Wednesday, December 26, 2007

B2B Marketers Standing Pat on '08 Spending Risk Falling Behind

Most forecasters are rather pessimistic in their projections for the US ecomomy in the upcoming year. Business to business marketers are either not getting the message or are getting through to their bosses that in down economic times, MORE money should be devoted to marketing not less.

B2B's 2008 Marketing Priorities and Plans show nearly 80 percent of marketers planning to up online spending with slightly more than 60 percent planning to increase overall marketing budgets. Overall online marketing will make up a full third of the budget up from 26.5 percent in 2007. Leading the way in budget items seeing increases will be web site development, email and search engine marketing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

From Green to Red White and Blue

I was struck by a story this past weekend in the online version of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette announcing that the last Santa suit manufacturer in that area was going out of business. As a matter of fact, the company was one of the last sectors of the apparel industry left in the United States. While one of the hottest trends in the meetings business, and for that matter any industry, is going green, the environmental-friendly movement may soon take a back seat to the colors red, white and blue.

The cover story in this month's Marketing News, the official publication of the American Marketing Association, talks about how consumers are alarmed about the products they are purchasing given all the product recalls and safety concerns (i.e., lead paint in toys made in China). The story goes on to say they want to buy products they can rely on, and prefer them to be made closer to home. A late-summer Gallup survey found that 72 percent of Americans say they now pay more attention to which country produces the products they buy.

While a few American-made dominant companies are sited in the story (Little Tikes and American Joe Apparel), the author says those groups are in the minority. China is now our second largest trade partner, closing in on Mexico. So, companies and organizations which want to be on the leading edge of meeting a growing consumer need should pay heed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Partnering with Car Makers

Several items crossing my desk in the past few weeks related to the auto industry if you are considering partnerships:
  • Overall online automotive advertising will grow 27.5 percent over the next four years to $5.3 billion according to the Princeton research organization Kelsey Group;
  • New demographic information from Scarborough Research shows who owns hybrid vehicles. The profile includes people who earn $100,000 or more (more than twice the national average) and are also more than twice as likely to have a college degree. Twenty seven percent even have post-graduate degrees. Nearly three in four are either Democrats or Independents and most vote in elections;
  • J.D. Power is out with its 2007 Customer Retention Study. Toyota leads the list at 64 percent versus an industry average of 49 percent;
  • And talk about driving diversity, Malaysian car maker Proton is partnering with the Iranian and Turkish governments to produce an "Islamic car" globally. Features would include a compass to determine the direction of Mecca for prayers and compartments for storing The Quran and headscarves.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Career Talk: It must be that time of year again

Without fail, this is the time of the year you see articles about what employees can do to differentiate themselves in the workplace. I surmise it has something to do with professionals evaluating their careers as another year ends and a new one begins. I find it rather humorous that while the articles use different words they essentially say the same thing.

For instance, last week I read in a popular trade publication for meeting planners that communication skills are important in that line of work

In another excellent magazine that caters to marketing and sales professionals the words cooperation and goodwill, savvy and sociability were used in a study by a non-profit organization providing assessment in education and workforce development. They were labeled 15 Personal Skills You Need on the Job.

Back to the first article, flexibility is another characteristic valued. The second article..savvy and sociability.

Ping, working with numbers. Pong, carefulness, order.

Finally, leveraging partnerships as opposed to influence.

These are all good characteristics to develop as we enter 2008.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Engaging/Disengaging Customers

I recently ran across two very divergent strategies in enhancing customer (member) experiences. First the positive story. The YMCA is test-piloting an effort in 30 cities across the United States entitled YMCA Activate America. As a fitness center instructor at my local Y a few hours per week, I attended a training session the other night explaining the program which is meant to engage health seekers and to reinforce the Y's desire to be a relationship-based membership organization.

The idea is to make customers/members feel welcomed, listened to, respected and involved. It's a great concept because it really involves becoming a counselor in understanding health seeker's obstacles (perceived and actual) in getting fit. It also encourages members to seek out alternative cardio vascular fitness programs that many fail to realize exist.

A less flattering customer relations effort was recently launched by Walmart where it pulled all customer service numbers from its Web site in an effort to cut back on inbound calls tracking orders. This notion is obviously very short-sighted given that when you reach a live person on the other line, you feel valued, versus pushing buttons to respond to an automated system. This also short-circuits the opportunity to cross-sell customers having a tendency toward repeat purchases.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ritz Carlton Finishes on Top of Hotel Brand Equity Study

What do best in class practices look like among the nation's leading hotel chains based on their email marketing efforts? Read on and find out.

