GreenRubino’s “Brandidextrous” Promise

GreenRubino is an integrated marketing and communications firm—offering a comprehensive range of in-house services. In case you’re wondering about the term, “brandidextrous,” let’s be clear that I am not savvy enough to have made it up for my humble blog entry. It comes from the About GreenRubino page on the firm’s website. If you’re a brand-essence minimalist, you should be brandtoxicated by the thought of capturing it in one word.

I talked to the firm’s president, John Rubino, to ask what makes them special. John explained, they’re the only firm around that is actually delivering on the integrated marketing promise with all competencies in-house. Over a decade ago, they made a deliberate move to become more integrated, and they have been organically growing the practice since then. John noted that it’s important to stay aware of what’s going on in the marketing industry and understand the landscape. Change is constant, and they are continuously adapting to deliver a comprehensive range of solutions to clients. When new channels and tools begin to show promise, in terms of added value for clients, they will look for opportunities to incorporate them into the business.

How does the marketer do marketing? GreenRubino has a solid reputation, which is one factor that drives new business. They actively use several channels to get the word out including social, print ads, sponsorships, and of course their website. Like many leading edge businesses, they’re striving to produce rich content that can be discovered. When talking about channels, John highlighted the Puget Sound Business Journal, noting that it has been a great resource for reaching business decision-makers. GreenRubino holds positions on a few categories in the PSBJ Book of Lists.

When I asked who is GreenRubino’s ideal client, John said they don’t try to focus on specific industries or segments, which he noted is a little unusual. Instead they look for a certain type of client who wants a partnership and wants to be challenged, rather than calling all of the shots. More fundamentally, the right client is someone who connects with GreenRubino’s work. Now I see a new angle on what it means when they say, “the work works.” An honest, authentic connection to the client is like a conduit for the brand message—at least that’s my take on it. I’m a believer: followers + 1.


Blog 3 – Entre 555

The company I am interested in is Couponmate. Couponmate is a browser add-on to give online shoppers a discount.  During checkout, a buyer can use couponmate to instantly check for online coupons that can be used during checkout.  It is a convenient way to get savings without the hassle of searching.  Couponmate also saves the hassle of having to use the coupon since the browser add-on will automatically apply the coupon.

I have used my own twitter account (GregUBet206) to follow 3 bloggers. The bloggers include:

  1. Tara Kuczykowski @DealSeekingMom
  2. Crystal Paine @MoneySavingMom
  3. Maria R @thefrugalfind

MKTG 555- Reflection & Thoughts

To be upfront, I was a social medial doubter before I enrolled to this course, which might be attributed to my scientific/engineering background. During this past winter quarter-2013-, I had the great opportunity to learn what real marketing is from one of most enthusiastic, savvy, and well-connected lectures from the UW-Foster Business School as well as the Seattle area.

It is extremely challenging to summarized everything that we discussed and learned during my time at MKTG555, but some of the key point that I, personally, take home are: know your customer, size your market, and most important have a strategy. Also, we covered in depth the enormous power of social media, which to my understanding now to me more than a channel of communication-it is a community. With this said, I realized with this course that social media can be successfully leverage to build and market any product (nowadays, having a company’s facebook page will not cut it). You need to create an ecosystem in where you engage your community a.k.a. future and current customers as well as your industry peers.  Moreover, it is essential to highlight that each social media setting is unique; customers will use twitter, pinterest, facebook, and many other to communicate, socialized, understand, and most important share your product-free marketing-.  Understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses of these channels, grand portion covered in this class, will help companies to develop a campaign that not only just reach people, but also connect with your target consumers.  Currently, to the best of my knowledge, the best social media campaigns had been directed to interpersonal interactions that are linked to social interaction of brands and expand beyond company’s products.

Throughout this class also we had the opportunity to put in practice a real marketing campaign, which is different from fancy strategies from the book, for our final class project. As well as we had the chance to meet some of the most recognized entrepreneurs in the Puget sound area- great experience!

Overall, this class was extremely informative and useful. I will definitely continue reading Geekwire, startup Seattle, marketing 555 blog as well as have better understanding of SEO now after looking into SEOMoz.  I additionally will keep follow Steve Blank’s blog, since the information there has been helpful.

MKTG 555 Thoughts

I don’t like the “goodbye parts” so I will try to keep this short and sweet. Marketing 555 has been excellent in providing a set of tools, strategies, and knowledge to apply in a startup company. It has -among all- been practical, which is a key element in our education towards the re-incorporation in the job market with a higher profile. 


