JUNCTION CEO PARTICIPATES ON ATLANTA BUSINESS RADIO X’S INAUGURAL “TUESDAYS WITH COREY” RADIO SHOW

Julie Cropp Gareleck, CEO and Managing Partner, Junction Creative, participated in Atlanta Business X’s Radio Show “Tuesdays with Corey.” Gareleck shared insights from her days as a waitress in Gettysburg, PA to her current position as the CEO of her Atlanta based firm.  Corey Rieck, President and Founder of The Long Term Care Planning Group, sponsors the show each month, highlighting women entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives.

When asked about her experience growing up in a family business, Gareleck shared that her goal was to become a reporter like Barbara Walters.  Unbeknownst to her, the passion she held for people and helping people drove her to launch Junction Creative, a hybrid between a traditional consulting firm and an advertising agency, melding intellectual insights with creative execution.  To listen to her journey, forward to 30 minutes into the full interview.

“I greatly appreciate being included as a member of this panel alongside Barb Giamanco, Barbara LoRusso, Corey Rieck, and the team at Atlanta Business Radio X,” comments Gareleck.  “The collective knowledge sitting around the table made for a great conversation about some of the critical elements for success in business.”

Click here to listen to the entire show!

More information on each panelist is below:

Corey Rieck is the President and Founder of The Long Term Care Planning Group, a firm that specializes in delivering Long Term Care education and coverage to companies, high net worth individuals and large organizations. Since 2001, Corey has devoted his career to Long Term Care as a result of multiple personal experiences.  A neutral provider of Long Term Care Solutions since 2001, Corey brings a unique and comprehensive consultative perspective to this issue.  Since 2003, part of his commitment to the Long Term Care Industry includes his having trained over 3,500 advisors from San Francisco to Wall Street on how to properly position Long Term Care to clients through the CLTC organization.

Corey hosts a weekly show call “Tuesdays with Corey” on Atlanta Business Radio.

Barb Giamanco heads up Social Centered Selling. She’s the co-author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media and authored the Harvard Business Review article Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy.

With a successful C-level background in Sales, Technology and Leadership Development, Barb capped her corporate career at Microsoft, where she led sales teams and coached executives. Through the years she has sold $1B in sales.

Barb is consistently recognized as a Top Sales and Business Blogger, a Top 25 Influential Leader in Sales, a Top 25 Sales Influencer on Twitter and one of Top Sales World’s Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencers for the 3rd year in a row. And recently, Barb was named one of the Top 65 Business Influencers among other leaders such as Ariana Huffington, Melinda Gates and Sheryl Sandberg.

Connect with Barb on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Barbara LoRusso is the Director of Client Development for LoRusso Law Firm, an Atlanta-based civil litigation firm opened by her husband, Lance LoRusso, almost 10 years ago. Prior to this, Barbara was doing consulting and research work for a non-profit trade association here in Atlanta for almost 20 years. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from University of Georgia and went to Emory as an undergraduate.

Barbara has been an active volunteer with charitable organizations and currently serves on the board of SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center in Marietta.

Connect with Barbara on LinkedIn.

Julie Cropp Gareleck

Born into an entrepreneurial family, Julie Gareleck was convinced that business was not her passion and that becoming a reporter was more intriguing. At the age of 21, Julie punched her international card, in Paris, working for Angela de Bona, the top PR Agent, representing the top fashion photographers in the world. A venture to Philadelphia after Paris directed Julie to work for a leading entrepreneurship institute.

In a few short years, she was recruited to join a venture capital organization, focused on early stage companies in Technology, Biotechnology, among other industries, as its Executive Director. Julie earned her place in the Board Room at the age of 25.

A transition to Atlanta over 12 years ago enabled Julie to take her strategy experience and work as a senior strategist for interactive advertising agencies. It was here that Julie realized there was a gap between business-based strategy and what was defined as strategy at agencies. Junction Creative Solutions was born out of the need for strategies that intersect key business segments and the need for a firm that can manage the implementation. For over 8 years, Junction has worked with nearly 225 companies, helping do just that.