Monday, November 12, 2007

If Only They Viewed My Emails Like Christmas Presents

A timely thought on how you can get more people to read your emails despite their busy schedules.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Beware of Brand Extensions

Before venturing into brand extension projects that could solidify their image or increase revenues, for- or non-profit organizations should consider put on their marketing hats.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

NKY CVB Revised Web Site Makes Planner's Job Easier

Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau Launches New Web Site
Contact:Julie Connolly(513)287-7857, cell: (773)484-3704E-Mail:

Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau Launches New Web Site
The innovative site is the final piece of NKYCVB's new branding and marketing campaign

COVINGTON, KY [October 24, 2007] — The Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau (NKYCVB) has launched, a new innovative Web site designed to showcase Northern Kentucky to meetings and convention planners.
The dynamic site, created by Strata-G Communications, introduces an entirely new design, expanded features and improved navigation. In addition to traditional features such as hotel and accommodation listings, offers an aerial tour that showcases the city and surrounding regions. The site also provides online booking capabilities and an uploadable Request for Proposal option. An extensive behind-the-scenes content management tool enables CVB staff to make updates to better meet the needs of the planner and reflect regional changes in the marketplace. "The website was designed not only to be rich in content but also an effective marketing tool that will generate convention and meeting sales resulting in an increase in economic impact for the entire region" says Barbara Dozier, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of the NKYCVB.
The site compliments a new logo along with updated marketing and messaging materials that were unveiled earlier this year. The campaign's engaging theme, "RethiNK" – is a compelling call to action for meeting planners to consider Northern Kentucky as a meeting destination, promising an experience that is exciting, distinctive, and far beyond expectations.
"With the fresh look of the new, streamlined website combined with the rich content showcasing Northern Kentucky's assets we believe we are ideally positioned to convince meeting planners that Northern Kentucky is an extraordinary destination," said Tom Caradonio, president and CEO of the NKYCVB
The mission of the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau is that of an aggressive sales, marketing, service and informational organization whose primary responsibility is to positively impact the Northern Kentucky economy through conventions, meetings and visitor expenditures. The direct economic impact of visitors’ spending in Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties in 2005 was $255 million.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kennedy Center Marketing Chief Comes to Town

Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts Marketing Director David Kitto was in town recently to speak to the Cincinnati American Marketing Association Chapter. He says his major challenges are productivity and a fickle media. He measured the productivity equation in revenues. Revenues that are declining, he says, thanks to limited venue seating capacities and the sales of compact discs which impact people's willingness to attended by live performances. He adds this creates a trickle down effect which restricts the number of performances with a limited number of superstars.

The media continues to act indifferent at arts groups with less editorial space devoted to reviews and features. He notices in general the writing of fewer stories that make a difference in inspiring the lives of others.

Sensing the issue of preaching to the choir, Kitto said arts groups, in an effort to balance budgets make the mistake of cutting shows and cutting marketing budgets. Kitto says they have tried to be innovative in opening the Center to new audiences:
  1. Bringing arts organizations from the Greater Washington DC area to their space to teach marketing initiatives;
  2. Catering to audiences who love musicals such as when they staged a series of Stephen Sondheim works, which garnered international publicity;
  3. Hosting international festivals such as the 2010, a celebration of Arab nations and collaborations with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Bolshoi Ballet to name a few.

Kitto says he works closely with the Center's Press Department to target what he calls core and marginal markets on a miniscule budget of $45-50 million. Kitto says his web site ( was the first to offer indoor virtual tours. They continue to be creative with ideas such as sending bounce back emails to first time ticket buyers to discounted tickets to a future performance.

NKY Hotel Receives Honor

Holiday Inn Airport is an outstanding partner of the Northern Kentucky CVB. We salute them for their latest recognition.

Nadine DeGenova
Nadine DeGenova Public Relations


David Smith General Manager Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport 859-371-2233

