Holy cow – marketing can be fun, especially when bovines are involved

ATHENS, Tenn. – Marketing can be fun – especially when cows are involved.

The Athens area is well-known for its ties to the dairy industry. Lots of families have made a living from bovines. The Mayfield Dairies Farms Inc. empire is based here, after all, producing Brown Cow ice cream treats, milk and other delicious items.

The area’s dairy heritage will be celebrated this weekend during the National MooFest, a young yet growing festival dedicated to all things dairy. The Newman family got the idea for the event from the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, an event that draws thousands of visitors per year to that small town to celebrate cornbread (South Pittsburg’s tie-in is that Lodge cast iron cookware is located there). So, the Newmans launched MooFest several years ago.

This is the first year that MooFest will run for two days. Events will include music, a homemade ice cream contest, a contest for other dairy recipes, the “Moo-Pie Auction” for charity, lots of food to taste, and a carnival.

The MooFest will draw people to this area from throughout the region and showcase all this small community has to offer, from the nearby mountains to historical attractions like an old train depot in the city of Etowah. The hope is to make MooFest just as big an event as the Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg. Marketing can be fun, and it can benefit an entire community.


You can buy publicity like that

A restaurant that hadn’t advertised with my newspaper in a long time recently began advertising again through a coupon campaign. Two of the coupons promised a free buffet if you bought a 99 cent soft drink.

Not surprisingly, the campaign seems to be a hit. I redeemed one of the coupons Monday, and the cashier said people had lined up outside the restaurant on Sunday with those coupons.

Obviously the restaurant is losing money. You may ask how can the restaurant lose money this way? The restaurant is basically treating its losses on the food inventory as a promotional expense to draw new customers in.

One downside of dropping prices is you attract disloyal customers. You may be drawing new people into your store/restaurant hoping to enlarge your client base, but not all of them will return at future dates. These disloyal customers will run to your cheaper competitors when your price discount ends. Also, if you drop prices too often or too dramatically, you run a large risk of customers always expecting you to offer very low prices. That can be death on some brands.

This restaurant’s gamble on price discounting illustrates the difficulty in setting prices, whether you’re selling a meal or an automobile.

Day 1 in the Czech Republic — Getting there is half the battle

It’s 10 p.m. Friday, local time, in Brno, Czech Republic. My MBA group is finally settling into the hotel after having dinner with our local connection, a missionary named Rick. I couldn’t get free Wi-Fi access until now, but did record a couple of moments in time during the long trip here for my first blog. Here are the moments, which are recorded as they happened in Eastern time:

5:24 a.m. Friday Eastern: Relaxing finally at the airport in Frankfurt. It’s been an adventure. A plane from India was at our gate so we had to wait for buses to pick us up outside – crammed onto the bus like sardines. Rushing through security and finding the gate at the end of the terminal. Paid the equivalent of 7 bucks for an authentic German sausage on a roll….my credit card wouldn’t run through, and the clerk didn’t seem to know how to handle a 20. So, we’re waiting to board the plane to the Czech Republic.

8:14 a.m. Eastern, Friday: Have been trying to bring up wireless Internet at the Prague airport to no avail. I can’t figure out how to use the pay phones to use my international calling card. I did use a friend’s cell to text a message to my girlfriend. I may rent/buy a European cell phone to supplement my magicJack. We’re waiting inside an airport cafe on a bus to take us to Brno.


Getting here was a crazy day. Only one person in the group (which has six people) got a decent night’s sleep on the flight across the Atlantic, in part because the temperature was so warm in the plane. Also, we were packed in like sardines, which is standard for any public transit here in Europe. Other than our having to ride a bus from the plane to the terminal in Frankfurt, Lufthansa provided excellent service.

–Jason Reynolds,

Brno, Czech Republic

(Editor’s note: I also posted this blog for my employer, The Daily Post-Athenian, at http://www.dailypostathenian.com/facebook.)

About to head to the Czech Republic

I’ll be heading to the Czech Republic on Thursday! This is an internship and cultural exchange with Bryan College’s MBA program. We don’t know all the details yet, but that’s part of the excitement. One student (to be determined) will work at a Renault dealership. Check this blog for further updates.

