PepperMill September 2015

Tim’s Trusting


The cost of a well-done job—what should it be?

I asked my landscaper if he could do a couple of things to spruce the homestead up a bit. We didn’t talk about an estimate at all. I’ve had him do some of the same things before (mulch, bushes planted, etc.), so I knew some relative costs going in, but some of this was massive restoration.

Was I taking a chance at what kind of bill he’d end up sending me? Of course. Did I feel that I could trust him? Yes. Was the bill higher than we thought it was going to be (based on nothing more than hope)? It was, but it wasn’t outrageous.

So, what did I learn?

  • The job was well done and timely in its accomplishment
  • He brought additional ideas to make our yard look outstanding
  • He looked for bargains at the nursery to help us with the budget
  • He didn’t hesitate when I asked him to do just a couple of extras (that were in the gray area of expectations on both of our parts)

When you have the element of trust established, I think it’s fine to let someone charge reasonably for their expertise and conscientious service without haggling.

Seems that everyone now wants to “Shark Tank” or “Pawn Stars” every transaction. At what cost? I enjoy our landscaper and his team and know that he’s going to be there for our family. And friends, that’s worth more than the $100 I might have saved.

When you approach every purchase with a mentality that someone is out to take advantage of you, you bring unnecessary angst to the situation. At the end of the day, I want to trust people to be fair and the best way for that to happen is to treat them that way from the onset.

As you might imagine, it’s not only in my personal life that this works for the better. There are many pressures on businesses to cut costs and negotiate deals, but we need to utilize trust more and skepticism less. Relax and enjoy a great value versus a hard-won victory where the other party is now going to look for ways to get theirs through lack of service or cutting on quality.

The Irish have a great mentality on this subject. When it comes to the weather or how much something costs, “It is what it is.” Now go back to enjoying life.

Tim Padgett

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
—Henry David Thoreau

“The hand that hath made you fair hath made you good.”
—William Shakespeare, The Tempest


Pepper Group is one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies in America

It’s official. Pepper Group has joined the 2015 Inc. 5000! We made the list this year, debuting at number 4602.

The Inc. 5000 is the third major accolade we’ve earned over the past four months. In May, Pepper Group was recognized as one of the 2015 Best Places to Work in Illinois. And in July, we were named one of Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®.

We’re so proud of this recognition and to our clients and friends we say Thank You! Your business and support is very much appreciated and we will continue to work hard to help you succeed.

8 Critical Components for Successful Marketing

A good foundation is critical for building and maintaining a strong Revenue Tower™. This foundation, called a brand platform, supports all marketing efforts. It guides the copy and design. And it keeps the message consistent, on-track and effective. These documents vary in their depth, but there are generally eight core elements:  

1. Business Strategy

What do you deliver and how do you define the business you’re in? What is the lifetime value of a customer? What are your priority sales channels? What are the business’ revenue and profit goals? And how will you measure success?

2. Internal and External Analysis

Get the lay of the land. Take a look at your internal strengths and weaknesses, analyze customer and market perspectives, evaluate your competition and understand trends that could affect your success.

3. Customer Focus.

Figure out who you truly want to serve and what makes them tick. Just as important—identify who you don’t want to serve. You can’t be all things to all people. Put your stake in the ground.  

4. Value Propositions.

For each audience, think about both the functional and emotional reasons they might want to do business with you, or might not want to, and how you will address that. Often in B2B, the focus is on functional, but research proves that emotional is just as important—maybe even more important.

5. Positioning Statement.

Sum up what you deliver and to whom, as well as why you’re different and why customers should care (what’s in it for them). It’s the position that you want your brand to occupy in customers’ minds and the basis for future marketing copy.

6. Brand Promise and Support.

Summarize what your customers will get from working with you, as well as the pillars that support that promise. And don’t forget, these must be backed up by facts or other evidence; otherwise they’re empty platitudes.

7. Higher Purpose or the Why.

Think big. Beyond making a profit, why does your company exist? Is there a core belief, driving force or primary motivation for your organization and its people? Identifying this purpose/passion and putting it into words provides not only something bigger for your customers to get behind, it’s a great internal guide.

8. The Tactics and Priorities Plan.

From establishing credibility, to generating awareness, to closing the deal, to communicating with customers and employees, there are myriad ways to spread your brand message and create results. You can’t do it all, but the last step is to establish the priority marketing initiatives that will help you achieve your goals and create the biggest return on your marketing investment.

Pulling this all together isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s essential. Without a good foundation, your marketing efforts will be far less effective. We also recommend evaluating the success or failure of each marketing tactic and revisiting this foundation on a quarterly basis for continual adjustment and improvement.

To read more about the Revenue Tower™, check out Are You Using an Out-of-Date Marketing Model?

Double Take: B2Better

It shouldn't be such a momentous occasion when you see, hear or click on great B2B marketing. But unfortunately, it still is. Because there just aren’t that many shining examples. A little competition, please?

Join Joe and Sharla as they banter about better B2B.

YouTubin’: Excellent Side Effects

I don’t consider myself a doctor (mostly because I never went to med school), but this month's YouTube video points out that I’ve been practicing medicine without a license for my entire adult life. The video below is a delightful new parody of the prevalent drug commercials that bombard our television screens daily.

Justin Bogardus, the writer/director of the video comments that its creators “love making films and the outdoors. Nowadays everything has a brand and marketing campaign. What about nature?” I agree wholeheartedly! When you watch, pay particular attention to the brilliant subtitles.

I love the warning that “nothing in nature is clickable.” Around the Pepper Group office, I’m quite guilty of prescribing nature to my co-workers on a regular basis. It’s very easy for us to get a fix because it’s sold for free at nearby Deer Grove Forest Preserve (below).

An abandoned roadway trail in Deer Grove Forest Preserve

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

Todd Underwood