Think Out of the Box to Send a Box

Landing Lucrative Clients

Creative Exercise:Good Marketing

Leveraging Your Contacts

Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared for the June 20, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Thinking Out of the Box

Some companies feel marketing is a necessary evil, and

when sales get tight they cut out the necessary evil. "But if you


know what your marketing program is doing you shouldn’t be doing it

all — in good times or in bad," says Jeff Barnhart, CEO of Creative

Marketing Alliance, the full service ad agency on Clarksville Road.

Know what your marketing dollars are actually doing, says Barnhart.

Too many business owners don’t. "In any downturn they have no

substantiation of their return on investment."

To evaluate your marketing, says Barnhart, look at where the company

is now, and where it wants to get to. In what time frame? What is the

needed investment? How should you manage the investment to get the

desired result?

One way to measure the results, of course, is by tracking sales. For

cybercommerce, analyze the hits on a website. Or track how many leads

you are getting, or where your customers are coming from. Home Depot,

for instance, gets your zip code before they ring up a sale. "They

want to know where people are coming from," says Barnhart. "Once they

have that information, they will market to that area."

Daniel Thomas, of Chameleon Marketing at 947 State Road, warns agency

owners against

letting the shoemakers’ children go unshod. Even as you tell your

clients not to stop marketing — but to market wisely — consider how

you are marketing yourself. He offers these statements taken from

Brandweek Magazine research:

Typical client view: "Agencies no longer provide strategic

marketing input at the levels that they used to. What we need is a

marketing partner who understands our business, our customers, and our

needs and has the ability to play a vital part in our efforts to

increase market share and meet objectives."

Typical agency view: "We’re breaking our necks and losing

our shirts just trying to keep the business. It hasn’t been profitable

for years and they’re continually hammering us to produce more work

for lower fees."

Says Thomas: "Whether these statements can be considered typical

are debatable, however they do reveal some interesting viewpoints from

both sides of the fence. "Out of all this, one thing has

become crucially clear and more vital than ever — agency branding.

It’s the only clear cut way to differentiate oneself from the


U.S. 1 invited marketing and communications firms in the greater

Princeton area to share their war stories about surviving

in a tough market. Some responded to this self-branding challenge, and

here is what they said:

Top Of Page
Think Out of the Box to Send a Box

When it comes to promoting themselves, many advertising

and marketing agencies become "shoemakers’ children," says Christine

Hough, director of business development at Alan Brooks Design, a

creative shop with offices at 20 Nassau Street. Hough, deciding her

firm should avoid that trap, challenged her creative staff to come up

with a campaign to put Alan Brooks in front of desirable clients.

The result is an eye-catching, camo-covered, cardboard chest stamped

"Marketing Survival Field Kit." Olive drab pull tabs labeled

"watercolors," "pencils," "markers," and "sketch pad & stickers," jut

out from silver drawers full of prime doodling materials. Standing

not even five inches high, the field kit makes a big impression. And


was the idea. "We went for a higher-end promotion that would get us in

front of the vice president of marketing or the marketing director,"

she says.

"I asked the design team," Hough recounts, "`What would get their

attention? What would show them why we need to charge so much?’" The

answer was a nifty set of pens, markers, and miniature paint brushes

in a box stamped with an invitation to potential clients to go ahead

and try to create their own marketing messages. The idea was that

marketing directors would look at the colored pencils and the sketch

pad and think a little about just how much work and talent goes into

crafting even the most simple logo. Reinforcing the point is a

sentence on top of the box reading, "If this kit proves to be

inadequate for completing your mission, immediately call for

professional field support," and giving Alan Brooks’ number.

The kit is a pitch for work, for sure, but it is also fun, and the

kind of thing that could well get passed around the office. That in

itself puts the promotion ahead of a simple letter touting the

agency’s expertise. Hough knows the fate of most unsolicited mail. She

herself admits to tossing a good number of letters, unopened, after

just a quick glance at the return address. "There are tons of people

soliciting work," she says. "You have to do something way out of the

box to get attention."

