Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Covington Museum A Hidden Gem

I had a belated chance yesterday to check out the remodeled (it happened a year ago) Behringer Crawford Museum in Covington's Devou Park. The three-million dollar project has transformed the place and includes a video about the history of the region and a refurbished street car named The Kentucky. This museum is different from others in our area in two ways. In many of the exhibit areas, there is a separate fly area for kids related to the theme in that room. That way, adults accompanied by small children can focus on content not worrying about distractions. The other differentiating point Behringer-Crawford ( offers is the perspective of how the growth of transportation (exhibits on Ohio River traffic, the airport, the interstate system) has fueled commerce. Sounds like these history lessons could serve as good reminders as Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky explore street cars. Check out this museum. It's a local hidden gem. I was so impressed, as we concluded a private tour with Executive Director Laurie Risch, I became a museum member.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Male Shoppers "Down Under"

J.C. Penney has created this new site just in time for last minute mail shoppers. It has received nearly two million hits. Coincidentally, Mike Boylson, J.C. Penney's Chief Marketing Officer, will be in Cincinnati Friday, January 16 at the monthly American Marketing Assn. luncheon to talk about this and other topics related to the company. Sign up for the event by going to AMA's website,

Welcome to the Doghouse: J.C. Penney Goes Viral Epicenter from

Friday, December 12, 2008

2008 Top Newspapers, Blogs & Consumer Magazines

BurrellesLuce (the media monitoring service I use at the NKY Convention & Visitors Bureau) is out with its 2008 Top Newspapers, Blogs and Consumer Magazines. The numbers and changes from 2007

1. USA Today
2. Wall Street Journal
3. New York Times
4. LA Times
5. The Daily News (NY-moves up one slot flip-flopping with NY Post)

English Language Blogs
1. (5 last year)
2. (4)
3. (1)
4. (3)
5. (2)

Magazines (all ranked same as in '07)
1. AARP The Magazine
2. AARP Bulletin
3. Readers Digest
4. Better Homes & Gardens
5. National Geographic

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Better To Be Blue

I've never watched a movie in Blueray but I might start doing so. I learned this week that the high tech video technology is named for the blue laser that reads the content on the disc and translates it to your screen. This is in contrast to "old" dvds that utilized red lasers. The difference for the quality? The blue ray is more focused than the red. It caused me to pause and consider that one of my New Year's Resolutions should be to attempt to maintain the focus required to excel more in my professional and personal life.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Blogs, Social Networking More Important With Newspapers' Decline

I was facilitating a session of the Cincinnati American Marketing Association chapter's newly formed Non-Profit Shared Interest Group this morning led by local blogging guru Michelle Lentz. Michelle talked about the importance and growth of blogging and how it impacts impressions of your organization whether it's a non-profit or for-profit. I was reflecting on this especially in light of the great decline in traditional media, places like the Cincinnati Enquirer ( Pardon the cliche, but the hand-writing has been on the wall for the past year or two as the Enquirer has launched its Get Published initiative. Coverage in standard news media sources is not going to get better/more plentiful. It's going to get worse. Gannett, the Enquirer's parent now considers the daily newspaper a baby-boomer niche publication according to one high-ranking executive to whom I spoke. It really does reinforce the notion that blogging, tweeting and the use of Facebook and other social networking tools is going to grow as businesses and charities alike try to expand their notoriety in the public eye.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another bad sign for the Meeting Biz

I was speaking to a local newspaper executive yesterday. I was telling him about the challenges that destinations face in attracting meetings and conventions in the current economy. As a person in charge of personnel and budgets he said, "The first thing to get cut in tough economic times is travel. The second is professional development." This is the big double-whammy for the industry. The meetings are not going away because they represent one of the biggest revenue source for associations. But having the meetings doesn't guarantee high or even subpar attendance. This hurts not only the industry groups but the destinations as they are primarily funded by the taxes on hotels visitors consume. Another big loser is the potential attendee as well as they are denied the chance to learn new tools to help them perform their jobs more effectively.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Branding vital in poor economy

