Advocacy for Your Brand Starts from Within

In 2013, Triumph Bancorp finalized its acquisition of THE National Bank, a retail bank with 18 locations in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. The company’s ability to engage with employees around the name and brand change was the single most important initiative the company undertook during the transition. Not only did the bank need employees and staff to know about the changes but it also needed them to deliver a brand experience that instilled confidence in customers.

Jim blog

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Culture is King

How would your company like to attract and retain better employees than your competition can? Employees who are engaged with your customers and are invested in the success of your business? Employees who are advocates for your brand and who collaborate with one another?

It’s hard to imagine any company that wouldn’t like to enjoy these benefits.

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Holiday Marketing is at a Fever Pitch but What’s Next?

Keeping the momentum with post-holiday marketing programs

Businesses, particularly retailers, have been planning for this holiday season since the last one ended – and with good reason. According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can represent as much as 30 percent of annual sales. We’re in the peak season for holiday marketing fueled by long hours, endless cups of coffee and a thousand moving parts from the best-laid plans.

Businesses are working furiously to get their piece of the holiday spending pie but what happens when that spending frenzy dies down? How can retailers and business-to-business (B2B) companies continue the momentum?

Holiday Marketing

For retailers, there are some fundamental and proven strategies for extending revenue opportunities on the heels of the holidays.

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Maintaining Marketing Focus in an ADD Environment

Choices, choices, choices. We’re all bombarded everyday with an ever-growing number of choices for how we spend our time and attention. It seems as if every second of every day is occupied with a thousand different things. Evidently, it’s even hard to stay focused on ordering something as simple as a sandwich – earlier this week at Subway, I saw a sign posted asking customers to “refrain from using your cell phone while ordering.” I only saw it after I looked up from my phone. In my mind, it’s neither good nor bad – it’s just the world we live in, where the new norm is to have our attention on 10 things at once.

business plan on wall

As marketers, the challenge is the same. The choices about how we spend our professional time are highly fragmented in a hyper world. We’re bombarded with data and marketing intelligence at every turn, we’re evaluating new and existing market platforms, media outlets and tools, and we’re studying our audiences and their sub-segments and sub-sub-segments. It can be overwhelming at times, and it can dilute our focus.

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Man Versus Machine: Automation and Technology Don’t Trump Human Expertise

Man Versus Machine

Everywhere I’ve turned in the last few months, marketing tools seem to be there. From client conversations to sales pitches to public relations and Web content, they seem to be everywhere. And they’re multiplying at a dizzying pace. I’ve just returned from the Digital Summit Dallas conference where marketing automation tool companies dominated the exhibition space and sponsored what seemed like every session. Marketing tools are the bright shiny objects of the industry and have captured the attention of marketers everywhere.

The reason for the proliferation seems obvious to me – these tools work. When used thoughtfully, they save man hours, automate routine operations, create efficiencies and deliver powerful information and analytics. At M/C/C, we are constantly evaluating tools that we can leverage for our clients’ benefit. We use technology and tools to help us identify potential issues and new opportunities for Search Engine Optimization programs; automate, compare and improve email programs; programmatically buy targeted advertising in more efficient ways; optimize Pay-Per-Click campaigns; and a slew of other external programs. We are big believers in the value they provide.

There’s no doubt that these technologies and tools have their place in a marketer’s toolbox and we use many of them, but at the end of the day, they are tools. They have limitations – they can’t think; they can’t be creative or use emotions; and they can’t replicate the expertise and decision-making of humans. Without the right craftsman to operate the tool in the best manner, they fall flat.

The influx of automation tools and the attention that they’ve gained in the marketing space can be dangerous for companies looking for a silver bullet to deliver successful programs. There is no silver bullet. Companies will fail if they’re looking to a tool to “set it and forget it,” having it bear the responsibility of connecting with customers. Creating content, scheduling its distribution and iterations won’t magically lead to prospects connecting with your message and falling into lead buckets based on brilliant lead-scoring methods.

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Successfully Navigating Change in an Agency-Client Relationship: M/C/C and Harris CapRock

Client Agency Relationship When M/C/C began working with IWL (the predecessor to CapRock) in 1994, a gallon of gas cost $1.09, Tonya Harding’s attack on Nancy Kerrigan dominated the news and Netscape Navigator was the market leader for browsing the Web. It is 21 years later, and we’re still the Agency of Record for what is now known as Harris CapRock.  Our relationship with the brand has weathered reverse mergers, purchases, spin outs and more acquisitions. There’s never been a dull moment and it has been a fun ride.

In the beginning of our partnership, IWL’s business was focused on providing communications services to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. They held a strong position in the market and caught the attention of CapRock Communications, a Dallas-based telecommunications company that completed a reverse merger with IWL in 1998 to take the company public. M/C/C’s role expanded quickly beyond marketing offshore services to marketing CapRock’s full suite of services to small businesses and other carriers throughout the Southwest United States. In 2001, CapRock was purchased by McLeod and M/C/C worked with them during the transition. In 2002, the “brand” CapRock was purchased by private investors and relaunched as a satellite communications provider in 2003. M/C/C was called on to lead the communications effort. The company expanded aggressively beyond oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico into commercial shipping, defense, cruise, mining and construction throughout the world. They grew to be the undisputed leader in the satellite communications industry and were purchased in 2010 by Harris Corporation, currently operating as a division of the company.

