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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Erik Qualman’s Social Media Revolution Part Deux

I’m a big fan of Erik Qualman and his Social Media Blog Socialnomics.

He’s helped me and my clients a ton. He’s a smart guy – so smart that being a James Bond fan, I think I’ll call him “Q.”

Q’s Socialnomics the book is a great read too.

And, his outstanding Social Media Revolution video which hit YouTube last year generated about 2 million views.

If you haven’t seen SMR 1 don’t worry, check out Q’s new Social Media Revolution 2 video below which launched a few weeks ago and has been updated with more fascinating facts.

Next time someone tells you that Social Media is a fad, send them a link to Q’s video!

P.S.: The facts blaze by, so if you’re interested in Q’s key facts in text, click here.

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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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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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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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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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Top Ten Consumer Trends for 2010

Back in June, 2009 I presented my Top Ten Consumer Trends for 2010 at Duquesne University’s 11th Annual Entrepreneur Growth Conference in Pittsburgh.

I still believe these trends are on track, but I also believe in Pittsburgh-based Heinz Chairman and CEO William Johnson’s view that the he sees a long-lasting consumer shift to thrift and must carefully balance its business strategy in response.

I’m totally tracking with him and have dialed up my recommendations to clients that they need to create more value and more transformational quality experiences for their customers.

Brands need to recognize that when the economy does return to the positive, consumers are going to be more conservative in their spending, looking for more value and more unique, quality experiences than ever before. They do not feel safe with their careers or finances now and I doubt the majority ever will again.

Lastly, one other trend that we all need to dial up, recognize, learn, test, implement etc., is the “easiness” trend which is being driven by consumer’s lack of time and resulting in technology advances especially in mobile marketing and television entertainment and its Web-based convergence.  More to come on this trend and Web 3.0 (see Jessi Hempel’s January 8th article in Fortune Magazine) advances in future posts.

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Be an Economic Impact Player

Blog Economy TrendHow do your customers feel about the economy?

A lot of what your customers are thinking can be influenced (up/down) by how you feel about the economy and what you plan to do about competing in it?

Certainly these times are different and challenging, but if you’re more than a “half glass full guy” like me, you’ll be aware of what’s going on, but take the Advisory approach (not a vendor of services) that I take with my clients.  I work to make certain they know I got their back and am working hard to work smarter with less inefficiencies, less waste etc.,

And, with more actionable, ROI-driven, forward thinking, innovative initiatives to help all of us to not only survive, but to gain ground and thrive.  So, when things do turn around, we’ll be in the driver’s seat.

But, then again, aren’t  you always pretty much the driver in your own driver’s seat?

Check out this chart about the Economic Outlook by American Consumers from Experian Simmons DataStream (good firm).

Since January 2009 there is a slight trend upward, but it’s still a bit early to see if the trend will continue be positive or level off.

After the “Obama Bump,” we’re still pretty much in the same space. So, whether you’re Republican, Democrat, pro Obama or not, it all doesn’t matter. What matters is the Agenda you set…the plan you make…how hard you choose to work…NOW.

Always has…always will.

The question for concern remains not far can you fall, but how far can you bounce and what you’re willing to do to make the jump.

My advice:

  1. Watch cash flow
  2. Be observant and respectful of the economy, but follow your own plan
  3. Work on more efficient procedures and systems
  4. Build a process for innovation
  5. Keep moving, stay motivated and stay visible

More to come!

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Trend Spotting and Watching

Trend MapI’m a religious man, and I do believe in the power of prayer and even divine intervention, but I also believe in the “free will” God blesses everyone with to act, react and impact. That’s a big reason why I also believe in spotting and watching trends. And, why at an early point in my career I became a big fan of trend authors and futurists like John Naisbitt, Megatrends 2000, Joel Barker, and Future Edge and now TrendWatching.Com where you can register to get free briefings. They report on very cool insightful stuff.

I don’t buy into everything that these folks say, however I do believe they offer some great insights that might help you too.

We can all be impact players  in life – personally and professionally – if we pay attention to the clues around us, take action and heed Thoreau’s sage advice, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”

P.S.: The image of a Trend Map for 2009 can be found at NowAndNext.Com along with some other interesting trend reports.

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Jon Stewart Rails On Twitter

My jury is still out on Twitter (even though I tweet – follow me in twitterland here – http://twitter.com/wayhart) because of the immense “time suck” so many social media platforms take and it seems as though we Brands go from the newest latest and greatest without mastering or at least delivering an 7 out of 10 on prior efforts. For example, how many of you have fully blown out your LinkedIn profile 100%? or, truly knock email marketing out of the park! Or, deliver frequent, consistent, rhythmic, meaningful added-value, non echo chamber Blog posts – I know I struggle at times.

In fact, I just finished about a 2-3 week self imposed break from this Blog and some other Social Media efforts to simply just THINK about this stuff and a whole bunch of other things!

And now, to quote that famous Manhattan Marketer George Costanza from Seinfeld, “I’m back baby!”

Anyway, on this cold, dreary rainy Spring day, see Jon Stewart’s rail on Twitter below. Very funny and very accurate for now? Like all new marketing tools, I’ll continue to participate and monitor.  I still encourage you to jump in…the water’s fine, have fun and don’t sweat it. FYI the churn rate on Twitter is crazy.

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