The “JFAM: Live! Financial Marketers’ Conference”

JFAM Live!

The Gramercy Institute recently sponsored a remarkable gathering of some of the top minds in financial services marketing at the “JFAM: Live! Financial Marketers’ Conference” on Friday, September 27, in New York City. Some of the brightest senior leaders at the world’s top financial and marketing brands contributed to the discussion on the overarching theme: “Right Message to the Right Audience: Telling the Story of The Financial Brand”,

Julie Gareleck at JFAM Live

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) CEO Julie Gareleck represented her firm on a panel focused on “Telling Your Story & Telling It Well”. She was joined in the discussion by Lisa Hurwich, VP, Marketing Strategist, U.S. Trust /Bank of America Private Wealth, Josh Orth, Editorial Director, Allianz Global Investors and Kirti Srikant, AVP, Director of Brand Marketing & Advertising, Oppenheimer Funds.  “Communicating with the target consumer is essential to growing a client base in the financial industry.  Developing the right message, telling it well and directing it towards the right audience is essential to achieving dramatic improvement in return on marketing spend,” says Gareleck. “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in this event along with so many talented industry leaders.”

Other conference topics included;  “The Branding Benefit of Financial Education”, “Leveraging Real Brand Value in Financial”, “The Right Audience-The Right Message”, “Finding The Right Audience”, “Effective Content in Relevant Context” and “Innovating for Tomorrow’s Financial Marketing”.

JFAM Live!


The “JFAM: Live! Financial Marketers’ Conference”


The Gramercy Institute is pleased to announce a remarkable gathering of some of the top minds in financial services marketing at the “JFAM: Live! Financial Marketers’ Conference” on Friday, September 27, in New York City. Some of the brightest senior leaders at the world’s top financial and marketing brands will be contributing to the discussion on the overarching theme: “Right Message to the Right Audience: Telling the Story of The Financial Brand”,

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) CEO Julie Gareleck will represent her firm on a panel focused on “Telling Your Story & Telling It Well”. She will be joined in the discussion by Lisa Hurwich, VP, Marketing Strategist, U.S. Trust /Bank of America Private Wealth, Josh Orth, Editorial Director, Allianz Global Investors and Kirti Srikant, AVP, Director of Brand Marketing & Advertising, Oppenheimer Funds.  “Communicating with the target consumer is essential to growing a client base in the financial industry.  Developing the right message, telling it well and directing it towards the right audience is essential to achieving dramatic improvement in return on marketing spend,” says Gareleck. “We are looking forward to the participating with so many talented industry leaders.”

Other conference topics will include;  “The Branding Benefit of Financial Education”, “Leveraging Real Brand Value in Financial”, “The Right Audience-The Right Message”, “Finding The Right Audience”, “Effective Content in Relevant Context” and “Innovating for Tomorrow’s Financial Marketing”.

Junction Client Infinite Resource Solutions on Strategy, Acquisition, and Growth

Infinite Goes Live

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), an Atlanta based, award winning strategic agency, highlights Infinite Resource Solutions (Infinite).  Daveenia Beller, Infinite CEO, is executing successfully against the growth plan for the business providing an example to other entrepreneurs who are looking to achieve scalability.

Infinite Resource Solutions is the result of a merger between the former Infinite Recruiting Resources and Armada Data Solutions.  A certified woman-owned business, Infinite believes in providing workplace solutions and services to achieve short-term goals while executing against the long-term vision of its clients and offers a unique combination of consulting talent and implementation expertise on demand.

“Aside from the basic benefits of reducing capital costs, overhead and achieving other efficiencies, this merger is much more than that in our eyes.  Our merger was not a strategy, but a means to implement strategy,” comments Daveenia Beller, Managing Partner & Founder, Infinite.  “In most mergers one company loses its identity and the surviving company assumes all rights.  This merger for us, is more of a consolidation of quality service offerings within different, but closely related, verticals.  We are expanding our service offering to accommodate the requested demands of our clients.  We have evolved to form a completely new identity, Infinite Resource Solutions, a company which specializes in “resource management”, which includes the following: hardware and infrastructure needs, security, staffing or professional services.”

On the heels of the recent acquisition, Infinite launched a new website showcasing its best-in-class, IT staffing and professional services.  Infinite’s services marry emerging technology with business solutions that offer its clients the agility and adaptability necessary to successfully respond to an ever-changing business environment.  In addition to the new website, the Junction Team provided creative direction on logo rework and newly blended collateral such as, newsletter design, sales presentation, a new blog design and expanded social media initiatives.  Infinite’s new “Resource Solutions Blog” offers unique and timely dialog on the day’s most pressing and interesting subjects in business, industry and personal career building.