Julie has created an environment that empowers her team and her clients to be the very best they can be, and success follows naturally. She has earned the respect of her peers not just for her shining personality, but for her authenticity, integrity, and drive as a business leader. Her portfolio includes measurable integrated strategies for prominent brands across various industries, including Yahoo!, Mailboxes Etc., National City Corporation (PNC Bank), GE Energy, Mohawk Industries, Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (SWM), and Alcatel-Lucent. Early stage companies in the portfolio include AcuteCare Telemedicine, 85 Broads, Intelaplay, Competitive Sports Analysis, XIOSS, Infinite Resource Solutions, Guardian Watch, Pro Diligence, Cost Management Group, the National Tennis Foundation, Saffire Vapor, among others.

Julie established the JXN Executive Roundtable in 2012 as a resource for entrepreneurs, senior executives, and marketing leaders to share industry experiences and insights. She remains actively involved in industry organizations often participating as an expert panelist or guest speaker.

Follow Junction Creative on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Atop the List of the Most Monumental Failures

The event wasn’t really anything new. Like the occurrence of hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, wild fires and other major natural calamities, data breaches come around from time to time almost as naturally and expected as Mother Nature’s furious punishments.  Differentiated from one another by a numeric sliding scale that measure their severity and the totality of their mayhem on the populace, natural disasters are recognized as unavoidable as they routinely play havoc on populations all around the world.

Data breaches, while unfortunately common in today’s data driven world of commerce and social interaction, can be defended against by pre-breach, cybersecurity deployments that may lessen their impact or result in their total avoidance. Breaches of consumer’s private information are not yet measured by a numeric scale of severity, but the latest data breach at Equifax just may have raised the upper limits of the damage impact bar.

The recent Equifax incident resulted in the privacy of 143 million customers being violated, but the total impact may be much larger and may initiate additional unintended disclosures of financial information by hackers for some time to come. The domino effect may continue for years given that the most noted information stolen was customer’s social security identification numbers. With this one number, bad actors are capable of unlocking and laying bare all there is to know of an individual’s identity. Unlike credit card information, Social Security numbers are for life.

Surprisingly this was the third time Equifax had been hacked this year. To not learn from the previous experiences and enact additional safe guards to avoid additional breaches is a failure of leadership and culture as much as a failure of network security. “Equifax sits on the crown jewels of what we consider personally identifying information,” says Jason Glassberg, cofounder of the corporate security and penetration testing firm Casaba Security. “You’d think a company like that, guarding what they’re guarding, would have a heightened sense of awareness and that clearly was not the case.” Equifax has provided a website where customers can find out if they are impacted by the breach but has no intention on notifying consumers if they are impacted. The company will provide affected consumers with the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier for a period of one year.

With more than 2,200 data breaches occurring so far this year alone, companies need to step-up their preparations for responding to an inevitable breach.  To effectively secure personal information and networks, company leaders need to understand that that privacy and security are coequals. Applying concepts of basic cyber hygiene and realizing that cyber security is an integral part of the company’s overall operations is essential.

Prior to retiring, Richard Smith, CEO of Equifax said, “Equifax will not be defined by this incident, but rather, how we respond.” The comment was seen as wishful thinking at best. Equifax will most assuredly be defined by this breach and the disparate response to it for decades to come. Being at the top of the most memorable list is not a good or profitable place to be when it is the list of the most monumental failures. After two decades and millions of dollars spent on cybersecurity the saga of failure and the effects on consumer’s privacy is bound to continue. Maintaining the status quo is clearly not an option.

Are you prepared for your next cybersecurity failure?

Award Winning Strategic Agency Committed to Creating High Impact Solutions

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), a hybrid between a traditional consulting firm and a creative agency, is often labeled as just a “creative shop” or a “marketing agency.”  Junction was founded on the premise that there is a fundamental juncture between strategy and the execution whether in operations, sales, marketing, technology.  Assisting clients in meeting growth goals is a core competency at Junction.

