Happy Thanksgiving From the Junction Team

**From the pages of Junction’s notebook: Read about the experiences, perspectives, and ideas of Junction team members.

On Thanksgiving Day, Junction is reminded of its great fortune:

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for me to reflect on the gifts I have received from my family and friends throughout the year and how I’ve helped others to have a better life. It is the start of the holiday season, and starts my thinking of my goals for the New Year. This year, I am especially thankful for the men and women of the armed forces, and wishing them a safe holiday and travel back to their homes as we move towards 2012. – RJE

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! Aside from eating yummy food and spending time with family, this day is all about being thankful for what we have. This year, I’m grateful for my family, friends, and my wonderful team at Junction for everything they’ve done for me. I wish everyone a great holiday season; may all your wishes be fulfilled! – TLS

Thanksgiving!  It notes the start of the holiday season, but most importantly, it’s time to spend with family and friends close to me. I’m thankful for life, family, friends, the USA. I’m thankful for doctors, nurses, servicemen and women. I’m thankful for life’s little treasures and the luxuries afforded. My list is long this year, but simply put… I’m thankful for my life’s journey. – MLC

This Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for a life lived long enough to know good friends for a generation, the rewards that come with success and the lessons learned from failure, for life’s many challenges to overcome, for having had another year to share love with one very special woman, and for the courage and dedication of all those who sacrifice to secure our freedom. Happy Thanksgiving to the Junction Family and to all those whose needs we seek to serve. –J.MC

I am thankful for a great job where I can meet new people and learn new things at the same time. I have been well blessed this year and I am more fortunate than others in many ways. The love of family and friends really mean a lot to me. -DC

Each year, Thanksgiving offers us the opportunity to contemplate all that has happened in the course of the previous year and to feel grateful for the good fortunes we enjoy. I am thankful for loving and supportive family and friends, and a year that has been filled with new life experiences that have helped me grow. I wish everyone good eating and drinking, and an enjoyable tryptophan-induced nap. –JMA

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year.  It’s a day to not only reflect but to give thanks.  I have a lot to be thankful for in business and in life. I extend my gratitude to our clients and industry partners for trusting us to do what we love; to my dedicated team for striving to be the very best at what we do; to my family and friends for believing in the dream. May you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving Day!  – JCG

Junction Expands Portfolio to Include New Verticals in Second Half of 2011

Atlanta-based strategic firm Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) expands its reach to include new business verticals, building on the successes of the firm in 2011. Junction continues to broaden its portfolio while strengthening its competencies for existing clients.

Founded in 2008 by CEO and Managing Partner Julie Gareleck, Junction established itself as a leader known for its hybrid approach. Focused on the intersection of strategy and execution, Junction provides services for businesses in verticals to include but not limited to retail, eCommerce, healthcare, publishing, marketing/advertising, travel and hospitality, manufacturing, technology, and consumer packaged goods.  Junction’s unique approach has driven measurable results for its clients marketing business to business or business to consumer.

In the last year, the company’s business has more than doubled, with 2011 seeing a progression of record months. In recent months, the company made the decision to expand its reach, opening business verticals due to client demand.

“We have expanded our reach to encompass these new verticals because we believe that our firm has the greatest potential to generate considerable impact,” said Gareleck. “We also believe that there are very few highly effective firms approaching solutions as we do; we think that our unique ‘un-agency’ model will deliver maximum value regardless of the vertical.”

The “un-agency” model combines business intelligence with aggressive, yet strategic marketing solutions, optimized for each client with the intent on increasing return on investment.   “We recognize that most business owners are not marketing experts,” commented Gareleck.  “Developing customized growth strategies and executing those strategies are time intensive.  Our services allow our clients to spend more time running the business and less time worrying about how to drive down marketing spend while also increasing market share.”

To learn more about Junction and its clients, visit www.junction-creative.com.

Small Screen, Silver Bullet

Halfway through the current television season, audiences across the country are beginning to see the news of series cancellations and renewals pouring in. It seems like every year, dozens of shows on the major networks are advertised, hyped, and debuted only to be swept off the airwaves within a few weeks or at most after one season. With such an extensive process of conceptualizing, formulating, casting, filming, testing, and premiering shows, one would assume that television producers would have figured out how to avoid the bombs by now.

The truth is, the plethora of failed shows actually serve as a vehicle for the success of hit shows in a number of different ways. NBC’s The Playboy Club, with its relatively high production budget and massive advertising campaign, busted after just 3 episodes. In its place, the network introduced Rock Center, a newsmagazine show featuring popular NBC Nightly News managing editor and anchor Brian Williams, which should prove to be a hit. Sitcoms are particularly volatile; CBS’s How to be a Gentleman was axed almost immediately, but 2 Broke Girls on NBC has managed the highest ratings of any new comedy on TV. On the surface it seems like a matter of chance, but the major networks’ formula is far more precise than simply throwing a handful of darts at a target at once and hoping that one sticks.

There are other tactics being used with new shows in the process of sustaining ratings. For example, ABC’s rehash of Charlie’s Angels was cancelled amidst its first season, but the show, which many correctly predicted would be a flop, was intentionally penciled into a timeslot immediately preceding the popular Grey’s Anatomy, now in its eighth season. This kind of strategy is typical to the industry, drawing new audiences to strong shows to bolster their success. Grey’s will likely see another debut show fill the same role next season. On the other side of the coin, a new show may be juxtaposed with an already popular one, as in the case of the aforementioned 2 Broke Girls, which airs between the veteran How I Met Your Mother and last season’s surprise success Mike and Molly. It is clear that there is more to determining a new show’s success than luck.

