PepperMill February 2014

Tim’s In

First off, let me update you on our 20th Anniversary Celebration. Remember last month I told you about how we’re celebrating with other companies that are also 20 years old, each month?

In February, it was Romance in Blooms. Kathleen Kreher is the founder and a wonderful artist with her floral creations. She started the business because, well, it’s what she’s done since high school and what she does best. You can read more about our adventure in Pepper Group’s blog. But let me just tell you that it was one of our finest moments. It's about thankfulness, one flower at a time.

On with the regular column …

My entrepreneur’s group, in addition to monthly half-day meetings, holds an annual three-day retreat. We have them in June, usually a Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday thing. Nine of us—two gals and seven guys. I’m proud to have them on my side and call them very close friends. We’ve been together for over five years and have a unique relationship that’s always interesting and certainly never boring.

Our time is primarily filled with experiential bonding fun (ziplining, destination dinners), exercises to strengthen our businesses (Pepper Group’s core values were developed during a retreat), or touring other businesses in the town where we hold the retreat.

Occasionally, homework has to be done in advance. This year we have two books to read. One is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Its subtitle is A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. If it doesn’t change you, I’ll refund your money.

The second book we’re tackling is Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. I’ve heard of this book but never picked it up … until today. As the title suggests, we can all help ourselves age not only more gracefully, but also with a higher quality of life. Something I’m into now that I’m past midpoint, if you know what I mean.

So, I’m a little apprehensive about these things, but I’m also just smart enough to know that I’m not all that disciplined unless I’m motivated. So, I bought the set, and an accompanying journal to record my progress. And I picked up Younger Next Year for Women for my wife. Yes, with a journal, too. We’re all in, now.

I took just a minute to ruffle through the book. It looks pretty interesting, written in a voice that will keep me engaged. Was going to get back to it later, but then I happened upon a pretty cool page. It has a graphic called Harry’s Rules. Harry is the medical doctor of the authorship duo. I wanted to share these rules with you.

Harry’s Rules

  1. Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life.
  2. Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life.
  3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.
  4. Spend less than you make.
  5. Quit eating crap!
  6. Care.
  7. Connect and commit.

I can do this.

Tim Padgett

Client Spotlight: Edlong Dairy Technologies—100th Anniversary

Edlong Dairy Technologies is a leading supplier of dairy flavors to many of the world’s best-known brands, and helps them develop consumer-pleasing products using the latest food science and technology. With the widest variety of dairy profiles available anywhere, it’s hard to resist making this comparison: like a fine aged cheddar, time has only made Edlong better.

2014 marks Edlong’s 100th year in business, a milestone they want to commemorate.

The company has been family-owned since the 1960s, and the celebration has two main goals:

  • Honor the past, while building excitement for the future, both internally and externally
  • Position the 100 year legacy as a framework for future innovation

An ongoing initiative throughout 2014 is Edlong’s “100 Innovations for 100 Years.” This series of new ideas to help readers solve their product development challenges (there will be 100 by the end of 2014), lives at a dedicated anniversary microsite created by PG. To promote the microsite, PG also created an email template, and a series of print and online ads with art that uses images of plated dishes that feature Edlong flavors to make up the number “100.”

As the celebration continues throughout 2014, Edlong will produce more anniversary-related materials. They will feature a PG-designed anniversary icon. This special treatment of Edlong’s logo celebrates the company’s dairy expertise, honors its history and anticipates an exciting future with the simple words, “Just Dairy. Just 100. Just Wait.”

Happy Anniversary, Edlong, and thanks for letting us be part of your centennial milestone. Here’s to another century!

To learn more, visit

Going to Market: 2014 B2B Marketing Budget Benchmarks

According to Marketing Sherpa, nearly two-thirds of B2B marketers say their biggest barrier to success is “a lack of resources in staffing, budgeting or time.” Ever wonder how your marketing budget compares to other B2B companies? Here’s a look at new data from Forrester, eConsultancy and Marketing Sherpa to give you some simple benchmarks.

Forrester’s just-released survey reports that the average B2B marketing budget is about 4% of total revenue in 2014. This is up 6% from 3.7% in 2013, but still significantly less than the budgets of 5% to 10% of revenue that many of these companies had in place before the 2008 recession.

Budgets are rebounding significantly; however, 60% of respondents to a recent eConsultancy survey said they had increased their marketing budgets by an average of more than 25% in 2014 vs. 2013.

In addition, smaller companies generally invest more as a percentage of revenue. According to Marketing Sherpa, companies with less than 1,000 employees typically invest about 50% more as a percentage of revenue, meaning that their average 2014 benchmark would be around 6% of revenue. And companies with aggressive growth goals would be higher based on how aggressively they plan to go to market.

While benchmarks are valuable, we have two strong beliefs about marketing budgets:

  1. A marketing budget should be based on your company’s goals and what it will take to achieve them. This is identified through an integrated plan that addresses the priorities in every aspect of the Revenue Tower™ —from having a solid foundation, to lead generation and nurturing, to sales support, to customer retention. Create the plan first with the goals in mind, identify performance metrics for every tactic, then use benchmarks like these as a final comparison check.
  2. Creativity, both in approach and execution, can significantly impact marketing effectiveness without a big increase in resources. In other words, fresh marketing approaches can move the needle with the same marketing budget. It’s a fact. The key is thinking differently and bringing a novel and creative approach to the integrated effort.

Are you interested in learning more about budgeting best practices and/or reallocating your current budget to build a stronger Revenue Tower? Pepper Group has a wealth of information, case studies and experience that can help. Let’s talk.

George Couris

Double Take: In-forgettable Infographics

Bar graphs and pie charts still have their place. But today we like our information dressed up as infographics, with pretty pictures adorning the facts.

There are infographics for everything, from 50 things to do in airports, to the vast world of social media, to the taxonomy of beer, to world’s weirdest theme restaurants and ice cream flavors. Which just goes to show, it’s a versatile way of delivering content.

What infographics catch a creative person’s eye? Join Joe and Sharla as they share some of their favorites.


You Tubin’: Robocyclist

I’ve always been fascinated by artificial intelligence and this month’s YouTube video spotlights an amazing application of AI that was created by a man with a very genuinue intelligence. In the video, inventor Masahiko Yamaguchi demonstrates a robot which can balance, steer and correct itself while riding a fixed-gear bike. This robot system consists of a commercially available two-legged robot and a bicycle made by Yamaguchi. The system has two speeds and because there aren't any brakes, the robot stops by taking its feet off the pedals and placing them on the ground.

I think I’m most amazed that Mashiko seems to have accomplished this on his own. Really incredible work and it is a huge step towards creating droids that can take over the world! Until that point though, this one’s very cute.

A big thank you to Brock Atchison for sharing this month’s video with me.

Got some YouTube videos of your own you’d like to share? Just send them my way!

Todd Underwood