Posts

Missing an Opportunity to Positively Advance the Corporate Brand

How one major retailer is botching a socially responsible message!

Image credit: Phonix_a Pk.sarote / Shutterstock.com

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.

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 https://tradeautox.com/.

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.

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.

Managing Sustainable Growth in an Evolving SaaS Marketplace

JXN Blog Image 2

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 julie@junction-creative.com to learn more about our success stories with SaaS based companies!

Helping Architects Accept Change and Embrace the Modern Marketing Era

Image 1

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 https://www.aiaatl.org/design-equilibrium-2017/ 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 www.junction-creative.com.

Prime Meridian Consulting Expands Its Reach in Healthcare Industry

November 23, 2016 – ATLANTA, GA:

Prime Meridian Consulting (Prime Meridian), a boutique consulting firm with more than 25 years of experience in serving the needs of leading organizations in the healthcare and pharmaceutical services environment, continues to gain market share, expanding the number of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies it serves.

“The healthcare and pharmaceutical industry faces many challenges to educate and train its salesforce to effectively represent the company and the products it offers. As the marketplace becomes more competitive and regulations increase, Prime Meridian has been able to provide unique solutions to drive value,” Regina Donohue Senior Manager, Prime Meridian. “We recently rebranded our company which is now better aligned with our presence and growth in the space.”

Prime Meridian selected Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), a strategic agency committed to creating high impact solutions for SMBS and Fortune 500 companies, to assist with the brand redesign and marketing strategy to grow its business.

Julie Gareleck, Junction CEO and founder says,” As the marketing landscape in the healthcare space continues to change dramatically, it’s critical for companies like Prime Meridian to establish a brand that is indicative of the value it provides to its clients. We are confident that the new brand accurately reflects Prime Meridian as it grows its footprint in an increasingly competitive environment.”

The new updated website features an insightful design that highlights Prime Meridian offerings in Advisory Board Solutions, Educational Training, Sales Force Training and e-Learning Solutions. Prime Meridian has developed and executed comprehensive solutions that deliver impactful results for its clients. To learn more about how Prime Meridian provides innovative solutions for Healthcare and Pharmaceutical companies visit http://primemeridianconsulting.net/.

“We believe that our brand has been strengthen and we are able to attract and retain clients because of our relationship with Junction Creative. Collaborating with Junction was seamless. Our organization’s vision was truly captured in the work.”

About Prime Meridian

Prime Meridian Consulting (Prime Meridian) is a boutique consulting firm with more than 25 years of experience in serving the needs of many leading organizations in the healthcare industry. In an era of constant change for the industry, Prime Meridian offers clients unique solutions to healthcare and pharmaceutical companies to include Advisory Board Solutions, Educational Training, Sales Force Training and e-Learning Solutions.

About Junction Creative Solutions

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) combines the intellectual capital of a consulting firm with the creative execution of an advertising agency to create effective and measurable strategies and solutions. The solutions align with specific business goals and objectives, and provide consistency from strategic planning through execution. As a result, our clients are able to maximize opportunities to react, adapt, and thrive — ultimately creating more sustainable and competitive businesses. Junction’s award winning portfolio boasts successful strategies and agency solutions for SMBs and Fortune 500 companies.

To Our Clients, Colleagues, and Supporters,

ID-100382566
As we embrace 2016, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude for the opportunities that have brought us together whether a client, colleague, or friend.  2015 has been a pivotal year for many of our clients who have achieved new milestones and unprecedented growth. Congratulations on a job well done!  I am ever thankful for my colleagues who have committed themselves to being the best at what they do to assist our clients in reaching those milestones.  I applaud your efforts.  We are fortunate to have a system of supporters who offer an ear, words of wisdom, and a pat on the back at just the right moments. You play a critical role in our success.
When I started the business in 2009, I had a vision for Junction.  After nearly 7 years in business, our team still remains focused on that vision – to create impact.  The road to success is often wrought with twists and turns. Rather than focus on those obstacles that stand before us, it’s comforting to know that I am surrounded by others like yourself, navigating the journey together.
May 2016 bring prosperity to all of you and I look forward to the opportunities to work together in the New Year.
Sincerely,
Julie Cropp Gareleck
CEO & Managing Partner
Image courtesy of Suriya Kankliang at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Ever Evolving Dynamics of Marketing in 2015

ID-100291369

It is hard to imagine a time in history when the art and science of connecting producers with consumers has experienced as dramatic and disruptive period of change as it has in the past few years. The wave of intense technological discoveries and the age of digital communications will continue to alter the science and the art of forming relationships and behaviors between sellers and buyers in 2015.

