Vice President of Marketing & Creative

Soccer vs. Hockey...Which One is it Gonna be?

Can you believe, living in the Northeast, we're even having this discussion? I suppose you could make the argument for hockey...we are primarily a cold-weather town. But the Bruins have been nothing but a disappointment for the past 39 years! While we've been blessed to be "championship town" over the last 10 years or so, literally, in the last 2 weeks it seems like all of a sudden, we've become "soccer town"!

As a creative design marketing group, we're always looking at what's going on in the world around us. A lot of lead generation methods are rooted in popular culture, trends and "hot" issues. But could you or can you "react" as quickly as the tides change? If you built an integrated marketing communications campaign that featured women's World Cup soccer that hit any time in the last two weeks, it would be gold. But what about next week? 2 months ago, if we had to buy promotional products to support a direct marketing campaign centered around the Bruins or the Red Sox, which one would we have chosen? Lord Stanley's Cup hadn't seen these parts in quite some time, now it's being tossed around like it's been here all along.

In a time when things come and go and fluctuate as quickly at Tim Thomas' save percentage and we can easily add a new verb to our vocabulary like "Wambach", we need to be comfortable with change. What's hot one day is cold the next and what you see in front of you today is often times gone tomorrow.

So don't put of till tomorrow what you can do today. Get it out...ride the wave, take advantage of the trends and know that it will all change tomorrow. By the way, what happened to poker?

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What's Trending 3

What's Trending 3

Maybe we can do this on a monthly basis? At 4:56 on Wednesday afternoon, June 29th, 2011. Here goes...According to Yahoo's "what's trending"...

1. Tea Leone. Say it ain't so! Looks like our friend Tea and Mr. Duchovny are headed toward splittsville again.
2. Raven-Symone. Back on the air with a new series called "State of Georgia"...and 35lbs. lighter too!
3. Toy Story 4. Andy may have grown up, but it appears the story of Woody and Buzz Lightyear will go on.

As a marketing communications company, it's important to be aware of what's going on around you. I guess I've gravitated toward pop culture, but the same probably applies to news, trends, politics etc...I'll probably stay away from religion though.

Regardless, in order for us to be successful in developing new lead generation methods or implementing an integrated marketing communications campaign, it helps to be plugged into our culture. Many creative solutions "play" off of top news stories, celebrity stories and just current events in general.

I used to have the attitude of "who cares"! Because, truthfully, it didn't really matter to me either way what was going on with Tea and David. But as I forced myself to pay attention, I found myself more engaged and felt that our marketing consultancy services were stronger because of it. And you know, who doesn't like to watch a good train wreck anyway!

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NCAA Rules...Please Help me Understand

NCAA Rules...Please Help me Understand

Not an Ohio State fan. I don't dislike them, just indifferent. I wouldn't say I'm a huge college football fan in general. Living in the Northeast, I'm more of a fan of professional sports. For some reason, my observation is that puts me (us) in the minority compared to the rest of the country.

As a full service fulfillment company that also offers corporate marketing communications services, The Allied Group has its rules. For instance, we have a code of conduct (that includes things like policies on harassment), work hours, proper attire, vacation policy, sick days, personal days etc... And I suppose that if anyone were to violate any of these rules, they could expect consequences. Probably anything from a warning, to termination.

But we all understand that a lot of these things are simply The Allied Group's rules, not laws. We couldn't be arrested for abusing our sick days. Or be under criminal investigation for wearing a sleeveless t-shirt.

The NCAA, to me, seems to be a bit fuzzy on this. Now I suppose I haven't heard about any criminal charges looming for Jim Tressel at Ohio State, but doesn't it seem like it? And I know that I've got a lot of NCAA "baggage" influencing my thoughts (problems at Michigan, Memphis, Kentucky, UNLV, Tennessee...just to name a few off the top of my head), but doesn't it all seem to have a "criminal" tone to it?

A lot of the problems stem from some Ohio State players selling "their" Big Ten Championship rings and the Gold Pants they receive for beating Michigan. To me, if it is "yours", then you have the right to do whatever you want with it. If you give somebody something, but tell them that they have to use it under your guidelines, then it isn't really theirs then. So, which is it?

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Don't Forget to Remember!

On my drive in this morning, I was thinking of a posting something for Memorial Day and including a nice video. Looking through some videos though, they were all just too powerful and I thought that this probably wasn't the best forum for that. What I can say is this...remember why your office is so quiet today. Remember why those who are there are most likely leaving early. Remember why most of us have Monday off. And from The Allied Group, have a fun, safe and memorable memorial day weekend!

