PepperMill February 2015

Tim’s Got Some Clichés


So I picked up this book and it wouldn’t let me put it down. It’s called The Dictionary of Clichés by James Rogers. It lists more than 2,000 clichés and I was amazed by how many I am familiar with—and I was only halfway through the Bs.

Everyone knows that
a Baker’s Dozen is 13.

But were you aware that this goes back directly to the year 1266, when the English Parliament laid down standards of weight for bread? In order to make certain they were meeting the standard, bakers adopted the practice of giving 13 loaves to vendors for each dozen they bought to sell to consumers. The guys who sold butter were probably big fans.

What about Drunk as a Skunk?

It’s likely nobody has ever seen a drunken skunk. So, we’re left to guess that alliteration ruled in this case. But there are other comparisons that I didn’t know about—and there are no historical explanations to the following either. It used to be common to say Drunk as a Boiled Owl, as a Piper, as a Wheelbarrow, and “the Baltic.” Drinking used to be much more colorful.

One cliché we Peppers always subscribe to is A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

It was actually from the ancient Chinese proverb “One picture is worth more than ten thousand words.” That being said, when our Sharla is crafting a message, we see thousands of pictures!

I find myself occasionally apologizing for using a cliché, but the truth of the matter is that clichés save a lot of explanation. And while efficiency is nice, they’re also quite colorful with interesting histories.

Paddle Your Own Canoe,

Tim Padgett

“Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.”
—John Maynard Keynes

“We can learn much from wise words, little from wisecracks, and less from wise guys.”
—William Arthur Ward

Pepper Group’s New Website

Recently, Pepper Group did something really bold and radical.

We made ourselves a client. Our own client, to be exact.

As you’ve hopefully been following along, 2014 was our 20th anniversary. We had lots of fun celebrating and walking down memory lane. But, like so many of our clients who are celebrating milestones, what we really wanted to do was look forward, not back. And to do that, we needed a new website.

So, what happens when a marketing agency becomes the client? Does right become left, up become down and in become out?

Nah. Turns out, the processes we use to fuel creativity and generate powerful results for our clients work just fine for us, too. (Whew!)

We started with our objectives: what were we trying to accomplish? We needed to:

Clearly demonstrate our B2B focus

Communicate the essence of the Pepper Group brand: “We move people”

Make it easy for prospects to see some of the great work we’ve been privileged to do for our clients

Create the platform for an easy-to-update, content-rich destination that allows us to share ongoing information that’s valuable to our clients and prospects

Give ourselves a fresh look

Present our team in a fun, engaging way

Then we asked ourselves, what do we want people to think when they get to our new site? The answer: “I can’t wait to work with them!”

So we created two concepts, and we debated the merits of each (that was a lot of fun … we got a glimpse into what our clients’ meetings must be like, particularly when they can’t choose between the two!). We picked one. We refined it, wrote it, revised it. We did a photo shoot. We made a video. We programmed it. We populated it. We proofed it. We proofed it again. We pushed it live. We ate cake! (By the way, we strongly recommend that all clients celebrate their new websites with cake.) And then, we really launched it: we created a New Year’s mailer to tell people all about it.

Now, you get to decide … how did we do? Head on over to the new and let us know what you think!

Jessie Atchison

Are You Using an Out-of-Date Marketing Model?

After developing and executing hundreds of integrated B2B marketing programs, it became clear to us that describing marketing as a funnel was no longer consistent with today’s reality. We looked for something better but the alternatives were either overly complicated or not applicable to B2B. So we created our own. And the results are encouraging.

Our approach is the Revenue Tower™. There are levels, but the process isn’t linear, nor is it isolated. In the time it takes to load a web page, potential customers will move from your tower to your competitors’, or to a substitute idea altogether. They’ll bounce between levels too.

Today’s buyers perform significant research and make up their own short list before they’ll contact any sellers. In simple terms, what’s wrong with the funnel is that buyers are not the ones being funneled anymore. It’s the sellers!

