Happy 2018! This year I’m excited to seed new roots in all areas of my life. 2017 was one of those years that truly tested us, right? I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t. I’m so over 2017 but don’t regret it. I hope that you don’t too. How we deal with challenges sets the foundation for our next adventures. So here’s a lesson I’m taking into 2018.
It’s all in one’s perspective
I went through a relocation to my new beautiful city of Phoenix, and a few other personal “hirings and firings”. It was a year I was ready to call one of my worst. But in the days leading up to Christmas, in the solitude of baking holiday cookies, I realized that 2017 was actually one of my best years yet. In it, I found new strengths, new connections and deeper love. That, to me, is the best “kind of wonderful” I could have wished for at the start of 2017.
So just by changing my perspective on last year, I feel so grateful for it. What is that one thing that keeps you up at night (or may)? Are you able to see it from a different perspective? How do I do this, you might ask? Easy. By starting from a place of what you’re grateful for. You’ll quickly see what you want to keep and what you’re willing to lose. That applies to your work, your business and, heck, anything!
That’s what is new as I set my 2018 goals. For the first time, I also set goals to lose stuff and people too. I just figured that we focus so much on gaining things that we forget the importance of purging baggage we carry around. I already feel lighter just by setting that intention!
In Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice ventures through the Looking Glass to experience a world so clear and magical even though it is lopsided. It is a metaphor to remind us that we have the power to choose how we see our problems…and our lives.
So for 2018, I wish for us all the ability to see things from different perspectives so we get to experience the gift of any situation and the creativity to turn it into something magical for ourselves, and, for others.
See you through the Looking Glass!
Credit: Photo by Bekah Russom on Unsplash
There’s a movement across the world that is happening right now. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re being swept up in its current. If this scares you, don’t be. It is a beautiful movement to heal people and to make this planet healthy again. Last week I attended the Media For Social Impact Summit that was hosted by the Pvblic Foundation at the UN headquarters, New York City. I encourage you, like me, to become more informed about this global movement, and then, to personally affect change within your sphere of interest and influence.
In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Social Development, the most famous outcome being the 2016 Paris Agreement on Climate Change Accord. The 2015 Agenda for Social Development is a big, audacious plan - much bigger than just climate change. These countries agreed to 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that cover the gamut of potential wounds we make as humans on ourselves and the planet we live in. It sets goals on issues such as Poverty, Education, Health, Responsible Consumption, Clean Energy, Gender Equality, and the list goes on.
I was blown away by the results already being achieved when we, human beings, collectively take action on anything. Poverty, by way of example, has been sliced to 11% today from being 43% fifteen years ago. Polio has essentially been eradicated from Africa, my home continent, through concerted efforts over the past few years.
To add sizzle to Summit, we were treated to the personal stories of four incredible astronauts. The image I’ve chosen for this article is one of the most influential photos of all times. It’s a NASA photo, called Earth Rise. It was taken on Christmas Eve in 1968 from the Apollo 8 spacecraft. It’s special because it is the first photo of our planet, and it was taken in an very important year in which we saw major uprising and then peace. Transposing this thought to today, one of the astronauts, Nicole Stott, who ventured into space more recently, recounted a magical moment in space. She looked down at our planet and marveled at how incredibly lucky we are to have a planet that is perfectly distanced from the sun and other astral forces in order to provide life form that we enjoy today. As far away as she was, Nicole felt more connected with our Earth, and humankind, than ever before.
The day at the Summit last week went on with even more amazing work happening across the 17 SDGs in the fields of media, film, music, marketing, art including comics, etc. While this was inspiring to the 250 delegates in that room, we could not help but think about the possibility of what this could be if we all aligned to the 17 SDGs in some way in our every day work.
That’s where I thought of you, my friends and colleagues in my network.
There are many ways to connect your good work back to this movement. I will share a few. If this grabs you, it will be worth a conversation as there are a whole lot more (Hint: Cannes, major donors, etc.). For now, here are four ways to join the movement:
Your thoughts and suggestions on this posting are very welcome. The more we engage, the more we find connections and shared purpose. Hello@unionmktg.com.
Integrated Marketing is such a buzzy marketing term. At its essence is how to make smart and efficient marketing choices around content and channels. The Union Marketing Group had a chance to speak with over 100 marketers and entrepreneurs at a regional Marketing Roundtable. It was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 22.
Here is a quick recap of our Q&A session:
Q: What is key to effectively integrating marketing efforts?
