Five Favorite M/C/C Moments From 2015

As I look back on the year 2015, five favorite M/C/C moments come to mind. Here they are.

DFW AMA Marketer of the Year Award
We were awarded the 2015 DFW AMA Marketer of the Year honor in the “New Product/Service Launch” category. Our client, ReTrak by Emerge Technologies, created headphones for children branded Animalz. Designed for little ears, the headphones feature volume-limiting technology, fun animal designs and a retractable cord that makes clean up a breeze and tantrums about tangled wires nearly obsolete.

The pressure was on for a new product without brand recognition in a crowded marketplace at the busiest time of the year. Not only did Animalz have little brand recognition, neither did its parent company, so major retailers were concerned about selling the headphones to consumers. In the fall of 2014, the company approached M/C/C about launching its new lovable, retractable headphones. M/C/C’s public relations and creative teams developed a comprehensive integrated blogger outreach and media relations program that would best target the main buyer of the headphones—moms.

M/C/C garnered coverage for Animalz that reached more than 210 million readers/visitors. We secured 79 blog posts, which generated 600,000+ impressions and engaged consumers through almost 7,000 trackable social actions. Media outlets such as The Boston Globe, Newsday and its sister TV station, News 12 Long Island, picked up the Animalz story. M/C/C’s outreach even influenced CNET to include the headphones in a stocking stuffers video segment. Additionally, nearly 30 percent of the blogs and a variety of top tier media sites including CBS News, The Huffington Post and Yahoo featured the product video created by M/C/C.

Overall, Animalz sales increased 1,755 percent with more than half of the sales coming through the three-month blogger and media relations campaign period.

CyrusOne Chooses M/C/C
Also in 2015, CyrusOne selected M/C/C for planning and management of the global data center company’s integrated media strategies and implementation. Scott Brueggeman, CMO of CyrusOne, commented that M/C/C was an easy decision because of our track record as well as our experience. He went on to say that M/C/C’s focus on measurable and actionable results gives his organization complete confidence in our ability to help CyrusOne deliver the next successful chapter in the company’s marketing and advertising efforts.

FB - San Antonio I Data Center

The results have been strong and have continued to grow since our relationship began in July, indicating 2016 should truly be exciting.

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The Most Unexpected Thing Yule See this Christmas

Indulge me while I run through my M/C/C bucket list. Let’s see…

Create a stop-motion production using Post-its and office supplies? Check.
Build a 4,287-piece Lego set? Check.
Work with my 5-year-old on an award-winning project? Check.
Reimagine a scene from “The Shawshank Redemption”? Check.
Film a comedy-slash-horror spoof with Santa Claus as the unexpected antagonist?

Santa Sleigher Movie PosterAt M/C/C, our mantra is “Living the Unexpected.” It’s a phrase embedded in our agency culture. We’re the fish swimming upstream. We eat snow cones in December. We wear white after Labor Day. And, on occasion, we turn Santa into a not-so-jolly soul hell-bent on righting the injustices of being obnoxiously nice. We call our annual holiday greeting “Santa Sleigher.” 

I’m not going to sugarcoat this Christmas cookie for you. Santa Sleigher is polarizing. Some will love it, while others will sharpen their pitchforks and light their torches. But before you storm the M/C/C castle, know this: for a three-week production window, laughter filled these halls. We laughed as Todd Brashear ran around the office in full Claus regalia. We laughed as our old friend Peter Nutovsky returned for a small cannibalistic cameo. We laughed as we lowered our tree on top of sweet Ellen. And we all laughed at our not-quite-average acting ability.

“Santa Sleigher” isn’t for everyone (especially not my 5-year-old), but it’s definitely for us. Warmest wishes from everyone at M/C/C!

 

Not Just Another Pretty Average Face

Competing for new customers is tough these days. To stand out in your market, you need to create a unique advantage in virtually every facet of your marketing mix – in your products, your distribution, your pricing structure and, not the least, in your promotion. Simply doing the same as your competitors just won’t cut it.

Businessman Computer Planning Marketing Brand Concept

Oftentimes, clients ask us about the value of marketing or, more specifically, the value of unexpected communications. In my former life as a copywriter, I’d make the case that every brand needs to create a unique look and voice that stands above the crowd. But as a creative director, I understand now that when clients talk about value, they’re mostly concerned about the bottom line. What’s THAT value? How much will our mind-blowing idea for a website or online banner increase their sales?