As to be expected, the ongoing state of change led to some significant marketing challenges. With each management change came a new set of objectives, priorities and expectations. Some placed a higher priority on the role of marketing than did others and the flux changed the way the brand was viewed in the market.

Change has been the only constant in our relationship with Harris CapRock – change in the company, its marketing priorities and leaders; change in our relationship and focus for the brand. Along with the internal changes at Harris CapRock, the marketing landscape was evolving quickly. At the outset of our relationship, we produced print ads, rudimentary websites and brochures with data sheets. Today, our advertising is exclusively digital. We’re producing interactive sales demos and optimizing everything in real time.

Our continued and successful relationship with Harris CapRock is one we’re proud of and it can be attributed to four critical factors.

Providing Value. Our focus with CapRock from the beginning was to not attach ourselves to executives or employees but focus on the business and its objectives. We’ve enjoyed great relationships with our contacts over the years (and still keep in contact with most of them), but we’ve maintained a drive to deliver real business results. That was true 21 years ago, and it’s still true today. Relationships without results don’t create value for the business. Continue reading “Successfully Navigating Change in an Agency-Client Relationship: M/C/C and Harris CapRock” »

Attracting Employees With Your Brand

As a marketer, I’ve been obsessed for the past 20 years with developing brands for clients as well as implementing programs that put those brands front and center in the minds of customers and prospects. We spend countless hours studying buyers and their motivations along with our clients’ businesses to build strong brands that link the two together. External audiences (customers, prospects, members of the press community, stockholders, etc.) are almost always our primary consideration.

Important audiences like employees and potential employees are often overlooked. So many companies recognize the critical role that the right employees play in the success of the business, and yet they aren’t thoughtful about attracting those employees. Developing and communicating your brand story to potential and existing employees requires the same attention and discipline as telling your story externally.

Consider these factors in how you attract the best talent:

It starts with branding.

Work Life BalanceA brand is, in its purest form, a promise to employees and candidates. In order to be most impactful, it must address the motivations of the audience in ways that are most relevant to them. An annual survey conducted by Universum of college students as they consider the working world found that today’s grads are motivated by work-life balance, job security and a cause that serves the greater good. They look for employers that have respect for their people with a work environment that is creative and dynamic. How does what your company have to offer align with these motivations? They should be addressed in your brand promise if this is an important segment of employees. Different segments have distinct motivations that need to be addressed.

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How to Catapult a Product Launch with Public Relations

The launch of a new product can have a dramatic impact on a company’s business success. Do it well and it can catapult the company’s revenue and market share. Flub it and the opposite is true. A critical component to a successful launch is the impact that a communications program makes in creating awareness of the new product. It’s the messaging that communicates the new product’s benefits and media visibility that builds credibility in the market.

While every launch has its own idiosyncrasies in the form of objectives and resource allocation, we’ve found over the years that they also have certain commonalities. One of those core common elements, particularly in business-to-business launches, is the importance of the credibility built thorough public and market analyst relations. These sources build trust with audiences and create a certain sense of security and safety – if one of these experts touts the virtues of a product, it brings a validation of it to customers and prospects.

When longtime client Harris CapRock Communications cued up its biggest product introduction in years, it turned to M/C/C to spread the word.

In the communications field, Harris CapRock has a reputation as an innovator and a Harris CapRock Oneleader. As the company launched its game-changing Harris CapRock One service, it needed marketing that was up to the task. As part of an integrated communications program, public relations was critical to building third-party credibility and generating customer interest.

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Pandas, Penguins and Pigeons, OH MY!

Google’s changes to its search algorithm have been well documented, and it’s been a busy few years – we’ve had the Penguin and Panda updates along with Hummingbird and Pigeon. The changes are keeping SEO experts and brands on their toes as we all adjust our sites on a moving target.

Below are some key factors that we’re watching in 2015 as Google is experimenting with some new and old ranking influences for the year.

Mobile SearchMobile. Since mobile search is growing astronomically, Google is putting more emphasis on delivering the best user experience possible on mobile devices. Google has been penalizing sites that provide a bad experience to mobile searchers, and now the company is testing providing a boost for those serving up a great experience. By having a responsive site with fast load times and mobile features, sites can earn Google’s mobile-friendly label for special treatment within its ranking algorithm.  Companies can use Google’s tool to see how mobile-friendly their site is:

Multimedia Content. Google is placing more importance on featuring a range of content such as video, graphics, photos, PDFs, etc, on sites. Sites that are text heavy will need to be augmented with other media and content types. A range of content is not only effective from an SEO perspective but also drives a better user experience, which contributes to lower bounces and longer session duration. Continue reading “Pandas, Penguins and Pigeons, OH MY!” »