As a suggestion for future courses, I would recommend to let people pursue their own company for the group project, so a lot of people don’t end up spending part of a quarter working on something that nobody in the group would like to pursue afterwards, and focusing on their own goal and potential venture instead. In addition, maybe some complimentary readings to expand subjects like SEO, adds, etc. could be a great supplement.


Having said that, I want to emphasize again that this experience and learning with Andy, the class colleagues, and the panelists has been awesome. I have learned a lot of useful stuff that I intend to apply immediately to our hotel venture. Specially, with a clear emphasis on customer acquisition, pricing, and referral. 


Long live to entrepreneurship. Those who do what they love, are the ones who usually win. 

Clare Media Group, something special from humble roots

Clare Media Group Started over 10 years ago as the dream of a 16 year old high school student. After being inspired by a high school teacher, Joel Clare knew he wanted to do graphic design, photography, and audio/video production for the rest of his life. The first hurdle was convincing his parents that not going to college was a good idea. This was easily fixed when he was in the right place at the right time and quickly acquired two paying customers. This snowballed into landing a big contract with the local library to produce some bi-lingual videos to teach Spanish and English.

Joel has never wanted to bite off more then he can chew. His motto of “Seek organic growth and operate with integrity” has served him well. Over the last 4 or 5 years he has landed contracts with large companies like Amazon and Subaru. Joel also believes in surrounding himself with people who are smarter then himself; which sometimes means he works for free just so he can learn a new skill.

In this context I will call working for free a marketing tactic because it has helped him develop solid relationships with other people in the industry. Some of these relationships are helping land him work even years later. In an industry like the digital arts, everything is a commodity.  Joel’s attitude and the excellent quality of his services are what keeps his customers coming back to him. Above all it is the relationships that Joel has created that allow him to do what he loves.

If you have time, check out his work ( and consider starting a relationship with a humble, capable, and creative; graphic designer, video producer, commercial producer, and live event production specialist.


Simple & Crisp-The Perfect Pairing


Have you ever had a craving for low calorie and tasty snacks during your diet? Have you ever had a hard time coming up with a unique appetizer for your gatherings or parties? Have you ever experienced headaches when trying to find an aesthetic and delicious gift for your foodie friends? Seattle based startup Simple & Crisp offers a good solution for all these problems with its organic, gluten-free dried fruit chips. Served as gourmet serving vessel and cracker alternative, Simple & Crisp chips currently have three flavors for daily offering: orange, apple and pear, with blood orange coming soon. The chips can be paired perfectly with a variety of items such as cheese, chocolate, champagne, wine, etc., from savory to sweet, traditional to innovative. Each of the three flavors has different recommended pairing options, and customers are encouraged to try new pairing ideas as well.

Founder and “Chief Pairing Purveyor” Jane Yuan formed Simple & Crispy with a mission to provide healthier options to entertain guests, as well as satisfy different dietary needs. As Jane mentioned during the interview, her business philosophy was to “start high, rather than start low and go high”, thus Simple & Crisp is committed to high quality, and targeted to a high-end market. Simple & Crisp is positioned as an organic, gluten-free, low calorie cracker alternative for social, yet health conscious entertainers.

As a premium food product, Simple & Crisp pays special attention on presentation and aesthetics. Jane worked with a professional packaging firm to develop the brand and design the package, and they came up with a solution that matches the natural beauty of the fruit and also demands attention on the shelf. After the prototype was made, Jane had a focus group with MBA students and asked their willingness to pay for this product, which is a really effective and sensible strategy to price her product.

Simple & Crisp has maximized the effort on public relation of its brand and products. Jane mentioned that it was important to know why customers want this product, how does this product make their life better, create a story around these topics, and deliver the messages. A good story can make others take the messages even further. Moreover, Simple & Crisp has made effective use of social network and media. Simple & Crisp has presence in Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and it is easy to access these channels through their website. Simple & Crisp has featured in 425 magazines, Gluten-free Living, and more. In addition, since Simple & Crisp is widely used in social events, such as birthday parties, dinner parties, barbeque, holiday soiree or weekly gathering, it is easy to attract potential customers from these settings.

Currently, Simple & Crisp is carried in northwestern region Wholefoods Market, Dean&Deluca, and other premium food stores, such as local cheese stores, wine stores, etc. It is expanding nationwide and even has offerings from international market.

