Achieving a Vision for the Future through Value-Based Leadership

The need for effective leadership in business has never been more in demand in the history of commerce. The dynamic conditions that exist in this technology driven, disruptive business environment are dramatic in comparison to times past. With organizations under constant pressure to cut costs, develop new products, become more efficient and improve quality just to remain competitive, effective leadership at all levels is crucial to survival and success.

Much debate and discussion abounds over what constitutes a leader, what qualities one must possess and what style of leadership is most effective. Leadership can be hard to define and it means different things to different people. Leaders set direction and help others do the right thing to achieve the company’s vision. While leaders manage delivery of the vision and facilitate and inspire others to achieve a shared objective, leadership is not management. People are led, processes are managed.  As French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist, and pioneering aviator opined, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

A well led organization’s values should be clearly defined and are the basis for a company’s culture.  Today, more than ever, “Leaders must lean on the values of the organization to drive performance, especially during times of change. Values should be the bedrock of why the company exists, how it makes decisions and its true purpose.” Metrics and milestones are still important in measuring performance, but values are at the core of what and how those measures are achieved.

Values-based leaders communicate organizational values to employees by connecting company goals to employees’ personal values. Such leaders focus on the organization’s core beliefs to facilitate employees’ belief in the sincerity and depth of the organization’s mission. Leadership must lead with overt confidence and by example, communicating consistently the vision for the future. “It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse,” said Adlai E. Stevenson II.

Today’s best companies focus on a realistic and compelling vision and are led by those who demonstrate an ability to inspire, motivate, coach and deliver on achieving the vision. As leadership expert Warren Bennis once stated, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

Ultimately a leader will be judged on the ability to maximize the potential and performance of an organization’s human resources, who together successfully create value and sustainability into the future.

For information about how Junction Creative Solutions’ experienced team of business development experts can help you lead your organization to achieving an inspiring vision, contact

Technology Changes Coming for Popular eCommerce Platform

For nearly 25 years, buying and selling over the internet has revolutionized the retail industry. Ecommerce, in the early years, was largely limited to B2B transactions but has grown to threaten traditional brick and mortar retailing all across the industry spectrum. Today, almost everyone in the United States has made a purchase on the internet and 80 percent of consumers have made a purchase within the last 30 days. Once considered a novel, passing threat, online sales were positioned to surpass $2 trillion dollars by the end of 2017 as consumers continue to make eCommerce a way of life. Some reports predict eCommerce will reach $4 trillion dollars by the year 2020.

The explosion of online stores has been the result of the availability of digital platforms that are easy to develop, user friendly, economical to build and efficient to operate. One such platform, Magento, became very popular among small to modest sized internet retailers when it was first introduced.  Built and developed as a flexible platform that permitted users to create stores with a variety of functions, it featured pre-made extensions that made changes or modifications easier to implement.  Unfortunately, the focus on flexibility left many users wanting options when it came to performance optimization, mobile-responsiveness and expanded administrative capabilities. Technology advancements and the demand for higher performance and increased user-friendly options spawned Magento 2.0.

Introduced in 2015, Magento 2.0 promises to address many of the short comings of its previous version.  Compared to its predecessor 2.0 will run, on average, 20 percent faster resulting in more sales and increases in website search engine optimization. The checkout process is more streamlined allowing customers to navigate quicker through the purchase decision to checkout. Additional extensions and better administrative interface help reduce time spent managing the online store. With more and more consumers utilizing their mobile devices to complete their shopping, version 2.0 has an improved look and functionality on mobile devices. Most important, Magento 2.0 promises to grow its capabilities as the online store grows.

Change is never easy, and many online retailers are reluctant to migrate from their current version to a newer version of the platform. Fear of disrupting their online business is the most common concern among retailers considering an update, but costs of maintaining older versions can soon eat away at initial apprehensions. With immediate improvements in scalability, usability, security and better consumer experience, making the move sooner rather than later may prove to be the best option. In addition, Magento has announced that they will stop supporting the 1.9 version or below in November 2018.

What does this mean?  For those eTailers on previous versions, it will require a complete redesign and development of the website to the Magento 2.0 platform. It’s not a standard upgrade. “Clients are coming to us asking when they need to move to Magento 2.0,” commented Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction. “If a client doesn’t want to move to the latest platform, they run the risk of having issues that can’t be resolved. If the shopping cart breaks, there is no supported fix from Magento. We encourage our clients to begin planning for the migration so that they can continue to operate the business without interruption.”