IMMEDIATE RELEASE - (Photo available upon request)
HOLIDAY INN CINCINNATI AIRPORT WINS INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP 2007 TORCHBEARER AWARD FOR THE NINTH YEAR Cincinnati, OH, November 5, 2007 – The Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport has received InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 2007 Torchbearer Award for the ninth year. "It is my pleasure to name the Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport as one of the finest hotels in our industry," said Steve Porter, president, the Americas, IHG. "This hotel embodies the spirit, product and service that continue to make our properties known and admired throughout the world." InterContinental Hotels Group is the world’s largest hotel group based on total number of rooms and the Torchbearer is the most prestigious company award bestowed, recognizing the Top 20 in Overall Satisfaction of all Holiday Inns throughout North America and Canada.
The awards were officially presented at the 2007 IHG Americas Investors & Leadership Conference in Dallas, Texas, October 22-24, 2007, with more than 4,000 franchise owners, operators and company officials in attendance. David Smith, General Manager of the Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport proudly accepted the award for the hotel, which currently ranks in the top 1% of all Holiday Inns worldwide.
The Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport is one of only 69 properties chosen from the IHG system of more than 3,800 hotels for achieving the highest levels of excellence in all aspects of operation -- from quality to customer satisfaction. The 2007 Torchbearer trophy will be on permanent display at the hotel for guests from all over the world to view.
Managed by Winegardner & Hammons of Cincinnati, OH, the Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport is also the proud recipient of the following awards:
Service Excellence Award - Top 10 Service scores of all Holiday Inns in North America and Canada
Best 4 Breakfast Award - Top 10 Breakfast Satisfaction scores of all Holiday Inns in North America and Canada
Awilda Putthoff – Best of the Best Award, Reservations/Revenue Manager
Note to Editors:
InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (IHG) of the United Kingdom [LON:IHG, NYSE:IHG (ADRs)] is the world's largest hotel group by number of rooms. IHG owns, manages, leases or franchises, through various subsidiaries, over 3,800 hotels and more than 563,000 guest rooms in nearly 100 countries and territories around the world. IHG owns a portfolio of well recognized and respected hotel brands including InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn® Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express®, Staybridge Suites®, Candlewood Suites® and Hotel Indigo®, and also manages the world's largest hotel loyalty program, Priority Club® Rewards with over 33 million members worldwide.
The company pioneered the travel industry’s first collaborative response to environmental issues as founder of the International Hotels and Environment Initiative (IHEI). The IHEI formed the foundations of the Tourism Partnership launched by the International Business Leaders Forum in 2004, of which IHG is still a member today. The environment and local communities remain at the heart of IHG’s global corporate responsibility focus.
IHG offers information and online reservations for all its hotel brands at and information for the Priority Club Rewards program at For the latest news from IHG, visit the online Press Office at

About Winegardner & Hammons, Inc.Winegardner & Hammons, Inc. is a full-service hotel management company with a reputation for progressive and successful hospitality management. The WHI owned/managed portfolio includes resorts, all-suite, extended-stay, full service and conference center hotels in many diverse markets across the United States. WHI currently manages over 26 hotels in the United States and is affiliated with most major hotel brands. For more information on WHI, please visit our web site at

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Creation Museum Attendance Figures Six Months Ahead of Schedule

The Creation Museum near the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, expected to attract a quarter of a million visitors in its first 12 months, but has reached that total in half the time.

Staying on the same page

I was meeting with community leaders representing some of the major entities representing business interests in Northern Kentucky this week and we stressed the importance of communicating the same message. This has been sited as being a common theme in many thriving U.S. cities such as Charlotte and Austin. This article on narratives caught my eye as a possible solution.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Further Proof of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing's Value

A new study reported by the American Marketing Association this week...

Friday, October 26, 2007

A How-To For Theming Meetings

Meeting planners might want to look to the entertainment industry when they are looking for a cutting edge theme to their next conference, as evidenced by this brief in the September issue of Fast Company Magazine.

Road Games
RoadShow HollywoodSeptember 18-20Hollywood, California
"The entertainment industry is one way to predict what the trends are going to be," says Mitch Litvak, RoadShow founder. At this conference, entertainment execs premiere the next 6 to 18 months' worth of movies, TV, music, and gaming products so brand marketers can hunt for opportunities to develop Happy Meals and other tie-ins. Last year, New Line Cinema pitched its movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Hairspray. It ultimately led to Carnival Cruise Lines creating "the Hairspray experience." "We have karaoke nights, and dance instructors teach moves from the film," says Lance Still, an executive VP at New Line. Nickelodeon, Universal Music, and Warner Bros. are among this year's presenters. "We'll be highlighting Speed Racer, Steve Carell's Get Smart remake, and Where the Wild Things Are," says Warner senior VP of domestic promotions Mimi Slavin. --Aimee Rawlins

Monday, October 22, 2007

No "Reining IN" Kentucky's Tourism Slogan

The Kentucky Department of Tourism says that for the third year in a row, the "Kentucky Unbridled Spirit" brand prompted recognition from people within a ten state region.

That and more news as the Commonwealth announced a change in their department name.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Way Paved For More Parking at Creation Museum

The popularity of the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum ( has put a strain on parking. See story in today's Cincinnati Enquirer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Procter and Gamble Letting Go While Starbucks Getting a Grip

Northern Kentucky was fortunate enough to serve as host this week of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC: Heritage Region Conference hosting 200 professionals and students from as far away as New York, Virginia, Illinois and Michigan. IABC provides a professional network of more than 14,000 business communication professionals in over 70 countries, with members holding positions in such broad ranging disciplines as public relations, government relations, video production, training, education and human resources.

