PepperMill September 2014

You Tubin’: Whale of a Tale

It’s been a while since my YouTube selection of the month came from one of our Pepper Group TED Tuesday viewings, so I’m pleased to share this one with you. Mac Barnett is a very creative, quirky and insightful author of children's books and here he talks about how the writing and artwork in a good children’s book can escape the page and enter into our world.

Good messages for kids of all ages to remember!

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

Todd Underwood

Tim’s a Crybaby

Since January, we have been celebrating 20 Years of Pepper Group by connecting with other businesses celebrating their 20th, watching 20-year-oldFriends episodes, etc. Well, August was OUR special month, as the official anniversary of our founding is August 1st.

The gang here really set me up. It was a 20x factor of surprise, to be sure. It started with a fruit basket on the 1st. It wasn’t a small one either. It covered half my desk. We all had some juicy fruit and a few laughs. Very thoughtful — and a deceitful ruse.

You see, when I was least expecting it a week later, they blew me away with a party on Durty Nellie’s deck next door. I was lured there by the promise of a cold beer (big surprise).

George (Pepper Prez) and our Sales Consultant, Jeff Blackman, said we should do a recap of the sales training our staff completed that day. Jeff said he had never been to Nellie’s, so I offered to take him on a tour of the place. With 20 other things on my mind, I certainly wasn’t thinking party, until we rounded the corner.

The shouts of “Surprise!” were the last thing I expected. Those 20 or so Peppers are loud when they want to be. They got me big time. I was immediately greeted by Amanda (Project Manager) who said, “Welcome to your Honey Roast.” 

A giant long table was set up and we had the deck to ourselves. After we ordered about 20 or so beverages, they got down to business. Have you ever heard of a Honey Roast? Except in regard to a peanut, I hadn’t either.

Apparently a Honey Roast is where everyone (usually about 20 people is best) takes their turn telling a memorable story about the guest of honor. And they bring some token item that represents that story, placing it in a cool treasure chest.

I don’t have room for all 20 stories here, but I will tell you that each and every one of them was creative, hilarious and very touching. Denise (CFO and Partner) started it off by presenting me with two scrolls, one is a list of every employee who ever worked at Pepper Group, and the second was a list of every client we’ve ever had.

George brought a little statue of an eagle. Among 20 very gracious comparisons, rest assured, he didn’t miss the opportunity to connect the “bald” similarity.

When Kelly (Project Manager) was interviewing nearly five years ago (it seems like 20, in a good way), we started talking about her passions, music being one of them. Based on her favorites, before she left I gave her a CD from a playlist I put together for her. Luckily, she became a Pepper and made me a custom CD for my treasure chest.

There is a chair, a bottle of tequila, dry-erase markers, a rock from Colorado, stickers, pictures and other goodies.

Earlier in the day, as part of a breakout exercise during the sales training, one of the questions we asked each other was, “what was your happiest career moment?” At the time, Denise and I were paired off. Her reply, without hesitation, was, “finally taking a paycheck.”

You don’t start a business thinking about a 20th anniversary. In fact, it’s the last thing you worry about in the day-to-day trek to make a go of it. But when it happens, when you make it, you are so happy to have smart, creative, energetic and funny teammates to share it with.

I later learned that prior to the party, the code name of their operation wasMake Tim Cry.

Mission accomplished.

Tim Padgett

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.” 
—Celia Thaxter
If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother and hope your guardian genius.”
—Joseph Addison
Client Spotlight: Griffith Laboratories

In our August PepperMill, you learned about the importance of employee communications in creating a thriving company culture—and keeping employees informed, engaged and on board with your company’s vision, values and goals. After 95 years in business, our client, Griffith Laboratories—a leading provider of food ingredient systems to some of the world’s biggest brand names—knew that the principles of their business were as relevant as ever, but they needed a fresh way to communicate those values to employees. In our years of working with Griffith, we’ve been privileged to help them establish and revitalize their external brand presence, and we were thrilled to work with them to refresh their internal communication of these fundamental values as well.

Griffith’s new value icons visually convey the principles that guide the business and the actions of every employee, highlighting the important role Griffith’s people play in creating success for the company and its customers around the world. Griffith reinforces these values through the use of a “values board,” where employees can recognize their peers for their actions related to specific values. Pepper Group designed a new values board for the company’s corporate headquarters in Alsip, Illinois, and additional boards are planned for offices around the globe. Plans are also in the works for office décor, featuring the values, that will artistically and creatively ensure that employees worldwide are reminded of the principles that make Griffith a great place to work, and a great partner for its customers.