“Providing strategic leadership to companies wanting to grow their business is our primary focus. Many of our clients are looking to build their performance to support a divestiture or increase revenue.  Our team of experience strategists and execution team remain focused on achieving our clients’ goals and objectives.”

Traditionally, firms focus on strategy or execution, rarely both.  “Because we offer both strategy and execution, we can qualify and quantify our results.  It’s a challenge to meet and exceed expectations but certainly a challenge that we are familiar with,” says Gareleck. Junction reports a significant growth in its portfolio of strategy clients.

In 8 years, Junction has worked with more than 225 brands, 100 of which are in the Fortune 1000, across industry vertical.  Armed with knowledge and data, Junction affirms that 2018-2019 will mark a period of reinvestment in strategy as economics and politics affect the business climate.  “As we work with clients on managing growth and implementing growth strategies, we also see others primarily focused on the execution.  I remember seeing these trends in 2008 so it’s critical to be prepared for any potential changes that stall or stop growth,” Gareleck comments.

For more information on how Junction can provide impact for your business, contact us at info@junction-creative.com or visit the website.

Did Trends Become Reality in 2017?

Just as the green leaves of summer begin to turn color and fall from the trees, predictors of the coming year’s trends offer their insights as to how the most successful, leading companies will achieve their sales objectives in the months ahead.  Last year, Forbes cited important trends in business for 2017.   As we quickly approach the end of 2017, we wanted to see how those trend predictions materialized this year.

Reality: Subject Matter Experts Become the New Rainmakers

Once upon a time there were three sales approaches. The order taker, who called to fill a customer’s needs, the pitchman who focused efforts on remunerating product or service features and benefits to bag and ring-up the sale and the consultative sales person, the subject matter expert (SME), who approached the sale by utilizing advanced business experience and knowledge to close a deal.  Today executive B2B leadership is looking for folks that can provide experience and valuable insights to move their businesses forward.  While the days of sales representatives calling on the C-Level to get a meeting still has its venues, the future of sales lies with the SME Rainmakers.

In Process: Crowdfunding Validates New Products

The prediction that crowdfunding would replace venture capitalist (VC) in 2017, while gaining on more traditional sources of financing, appears to be encountering the learning curve.  Indiegogo CEO, David Mandelbrot says, “We’ve very focused on educating both entrepreneurs and backers of those campaigns. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s also very new.”  Early analysis of crowd funding indicates a growing popularity among real estate investors and those entrepreneurs seeking to secure asset-backed loans from accredited investors and for supplementary capital for ventures that have been successful in raising funds from traditional VCs.  While crowdfunding has become popular with start-up entrepreneurs, it doesn’t necessarily validate the success of a new product.

Reality: Sales & Content Marketing Fully Integrated

“More than just a buzzword, content marketing has become one of the most powerful tools for attracting targeted customers, building loyalty, and driving profitability,” says Veronica Stoddart, the principal of VS Content Strategies. “If done right and properly integrated within a brand, content marketing will benefit a cross-section of departments, including marketing, sales, public relations, and even customer relations.” The predictor’s crystal ball clearly scored on this one.   The emergence of this digital economy, content has become a clear driver in the sales process.

Reality: Video Becomes Essential 

The combined top three social media networks, Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube are producing 22 billion video views every day. Marketers can no longer ignore video. Video is becoming the method in which to distribute content that will resonate with a broad base of audiences.

In Process: New Collaboration Rethinking Email

Despite all the new emerging digital marketing tools, email remains a persistent survivor. While popular tools like Slack are becoming more common in the workplace, email remains to be an important communication tool.

Reality: Brick and Mortar Loses Retail Stores

We have experienced major retailers closing stores and retooling location strategy in response to consumers’ increase use of online sellers.  Those retail companies that understand the importance of customer experience will continue to excel. Brick and mortar retailers must find ways to be relevant to its customers and continue to evolve the in-store experience.