A: The top tip we give marketers on integrated marketing is to frame out their strategy as a two-dimension matrix, using the customer journey and communication channels. Very often, integrated marketing is misunderstood as managing multiple communication channels. It is much more than that. It is understanding how best to engage customers at certain points in the journey, using insights and responsive data to choose channels, content, the messenger and the frequency of engagement.
Q: What are the key marketing channels for my business goals?
A: If your business goals are related to upper funnel activity such as brand awareness and lead generation, then look at where your audience is naturally congregating. Piggyback on those channels to engage them, and do so authentically. If your business goals are lower in the sales funnel, such as retaining customers or growing their share of wallet, explore ways to enrich the current ways your customers like to engage with you. It is perfectly okay to have an email- or direct mail-based marketing strategy in these instances rather than trying to chase the next big marketing idea.
Q: Where should you be spending time and money with marketing?
A: When thinking about your marketing mix, decide whether you’ll be content-driven or event-driven. We talk about this as “creating your islands” to attract people to. For companies that regularly launch new products or are featured at conferences and trade shows, we recommend using those calendars to anchor marketing efforts. For companies who do not have these types of activities occurring naturally in the course of their business, we work with them to create key content themes to tap into the social pulse and trigger interest in the brand.
Q: How do I know my marketing is working?
A: Picking the right measures of a return on your investment matters. There are so many metrics at our disposal today. The quickest answer to this question is to make sure you’re tracking a couple of things that tie directly to your business goals. While it is okay to get excited about lead and lag indicators of marketing effort, at the end of the day, your CEO is interested in how you’ve helped drive business goals. Generally, a marketer’s job is to create market demand. Choose measures that show your work here.
Q: What software/tools are best for me to integrate my marketing efforts?
A: There are many tools available but in our experience, the marketplace is still not a integrated as we’d like it to be. Leading the races are the big campaign management tools by SalesForce, IBM and Adobe. But it’s pricey and may not be suitable if your needs are simple. A quick poll at the Marketing Roundtable event revealed that only a few businesses have adopted large scale software tools but are aware of their benefits. Many attendees had two or three dominant channels in their marketing mix and felt they were adequately covered. It may seem obvious but we advise customers to first define their integrated marketing strategy clearly before investing in software and tools to support it. Too many companies do the opposite.
Disclaimer: This is our own (positive) opinion and does not necessarily reflect those of the brands mentioned.
The Union Marketing team recently hosted a strategy workshop called Marketing for Growth at the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. The workshop covered a number of lead generation strategies used by innovative brands. Here are three things that our workshop attendees loved:
1. Marketing Budgets - Year-on-year sameness
Marketing budgets typically reflect budget decisions that have been made over the years. Every so often we add things and, at times, take away things. For the most part, a budget has been defined by the activities we do from a historical perspective. So how do we expect different results with the same input?
To truly innovate and grow, a seemingly crazy idea is to start from scratch. Accountants do this all the time with zero-based budgeting. But the reality is that we’re unlikely to totally re-do our marketing budgets. Any form of extreme make-over would be unsettling to our teams and our leadership, right? So here are some tips on how to build in activity and get recognition for new ideas and experiments.
Account for your “growth hack” marketing.
2. Piggyback to build distribution faster and efficiently.
Save money and time building online communication distribution. It seems obvious but understand where your audience is at and build upon the user base and interactions already happening out there. But how many marketers truly take this on strategically?
Some famous brands known for piggybacking to gain users include PayPal who started on eBay, growing interest in its convenience there. Facebook has spawned a whole series of successful businesses who’ve grown their user bases on the social platform. See more examples in this Adage article.
3. Activate your employee base, it’s free!
There is much talk recently about employer branding. The Union Marketing has been pulled into global discussions on this with our financial services partners. Marketers who understand and tap into this are being strategic and efficient.
We love sharing these stats from LinkedIn on employee advocacy : On average, a company’s employees have 10x more connections than the company has followers. People are also 3x more likely to trust company information from employees than from the CEO. On average, employee re-shares of company content have a click-through rate of 2.1x that of the original company status update.
So these were the three things our workshop attendees loved. We’d love to hear from you on what made you excited at a conference or workshop you recently attended.
Disclaimer: This is our own (positive) opinion and does not necessarily reflect those of the brands mentioned.
Today is Employee Appreciation Day, and we were reminded of some research we did last year on the employment marketplace. With lower unemployment levels and a smaller pool of talent in specialized areas, candidates enjoy stronger positions in today’s labor market.