Here is the Revenue Tower from the bottom up:

Strategy: A tower has to rest on a solid foundation. This includes your target audience and personas, offering structure, value propositions, positioning, channel strategy and overall messaging. These are the things that your prospects don’t see directly, but they’re the foundation of your marketing program. It’s about identifying “why” you’re in business, making sure your employees are on the same page and communicating a consistent message, and putting a good plan in place. The key at this level is market awareness and strategic vision. With a strong foundation, you can build a bigger tower that creates more revenue. 

Showroom: This is your digital and physical presence. It includes your graphic identity, your physical environment and your website. It also includes social media platforms, third-party endorsements and any other content you’ve distributed or made available for search engines to index. If a buyer comes across your company, they’ll get a quick impression at this stage. Based on what they see, they’ll either keep moving (forgetting that you exist), or they’ll look a little further. The key here is credibility.

Initial Engagement: This is about lead capture. Some of the tactics at this level are things like targeted ads, trade shows, search marketing and direct prospecting. Actions might include downloading a whitepaper, signing up for a webinar, following your company on LinkedIn or setting up a demo. And remember, this isn’t a linear process. An individual could go right from initial engagement to a sales meeting, or two years later they might send you a referral. The key here is to identify enticing offers. These offers, packaged into attention-getting creative campaigns, should be created to drive action and start new relationships.

Ongoing Engagement: Nurturing a large number of relationships is more important than ever. Some buyers expect to see ongoing proof of your company’s leadership and value before they’ll contact you.  In other situations, someone may be perfectly happy with his current supplier, but a year later something changes and now he’s looking for a new solution. Or maybe someone doesn’t have buying authority today, but down the road she moves to a new company and does. Tactics include things like special events, ongoing email communications, social media interaction and marketing automation campaigns. The key here is creating and sharing quality content on an ongoing basis to keep your company top-of-mind and build your brand image.

Sales Enablement: At this point, you’ve made contact with a qualified prospect and your sales team is working to uncover needs and turn them into a customer. Tactics here can include door openers to help get the meeting, sales presentations to enhance the communication of your value and benefits, and proposal tools to create better efficiency, quality and persuasiveness. The key is to create and share powerful insights that will demonstrate why the prospect needs your solution, and why they need it now.

Customer Retention: The top floor is where your customers are. Now, they’re finally staying in your tower. You want to build them a comfortable rooftop garden where they’ll like to hang out, reinforcing to your other customers why you’re great and telling all the people down below to come on up! Marketing to current customers is an area where many marketing organizations fall short, but sometimes the biggest opportunity is in marketing to current clients—not only to increase loyalty, but also expand the relationship and sell additional products and services.  These tactics include things like creating ongoing reports demonstrating value and progress, creating customer events, and educating and providing new insights. The key here is special treatment.

There are literally hundreds of tactics marketers can employ, but this structure helps you identify the priorities while making sure you cover every important level. It helps demonstrate how to use content marketing as a force to draw people in and move them up. And finally, it helps create an integrated and strategic effort that will drive the biggest impact from your marketing investment possible.

To see more about why the funnel is outdated, read our other recent post here.

Want to learn more about applying the Revenue Tower to your marketing efforts, or hear some case studies? Lets talk!

George Couris

Double Take: 50 Shades of Brands

Don't worry—we won’t tediously review 50 brands and their colors. But we’ll hit the highlights and saturate you with a rainbow of information.

Join Sharla and Joe as they lend their spectrum of perspectives on color and branding.

YouTubin’: Mr. Cub

As a lifelong Cubs fan, I've always had the utmost respect for Ernie Banks. He was one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and an even greater man. The world is mourning his passing last month and the attention given to his funeral service on Saturday is a testament to how beloved he was. This inspirational look at his life produced by the Chicago Tribune does a great job of paying tribute to the man.

Ernie’s humility was heartwarming, and just about everyone who met him agrees that Mr. Cub was as kind as they come; much more interested in talking about you than about himself.

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

Todd Underwood