PepperMill January 2015

Tim’s Toastin’


Happy New Year! I hope you had a fantabulous 2014 and you’re even more jacked about 2015. “Hope springs eternal.” It’s a quote that resonates with me, being a Cubs fan and all.

When we were in Ireland this fall, we met Tom. He was your classic Irishman in every sense of the word and the driver for the charter tour we were on. After a long day sightseeing and navigating some narrow roads, I bought Tom a Guinness one evening and he thanked me with an Irish twist. “May your givin’ hand never wither.” It made me feel exceptionally good about the gesture—certainly more than a common, “Thanks!”

His words resonated on so many levels. As we welcome the new year, I hope you’ll all give just a little more. It could be in a charitable way, or an unexpected gesture resulting in making someone’s day. There are so many things to share—talent, treasure and most of all, time.

In honor of the New Year, and Tom, I share with you a few more ponderables for 2015:

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
—Benjamin Franklin

“I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years’.”
—Henry Moore

“Those who gave thee a body, furnished it with weakness; but He who gave thee Soul, armed thee with resolution. Employ it, and thou art wise; be wise and thou art happy.”

“Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
—Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”
—Goran Persson

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can’t wait to see what the future holds. Do you have a plan; things to do, places to go, people to help, things to scratch off the bucket list?

Tim Padgett


Client Spotlight: AAGI

AAGI sets a higher standard for the administration of automotive aftermarket products such as warranties and vehicle service contracts. According to the company’s President, Tim Brugh, “We strive to be the industry leader for agents and dealers across the United States. Our goal is to provide personalized service, superior products and the best tools in the industry for our partners to succeed.”

A core component of that goal was the company website.

The site needed to support AAGI’s leadership image and core messaging, as well as provide agents and dealers with advanced technology to improve their own efficiency and grow their businesses.

After an in-depth analysis, we developed a new website structure and technology plan. In addition, we looked at AAGI’s internal operations and built in new technologies to streamline processes and improve customer service. The result is a site that’s intuitive and user-friendly, allows for easy updates, supports a more efficient internal process, and gives agents and dealers quick access to AAGI’s unrivaled new back-end functionality. It also includes a simplified single sign-on feature that allows customers to connect with an array of tools and functions and interact with AAGI efficiently and easily.

Before the site went live, we created a multi-faceted launch plan to ensure a smooth transition and also energize AAGI’s agents and dealers. An online and print campaign and a new overview video also gave the brand a unique new voice and look, and helped the company gain new awareness in their marketplace. Check out AAGI’s new site here.

Five Big B2B Marketing Trends for 2015

What should you be looking out for this year?

Here are our picks for the top five B2B Marketing trends for 2015:

  1. Content is Critical, But Creativity is the New “King”
    Because content marketing has been proven effective, there’s an ever-growing tsunami of content being generated. In this environment, we see two key factors for success in 2015—specificity and novelty. Specificity is about creating content for a carefully defined audience and not the fluffy, generalized, surface-level content you often see. Novelty is about presenting great content in a more creative way, in a novel format or through a unique distribution method. Along with the ability to identify new content opportunities and the resources to promote it effectively (as a given), content marketing with a focus on specificity and novelty will be a major path to success.

  2. Marketing and HR are Increasingly Teaming Up
    Business leaders agree that attracting and retaining top talent is a crucial priority for 2015. We’re seeing a strong trend towards combining the strengths of marketing and HR to develop great employer branding, enhance employee communications, create internal communities, add more sizzle to internal events and create more powerful recruiting materials. Marketing only to customers and prospects isn’t enough anymore. In 2015, marketers need to think about marketing to employees and recruits as well.

  3. Old Tactics Are Becoming New Again
    A funny thing has happened over the last decade. The rush to digital has created a new opportunity. Our clients have seen a lift in the effectiveness of dimensional and printed items—partially because they’re novel again! The best is a combination of multiple tactics of course, often with an integrated mix of digital and physical. But physical pieces and old-school tactics are staging a bit of a comeback.

  4. B2B e-Commerce is Demanding Attention
    Many business leaders still view e-commerce as a consumer marketing topic, but B2B e-commerce is already twice as big as B2C. Internet Retailer says business customers increasingly want to make purchases through the Internet. They want to use credit cards. And they have high expectations as a result of their experience as consumers. This includes not only technology performance, but also ratings and reviews, and the availability of premium content such as images, videos, data sheets, documentation, etc. Don’t dismiss e-commerce as irrelevant for your business. And just as importantly, don’t underestimate the huge value of creating premium content to support your product and service offerings.

  5. Marketing is Taking a More Human Approach
    So much of B2B marketing is still dry and boring, filled with jargon and business-speak. But there is a trend towards communicating with the human being vs. the “company” or the “buyer.” We’re driven by emotion, and studies are demonstrating the importance of this in B2B marketing. By the way, this is a view that we’ve shared for 20 years and we’re thrilled that it’s finally going mainstream!

Of course, missing from this list are things like platform and device proliferation, marketing technology and improved analytics and measurement. These were on our list last year and although they are still relevant, we wanted to present some newer and fresher perspectives.

Do you have any other insights to share? Let me know. And here’s to a happy and prosperous 2015!

George Couris

Double Take: Not Another New Year’s List

Chances are, you’ve seen lots of lists recently. The bests and worsts of 2014. Gift lists. Wish lists. Tax deductions. New Year’s resolutions.

This month, join Joe and Sharla and learn a brief history of things you didn’t know about lists and some of their own list-making secrets.

YouTubin’: Optimistic 2015

Happy New Year everybody! I took some time off over the holidays to recharge and as I was perusing the TED website, I stumbled upon an inspirational retired astronaut named Chris Hadfield. Chris gave a great talk last year about his experience with adversity on a space walk and how he puts everything into better perspective after having floated above the earth for months.

Hadfield also stars in this month’s Pepper Mill YouTubin’ video with a cleverly executed message to us all about taking time to realize that there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about our future; and a challenge to set yourself a personal goal or two for the new year.

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

Todd Underwood