The other important consideration for the migration to Magento 2.0 is selecting a responsible partner to assist with the migration. “We have been working with Magento 2.0 since it was released. We are now starting to see firms quote outrageous prices for this conversion as they take advantage of Magento’s platform upgrade. We’ve had many clients question why our pricing is more competitive than others.  Our experience in the industry over the last 2 decades and our Magento expertise enables us to provide our clients with pricing that reflects the work required to complete their goals and objectives.”

For more information on upgrading and how Junction Creative Solutions can help you navigate to a platform designed to enhance the growth and sustainability of your online store, contact

TradeAutoX™ Launches Online Marketplace for Dealers & Wholesalers

With the introduction of a multitude of auto purchase apps and creative alternative marketing channels, traditional auto seller marketing strategies and tactics are quickly being impacted as fees continue to rise and margins decrease.  The art and science of managing used car inventory off the lot is seemingly more complex.  The automotive industry is set to adopt new technologies to replace and improve antiquated and cost laden systems.  One company, TradeAutoX™, has launched a 24/7 online marketing platform for dealers and wholesalers to buy and sell used car inventory in real time.

TradeAutoX™ was founded to create efficiencies, cultivate an exclusive network, and improve the bottom line for all parties involved in buying and selling of used car inventory. Founded by automotive industry veterans, Louis Robert Spaeth and Michael Zimmerman, TradeAutoX™ is redefining the online model for buying and selling cars. The combination of the robust online platform and the vetted Nationwide network differentiates TradeAutoX™ from the other digital solutions on the market. Spaeth and Zimmerman are focused and passionate about identifying ways to incorporate technology into an industry that is being failed by traditional processes.

“Franchised dealers and independent dealers can create their own network inside our site, solving a problem that has been a part of the landscape for decades.,” comments Robert Spaeth, CEO, TradeAutoX™.

With a mission to improve gross margins for dealers, reduce fees for wholesalers, and open opportunities for independent dealerships to source its own inventory, TradeAutoX™ is committed to adapting and improving its platform to meet the increasing demands of its members.

TradeAutoX™ partnered with Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) to customize an innovative platform, creating an online marketplace to connect end to end users. The Junction team is experienced and adept at building and fully implementing smart and customizable digital platforms. “As Junction’s portfolio continues to expand, the breadth of our expertise managing and executing multi-faceted, integrated strategies and solutions expands” says Gareleck. “We pride ourselves on responsibly taking on projects that we are confident our team can deliver on. We strive to not only meet our clients’ expectations but exceed them.”

For more information on how TradeAutoX™ is redefining the online model for buying and selling cars, visit

March Madness, The Final Marketers’ Trifecta Event

The Trifecta of sporting events sponsorship only comes along every four years. With the 2018 Winter Olympics barely closed, the craziness of March Madness looms just around the corner as eager, but cautious, mega brands are contemplating an advertising strategy. The stratospheric costs to play the advertising game at this year’s Super Bowl had even the most hardened and committed marketers nervous about the value of the play. For some brands, the opportunity to pull off a triple play permitted them to spread the risk, making the adventure more palatable. For those who failed to demonstrate a winning performance on Super Bowl Sunday, the Olympics provided a chance to at least score a medal at PyeongChang or bring home an upset victory at March Madness.

Last year the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship generated a record-setting $1.24 Billion in television advertising spend. The three week event known as “March Madness” provides brands an integrated platform of offline and online channels, social media conversations, branded placements and experiential events. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is consistently the second largest post-season sports franchise, trailing only the National Football League (NFL) playoffs. The NCAA has successfully monetized the sporting event through media rights fees and corporate sponsorship payments.

The ad generating opportunity doesn’t end at video streaming and traditional television media. With all the games streaming online, fans and sponsors can connect through live video casts, real-time scores, statistics and other related content through web browsers and mobile apps. Facebook continues to take a more proactive role in playing the statistical game. Marketers will be able to tap into fans’ conversations to increase exposure. Facebook conversations during March Madness 2016 grew by an astounding 40 percent year over year. Worldwide more than 650 million people are connected to a sports-related page on the network, while 165 million follow a sports account on Instagram.

Making the sporting trifecta commitment doesn’t insolate ad players from losing though. With fan participation falling in major sporting events, muffing the ad-ball out of bounds can still result in some marketers being benched.  “You’re not necessarily going to get fired for putting more money on YouTube or more money in Google search, Facebook or even Snapchat at this point in time,” said one media buyer in 2017. “Yet they may question you when you say you’re going to spend $5 million on a Super Bowl spot, or $1.5 on the NCAA tourney and have it fall flat or be an unexciting game or have it underdeliver.”