A reason Alan Brooks was eager to get a second look from decision

makers is that the firm is shifting focus. Now working largely with

pharmaceutical and R & D companies, often on specialty projects, it

wants to diversify its client base. And the firm wants fewer — but

larger — clients. "Small clients take just as much time as large

clients," says Hough, "but with small clients, the overhead is not

met." An account that just wants a brochure is not as desirable as one

that will use all, or most, of her agency’s services, which center

around corporate brand creation, and include website development,

interactive CD-ROMs, and online training.

Hough started getting the message out by sending the survival kits

(purchased wholesale from the Crayon Factory in Clifton and customized

by Alan Brooks’ creative staff) to pre-qualified prospects in the toy

industry. Hough got the company names from a list of attendees at the

annual Toy Fair, a major trade event held in New York City. She then

placed phone calls to determine whether the companies might have any

interest in her agency’s services. The kits, which cost $4 apiece to

buy and another $4 to mail, are too expensive to send out en masse,

she says.

The first set of survival kits went to 30 companies, and resulted in

three meetings and "a couple of new accounts," says Hough. While the

pay-off is hard to quantify, Hough says the agency charges about

$12,000 for a very basic website, and $20,000 or more

for one with interactive elements such as a search engine.

A quick look at these numbers indicates that Hough, who continues to

send out the Army-themed survival kits to carefully screened

prospects, would be justified in characterizing the efficacy of the

extra-mile mailing effort as "Mission Accomplished."

— Kathleen McGinn Spring

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Landing Lucrative Clients

Creative Marketing Alliance signed up a stellar client

when it acquired StatementOne, a privately-held financial management

company. The big plus for the ad agency is that every one of

StatementOne’s new clients also has the potential to generate more

work for CMA.

StatementOne creates what once was every financial advisor’s fantasy

— consolidated financial statements ( Let’s say

a bank buys StatementOne services. To avoid starting from scratch to

come up with marketing materials to present this service to their

customers, the bank may want to personalize the marketing materials

that have proven effective. It asks Statement One for the materials,

and CMA gets another job.

StatementOne started out by delivering transactional data from

disparate clearing houses and custodians. It turned this back-office

operation into a marketing tool for financial advisors — easy-to-use,

online consolidated statements. CMA launched the first-to-market

integrated marketing communications campaign. "We developed a

high-impact, high-tech corporate identity," says Jeff Barnhart,

president and CEO of CMA, "and it reverberated throughout all

corporate collateral, direct marketing pieces, advertising, and public


The branding materials involve a logo with its roots in an accounting

symbol — a pair of brackets that are abstracted into sweeping curves.

These curves are echoed in the design of tagboard envelopes serving as

press kit folders. Colors are dark royal blue with lighter blue and

accents of orange. One client, ING Advisors Network, took the

materials and used them in dark blue and orange. Another, Financial

Services Corporation, emphasized its trademark blues and purples.

"We wanted a sophisticated high tech look that was not overly flashy,"

says Dave Orban, vice president of marketing at StatementOne. "We

wanted to say we are on the cutting edge of technology but recognize

that we are in a conservative industry."

The lead generation campaign, to industry press and financial

institutions, had the tagline "Quench your thirst for knowledge,"

referring to how Statement One’s web-based tool lets financial

institutions and advisors offer clients a way to cleanse raw

transaction-level securities data and present it in one statement.

Going first to the financial media, CMA’s public relations efforts

brought in "substantial press coverage," says Barnhart, and a number

of feature articles in such publications as Bank News, American

Banker, and Accounting Today. "This visibility in trade media

established a foundation of industry awareness and also pulled in

qualified, viable leads."

The next step was to send a series of what Barnhart calls

"cutting-edge mailers" to reach an good-sized audience of large

financial institutions and national investment firms. StatementOne

followed up each mailer with a telemarketing effort that brought a

strong group of well qualified sales leads with what Orban terms an

impressive response rate, 3 1/2 to 4 percent.

If competent design and marketing principles influenced CMA’s winning

the account, so did personal relationships. Orban had worked with

CMA’s Dave Sherwood when he did marketing at Lenox and at Princeton

Financial Systems. "When I talk to Dave," says Orban, "I can cut to

the chase without a lot of words."

