Introducing the JXN Executive Roundtable

In 2012, businesses face the challenge of reacting to major shifts in consumer behaviors within the financial constraints of a less than favorable economy. Many owners and CEOs find themselves looking for ways to reenergize the company with what seems like a shrinking budget.

Junction, as an advocate for the creation of progressive, sustainable, and successful businesses, introduces the JXN Executive Roundtable, bringing together thought leadership and promoting collaboration in the greater business communities.  The event series provides an opportunity for business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives to share and discuss best practices for sustaining and growing business.

The inaugural event in the series will take place on May 1st, 2012 at Blue Parrot Bistro in Gettysburg, PA. The event, hosted by Junction and cosponsored by Patrono & Associates and Raffensperger, Martin & Finkenbiner, LLC, will be an invitation-only evening of networking for business owners to discuss best practices for sustaining business in the market place.

If you are interested in attending the event, contact josh@junction-creative.com.  More information will be available next week on our blog.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

Startup and entrepreneurial businesses face plenty of obstacles and pitfalls along the path to sustainability and success. Besides dealing with the obvious challenges, such as earning funding, building a team, and spreading a marketing message, startups are now facing a new menace posed by a far less notable foe.

The poet and activist Audre Lorde is famously quoted as saying “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” Patent trolls, individuals or organizations that lay claim to and police the use of intellectual property like innovate concepts, design patents, and even web domains, are proving that this concept can be leveraged against the success of a startup or even a Fortune 500 company. Also known as copyright trolls, these entities do not, in most cases, use the patents, trademarks, or copyrights they own, but rather prevent others from profiting off of the use of ‘owned’ property.

These organizations are highly controversial in nature and detrimental to the success of many other businesses – especially in today’s environment where innovation and technology drive the cutting edge. They operate well within legal limitations, regardless of their poor public perception. A patent, easy to obtain, if valid and infringed in court, can lead to millions of dollars in damages. The ‘business’ of patent or copyright trolling can be particularly attractive, growing the threat.

Awareness of patent trolls is generally low on an entrepreneur or SMB’s radar when creating a strategy to go-to-market or to market to a target audience, but the threat is real. In the case of a fragile young company with little or no safety net, incurring a lawsuit over even the borderline use of a patented idea can be devastating.

Before any business takes a step, the consequences of the decisions being made are constantly evaluated. Considering and thoroughly researching whether someone owns the ideas or technologies powering a business can protect it from a major disaster.

The Price of Gut Instinct is High

Ad Age’s CMO Strategy recently published a survey of 243 CMOs and other marketing executives about their current practices, yielding some surprising results. With an alarming 28% of the respondents claiming they establish budgets based upon ‘gut-instinct’ and perhaps more surprisingly, 7% saying they do not base strategy upon metrics at all. It is time for marketers to look toward new tools available to help track ROI and plan more effectively.

Marketing performance management (MPM) has always been a key tenet of any marketing department, but to be fair, until recently, metrics reporting was an enigma of sorts; the type of data collected provided statistical representation of customer behaviors, but offered very little insight into correlations that would serve as actionable information to help improve efficiency. The advent of the internet, along with its provisions of social media networks and mobile technologies, has begun to revolutionize the model for these types of analytics.

In scale and speeds that were never possible prior to the internet, meaningful data that transcends mere numerical counting has allowed marketers the opportunity to make huge strides in MPM strategies. With new and improved resources available, marketing executives in the 21st century should   focus on the ability of measurement and analysis to predict what will happen next. It has become essential to react quickly to a changing market to maximize marketing ROI, and the strategies for those reactions are better informed than ever before.

The adoption such useful metrics-based reporting by CMOs has been less than speedy, especially when compared to the staggering statistics associated with the rise of digital. With increasing pressure on  marketing executives not only to achieve better results while also managing to reduce overall costs, decisions should be guided by measurement and not just “gut instinct.”

Does the Glass Slipper Fit?

Late March is here, and this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships (lovingly referred to as March Madness) are once again captivating the nation with exciting action. One thing missing is a true Cinderella story – no mid-major school to defy the odds and inject excitement the tournament by upsetting top seeded teams. Cinderellas are typically a primary source of the drama for which the annual spectacle is famous. Without their presence, the allure of the tournament is somewhat dulled.

A trio of teams remaining in the ‘Sweet 16’ entered the tournament seeded #10 or higher in their respective 16 team region, but the three schools are perennial Madness participants. Xavier, North Carolina State, and Ohio are still fighting for the chance to hoist the trophy and cut down the nets when the tournament is all said and done. Despite the fact that none of them are true surprises, the teams are still managing to play the role of the disruptor. These teams enjoy the luxury, having already overcome stronger teams, of having the pressure transferred to their opponents, raising the intensity of each matchup as teams are eliminated leading up to the Final Four and championship game. Even without the true ‘Cinderella,’ the temperature increases as the stakes are raised thanks to these upstart squads.

In the sports world, as in business, disruptors are the true driving force behind greatness. New ideas – the innovative and, more importantly, the unexpected – turn the wheels of change across industry. For example, Redbox’s emergence disrupted the business of DVD rentals, changing the long-standing establishment of video rental stores for the better, and hurting major players like Blockbuster. Netflix’s streaming model further changed the climate; today, the unexpected changes brought on by newer technologies have completely revolutionized the industry.