Reality: Subject Matter Experts Get Sales Support

With the push for content, thought leadership, and marketing tools, organizations are embracing a new way to structure sales and marketing departments. Silos have existed between the two.  In today’s fast-paced digital environment, integration is critical.  Subject matter experts bring knowledge and expertise that can inform sales opportunities.

In Process: Narrow Segments Capture Attention

Understanding your customer segment is critical in communicating a marketing/sales message. However, spreading the message too thin isn’t being effective. “It’s less about narrowing the focus of segments but rather focusing on those segments that are actively making purchase decisions.  The overall effectiveness of this strategy will improve, says Julie Gareleck, Founder and CEO Junction Creative Solutions.” 

In Process: Recurring Revenue

Companies will continue to shift from single, up-front payments for products to recurring revenue for a service.  In B2B and B2C, the goal is to engage a customer on a regular basis, with an ongoing need for goods or services.

Gareleck comments, “This is always going to be a conversation about value.  I don’t see the entire marketplace moving to retainer relationships as a portion of businesses are still looking for the cheapest option available or the most cost effective.”

In Process: Millennials Groomed for Leadership

Ian Altman, a B2B Integrity-based sales and growth expert predicted, “Just like past generations, millennials will emerge as the next set of managers and executives. Top performing companies will work to magnify their strengths and build systems to compensate for their perceived deficiencies.”

Organizations often lack the middle-management layer that trained young leadership to rise and grow within the organization. While Millennials are going to become 50% of the work-force in the next few years, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are prepared for leadership roles.

It’s clear that there is accuracy with trends and predictions.  Some of these areas are evolving while others have reached mass adoption. It will be interested to see what forecasters predict for 2018!

Is It Getting Too Complicated with Four Generations Comingling at the Water Cooler?

In the most recent years, marketers and employers have been attempting a multitude of strategies to figure out who Millennials really are and what their expectations about life, job and product are. For those who are still struggling to understand Millennials, and the most effective means to connect with them, Generation Z has reached the workforce.

While some marketers can at least claim a little success in cracking the millennial code, others have just given up and returned to re-focus on what worked to attract consumers in the past. Employers who have tried everything from ping pong tables, paid-time off for advocating for social justice issues and work from home models in order to attract, inspire and retain effective millennial employees are still evaluating the totality of their experiences. Are we now supposed to scrap everything and retool corporate strategies for the new generation?

Generation Z consists of those born in 1996 or later. They make up 25.9% of the United States population and are expected to contribute $44 billion to the American economy. By 2020, they will account for one-third of the U.S. population. The most tech savvy and information consuming generation in history, Generation “Z’ers” tend to be less focused on a single thought but are demonstrating an amazing ability to multitask and a lack of patience with a single subject; bad news for War and Peace sized novel writers and good news for publishers of an abbreviated Readers Digest.

This generation has grown up accustomed to the fast paced development of technology. They are perpetual in their use of smart, digital devices and spend less time watching TV than their forbearers. “We are the first true digital natives,” said Hannah Payne, an 18-year-old U.C.L.A. student and lifestyle blogger. “I can almost simultaneously create a document, edit it, post a photo on Instagram and talk on the phone, all from the user-friendly interface of my iPhone. Generation Z takes in information instantaneously, and loses interest just as fast.”  As result, marketers are experiencing a massive shift in advertising methods and content messaging in order to successfully connect with generation Z’s shifting values. “When it doesn’t get there that fast they think something’s wrong,” said Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy at Ernst & Young. “They expect businesses, brands and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on. It’s not about them being loyal to the business.”

Gen Z-ers have digitally honed social insights but are more socially diverse and conscious. They are more likely to appreciate the face to face relationships than their predecessors. Wanting to do great work for an employer, they are predicted to be willing to invest years in a job that propels them forward to achieving their personal self-development. Many are shunning traditional routes to higher education opting instead for online education while they practice making a living.  According to Gen Z marketing strategist Deep Patel, “the newly developing high tech and highly networked world has resulted in an entire generation thinking and acting more entrepreneurially.” Generation Z desires more independent work environments with nearly 75% of Gen Z teens espousing an ultimate goal to start their own business. “Kids are witnessing start-up companies make it big instantly via social media,” said Andrew Schoonover, a 15-year-old in Olathe, Kan. “We do not want to work at a local fast-food joint for a summer job. We want to make our own business because we see the lucky few who make it big.”

