There may not be any snow falling outside the windows where you are, but Christmas Day is upon us. It is again the time year to cozy up by a fire, cue up some festive music, drink copious amounts of eggnog, and exchange gifts and laughter with family and friends. We love being busy, but we also love slowing down and enjoying quality time spent with those who matter most to us. The holidays are an important time to pause, reflect on the year that was, and gear up to make next year even better than this one.
We’d like to take this opportunity to wish very Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year to our clients, partners, and friends. We are privileged to work with fantastic people every day. Thank you for a terrific year, and enjoy whichever holiday you are celebrating this season!
(Read about Day 1’s events here.)
As a CEO and entrepreneur, I look to great leaders for inspiration and guidance as I mitigate challenges or validate my own business strategies. Sir Richard Branson has long since been one of those leaders known for his incredible business prowess, his contributions to entrepreneurs across the globe, and his commitment to conversation and charity. I have read his books – almost all of them. I peruse the internet for articles penned by him or about him. All of this has been at a distance, until recently.
On Monday, December 10, I set sail from Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands for the inaugural Necker Cup on Necker Island. Aside from the promise of watching the world’s top tennis players play in a Pro Am, I anticipated catching a glimpse of Sir Richard Branson.
As the boat neared the dock at Necker Island, the anticipation was building. Within 20 yards, I could see Branson on a speed boat with a few others with photographers in tow. He beamed a smile in our direction and waved us in. His smile was electric.
Stepping onto the dock, I looked up only to see a jungle – or at least what resembled a jungle – lush with color. We walked down the sandy path complete with tortoises, flamingos, and lemurs. With the blink of an eye, Branson appeared, smiled, shook my hand, and welcomed me to the island. It was completely disarming, and it set the tone for what remains to be one of the most memorable experiences in my professional and personal life.
I scanned the crowd of no more than 60 people that included tennis stars like world singles #1 Novak Djokovic, world #1 doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan, Tommy Haas, and John McEnroe, mixed among other notable business leaders spanning technology, finance, commercial real estate, etc. With no pretense, there was undeniable camaraderie all around.
It became even clearer to me that I was witnessing authenticity in its purest form. This environment, created and nurtured by Branson, is a place – rather a paradise – designed to strip away the labels. To see how one person’s sentiment can infect an entire group is a lesson to all of us.
On our ride back to Virgin Gorda that evening, I couldn’t image a better experience and opportunity, and yet, it was only Day 1.
Although the dawn of all things digital began back in the late 1990s, it has truly just in the last handful of years that we have entered a definitively new era of marketing brought on by internet technologies. From our perspective in the present, it is evident that there has been a transition from what we traditionally might classify as various forms of ‘advertising’ to an entirely new way of doing business, and it has occurred extremely quickly.
Now that the game has changed, and building brand ‘experiences’ is the modus operandi, many professionals, even those with a lifelong education in speaking to customers, are finding themselves unsure of exactly what it is they are doing. The people who used to be the experts are now just along for the ride, trying hard to hold on and survive the turbulence.
We have often discussed the new wave of platforms and outlets that are now the major drivers, many of them focused on what is social, local, and mobile. Immediately, a huge number of marketers who have been around for a generation or more have been left in the dust, having failed to listen to the dialogue of the rapidly evolving market and adapt accordingly. Many marketers are also ambivalent to the plethora of data at their disposal thanks to humongous advances in metrics reporting over the last 5 or so years. Some aren’t even aware of who their customers really are. Trying to build brand equity and garner loyalty with audiences you do not understand is like buying a gift for someone who you have never met.
The result of this shift is an increased emphasis on the importance of constant learning. As marketers and businesspeople, we must maintain our curiosity and be enthusiastic about tackling the learning curve that comes requisite with such drastic change. If we take that first step and honestly concede that we are no longer the experts, we can really listen to our customers and begin to make these new channels work for us.
These days, lasting for more than 2 years constitutes an impressive lifespan for a pop culture phenomenon. November of 2012 marked the 50th Anniversary of cinema’s most enduring franchise and what has now become touchstone for multiple generations. Coinciding with this anniversary, Skyfall, the 23rd film in the series following British Secret Service agent James Bond (or 24th, counting Never Say Never Again, which exists outside of the official canon, having not been produced by Eon Productions) was released to the public, a huge box office hit.
