PepperMill April 2014

Tim’s Got a Friend

What are the odds? The stars must have aligned! Isn’t that spooky?

I love coincidences. They’re life’s little paradoxes that give us pause and allow us to ponder the chances of circumstance.

I heard a discussion on a talk radio show a while back regarding coincidence. The guest speaker said that we shouldn’t really be all that surprised that they happen, considering the multitude of events that occur in our lives. John Allen Paulos, professor of mathematics at Temple University, said, “In reality, the most astonishingly incredible coincidence imaginable would be the complete absence of all coincidence.”

A friend from high school sent me two framed photographs 12 years ago. He couldn’t make it to our 25th reunion, but wanted to provide something for the auction to support our alma mater. Larry is an accomplished photographer, featured in several galleries on the west coast.

Being a seasoned UPS driver for nearly 20 years, he knew it was important to protect the art so he built a sturdy wooden crate for safe transport. When it arrived, I couldn’t believe how nice it was crafted. It wasn’t made of plywood, but of actual wooden planks with rounded corners, and included very specific notes as to which four screws I should use to easily open the crate. The instructions were written with a Sharpie in expert penmanship on the outside.

When I opened the crate and saw the photos I was very impressed and knew that I would be the highest bidder for one of them, a stunning shot of a rope meticulously wound on the deck of a sailboat. It still hangs in my home office today. I don’t even recall who the high bidder was for the other piece.

Fast forward to four months ago when I got an email from Larry. He asked if I remembered the crate and what I had done with it. He then goes on to tell me that when he picked up his loaded truck to make deliveries that morning, the crate was one of his packages! It was sent from Philadelphia to a location in his town of Chico, California. Because of the markings on the outside, there was absolutely no doubt that it was his creation. Of all the places, and all the drivers …

Unfortunately, I couldn’t recall what happened to the crate. I imagine it went home with the high bidder of the other photo. Now I’ll have to go to the 50th reunion for sure and try to investigate the missing pieces to the mystery.

Can we calculate the odds of the convergence of all the coincidences it must have taken to make that happen? Probably not, but I’ve had a hell of a story to tell for the last four months!

Tim Padgett

Chance favors the prepared mind.” 
—Louis Pasteur
Hmmm, 24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.”
—Steven Wright
When We Win, You Win!

Graphic Design USA has recognized Pepper Group with three 2014 American Web Design Awards in its increasingly competitive contest. Our agency was commended for the design of for 3M; for Edlong Dairy Technologies; and for the Schafer and Weiner law firm.

“These wins highlight our versatility at meeting the marketing needs of a broad array of clients,” says Pepper Group President George Couris. “From the branding and messaging, down to every other element, each site communicates a unique look and feel that’s true to each brand,” he adds.

This national online competition celebrates the power of well-designed websites and online communications to attract audiences, disseminate ideas and information, generate response and promote products, services and ideas.

This year was the first time that Graphic Design USA received more than 1,000 entries, and only a highly-selective one-in-five were recognized with an Awards Certificate.

Thank you to these and all our clients for allowing us to do such creative work!




Going to Market: The Revenue Tower™

Introducing a New Framework to Replace the Out-of-Date Sales Funnel.

If you’re thinking about marketing like a funnel, ask yourself … how much has marketing changed in the past 20 years? As you reflect on that, consider that the sales funnel framework is more than 20 years old. And while it was great in 1994, it fails in 2014. There’s now something better.

Accelerated Change:

Twenty years ago the Internet exploded onto the scene. This started a big change in how buyers and sellers interact. Buyers used to have limited sources of information. They relied on marketers, salespeople and the trade in general for information and education.

But content bloomed and by 2004 buyers gained the power of knowledge. They acquired new ways to filter information and ignore your marketing communications. They began researching vendors themselves and becoming more selective in who they’d even talk to. And change accelerated. It’s hard to fathom, but just ten years ago YouTube didn’t exist and the first iPhone was still three years away.

Today’s Dilemma:

Now marketers find themselves in a difficult environment. In the age of the customer, marketing is more critical than ever, yet ROI is stagnating or even declining. Competition and substitutes are almost universally more prevalent. Buyers have more power, and platform and device proliferation is intensifying. Marketing is more complex and the marketer’s job is only going to get harder.

Everyone would rather “buy” versus being “sold” to. And today, buyers have the tools they need to do what they’ve always wanted to do. According to the Corporate Executive Board, B2B buyers are on average 57% of the way through their own purchase process before they contact any suppliers!

We already knew that two-thirds of new B2B relationships are buyer-initiated, but this statistic is even more enlightening. It means that not only do buyers filter sellers, but they do it until they’re very late in their journey!