But with all the hype and predictions of generational differences is the next mega market group really all that different from their parents and grandparents?

When developing a strategy to segment any market we must realize that no one generation does a market segment make. Each generation, while differing in the methods of making connections, will invent many new insights and social behaviors but also retain important aspects of connectivity from their predecessors. Generation X, Millennials, Z’ers and Baby Boomers are all occupying the same marketplace and sharing the same water cooler conversations at work.  It will require marketers and employers to maintain due vigilance as each generation continues to morph into the multitude of individuals they want to become.  How are you adapting your organization to accommodate 4 generations?

As Summer Heats Up, Airline Brands are Taking Heat from Customers

The spring buds had barely broken into leaf when United Airlines (UA) set into motion what is becoming a summer of brand destroying idiocies. The airline industry, not always praised for their customer centric approach to operations management, decided moving a few of their employees to another location was more important than several passengers who had paid for their passage and were boarded and preparing for departure. The flight was scheduled to depart O’Hare International Airport in Chicago for Louisville, Ky., at 5:40 p.m. but hundreds of other passengers were delayed two hours while UA flight attendants and crew members summoned some strong arms of the private law and forcibly assaulted and dragged an offending passenger off the plane.

Later into the season an IT outage at British Airways (BA) caused thousands of flights to be cancelled impacting more than 75,000 customers travel plans. Glitches and Murphy’s Law has been known to throw an unintended wrench into even the most well-executed software program before, but BA’s poor communication and resulting response was so inept that many passengers have vowed to boycott the airline.

Carmen Courchesne, a 74-year-old passenger was supposed to be flying from Massachusetts to Florida with help from JetBlue’s (JB) wheelchair assistance program when something went wrong at Logan International Airport. The grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was left unattended at a gate in Boston for several hours before her family, who were waiting at the airport in Florida, became concerned and sought her whereabouts. Turned out many hours later she was still sitting, abandoned and unattended at Logan Airport.

These and numerous other industry-actors customer relations missteps has made the summer of 2017 a time of mind-blowing, brand busting odyssey. And if the actual incidences where not sufficient enough to anger and alienate their customers and severely injure their brand’s value, the reaction from the airlines employees and management in response to the problems left nothing on the table to cast doubt on where these airlines position their customers in their operations hierarchy. Initially, UA responded to their passenger assault by attempting to explain why overbooking flights and reallocating human resources topped passenger service when it came to the company’s bottom line. BA’s response gave a; so what, these things happen, we’ll do better next time public impression. JB’s seaming flippant response to botching their passengers with disability customer service did very little to appease the concerns for the family of the disabled grandmother, much less add value to the company’s brand or reputation.

Customers have long been told that they’re never wrong, that customer sovereignty trumps all things when it comes to making connections with a responsible marketer, even when a consumers behavior spills out of the envelop of common decency. In reality, “Customers are not always right, but they are always the customer”.

Is it possible that the answer to theses errant reactions lies at the foot of another business management mantra, “What gets measured gets done”? In today’s high-tech, data harvesting, benchmarking, number crunching world, it is becoming clear to airline consumers that airline employees’ performance evaluation matrix does not include so much of a bullet when it comes to the art and science of customer centricity. Either that, or a whole lot of company associates failed to get the memo.

Regardless of the specific reasons, the summer of the “War on the passengers” is an indication of a systematic problem, perpetuated and promoted by those at the very top of the corporate labor chain. Expectations and examples all start at the top and at the top of every subsequent management level. It then matriculates down to where the end user meets with the company’s product or service. And while no associate can completely be held accountable for the poor and despicable actions of a few consumers, each of us who make our life’s work from connecting with consumers must put the misbehavior in perspective and context of the whole of the experience. A company’s brand value and each of our personal values are ultimately on the line and on display for all to see.

