Posted by Matt Register

John Manlove, Founder of John Manlove Marketing, talks to us about some of the changes in the marketing agency since their founding in 1961.

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.


Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. TexasBusinessRadio.com is the website, 844-814-8144 is our 24 hour call in line, call in now, call in later, call in at 3:00 in the morning, I don’t really care. We’re gonna get the experts on here to get those questions answered. We’re talking about marketing this week on the show, and we have some very interesting folks that you need to know about if you have a company, you’re trying to make sure that your customers find you. I promise you your competitors are talking to them if you’re not, so you might as well make sure that that is on point and you’re doing the right thing there. I’m your host Matt Register, Jay Curry is the one over there in the co-host chair. What do you think, man?

Jay Curry: Well, I think this is a great topic. I think, you know, marketing firms can cover a lot of things. It starts with brand identity, and mission and all that stuff and it gets all the way down to webpages and printing and stuff. This is an important topic, it’s one that changes a lot and I think John is going to give us a perspective at the highest level, of a true purist, marketing, brand identity and the things that flow out of that. Very hot topic, people need to hear this.

Matt Register: Yeah, no doubt. One of the companies that’s been a mainstay here in the Houston area, since the early sixties I think, John Manlove is the president and CEO of John Manlove Marketing Communications. John, welcome to the show, sir.

John Manlove: Well, thank you, pleasure to be here.

Matt Register: So talk to me about John Manlove Marketing Communications. What do you do, who do you do it to?

John Manlove: Well, we’re, like I said, we’re a marketing firm, but we’re also the oldest agency in the Houston area, which is unique. We started in 1961, so that’s a success story in itself.

Jay Curry: Wow, no kidding. What are the odds of that?

John Manlove: That’s right. In addition to that we’re a family owned business, we’re in our third generation, so we call ourselves the 12 percenters.

Jay Curry: There you go.

Matt Register: Yeah, and we’ve done several shows about family businesses, I’m a product of a family business, very rare is it that you find that third generation that’s not only willing, but able to take over and continue and have good growth in a company, congratulations on that. Now you are second of your generation too, right?

John Manlove: Yeah, I was a second generation, yes.

Matt Register: So talk to me a little bit about what you guys do. Because you are not a typical … you’re not a marketing company, because you go a whole lot higher level with your clients than that. Talk to me about a little bit about what you do.

John Manlove: Yeah, we generally deal at the CEO level with a company, because what we do, it’s so in depth. For example, we generally start with what we call the clarification process. The clarification process involves, you know, what is it you really want to be when you grow up? Now what is your mission?

Jay Curry: Sure. And that is the top level, right?

John Manlove: That’s right, and that can’t be determined by, you know, just a staff, saying, “Okay, this is … ” That has to come from what we call the top down, the inside out.

Jay Curry: Yeah, from the heart.

John Manlove: And that’s the basis of any solid foundation that you build on. And a lot of times that requires research, that can be community research, that can be your client research and you never want to forget the internal research.

Jay Curry: Sure.

John Manlove: Because if the organization’s not aligned, ultimately it’s going to fail. United Airlines, that’s something, a classic example of … most everybody knows what United Airlines’ slogan is Fly the Friendly Skies. Sounds good, came from top down, but I don’t think it made it to the employees on the airplane.

Matt Register: Yeah, nobody believes it, right?

John Manlove: Right. So that’s the level we start out, the highest level. Let’s get the basics designed, which also includes the strategic planning, which we also work on as well.

Jay Curry: I gotta think that you often come in, and it might be a successful business, been around for a while, but it hadn’t done the heart outward, and you have to kind of … you know, it might be an example where it’s true, but you have to kind of get them back into the heart and really figure out what their business is about other than just generating dollars, and reinvent them.

John Manlove: Without question. Reinvent and redefine a lot of times.

Jay Curry: Exactly.

John Manlove: But the main thing is focus it and get it so simple that when you hire a new employee you can explain it to them on one piece of paper. And until you get that, you’ll never get the corporate alignment that is necessary. I’ll get a lot of clients that’ll come to me and say, “I need a website.” Or, “I want to do a TV commercial.” And the question, “I like the TV commercial, well, why?” “Well, my competitor’s doing it.” Well, see, that’s not the basis, you have to start way back, because if the commercial is not an accurate reflection of who the company is, somebody’s gonna be disappointed.