Candidates are looking at employer trust and innovation, according to MRINetwork's 2015 Recruit Sentiments Study. The top three factors that contribute to a good employer reputation are stability, opportunity for growth and working with top-notch teams.
These are all attributes of a good employer branding strategy. In our work, The Union Marketing Group seeks to answer questions such as “What mechanisms are in place that encourage brand advocacy by employees?” and “Does the Rewards & Recognition Program reflect the brand’s values and promises?”
By incorporating brand strategy into recruiting and employee retention efforts, we help to develop internal brand ambassadors which, in turn, builds businesses and brand reputation. Today, let's celebrate the folks that ignite brands from the inside out. Happy Employee Appreciation Day!
The Union Marketing Group was proud to exhibit at the Accelerating the Middle Market event, hosted by the The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Here's a one-minute video of our exhibit and the presentations.
Learn more and register now for our free workshop on February 8: BRANDS THAT STAND OUT.
Are you a company with $10MM to $1B in revenue? Do you have ambitious growth plans? If so, here’s why and where you should invest in strategic branding and marketing.
Where are the big guys spending?
A Middle Market white paper, by GE and The Ohio State University, found that an elite group of middle market companies (9 percent) achieved double-digit growth post-recession (2011). Nearly half of these middle market stars identify their marketing and communications capabilities as leading in their industry. About the same number say they will continue to invest in marketing and sales. In comparison, only 28 percent of the remaining middle market companies say they have leading marketing and communication capabilities, and only 35 percent plan to invest further.
Strategic marketing for middle market companies: Two foundational ways to elevate your game
1. Positioning Products and Services: A focused value proposition
Having grown to a substantial size, middle market companies often find themselves with a long list of products or services spread across many markets. In fact, according to the latest Middle Market Indicator survey of over 1,000 CEOs, CFOs and other C-suite members of middle market firms, the two most common methods of business expansion in 2016 were:
Executives say they plan to use these business expansion methods again in 2017 with 42 percent expecting to introduce a new product or service and 41 percent planning to expand into a new domestic market.
“When middle market companies omit to develop a product and market positioning strategy, they end up touting generic messages around excellent service and expertise, ones their competition also employ,” says Shantini Munthree, managing partner of The Union Marketing Group, a strategic brand consultancy based in Philadelphia, “It’s helpful to bring in a marketing strategist who is able to sort through the product and service offers, find themes and map them to markets.”
This clarity is a key step to defining a compelling, competitive value proposition.
2. Brand Refreshes: A compelling, competitive message and identity
Middle market companies are responsible for a third of US jobs and, in 2016, had accelerating employment growth over every quarter to reach 5.4 percent in Q4. With a growing workforce, middle market leaders look for more structured ways of motivating a team and keeping a company culture intact.
Mergers and acquisitions also present challenges to keeping a unified company culture. One in four middle market companies are planning M&A activity this year. More than one in three (35 percent) of the larger middle market firms ($100M - $1B in revenue) plan to make an acquisition in the next 12 months to expand their business.
A brand refresh strategy can help executives motivate a team around an energizing message and serve up a visual beacon of where the company is headed. A brand strategist will typically facilitate workshops to drive executive consensus of what the brand message should be, taking care to find appeal across both internal and external audiences.
A brand strategist will also tightly define the parameters of a visual brand identity to support that brand message. “Visual communication is a curated shortcut to your brand and its promise,” says Munthree. She advises middle market companies to take a leaf from the book of large company peers and invest upfront in a brand positioning strategy. “Doing this before engaging logo or website designers will help companies avoid costly mistakes that compromise your brand’s reputation,” she says.
So it's Sunday night football and the Patriots and Steelers are battling. Then comes a commercial break that floods the screen with a bright hot pink. This is a Barbie TV spot for their You Can Do Anything positioning. The ad is endearing. Read more here. Dear marketers, let us also point out the power of clever, disruptive media placement.
Happy 2017 everyone! If you’re like me, you’re looking forward to some kind of wonderful this year. For my music historian friends, here’s where that phrase came from.
The Union Marketing Group has done our own “some of kind wonderful” work this past year.
This year: We’re excited to share more content on brand strategy with you here on our blog and we hope to meet you as we make our way around Philadelphia and the country.
We’re hiring: We’re looking to hire contracted marketing writers and digital designers. We’re also looking for MBA interns for two positions; social media manager and a business development manager. If you know anyone who may be interested, feel free to share my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the help. May we meet soon and be some kind of wonderful this year!
@smunthree | The Union Marketing Group | www.theunionmarketing.com
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