Two of the more engaging speakers at the conference were Procter & Gamble ( Global External Relations Officer Charlotte Otto and James Greathouse, Director of Internal Communications for Starbucks. While both groups are known for innovation, Otto advised that the venerable corporate giant has been cautious in being transparent to consumers. For P&G, that opaqueness comes in the form of revealing details about product ingredients, something unthinkable even a few years ago.

Consumer brands face a hostile and skeptical market today, she added (citing Dan Yankelovich's book Profit With Honor in which the author details America's third wave of public distrust--following the Depression and Vietnam--coming in the form of 911, corporate scandals and the Iraq War ( Otto says P&G's goal is to be authentic and interesting but safe to advertisers. "We have to respect consumers as co-creators acknowledging their control over the message."

If the coffee doesn't give Starbucks ( executives the jitters, the problems created by the organization's growth might. Greathouse says seven new Starbucks a day are opening creating hundreds of new jobs for partners and baristas but also keeping busy about 1,200 employees in real estate, store design and construction as well as 150 HR people and regional Vice Presidents, Directors and District Managers. Imagine the potential for communication chaos with these swelling numbers. And Greathouse says the cost is potentially enormous. He reported that a single poorly written headline on an intranet home page amounts to $1,000 in wasted employee time (think about pondering a headline, clicking through it even though it's useless, taking time to decide whether it's useless, you get the picture). How to deal with this? Greathouse has pulled together a multi-department task force predicating their work on what the audiences need, or as Greathouse so succinctly phrased it, "Do things because the audience wants it not because it's cool or because (as the IT department might boast) 'we can.' "

Sunday, October 14, 2007

CovARTing Along the Ohio River

A five-year floodwall mural project has wrapped up along Covington's riverfront creating breathtaking art that has a three-dimensional feel to it even though the works are painted on a flat surface. This project is another sign of the continued revitalization of the Northern Kentucyk riverfront and gives the southern shores of the Ohio something to show to convention goers and tourists.

Friday, October 12, 2007

NFL's Lack of Parity & Associated Business Application

Writer Anthony Crupi of Mediaweek writes in the September 24th issue about early season ratings for ESPN and NBC's primetime National Football League telecasts being down about 15 percent from a season ago ( Weak matchups, he says, appear to be part of the problem. I would argue the weak matchups aren't limited to evening hours. You're seeing it throughout the league every weekend in most games. Take for instance the American Football Conference Eastern Division, now dominated by everyone's perrennial Super Bowl pick New England. The Patriots are undefeated in the first five games and haven't been challenged by any of their opponents. Yet the three other teams in their division (Buffalo, NY Jets and Miami) have won two games COMBINED. Several other division leaders in both conferences have near .500 records. At least for this season, "the parity's over" in the NFL. As a result, the overall quality and caliber of play in the League also suffers. This threatens to erode fan interest if this trend continues.

This lack of competitiveness got me thinking that while marketing and PR professionals complain about how difficult it is to stay on top and be innovative, the alternative is to become irrelevant and have potential customers lose interest in your product. It compels each of us to rise above the mediocrity we see within our industries and sometimes within our organizations. What can we do to differentiate ourselves? How can we, as author Andy Sernovitz, writes in his book Word of Mouth Marketing, create a topic about what we do to enhance and prolong the conversation about what makes our organization, our industry great. We should even prod our competitors to do so the same so we can all elevate our industry in the minds of our customers. Something to think about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tim now a different kind of tool man

For years Tim Carter was known as the expert for the syndicated Ask The Builder syndicated show on television, newspaper and radio. While he still has those gigs (, he's now known more nationally as an internet publisher. Tim spoke to an overflow crowd at an American Marketing Association seminar in Cincinnati last week displaying a passion and enthusiasm for what the Internet can do for business-to-business and business-to-consumer interactions. Some of his more interesting observations:
  • Widget Ads (really mini website ads) are the latest phenomenon in effective online advertising. One example I found is boo-box ( which promotes relevant marketing;
  • Video ads are a must in your advertising budget. Tim doesn't advocate eliminating all traditional advertising but he says that the majority of your advertising should be Internet-based;
  • Optimization doesn't cut it. He says about 95 percent of your online advertising budget should be directed to paid placement on search engines which he says is much more effective (with only about five percent put towards optimization).

