Reminder – JXN Executive Roundtable Kicks Off Tomorrow!

We wish to remind you that the inaugural event in the JXN Executive Roundtable series will be held tomorrow, May 1st, 2012, at 5:30pm at the Blue Parrot Bistro in Gettysburg, PA.

Please join Junction, cosponsors Raffensperger, Martin, & Finkenbiner, and Patrono & Associates, and prominent area business owners for hors d’oeuvres, networking, and an expert panel discussion as we open the dialogue on building a better business in a difficult economy. Click here for more information about this exciting event.

If you haven’t RSVP’d, please contact

The Golden Ticket

The focus for most marketers is on social, mobile, and all things technology in an attempt to capture market share and provide measurable return on investment. In an effort to be better, faster, and constant, marketers must leverage the most influential crowd that continues to gain power over marketers and brands alike. This paradigm shift is being driven not by the most innovative technology but by the ever-growing baby boomer population.

Each day, 10,000 baby boomers turn to the age of 65, and will continue to do so for the next 19 years. Projections show that by 2050, more than 50% of the US population will be older than 50 years of age. For the first time, parents and children will be part of the same demographic. The Center for Mature Consumer Studies reports that boomers control more than ¾ of the country’s wealth. The power of this population is in its ability to affect the elasticity of demand, increase consumption, and ultimately influence marketers.

Baby boomers continue to be the most brand loyal segment in the market place. Before technology became contextual to consumers, marketers told stories and built brands with which this growing population identified. Marketers should consider the following when defining a strategy for this captive audience:

  • Diversity: Baby boomers are the most diverse segment which is the biggest asset and strength. The marketing approach should be as diverse as this consumer group.
  • Empathy: Baby boomers are wise, experienced, and aware. Marketers must appreciate and recognize these sentiments.
  • Constancy: Baby boomers are methodical and calculated as consumers. It becomes a test of endurance for marketers, constantly and consistently reaching this target audience.

If marketers across industry refocus a portion of the budget, the potential to create the next generation of influential and brand loyal consumers is immeasurable. For brands and marketers, the impact is substantive.

All Filler for Miller

Watch a set of advertisements during any major television event, and you are bound to see a spot for a Budweiser, Miller, or Coors product. Domestic macrobrewers have notoriously gigantic budgets for ad campaigns, and in terms of sales of their flagship offerings, the rate of return on investment is excellent.

Initially introduced in 2007, Miller 64, Miller Brewing Company’s foray into the ‘ultra-light’ beer market is named after its total calorie count per 12 fl oz. Originally dubbed MGD64, it was launched nationwide after favorable testing in Miller’s home base of Wisconsin. Supported by the usual multi-million dollar ad campaign, everything went according to plan for the brewing giant, right?

Wrong. Within a market increasingly in favor of higher quality craft beer , the product has never gained true traction with consumers. Often perceived as ‘watered down,’ weighing in at only 2.8% ABV, the beer has struggled with its image as a serious option. In the roughly 5 years since its introduction, Miller has rebranded the product multiple times, each iteration failing to increase sales in any meaningful way. The company also attempted to capture a set of non-beer drinking drinkers with a 64 calorie “lemonade” malt beverage under the same brand, but the effort was fruitless, leading to a near instantaneous discontinuation.

Sales of the golden swill were down double digits in 2011, so Miller elected to redesign the brand with an updated label design (a key indicator of brand loyalty in the beer industry) and a new ad campaign. The latter, centered around a catchy ‘sea shanty’ song, features active and attractive 25-35 year olds, but in addition to the actors, the lyrics to the tune and the slogan “Brewed for the Better You” make it obvious that Miller has a clearly defined new target demographic in mind.

Notwithstanding Miller’s spirited efforts to make Miller 64 work, the most glaring issue is the evidence that the market for these products is extremely slim, if not entirely nonexistent. Even in spite of a health-crazed society, ‘healthy beer’ is a fairly obvious oxymoron, and very little can be done by advertising to popularize it on a large scale. By contrast, the popular SkinnyGirl cocktail brand, offering lower calorie mixed drinks, hit all the right notes with a similar target demographic, enough to merit a reported 120 million dollar purchase by Beam Global last year.

So when is enough enough? It seems that occasionally, even when armed with the influence and funding necessary to push a product on a global scale, marketing can fall short of a product that doesn’t fit consumer wants, needs, or expectations, and the best course of action is simply to let go. In this case, the payoff from the latest endeavor remains yet to be seen, but it may be time for the diluted barley beverage to go the way of its predecessors: down the drain.

A Nod to the Legacy of Dick Clark, America’s Oldest Teenager

This week’s news of Dick Clark’s passing elicited great sadness. Clark was an impressive figure who was greatly admired and respected; over the course of a long and fruitful career, he worked to create a brand that today carries significant weight for members of multiple generations. His many television and radio programs were influential and enduring; through his work, Clark helped define American pop culture for the better part of the 20th century.