I had a chance to hear a leading Greater Cincinnati branding expert this morning talk about its importance. Wendy Vonderhaar, President of Intrinzic Marketing, was speaking to the Non-Profits Shared Interest Group of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Marketing Association. Wendy said that in branding it's vital to make an emotional connection with your audience/customers and justify that connection with facts. It occured to me in these tough economic times that customers are less willing to take chances. Wendy put it this way: Each thing you do needs to work for you more. To me it begins with how we understand the brands of our organizations. What is our promise? How are we relevant? How are we different? If we can't answer these questions how can we help our clients or potential clients? A better question might be, Why should they use us?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Start Spreading the News

My 18-year-old daughter Hilary and I visited the University of Kentucky campus last week as she investigates a career in magazine writing. I had heard UK had a good journalism school but was very suprised at its most recent accomplishments. While visiting I learned that the school was bidding for the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize among college newspapers, the Pace Maker Award. If UK wins the honor it would come for the second time in three years. I was impressed with our campus tour guide Angela who is in the broadcast journalism program and with the professors and their commitment to helping the students secure internships and permanent positions upon graduating. The school rose to the top of my daughter's list.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cincinnati AMA among best chapters in N America

The Cincinnati Chapter of the American Marketing Association found out recently it has been judged to be the third best chapter in North America for 2007-2008 by a national AMA judging panel in Chicago. Cincinnati finished third behind Houston and Nashville. This is the best showing by the Cincinnati chapter in six years. Judges cited the chapter's membership growth (more than 100 professionals in the past year to an all-time high of 576 members), the growth of its luncheon programs (averaging 125 each month) and the boost in volunteers by more than 65 percent to over 100. Hopefully, information such as this will help position Cincinnati as a hub for marketers and branders.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Going Out With a Purpose Driven Brand

Jim Stengel, Global Marketing Officer for Procter and Gamble, officially retires from the company after a 25-year ride on October 31st. He treated more than 200 attendees of the first ever University of Cincinnati College of Business Marketing Summit to the tricks of creating what he called a purpose-driven brand. No tricks really. He defined a brand as

the collective intent of people behind it (a product, idea or service) manifested in actions they take.

I particularly like the example he used of Goldfish. He said it's not simply a snack but is described by creator Peppridge Farms as existing to instill optimism in children. When I think about how excited my nine-year old used to get about buying and eating goldfish (notice I said used to--adolescence is creeping lower and lower as the years pass by), I can begin to appreciate this take. Imagine how a statement like that would motivate your employees who seek a nobler purpose than just collecting a paycheck.

I'll leave it to the mainstream local media to dissect the rest of Stengels's comments.

I was very impressed with UC's faculty at today's event. Although in talking with organizers they are already worrying about how to top this year's successful launch. A number of teachers/administrators made the effort to walk around to the different tables making guests feel welcome. I also learned more about the schools's Masters in Marketing Capstone program, a two-quarter experience where students diagnose a business challenge, then solve it using the head knowledge gained in the classroom. One example outlined in UC's literature was the development of a comprehensive marketing plan for the American Sign Museum which moved from Walnut Hills to larger quarters in Camp Washington. The program which can utilize a maximum of 400 student hours, runs from January to June. A one- to two-page proposal can be submitted by for-profits and non-profits. Deadline is November 14. All they ask is a description of your entity, the issues you are facing and a rundown of how students would benefit from helping you. Details:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Another sign of an aging population

