Passion is Our Purpose and It’s Fueling Our Business

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John Mackey, as co-CEO of Whole Foods, once said of entrepreneurs, “Though they want to make money — start businesses out of passion.” He went on to say: “Physicians make money, but their mission is to heal; teachers make money, but their desire is to educate; and architects make money, but they yearn to build.” Looking at the day to day, quarter to quarter postings of profitability statistics constantly ticking across the bottom of our video screens, one would be hesitant to extoll business intentions to be anything other than making a profit. The truth, however, is that the most profitable businesses began as a dream; a vision to create something non-existent; a goal to provide a solution to the yet unsolved; a passion to fulfill a very personal need.

It’s not that a profit motive is undesirable or misguided. Without profit, even the most well-intentioned business is unsustainable over time. Perhaps it is more of a chicken or egg thing. What comes first? In today’s most competitive environments customers want to be appreciated for being more than a source of revenue. They are looking to businesses to focus as much on delivering value and fulfilling a purpose as they do on profitability.

As we look at some businesses, it is easy to recognize that intentions can be misguided. “Many entrepreneurs enter into business thinking ‘I am going to get rich quick or I am going to take advantage of a gap in the industry and over-price customers for work,’” says Julie Gareleck, founder and CEO of Junction Creative Solutions (Junction). “Financially motivated organizations tend to be here today in good economic times and gone in tomorrow’s economic down-turn. Purpose and value must be foundational to a company’s vision and must align with the organization’s financial goals for profitability.”

The Junction team of experienced professionals is passionately focused on partnering with clients to create value. “Whether developing a complex comprehensive strategy or executing digital solutions, it’s all about our customers, and the process of providing quality work. It is the differentiator in our business,” says Gareleck. “We don’t take on clients just to take on clients. We invest our time and energy into clients that want our help and want to partner with us to achieve something greater.  It is a model for success that we have proven over and over.”

“When you believe in something the force of your convictions will spark other people’s interest and motivate them to help you achieve your goals. This is essential to success.”- Richard Branson.

To learn more about Junction’s passion for helping others to achieve success, call 678-686-1125.

Missing an Opportunity to Positively Advance the Corporate Brand

How one major retailer is botching a socially responsible message!

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Social responsibility is becoming an increasingly important aspect of marketing a business in America. Consumers are commanding that small and large business adopt practices that mirror their individual concerns on the impact of company’s operational activities on the environment and other social issues. To be responsible and to attract eco-friendly consumers, retailers across the country are adopting policies that deliver on consumers’ social and environmental expectations.

As many states implement laws that regulate reusable plastic bags and containers, some retailers are getting out in front of legislative efforts and imposing new policies that align with consumer expectations. Recognizing the potential benefit to implementing eco-friendly packaging, some major retailers are voluntarily replacing reusable plastic bags and containers with biodegradable, recyclable or reusable, carry-away containers for customer purchases. Clearly market leaders believe that what is good for customers’ concern for the environment is good for business.

In May, Disney announced that it would be eliminating plastic bags and switching to reusable bags at 215 of its retail stores nationwide and, for one week, guests at its stores would receive a branded, reusable bag for free while supplies lasted. The move came as a surprise to consumers as well as other industry leaders who instituted free, environmentally responsible alternative packaging to customers. Apparently at Disney, the new policy on eco-packaging would be to require customers to pay an additional fee of 99 cents for their corporate social concerns. For loyal Disney patrons, many of whom failed to get the limited release of the memo, the display of social responsibility by the corporate giant felt more like consumer extortion, rather than an example of a corporate culture of social and environmental responsibility.

In a recent visit to a Disney Store in the Atlanta area, two loyal Disney customers approached the counter with armfuls of items to purchase. After tallying the sale, the Disney associate asked the customers if they would like to purchase a branded, reusable container bag for their numerous items. After declining the offer, the customers were told that they were welcome to carry out the items without a bag but that Disney would no longer be providing free carry-out containers, plastic or otherwise. The cashier went on to explain that management was “concerned about employees spending too much time unpacking all those boxes of plastic bags and that many of their customers were very upset over the new policy.” No kidding!