The television networks have figured out and streamlined a formula that works for them, but the process of working diligently to discover and optimize a blueprint is an essential component to building a business in any industry. With the right formula, a business can avoid ending up on the cutting room floor.

Welcome to Boomtown

The recent news of a major oil discovery in North Dakota has attracted an army of people from all over the U.S. to fill high-paying jobs, not just with oil companies, but across all industries; hospitality, retail, personal services, and more.  The boom is a positive sign for many amidst a period that has seen unemployment rates unwavering from levels that are extremely high.  In fact, North Dakota now boasts the nation’s lowest unemployment rate, as low as 1.5% in certain townships along the oil formation. Not only are there more jobs available, they are also paying some of the highest wages in the country. In a twist straight out of a ‘freakonomics’ book, the boom has been so rapid and powerful that it has resulted in a shortage of housing and services.

North Dakota has literally “struck oil,” but there have been a number of other strong growth sectors in the weak economy that haven’t simply been the result of luck. Sustaining business when there are less resources available merely requires a different mode of thought and the vision to understand what users will and will not prioritize. Small ideas executed in the right order can be just as effective as one big one.

For example, the beauty industry has flourished during the economic downturn, with haircutting and styling on the rise, thanks to a level of emotional attachment that brings clients into salons regardless of budget constraints. Some unemployed professionals have taken the initiative to shift their career paths, taking jobs at salons due to the demand. Offering a more competitive rate and attracting customers has helped many of these individuals thrive in their industry. Despite being a luxury service, beauticians have successfully monetized the priority many individuals place on their appearance.

It is hard to tell how long the oil boom in North Dakota will last. The size of the reserve suggests that there may be as many as 30 years of steady drilling, but a changing regulatory environment and alternative fuel sources could diminish that demand within a decade. Along with the sudden explosion of opportunity comes a great degree of uncertainty.  In other industries, such as beauty, building a sustainable business against the obstacles of the economy is a slower, more carefully planned practice. The right strategy can take chance out of the process.

The Fruits of Labor

American food culture has undergone a very positive transformation even against the increased cost of eating well. Following the 1980s and 90s, a time during which a shift was made towards processed foods that were cheaper, faster, and more abundant, an increased percentage of American society is more focused on sustainability, locavorism, and organic eating initiatives.

Suffering through those decades when demand for fresh foods was at an all-time low, many farms were forced to reduce production and staff, or shut down operations completely.  Farmers who managed to survive the down period have taken a creative entrepreneurial approach.

Diversification of the ‘farm business’ is a mandatory ingredient in the recipe for maintaining not only the business side of farm operations, but also for preserving the relationships between people and their food. While many floundered, some farmers envisioned a different approach to sustaining their businesses. Beginning with the reestablishment of the idea of the Farmer’s Market, where farms and the community come together directly, more creative ideas for saving the industry began to emerge.

In 2002, the Full Moon Coop gathered several small operations and combined them to form an alliance of farmers dedicated to addressing the issues they all faced together. The resulting partnership gave way to collaborative projects including popular ‘farm-to-table’ restaurants Farm 255 in Athens, GA and Farmburger in Atlanta, GA, which provided the farmers with steady business as well as an alternative revenue stream. Some farms such as Gizdich Farms in Watsonville, CA, chose to diversify by expanding into operations such as farm tours, public access for peach or apple picking, or cooking classes using farm fresh ingredients. Others saw a niche in the specialty foods market and began packaging and selling prepared  jams and pickles with recipes that had been handed down from generation to generation, capitalizing on demand and helping kick-start another stage of the food revolution.

Making any business work amidst a trying economic climate takes a special level of dedication and strategy.  Farms such as those that have mutually fueled and benefitted from the current food revolution have shown that creativity and a willingness to take risks and diversify can pay dividends.

A Dangerous #Occupation

Social media platforms have been flooded with tweets, status updates, images, and videos tagged or associated with the #Occupy movement.  A majority of the content is harmless, but in recent days attention is being drawn to seriously provocative or incriminating content against one or both sides. Protesters and authorities operate aware that their actions are being publicly broadcasted through these outlets. The world is recognizing that through the vast size and power of these platforms, one tweet or a few seconds of video footage have the potential to cause irreparable damage to the reputation of an individual or an organization.

Aside from messages of political charge and class unrest, one dramatic message that the #Occupy movements have brought to light is the fact that social media remains largely unregulated in its relative infancy. For years, the FCC and the FTC have tightly regulated advertising to prevent false information, defamation, slander, and other kinds of damaging information, whether founded or unfounded.  These rules generally do well to protect brands from attacks across traditional media, but the same cannot be said about social networks. In the online space, users are able to criticize others with great freedom.

Accordingly, brands must engage social media with a certain level of trepidation; careful measures must be taken to ensure that the message broadcast to these enormous and greatly diverse audience is consistent and authentic. Whereas the advertising realm has become formalized and civilized, the battle for beneficial digital or social media marketing is more akin to a turf war. One misstep can be highly destructive to brand affecting customer loyalty. The volatility of the #Occupy movement should be a warning signal for brands.  Social media is a powerful yet unstable force, and will remain so until the regulatory environment matures.