While not every senior citizen I know is technology-challenged, here's more evidence that would seem to support older Americans are behind the times.
While many people check their Blackberrys seemingly every five minutes for new emails, roughly one-fifth of all U.S. heads-of-household have never sent or used an e-mail. According to National Technology Scan, a forthcoming study from Parks Associates, 20 million U.S. households are still without Internet access and approximately 18% of all households don’t use email.
The research indicates that 21% of heads of households have never sent or received an email and another 21 percent were found to have never looked up a website or browsed for information online. “Nearly one out of three household heads has never used a computer to create a document,” said John Barrett, director, research, Parks Associates. “These data underscore the significant digital divide between the connected majority and the homes in the unconnected minority that rarely, if ever, uses a computer.”
Age and education are factors in this divide. One-half of those who have never used e-mail are over 65, and 56 percent had no schooling beyond high school.
The survey also found just seven percent of the 20 million “disconnected” homes plan to subscribe to an Internet service within the next 12 months. Still, the study reports a steady decline in the number of disconnected households when comparing findings with previous years. National Technology Scan reported at year-end 2006 that 29% of all U.S. households (31 million homes) did not have Internet access, citing low perceived value of the Internet.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Dave Trippin Through NKY"

Northern Kentucky is among the areas featured in a day tripper's guide through Appalachia by Huntington Herald Dispatch Reporter Dave Lavender and his wife Toril. In addition to Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio are featured.

In the section, highlighted as NEWPORT, Lavender spends 11 pages talking about a variety of attractions throughout Northern Kentucky including Newport on the Levee and nearby stops in historic Newport, Mainstrasse Village and some of the more rural highlights of the area (Rabbit Hash and its General Store and Big Bone Lick State Park).

Dave also highlights places to stay such as the Radisson Riverfront the Wildwood Inn. As an aside, Dave has an affinity for this area serving as a summer intern journalist in his more formative years.

I highly recommend the book especially as you may be pinching pennies this summer and not wanting to venture too far from home. You can order it online at or www.jsfbooks. You can also get it through Amazon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Motivating the Workforce

Kip Knight in his recent address to the Cincinnati AMA Chapter also talked about the ways that organizations can leverage the power of all employees:

1. Cultivating a culture of being open/closed minded;
2. Rewarding new ideas;
3. Leveraging Internet 2.0;
4. Gathering consumer insight;
5. Utlizing Consumers as Editors;
6. Giving up control;
7. There will be blood (for every success, there are many failures so innovate and move or risk being out marketed).

Monday, March 31, 2008

Listening to Customers

I recently had the chance to hear Kip Knight, Vice President of North American Marketing for eBay speak as a guest of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Marketing Association. Kip is contemplating writing a book he would entitle The Power of All of Us exploring how individuals in communities matter in the online world. This will be the first of two entries on Kip's talk--it was so rich with good content. He referred to the three V's eBay uses in hearing from their customers:

Voices- the company brings users to U.S. Headquarters in California and places them in focus groups to hear their views;

Visits- eBay actually visits (with permission) users homes to see the steps they take to sell items;

Views-on a quarterly basis, focus groups of users are polled on industry-related questions such as security.

Perhaps the methods described above by Kip will help you to gain meaningful information from your customers or stakeholders.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Nominating Better Than Winning

I was thrilled to learn this week that a friend I had nominated for the national American Marketing Association Volunteer of the Year award beat out 30 other competitors for the award. It sounds rather strange that you would use the word competition in the same sentence for an award comparing the merits of people doing different yet significant things to better the world. In this case, the person was Carol Shea who served as Cincinnati AMA Chapter President in 1992. She went on to serve in distinction in helping to start AMA's national market research bootcamp and even served as the AMA liaison to the U.S. Post Office. Carol was very deserving of this honor but despite all the pride and appreciation she expressed to me for nominating her, I sort of felt like I was the bigger winner. It brought back to me the importance of showing honor and appreciation for those who professionally and personally guide us along our paths in life. Here's what I wrote about Carol in my nomination.

Carol has always taken time to counsel chapter members who followed in her footsteps. Personally, she has taken an active interest in my career and aspirations as I ascended the chapter leadership track. Sympathetic, compassionate and wise are three words, which exemplify Carol Shea’s spirit, a spirit that resonates throughout our community serving as a strong foundation for Cincinnati’s stature as a chapter those within the AMA family respect and admire.