In an era where prolonged success is so fleeting, how has the Bond franchise managed to sustain itself through changing trends and an evolving audience?
As much as the world has changed since Dr. No, the first installment of the series, debuted in 1962, the films themselves have stayed true to their roots. As we discussed in Junction’s 2012 Annual Report, the makers of the iconic films have never deviated from a pure understanding of what has worked in the past and why. Even as the principal actors portraying the suave and bulletproof Bond himself have passed on the reins, the character himself has become seemingly more everlasting. Each entry in the series has similar qualities, marked by memorable villains, witty one-liners and double entendres, and fast paced, standard-setting action sequences. Yes, the film industry has advanced dramatically over the course of the past half-century, but as visually gripping and pulse-pounding as the Bond films become, these core pieces are parts of an equation that has resonated with audiences for decades now, and shows no signs of slowing.
Bond films are the perfect blend of nostalgia, tried and true, with what is cutting edge and new. This marriage of innovation and tradition is a perfect example of an approach which works in many contexts, whether in business or in Hollywood. In 50 more years, James Bond will likely still be as smooth as an expertly made martini – shaken, not stirred, of course.
** From the pages of Junction’s notebook: Read about the experiences, perspectives, and ideas of Junction team members.
During the holiday season, we get to take a bit of a break from the fast pace of business and spend some time with the people that we care about most. The exchange of gifts is a tradition with great meaning for us. Whether the gift is big or small, we love to see the joy on the faces of our family, friends, and coworkers when we hand them something thoughtful, useful, or just plain fun.
Whether you are looking for inspiration, a last minute gift, or just want to treat yourself, these are a few of our Favorite Things:
Chocolate – The sweet stuff is a perfect gift, not just for the holidays, but any time of year. Don’t ever hesitate to indulge in one of life’s most simple pleasures. Earlier this year, we conducted a taste test. Click here to see some of our favorite brands!
Starbucks Mobile App/Gold Card – The nation’s leading coffee retailer revamped its loyalty program in 2012 to give customers some pretty fantastic rewards for their business. We love enjoying a good, warm holiday-themed beverage while earning Gold-level rewards. The mobile app makes it simple to pay at the register and keep track of your perks!
KeyRing Mobile App – This simple but innovative app has kept all of our loyalty cards and coupons in check. No longer do we carry key chains weighed down with clunky cards. Now they are all at the touch of a finger.
AirTran A+ Rewards – We are often flying for business or pleasure, and living in Atlanta, no other airline has made it as easy to rack up rewards points, so we can fly to see friends and family more often. Staying connected is important to us, and this rewards program helps us get where we need to go.
iPhone 5 – Although nearly every employee of our company is an iPhone user, we were cautious not to jump on the bandwagon too soon with the launch of Apple’s latest iteration. We were pleasantly surprised to find the updated hardware very cool – there might just be a few upgrades under the tree this year.
Electric Start Fireplaces – Do you have a fireplace in your home? Are you sick of having to buy wood, build a fire, and constantly deal with ventilation problems and clean up? Upgrading to a simple electric-starting gas fireplace means flicking a switch on and off for cozy comfort. Sure, you might miss the smell, but you won’t miss the hassle.
Scoutmob – This Atlanta-based startup made a big splash in 2012, offering excellent deals directly to our mobile devices in a plethora of cities across the US. Scoutmob differentiates itself from other deal sites by being instantly redeemable, instead of forcing customers to purchase certificates in advance. It is the epitome of local-focused deal advertising, and we love saving at some of our favorite restaurants and shops around town!
Uber – Uber is a mobile-app based car service that is changing access to transportation. Available in a few major cities, users can use their phone to order pickup by a sleek towncar and be taxied wherever they need to go. The cost is reasonable, and payment is made entirely online, perfect for a hassle-free ride anywhere in style!
DVR – With all of our favorite shows seemingly scheduled at the same time, or at an inconvenient time, we have now been spoiled to the point where it is difficult to watch live television since getting accustomed to the luxury of DVR. Well worth the small cost from your cable provider, DVR makes television work for our busy lives.
Zumba – Staying fit on a busy schedule isn’t easy, but we have found that Zumba classes, offered at gyms across the country, are a fun and efficient way to get in a workout after a long day at the office. It is a growing phenomenon in fitness, and it’s easy to see why.