Most notably, American Bandstand, television’s longest-running variety show, was responsible for introducing new artists and the latest dance moves to people across the country. The show also helped bridge the color gap, “giving music freedom and equal opportunity,” according to Stevie Wonder. Older generations will also remember the Pyramid game shows, winner of nine Emmy awards, while for younger fans, the spirit of Clark’s brand was defined by the eponymous Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

Clark dedicated his life to being ‘America’s Oldest Teenager,’ bringing families together in front of the television with a youthful and energetic spirit that was contagious for people of all ages.  Throughout the course of his career, his name and face came to epitomize the lighter side of things, creating happy memories and nostalgia for millions. He will be remembered as an icon of the entertainment and media industry, and the brand that he built will continue to stand for pop culture.

Word Out on the Town

Reputation has always carried heavy importance for businesses across industry. Throughout the last century, customer loyalty was primarily forged through personal interactions that involved a high standard of service blended with consistency. Managing performance and generating new business was dependent on solid reputations and relationships. However, technology is the basis for a large majority of interaction between businesses and consumers. With this shift, the importance of reputation is not diminished; instead, a new standard is being set online.

The internet has accelerated the speed of consumer interactions with brands in dramatic fashion. As one might expect, reputation has become increasingly transient and incredible sensitive. A plethora of online ‘review’ sites populated by communities of customers giving feedback in real time has empowered the voices of consumers. A single bad review of a restaurant can deter other patrons, and a bit of praise can fill the reservation book. Whether from advocates or critics, the instantaneous reporting of customer experience can literally be make or break for a business.

These drastic changes have led to behavioral changes, manifested most strikingly in the form of companies touting themselves as “reputation management firms.” The anonymity that the internet allows by nature has meant that not all customer reviews or ratings are to be believed, and a small number of businesses have turned to gaming the system by eliminating negative feedback and creating fake reviews with the goal of building a strong reputation or repairing one that is damaged.

The reality is disconcerting, but the message is clear: reputation online plays an extremely important role in success within the highly competitive landscape. It is important for owners and operators to understand customer feedback, address concerns, and motivate the large audiences on review sites and in the press in order to turn negatives into positives. Utilized correctly, a robust reputation online can prove to be a massive advantage, vital to the success of any business now and in the foreseeable future.

Junction to Host Inaugural JXN Executive Roundtable Event in Gettysburg, PA

Atlanta based Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) announces the launch of its JXN Executive Roundtable, providing an opportunity for business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives to share and discuss best practices for sustaining and growing business. As an advocate for the creation of progressive, sustainable, and successful businesses, Junction is dedicated to bringing together thought leadership and promoting collaboration in the greater business community.

“In 2012, businesses are facing the task of reacting to major shifts in consumer behaviors within the financial constraints of a less than favorable economy; many owners and CEOs find themselves looking for ways to reenergize the company with what seems like a shrinking budget,” says Julie Gareleck, CEO and Managing Partner, Junction. “Opening the dialogue is an essential to overcoming the challenges of the current climate and building better businesses.”

The series will open with the JXN Executive Roundtable on May 1st, 2012 at Blue Parrot Bistro in Gettysburg, PA. The event, hosted by Junction and cosponsored by Patrono & Associates and Raffensperger, Martin & Finkenbiner, LLC, will be an invitation-only evening of networking for business owners in Central Pennsylvania featuring a panel discussion on best practices for sustaining business in the market place.

“We are excited to work with Junction Creative and Patrono & Associates in this unique opportunity for local businesses,” says Ryan Raffensperger, Partner, Raffensperger, Martin & Finkenbiner, LLC. “We believe that this event will help area businesses gather ideas that will be useful in their continued growth. We expect that the end result is a better community for all of us that live, work and do business in the South Central Pennsylvania area.”

Business owners seeking an invitation to attend the event should contact for more information.

Introducing the JXN Executive Roundtable

In 2012, businesses face the challenge of reacting to major shifts in consumer behaviors within the financial constraints of a less than favorable economy. Many owners and CEOs find themselves looking for ways to reenergize the company with what seems like a shrinking budget.

Junction, as an advocate for the creation of progressive, sustainable, and successful businesses, introduces the JXN Executive Roundtable, bringing together thought leadership and promoting collaboration in the greater business communities.  The event series provides an opportunity for business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives to share and discuss best practices for sustaining and growing business.

The inaugural event in the series will take place on May 1st, 2012 at Blue Parrot Bistro in Gettysburg, PA. The event, hosted by Junction and cosponsored by Patrono & Associates and Raffensperger, Martin & Finkenbiner, LLC, will be an invitation-only evening of networking for business owners to discuss best practices for sustaining business in the market place.

If you are interested in attending the event, contact  More information will be available next week on our blog.

A Prime Cut of the New Food Business

Eating is a biological necessity. Every human being must eat, but for millions of people nationwide, developments in recent years have placed an increasing emphasis on gastronomy that is healthier, more localized, more gourmet – providing something far beyond mere sustenance. As a result, massive changes in social and economic behavior surrounding this shift are helping the food industry rapidly become very big business.

