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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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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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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NHL Scores Clutch Marketing Goal

Growing up in the city of Pittsburgh in the 60’s and 70’s, hockey wasn’t the hot sport it has become, and even today I’m what the NHL calls a “casual fan.”

However, when it comes to NHL hockey marketing, I’m a rabid fan. After the lockout season of 2004-05, the NHL has put forth an amazing marketing power play. The NHL has become more relevant, is skating with a cool, new swagger and is scoring huge marketing goals!

This New York Sports Journalism feature outlines several of the key marketing initiatives the NHL has embraced such as getting back to the roots of their game with the Winter Classic, embracing and communicating player’s unique stories, creating special events aligned with sponsor brand needs, taking full advantage of the 2010 Olympics in Canada, becoming an online category killer and more. Their social media strategy is a killer one too.

The NHL offers great marketing lessons to all brands in search of a comeback.

As an added bonus, here are a few mobile marketing insights from the Chicago Blackhawks featuring an SMS case study and the New York Rangers $1 million dollar mobile sweepstakes.

P.S.: More good news.  Brand NHL has got it’s groove back and introduces its cool new NHL iPhone App announced via NHL.Com

Go Pens!

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Guilty on All Three Counts

NERD ALERT!

This chart shows that nearly 30% of U.S. consumers use their cell phones and/or computers at the same time they watch TV.

And, I have to say that I’m guilty on all three counts and possibly four, because I can hold a conversation at the same time – at least I think so – but, don’t ask my wife!

The integration of marketing messages across platforms is becoming more critical by the minute – as well as the ability for Brand’s to create clear, easy to understand and remarkably meaningful communications.

Keep this chart in mind the next time you try to pack 60 seconds of vanilla milkshake copy into a 30 second television commercial!

Source: Experian Simmons DataStream 4.13.10

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Sound Marketing Advice

There’s a great article in Fast Company about the, “The 10 Most Addictive Sounds in the World,” by Martin Lindstrom.

Lindstrom’s neuroscience based hypothesis contends that over 80% of today’s marketing messages are based on sight and a brand is not maximizing its communications when it forgoes appealing to a person’s other senses. And, sound is underutilized!

Take a quick quiz here.

I’ve certainly witnessed the appeal of sound in automotive, amusement park and restaurant marketing (e.g., background music, worker noise levels etc.,) and found it fascinating that when the sound was removed from slot machines in Las Vegas, revenue fell by 24%!

Be more aware of the power of sound because when your customers can hear your sizzling steaks, you’ll hear your cash register ring more loudly!

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Loving Pepsi’s Refresh Project

Looking forward to great game and loving Pepsi’s decision to pass on Super Bowl ads (waste) and lead with its “Refresh Everything” online marketing project.

Two things I’m sure of about the Super Bowl.

One – someone named Peyton/Payton – will win!

Two – Pepsi’s campaign will be successful for them and similar types of brand initiatives that focus their marketing with a meaning (great book here – Marketing with Meaning) will create more long term brand success than over-priced, short-lived and joke-filled ads.

Pepsi’s “Refresh Everything” offers them a lot of extra ‘arms and legs’ such as adding folks to their database, promoting goodwill inside and outside of their company, community connections, generating great PR, making the US a better place etc.,

Check out the success of PR machine already!

Any brand – big and small – can learn a great deal from Pepsi’s Refresh!

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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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YouTube Dominates Video Viewing Space

Youtube_logo
OK, so you have a web site, maybe started a Blog, then added a Flickr photo set to it now you're ready for online video. Be confident nd host your videos on YouTube because they're the Mac Daddy in the video viewing space.

According to Compete last fall, here is how the top players in the video viewing space rank:

  1. Google, including YouTube, has a 55.4% share of video viewing
    visits to online video site properties among US Internet users
  2. All four networks made it into the top 10, but their market share is dominated by YouTube
  3. NBC, in third place, garners a mere 3.9% of
    visits – the first time NBC has been in the top five
  4. Fox
    Interactive Media has a 3.9% share too
  5. ABC commands 2.8% of visits to
    online video sites
  6. CBS Interactive accounted for just 2%.
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Social Media For Good – Charter for Compassion



This effort by the Charter for Compassion is a fantastic demonstration of the strength Social Media and I hope and pray their good work succeeds. What an uplifting example of the power of marketing, of the Internet and of individual concerned people. I love the fact that you can view the video in multiple languages.

To quote their YouTube site, "The Charter brings together the voices of people from all religions. It seeks to remind the world that while all faiths are not the same, they all share the core principle of compassion and the Golden Rule.The Charter will change the tenor of the conversation around religion. It will be a clarion call to the world."

It's an excellent example of social media marketing at its finest and kudos to Director Jesse Dylan and Producers Priscilla Cohen, Theresa "Sparky" Pomeroy!

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