Tuesday, January 25, 2011

markeTING Blog Has Moved to Sweeney Website

It's taken a while, but we've finally launched our new website and are now hosting our blogs at www.sweeneypr.com

It's a timely occurrence as we celebrate our 25th anniversary throughout 2011. If your hunger for marketing and public relations knowledge persists (as ours does) we encourage you to go directly to our blogs... and offer your comments and criticisms at will:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The King of Marketing

This may seem peculiar if not downright inappropriate, but please bear with me.

Martin Luther King was - among other things - one of the most effective marketers of the 20th century.

Like all great marketers, he was passionate about a product; in his case, the cause of equality and civil rights.

Like all great marketers, he understood that success required more than simply taking your product to the marketplace, but instead demanded the ability to integrate it into the marketplace.

Like all great marketers, he recognized the need to identify target audiences and establish measurable objectives (I have a dream).

Like all great marketers, Martin Luther King Jr. employed every reasonable strategy at his disposal to achieve his goals, making the world his stage. Between 1957 and 1968, he traveled more than six million miles and spoke more than 2,500 times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest and action; meanwhile he wrote five books and numerous articles. During these 11 years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience, and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people, he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of 20 times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.

Martin Luther King Jr. did not create a brand or launch a product, he changed the world to the benefit of each and every one of us. Then he was unjustifiably assassinated - shot dead - on the balcony of a hotel in Memphis at the age of 39. Yes, he was only 39.

This Monday we celebrate his life with a national holiday... a day off of work for some, and just another day at the office for others. I implore you this Monday to take just a moment to think about Martin Luther King Jr. and what he meant to our world. Go to MLK Online and read his bio or listen to a speech or watch a video of his last speech, "I've been to the mountaintop." Then close your eyes and give thanks to one of the greatest marketers - and men - of our time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Is it Time to Change Your Logo?

If you were Howard Schultz and you finally managed to pull your stock back to levels it hasn't seen in four years, would you take the chance of changing what is arguably one of the most recognized logos on the planet?

Such a bold move can only mean one thing: the Starbucks business is also about to change.

Brand names and logos, especially ones that have attained significant market awareness and acceptance, should not be trifled with.

It's kind of silly when you think about it. While a good brand name and a good logo can help the cause of an organization to build awareness and engagement and loyalty, in and of themselves they are rather meaningless. Seriously, does anyone thing Google is a good name? Does anyone think golden arches make a good logo?

At the end of the day, it is the organization itself – its vision, its practice, its people, its products and services, its prices, its promise and the delivery of that promise – that make the brand names and logos work.

If Starbucks coffee tasted like gas station java (and it clearly does not), all the logo changes in the world would not make a difference. On the other hand, if Starbucks coffee is recognized worldwide as the highest-quality coffee (and it clearly is), even a minor logo change can be huge.

So when is it time to change your logo? Mostly when it is designed to reflect a change in your business. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule... even Starbucks altered its original logo back in the late 1980s when it realized a mysterious sea nymph might be more appropriate than a bare-breasted siren.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

10 Surefire Marketing Shortcuts

Life may be a journey, but we're talking about business now, where the shortest distance between two points is universally recognized as a straight line. We're talking shortcuts.

So as we wrap up 2010 and head into the new decade, I'd like to offer 10 surefire marketing shortcuts... for those who disagree with Chaucer's observation in the Canterbury Tales: "In wikked haste is not profit."

10. Skip the research. Surely your C-level executives have their fingers on the pulse of the marketplace; research would only muddy the waters.

9. Marketing plans are a huge waste of resources. You know what you want to do, so just get to it.

8. To paraphrase a quote from the novel The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, "Budgets? We ain't got no budgets. We don't need no budgets! I don't have to show you any stinkin' budgets!"

7. Traditional media is dead, long live social media. Open a Facebook page and a Twitter account and everything else will take care of itself.

6. Don't over think your marketing staff. This isn't rocket science; hell, it isn't even accounting. It's all about hiring attractive people who like working with people.

5. Never ever hire a branding consultant. Remember that the Nike logo was created by a graphic design student at Portland State University... for only $2/hour.

4. Publicity is a great and easy way to get FREE media coverage, and you don't need an agency to make media lists and draft copy and conduct media follow-up. Just write up your own news release and send it out over the free wire services... and watch the media clips come flooding in.