Everywhere, citizens from all demographics flock to popular new restaurants, farmers’ markets, and other food-related events creating an entire culture of individuals dedicated to seeking the latest and greatest culinary art. The number of these enthusiasts and connoisseurs is staggering and constantly on the rise (the term ‘foodie’ is generally frowned upon, as it is now considered far too general to accurately describe the hundreds of different types of food-lovers) – New York Magazine recently ran a high profile article detailing the emergence of an entirely new class of young people drastically increasing spending on food. These dedicated consumers are fuelling a serious boom in new food industry businesses. New York City alone sees hundreds of high profile openings each year, most of which are highly successful, booked up to months in advance and packed with eager diners every night.

So how has the food industry capitalized on all the excitement of this emergent market? Restaurants, farmers’ markets, specialty foods stores, and more have used digital platforms to springboard to new heights. Through social networks and digital tools, these businesses have fostered the fervor of food-lovers, creating user review websites like Yelp and revolutionary platforms like OpenTable, which offers a fully integrated reservation booking experience. The two sites have even merged functionality, enabling diners to heavily interact with the food business long before and long after any actual eating takes place. Chefs are now celebrities, viewed by many in the same light as prominent athletes or actors, with dedicated ‘fans’ admiring their every move.

The democracy that digital platforms have created for the food industry is beneficial not just to businesses, but to consumers as well. The enthusiasm has led to an increase in the quality and visibility of what was traditionally ‘cheap’ cuisine, and a shift in higher-end, luxury food becoming more accessible – both ends of the spectrum have been more centralized to suit a much larger audience. Food is a common experience for all types of people, and the modern movement is touching eaters everywhere.

The ‘food revolution’ is an example of the power of a world driven by social interaction and fully connected by technology. Using the right tools and strategies, businesses in all industries can leverage commonalities among consumers to maximize awareness and monetize the human experience.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

The slow economy of recent years has forced the reconsideration of budgeting for people from all walks of life. For many, the downturn has meant drastically reduced spending. Much more severe than simply eliminating luxuries, stretching dollars as far as they will go across everyday expenses has become standard practice. Items considered to be necessities are not any less necessary in this financial crunch. Occasionally, special circumstances lead to a situation that requires new ideas to maintain the mutually supportive confluence between business and consumer.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently reported on a local RIMCO, an arm of rent-to-own giant Aaron’s that has transformed a massive downturn in its primary business, selling and renting car and truck rims, into an opportunity to fill a real need for its customers rather than peddling a luxury. Unlike rims, the tires that wrap around them are an absolute necessity for car owners. However, tires are nearly as expensive; the outright purchase price for an entire set is well out of the budget for many drivers.

Renting-to-own is widely understood to be considerably more expensive than buying, but in the case of necessity items, some customers may have no choice. The store now rents twice as many tires as the rims that used to compose 60-70% of its business. Loyal customers, although not enthralled with the increased cost, are appreciative of the service and products they receive from the store, without which their commute would be impossible.

Rather than struggling with the challenges of the economic downturn, RIMCO successfully managed to shift its strategy on the fly in reaction to a radically changing market. In the face of lowered demand for the store’s primary source of business, it seized an opportunity to provide even more value to its customers than previously, and at an inflated cost that meant more revenue. The same lesson could apply in any industry – value is about more than price. For consumers, it is more important that a service fills a need. For businesses, creating an adaptable strategy that thinks far beyond cost is essential.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

Startup and entrepreneurial businesses face plenty of obstacles and pitfalls along the path to sustainability and success. Besides dealing with the obvious challenges, such as earning funding, building a team, and spreading a marketing message, startups are now facing a new menace posed by a far less notable foe.

The poet and activist Audre Lorde is famously quoted as saying “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” Patent trolls, individuals or organizations that lay claim to and police the use of intellectual property like innovate concepts, design patents, and even web domains, are proving that this concept can be leveraged against the success of a startup or even a Fortune 500 company. Also known as copyright trolls, these entities do not, in most cases, use the patents, trademarks, or copyrights they own, but rather prevent others from profiting off of the use of ‘owned’ property.

These organizations are highly controversial in nature and detrimental to the success of many other businesses – especially in today’s environment where innovation and technology drive the cutting edge. They operate well within legal limitations, regardless of their poor public perception. A patent, easy to obtain, if valid and infringed in court, can lead to millions of dollars in damages. The ‘business’ of patent or copyright trolling can be particularly attractive, growing the threat.

Awareness of patent trolls is generally low on an entrepreneur or SMB’s radar when creating a strategy to go-to-market or to market to a target audience, but the threat is real. In the case of a fragile young company with little or no safety net, incurring a lawsuit over even the borderline use of a patented idea can be devastating.

Before any business takes a step, the consequences of the decisions being made are constantly evaluated. Considering and thoroughly researching whether someone owns the ideas or technologies powering a business can protect it from a major disaster.