Finally Tim said marketers need to remember they are in the "pain relief business." And he advised that Internet marketing that works allows buyers to find an exact solution to their search query, a phrase he used to define Contextual Advertising.

Tim is certainly not alone in his bullishness. A new report from the Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that Internet advertising revenues reached a combined total of nearly $10 billion during the first six months of this year...a 27 percent increase from the same period a year ago-driven largely by interactive advertising revenue.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Going Green Too Quickly Can Cause Red Faces

In the conventions and meetings industry as in just about every other business sector today, a high premium is placed on being a more environmentally friendly company. But you can go too aggressive and make mistakes according to one local expert who is part of a regional convention Northern Kentucky is hosting this weekend.


Pat Frew, Director of Communications


Covington, KY/September 28, 2007—People who manage facilities for more than 50 colleges and universities throughout the Southeastern United States as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will be attending an upcoming conference hosted by Northern Kentucky University at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center October 6-9.

Two of the major topics explored by members of the Southeastern Regional Association of Physical Plant Administrators (SRAPPA) will be “green” or initiatives to make school buildings more environmental friendly and preparing for disasters such as pandemic influenza.

Steve Glazner, Director of Knowledge Management for SRAPPA’s national organization the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (, says SRAPPA’s 56th Annual Conference in Covington continues its long-standing tradition of high-quality educational programs and networking opportunities for its membership.

“The issues of sustainability and ‘green design’ have reached a true tipping point. Educational institutions are taking the lead in developing, integrating and educating sustainability concepts into their facilities’ operations, design and engineering curricula and through student involvement,” said Glazner.

Presenters will lay out details of a process called commissioning, prevalent the past two decades in the military and industrial sectors, which allows for greater cost-savings in construction and design while maintaining high-performance buildings.

One topic which is generating pre-conference interest relates to making campuses more environmental friendly. Monday, October 8 at 9:30 a.m., Project Engineer Megan Hawk of Facility Engineering Associates of Fairfax, VA will co-present the topic When Green Alternatives Make Sense. She says it’s important that university leaders don’t approach green programs too quickly.

“Sustainability without strategy is a mistake. In order to be successful, facility managers need to define their sustainable goals, develop a sustainable plan, and implement that plan. Without a strategy, universities can end up wasting valuable funds.”

The World Health Organization reported as of September 11, 2007 there have been 328 lab-confirmed cases of pandemic flu, originating from close contact with wild birds, mainly in Southeast Asia. Two hundred of these cases have resulted in death. Kate Van Sant serves as Vice President for Communications, SRAPPA and Assistant to the Associate Vice President of Facilities and Services, West Virginia University. On Tuesday, October 9 at 3:15 p.m. she will co-present the topic Pandemic Planning For Colleges and Universities, presenting resources and sample outline plans for combating the problem should an outbreak occur.

Van Sant says pandemic concerns relate to the responsibilities of facility managers. “Institutions of higher education function as small cities. In the event of a pandemic of avian influenza, you may need to shut down offices, classroom spaces, transportation systems, dorms, restaurants, even large athletic and cultural event centers. Students could become stranded on campus as well as employees assigned to serve the needs of students and to maintain facilities. Also, you have a high need to constantly communicate with all populations effected by the institution including parents, faculty, the surrounding community and emergency agencies.”

The SRAPPA region encompasses Northern Kentucky University as its northern most tip and goes as far south as Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as far west as Tennessee and Alabama and to the east the Atlantic Coast region. About 350 professionals are expected. Walk-in registration is available for the two-day educational sessions ($250) or for all four days ($500). For more information about the conference:

Monday, October 1, 2007


The authors of the bestselling book Made To Stick (Dan and Chip Heath) maintain in an article in the current issue of Fast Company Magazine (Time to Get Trigger Happy) claim that lunch trays have helped prove the value of environmental triggers in improving an idea's effectiveness.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Convention Center Expansion Gains Steam

Momentum continues to build for the expansion of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, some eight years after its opening.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cincinnati Marketing Central

One of the joys in having the privilege of being President of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Marketing Assn. is that I'm considered an expert by media on marketing topics. While there are others who certainly know much more than I, I do enjoy speaking about how marketing and branding in general are strengths in Cincinnati as it seeks to be differentiated from other cities in the United States. See the related article in Sunday's Cincinnati Enquirer Business Section.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Customer Satis-fiasco

I sat in on a webinar the other day sponsored by the American Marketing Association talking about the disconnect between Chief Marketing Officers and other C-level executives within an organization, particularly the Chief Financial Officer. The webinar facilitator maintained many CMOS fail to be credible because they don't implement accountability measures to prove the value of the initiatives they are trying to adopt. Marketing executives, he added, often hide behind catch phrases that further cause them to be dismissed. He threw out some words of his own to make the point:


montric (versus metric)

customer satis-fiction

This last phrase took on personal meaning when my wife and I were out celebrating our 22nd anniversary this past weekend at a respected restaurant near our home. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a picky eater and I seldom criticize any dish put in front of me. However, the menu item I selected tasted rather bland (chicken, so that should somewhat be taken into account) and the accompanying glazed green beans were not only tasteless but weren't completely cooked.

