Tag Archives: marketing

Three Marketing Lessons We Can Learn from the Shamrock Shake

As a junior marketing student and descendant of Irish immigrants I naturally took interest in the business side of my favorite holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. Additionally, as a consumer subject of today’s advertising campaigns, one of the major products I associate with the holiday is the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. If one takes some time to analyze what the fast food giant has done with the product, it truly is remarkable from a business perspective. Our marketing staff at 4CDesignworks has recognized these initiatives and wanted to share with you, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, the lessons we have learned that could benefit your business.
1. Consumers can really get behind holidays: Households historically have spent big for these yearly celebrations. According to the National Retail Federation, over $790 billion was recorded in 2015 for holiday related spending. $4.4 billion of this was on St. Patrick’s Day, making it the 9th largest spending holiday of the year. Clearly households are willing to set aside some cash for these kinds of celebrations. Corporations like McDonald’s understand this and have taken the new product development steps necessary to take a slice away from this $4.4 billion dollar pie.

2. A seasonal product naturally creates anticipation and want: People want things that they can’t have, that’s simply a part of human nature. This psychological tendency in consumers helps make seasonal products so successful. McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes are only available for a limited time, which began this year on February 7th. The temporality of this product helps to build the excitement for it in each year’s annual relaunch. After doing this year after year successfully since 1970, the product has built up enough brand power to be associated with the holiday.

3. Your brand is never too big to innovate: McDonald’s is one of the most recognizable brands in the world and a leader in the fast food industry. Yet, in 2017 they are still building on product lines and innovating for the St. Patrick’s Day season. This past February McDonald’s launched 4 new variations of the Shamrock Shake, transforming the seasonal product into a seasonal product line. This year on top of the original product, consumers may now order a Chocolate Shamrock Shake, a Shamrock Chocolate Chip Frappe, a Shamrock Hot Chocolate and a Shamrock Mocha. McDonald’s executives could have very easily shut down this expansion as well as the original product in 1970. However, McDonald’s has recognized the very real potential that exists in holiday and seasonal markets and has successfully transformed this potential into first quarter sales.

So how can your business get lucky this St. Patrick’s Day with these 3 lessons? First and foremost, consumers spend on holidays. If your product manager can recognize an appropriate niche, products can be transitioned into coveted seasonal sales and revenue. The most important lesson however, is to always be innovating in your business and not to be afraid of taking risks. It was innovation and new product development that lead to the launch and eventual success of the Shamrock Shake. This only happened because those at McDonald’s were bold enough to take the plunge into the holiday market.

Works Cited
“Consumer Data.” National Retail Federation. National Retail Federation, 02 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <https://nrf.com/resources/consumer-data>.
“McDonald’s Rolling out Chocolate Shamrock Shake for First Time Ever.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 03 Feb. 2017. Web. 16 Mar. 2017. <http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2017/02/03/mcdonalds-rolling-out-chocolate-shamrock-shake-for-first-time-ever.html>.
Photo / Link Credit
The History of the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.

Contributed by Patrick Donnelly, Marketing and Sales Intern
Along with his work at 4C, Patrick is a full-time marketing and digital media arts student at Duquesne University. Before Patrick joined the 4C team he was employed as a sales associate at Nordstrom since April of 2015. Outside of the office and classroom Patrick enjoys the outdoors, traveling, and kicking it on the soccer field.

4CDesignWorks Maintains Excellence

The outstanding merits of the 4CDesignWorks team has made achievement the standard in the creative division of 4CTechnologies. 4CDesignWorks has yet again earned recognition from Graphic Design USA, the preeminent marketing publication and esteemed industry authority. In 2016 4CTechnologies is proud to accept the American Graphic Design Award for which it has been honored for 9 separate works produced this past year.

winners

 

Out of an impressive 10,000 entries, 4C is honored to have these 9 submissions a part of the top 15% selected for recognition. We at 4CTechnologies truly believe that continually accumulating awards such as these is a genuine reflection of our superior service and the distinguished quality of work that we consistently deliver to our valued clients.