Pedicures – The season calls for luxury, and there are few better ways to pamper oneself than getting a pedicure at a great salon. This opulent experience isn’t just for women – it is a relaxing practice that can literally inject some spring into your step. We dedicate a great deal of time and energy to others, and this is a wonderful way to receive it in return.
Polyvore – Pinterest may be the biggest name in visual social media, but when it comes to fashion, Polyvore is the most useful community for the latest trends, tips, and thoughtful conversation amongst peers. The site is another step forward in social engagement, and we love the tie-ins to eCommerce. Brilliant and fun for any fashionista.
Goop – This customizable weekly publication delivered straight to your email inbox has a plethora of information on deals, recipes, travel notes, shopping ideas, wellness tips and more. It is a huge timesaver, putting plenty of great ideas in one place, and is a great source of inspiration for anyone’s lifestyle.
Kickstarter – This website, which provides a platform for funding for creative projects, has used crowdsourcing and social media to open the door for thousands of new and innovative ideas to enter the marketplace. It is one of the biggest revolutions in business we have ever seen, and we are excited to see innovation flourishing as a result. Log on and browse categories that interest you – you may find one of your own new favorite things.
Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping from everyone at Junction!
The rise of Generation X as a dominating consumer group has brought some changing attitudes towards the role of many new and innovative niches of the marketing ecosystem. Throughout 2012, social enterprise generated buzz as the latest new development in the explosive growth of social media. Facebook’s billion dollar buyout of Instagram in April symbolized how enthusiastic we were about these startups, but towards the end of the year, the excitement has certainly subsided, with current trends suggesting a changing wind.
Another genre beginning to come to the forefront of many marketers’ minds is the concept of ‘gaming.’ Startups are springing up offering services aimed at providing game-like experiences in contexts outside of the traditional realm of board games, video games, etc. The idea fueling these newcomers is that games help make technology more engaging, which is appealing far beyond just the entertainment industry. As we continue to better understand consumer behavior patterns, we may be entering a new era of “gamification.”
Humans are competitive by nature. Several years ago, the education industry discovered that games could be used to focus children’s attention and improve learning retention through this type of medium. A slew of new companies entering the current marketplace are asking a fair question – why not apply the same principles to consumer education?
InfoArmy recently launched a completely crowdsourced business research platform using several gamification techniques. Members receive badges, rankings and compete to top leaderboards for conducting online research. Not only does the service leverage our competitive nature to get users engaged, it provides an eloquent solution to logging and organizing data. Within the thrill of the ‘game,’ there is real potential for positive impact on data quality, learning, and ultimately ROI.
Other new startups are focusing on gaming for the purposes of reputation management and social mechanics, including ideas like social performance platforms for employees and HR. It is easy to think of multiple possible applications where gamification could provide a significant boost – any situation encouraging desired behaviors in order to solve problems.
It’s already part of our nature. The way we are captivated by professional sports or inclined to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ is indicative that this may be a trend whose lifespan is much longer than the average tech sensation.
Atlanta-based strategy firm Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) announces the release its Annual Report for 2012. Titled Sustainability in a Fragmented Marketing Economy, the report charts the origins of a myriad of specializations or niches in modern marketing in order to illuminate the importance of centralized strategy to unify these solutions and drive results in 2013 and beyond.
“Junction certainly does not fit the typical agency mold, and we decided that instead of creating an annual report touting our own achievements in 2012, we would take a different approach,” commented Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction. “We chose to present an idea that we predict will be on the tip of every marketer’s tongue next year.”
Founded in 2008, Junction has consistently leveraged the notion that sound strategy is key to designing solutions that create impact and maximize return on investment for its clients, who range from start up companies to the Fortune 500. As the marketplace becomes increasingly crowded, Junction has remained steadfast in its belief that multiple solutions linked by a core strategy are more effective in cutting through the noise.
“2012 has been a particularly influential year; Facebook’s IPO opened the world’s eyes to a new understanding of social media, mobile technology continued to grow and capture more of our attention and dollars, and we witnessed a Presidential election that set new standards for advertising spending while highlighting the state of business and the economy in America,” said Gareleck. “Although the game has changed considerably as the marketing ecosystem becomes more ‘fragmented,’ we believe marketers and agencies alike will find that looking to our past reveals that successful marketing and the power of a brand are fueled by consistency across communications, and the best way to achieve that consistency is to unify the core strategy.”
To view or download Sustainability in a Fragmented Marketing Economy, visit Junction’s website.