When the waitress returned to our table to see how we liked our meal, I was honest with her. She had recommended the meal I ended up selecting. I trusted her recommendation. A short time later, she was concerned when I told her my reaction to the food. She offered to get me something else but by this time I wasn't hungry any longer and politely refused. At this point I was disappointed that the food wasn't to my liking but I wasn't overly upset about it. I tried to communicate this to the waitress but that's obviously not the way she took it.

For the remainder of the time at the restaurant, any time she came by the table or passed by, she completely ignored me. My wife protested that I hurt her feelings. You should also know my wife felt I was rude being truthful to her about the food. I maintained that it was dishonest and unfair not to tell her the truth. I believe people who suppress such feelings are more inclined to go out and bad-mouth the business where their experience was sub-par. It was in her best interest to level with her.

But I have to tell you that her reaction to my honesty made me even more upset. Not only did she not validate the mixed feelings I had about the meal. But she ruined our anniversary celebration causing a rift between my wife and I. I will not eat in that restaurant again. This episode reminded me that in any business interaction with customers you must emphathize with them if their experience is less than satisfactory. Note I said emphathize, you don't have to agree with them totally. And you must not get your feelings hurt if they don't have the experience you want them to have. Otherwise you can make an innocuous or bad situation worse.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mural Project Nearing Completion along NKY Riverfront

In the next month, a decade long project beautifying the Northern Kentucky riverfront with a canvas of concrete will be completed.

ESPN Sightings

ESPN was in town this week for the Monday Night game between the Bengals and Ravens. Their presence generated a lot of excitment as Greater Cincinnati icons new and old were on display, as evidenced by a recent story in the Cincinnati Post.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Marketing At a Crossroads

Now that I'm nearly two months into my role as President of the Cincinnati Chapter of the AMA, I'm beginning to see that the marketing profession is due for some self analysis. This is never more evident with a recent report from the University of Texas about the impact of CMOs or Chief Marketing Officers. Read below....

BOARDROOM MARKETERS' NIL IMPACT ON FISCAL PERFORMANCE: REPORTAUSTIN, Texas: In what some see as a setback to the ANA's campaign to elevate the marketing function to the top of the corporate hierarchy, a new report from the University of Texas infers that the impact of chief marketing officers on their employer's financial results is ... zip, zero, nil or nix! The January 2008 issue of the American Marketing Association's quarterly Journal of Marketing is due to carry a controversial new report, Chief Marketing Officers: A Study of their Presence in Firms' Top Management Teams.It posits that the presence of a CMO in a company's senior management cadre has no effect on that firm's financial performance The review was conducted over a five year period with 167 top companies (among them Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, IBM, Intel and Apple), all with minimum annual revenues of $250 million (€183.47m; £124.26m). It disinters the longstanding debate on how best to measure marketing performance. Should CMOs be evaluated on tangible or intangible metrics?By unassailable statistics such as sales? Or on more nebulous concepts like brand equity or consumer awareness? Even the report's authors are hesitant to draw conclusions and concede that their study is limited because it concentrates on financial metrics like sales growth and profitability, whilst ignoring key factors such as brand equity. Vijay Mahajan, a professor in the department of marketing at the University of Texas and co-author of the report, agrees that the financial metrics used to measure the performance of CFOs and CEOs have less relevance to CMO role. "Those [weightings] are very short-term," says Mahajan. "You cannot use short-term metrics to measure the performance of someone who is supposed to have a long-term impact." But despite that qualifier, the report's findings will do little to enhance the status or influence of marketers, especially in medium-to-smaller companies where Byzantine concepts like brand equity are rarely bandied in boardrooms. Less than half the companies studied (40%) had a CMO in its top-management team - versus 92% with a CFO aboard. The actual title CMO is uncommon, used only by circa 20% of companies. And it will be of scant comfort to marketers that the report concludes that CMOs do no harm: "It is important to note that CMOs do not have a negative impact on performance," it opined. Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff, 10 July 2007

While it's too early to sound the alarm, I think that marketers in general need to take these opinions seriously. I sat in on an webinar yesterday entitled Marketing ROI: 10 Strategies for Winning Over Your CFO and other Marketing Skeptics. I had to slip out early but the general sense conveyed was that other C-level executives in our organizations outside of marketing are looking for return on investment for everything done. No big suprise there. As a result, credibility needs to be established early in the process with such factors as alignment, a comprehensive measurement system, objectivity (marketers tend to be overly optimistic) and accountability being central. Much of this begins as companies reflect on the role of marketing and decide on its purpose for their particular situation.