My group will leave Atlanta at 6:15 p.m. Eastern on Lufthansa and land the next morning in Frankfurt, Germany to switch planes. We arrive in Prague around 1 p.m. Eastern. The group comprises: Dr. Adina Scruggs, director of graduate programs; Janet Brock, admissions coordinator for Bryan’s Aspire program and our trip’s invaluable coordinator; my good friend and former classmate, Benton Jones; and MBA students Josh Rule and Julian Bennett.

Here are several links pertaining to the trip:

I will have my laptop and cameras, so check this blog on a regular basis starting Friday for photos and video. Please pray for us to have a safe trip and that God will use us to do His will and glorify His name.

A fast ride and hot brand (extension)

Are you achieving all you can with your brand? You may think there’s nowhere left to go with your brand, but that may not be the case. You may be able to extend your brand.

Think of Ferrari. What comes to mind when you think of that brand? Luxurious, expensive, ultimate-quality sports cars? That’s the traditional image the automaker has created with its brand. It would not make sense to create entry-level cars named Ferrari in a bid to extend the brand.

But what about a roller coaster ride?

One of the world’s premiere car brands is extending its brand to the amusement park world, according to Edmunds.com. Ferrari is opening Ferrari World later this year in Abu Dhabi. The park will have two roller coasters based on Ferrari’s cars. One of the coasters, the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi GT roller coaster, will send two carriages on a race against one another. Each car is a replica of Ferrari’s F430 Spider.

Ferrari will have other attractions, including an exclusive driving school.

So again, are you doing all you can with your brand? Have you thought of extending your brand into another category? Doing so can you achieve maximum ROI.

Editors do not want your dirty hubcaps

What do dirty hubcaps, carved rocks, popup books and moving boxes have in common?

They are some of the press kits and annual reports I have seen in my career. Creativity does not always equal good impressions when you’re trying to capture the media’s attention.

My editor recently received a dirty hubcap in a pizza box. He didn’t know the hubcap was dirty – it had grimy brake fluid on the back, and when he picked it up, he got the black goo all over his clothes. To top it off, the “kit” did not have much information about its purpose – it had a piece of paper with a Web address. Needless to say, my boss was not impressed.

The hubcap incident got me to thinking about other publicity efforts I’ve witnessed.

An aquarium added a penguin exhibit titled “Penguin Rocks” and sent the newspaper small rocks carved with the exhibit’s logo. I thought it was creative. And my pragmatic side appreciated that the rocks could be re-used – I gave mine to my mother to use in her yard’s landscaping.

A local utility I have dealt with will get two mentions in this blog. The utility moved its office several years ago and its marketing director sent media outlets a large moving box. This box was so large it required foam and lumber supports inside. An ordinary press release was the only other content. My colleagues greeted this initiative with incredulity. Later, when I covered this utility, it released its annual report in a book format using full color, quality paper and popups. The books cost $32,000 to print, not counting postage. While such projects take months to plan, the timing was horrible since ratepayers were upset that the wholesale electric rate was increasing 20 percent. To be fair, the utility didn’t set the wholesale rate. But I wrote a story because the utility is city-owned, which is an important distinction to a reporter. The utility’s marketing department is very creative, but the use of expensive popups in a report by a public utility generated negative attention.

What lessons can a publicist learn from these episodes? Journalists love clever ideas, but we are cynical. We take our roles seriously as public watchdogs, so if perceive someone is misusing resources we may decide the situation warrants a story.

Here are a few tips for communicating to the media:

  • Provide plenty of information about what you’re trying to communicate. Journalists deal in facts, not teasers or hype.
  • Timing is important. A fancy or otherwise lavish project may be acceptable when things are fine, but can draw bad publicity with the wrong timing.
  • Try to use something that’s practical as well as cute. This should be better received by cynical journalists.
  • Be aware of much money you spend to create a marketing campaign or annual report. It may become the story instead of what you are trying to publicize.

How profitable are your customers?

You may be worried about how many customers you have, but perhaps even more important is the question: How profitable are your customers?

How often does each customer buy your product or service? How expensive is the purchase: is it your least profitable product/service, or the offering that you have the highest margin on? How price-sensitive are your customers? Will they run for the competition if you have to raise prices to cope with higher expenses?

Small segments of customers can be very profitable if you identify and meet their needs. They will care about quality more than finding the lowest price. And that will bring in more cash than chasing every potential customer.

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