PepperMill November 2014

Tim’s Just Happy

Do you feel that you’re forever on a journey? Not logging miles on a geographic map, but taking steps toward self-discovery? I never know what’s around the corner, but I like to keep moving to find out and relish the ever-present elements of surprise.

As the old saying goes, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you deal with it that will eventually lead to your happiness. So far, I’ve never turned a corner to find someone waiting to give me a bushel full of happiness. All corners lead to “life,” and in life we find happiness in all forms.

Here are three turns I took last week …

Todd Underwood, one of our teammates at Pepper and author of our monthly YouTubin’ section below, came to us about 16 years ago through an acquisition of the company he worked at. He was already an avid cyclist and was on the committee for the annual MS Tour de Farms ride. He’s a born recruiter and has encouraged many people to ride with him—especially for rides that raise money for good causes. Last week, Todd announced that he was selected be this year’s Chairman of the Bike MS Illinois Committee. This recognition and honor makes me so happy for him.

Fellow entrepreneur Dan Bocik has a unique restaurant in Chicago called a tavola (“at the table”). It’s an intimate (ten tables or so) Italian dining experience. It’s like eating in your grandma’s living room with your cousins serving you. Dan winds his way around the room all night, learning about his guests and making sure they try a little something extra each visit. His gnocchi with brown butter and sage will make you forget all others (written up in every Chicago magazine and newspaper—and available to go). My wife and I visited last Saturday, and seeing Dan’s success in growing his business, and feeling our contented and full bellies, made us very happy.

Our son, Grady, is a sophomore at Illinois State. He’s spreading his wings and learning about the joys and challenges of being in charge of one’s self. He needs to call us for advice less and less often as he self-manages various issues that life deals him. And now it’s fun to just call him once in a while, not to guide him but to share what’s happening. A couple of weeks ago the Foo Fighters launched their new project on HBO. They’re releasing one-hour episodes about the songs they wrote for their new album, and performed in different cities across America. Grady and I like to talk music and share good bands from each of our generations. It makes me happy to experience the Foo Fighter’s project with him.

What’s bringing you happiness these days? Probably more than you think—and more is coming right around the corner.

Tim Padgett

In the sweetness of friendship; let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
—Kahlil Gibran
A smiling face is half the meal.”
—Latvian Proverb
The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, ‘Is there a meaning to music?’ My answer would be, ‘Yes.’ And ‘Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?’ My answer to that would be, ‘No.’”
—Aaron Copland

Our 20th Anniversary Celebration Continues

This month we celebrate our success with the acknowledgement that not everyone is so lucky. With the guidance and immeasurable energy of Peppers Amanda and Ann, there will be food on the table for many challenged families in the coming months. They organized a building-wide food drive that collected $70.54 and 289 items totaling 300 pounds! Not only did all of the offices contribute, but we also have a health club in the building whose members were very generous contributors.

As the food pantries remind us, even in affluent areas there are people who need assistance, and it’s not just a need for the holiday season. With proper nourishment people can fuel their energies and focus on ways to rise above their situation.

Client Spotlight: Creating Lift: “As Swift As Possible”

Swift Prepaid Solutions is on the cutting edge of the electronic payment industry. They make frequent advancements to their technology and offerings, and have been innovators in new payment solutions for their customers. While their sales team capably shares this information in person with new prospects, they were missing the opportunity to display this industry leadership through their website and lacked a proper mechanism for keeping clients updated on new innovations and technologies.

Swift knew the stories and advancements that would be most valuable to their customers and prospects, however they lacked the time and process to meaningfully communicate them to these audiences. So they turned to Pepper Group to develop a marketing tactic and process that would be impactful for their target audiences but not require too much of Swift’s dedicated resources.

Pepper Group created a monthly newsletter process, where PG conducts a monthly phone interview with key Swift stakeholders. During that call, Swift shares the details for one feature article that covers key industry trends or new innovations, and several shorter topics that relate to Swift products, technologies and business updates.

