Melissa Mauldin, Sr. Marketing Specialist, A. Bright Idea

According to an AVG Digital Skills Study in 2010 presented at the ABA Marketing Conference, 30% of U.S. toddlers can operate a smartphone or tablet app. This may or may not surprise you. It does not surprise me as my daughter, by age two, knew how to “slide to unlock” on the iTouch, go to the Entertainment folder, select Peek-A-Boo Barn, play her game until she was board and then go back to the folder to select a new game. Now this doesn’t mean that I’m a bad parent (I hope) or allow technology to babysit my child, it’s just an example of how “times, they are a changing” and technology is something the next generation is born with not being able to live without.

Because we as a society demand information at our fingertips and have the expectation of immediate gratification with our smartphones, banks are readying themselves for market capture. Mobile banking isn’t something new but it is something that many of our community banks are just getting into.

Launched two years ago, mobile banking was invested primarily by the large, national banks. In one of the many sessions on mobile banking at this year’s ABA Marketing Conference, it was cited that many of the larger banks may have launched this added feature to compensate for the areas where they were lacking (i.e. customer service, personalized attention, service fees, etc.). In terms of technology in the financial industry, mobile banking was more quickly adopted than any other technology launch. ATMs and Online Banking technologies took anywhere from four to ten years or more to acquire more than 50 percent adoption per household. Since its launch, mobile banking has seen a market penetration of 10 percent within the first two years and it is expected to eclipse Online Banking (in terms of usage) by 2014.  With consumer desired features including mobile deposits (scanning an image of a check and depositing it via your smartphone app), as well as balance inquiries, transfers, etc., customers desire the accessibility to manage their funds while they’re on the go.

Additionally, with the growth of couponing companies like Groupon and Living Social, banks are also adopting personalized service features based on a customer’s spending preferences and offering discounts that relate. How would you like your bank to offer you a coupon for the GAP the next time you log in to online banking, simply because they noticed you purchased something there before? Or offer you access to determine the cheapest gas based on your location simply because they noticed you bought gas with your bank card? Approximately 76 percent of customers said they would like discounts based on spending habits, and that they would switch banks for one that offered these personalized services.

While these conveniences are steadily on the rise and becoming more and more desired, 55 percent of consumers still primarily say they select a bank based on the convenience of location more than anything. The traditional bricks and mortar bank branches will not be a thing of the past.

National banks continue to primarily be the first to test out new product and service features, but community banks will soon follow to meet the growing demand by customers. While customers may need to wait a bit longer for these benefits at their community bank, when they do come they’ll be packaged with all the benefits of local, personalized service we value from our neighborhood banks.

Brooke Austin, Director of New Business Development West Coast Operations

Creative agency expands business opportunities in Maryland and California

Bel Air, Md. – Continuing to build its West Coast operations, A. Bright Idea Advertising and Public Relations recently hired Brooke Austin to lead the team as Director of New Business Development West Coast Operations. With an extensive portfolio of work in Maryland and California, A. Bright Idea provides top quality marketing, brand development, graphic design, interactive web development and design, advertising, CPG packaging and public relations support to nonprofit, government and retail clients. Austin will be responsible for continuing these successful creative solutions in working with A. Bright Idea’s current and new clients.

“Our overall goal remains rooted in helping businesses grow and thrive, whether it’s a local nonprofit, retail business, hometown bank or winery, ” says Vice President of Client Relations, T.J. Brightman. “Brooke is a natural fit for A. Bright Idea’s talented team, and in supporting our goal of providing organizations across the country with the strategic communications tools needed to meet their business goals and tackle creative challenges head-on.”

Austin maintains impressive experience working for several Fortune 500 companies including The Clorox Company and Chevron Corporation as a Senior Design and Art Director where she collaborated with marketing teams to provide brand identity, brand development, creative concept and visual design services.  During her tenure at Clorox’s headquarters in Oakland, Calif., Brooke successfully managed various accounts, projects and clients.  She was also responsible for increasing sales some 32% nationally in six months and 44% globally in one year for the premium 30-item Ever Clean Cat Litter product line by managing, developing and designing a new brand strategy, brand position, logo-mark design, brand identity and brand architecture with several product line extensions.

Austin most recently owned and operated her own agency, Austin West Design in Kenwood, Calif., where she worked with a variety of clients providing extensive brand strategy, brand positioning, brand identity development, creative concept development visual communication, CPG packaging, point-of-sale and point-of-purchase for accounts including Beringer Vineyards, Allied Domecq Wines, Dreyers Ice Cream, Freemark Abbey Winery, Levi Strauss, Smith & Hawken and Whole Foods.

