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.

DeathtoStock_Creative Community3

Continue reading “The Influence of Market Research on Communications” »

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.

Continue reading “Attracting Employees With Your Brand” »

‘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.

Continue reading “‘Mad Men’ Finale Eulogizes Golden Age of Advertising” »

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.

Continue reading “In or Out? Outside Marketing Communications Agencies vs. In-House Resources” »

Looks Aren’t Everything When It Comes To Hot Web Design

By now, you’ve probably seen the TV spot for Squarespace, which promises “Better websites for all.” Or maybe you’ve heard of Wix, which claims to “make it simple for everyone to create a beautiful, professional Web presence.” No doubt you know WordPress, which, for years, has been the go-to blogging platform-turned-world-leading content management system (CMS). These Web-building tools and others like them have really come into their own over the past couple of years, giving all people the ability to create powerful, advanced and aesthetically awesome websites without a lot of design or development experience. A few years ago, I might’ve turned my nose up at these template-based, semi-customizable websites, but not any longer.

From a design/development perspective, most templates are actually really good these days, and some are outright stunning. Not long ago, templates were created by less talented designers and built by developers with limited skills. But today’s Web-building tools help average Joes launch clean and sophisticated websites with large-format imagery. They’re coded in HTML5 for some of the most advanced functionality available, and many are responsive so they display and function beautifully on devices of all sizes. What’s not to like?

{Enter the wet blanket}

Continue reading “Looks Aren’t Everything When It Comes To Hot Web Design” »

What Good Can Come from a Video Tyrant, Several Cameras and Tone-Challenged Victims?

I want to personally apologize for what you’re about to witness. You see, I had this idea along with access to a recording studio, several cameras and video editing equipment. I dreamed up a name for it — “M/C/C Briefs” — and enlisted help from the creative team with logo and page design for the dern thing. And for what? To publicly mock my peers as they hum the lyrics to popular songs? And set the stage for future agency-wide humiliation in the form of marketing entertainment? Who the heck do I think I am? Well I’m the third hum enthusiast featured in this video. Like I said, I apologize. Now enjoy.

What’s next for the M/C/C Briefs? I don’t know. Honestly. No one has told me anything. We’re flying by the seat of our Underoos over here. I guess that’s the beauty of the Briefs. If Hum’s the Word works, let us know and we’ll keep the good times rolling. If it doesn’t, I take a cold shower, die a little inside and move on. And if you have an idea for something awesome you want to see, send us a note. Maybe we can give it a shot. Or a scene. Or a full-fledged motion picture.

Experts Discover New Human Organ, Key to Better Marketing

When it comes to how human’s make decisions, modern science has it all wrong. Textbooks will have you believe that decision-making happens in a small part of the brain known as the lateral habenula, which they claim performs a cost-benefit analysis on all of life’s everyday events. In fact, we at M/C/C have learned that decisions are made in an entirely different part of the human anatomy. This organ is called the breart.

The breart is one-half heart and one-half brain, fused together as one. At M/C/C, our specialists in human decision-making identified the breart a few years ago in a study to determine the best way to market our clients’ products to their customers. Essentially, what we’ve learned is that the breart is best affected by a combination of rational, thoughtful information and entertaining, compelling stories. Since discovering this organ and its role in consumer behavior, we’ve influenced the brearts of our audiences like never before, using informative content to stimulate the brain and creative stories to move the heart.

Because the physiological workings of the breart can be dry and complex and entirely fictional to some people, we’ve produced a simple video to help introduce this new scientific principle. We’re confident that, once you open your mind to the breart, you’ll discover entirely new ways to influence your customers, too.