Bigoven-Rentention and Referal Strategy

Bigoven is a mobile and portable social network about food where people can share recipes, cooking tips, meal plans, and everything else about meal-making. Founder and CEO, Steve Murch, started the business in 2002, as an attempt to solve the “what should we make tonight?” problem. Currently, Bigoven’s integrated features allow users to share and organize recipes online, build try-soon list, as well as making grocery lists using Bigoven recipes. Along with detailed written recipes, the site also provides colorful photos to entice users and help guide them to cook dishes.


The business has been successful, especially in a time of recession. More and more people decide to eat at home due to the economic downturn. And since Americans are getting more passionate about the food they put in their bodies, the need for recipes and home cooking guidance is growing. Bigoven is now tallying about 4 million visitors every month, which indicates a 500 percent year-over-year increase. As of February 2013, BigOven had over 8 million downloads of mobile apps and more than 1.8 million registered members.


Bigoven’s mobile program in 2008 contributes to Bigovern’s success. As its new logo states: “Bring your recipes, grocery list and menus with you anywhere!” This new program allows users to carry Bigoven’s services on the go into grocery stores and build grocery list while doing the shopping. The number of people joining and registering for the site before they released an iPhone app in October of 2008 was about 70 people a day. But on the day they release the app, they got about 200,000 downloads and 100,000 new registrants. According to Steve, “right now, about 60 percent of our usage is via mobile”. At any given moment there are probably 400, 500 people who are online with BigOven, of which about 300 are from the mobile apps. And the number is going up.


Moreover, Bigoven strives to create a culture of community. For instance, its new Facebook integration has made the process of sign-up easy as never before. And existing users can invite their Facebook friend to join with a single click. Meanwhile when users share favorites, recipes they love on Facebook Timeline, this could potentially attract their friends who love cooking. Besides that, Bigoven’s “Cooking Groups” feature allows people to make new friends within the social website. Users can easily search cooking groups of their interest via its search engine, and allow people with similar interest to connect with each other, thus people can feel to be part of community and be more willing to stay tuned.

Zulily Customer Acquisition

A trip to the Zulily home page tells you a lot about how the company works to acquire customers, The company, a Seattle based online retailer of products “designed for moms” offers different deals at discount prices to their online users.  Want to find out what the current deal is?  You will have to sign up.  The home page cannot be navigated until the customer offers an email address.  The user experience is captured below.Image

As the user quickly finds out, any exploration of the site requires the user to sign up.  While this may deter some customers from signing up it enables real customers to self select.  If a person is interested in the service they have to sign up and Zulily has their email address.  The user immediately is rewarded with seeing a deal and Zulily now has another email address to target market to.  The more information about purchase habits Zulily gathers, the better they can target deals to consumers who want them.

The second part of Zulily’s acquisition process is via customer referrals   Customers are encouraged to invite their friends to join the deal hunting process.  The reward for a successful conversion of a friend is $20.  Image

This process informs us that the expected life time value of qualifying Zulily referral prospects is over $20.  The company must have calculated that referred customers are more likely to use the service and purchase.  How many customers can Zulily afford to get this way?  Well as the benefactor of an $85 million raise by Seattle’s Mavron Venture Group, that’s over 4 million Andrew Jackson’s.  

Zulily’s future looks bright.  Ifl their customer lifetime value calculations are right they can afford to spend a lot of money of customer acquisition   With powerful Ally’s in Seattle, the company is bound to go far.

Charlie Northrop

Charlie Northrop is a second year MBA student at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.  He is a regular contributor to the Marketing 555 Blog.

You Think Marketing for a Startup is No Different?? You’re wrong!!

3 months, several panels, lectures and team meetings and I am only just realizing how different marketing for a startup is than for a large company. You have scarce resources in a startup and every dollar you spend on marketing better not be wasted or its lights out, doors shut. So how is startup marketing different? First off you’re using different channels and you’re hoping to engage your customers more. Twitter and other social media are cheap forms of communication methods that have proven to be effective for startups. Marketing efforts for a startup need to be simple, decipherable and give rise to action. Followerwonk is something new that I was introduced too and is a great tool for startups looking to beef up their twitter presence.

We got introduced to Rand Fishkin and SEOmoz this quarter and I am a huge fan of him of his company. SEO is an important factor for startups and the honesty and transparency that SEOmoz operates with is refreshing. I’ve started to read their blogs and will continue to do so. All the topics on their blog are relevant and applicable to anybody with entrepreneurial aspirations. Keep up the good work SEOmoz!