I hope this story inspires you to take an extra moment to acknowledge the unique gifts each of us brings to brighten the world around us and help make our paid and unpaid ventures worthwhile.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

History Over Cocktails

One of the latest and greatest after-hours meeting destinations in Northern Kentucky for convention or corporate groups is the The Grand At Madison, located at Fifth Street and Madison Avenue, Covington. It's a five minute walk from the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and is located in the historic and recently renovated Odd Fellows Hall. The history of the place provides an interesting backdrop for chatting during drinks and appetizers:
  • It was the center of Covington's civic and political life for most of the Victoria Era.
  • When the Civil War ended, victorious Union General Ulysses S. Grant was honored at a reception there.
  • In 1900, the body of William Goebel, the only U.S. Governor to be assassinated in office, laid in state there as an estimated 10,000 filed past.
  • In the 1950s, a roller skating rink filled the second floor ballroom, famous for its 25-foot-high ceiling suspended by a truss system.
  • In May 2002, a major fire almost destroyed the entire building and sparked a five year massive renovation.

For more information:

Check out this short video.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Email for young and old alike

For those trying to reach younger audiences for meetings or events should email be forsaken for texting, Facebook and other more seemingly relevant social media for that age-group? That's a vexing question for experts smarter than me.
But I tend to agree with this post relative to my experience with our Cincinnati American Marketing Association Chapter. For instance, Wednesday, we hosted our monthly Word of Mouth Shared Interest Group. We generally average attendance of 10-15 each month. However, armed with a strong email list and a minor mention in the newspaper business calendar section, we had a mob on our hands with 51 showing up to hear a treatise on the power of Linked In. I asked our lead facilitator Rob Bunting ( about his thoughts of the power of email. He remarked that while Facebook and other social media outlets have millions of subscribers, email is universal. In fact, you're starting to see many business cards do away with fax numbers in favor of email.

I also asked Will Krieger, who heads up the Cincinnati AMA Young Professionals Group, if he uses any of the social networking tools to attract the two dozen or so YPs that gather at their monthly events. Nope, it's all email.

It also occurs to me that the pressure to conform to a more standard communication form faces recent college graduates when they enter their first job. Most of their older colleagues just began using cell phones in the past decade so the question of whether they want contextual advertising on their phones is laughable.

So it appears that the death of email as it relates to younger emerging audiences is about as true as the immediate demise of print advertising.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Promo Items with a Tint of Green

A friend of mine in the promotional products business passed along this year's catalog of items. Several have an environmental flavor. Several others were very clever and useful, which I find most promotional items not to be. Here are the highlights:

  • NaturPen, an environmentally friendly ballpoint pen made from recycled card stock and sustainable wooden chips;
  • Green Thumb Gardening Bag, includes gloves, water spray bottle, shears, dendelion weeder, trowel, hand rake and a spade with a pocket for each;
  • Notepad with Post-It, Pen, Ruler and Magnifying Glass (perfect for me, the new owner of reading glasses for the first time);
  • Wireless USB Mouse with Calculator

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Happening Vegas Branding Campaign Has Staying Power Story For Meeting Planners

You don't have to be promoting an iconic destination such as Las Vegas to drive traffic to your next convention or special event. So says Reno, NV advertising executive Randy Snow of R&R Partners. Snow, who serves as Creative Director for the firm, is best known as the man behind branding campaign, What Happens Here, Stays Here.

R&R Partners - The Work

I met Snow today after he spoke to the Cincinnati Advertising Club. He says about ten years ago R&R began offering business-to-business campaigns for meeting planners and C Suite executives, the audience corporate planners need to convince when making decisions on where such events are held. This was done under the financing and supervision of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority.

Quantitative (800-1,000 surveyed) and qualitative (three to four in a focus group) research is performed (Snow says the Authority spends $7 million annually in just research). They ask the same question every time to planners, he says: What Things Drive Planners? The top two answers never change: 1. How to make things go right; and 2. How do I get recognition when things don't go wrong.