 

Contributed by Patrick Donnelly, Marketing and Sales Intern
Along with his work at 4C, Patrick is a full-time marketing and digital media arts student at Duquesne University. Before Patrick joined the 4C team he was employed as a sales associate at Nordstrom since April of 2015. Outside of the office and classroom Patrick enjoys the outdoors, traveling, and kicking it on the soccer field.

Policy Awareness: Your Smartest Choice

Contributed by Director of Strategic Planning & Development, Kathy Olek Donatelli

A clear and concise social media policy seems pretty sensible for every business. But how many of you can lay your hands on one? If so, do you know what it says?  What about a corporate ethics policy?  A communication policy?

As the lines between “personal and professional” as well as “home and office” continue to blur, many companies are revamping their corporate guidelines across the board to reflect today’s electronically active and collaborative workforce. Yet another reason for this recent focus is mobile access and the ability to work from home. As employees are increasingly using their own mobile devices at work, as well as working from home and in the field, companies need to find a way to guide and focus communications activities. And although words like policy, compliance, and guidelines may sound limiting and daunting to some, many of these documents exist to protect both the employee and the company alike. More than anything else, policies help to set expectations and provide examples of what is and what is not acceptable. They are your first point of reference if there is ever any question about your actions.

millennials-in-charge-640x302Photo credit: Insperity

And if the entire electronic communication conundrum is not difficult enough, now we have an entirely new generation of tech savvy multi-taskers. Enter stage right the Millennials, making up the majority of our workforce now and into the future. They were born with a smart phone in their hand and as a generation, they move fast, they love change and they are ready for any pop-up or crowd sourced opportunity. Now more than ever, corporate policies need to be in place to manage expectations and set standards among the greenest employees in the workforce.

Most formal policies address issues that may be perceived as unlawful and/or unethical, as well as those that undermine company, brand, employee, shareholder, vendor or and customer trust. Issues typically addressed in these policies include:

  • Conflicts of Interest or Opinion
  • Protection of Company Assets and Resources
  • Criminal Conduct
  • Protection of Confidential and Proprietary Information
  • Intellectual Property
  • Interaction with the Media and other Public Parties
  • Compliance and Disciplinary Actions

The bottom line? Questions about social media, corporate ethics and communications policies should find their way into the interview process if you are just beginning with a new company.  And if you are already working, a current copy of company policy is most likely available in the human resources department. These policies may not address (or provide final answers to) every possible issue or situation. General questions or issues you have about your company’s policies should be directed to your manager or Human Resources Department.

policiesPhoto credit: dreamstime.com

Don’t be surprised if, as a requirement for continued employment, you will be required to resign and re-certify every two years, in writing, your statement of compliance with corporate policies. And make sure you fully understand the stated violations, disciplinary implications and resulting consequences so that your actions don’t come back to bite you in the butt. The bottom line? Be proactive and do your homework.

Technology Can Lower Job Stress

I recently stumbled across an article regarding stressful jobs and I had some pretty specific thoughts about it. So I looked to technology and created this blog post!

usa today stress jobs

USA Today posted Forbes’ list of the most stressful careers. Many of these careers involve elements of danger, or they feature long or irregular hours. Here’s what they came up with:

• Police or detective                                                             • Military service member

• Firefighter                                                                              • Pilot

• Event coordinator                                                              • Senior corporate executive

• Public relations executive                                              • Newspaper reporter

While I’m of the belief that much of the stress people complain about at work is self-induced, I’m also of the belief that certain positions will always and forever be stressful. In my opinion active military, law enforcement and fire fighters, emergency room doctors and most other personnel in the ER, members of the bomb squad, skyscraper window washers and bridge painters (Imagine being up that high!), school teachers and day care workers – that’s stress!

But an event planner?

Stress - business person stressed at office. Business woman holdPhoto credit:  Arianna Huffington’s Tips for Managing Stress – Not Just for Event Planners!

Now, let me just say that I have friends who are event planners. I also have been involved in the planning of many events – business and personal. Yes, there is stress involved. No, it should not be on a list of most stressful jobs.

Let me explain.