Forming a Start-up & Compelling Exit Strategy at the Same Time

At first consideration it seems to be counter intuitive. Formulating a plan to exit a new start-up business before the start-up of the new business? For the true entrepreneur, the experience of a new start-up is exciting, exhilarating and even intoxicating. For most, it’s what they do, who they are and is much more a result of DNA than MBA. Why, at a time when the focus is on planning the complexities of development and launch, should we consider a strategy for selling out or diluting our future participation? Why should we spend time and effort now on the end game?

A failure to see it coming. – Making assumptions about future unknowns is a common element of planning and forecasting. A well-developed and implemented business strategy is a key to determining success or failure of even the most modest of visions. In the event that original assumptions fail to generate the anticipated outcome, the process of getting out and successfully surviving for another opportunity will be measured by a predetermined plan that includes a contingency for exiting the situation. An effective exit strategy should be planned for every positive and negative contingency.

Making a transition. – The operational skill sets required to initiate and launch a new venture is markedly different than those required to successfully guide and maintain a business through subsequent stages in the businesses life-cycle. Entrepreneurs love the experience of the start. But the job requirements of management change overtime.  Attracting talent or investors with specific skills and experience needed to move the operation into the next segment is critical to making a successful transition to the next stage in the cycle. Often it will be necessary for the dreamer, the creator or the artist to give-up all or part of their responsibilities or participation in day-to-day management in order to attract the new talent. Preplanning for this inevitability can assure a more successful, efficient and timely transition for the venture.

Where are you going anyway? – A map without a destination is not a plan for a successful journey. It’s a plan to wander around.  A business which is wandering around in a competitive and dynamic business environment is likely to arrive at failure, not success. A transition that involves selling to new investors through an IPO, selling to existing employees or stakeholders, preserving the organization as a family heirloom or taking an IPO path requires various routes to achievement, each unique but each requiring decisions to be made from the outset of the new start up. For emerging businesses it is important to link the marketing strategy and the exit strategy in one cohesive plan.

Alignment of business strategy is critical to investors. Aligning the exit plan with the overall business development plan is significant because the choice of exit plan can influence business development choices from the outset. The desirability of each choice is dependent on the initial form of ownership, the original intent of the business, market conditions and company performance. The exit strategy is also very important to investors.  “An exit strategy isn’t just relevant, it’s essential. One of the biggest worries of angel investors is ending up with a minority share in a company that doesn’t want to exit. In that scenario you can end up with your money stuck forever as stock that will never be traded, never be liquid, and therefore will never be a return on investment,” said Tim Barry, Founder of Palo Alto Software.  “What you want is as much evidence as possible that you understand the importance of the exit, the factors that make the exit more or less likely, and the vital link between the exit and the investors’ making a return on their money.”

The answer can be quite simple. The exit is, in reality, the goal. Aligning an exit strategy cohesively with an overall business and marketing strategy is critical to achieving the ultimate objective. The very best reason for an exit strategy “is to plan how to optimize a good situation, rather than get out of a bad one.” An exit strategy allows a startup to focus efforts on things that make it more appealing and compelling to future acquisition.

“When working with start-up companies on business plans and growth strategies, we always start by asking what the business looks like today; what the goal is for the business in 3 years; and what is the exit strategy,” comments Julie Gareleck, Junction Creative. “Our clients always seemed surprised that we ask about the exit at the beginning.  We’ve successfully navigating our clients from Start Up to Exit – and achieved the very goals and objectives we set at the very beginning.”

As entrepreneurs, it’s ok to love the process and relish in the rise of success. However, never lose sight of the exit.

To learn more about Junction’s success stories, contact Julie@junction-creative.com!

Traditional Agencies and the Importance of Being Relevant

Change is inevitable and the one constant among a universe of constants that is destined to be changing perpetually. Business models once thought to be permanent, only needing occasional refinements, are learning that nothing is forever, and in today’s fast paced technological era, nothing is forever for very long.

