PepperMill February 2016

Tim’s Got His Doctorate


In my last column I mentioned that one of my Christmas gifts was The Ultimate Book of Trivia by Scott McNeely. Thought I would share a few ponderables from that book with you.

True or False? The great pyramids of Egypt were built by slaves.
False-a-rino. Most workers were paid for the backbreaking work, including a daily ration of four to five liters of beer. No beer, no pyramids.

Who was the S.S. Minnow (Gilligan’s Island’s ship) named after?
Newton Minnow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who considered television to be a “vast wasteland.” Prescient, wouldn’t you say?

True or False? Each year nearly 4 million cats are eaten in China as a delicacy.
Oh yeah. In fact, it’s about $13 per pound. I’ll have the petite filet.

These days, we’re all too familiar with terms like “helicopter parent,” the type who is too overprotective of their kids. It wasn’t always the case …

What musician’s child was frequently babysat by Andy Warhol?
Mick Jagger’s daughter Jade.

What singer babysat the young Keanu Reeves?
Alice Cooper.

What actor/singer babysat the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Anthony Kiedis?

For the above three, you can earn a doctorate in psychology by connecting the dots.

Always be curious and you’ll never be bored.

Tim Padgett

“There was a period of time when I thought I had to be Alice Cooper all the time.”
—Alice Cooper

“A girl can wait for the right man to come along. But in the meantime that still doesn’t mean she can’t have a wonderful time with all the wrong ones.”

Client Spotlight: Follett School Solutions

Everyone has distinct memories of heading back to school. For some, it is the freshly sharpened pencils, stark white notebooks and the feeling of peeling back the cover on a brand new book. For others, it’s ordering top-of-the-line course materials, opening boxes of shiny iPads and eagerly waiting for new students to come streaming in. For Follett School Solutions, back to school is about providing teachers, librarians, administrators and students with the best tools for success in and out of the classroom.

Follett has been at the forefront of education for more than 140 years. With their integrated content, technology, resources and services, they provide a powerful environment that simplifies learning, helping districts, libraries and classrooms do everything they do—better.

In 2014, Pepper Group helped Follett start the back to school season as one rebranded, unified company. This past August, we were happy to help Follett continue the momentum for a second year. This year’s Follett Back to School Campaign focused on the company’s comprehensive services and many innovative product launches. We worked closely with Follett to refresh their corporate brochure and developed a collection of product and audience inserts to allow for more personalized conversations. The campaign highlighted new products, Lightbox and World of Words, enriched new and current services through landing pages, a prelaunch sales gift (which involved a lightsaber—of course—to get the sales team excited about their new offerings) and customizable PowerPoint presentations.

With these integrated tools, Follett has been able to launch another successful back to school season, laying the strongest possible foundation for student learning in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

At Pepper Group, we think of back to school as an opportunity for continued learning. So, in hindsight, “back to school” is everyday and we are honored to continue learning and growing with Follett every year.

“I see Pepper Group as an extension of our internal marketing team. Knowing we have an agency partner who understands our business has saved us valuable time and resources during two busy back to school seasons.”
—Britten Follett

Seven Marketing Truths (and Facts to Support Them)

Do you work with marketing skeptics you’d like to persuade? Are you looking to reinforce certain initiatives? Are you trying to decide if an investment is worthwhile?

Here are seven truths about marketing’s importance in a B2B organization:

Clients create their own short lists and eliminate firms based on their own due diligence.

According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), “B2B buyers are on average 57% of the way through their own purchase process before they contact any firms. Marketers must influence prospective customers where and when they are doing pre-purchase research.”

Trust is built and/or verified through online tools during this initial due diligence.

Karen Walker, Cisco’s CMO says “Sixty percent of our B2B buyers use online tools to inform the purchase decision and 90 percent initiate the first step in the buying process, not the sales team.” In other words, a strong online marketing presence not only builds trust, but also helps you avoid losing opportunities.

Not only do emotions matter in B2B buying, but they matter more than in B2C, and they actually matter even more than logic and reason.

An Executive Board & Google Study in 2014 concluded, “It is initially surprising, but a greater proportion of B2B customers are emotionally attached to the brand they purchased than B2C consumers are. B2B buying is highly personal due to the level of personal risk buyers feel. More perceived risks mean a more emotional decision. Personal value has twice as much impact to a potential buyer as business value does.”

Thought leadership is incredibly important in a B2B buyer’s decision to engage, or not.

The ITSMA Survey: How B2B Buyers Consume Information found “The depth and quality of thought leadership is one of the key criteria that determine which providers buyers want to learn more about and which providers ultimately make it on their short lists.”

Decision-makers can and will eliminate a supplier if they find negative comments online.

A recent Bloom Group Survey said that “While personal recommendations and thought leadership have the most impact on determining which firms will make the short list, 33% of B2B services buyers would eliminate a firm disparaged online in the earliest phase of their search.”

Credibility and a strong brand image are critical in B2B.

Kahneman and Tversky’s Prospect Theory states “Decision-makers have a tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains.” This means that it’s incumbent on marketing to minimize the perceived risk of a prospect’s decision to buy.

Brand and reputation are also critical for talent acquisition and retention.

A LinkedIn Survey saw that “56% of professionals say ‘company reputation’ is the #1 most important factor in considering a new job.”

These truths are just the tip of the iceberg. We will also share our own experience of what works and what doesn’t, various tips and traps, important best practices and valuable trends and budgeting benchmarks. And of course we’ll combine these insights and data with top-notch strategy and creative execution to help you build an even more powerful and effective marketing program. After all, that’s the goal!

George Couris

Blazing Forward

Ten million autonomous cars are predicted to be driving next to you in four years.

And while drivers will be doing everything but driving, cars will collect reams of data, such as location, speed and entertainment preferences. Which means, as a marketer, you’ll have a whole new horizon to push targeted content to passengers.

You probably know that the Tesla can park itself. But have you seen a driverless car pick up a passenger on command? Check out Tesla’s “summon” feature.

Sharla Davis

YouTubin’: To Get to the Other Side

I’m not exactly sure how we got here, smack dab in the middle of winter and trying to remember what sunshine even looks like. I guess we can’t complain too much since we’ve certainly had a mild one here in Chicago, but there are still days when I long to not have to worry about crashing my bike on icy roads. In that regard, I thought I’d offer up a little “throwback” for this month’s YouTubin’. I’m featuring a homemade video that I put together over the holidays to commemorate a rather large accomplishment from this past July.

From July 19-25, 2015, Jessie Atchison (Pepper Group’s Director of Client Services), my brother Joel, and I successfully accomplished RAGBRAI XLIII, a 498-mile bicycle ride across the state of Iowa. If you’re not familiar with RAGBRAI, it’s the world’s largest, longest, and oldest organized bicycle touring event in the world. It is both a challenge and a rolling celebration with 20,000 of your newest friends. Joel and I had ridden it two previous years, but this was Jessie’s first. She pushed herself beyond previous limitations and really shined ... especially when it came to her long-time nemesis, hill-climbing. Get ready to see visual proof of her steadily riding past countless cyclists as they walked up a long climb near the end of the sixth day!

This video recap gives you a flavor for what the week was like for us, and hopefully intrigues you enough to want to ride it yourself someday.

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

Todd Underwood