Snow says the underlying truths in each of these statements is that you have to "ask the customers what matters to them and then deliver. There are emotional connections in every destination. It's devilishly simple. Give people what they want."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Blog Does Not Mean Blab

In the seven months or so I've been blogging I have been become very aware that there is a great responsibility in speaking out regarding topics and news I hear in casual conversation in business settings. I may even hear something said in a public forum that the speaker may not want repeated in another distribution channel, such as a blog. The other responsibility one has when becoming a blogger is to post items often enough so they are perceived as "serious." If you don't post enough, people begin to ignore or forget you. It's those people who irresponsibly dispense information that they haven't checked for accuracy, then go to the added extent of expressing an ill-informed point of view. This can be dangerous because media has been increasingly using blogs as a foundation for news stories. A survey of journalists, released today by Brodeur ( says that reporters use blogs to help shape the tone of stories.

If a blog is sensationalistic in its treatment of subjects and individuals, a reporter might use the tone of the blog to help shape the way that person or topic is portrayed in follow-up news stories. All bloggers should take a vow that when they write, they are using povs based upon fact and not hearsay or innuendo. They should also be careful to balance their opinions with reaction from those holding different viewpoints. That's the credo that traditional journalists subscribe to. Bloggers should be no different.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another role for planners, "Mark It Down"

A new study by Meeting News finds that marketing and customer event management are two increasing roles for meeting planners.


With more than 300 planners surveyed, 16 of the 77 percent who said these tasks are part of their responsibilities stated that only recently these functions were added to their to-do lists. This comes as no surprise to me in my work. One of my significant roles as Communications Director of the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau, is to provide complimentary media relations services to planners. With increasing time pressures, planners are yearning for any kind of assistance they can receive to balance the needs of roles they already need to balance. This finding also confirms my believe that establishing this blog offering helpful marketing tips to planners is something that is an underserved if not an unmet need in the meetings industry.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Trade Shows Still Viable B2B Selling Tool

A professional colleague contacted me this week with a problem. She was attempting to convince her boss that exhibiting at trade shows is still an effective business development tool. I’m no expert on the subject but went to one to find out. I’m sharing the advice of Danica Tormohlen, Editor of Expo Magazine. Two points she stressed:

More than half of attendees will buy this year. The number of attendees planning to make a purchase in the next 12 months was comparable to last year. Forty-three percent of booth visitors plan to buy an exhibitor’s product or service within the 12 months following the show.
Shows, as well as individual exhibitors, continue to attract qualified attendees. In 2006, 79 percent of attendees who visited an exhibit had no contact with that company within the previous 12 months. Among visitors to individual booths, 82 percent are interested in the product or service displayed and 78 percent have buying influence for the exhibitor’s product or service.

Attribution and more details of the study can be found on the following link.

Danica also sited other resources:
1. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research ( compares sales costs for trade show exhibiting with other media;
2. American Business Media states cases for the most effective business-to-business marketing (
3. B-to-B Magazine (
4. Exhibitor Magazine ( Show Exhibitors Association (

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Non-Profit Board Leadership

If you are involved in recruitment of non-profit board members I hope this information is helpful. I posed this question to former Presidents of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Marketing Association. Our chapter has been named national AMA Chapter of the Year on three occasions in the past two decades. As I've mentioned in the past, I am the current President of the organization. Anyhow, I digress. Here's the question:

What quality or qualities are most important for individuals serving on non-profit boards?

The overwhelming response was possessing a belief in and passion for the organization's mission. This was backed up by mentions of other leadership skills that flow naturally out of this first point.
  • Lead by offering your background or experience in your area of responsibility on the board;
  • Provide a succession plan;
  • Lead by example by giving time and talents and supporting events/programs;
  • Energize volunteers to do their best and do it NOW;
  • Recognizing who the "players" are among your membership so you are bringing in people who might be even more passionate, committed and perhaps more qualified than YOU;
  • Display wisdom based on marketplace realities (know when it's time for change).

One respondent in closing was reminded of a quote by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter that could best describe a non-profit leader:

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go but ought to be.