It is hard to imagine a more egregious example of engaging a new corporate policy that was meant to demonstrate a company’s positive environmental responsibility. Is the cost of Disney’s environmental responsibility being imposed, in total, on their customers? Is the real policy meant to display a corporate concern for the well-being of the environment or concern for the cost associated with employees’ efforts to unpack “all those boxes of bags?” Surely, incorporating the cost of free, branded bags could be absorbed into the cost of doing business (as the former plastic bags were) or charged-off to the marketing collateral budget. Just imagine all those “Disney” blazed bags with their long shelf life walking forever through grocery stores, big box competitors and shopping malls all around the country.

Perhaps the new policy introduction has suffered from Mr. Murphy’s law or from poor messaging, or a misunderstanding by some isolated corporate associates. Whatever the reasons for this marketing debacle the new policy cannot be seen as leading to any positive result for the corporate giant or its loyal customers.

With online purchases at an all-time high, brick and mortar retailers are being encouraged to focus marketing efforts on providing a positive and engaging shopping experience to customers. It is inarguably being predicted that their very survival depends on it. Either Disney management failed to recognize the importance of consumers’ shopping experience or they have failed to grasp the fundamentals of rolling out an important new policy that surely was designed to positively advance the Company’s brand.

The Most Important Marketing Content is Video

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It is interesting that the more that fundamentals of just about everything change with time and technology, the more so many well-established truisms remain the same.  The era of content being king in marketing is giving way to a new visual medium, a rerun of the progression from printed media advertising to television more than a half century ago. Despite all the dramatic shifts in the methods of communications over time, a picture is still worth a thousand words.

Today the most important  content marketing is video. Regardless of the platform; Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or YouTube, video has become an essential part of any organization’s overall marketing strategy. Video seems to be adding value to the customer’s content experience. When both video and text are available on the same page, 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service, and 85% of consumers indicate that they prefer to see more video from brands in the coming year. With such positive response from consumers, brands are responding by increasing video participation.

With 81% of businesses utilizing video in marketing campaigns (up from 63% just a year ago), 99% of those predict they will continue to use the medium in the future. Clearly content alone is being dethroned. Video is here to stay and marketers should embrace the change. The medium brings with it more opportunity for brands to be creative in their messaging. As with content alone, quality trumps quantity.

With four distinctive platforms available, videos can be created to take advantage of each platform’s unique targeting capabilities. Whatever the goal of the video, it should be defined at the outset of the process and be used to tailor a particular strategy. Consumers are becoming increasingly selective about the content they consume, so it is important to develop videos that are educational and entertaining.

The cost of producing a single video can range from $1,000 to $10,000 depending upon the level of complexity and professionalism of the production, but with 64% of consumers more likely to make a purchase after watching a video and with the potential of reaching millions of viewers with one single video, the cost is justified.

For more on how video can impact your brand’s awareness and its importance in an effective content marketing strategy, contact Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) at   678-686-1125.

Overcoming the Challenges of Succeeding in Business

 

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“The most admirable benefit to being self-employed is having the freedom to select which 80 hours to work each week.” For those unaccustomed to the realities of becoming an entrepreneur, the most common misconception is that with the ability to cut ties with regular paychecks from an employer comes freedom from the commands of another. In reality those who choose to step out from the pack and start a new business are trading one demanding 40-hour work week for an all-consuming lifestyle that is full of daunting challenges and surrounded by seemingly endless numbers of foes bent on stealing the dream.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50% of small businesses fail in the first year and 95% fail within the first five years. So, with that statistic in mind; what is wrong with all the small business people out there?

Obviously, the challenges to achievement of success in business are many, formidable and often complex. Financing, marketing, administrative tasks and acquiring needed talent just to name a few. Most say that the leading hurdle in running a business is the demand of time. Small business ownership is generally a lonely journey, particularly in the beginning. Nearly a quarter of all small business owners feel that having enough time to get everything done each day is their most formidable barrier to formulating the long-term strategies necessary to succeed. The Small Business Growth Index found that 65 percent of small business owners believe technology innovations are making it easier to streamline business operations.

Fortunately, the technology that is providing large businesses significant competitive advantages in the marketplace is also providing endless opportunities for small businesses to automate routine and redundant everyday activities, permitting much needed time for owners to focus on long-term goals and objectives without sacrificing quality performance. Developing a reasonable and achievable plan and working the plan has never been more important to achieving success in business.

