an earlier post, I reported that it was great to see the Gen Y kids driving the tremendous outpouring of financial support for Haiti relief via texting.

I’m happy to report that the American Red Cross “Text ‘Haiti’ to 90999” campaign has raised $24 million to date. See the DMNews story here.

Think about this campaign for a moment. It has achieved some amazing accomplishments – in a short period of time – since this devastating earthquake hit Haiti just last week on January 12th:

  • $24 million has been raised via $10 individual donations to help the Haitian people – 1/5th of the amount the American Red Cross has raised to date – breaking all records by a huge  margin.  Reference note: After Hurricane Katrina – a mere 4.5 years ago – the ARC only received $120,000 via texting – and Katrina occurred on American soil!
  • The ARC has built a valuable mobile text database for future marketing communications and financial appeal efforts
  • The ARC’s core donor base skews older and texting gave the Gen Y folks an easy, quick and convenient channel to offer their support (marketing lesson – treat different people differently)
  • The campaign execution of  the ARC and its mobile firm partner mGive was flawless – amazing too – considering the fact that they started to work on the texting campaign the evening of the earthquake
  • The viral goodwill spread of the “Text ‘HAITI’ to 90999” campaign in Social Media channels such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (100K tweets/retweets)

I’m far from being in the Gen Y segment, but I did text a donation to the ARC and will tell you that it was easy for me to participate. As important, I felt comfortable donating because of the supportive and reinforcing messages I saw on TV news and various high profile broadcasts such as the NFL playoffs and the Golden Globes.

Also, after texting the shortcode “HAITI” to 90999, I was asked me to respond “yes” to confirm my donation and then I received a nice comforting thank you too – nice touch.

This overwhelmingly positive experience led me to spread the ARC’s good word and to feel more comfortable using this channel in the future.

Strong brand promise, ease, convenience, simple message and trust are the hallmarks of success for the ARC’s texting campaign and they could be put to good use for your brand’s future success too.

Photo by CollectiveGood.

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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.

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The Kids Are Alright

If you think young people these days are inconsiderate, selfish, concerned with only themselves and wear their “pants on the ground“…think again.

Soon after the devastating Haiti earthquake hit, @RedCross tweeted: “You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts in #haiti.”

Kudos to the Red Cross marketing folks for being prepared (excellent online disaster newsroom) and recognizing the fundraising opportunity available to them in this terrible time of crisis.

And, much more kudos to the kids that drove this “texting bus” because they’re the ones credited with leading this Red Cross effort which has raised over $10 million for the cause since this record breaking mobile fundraiser was launched last Tuesday.

This is a great example of using technology to build rather than destroy.

Watch text marketing grow from this effort and put in on your list of things to test for your business too!

P.S.: Here is a list of 8 ways you can help Haiti by texting:

  1. Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
  2. Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee
  3. Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada
  4. Text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10 through the Clinton Foundation
  5. Text HAITI to 864833 to donate $5 to The United Way
  6. Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation
  7. Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International
  8. Text RELIEF to 30644 (to connect with Catholic Relief Services who will instruct you how to donate money with your credit card)

…the 9th way to help is to pray.

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Multicultural Marketing Matters

Painted handprintsIn the early 80’s, I was working with GM dealer marketing groups throughout the country. In those days, multicultural or ethnic marketing was rarely discussed with my GM, Oldsmobile or Cadillac marketing counterparts or even car dealer clients.

In fact, even targeted marketing to females was rarely discussed and at the time they were moving fast into the workforce.  Female sales people were rare as well. The best in the country was Donna Dunnivan at Bendik Olds in Pittsburgh. Even though Donna’s success was well known nationally, dealers were slow to hire female sales people and cater to them as customers.

To build my product knowledge of the cars I was marketing, I frequently attended classes at a local GM Training Center.  I once asked a GM engineer why their cars didn’t have vanity mirrors on the driver’s side visor – most Japanese cars did – and he said it would take about three years! The funny thing was a lot of my dealers sold extra mirrors with rubber bands that you could affix to the driver’s side visors.

In those days in the car business, when you lost a sale, you lost it for about seven years minimum and maybe more if the customer was happy with her purchase.

Isn’t it amazing how marketing opportunities are all around you if you only paid attention and worked hard to maximize them!

McDonald’s has been paying attention for a long time.  Sure, they may have stumbled a bit over the years (who hasn’t?), but I’ll take their track record any day.

My first real exposure to extreme targeted marketing (seniors, moms, kids, teens, tweens, seniors etc.) and multicultural, ethnic marketing was during my McDonald’s days in the 80’s and 90’s.

I don’t profess to be an expert (does one ever truly arrive at anything to be considered and expert?), but I gained valuable insights that I bring with me to every marketing engagement and I work hard to expand my knowledge base.

Naturally, I was proud to see my old friend McDonald’s CMO Neil Golden rock the house with his “Leading with Ethnic Insights” presentation at the recent ANA Masters of Marketing Conference (see AdAge coverage of his speech here – here’s another report – take time to read both – good stuff!).

Note: McDonald’s marketing is in good hands with Neil Golden!

McDonald’s estimates that about 40% of its core loyal U.S. business comes from the Hispanic, Asian and African-American markets, and 50% of consumers under the age of 13 are from those segments too.

A few questions for you:

  • Do you know what your ethnic population base in your core market/s?
  • Do you know how your ethnic sales mix breaks down?
  • Is your management team ethnically balanced?
  • Do you have ethnic marketing practices? Hiring practices?
  • Do you know how to manage cultural differences?

Today, with more targeted media and the internet, it’s a bit easier to market to specific groups, to communicate relevant messages, make them feel welcome, and to treat different people differently and with respect to their uniqueness.

Get out from your desk and start a multicultural marketing plan today.  I’m sure you’re leaving money on the table. Great Multicultural Marketing isn’t black and white, but it certainly is GREEN – that is, it will ring your cash register and you can take it to the bank!

P.S.: Remember Neil’s sage advice that there are, “No malls in the ghetto!” I’m lovin’ it!

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