“We are now providing a service offering to a client base in which we would not have been able to attract independent of the merger.  I believe our firm’s long-term strategic plan is well thought out. The merger fits the strategy, and success measures should follow naturally as long as we continue to position ourselves within the market, and most importantly keep a strong pulse on client satisfaction.  Sky’s the limit,” says Beller.

Julie Gareleck, Junction CEO and Managing Partner, commented, “The acquisition is a testament to Daveenia’s leadership and adeptness in developing a strategy and executing against it.  She has not only built a brand but a solid reputation as a leader in the industry.  We look forward to working with Infinite as the business grows!”

To view Infinite’s newly branded initiatives, visit  To learn more about how Junction combines the intellectual capital of a business consulting firm with the creative execution of an advertising agency to deliver cost-effective, comprehensive solutions, visit

Trending Digital and Social Marketing Strategies for the Financial Industry

Financial Advisors

The financial services industry, those often perceived stogy, straight laced and too well-established entities, are firms that provide economic products and services that encompass a broad range of organizations that manage money, including credit unions, banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, accountancy companies, consumer finance companies, stock brokerages, investment funds and some government sponsored enterprises.  Known as one of the industries that is notoriously slow to catch on to new technologies, marketers have long been stymied by concerns about security and reputation on public pages, poorly-executed strategies and missed opportunities.

During the national and global meltdown in 2009, purveyors of financial services in general took a hit to their reputations, public perception and consumer trust and loyalty.  Given the shortness of the economic recovery and the length of consumers memories formulating a strategic marketing plan to move the financial industry to full recovery and future growth is a daunting challenge to industry marketers.

Marketing in the finance industry is nothing less than a minefield, with controversy lurking around every corner and products that often are physically intangible and beneficially misunderstood by consumers. As regulation surrounding all parts of the finance industry gets stricter, it is becoming more difficult for various firms to market their services. The challenge isn’t beating the regulation, but coming up with creative ways to market products and services.  Collective trust in financial organizations remains low and marketing initiatives are often seen as trying to gloss over any shortcomings a financial brand might have had in the past.  Simply continuing to pump out traditional marketing campaigns isn’t the answer.  Often, owning up to the mistakes of the past and putting forth a plan to address those negatives in the future is the first step in gaining attention and begin restoring consumer trust.

Everyone has an opinion of financial matters, but it is still the minority that holds real knowledge about what products and services are available and how the industry works. This creates challenges in a world where most people find themselves occupied with concerns about when they’re getting paid and how much disposable income they have left after paying their bills, and how to start planning for retirement.  For the majority of consumers, seeing the benefits of purchasing a new car, television or the latest fashion is easy but for most consumers, financial services are a mystery and few have an understanding as to why and how any of the products and services should be important to them.  Educating the target consumer is elemental to growing a client base. Marketing is wasted effort if it isn’t directed at the right people. The internet is providing an exciting opportunity to find, target and capture the attention of specific market segments faster and more economically than with past media options.

While the finance industry is arguably one of the most challenging of all in which to achieve a successful marketing campaign understanding the challenges and how to meet them, these firms can enjoy a dramatic improvement in their return on marketing spend.  Social media is becoming a broader part of industry strategy aimed at engaging customers and is fundamentally reshaping the way financial services companies market themselves, and how effectively they do it.  A report from the McKinsey Global Institute, “The Social Economy: Unlocking and Productivity Through Social Technologies,“ found that social technology not only boosts productivity in marketing departments, but also adds 5.2 percent to companies’ top-line revenues. That makes social technology one of the biggest-drivers of value generation in marketing departments today.

Traditional cost-saving strategies employed by financial firms, such as mass direct-mailings, which most often wind up in the trash cans of potential customers, can actually have a negative impact on marketing effectiveness as a whole. McKinsey says that, by using social media-generated data instead, banks can move away from mass-marketing and target consumers based on their specific needs. Financial firms can leverage social technologies to target consumers based on the major life events that many consumers broadcast to their social networks. Some companies like Credit Suisse, Sun Life Financial and Putnam Investments are moving ahead in the learning curve and beginning to take a more innovative approach to content.

Customer acquisition remains a huge cost for financial institutions, according to the McKinsey report. On average, banks and other financial companies spend between $70 and $300 to acquire each new customer.  However, McKinsey’s research shows that across banking and insurance, social technologies can actually reduce the cost of customer acquisition by as much as 30 percent and customers who interact with companies on Twitter and other social media are likely to buy up to 40 percent more products and services from those companies.  Some industry companies, such as American Express and MasterCard, are already harnessing the power of Facebook and Twitter and Morgan Stanley is effectively leveraging Twitter and LinkedIn for business and client communication.

Forming a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is a key element to successfully advancing the goals of today’s trending financial companies who desire to develop new and reliable sources of revenue, enrich and increase the business value of customer relationships, restore public confidence in their firm and the industry and effectively deal with aggressive and innovative competitors.  A successful new strategy will address new core markets and customer segments that will focus on smaller and more specialized market niches.