On September 21, the Cincinnati AMA will launch its 2007-2008 season with a luncheon at the riverfront Radisson Hotel in Covington on the challenges faced by CMOs ( Many of these issues will be discussed and debated. Hope you can attend.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New numbers on the Creation Museum

I just heard yesterday from the Mark, Looy, Vice President of Outreach for the Creation Museum. He said they are up to 70,000 visitors based upon the opening Memorial Day weekend and the special guests that passed through the Museum in the week prior to the public opening.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Creation Museum Commercial Adds to Facility's Intrigue

The popularity of the Creation Museum by Answers in Genesis continues to astound people, even its founders, Answers in Genesis. The state-of-the-art attraction drew more than 40,000 guests less than 30 days after its opening on Memorial Day, 2007. No doubt many of those visitors came from outside the Greater Cincinnati area where the Museum has been advertising in feeder markets such as Louisville, Lexington, Columbus and Indianapolis. The Museum's intriguing 30 second tv commercial follows.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

NKY Attraction in Limbo

Belated apologies for not writing for so long. It was a matter of too many out of town work trips, college visits for my graduating high school senior and the subsequent graduation of said senior. In fact, some much time has passed, I need to change the focus surrounding the picture to the left. I visited New York City in mid-May as part of a hospitality after-hours party for national media, hosted by the Kentucky Department of Tourism and several of the state Convention and Visitors Bureaus and leading attractions. The purpose of the party was to educate writers on some of our leading tourist sites in the state---Northern Kentucky included. With only 24 hours to spend in NYC, I had little time to do sightseeing but wanted to take in a nearby Big Apple attraction, Top of the Rock (that's me pictured left standing atop Rockefeller Center--with the Empire State Building in the backdrop). Top of the Rock shared a distinction with the now-suspended Purple People Bridge Climb attraction. Both were named earlier this year to Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Magazine's Top Ten Thrills. The Thrill is gone in Newport for now since the Climb's operator shut the attraction down because of financial difficulties. I have been questioned often since as to whether the PPBC will ever reopen. Not much is known at this point. However the non-profit board that regulates the Bridge has decided not to tear down the climbing steps and railing on the Bridge right now. So there is always hope that the attraction can be revived at a later date.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Southbank Sighting

During the next several weeks, you'll be seeing several articles in the print media about a group that I support extensively, Southbank Partners ( Southbank is an economic development agency that helps organize and orchestrate development along the the southern shores of the Ohio River in the communities of Covington, Newport and Bellevue. In the past Southbank has been instrumental in the development of such projects as Newport on the Levee (named top mall/shopping attraction for US families by Zagat, 2004) and Hofbrauhaus Newport (the first authentic Hofbrauhaus outside Munich). Southbank has renovated its web site. Some of the features to look for are a video on the front page of the site that outlines some of the new projects along the river. Some of you may be aware that more than $1 billion in real estate investment is underway along the NKY riverfront, highlighted by the Ascent at Roebling luxury condominium project designed by World Trade Center Memorial architect Daniel Libeskind, which should be completed by Thanksgiving. The web site will also feature a monthly enewsletter that will briefly touch upon interesting behind the scenes stories about the communities that should interest media and the public in general. Southbank is currently lobbying for funding for a $50 million walking trail that will also feature signage outlining different historical aspects of the river and riverfront. The paved path would be four miles long and would stretch from Covington to Bellevue.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Marketers Unite