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What's Trending 2

What's Trending 2

I was looking back at some older posts and I remembered one from almost a year ago. Then, we were talking about Chelsea Clinton, Iran and bear attacks. What does that look like heading into June of 2011. Well, again, according to Yahoo's "what's trending"...here goes:

1. Sarah Michelle Gellar. Looks like your old pal Buffy is going to be back on your TV screen in the fall. I know I can't wait!
2. Anna Kournikova. I guess the tennis thing didn't work out. But speaking of "working out", say hello to the new fitness trainer on The Biggest Loser.
3. New Spaceship. It appears NASA is going back to the basics. The good old fashioned space capsule is making a comeback.

Why would a Marketing Communications Company even be writing about this? Why do I care?

Well, in some ways I really don't. But, in others, I think it's important to be aware of what's going on around us. Lead generation methods can be just as trendy. If you want to redesign websites, you might want to be clued into fashion. If you're marketing to college students, you probably want to have some idea of what is interesting to them.

Maybe not the most earth-shattering news, but, remember, it's not about you! If this is what your client-base or prospects are interested in, you'd better be too!

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Who's the Dope?

As I watched and listened to a lot of the Lance Armstrong doping allegations unfold over the weekend, it re-activated that "twitch" I had during the year-long "steroid era" conversation that overwhelmed the airways of talk radio.

What does this have to do with marketing communication strategies? Well, I'm not sure. But in a lot of ways, it has everything to do with marketing and business in general. Lance Armstrong, A-Rod, Marion Jones, and even Bill Romanowski...arguably THE marketable "faces" of their respective sports.

   

But is anyone truly surprised? I mean, c'mon folks. Lance Armstrong, 7 consecutive Tour de France wins. Arguably the most impressive feat in sports history. It's safe to say that nobody reading this article is, or ever was, a professional athlete. Maybe a couple of college athletes here? But we all can probably relate at some level to the feeling of competition and the desire to be the best. You could even apply that to being the best 3PL Provider or a leading corporate marketing communications company.

Why are we so judgmental? The reality is that these are world-class athletes. What would you have done if you were in their shoes? If you answer that question honestly, I think you'd find that you're not all that dissimilar.

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What's Trending?

What's Trending?

Well, according to Yahoo as of right now -- you've got a range from American Idol, to Chelsea Clinton, to Iran, to bear attacks of all things.

But in the world of strategic marketing consultancy services and top 3pl companies, we've got to do a little better than just what's hot right now! Or do we? As much as we need to stick to the basics and practice what's tried and true...we get the most questions about what's hot and how we can best hitch on to that wagon. And, come to think of it, that's probably to be expected. What's HOT for us right now? How about direct mail design? Maybe data appending? A few bulk printing options...and some promotional product ideas.

They might sound as disjointed as Chelsea Clinton is to bear attacks, but the bottom line is that's what our best prospects are looking for. And, basically, it's what The Allied Group is good at.

As a marketing communications company that also offers total fulfillment outsourcing, we've got our best clients covered from marketing strategy to supply chain management strategies. If you need to attract, acquire or retain more of the right customers AND contain, reduce and remove operational costs, we should talk!

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"Ideal" vs. "Real"

"Ideal" vs. "Real"

Ideally, I'd be sitting on the beach, pushing sand between my toes, drinking a Corona, and watching my kids splash around and have fun.

But really, I'm sitting at my desk, trying to get comfortable, wishing I hadn't had such a big lunch and wondering why it is so warm in here. I could get up and adjust the temperature, but the thermostat affects more people than just me. So I guess I'll just be uncomfortable a little while longer. But that's enough of that...let me get to my point.

How about sports? Are any of you sports fans? You probably all know who Michael Vick is. I'm a sports fan and, I confess, I listen to a lot of sports radio. And normally I find it fun, and funny and all those things that cause you to wonder why you are listening—but mostly enjoying it at the same time. I can't think of a time when I've actually changed the channel, so it must do something for me. But there have been two topics that have hit a nerve with me and have caused me to yell at the radio, want to call in and made me WANT to change the channel. Steroids in professional baseball and Michael Vick. I don't really feel like getting into the steroids thing...so, we'll stick to Michael Vick.

For those of you who don't know (and I'm no lawyer and I haven't "studied" the case...I know what I know from being a sports fan, being exposed to it on the radio and what I've read) Michael Vick was a quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. He was a very popular football player and, at one point, one of the highest paid if not the highest paid player in the league (NFL).