Content marketing has been one answer to this trend, but this is reaching a limit. You see, the production of content continues to increase exponentially, but the ability for your audience to consume that content doesn’t. It’s getting harder and harder to have an impact. Content has to be better and it has to be presented in a more novel way. You can read more about this topic here. In short … content is still critical, but creativity is the new king.

What’s Wrong With the Old Funnel?

As we’ve worked to help our clients improve their marketing effectiveness, we found that the funnel framework wasn’t cutting it. Why? There are plenty of reasons:

It’s marketing-centric, not buyer-centric. Buyers have much more power now. The funnel was developed before they gained control. Today, if anything, buyers put sellers into a funnel.

It’s linear and isolated. In the time it takes a web page to load, buyers bop around between all the funnels—yours and all of your competitors'—and move up and down at will.

It’s overly acquisition-focused. Sometimes the most effective marketing dollars are spent on current customers. In the funnel model, once they pop out of the bottom as customers, they’re no longer important.

It kicks people out. The low cost of communications today means you don’t have to shun those who aren’t likely to buy. They can still be great referral sources, brand advocates or future customers when they move to another organization.

It misses the feedback between customers and prospects. Your prospects are listening to your customers for reviews, recommendations and experience. This should be considered and enhanced.

It ignores the value of strategic marketing. There’s nothing in the funnel about brand messaging or credibility. The harder buyers are filtering sellers, the more critical this becomes.

It assumes that more in equals more out. In the old days, you could make twice the cold calls and get twice the customers. It’s not that simple anymore.

It implies that gravity is on your side. It’s laughable. Today, you have to work harder than ever to keep people engaged and moving forward. There’s no force working for you. In fact, it’s the opposite.

A Better Model

As we saw these shortcomings, we searched for a better model. But the alternatives we found were either overly complicated or not applicable to B2B. Top of Funnel, Middle of Funnel and Bottom of Funnel (affectionately named TOFU, MOFU and BOFU) offered improvements for sure, but they’re still lipstick on a pig, so to speak.

By combining our 20 years of experience with insights and data from working with hundreds of B2B organizations, we’ve developed an exciting new framework that we call The Revenue Tower™.

A More Realistic Playing Field

First, note that the Revenue Tower isn’t isolated and it doesn’t rely on gravity. Marketers have to attract and elevate. Creativity is king in getting people’s attention and getting them in for the first time, and then it’s a continual effort to keep them coming back and moving up. The tower doesn’t narrow either because it’s not about kicking people out. Marketing automation and CRM technologies help ensure that expensive resources are applied efficiently, and low-cost communications can keep your company on the radar of referral sources, brand advocates and future qualified prospects (and even future prospective employees).

Important New Sections

The basic top of funnel, middle of funnel and bottom of funnel tactical sections remain, but to add clarity, we’ve renamed them initial engagement, ongoing engagement and sales enablement. At the very bottom, underground if you will, there’s a strategic messaging foundation. We’ve found unequivocally that a solid foundation creates better results so the framework reinforces that notion. Also, there’s a “showroom” section. These are the elements that impact perception, positioning and credibility, and help ensure prospects don’t filter your company out of consideration during that first 57% of their buying process.

Each section contains tactics that have been carefully identified and grouped together. As resources are always limited, the key is to select the priorities in each section.

At the top of the tower are the customer retention and growth tactics that are so painfully ignored by the funnel model. The rooftop is where your loyal customers enjoy the special treatment and exclusive benefits that they deserve. They’re the people leaning over the railing telling those below to come on up!

What’s Next?

In our next issues, we’ll dive into the different sections of the tower, exploring the essential elements and groups of tactics that make up each one. If you can’t wait, however, and need to break ground on your tower sooner vs. later, give us a call or email me now.

George Couris

Double Take: Happy Brand-Versary to You!

When your years in business end in 0s and 5s, you know you’re doing something right. So why not let your customers, targets and employees share your anniversary achievement? Everyone loves a party, and on-brand anniversary festivities are a natural marketing opportunity that can last all year long.

Grab your champagne and join Joe and Sharla as they show you which brands have a flair for marking their years.


You Tubin’: Typography–A Backstage Pass

This month’s YouTube pick is a very interesting look into the history of modern typography from a true expert, Matthew Carter. In this April 2014 TED talk, the man behind typefaces such as Georgia, Verdana and Bell Centennial, shares the fascinating tale of how his career has progressed through the various challenges that technology offered him.

Having digitized a font or two myself in the early days of computer graphics, I can really appreciate some of the decisions he made to advance the art of typography.

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

Todd Underwood