An award-winning advertising and public relations agency with locations in Maryland and California, A. Bright Idea excels at identifying opportunities, generating ideas and executing customized solutions that deliver results for government, commercial and nonprofit clients including U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, Science Applications International Corporation, Baltimore County Savings Bank, Slavie Federal Savings Bank, Bel Air Center for Addictions, Jordan Thomas Salon & Spa, The Kelly Group, St. Francis Winery, and Kenwood Kitchens, among many others.

For more information on A. Bright Idea and its services, visit the website at or email

Baltimore Ad Week 2011

abimaster | September 16, 2011

Baltimore Advertising Week gives us an excuse to talk about one of our favorite things in this town – advertising. After 15 years of working with small to mid-size businesses, government clients and non-profits struggling to get their message out, it’s refreshing to discuss new and innovative approaches with our peers downtown and experts from across the country alike.

Sure, the art of marketing still relies on the basics of research and strategy and budgets can still be a big piece of the puzzle. But with the rate of emerging technology coupled with the rate of adoption, the options and opportunities for engaging with your audience are simply exciting.

Now we can target our audience wherever they go, right through their own mobile devices. Marcus Startzel of Millennial Media provided some insight on “How to Succeed in Mobile.” A few take-aways we found interesting:

  • Mobile advertising hones in on demo, geography and immediacy, even day-parting ads
  • Mobile traffic patterns – low between 3-4 a.m., increasing through 11 p.m. and highest on weekends. PC traffic dies at 5p.m., Monday- Friday.
  • Digital/mobile advertising holds 8.1% share of voice against other mediums
  • Who’s spending in mobile? Retail, restaurants, finance, directories
  • How are mobile advertisers targeting? Broad reach, local market, demo, pay scale
  • Types of mobile advertising – text, direct response, click to call, point-of-sale
  • Geo-targeting focuses on physical location of cell phones, not registered location of user
  • 59% of mobile ads go to touch screen phones, allowing more creativity of ad
  • Ever notice an ad appearing after you searched on the same topic? That’s not coincidence; it’s geo-targeting
  • eReaders are ripe for advertising, however there needs to be enough in the market for advertisers & developers to invest
  • Smaller businesses who may not have the client list or funds to support a large mobile marketing campaign are encouraged to stay on top of other mobile trends such as utilizing QR codes.

Even as organizations continue to take the leap into social media, there are legal considerations – not necessarily from transparent communications, but based on ethical communications. A discussion led by Jim Astrachan, Principal of Astrachan, Gunst Thomas, P.C., explained the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules and guidelines concerning social media and those favorable reviews an organization craves:

  • Social media marketing accounts for a $4 billion market in 2011
  • Abuse/deception under the FTC rules includes paying employees of a company to post favorable reviews and comments about that companies products; employees hyping a companies products; and paying employees to pose as street teams to enhance a product. All of these practices are not illegal if you disclose the people work for the company—but this discredits the value of the endorsements.
  • Advertisers are now obligated to monitor and police the endorsers.
  • Even if employees are truly satisfied about a company product, they cannot post and praise the products if they do not disclose their relationship because they have a financial interest.
  • If an employee lists their employer on their Facebook or Twitter page, that is sufficient disclosure.
  • Companies can encourage others to tweet about their products, but cannot reward them later, i.e. ‘Show us proof of your tweet and receive a discount on your next visit/purchase.’
  • Facebook vs. MaxBounty – a case involving alleged misleading advertising on Facebook by MaxBounty. The company is said to help create fake Facebook campaigns, providing advance payments if its clients agree to participate. MaxBounty also tells the company’s Facebook approves these campaigns. A result is yet to be determined.
  • All in all, the answers aren’t always clear—be conscious of your social media interaction and use.









Top 10 Fall Foods

abimaster | September 12, 2011

The change in weather can be hard, but the sweet smells (and tastes) of fall are what make it one of the best times of year. Of course at A. Bright Idea we have our Top 10 Fall Foods and their delicious recipes. Here’s hoping your fall is full of your favorite traditions, shared with friends and family!

1. Pumpkin Spice Latte

Don’t be fooled, this isn’t an easy one to make at home. With all of the coffee lovers here, we recommend Starbucks for this warm treat.

2. Apple Pie

Don’t forget to serve it warm and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

3. Butternut Squash Soup

A dinner party starter to please all

4. Cinnamon Pancakes

Easy breakfast to start the day or enjoy on the weekends

5. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Perfect for a rainy, fall day

6. Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Comfort food at its best

7. Vegetable Soup

A warming favorite with a twist of French cuisine

8. Chocolate Pear Cakes

The perfect pear for a fall treat

9. Beer Can Chicken

Meat and beer – it doesn’t get much better

10. Sliders (Mini Burgers)

Tailgate approved!