Start to finish there are steps that need to be taken to pull off a successful event. These steps can be as simple or complex as you make them. Let’s talk about a few, and let’s keep focus on business events. Think speaker series, seminars, and networking mixers.

Location: You know what “they” say… Location, location, location!
Theme: This includes decorations, entertainment, speakers and / or panel, and even the food and beverage menu.
Menu: There are so many options now that Pittsburgh has become a “foodie” city! Sit down dinner, buffet, waiter-passed appetizers? A lot of this depends on theme and budget.
Guest list: Who is invited and…
• Promotion: How will you get them there, and keep track of who’s who?
Follow up: How do you keep people coming to your events? How do you continue to entice new attendees to show up?

Every single bullet point has a technology component to it. Every. Single. One.

Location:  You’re going to use Google to find cool places to host this event right? You’ll be in business if you can take a virtual tour of venues.
Theme: One word: Pinterest
Menu: If a restaurant or caterer doesn’t have a website… well, you know.
Guest list: You better have the contact information of every single company who you consider your audience and competition;  and your current and potential clients. And you need to have it organized.
• Promotion: Online registration is key. Capture all the information when they register and use it for… you guessed it… follow up!
Follow up: Send out a “Thank You” for attending email with a simple survey asking what they liked – and didn’t like – about your event. Start to finish. From the way you initially contacted them to invite them, to the venue, theme, food, others in attendance, and most importantly – what they would do to make the next event better. Then LISTEN to them. Or if all else fails, just use this app to gauge your audience’s facial expressions.

technology-and-eventsPhoto credit: StartYourBusinessMag.com

Sure, there are software packages out there that you can buy. Open the box and start plugging away. But if you’re a perfectionist like me, you’ll work much better with something personalized. A system that has all the bells and whistles that suit you, your company, and your goals. Guess what?

We have the people who can actually plan events for you, or create software – and even an app – for that.

Seriously? Yes, seriously. Give me a call or shoot me an email (Here’s where that crazy technology comes in handy, again!) and I’ll explain. Don’t be a statistic, be an event planning rock star and let technology (and 4C) help!

After the Holidays Marketing How-To

The holiday season isn’t just an important time of year for the retail industry – it’s an excellent marketing opportunity for all businesses. Whether you’re looking to increase awareness about your brand, gain customers, or simply keep your current clients engaged – there are a few out-of-the-box ideas that can have people talking well into the summer months.

Host a holiday get together – after the holidays. Wait until the dust settles and invite clients and prospects to your office in mid- to late-January or even in February. Make it a winter themed event (think blue and silver), have a simple buffet, a few passed hors d’ oeuvres and a signature cocktail. Caterers may even be willing to work within a tighter budget to get business during an otherwise slow time of the year. The themes and possibilities are endless! Make this a relaxed social event, a networking opportunity – not a sales session. Show the customers you’ve been serving or courting all year that you appreciate them and want to continue to stay in contact through 2016 – and beyond.

Beautiful silver gift

Schedule an Account Review. A new year is a perfect opportunity to reflect on past challenges and future plans. Everyone is starting fresh after a long holiday break. Take advantage of this renewed energy and schedule an account review session with your clients!

Send “Happy New Year” cards. Holiday cards are great, but a card arriving in the first few weeks of January, wishing your clients and prospects a fruitful and successful year, won’t get overlooked in the excess of Christmas cheer. Use this vehicle to promote your brand and create awareness about what you do, all while sending best wishes for the coming year. And send real paper cards with a mailing address and a stamp!

happy new year gold

Take advantage of New Year’s resolutions. We all make them (or at least say we did) and rarely follow through. Target specific prospects with an email or phone call offering a free consultation to bring them back to discussions you had the previous year.

“So Jim, I’m thinking your New Year’s resolution should be to really get serious about your company’s outreach. Let me come in and talk to you about your marketing and public relations efforts. We can chat about updating your website and brand too, if time allows. Let’s set up 30 minutes, before the year gets away from us!”

Your goal for the New Year? Make a new marketing initiative commitment (I won’t call it a resolution) – and follow through. None of these options have to be expensive or complicated. With a little creativity and excitement you can do more than you think!