In all likelihood, the fire of the three ‘semi-Cinderella’ schools will soon be extinguished by top seeds, but the possibility for one of them to attain the ultimate goal and achieve greatness is still real. Like the players and coaches, businesses should keep the dream alive and strive to introduce their own brand of excitement into the establishment.

Junction CEO Talks Branding at Financial Marketers’ Conference

Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), recently spoke as a member of an expert panel at The Journal of Financial Advertising and Marketing (JFAM)’s Live! Financial Marketers’ Conference in New York City. Hosted by New York-based The Gramercy Institute, the semi-annual event was themed in conjunction with the firm’s latest research, entitled The Future of Financial Media: Owned, Earned, & Purchased.

Senior level marketing executives from top financial firms to include JPMorgan Chase, AIG, BNY Mellon, Prudential, and TIAA-CREF shared insights on the latest trends in financial marketing. As The Gramercy Institute’s research was presented, the participants discussed topics such as tablet and mobile marketing and social, mobile, and content marketing. Gareleck participated in sharing the importance of branding, aligned with her recently released perspective entitled Marketing Futurists: Better, Faster, Constant.

“Bill Wreaks (CEO of The Gramercy Institute and Chief Analyst of JFAM) has managed to make the Live! series one of the most distinguished events on the calendar. The event was an opportunity for top marketers to listen, share, and learn in a trusted environment,” said Gareleck. “The amount of thought capital in the room was impressive and certainly impactful to attendees and panelists alike.”

For more information and news about Junction’s involvement at JFAM Live!, click here.

Junction CEO Featured on Panel at JFAM Live! Conference

Atlanta-based strategy firm Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) is proud to announce its inclusion by New York-based The Gramercy Institute in The Journal of Financial Advertising and Marketing (JFAM)’s Live! Conferences. The next edition of the semi-annual series will be held Friday, March 9th, 2012 in New York City addressing the Future of Financial Media: Owned, Earned, & Purchased. Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, will represent Junction on a panel of experts discussing the importance of utilizing branding to convey a marketing message.

Bill Wreaks, CEO of The Gramercy Institute and Chief Analyst of JFAM, has assembled a number of high ranking, knowledgeable, and experienced marketing professionals from top financial firms to provide insights into the future of financial advertising. Says Gareleck, “Bill has chosen individuals who are the true trendsetters on the cutting edge, adding immense value to the next installment in an exceptional series of conferences.”

“We are honored and excited to speak as an advocate for marketing that follows the philosophy of being progressive, creative, and plugged-in,” says Gareleck. “We look forward to the opportunity to interact and learn from other industry leaders, helping better inform the solutions we offer our clients.”

More information and news about upcoming events related to JFAM Live! can be found on Junction’s blog at www.junction-creative.com/wordpress.

Junction Shares Insights on the Future of Marketing

The role of chief marketing officers (CMOs) is changing almost as quickly as the advancements in technology. The CEO of Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), an Atlanta-based strategic agency, releases Marketing Futurists: Better, Faster, Constant. The perspective applies and adapts the economic principle of better, faster, cheaper to a new marketing model that has transformed the traditional role of CMOs.

“Marketing is often classified as ‘nice to have,’ comments Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction. “But in this dynamically changing market place, marketing is a need. The responsibility for marketers, especially CMOs, is to not only deliver the message but also generate a return on investment. Traditional best practices for marketing have changed – the model is different.”

Gareleck offers an interesting perspective for marketing futurists. “The influence of technologies like social media and the surge in real time digital data have given many marketers headaches, but with swift adoption, the same advances provide opportunities for CMOs to change the economics of marketing in a big way,” said Gareleck.

To learn more about Junction, visit www.junction-creative.com.

A Once-in-a-Four-Year Offer

We all want extra hours in our day to get more done or enjoy more rest, but naturally, we never get it. The technical exception falls when the calendar flips to a very unique date: February 29th. In order to keep our calendars consistent with the astronomical year, every fourth 365-day year requires that we tack on an extra 24 hours. Colloquially known as Leap Day, the bonus day inserted at February’s end doesn’t really provide all the extra time we could use, but it does provide an interesting opportunity for promotions, marketing, and special events.

Capitalizing on 2012’s status as a leap year, auto industry heavyweight Honda is holding a contest widely advertised during the Super Bowl and beyond where participants enter a ‘Leap List’ full of activities or goals to achieve in this slightly extended year. It is playing out as a smartly hybridized promotion that taps directly into its audience, delivering a strong brand message that becomes inherently positive to the consumer participants. Among many other deals and promotions, e-tailer Zappos is cleverly extending its normal 1-year guarantee to 4 for any items purchased on Leap Day, and Princess Cruises is offering savings on certain packages equivalent to 1 free day, in honor of the ‘free’ day we get each Leap Year.

The fact is that one additional day in 4 years really isn’t a difference maker -but it is a marker. The occasion is just rare enough that we tend to distinguish the day as special in some way. How marketers choose to leverage this opportunity can vary, but February 29th should not be a forgotten day.