While most of you were out enjoying the beautiful weather this past weekend, I was basking in the warm glow of companionship and creativity at the annual American Marketing Association'sLeadership Summit in Chicago. It's a chance for AMA Chapter leaders to begin planning their program year. Since I will be President of the 450 member Cincinnati Chapter starting this fall (officially July), much of the initiative in that planning falls upon me. The conference takes on a different feel every year. This year's theme centered on espioniage and was entitled Mission Possible. One of the highlights was a presentation by the International Spy Museum's Chief Operating Officer Paul Bosch who talked about the facility and its more than 9,000 artifacts. While the Museum has its creative roots in Cleveland, the Museum was placed in Washington DC for obvious reasons (spying and politics do go hand in hand, you know). I'm not sure how you coorelate spying and marketing, but it got me to thinking that there is an element of cloak and dagger in securing and maintaining customers. Both spying and marketing require a great deal of background work (research). Secret agents and CMOs also need to remember who their customers are. And each must develop a level of consistency and meeting current expectations while anticipating future needs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Am just back from the new interactive Penguin exhibit at the Newport Aquarium. It was a neat experience. I was taken with how adaptive the birds are to humans. Keepers told us during the stay that the penguins view humans just like being around other penguins as they were born in captivity and hand-fed. Below is a story in the Kty Enquirer about it. Costs vary as this is an additional charge to the normal entry admission. You can check out the Aquarium website ( for pricing details but the great part is part of the proceeds benefit penguin research. I think this attraction has a lot of potential for some of our meeting groups coming to NKY.

Waddle over to Penguin House
BY RYAN CLARK RCLARK@NKY.COME-mail Print digg us!!
You've already fed the lorikeets and petted the sharks.
Now you can get up close and personal with the penguins at Newport Aquarium.
Penguin Encounters is a new 20-minute experience that allows guests to touch the penguins and observe their behavior face to beak.

A new Penguin House has been built to provide a permanent residence for three blackfooted penguins. Aquarium biologists will educate visitors and provide insight into the penguin world. The exhibit will open April 23.
Jill Isaacs, spokeswoman for the Aquarium, said that on a typical visit, patrons could touch the penguins, and watch as the animals waddle, swim, preen, shake their tails and jump into their pool.
And no coats are needed.
"The three blackfooted penguins are from South Africa and live in a temperate environment, so guests don't need to bring coats to the Penguin Encounters," Isaacs said.
Guests will learn about penguin feathers, habitat and diet.
"We hope that by seeing these animals and having the chance to interact with them, people will be able to better understand them and will also help us in our efforts to protect them in the wild," Ric Urban, Newport Aquarium's Rainforest Curator, said in a written statement.
The penguins have been named Paula, Randy and Simon (yes, after the "American Idol" celebrity judges). They are scheduled to appear on the Fox 19 Morning Show Wednesdays through May 23. Each week they will use their penguin intuition to determine which contestant will be eliminated, Isaacs said.
The blackfooted penguins are the third species of penguins at the aquarium. There are also 11 king and 15 gentoo Penguins in the 34-degree Kingdom of Penguins exhibit.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Drip, Drip Drip

I have survived the East Coast Noreaster. Actually the weather in Philadelphia was delightful until my daughter and I left Sunday morning when the rains hit. As we toured City Center Saturday afternoon and evening, the basked in the warm sun with tempertures in the low 50s. A lively crowd gathered around the Liberty Bell which was a 30 minute wait. In case you hadn't heard, a new museum is being constructed adjacent to the Bell viewing site directly across the street from Constitution Hall. A park ranger told me they have plans to build a museum themed around the first Presidential home (where Washington and Adams lived).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hope you enjoy my initial ascent into blogging. I chose Frewtopia as a play on words to eutopia, which means a high state of contentment as many of you probably already know. I'm a very content and blessed guy as you'll learn. My posts will offer a variety of topics related to my professional interests. Those include:

* Marketing & Communications- I'll assume the post of President of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Marketing Association this fall. It's a very vibrant and dynamic group that has started special interest discussion groups in the areas of Word of Mouth Marketing, Business To Business and Market Research. A new Marketing Young Professionals group has also been launched recently. We have a membership of more than 500 members and have been named multiple times as international AMA Chapter of the Year (;

* Hospitality and Meetings Industry-As Communications Director of the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau, I'm very interested in information about cities around the country and the amenities they are building for visitors. I'll be doing a lot of traveling over the next six weeks, starting this weekend in Philadelphia where my 18 year old daughter will probably be attending college. I'll also chronicle some of the excited projects in my area for benefit of non-residents in the Greater Cincinnati area;

*Economic Development-This topic goes hand in hand with the meetings and hospitality sector because building things demonstrates growth. And people want to visit areas that are growing and vibrant. In Northern Kentucky alone, more than $1 billion dollars in real estate investment (luxury condos and spinoff development) is underway. I am a board member of an economic development agency Southbank Partners, a group of dynamic, collaborative individuals which make things happen on the Southern shores of the Ohio River. It's one of my favorite things I do outside my regular job;

*Business in General-I am also involved on committees/task forces related to the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, our economic development agency for all of Northern Kentucky, Tri-ED and the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. All these groups are vital to the growth of our area.

Well, I've gone on long enough. Would love to hear your comments, and look forward to future dialogue.