Legacy advertising agencies, historically a model where marketers hired well established teams of “Mad Men” types to create thirty-second television commercials and high-gloss magazine pictorials, are finding that even their vision has to change. To resurrect a familiar automotive advertising tag-line from the past, “It’s not your father’s Buick anymore.”  A long time industry veteran and CEO of Speakeasy Guild, John Winsor, recently said, “Advertising agencies are no longer the valued partners they once were.  In fact brands don’t really even need agencies anymore.  It’s not just their work that’s losing relevance; the ad agency business model itself may now be defunct.”

Like many other industries, advertising agencies of the future will find it necessary to become far more focused on their client’s need to satisfy their customers and less around the brand or the channels utilized to connect with consumers. Digital has disrupted the status quo of every market player’s business model, creating new pathways to consumers, opening up the market to new competitors and instilling significant and challenging innovations in organization and methods at an ever increasing speed.  Mark Read, CEO of WPP’s Wunderman and of WPP Digital says, “We’re going to need to be much more accountable to our clients for results, by which I mean sales. Part of this means we need to use technology and data to track our work to sales. It also gives us the opportunity to build new capabilities and expand our offer into e-commerce.”

At the mega brand PepsiCo, Brad Jakeman says, “The most effective creative will come from the integration of content creation and distribution, and greater in-house content publishing resources. For a brand like Pepsi, it was once sufficient for us to produce four pieces of content a year — mainly TV — and we could spend about six to eight months developing that one piece of content and spend $1 million on each piece of film. Now, those four pieces has turned into 4,000; eight months has changed to eight days and eight hours; and budgets have not gone up. Maybe [we have to publish] so quickly and efficiently that it needs to be more of a content-publishing group that sits inside the company and augments the work done through [agencies].”

What is required of agencies to remain relevant to its clients? Arthur Sadoun, the new CEO of Publicis, says “……”clients have three challenges: low growth, pressure on costs and a need to restore trust in their brands. All three are forcing them to transform their businesses and change the way they deal with customers. This is a race. It’s a race to be relevant. The big difference between today and yesterday is speed. You need to be much faster on the execution.” Mr. Sadoun is now faced with the cultural challenge of integrating and scaling up this business model.

Marketers and agencies are racing to get ahead but given the quick pace of technology – it’s a head to head challenge many are finding difficult to encompass. Julie Gareleck, founder and CEO Junction Creative Solutions says, “It is clear that we are in a new world and a new era. We have to adapt to entirely new marketing channels, make important decisions every day on how to invest our efforts and capital in utilizing new technologies in order to compete on an expanded global economy. Our firm was founded on a hybrid approach – valuing strategy and execution.  You need to be able to show value in terms of dollars, as opposed to just the number of overall impressions.” To Gareleck’s point, the impact that traditional management consulting firms have on the life of agencies is evident.

What is happening in so many industries today is a real game changer. It won’t be enough to tweak the old model around the edges. Agencies who fail to identify the new dynamics in the environment and react in a timely manner risk being left behind.

Going with the Flow Won’t Always Lead to Success

In an attempt to grow her network and surround herself with successful women Justyna Kedra wasn’t interested in doing things the traditional way. Justyna says, “The goal was to connect female entrepreneurs that have successful businesses globally, but are not on the “Top 100 Influential People on Planet Earth” list… yet!” So she founded We Rule, a digital platform dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs, business opportunities and accredited investors from all around the world. Today, more than 350 members and contributors collaborate to tell the entrepreneur story through the eyes of women entrepreneurs who are on the journey to achieving success.

An interview with Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) is featured on the site.  Julie provided her perspective on entrepreneurship, the meaning of success, and empowering women to build scalable businesses.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone.  You have to be willing to take big risks without the expectation of rewards and work harder than is often humanly possible,” says Julie Gareleck, Founder and CEO Junction Creative Solutions (Junction).  “It takes blood, sweat, and tears. I was raised by entrepreneurs. I grew up watching my parents work insanely long hours to build a business. While my friends were on Spring Break, I was scrubbing tile floors with a toothbrush in their restaurant. It wasn’t glamorous but it ignited a passion for building something greater than what we started with. As an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to do the things that no one else is willing to do.”