For starters, I’d say it’s impossible to try to ascribe revenue to one particular piece of marketing communications. For instance, launching a revolutionary e-commerce site would likely impact a client’s sales revenue, but attributing all success to that site would be shortsighted. What about the email campaign that likely supported the launch of the site? Or any pay-per-click campaign that drove traffic to the site? Or inside salespeople referring customers to the site? Or every piece of communications the company ever produced that created an impression in the market? The real value of marketing communications must be accounted for holistically, not just in one project or even in one campaign.

That disclaimer aside, there are a number of ways that we can demonstrate how our creative communications create real, financial value for our clients. I’ll cover three of them briefly, just to share some real-world client experiences. So the next time you’re in budget talks, fighting for a fair share for marketing or the subject of an employee review needing to demonstrate what you accomplished last year, be sure to keep these in mind. The math around marketing communications is not nearly as fuzzy as it used to be. It has real value – in dollars and cents that you and your agency can maximize together.

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Practicing What We Preach: Leveraging Research To Drive Business Forward

1015-3If you know one thing about M/C/C, it’s probably the value we put on research. Understanding internal and market perspectives and the gaps between them are invaluable to developing a marketing strategy. So, it’s only appropriate – natural, really – that M/C/C performs some research on itself from time to time. Day in and day out, we need to deliver against our clients’ business objectives and their personal expectations of us, their marketing agency.

Over the last couple of months, M/C/C embarked on its own research study to reset its understanding on what marketers – our clients and prospects – find important and value most. Understanding this perspective should help keep our existing relationships healthy and impact our approach to reaching and securing new clients.

M/C/C polled marketers on a variety of subjects, such as:

  • Importance and priority of decision-making attributes
  • Current pain points and marketing issues
  • Qualities of an ideal agency

The results shouldn’t really whip our heads back. Hopefully the results will just help confirm what we already believe to be true and be in sync with our current approach to managing and building new relationships. Let’s take a look.

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The Influence of Market Research on Communications

Valor Business Solutions was prepared to launch their service offerings in a number of cities. They were going to make a major investment in marketing to promote their services, but there was a tremendous amount of trepidation among their senior management. There were mixed opinions and views about what their messaging should be to the marketplace.

We made the recommendation to Valor’s management that we develop a market research program internally and externally to clearly understand the purchase criteria among their buyers and prospects prior to market launch. This would solidify the company’s direction, prioritize their service offerings in the decision-making process and assist in creating consensus within the management team.  Everyone would feel confident that their external communications programs would be on message and on target, while the financial investment would reap a huge return.

The research program was approved and the rest is history. Valor became a very successful company over the next few years and was acquired as a result.

This is one of many examples that demonstrate how significantly market research influences your company’s communications programs and assists in creating consensus within your organization.

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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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‘Mad Men’ Finale Eulogizes Golden Age of Advertising

Television GraveyardWhen I talk to creatives at other agencies or watch Super Bowl ads each year or read industry news, I can’t help but admit a very difficult truth. In many respects, the advertising industry is in a sorry state right now. In our rush to generate the most opens for emails, the most clicks on websites or the most likes on social media, the era of “the big idea” is perilously close to taking a dirt nap. The forever kind. And that’s not good for business.

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In or Out? Outside Marketing Communications Agencies vs. In-House Resources

Okay – I admit it. I may be a wee bit biased when writing on the subject of the relative advantages and disadvantages of using an in-house ad agency versus outsourcing to a marketing communications agency. You probably already suspected the bias because you’re reading this on a marketing communications’ agency blog. I do believe that outsourcing to an agency provides more advantages than disadvantages based on my own experiences and discussions with companies and clients over the last 20-plus years.

Despite that belief, there are always exceptions and hybrids between in-house and outsourced communications resources. What we’ve seen work best is when a company has strong marketing leadership within the organization combined with a marketing communications agency it trusts. The internal marketing leader should have a strong understanding of the company’s business and marketing objectives, serving as a driving force in developing marketing strategies that align with the company’s goals. This person should communicate these things to the agency frequently, especially as business goals or executive leadership within the organization shifts. The agency and internal marketing staff then work in tandem on the development and execution of programs to reach those goals.

An outside marketing communications agency provides advantages that just can’t be replicated in-house.

Marketing Agency Work EnvironmentAn outside perspective and objectivity. One of the most important, if not THE most important, advantages an outside agency has over in-house staff is objectivity. The agency’s view is not overly colored by internal discussions, politics, views, etc. Emotions and personalities play less of a role in agency recommendations. The most effective work comes not from a focus on how the company views its products and services but how the customer views them. A good outside agency should always be focused on the buyer and not be distracted by other motivations that are impossible to escape in an internal role. Because agencies are not employees, they’re not bound by the same limitations as employees. An outside agency helps you avoid getting tunnel vision from focusing only on your company or industry.

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