Jay Curry: Sure.

John Manlove: And it’s probably your customers.

Matt Register: Well, and that’s never a good thing. I mean, the website is very often with a lot of people kind of an afterthought, right, of, “We need to have one because that sounds like something we need to have,” and not really well thought through. And starting at this strategic level like you are is something that a lot of companies, a tremendous amount of companies need to start from that level and work their way down to, I mean, the byproduct is the website and the video ads and everything else that comes with it. Talk to me a little bit about how this company has changed over the years. Because your business has had a seismic shift in the way that we communicate over the last 15, 20 years in a way that a lot of companies haven’t, right?

John Manlove: Oh, it has been, we’re living in phenomenal times. Like I said, our business was started in the early sixties and we had our own clinic facilities in which we were actually using film on the little trays.

Matt Register: Sure.

John Manlove: I mean, so, that’s happened in my lifetime.

Jay Curry: Yeah.

John Manlove: So there have been dramatic changes, but one of the probably most drastic changes has been the internet. It has really re-energized the marketing and advertising business, because before it was the traditional medias, you know, TV, radio, outdoor. And it was just running through the same routine over and over but now with the internet, for example your show, your show will have legs on it way beyond what it would’ve had 15 or 20 years ago, because this can go to the social media and the network, so it has actually created a lot of extra life to some of the things that were very ephemeral.

Matt Register: Well, and some people get that and some people do not. I always find it fascinating when we’re talking to some of the corporate marketing folks who … you know, yes we are a radio show, but we have web channels, we have social media channels, we have all kinds of other things. You know, it’s a whole lot more than that now, right?

John Manlove: That’s right.

Matt Register: And you have to be able to identify how your clients need to fit into that, right? Where are their customers and how do they need to reach them?

John Manlove: And understanding how it works.

Matt Register: Sure.

John Manlove: For example, social media, there’s a lot of, or let’s just say the digital world, there’s a lot of confusion about what it really is and I’ve related it more to like a city landscape. Your website is your business, and then that’s your storefront.

Matt Register: Sure.

John Manlove: But when you get into the social medias, those are more of the social engagement. And a lot of people think, “Well, I’m gonna go to the social media and sell my product, and I’m gonna promote it.” Well, if you’re at a social event, are you really going to stand at the door as everybody leaves and say, “Hey, I’m selling cars over here, anybody interested? Come on over, I’ve got a deal for you today.” You don’t do that.

Jay Curry: No.

John Manlove: You typically want to engage them in relevant, real discussions.

Matt Register: And companies get this wrong daily. I mean, I see it everyday, it’s fascinating how wrong they get it and you can actually do harm to your brand by doing it wrong, right?

John Manlove: Exactly.

Matt Register: Well, good. Very, very interesting stuff. Talk to me a little bit about the PR execs, I know you have a PR, public relations side of your business as well.

John Manlove: We do. And that’s an area that, you know, there’s some confusion on that as well. Everybody says, “Well, I want you to get me on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.” Well, you better have a really relevant story if really that’s your aspiration.

Matt Register: That may not be what you want.

John Manlove: Exactly.

Jay Curry: That’s right.

John Manlove: But it’s understanding the medium again, just like we discussed earlier.

Jay Curry: Right.

Matt Register: Sure. And understanding how to play within it and understanding what it does take to achieve some of those things, right? Because again, being on the front page of the Wall Street Journal may not be exactly what you want, right? Because quite often that’s bad news and it may be a whole lot better to do something else.

John Manlove: That’s right, yes, putting things in their right … and in some cases, the public relations may not even be necessary. It depends on the company, where it is in its lifespan, and what is the product?

Matt Register: Yeah, no doubt about that. John Manlove, president and CEO of John Manlove Marketing and Communications. What’s the easiest way to reach you should somebody wanna learn more?

John Manlove: Oh, JohnManlove.com. Easy to remember.

Matt Register: JohnManlove.com. We’re gonna have that linked right there from TexasBusinessRadio.com. If you’re driving and can’t take notes, we’ll understand, JohnManlove.com. See the entire thing in beautiful high definition video as well right there at TexasRadioBusiness.com. We gotta pay a couple of our own bills and we’re gonna be back talking marketing this week on Texas Business Radio right after the break, don’t go anywhere. You don’t even time to go anywhere, we’ll be back quicker than that. We’ll see you on the other side of the break.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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