Junction is a hybrid firm, with the intellectual capital of a management consulting firm and the creative execution of an advertising agency. More than eight years ago, Julie set out with the intention to create impact for her clients and has since facilitated more than 225 brands, 100 of which are companies in the Fortune 1000, do just that. Success follows the execution of a clear and meaningful strategy, a plan with clear goals and objectives that allows for flexibility in order to respond to inevitable shifts in the marketplace and course corrections for changing assumptions. “You have to be able to react and adapt to those changes. In 20 years of working with entrepreneurs, I have yet to see one client who was successful “going with the flow”, notes Gareleck. As the marketing landscape changes and consumer expectations evolve, it’s critical to remain ahead of trends.

Success is a journey, not a destination. The pathway is constantly evolving with new and sometimes unforeseen twist and turns; challenging the entrepreneur to alter their route in order to respond to the dynamic environment, using one accomplishment to set the stage for meeting the next objective. “Some would call it perseverance or being tenacious, I would say that I just don’t know how to give up.”

In 2015, Forbes reported that while 30% of small businesses are women-owned, only 2% of women-owned businesses break the $1 Million mark. When asked by We Rule Interviewer, Christina Blackburn: “Why do you think that female owned businesses are a VERY small percentage (that has not been growing) of businesses that get funded by venture capital? What can we do to change that?” Julie responded, “I don’t think it’s a question of how do you increase the percentage of businesses backed by venture capital but how do we empower women entrepreneurs to build a business that is truly scalable. A business has to be investable before we can increase those percentages.”

To read the entire interview: http://we-rule.com/services#/julie-junction-creative-solutions/

Sustainable Growth: Myth, Legend or Luck

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning,” said Benjamin Franklin more than 200 years ago. The thought is as true today as it was at the very beginning of our country. Sustainable growth, the realistic growth of a company over time, is often a very challenging feat. Grow too quickly and a company can out-pace its ability to fund the rapid progress. Move too slowly and stagnation can threaten the ongoing viability of an organization in an aggressive and dynamic marketplace where rapidly changing economic and consumer trends prevail.

Discovering a successful formula can be elusive. Such legends of business and industry like; IBM, Apple and HP have their share of lessons learned even though they often occupy the very pinnacle of the successful list. Each share similar moments of flat-out failure and misstep, straying aimlessly from a well formed strategy for growth in order to achieve unrealistic goals of expansion. “Companies that grow for the sake of growth or that expand into areas outside their core business strategy often stumble. On the other hand, companies that build scale for the benefit of their customers and shareholders more often succeed over time.” says Jamie Dimon, President, and CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

The emergence of Facebook, Twitter, and other notable technology companies challenged traditional thought processes associated with launching and growing a business. Their survival and rise to profitability seemed almost mythical. With seemingly little initial attention to any predetermined path to profitability in those beginning years, their existence was predicted to be short lived as monetization of any product or service is the critical element to sustainability in any market.

While there is a benefit to being at the right place with the right product and services at the optimal time, often considered luck, it is often not a valid strategy for sustainable growth. Paying acute attention to the trends in customer expectations and the ever changing competitive environment presents unique challenges to businesses. As we face the possibility of an economic downturn in the next 5 years, it is of critical importance to revisit your growth strategy or develop one.

Strategy isn’t the big idea, but rather a systematic approach on how to meet your goals and objectives. It identifies the important and often overlooked elements necessary to achieve success. Hiring the right people, establishing consistent and efficient processes focused on attainable benchmarks are all essential to achieving successful growth. The right strategic partner can give you the insights and solutions that will help you reach your goals and objective.  An honest, outside perspective can prove beneficial to testing the viability of the strategy. Be wary of those consultants who “tell you what you want to hear” and focus on identifying the partner that will “tell you what you need to hear.”

How do you characterize your business’s approach to sustainable growth; myth, legend or luck?