Unlike the digital play call where social analytics effectiveness can be evaluated immediately, video, display and sponsorship advertising often requires an incubation period following the performance to measure success or failure. The cumulative, longer term impact of even an effective cross-channel effort may not be fully realized for months after the game’s champions are crowned. The marketing champion of this year’s big trifecta remains to be seen.

A Well-Developed Strategy Considers The Importance of Each Line of Achievement

At first contemplation it appears to be very simple in design and construction. A mark or stroke that is longer in proportion in its length than its width. Usually generated by hand or machine and applied to a surface it can be thin or wide. Used in a group of more than one it is most commonly used to designate a position or to connect a number of continuous points or denote a measurement of progression.

We are taught from the earliest of our years that in their most efficient form a straight one represents the shortest distance between two points and that we are at our best when we color or behave within the confines of more than one of them. Lines can be identified as going up or down, coming before or after, be in, out, over or under depending upon the context of their environment or purpose. Crossing one can be a good or not so good thing. Stepping up to one is often considered courageous or responsible. Being over one may elicit the wrath of others. Having a flat one whether for health of heart or profit indicates a need for serious concern.

Whether on the field of sport or commerce, a series of these simply constructed lines mark the points of progress towards achieving an ultimate goal. Business managers, coaches and players are sharply focused on the ultimate line of importance, the goal, for it is here that points are awarded and achievement posted for all to see. A well-developed strategy considers the importance of each achievement beginning at the starting line and continuing throughout the journey to the finish line.

At Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), we understand the importance of attaining each of these simply constructed marks on a plane of measurement. We are experienced in customizing strategy engagements across business, sales, and marketing to achieve a comprehensive plan of growth and achievement, without losing sight of the finish line.

“While 100 yards on a football field might seem just series of lines or markers to reach the end zone, every good team knows how important the playbook is.  We push our clients to develop their playbook, detailed strategies designed to reach their business goals and objectives.  Afterall, we can’t just bank on the “Hail Mary” pass to achieve growth.”

What line is your organization on?

Managing Sustainable Growth in an Evolving SaaS Marketplace

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Software as a service (SaaS), the distribution of software over the internet to users, is becoming the fastest growing software distribution model. As business consumers adopt cloud-based software to manage key business functions, the market for Sass services continues to grow at a meteoric pace. Along with its Cloud cousins, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), the market for third p[arty provided software is predicted to surpass $112.8 billion by 2019 , outpacing traditional software product delivery by a multiple of five. In 2019, it is forecasted that the cloud software delivery model will likely account for $1 of every $4.59 spent on software.

This significant growth pattern has SaaS providers salivating over the potential growth in profits and market share. Unlike tangible products, marketing an unfamiliar intangible which is delivered from the cloud can be a formidable marketing challenge. Add to the mix the insane pace of product upgrades, ease of market entry and short sales cycle and the challenge to capture, maintain and sustain growth can be daunting, even to the most experienced marketing professionals. “SaaS sales, is all about rapid sales” say Peter Cohen, managing partner of SaaS Marketing Strategy Advisors.

The path to profitability requires a strategy to uniquely differentiate your solution to customers, focus on retaining current customers and to provide an unrelenting commitment to service, not software. The approach to selling customers is more of a “free trial offer” than one of free golf outings, major league sports tickets and comforting resort retreats. While “free” may be the initial hook, it becomes critical to covert, covert, convert.

According to Gartner, 80% of all future SaaS revenue will come from just 20% of current customers. A study by Bain & Company found that focusing just five percent of your marketing efforts on retention can generate an increase in profitability by 75%. It’s essential to create marketing content that is directed specifically to addressing each client’s unique needs.

A proper marketing strategy includes elements that seek to gain market share, focus on customer retention, successfully monetizes services, and one that contains an attainable plan for sustained growth over the long term. Lincoln Murphy, a Customer Success Consultant offers, “When creating your SaaS marketing plan, you must understand that your business model of choice is a fully-integrated architecture where all aspects of the business — product, support, revenue model, and marketing — are tightly-coupled.”

At Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), we have a growing list of SaaS clients who are benefiting from our understanding and insights of the frantic SaaS marketplace”, says Julie Gareleck, Founder and CEO.  “Our experience has led us to become uniquely qualified to develop successful growth oriented, customer centric strategies that can lead our clients to long term sustainable growth.”

