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Over the Christmas holiday, I took some time off to see my family in Atlanta. While I was there, I treated my dad to a day at the new World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place in Centennial Olympic Park. Having grown up in Atlanta, the headquarters of Coca-Cola, I’ve always preferred Coke over Pepsi. And after spending about two hours on the self-guided tour, I can say that I have a new admiration for the brand – a true marketing machine.

Entrance to World of Coca-ColaAlthough my favorite part of the tour was the 4-D theater, I really enjoying learning about the history of the brand and how Coca-Cola became a universal name through its marketing and advertising efforts. While Coca-Cola is a great product (with its secret formula) that can sell itself, it was the company’s marketing efforts that really helped drive sales in the beginning.

Coca-Cola is a consumer brand, but there are several B2B marketing lessons that can be taken from the soft drink giant:

World of Coca-Cola Tasting Room1. Use word-of-mouth marketing. It is often the best, most credible way to get the message about your product/service out to the public. Because “cola” was a new word when it was created, the makers of Coca-Cola had to educate the public. Initially, thousands of free drink coupons were distributed to help introduce the concept and spread the word.

2. Choose the right go-to-market strategy. For several years after it was created, Coca-Cola sold for just $.05 per bottle so that the average person could afford to try it. As a new concept, the beverage had to be priced right. Once the popularity and demand of the product increased, so did the price.

3. Select the right partners, distribution channel. To become a national player, Coca-Cola knew that it had to increase production and distribution. To do so, Coca-Cola partnered with independent Coca-Cola bottling companies around the world. Additionally, Coca-Cola realized early on that what it did best was to create the recipe and market the drink. Therefore, they left the majority of bottling up to licensed Coca-Cola bottlers.

Coca-Cola and Norman Rockwell Painting4. Get some publicity with the right crowd. From Norman Rockwell paintings to a slew of celebrities, Coca-Cola has appeared almost everywhere. From the beginning, Frank Robinson, the bookkeeper turned marketing genius, was the main proponent for advertising at Coca-Cola. He had the idea to put the Coca-Cola logo on everyday items. By doing so, the brand quickly became a household name, and the promotional product industry has never been the same. (You can see a bottle of Coke placed at the bottom of the lady’s dress and on the table in the upper right portion of the painting.)

Coca-Cola marketing signage5. Integrate your message. As you can see in these pictures, all of the Coca-Cola branding is integrated. The Coca-Cola script logo, originally penned by bookkeeper Frank Robinson, has helped make the brand unique and stand out from other beverages. That script is internationally known and has appeared on countless promotional materials and advertisements.

Have you been to the new World of Coca-Cola? If so, what was your favorite part? If not, I definitely recommend checking it out the next time you are in Atlanta.

Ever since its beginning almost 20 years ago, VantagePoint Marketing has prided itself on being a family-friendly company. And perhaps never has that been more evident than at our recent company Christmas party, when dozens of kids, spouses and employees crowded the VantagePoint offices for great food from the Brick Street Cafe, games, singing, and presents.

2010 has turned into an exciting year. Thanks to the hard work of our team and some fortuitous good timing, in the last several weeks we’ve been privileged to land two new clients and are in deep discussions with a third. And our VantagePoint family has grown by three employees in recent weeks as well.

We’re grateful for the blessings of the Christmas season, the great clients with which we work, and the outstanding team of professionals here at VantagePoint. We wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and all the best for 2011.

(See more photos at VantagePoint’s Flickr account.)

Despite the internet and wide use of e-mail, direct mail is still one of the leading marketing tools used by businesses. In a recent survey by the CMO Council, eighty-four percent of respondents produce print collateral. Fifty-seven percent of those respondents specified that they use direct mail as a marketing tool.

From personal experience, I know that I still receive a ton of direct mail both at work and at home every week – if not daily. Because there are so many communication channels and ways to reach consumers and business professionals, it is critical that if you choose to use direct mail that the message stands out.

One of the newer technologies that we are seeing a lot of promise in is adding two-dimensional bar codes to direct mail. These are also known as QR or quick response codes. Not only are they appearing in a variety of print outlets, but they are also appearing on billboards in Times Square and in television commercials. These QR codes started out in very consumer-driven advertisements, but there is great potential in using these in B2B applications.

Here’s a generic example: Company X is going to its biggest trade show of the year and is introducing its new product for the first time. This event is the best place to not only meet with existing customers, but to connect with prospective customers, too. However, the show floor has limited hours and it is filled with hundreds of vendor booths for attendees to visit. How do you capture the attention of this audience to get them to stop by the booth? You contact them before the show.

This can happen in several ways, but let’s assume direct mail is one of the chosen elements. Direct mail response rates are traditionally low, as the address can be incorrect or the piece may get tossed before it is even really looked at. Furthermore, if you are using a postcard or other smaller piece, the space for conveying your message is limited. That is where the QR codes come in. Anyone who has a smartphone (I am willing to bet the majority of executive-level business professionals do) can easily scan a QR code, which will instantly take them to a website that has more details or even an engaging video message.

QR codes, as seen here, still have an eye-catching factor. This will help grab the audience’s attention before it is tossed in the trash. Additionally, they give you the ability to tell a deeper message than what can be said on a 5 x 7 postcard. QR codes are not the best tool for every audience, so it is important to know the demographics of those you are trying to reach. If you have questions about QR codes or a success story to share, let me know!

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