Next, Pepper Group develops the full content for that month’s newsletter. We program the approved newsletter, named “ASAP” (As Swift As Possible) into a custom-designed email template and send the email to Swift’s list of clients and key prospects through Constant Contact. As an additional value, the main industry article from each month is added to the Swift website, to keep site content fresh and share their industry knowledge and leadership with those who don’t receive the newsletter.

The results have been impressive. They continually out-perform industry averages on opens, averaging at least 30% (industry average is 15-20%). In many cases, Swift industry leadership is evident as they address upcoming industry trends months before they become hot topics, such as their feature on the future of mobile wallets and Apple’s potential game changing role in the payment card industry (which became big news when Apple recently announced “Apple Pay”).  In addition, certain topics have seen hundreds of page views on their news page, identifying topics that are clearly of interest to their customers and prospects.

If your business delivers rewards and incentives, pays claims or buys from consumers, looks to drive customer behavior, pays and manages rebates, or features programs to motivate and reward employees, check out Swift Prepaid Solutions and sign up on their homepage to receive the Swift Newsletter. And if your company could benefit from a periodic newsletter, ask us how we can help.

Budgeting for 2015? Use These Four Valuable Resources

Yesterday, Gartner released a survey showing that 50% of companies are planning to increase marketing budgets for 2015. The economic outlook is strengthening and it’s a great time to capture additional revenue and profits. If you’re developing a marketing budget,

here are four important questions and key resources that will help you answer them.

  • What approach are you taking? Are you adjusting from last years’ budget, comparing yourself to benchmarks or looking at your objectives and creating an ROI-based plan? Here’s a short article reviewing some common methods for setting a budget
  • Are you aware of the anchoring trap? In short, an initial number can have a powerful influence on your final analysis. If any aspect of your marketing is currently under-budgeted, last year’s numbers can act as a tremendous anchor against getting to the “right” number. Here are some tips to avoid this trap.
  • What are other companies investing in marketing? Benchmarks like these can be valuable in your process. Here are some benchmarks we shared in March, along with two core beliefs about marketing budgets. In addition, you might be interested in this new survey from Gartner showing where companies are planning to go in 2015.
  • Finally, what are you using as a planning framework? In April we introduced the Revenue Tower™ as B2B marketing’s replacement to the out-of-date sales funnel. This article will introduce you to the model and demonstrate how you can use it as a powerful marketing planning structure.

We believe that marketing is an investment that should drive revenue and profitability, and we have a wealth of additional information, case studies and experience that can help you put together the right plan to meet your business goals and maximize ROI. If you’re planning for 2015 and could use some additional perspective, give us a call.  

George Couris

Double Take: Bringing Back the Dead (Brands)

Once upon a time they were all the rage. Then they fell off the face of the earth. Just like Tom Jones, brands make comebacks, too. Sometimes like Twinkies, they reappear as familiar as ever. Other times, they re-emerge like Bruce Jenner—nearly unrecognizable from their glory days. 

Join Joe and Sharla as they explore their favorite brands that have risen from the dead.

You Tubin’: Great Advice from Oz

I guess I haven’t been paying enough attention to what’s going on down under, because I’d never heard of Tim Minchin until a few days ago. Tim is an Australian musician and comic who has been professionally making people think differently for the past 16 years.

As we now head into the holiday season, I think you’ll enjoy this poignant and funny video to help keep your priorities in perspective. The recording is from the commencement address that Minchin delivered last year at his alma mater, the University of Western Australia. In it he bestows upon us his nine important life lessons and warns us in advance to pay attention or we’ll get lost “like a blind man clapping in a pharmacy trying to echolocate the contact lens fluid.”

I’ve always felt that humor is one of the best methods for delivering a message and that’s what makes this speech particularly effective. Jokes and metaphors abound, including this explanation for his second lesson on not seeking happiness. “We didn't evolve to be constantly content. Contented homo erectus got eaten before passing on their genes.”

If you enjoyed that, check out some of the musical performance videos that Tim has done. A very talented communicator!

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

Todd Underwood