While 95 percent of all business owners admit to performing their own marketing, less than half identify themselves as being “marketing savvy.” The universe of marketing is experiencing a revolution. The Internet, social media platforms, mobile devices and an increasingly expanding range of digital technology is providing a plethora of new vehicles to connect with consumers. Selecting an affordable mix of marketing collateral that project your unique business proposition to your targeted customer requires time and an understanding of what vehicle will best suit your particular business needs. With most small businesses unable to afford in-house marketing professionals, outsourcing the marketing function to experienced marketing professionals can have an immediate positive impact on a small business.

Attracting and selecting qualified employees is perhaps the most challenging of all tasks facing small businesses today. Identifying and onboarding the talent needed to establish and grow a sustainable business is paramount to success. Filling a need for individuals who share your passion for achieving the vision, who mirror the company culture and who can bring valuable insight, skill and effort to the journey is difficult and time consuming but is essential to earning a place in the 5 percent club.

Each year there are more than 600,000 new businesses opened by people who, as statistics suggest, have something wrong with them. The reasons given by those who choose to establish a small business is varied. Some profess a need to command their own destiny or are compelled by a need fulfill a personal passion. Some relish the immensity of the challenge and still others are attracted to the game of risk and reward. The reasons, perhaps, are as many as the challenges to be overcome.

For more on how Junction Creative Solutions’ (Junction) experienced marketing professionals and business development experts can help you overcome the many small business challenges, call 678-686-1125.

Junction Taking a Page from Its Own Playbook As It Expands Its Team

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There are a multitude of skill sets required to successfully achieve a business owner’s vision, each practiced daily and each with its own level of importance.  Perhaps the most important of these skills is hiring, onboarding and motivating the right people who will be instrumental in achieving the vision.  American author and lecturer on the subject of company sustainability and growth, Jim Collins said, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

At Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), we share the idea that hiring great people impacts virtually every aspect of an organization, from company culture and values to the ability to innovate, adapt, and remain focused on achieving the vision. Building a team of qualified associates makes it possible for a business to differentiate itself from the competition, establish a credible brand, and deliver a superior customer experience.

“Junction, for nearly a decade, remains focused on building a team of talented professionals to not only drive our business but also our clients forward,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions (Junction). “As Junction’s portfolio continues to expand, the need for qualified people with the skills to manage and execute multi-faceted, integrated strategies and solutions has been a critical area of focus.”

Susan Lynam, a former Account Manager for a Global Healthcare Company and an entrepreneur, has enabled Junction to improve its internal and external processes to better serve our clients.  With nearly 2 decades of expertise in business management, logistics, and operations, Junction is excited to have Susan as a valuable member of the team. “Susan’s insights and experience have made a significant impact on our business in the last year.  Her professionalism and positive approach to problem-solving have made her an asset to our team,” comments Julie.

Kai Weber, a marketing veteran, has successfully built corporate marketing teams and managed complex marketing initiatives for a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley.  Kai, as a Strategic Account Manager, will be focused on new client acquisition and account management.  In her role, she will work to expand opportunities for Junction and contribute to the growth of the firm. “Kai brings a unique viewpoint to Junction’s team. In her previous roles, she was the client working with agencies.  This insight will help Junction provide an unmatched client experience.”

Growth, while positive, can have its own challenges.  As purveyors of strategy, Junction is taking a page from its own playbook. “As we grow our team, we have to be sure that we have the right folks in the right seats to drive this business forward.  In an environment with a multi-generational, technology focused mindset, finding top talent is especially difficult although not impossible.”

Data Centricity Becoming a Key Objective for Organizations

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The data generated and collected from smart devices, laptops, wearables and even consumer appliances is mounting. The volume of data collected is outpacing organizations’ ability to timely evaluate, measure and react effectively. Organizations are struggling to gain optimal, efficient results that permit them to take effective advantage of critical opportunities. Fractured data, collected from numerous silos, can impact a company’s ability to respond to consumer trends and can result in inefficiencies in delivering consistent brand messaging across marketing channels.

A recent study conducted by the Winterberry Group entitled “The Data-Centric Organization 2018” found that marketing media and commerce are becoming more focused on centralizing marketing data functions to take full advantage of efficiencies in campaigns and cost. According to McKinsey & Company, centralized marketing analytics will save 15-30% of an organization’s marketing budget.