From Catalogs to eCommerce: J Crew Remains Relevant


J. CrewThe most famous and successful family owned brands in the fashion industry have managed to survive multiple economic downturns, two world wars, numerous global conflicts, two depressions, countless fads and fashion faux pause’s only to face a new technological threat.  Anchored with well-established brick and mortar stores, catalogues and traditional mail order operations, many of the best known family brands are beginning to feel the weight of their own history.  Saddled with the hard costs of traditional marketing and product delivery models, long standing fashion brands are moving to reposition and redirect their investments in online marketing models to compete with the new, digital driven, online fashion brands.

Void of the traditional physical acumens of architecture, forms and functional displays, the internet is presenting a challenge to established family retailers who are falling behind the shift in media consumption and the rapid changes in consumer behavior.  Companies such as NastyGal, Moda Operandi and Gilt Group are  digital-driven fashion brands, selling clothing directly to the consumer without traditional fixed retail costs and who are targeting the new age Internet generation while taking a dramatically different approach.  These new wave fashion retail companies share a common trait; they are tech savvy and understand how to leverage the ‘new’ internet and social media as a marketing and distribution channel.

The key to building successful e-commerce businesses lies in creating lasting consumer value and satisfied customers who share their experience with their friends and family on Social Media.  Internet marketing leaders build success on differentiation, perceived value, consumer targeting and a mastery effective content creation.  Established brand owners rely heavily on physical product displays to present their fashions, but with e-commerce mastery of photography, imaging, video and visually, explicit content is essential for customers to see via the content.

Despite major shake-ups in 2011, J. Crew has stayed true to its upscale trend-right classics in creative store environments and is making impressive progress on moving the traditional brick, mortar and catalog retailer into a leading internet marketer.   While its offerings aren’t for everyone, the New York City-based clothier has perfected the distinctive preppy-yet-hip apparel to appeal to its young, upscale consumers.  And with, it has created a Web site that makes online shopping as easy as ordering from a catalog. J. Crew is currently working with Sun Microsystems to create a whole new Web site with more personalized shopping features, such as one-click ordering and recommendations based on order history. The revamped site should be up by early fall-just in time for holiday shopping.

Listening to customer feedback, never compromising on customer experience or service, filling a very real gap or inefficiency in the fashion market and setting one’s product apart from the competitors are key strategies for success in the digital marketplace.  For the well-established family brands to remain relevant in the new digital marketing era, they will need to reposition marketing strategies to capture audiences across devices. The electronic recreation of the excitement and anticipation once experienced by consumers upon receipt of their holiday edition of the Sears and Roebuck’s catalog is now the challenge of traditional family brands who wish to compete in the new digital marketing era.

How Marketable Is Meat?

invitro meant

It seems that every other day we are pounded by one scientific study or another which warns of the danger of eating real meat.  The concerns that the growing demand for meat is putting unsustainable pressure on the planet, both through the food required for the animals and the methane gas they produce, which contributes to global warming.  Since the turn of the new century work has been ongoing on  in vitro meat in the laboratory.  In vitro meat, also known as cultured meat, victimless meat, cruelty-free meat, test-tube meat, tubesteak, or shmeat, is an animal flesh product that has never been part of a living animal.  There are still many difficulties to overcome before in vitro meat can be available in supermarkets and cultured meat is currently prohibitively expensive, but it is anticipated that the cost could be reduced to compete with conventionally obtained meat as technology evolves.

Earlier this month the first in vitro beef-burger, created by a Dutch team, was eaten at a demonstration for the press in London.  The five ounce patty made using strands of meat grown from muscle cells taken from a living cow was mixed with salt, egg powder and breadcrumbs to improve the taste, and coloured with red beetroot juice and saffron.  Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University, whose lab developed the meat, says, “It is safe and has the potential to replace normal meat in the diets of millions of people.” The taster’s comments as to the flavor and texture were mixed and lacked a measurable amount of enthusiasm for the new technological delicacy.  The cost of the 5-ounce burger was estimated to be $330,000.  While it’s not much of a stretch to predict that the “new meat” will be found on super market shelves in 10 to 20 years, it is much more likely to remain there, on the shelves, given the current price point.

The project is the result of years of research which saw the scientists graduating from mouse meat, to pork and then beef. It was bankrolled by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, whose involvement was kept a secret until the demonstration this month.  Sergey said he got involved due to animal welfare reasons and his disgust with modern farming methods. He added: “When you see how these cows are treated, it’s not something I’m ­comfortable with.”  Really Sergey, “mouse meat”?

Whether you agree with the process or the need for a meatless meat, many challenges remain for those whose job it will ultimately be to market the products borne from a test tube in a laboratory.  After all, given that its origins are derived from animal cells, is it meat or not?  In the case of meatless burgers, or vegetable burgers, which are made primarily from soy and vegetable by-products, the problem was simple.  It’s not meat so call it anything else you like.