3. Thanks to fast and easy website builder programs, virtually anyone can create a great site in a matter of hours – even an e-commerce site. So skip the web developers, designers, programmers and SEO experts... it's just a lot of excess baggage.

2. Yeah, even in this electronic age, you still need literature, but you don't need to pay for overpriced services. Write it, design it and print it yourself. Branding is for suckers.

1. To be completely honest, marketing is the greatest boondoggle of the past century... well, next to banking (but that's a whole other list). Consider eliminating marketing altogether.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What am I Missing?

On the one hand, we are told that social media is the great equalizer, allowing citizens of the planet to reach out to one another and form new relationships and even networks and communities where truth, justice and the American way can prevail.

On the other hand, we are also told that "marketers" are grappling daily with ways to make money from social media.

And all these "social" citizens we read about? We are also told lots of them are wasting company time posting notes on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of them are watching YouTube and porn. Many of them are illegally downloading movies and music and video games.

Meanwhile, advertisers are popping up everywhere – breaking up the social media conversation as it were.

And it occurs to me that the social world on the Internet is a lot like the real world, except that it is easier to sneak around and hide your true identity online than it is offline. Everyone has funny names and uses image icons that are nowhere near reality. So what is going on here?

According to Merriam-Webster, "social" is marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates. But that doesn't explain the high percentage of consumers (56% according to a Harris study) who said they had "avoided a particular vendor after reading negative comments about it via social networks." That doesn't sound very pleasant for the vendor.

Anyway, how do you know if the comments are true when they are attributed to NastyGuy792?

I guess what I am saying or wondering is this: Is the Internet and social media a great accomplishment or a great experiment? And if it's the latter, when will we know for sure if it was a success or a failure?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lebrons and Tigers and Favres... Oh My!

This is not what you think it is. It's not a post about sexual predators. It's not a post about out-of-control egotists. It's not a post about traitors. It's not even a post about society's need to idolize athletes then throw them under the bus.

How lucky are we to be witnessing the likes of three of the greatest athletes of all time... all at the same time? Think about it.

Brett Favre is arguably the greatest football player to ever live. The combination of skill and fearlessness have allowed him to play more games, make more passes, complete more touchdowns and win more games than one can imagine. Love him or hate him, Brett Favre is, has been and continues to be a thing of beauty.

Tiger Woods is arguably the greatest golfer to ever live. His focus, determination and physical strength have allowed him to hit the ball farther, close in on the green more accurately, putt more consistently and win more regularly than is even remotely reasonable considering the size and scope of the field today. Even now as he drags himself out of the downward spiral he created a year ago, he remains one of the most feared (and successful) competitors in the game.

Lebron is arguably the greatest young basketball player in the game today, and has the potential to be the greatest who ever played. His natural talent, physical strength and willingness to share the spotlight (and the orange ball) have allowed him to rise up to the highest level of greatness on the court – rebounds, assists, field goals, free throws. At 6'-8" and 250 pounds, he looks more like a ballerina than the towering brute that he is. And despite his recent "decision", he has proven to the world he is neither a fool nor a quitter.

And here they all are, performing their unique feats of magic, all at the same time. Even the non-sports enthusiast has to agree: "Oh my."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thank You... I think?

Thank you President Obama for promising Americans all kinds of relevant change and delivering more of the same. You told us to vote out of hope, not fear... I'm afraid we're still waiting.

Thank you big corporations for showing huge profits in the third quarter of 2010 and keeping it all to yourself by not hiring any new employees. The jerk store just called and there is no shortage of you.

Thank you big banks for living up to the reputation given to you by Frank Capra more than 60 years ago in his classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life." If George Bailey were still alive he would jump off a bridge.

Thank you terrorists for forcing an entire world to live in fear and anxiety while you claim to be acting in God's name. I am sure he will be proud of you when you finally meet.

But enough about the half of the glass that is empty.

Thank you mom and dad for teaching me the difference between right and wrong, for loving me in spite of my many shortcomings, for having faith in me and encouraging me to do good, for constantly reminding me that my responsibility in this life is to serve the greater good, and most of all for setting an amazing example by living lives that reflect your words. I love you both.

Thank you Denny and Patty and Brian and Kevin and Shawn and Kelly and Annie (my siblings) for always being there whenever I need you. You are a tribute to your parents and a constant inspiration to me.

Thank you Kathy and Matt and Crystal and Christian (my family) for loving me unconditionally and turning out to be such wonderful people. You are the reason behind my every good action.

Turns out Frank Capra was right.