Centralization of data collection and management can reduce reporting times by 80-90 percent and may result in a more consistent stream of reporting. A centralized approach will eliminate unnecessary task-oriented labor and will provide more time for marketing professionals to focus on creative and strategic functions, leading to more effective and responsive campaigns. According to the Winterberry Group study, data centricity will improve team collaboration, more effectively direct segmentation and result in better brand messaging.  In organizations where marketing is identified as a cost center, return on investment (ROI) will be more easily measured.

Achieving centralized marketing data allows a company to take advantage of technology and create additional opportunities to grow the business. “Nearly 50% of the marketers, publishers and tech developers in North America surveyed by Winterberry Group in 2017 said that centralizing ownership of data would be one of the most important changes that their organization could make to derive value from their data.”

“Centralizing data ownership has been a big focus as advertisers take programmatic and data management contracts in-house to gain a complete view of their consumer,” said David Lee, programmatic group lead at ad agency The Richards Group. “This has allowed clients to see where the gaps in their data are.”

With programmatic advertising predicted to account for the majority of advertising spend by the end of this year, taking ownership and streamlining data management has become a key objective for organizations across the industry spectrum.

Advertisers are Rushing to Assure Brand Safety

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For marketers it seemed like a gift from the technology gods. Digital marketing, the limitless opportunity to reach out and connect with infinite numbers of potential customers and grab their undivided attention to your messages where they live, shop, walk, play or relax. Never having to worry about printed media’s shelf life, missed delivered copies of the daily news bugle, mass distributed mailings or consumers planning their trips to the refrigerator during commercial breaks.

For a relatively paltry few cents per touch point, sellers can connect with a customer through smart phones, pads, desktops, laptops, wearable or even home appliances. By gathering up all the subsequent data, sellers can learn what the consumer bought, how and where they bought it, and potentially how much the customer earns, how many kids live with them in their single parent, multi-parent or no parent household, and how they were about to act. Digital marketing was promising an end to a consumer’s ability to escape the messaging even for an unobtrusive bathroom break. What could possibly go wrong with this new-found advertising utopia?

In a time where ultra-sensitivity prevails around every expressed comment, public position, personal opinion or mutual association, the answer has been revealed: plenty. With 37% of consumers saying their perception of a brand is altered when they see ads placed alongside offensive content, marketers are learning that just one misplaced advertisement can result in serious damage to the brand’s image and value. With major social media channels falling victim to careless handling of user data and insensitivity to accepting offensive content, marketers are rethinking the investment in many digital platforms. Major advertisers are responding to the threat by establishing policies that eliminate investment in platforms or environments that do not protect children or that create division in society or promote anger or hate.

Research indicates that 77 percent of brand marketers are convinced that failing to address brand safety directly impacts return on investment (ROI), leading a staggering 91% of digital marketers to implement or plan brand-safe strategies. Many of the world’s biggest advertisers are learning just how little control they have over their brands once they’ve been released into the digital media environment. James Londal, chief data officer at Hearts & Science says, “We want our adverts to appear in the best place. We need to have greater control over where ads appear, regardless of the platform. We need to have a certain standard of quality on the content. Platforms need to ensure the quality level is maintained.”

Facebook, Twitter and other digital platforms are finding themselves behind a learning curve and scrambling to undo the damage to advertisers’ brands and their own bottom lines. Regaining advertisers’ trust and confidence in the digital marketing chain is not likely to be quick. Some digital competitors are exploiting the problem by promising to fix internal failings and offering more advertiser control of ad placements. The solution may not lie only with the platforms and purveyors of digital media but with the industry as a whole. “I think that marketing as an industry needs to take a good look at itself and really question: am I truly, truly, truly a competitive value proposition such that I am a provider to the industry?” says, Andy Main, head of Deloitte Digital, told Marketing Dive. “A lot of it hasn’t been reinvented for decades and people are running out of juice on old business models that are so antiquated that people are just running away from them.”

Advertisers must reevaluate the level of the marketing department’s involvement in protecting the brand from association with offensive and damaging social commentary. Social responsibility has become an important part of a company’s overall marketing strategy. Being recognized as supporting universally accepted social issues can add significant brand value in an increasingly socially conscious market. In the new world of commerce, our grandfather’s lament to never speaking of politics and religion in conducting business is no longer a tenantable position. However, in a society equally divided over micro social and political issues, our forebearer’s advice may still hold some measure of validity.

Contact us to learn more about the importance of Reputation Management and how Junction can assist in protecting your brand!