Get a closer look at Griffith’s values on their website here

Eight Key Areas Often Overlooked by Marketers

Us marketing types are great on brand image, advertising, PR, lead generation, product/service offerings and promotions. But there are some other key areas that take a backseat, are another department’s responsibility or are simply overlooked. Take a look at these eight areas and rate yourself as either “Yes, we’re nailing it,” or “No, we’re not where we need to be.”

  1. Is your company offering and value proposition crystal-clear?
    A top credibility killer is when a website visitor can’t quickly and easily understand what a company does. No doubt you’ve experienced this yourself. In Made to Stick, Chip Heath and Dan Heath call this The Curse of Knowledge. In short, the way your company talks about your offering is obvious to you and everyone who works there, but it is often a lot less clear to outsiders. Do your site visitors instantly “get it?” Do you have a short elevator pitch that your employees can recite? Could a non-industry person explain your business to a friend?
  2. Are your electronic communications and tools “omni-platform?” The line between mobile and desktop is gone.
    Your customers access your content on both big screens and small screens. They’re navigating with a mouse, finger or both. And more than half of your marketing emails are probably opened on devices other than a desktop/laptop. Does your website adjust to screen size? Do your online tools work easily with touch navigation? Do your emails look good on a phone? These things are no longer “nice-to-haves.” Customers now expect to be able to use any device for anything they need.
  3. Are you getting the most from trade shows?
    Trade shows remain a major source for driving brand image and leads. But they also require a significant investment in time and money. If trade shows are part of your strategy, it’s almost always worthwhile to budget a bit extra to be creative and “own the show” rather than just occupying your booth. In our experience, investing maybe 10% more for developing a very creative approach can increase results (leads) by 50% to 100%.
  4. Does a visit to your office reinforce your marketing message?
    Consider all the prospects, customers, influencers, vendors and employees who walk through your front door every day. Are you using that opportunity to its fullest potential? Dynamic on-screen presentations, displays, office décor and even the coasters in your conference rooms can be great opportunities to move your brand forward.
  5. Are you missing ecommerce opportunities?
    Did you know that B2B ecommerce is bigger than B2C? You don’t have to be a distributor or a B2C firm to leverage ecommerce, either. Take a look at your organization and how you do business with clients. Often, ecommerce is a blind-spot. Is it for you? Don’t be too quick to dismiss it as irrelevant for your business.
  6. Are you repurposing content? Let’s say you have a customer success story (a type of content). Typically, that takes the form of a write-up and is distributed as a PDF. But that same content can also take other forms (a video, infographic, slide deck, etc.) and/or then distributed on other platforms (website, email, sponsored posts, PR pitch, etc.). We developed a Content Matrix that shows how any one of 16 types of content can be repurposed into 16 forms and distributed over 16 channels. More than 3,000 combinations! Are you creating new content and then just using it one way?
  7. Are you marketing to employees and prospective employees?
    More and more, competitive advantage is driven by the ability to recruit and retain the best talent. It’s a world that’s been dominated by HR, but is quickly becoming a team effort between HR and marketing. Marketing to employees and prospective employees requires the same skill set as marketing to customers and prospective customers. And both are strategically important. Are you applying marketing talent and creativity to this critical area?
  8. Does your sales team have the tools they need to perform at their highest potential?
    We still see it every day—sales people creating their own sales tools. The brand message gets tweaked, image is often negatively impacted and consistency is challenged. Not to mention, all the duplicated effort and lost sales time. It doesn’t have to be this way. From presentation decks to value calculators to technology platforms to leveraging LinkedIn, a sales enablement audit can often uncover major opportunities. Is there room to improve the way your marketing and sales teams work together?

If you feel like you’re not nailing it in all of these areas, we can help. Ask me for some examples, or let’s set up a discovery meeting to explore priorities and uncover new opportunities to drive revenue and profits in your organization. 

George Couris

Double Take: Where We Get Our News

The news is something you probably take for granted. It’s always there, often bad or sensational, and swirling around you. But when you ask people where they get their news, their answers may surprise you because everyone answers differently. In fact, your personal news mix is almost as unique as a fingerprint.

Just a quick poll around the office revealed that some of us go to Gawker, theHuffington Post, the New York TimesNPRYahooReddit, the Guardian,circaUSA TodayABC News, a local rock radio station and even a husband who always seems to know the latest stories.

This month, Joe and Sharla report on where they go for their daily scoop.