Creative Marketing Alliance Inc. (CMA), 191

Clarksville Road, Box 727, Princeton Junction 08550. Jeffrey E.

Barnhart, president and CEO. 609-799-6000; fax, 609-799-7032. Home


Top Of Page
Creative Exercise:Good Marketing

Last year you could have won a trip to Greece by playing

a game, the Odyssey Challenge, at the website for pharmaceutical firm

Novartis. Created by

Chameleon Marketing, the game created a link between Novartis and a

hypothetical kingdom ruled by the "Queen of Pharmacias." Click on the

Greek urn, turn it with your mouse, and find a Novartis factoid, like

how many employees the company has, or how much money is spent on

drugs in the United States. Entrants could win a T-shirt or — the

grand prize — a trip to Greece. "The game was up on the web for eight

weeks and generated 60,000 visits and completions," says Daniel

Thomas, Chameleon’s founder.

In an industry that struggles for differentiation, creating a branded

agency that truly stands out from the crowd is not easy, says Thomas.

"We at Chameleon Marketing spent a great deal of time creating the

company name and logo, considering what services we should offer our

clients, and how we might communicate the agency’s personality."

The best way to brand, he decided, was to create personality. So a

preliminary encounter with Thomas’s agency usually includes the

delivery of a mysterious looking box with holes in it and pieces of

straw straggling outside. "Live Chameleon Open With Care!" says the

label. After you cautiously take off the lid you see, sitting on the

straw, a card saying "Oh No! YOU let it get away!"

Compared to the advertising agencies, Thomas thinks the marketing

communications industry has very few prominent personalities. No David

Ogilvys or Jay Chiats. "We believe the best way for a marketing

communications agency to make a difference is to display the type of

creative energy that has come out of these larger than life personas

of the ad world," says Thomas.

Thomas chooses an unusual location to meet with clients, either for

the brainstorming process or for the campaign launch announcement.

"Our creativity starts with unconventional brainstorming. Not with a

cup of coffee in a meeting room, but outside the office in an

environment that relates to our clients," says Thomas.

"Chameleon Marketing is an agency that encourages people to express

their individuality and style in a work hard, play hard environment,"

he says. "If we don’t allow ideas to flow we will become conditioned

to mediocrity and produce the expected."

Thomas explains the brainstorming process he uses internally and

externally: "Just as the physical workout has become a ritual in our

lives, so the creative workout is becoming the new ritual of corporate

business. Starting with the appointment of a facilitator, timekeeper

and notetaker, we protect this special time to reflect and create

around the business. Putting aside technology whenever possible, and

being intentionally messy, we use many techniques — word association

games and drawings, for instance — to bring out the best ideas. A

final distillation process gives us a core set of ideas."

Two of the unusual client brainstorming spots were the Philadelphia

Zoo, for a Kraft campaign involving lunchbox treats for children, or

at the World Trade Center, to expand upon the theme "Reach Higher" for

Summit Bank. (That high-flying campaign has been scuttled, of course,

due to the bank’s takeover by Fleet).

For the zoo brainstorming Chameleon sent a disposable camera to 18

brand managers and asked them to show up at the Philadelphia Zoo. "We

rented a room next to the ape house and everyone came up with ideas.

Then we asked them to go out with the camera and challenged them to

take imaginative pictures of children that could illustrate lunches

and snacks with Kraft products." At the end of the day they collected

the cameras, judged the photos, awarded prizes, and sent out the best

of the lot by E-mail. The day cost about $2,000 and resulted in a

successful "lunch box" campaign.

For the pharmaceutical campaign launch, he hired the Greek room of the

Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The whole event — backed by

vases and statues and Trojan armor — cost just $1,000, including the


Other recent successes include a novel die-cut, pop-up sales brochure

for Gorton, a packaged goods company, and bringing sales promotion

tactics into the notoriously conservative insurance industry.

Progressive Insurance was the client.

"Times are tough in the marketing communications industry. We are

competing daily for even the smallest of design jobs," says Thomas.

"Many agencies are still struggling with their identities and where

they go next — given the many changes they are facing. Learning to

market ourselves is just practicing what we preach to our clients. It

is more vital than ever as the economy has taken a turn and our

clients seek greater value and creativity from their agencies. In an

industry that struggles to find differentiation, as Chameleon begins

its sixth year, we are thankful for being alive and well."