Gareleck comments, “Consumer behavior is continually changing, with a sharp decrease in brand loyalty. General industry growth will offer an opportunity for SaaS companies to engage more customers but the value of the software has to be sticky. It has to satisfy a business need or solve a business challenge. In the absence of a strategy, sustained growth can prove challenging.”

Contact to learn more about our success stories with SaaS based companies!

Marshall Jones Offers Technical Competency and Exception Customer Service

Accounting firms are rarely categorized as innovative, just as Certified Public Accountants are not known for taking financial risks. By today’s standards, accounting firms are looking for new ways to compete.  Operating at the top level, keeping abreast of the prolific nature of tax compliance, research, financial documentation and business and accounting consulting services requires agility and commitment to harvesting the benefits of the latest technology in order to ensure a leadership position in their industry.

For more than 30 years, the Certified Public Accountants and Advisors at Marshall, Jones & Co. have served Atlanta individuals and businesses with a mission of providing exceptional client service with the highest levels of technical competency, and with complete integrity. After 3 decades, the team at Marshall Jones remains focused on expanding its portfolio while also expanding its solutions to meet the needs of its customers.

“The professionals at Marshall Jones are passionate about what they do and take pride in their individual and collective performance on behalf of their clients. At Junction we understand that passion for excellence in performance and have become adept in building digital projects and fully-executed, customizable platforms. Our proven processes keep us accountable to the needs and wants of our clients. With Marshall Jones, the experienced staff at Junction shares a common commitment to not only meeting our clients’ expectations but strive at every level, to exceed them,” says Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions (Junction).  “Marshall Jones has impacted Atlanta based companies and individuals for over 3 decades and I have no doubt they will continue to be a leader in Atlanta.”

Marshall Jones launches its new responsive website to provide clients with a place to find important information related to audit and assurance, tax planning, outsourced accounting services, and consulting services. For more information, contact the team or call 404-231-2001.

For more on how Junction can assist your organization in achieving its sales and marketing objectives click on  or contact Julie Gareleck at or call 676.686.1125.

Fake News, Believe it or Not, Is Not New

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When Facebook initiated new features last year designed to make it easier for its users to keep up with the news and social media marketers a chance to promote content directly to Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and his crew failed to foresee the oncoming calamity of such an opportunity. Perhaps it was unpredictable that so many news generating outlets would respond so overwhelmingly to the invitation, particularly those who apparently failed the journalism integrity exam in grade school. In addition a number of Facebook managers responsible for monitoring the fairness code were charged with simply failing to recognize the truth from pure fiction. Pressure on Facebook managers to promote certain stories over others was reported and a liberal bias to the selection of news stories, true or not, became a perception.

With the Pew Research Center finding that nearly half of Americans click to social media outlets for their news, the tarnish to the reputation of Facebook, marketers and even reputable news outlets soon began to build like barnacles on the hull of a shiny new boat. Advertisers who are always careful not to associate their brand with distasteful and distrustful public debate began to apply pressure to turn back fake news stories. Facebook turned to algorithms in hopes to stem the charges of personal bias of their human monitors and ultimately declared the right to declare some organizations news offerings as fake.

This month, Facebook began flagging “disputed news stories” that it determines have no basis in fact. “The “disputed” tag is part of Facebook’s grand plan to crack down on fake news as the company tries to tamp down the controversy over its role in the spread of misinformation that sharpened political divisions and inflamed discourse during and after the presidential election.” The process is the first hint of a serious effort to wipe out the practice of made-up news which has become rather pervasive.

History reveals many instances of “yellow journalism” and ranting demagogues during the age of print and broadcast long before the magic of the digital era. Most readers and viewers back then were expected to take responsibility and personally filter printed and broadcast outlets news offerings with a healthy amount of “Don’t believe everything you hear or read” skepticism or “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” response.

As claims of censorship and barriers to free speech fly over the new flagging efforts, perhaps the best response to the new yellowing of the truth is to encourage the “clicker” to practice a healthy amount of due diligence in selecting their news and its providers. In the end, truth over time will begin to silence the fakes, or at least cast them aside as irrelevant in the grander scheme of reality.

Helping Architects Accept Change and Embrace the Modern Marketing Era

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For most purveyors of goods and services, the act of marketing can be traced back in history to the very beginning of commerce when conveying the benefits of ones products and services over a competitor’s was a practice of simple communication, using the very rudimentary of marketing tools and collateral. But practicing the science of modern marketing has its beginning with the Industrial Age when new mass production techniques and evolving production technologies and improved modes of transportation demanded better strategies for selling and delivering finished goods and services to an ever expanding marketplace and an increasingly more competitive business environment.