He was caught, prosecuted and found guilty of running, funding and participating in an illegal dogfighting ring. Throughout the case, a lot of very graphic and disturbing allegations (that proved to be true) came to light including the torturing and killing of pit bulls as well as the theft of dogs to be used as fodder for training purposes. The penalty was 23 months in jail, as well as fines and opportunity loss for Vick totaling somewhere between $90 and $100 million dollars. The harshest penalty he could have received under the law.

We fast forward to Spring, 2009 and Michael Vick was released from prison after serving 18 months in Leavenworth Prison...to serve the remaining 5-months under house arrest. Now the fun starts. You see, he's only 29 years old and is pretty much in the prime of his life physically to be a professional athlete.

Now let's get one thing straight and perfectly clear—I don't condone, agree-with, support or have any desire to be involved in torturing, killing or fighting dogs. Ideally, Michael Vick would have enough common sense and/or people around him helping him to stay clear of this kind of activity...certainly considering his very public profile and celebrity. But in reality, he didn't.

But now this is over and done with. He has served his time, paid his price and now, under our judicial system, he is entitled to a 2nd chance! Why? Because that's what we do. There are so many people coming out of the woodwork now all fired up and opposed to him getting a second chance in the NFL. Calling him a murderer...saying that "if he were a school teacher, he wouldn't get a 2nd chance". Well, just to clarify a few things: He's not a murderer...he's a killer of dogs, a dog fighter and a thief. And, thank god, he's not a school teacher. And, probably the biggest one of all...HE'S NOT A ROLE MODEL! He was in an ideal position to be one, but, in reality he has chosen not to be. That's his choice. The two are not mutually exclusive.

In our society and in the business community specifically, we all have our ideals. And, ideally, things would always blend, coincide and not conflict with them. But most times, they don't. Often times reality clashes with our ideals. But the beauty of ideals is that they are very personal. And while some are very commonly shared, many are not. It really isn't up to us to judge. Successfully developing an integrated marketing communications plan or developing and implementing multi-channel lead generation methods comes from truly understanding your client's ideals, comparing and contrasting them to reality and coming up with a realistic solution to accomplish a set business goal. Ideally, both sides are realistically satisfied!

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Catch a Tiger Driving a...

Catch a Tiger Driving a...

Fresh off the Masters and the escapades of the past 5-6 months…maybe Tiger has been on my mind. But probably not for the reason you might all be thinking. For me, it all comes down to one, simple, tell-the-world-once-and-for-all question…after all of this; does anyone actually, truly, honestly, undoubtedly believe that Tiger drives a Buick?

This is it. After the past 5-6 months, we have a little window into what he likes to do in his down time. And even though I don’t know exactly what Tiger Woods makes or what he’s worth, for illustration purposes, it’s probably not a stretch to say he’s a billionaire. Fair? So it would be accurate to say that Tiger Woods is a 33 year-old, fun-lovin’ billionaire.

Now let’s say that Tiger Woods is in the market for a new car. Being a 33 year-old, fun-lovin’ billionaire, he’s got a lot of choices. More so than you or I. But just what do you think he would be in the market for? Maybe a Mercedes, a Bentley, a Maybach, or maybe something faster and sporty, like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. Then again, I could see something that could give him some performance and luxury like a BMW M5? If it weren’t for his contractual obligation and his sponsorship commitments, do you think a Buick would be on his list? Now that’s not to take anything away from the Buick brand. Actually, I’m kind of a car guy myself and I think Buick has done a nice job with some new models this year. But Tiger Woods driving a Buick LaCrosse? Or maybe even a Regal? Forget about an Enclave or a Lucerne…I’m just left with a concern. Is anyone believing this?

To me, for an integrated marketing communications plan to be effective, it has to be believable. Or maybe a fantasy of some sort would due. But I don’t believe that Tiger would actually choose a Buick and I don’t think anyone out there is fantasizing about Tiger driving a Buick. The problem when direct marketing isn’t believable is that it actually hurts rather than helps. Some people would just ignore it. Others would actually find it as a reason to like it less! Buick doesn’t make overt claims that they are “world-class” because, in the auto market, they aren’t. So why would they make the claim even more outrageous and insult all of our intelligence by implying they are?

As strategic marketing services provider, I have learned that if Tiger is anything, he is unpredictable. But I predict this, the next time Elin picks up a 5 iron and takes a swing at his car—she has no chance of hitting a Buick emblem. And here's a tip: For your lead generation methods to be effective, they MUST be believable.

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