Chameleon Marketing Inc., 947 State Road, Suite 209,

Princeton, 08540. 609-921-6588; fax, 609-921-6516. E mail: Home page:

Top Of Page
Leveraging Your Contacts

One of the most widely used explanations for success in

business is, "it’s not what you know, it’s who you know." It means, of

course, that networking and relationships are more important to

success than ability and experience.

Hugh Miller, CEO of Hollyrock/Miller Marketing Communications, has

changed just one word in that phrase in explaining how his

Forrestal Village-based advertising and public relations agency has

been posting strong growth numbers in the past 18 months. "With us,"

Miller says, "it’s both what you know and who you know. Of course,

it’s vital to have cutting edge skills. But, I believe our ability to

network through past relationships — many extending back into my

childhood — has been a crucial factor in nearly doubling our revenue

in less than two years."

The benefits of networking has touched every aspect of

Hollyrock/Miller’s operation, he says, from staffing to vendors to

acquiring new clients. "A perfect example of how it’s worked for us is

our new campaign for the Wiz and its music and video department."

Needing to come up with an exciting new traffic-building promotional

concept, Miller hit on using Matt Pinfield as the campaign’s

spokesperson. Pinfield, a veteran host on MTV, is widely respected for

his ability to spot blockbuster talent. He had been Miller’s friend

since both were 12-year-olds in seventh grade. "Matt actually had his

own radio station in his basement back in those days," Miller says.

"It was the forerunner of the talk/music format of today. Really

cutting edge for a 12-year old. Matt came to mind immediately as the

ideal spokesperson for the Wiz. When I called Matt, it was as if that

basement radio station was only yesterday. The concept we have is a

natural: we identify Matt as the Music Wiz. It was the perfect

marriage of Matt’s ability to spot the stars early, and the

Wiz’s desire to become identified in the minds of young music lovers

as the place to find the hot, new talent."

Miller’s inclination to mine his boyhood contacts extends to his

creative team. Hollyrock/Miller’s creative directors, Donna Geczi

and Tom Churak, came into Miller’s life more than 30 years ago when

they were youngsters in East Brunswick. Miller and Churak played

Little League baseball together. Years later they ended up working at

the same New York ad agency. So when Miller opened his agency in

Princeton, the call went out to his third grade teammate to join him.

Geczi, too, was a childhood neighbor whose brother was Miller’s

teammate on the East Brunswick High School basketball team. Geczi

encountered Miller years later as a freelancer. That evolved into her

position on the Hollyrock team.

Looking for a promotional hook, the team began thinking about a band

search and competition. Once again, an old friend rode to the rescue.

Miller encountered Neil Barry of WNEW-FM radio, a former Miller

client. He mentioned to Barry his desire to develop a new band search

concept. Barry remembered his recent conversation with Steven Van

Zandt, a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street

Band, and a regular on the Sopranos television show. Ironically,

Miller and "Little

Steven" had worked together on a project several years ago. Van Zandt

expressed to Miller his desire to revive rock music. Together, they

came up with Little Steven’s Cavestomp Garage Rock Band Search,

sponsored by the Wiz. "The concept is simple," Miller says. "The Wiz

sponsors the Band Search, soliciting entries through advertising and

in-store displays. We’re seeking submission of

original music from unknown garage rock & roll bands."

The top 20 finalists will appear on a compilation CD and be

distributed through all Wiz music and video departments. Little

Steven, Pinfield and other celebrities will select the ultimate winner

who will get to perform at this summer’s Cavestomp Garage Rock

Festacular in Manhattan.

As proof that there is no end to Miller’s networking, the Wiz client

turns out to be Miller’s former teacher and coach at East Brunswick

High School, Tasso Koken, who is executive vice president of the Wiz.

"It’s amazing to me how my old relationships keep surfacing and

continue to fuel our growth. There is certainly a special sense of

trust and shared values that make the Hollyrock/Miller environment and

culture special," says Miller. "Our clients often comment on that

unique feeling and the way it contributes to winning campaigns."

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