But for many in the personal services sector, even the most basic marketing efforts are a relatively unfamiliar, new-age endeavor. The first Principles of Practice adopted in 1909 by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) actually barred architects from marketing themselves and even now, in the relatively early stages of the newest century, many architectural firms remain relatively unpracticed in the art and science of modern marketing.

In an article entitled, “Inspire Change for Sustainable Growth” and published in the Atlanta Institute of Architects’ Annual Publication “Design Equilibrium”, the authors at Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), an award winning strategic agency committed to creating high impact solutions for SMBS and Fortune 500 companies, reviews why many architects are struggling to understand the language or the practice of modern marketing. The AIA seeks educate and inform the architecture communities by highlighting topics designed to start a conversation.

Junction discusses the importance of establishing well-defined strategic goals and objectives and developing a brand that differentiates a unique set of capabilities that will set a firm apart from the competition. Today’s architectural firms, regardless of size or position in the business life-cycle, must be willing to accept change and embrace the emerging marketing tools and approaches from this new technological era and elevate themselves in a crowded, multi-dimensional marketplace to create a more sustainable business.

“We are very excited to be included in the 2017 Annual Publication,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO and Managing Partner, Junction. “It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for professional services companies to compete. We’ve built incredible results for our clients across various professional services industries.  With our knowledge of what has worked for others, we are confident in our ability to assist the Architectural community in developing unique strategies to grow their businesses.”

To read the full article, visit or contact the Atlanta Institute of Architects for their latest copy of Design Equilibrium. To learn more about how Junction Creative Solutions can help you create impact for your company, visit

How Messages Can Mold Your Credibility and Integrity

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Tom Brokaw, an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, recently celebrated the fifty year anniversary of his journalistic career, joining the ranks of former great communicators like Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Morrow.  He is the only person to host all three major NBC News programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and Meet the Press and is the author of the bestselling book, “The Greatest Generation” (1998). He is to be applauded for being engaged in reporting the news, not just the story, for half a century.

In a recent broadcast celebration of his career “The First Fifty Years”, the veteran anchor revealed his thoughts about the fundamental principles of journalism, the era of old school messaging meets the new media and the importance of accuracy of messaging within a context. Today, everyone including the media is seemingly in attack mode in era of confrontation, seeking to tap into a prevalent state of fear, uncertainty and anger. With so many emerging non-traditional sources of information, communicators must be careful not to underestimate the impact of messages that draw on these emotions. Brokaw’s advice to listeners when receiving their news, “make the same intellectual effort as you do when buying a car as you do when listening to the news – do your due diligence.”

So what parallels and lessons can journalists, marketing professionals, and even social media users draw from Brokaw’s experience?

“We need to be responsible as purveyors of content,” offers Julie Gareleck, Founder and CEO of Junction Creative Solutions (Junction). “We need to get back to research, learning from experience, understanding those who came before us, and making decisions based off of facts – not rhetoric.” As business strategists we can learn from Kellogg and Harvard Review some of the most brilliant ways to approach business strategy from a time not known for technology revolutions or this time of the internet of things (IoT). It is important to learn and adapt our thinking and our practices to meet the new reality that we face. “We must challenge the integrity of the messages by asking:  what are they selling; what is the motivation, and what is it that they are looking for from me?” says Gareleck. “Realize that there is always more to a bi-line.”

After a half century as America’s consummate communicator, Tom Brokaw has “confidence in the resilience of our country” but admits that he believes “we are lacking the tribe that is America.” Despite all the emotional slinging of suspicious rhetoric, the truth is our society has survived much more tumultuous periods of revolt and revolution. Whether our business is politics or business, we as communicators in this digital media revolution, must rededicate our efforts to base our message content on facts and less on hyperbole if we are to sustain our credibility.

“I remember Brokaw as a child, as a teenager, and as an adult.  As journalism majors, we were taught to report a story based on facts. We didn’t have Google, Wikipedia, or social media.  We had books, articles, newspapers, a microfilm to sift through to understand what it would take to be an influencer.  And now, technology is at our finger tips, constantly.  It’s noisy. It’s volatile at times. We must remember that we influence always.  It could be 40 characters or it could be a 500 word prose.  Let’s use our words wisely, “ comments Gareleck.