For those who are old enough to remember, either through personal experience or through stories told to them by members of their former generation, Hormel Foods successfully navigated around a similar dilemma in 1937.  In an era of great economic depression, making use of the whole hog (so to speak) became an art practiced by all who were committed to survival.  Spam, a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation,  listed ingredients as chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. Spam’s gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock.  The product has become part of many jokes and urban legends about mystery meat, which has made it part of pop culture and folklore.  The heart of this debate is rooted in the term “100% meat product” when truly and honestly defined refers to anything that was originally part of the meat source, often to include parts and partials of the animal not thought be eatable before it was collected, ground-up, seasoned and disguised as something palatable.

Today, Hormel continues to navigate the marketing hazards with such creative prose as:  “After more than 75 years in the marketplace, the SPAM® family of products is still the tasty, high-quality kitchen staple the world has come to know and love. SPAM® products are fully-cooked, made of 100 percent pure pork and ham and conveniently packaged for a distinct savory and salty-sweet taste that has been enjoyed by millions for generations. The GLORIOUS SPAM® family of product’s, are great for yesterday, today and tomorrow. Give them a try and find out why.”

Perhaps, with such an accomplished mentor and predecessor to act as our example and guide, navigating the marketing landscape of in vitro beef may not be such a challenging journey after all.

Fliike, The Virtual Pet Rock

Pet Rock

According to Smiirl, the new technology gadget company, its passionate team of professionals is working hard to give the internet a tangible reality and is developing an ecosystem of innovative, connected objects that shorten the link between the digital and physical worlds.  Fliike, the company’s first product is the first physical Facebook Fan counter specially designed for local businesses, public places or Marketing departments.  When connected to the “Smiirl” Wi-Fi network, the devise tracks and displays the number of “Like’s” that a Facebook account receives.

The counter measures 16.5 inches wide by 4.72 inches square and displays up to five “flipping” digits to show your customers or your marketing staff just how popular you are on Facebook.  Priced at just $390.00 each, the mechanical score keeper will be available by the end of 2013.  The display can be placed on a counter, desk or hung on the wall.

It is hard to say what real value such a devise is going to have on engaging customers to a business’s physical location, but the price point will certainly attract those who find it important to have the latest electronic thing that has even the remotest of anything to do with the virtual world.  And to the legion of fanatic fans of Facebook, the initial limited production of 500 units is sure to trigger a” get them while their hot” response.

But before Fliike becomes a must have piece of equipment for main street marketers it will surely need to prove its value in driving and engaging customers to making a purchase decision.  Simply counting and displaying the number of fans you have is akin to counting sheep.  After all, If it doesn’t cause you to fall asleep then it’s likely nothing more than a just a curious exercise.  Pet rock anyone?

Giving New Meaning to the Term “Technology Drunk”

Bar Eye App

I guess it was inevitable that sooner or later some enterprising, tech savvy entrepreneur would figure out a way to utilize modern mobile technology to ply a generations old pick-up tactic.  BarEye, a social nightlife app that helps you purchase drinks at partner bars, is expanding after its pilot in Tallahassee to five major U.S. cities: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta and Austin.  After downloading the BarEye app, a user can buy drinks for friends through Facebook or to anyone checked in to a BarEye bar and even include a message to say congratulations, happy birthday or to start a conversation.  The app is meant to make ordering and sending drinks simple and accessible to today’s bar patrons, who are all equipped with smartphones.

Bars that elect to use BarEye pay $200 for the service and co-founder Andrew Bennett says he is confident he can sign on a large amount of bars for free through franchisees, each of which will manage about 100 bars in a given location, and negate the need to scale sales and marketing teams.  “Relative to the market, less than one percent of bars have anything like this, so it’s wide open. So it’s really about finding a way to scale, and we really think that the franchise model is the way it can be done,” Bennett says.

Some bar-owners are a little skeptical because the app is a revolutionary way of generating revenue or attracting patrons into their establishments, but operators catering to the 21-25 year old segment see the new app as a way to further attract and engage smartphone drunk consumers.  There are several other apps trying to do the same thing, but all are still limited to one specific market.  Both Gratafy and BuzzMe take the concept of BarEye one step further by allowing users to order appetizers and other menu items for friends, as well as drinks.  BarEye founders feel as though they can gain a significant edge on any up-and-coming competition by achieving quick adoption in large cities.

If successful in accomplishing wide-spread availability the new apps may well change the social pick-up dialog for future generations.  Imagine hearing, “Have I met your smart phone before?” or “May my mobile device buy your mobile device a drink?”  Somehow for many “Baby Boomers” and “Millennials”, who are well experienced in the art of gadfly chatter, it just will never be as romantic as “Say, Have we met before?”