Digital marketing will continue to be the predominate vehicle used to complete the communication process. Once dominate print and video media will continue to exist but its predominate role will be part and partial of the digital environment, having little or no sustainable independent role apart from the digital realm. Former tactics of utilizing individual digital channels will be replaced with the need to create a common brand experience across the full spectrum of the digital experience.  The introduction of advancements to existing technology like mobile, wearable technology and data analytics will require the refinement of the creative effort.  We are entering a period where basic targeting of the right message to the right person will also demand the message be delivered at the right time and in the right place across multiple channels to include mobile; video, and social sharing.  “The industry will begin to evolve beyond marketing automation aligned around personas and the buyer journey to create a connected cloud of technology designed to gain a deeper understanding of customers,” said Tom Stein, CEO of Stein IAS Americas. “Right now there are a lot of unconnected technologies, everything from data management to predictive analytics. The next big leap is for us to connect all the relevant technologies in the interest of the customer experience and the customer journey.”

Predictors of the trends in 2015 are in agreement on at least one factor: Content is, and will continue to be, king. Consumers can’t wait to devour and share a brand’s content.  With this upsurge in content marketing, organizations are realizing that the quickest way to motivate an audience is through valuable content. But the content will need to be more inspiring, personal and entertaining to be relevant in 2015 and beyond. Personalization is expected to become a widely adopted practice in 2015, leading to the growth of one-on-one marketing which will help build relationships and humanize a brand.  “The use of videos and visuals will be on the rise”, says Tom Malesic, president and CEO, EZSolution. “Consumers are more likely to purchase after seeing a video than if there was no video at all. In addition, it shows that you are personal with your customers and that you care about your products and services.”

Social media has gravitated to top of the “must have list’ for marketers in 2014.  “With the upturn in the economy, small businesses have more potential for success than ever. The most significant increases will go to businesses that have a flexible and effective online strategy, and who can rapidly respond to changing desires of customers. The growth of social media as a platform for connection is causing more and more people to get their recommendations from others online. Businesses that have a significant online presence will be in the forefront of the new referral and relationship marketing systems,” says Pamela Bruner, business coach with Make Your Success Real. Jason Parks, owner, The Media Captain says, “As Facebook’s organic reach continues to decrease, small business owners are taking notice. If they want to get in front of their customers for 2015, I believe it will be essential that they start looking more into social media advertising to expand their online marketing efforts. Gone will be the days where companies allow employees to post content without conducting a deep dive into their audience first. Executives are getting more sophisticated and realize that unless their corporate social media plan is formulaic with clear, set goals, metrics and tools to provide those metrics, they’re paying top dollar for employees to spend time on online efforts that have questionable value.”

The importance of mobile will grow in each and every aspect of business in the coming year with many predicting that the mobile web will become even bigger than desktop usage. With the growth in popularity of mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and wearable technology, the most effective campaigns will be built to be mobile-first. With 80 percent of users deleting emails that aren’t optimized for the mobile screen, reliable and functional mobile technology has never been more important to reaching an audience. Being able to pay for purchases from an iPhone or send currency on Snapchat, Venmo, Text To Give, PayPal or Bitcoin will become more common-place in 2015 as technical and security issues are resolved and enhanced. Marketers will need to adopt new ways their customers can pay for goods and services.

The rise in popularity of wearable devises will generate exponential opportunities for sellers to capture and utilize real-time data to create entirely new ways for users to interact with their favorite brands. Micro targeting strategies are expected to dynamically rise in 2015 as marketers take advantage of the increased opportunities for data collection and its utilization for the creation and dissemination of instantly relevant advertising.

“Marketing is changing fast, and business leaders will be wise to consider these changes as they plan for 2015. First, marketing teams will need to be increasingly staffed with more technical personnel rather than just creative types. The creative side of marketing is critically important to develop clever ads and copy. However, marketing increasingly involves things like online advertising, re-marketing and social media promotion. Therefore, marketing staff will require more technical skills. Ideal candidates will have a balance of creative and technical skills,” says Dave Scarola, Vice President, The Alternative Board.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net