PepperMill January 2018

Tim Perseveres

Happy New Year to y’all! It’s going to be a good year—I can feel it.

I was recently talking with some entrepreneurs, and we were comparing inspiration, perspiration and perseverance. Which of those three things is most important? When the three are combined you’ll have the most success, but if I were to bank on one, it would be perseverance.

Many of us will have periodic inspiration, but you can have a lot of that while sitting on the couch. Perspiration is critical if you want to outwork the competition. But it’s perseverance that you’ll need as you make big plans and encounter setbacks. There is only so much we can control, and the things we can’t can be disheartening and game-ending—if you let them.

Milton Hershey dropped out of school in the fourth grade and took an apprenticeship with a printer, only to be fired. He then became an apprentice to a candy maker. After studying the business for four years, he started three unsuccessful candy companies in Philadelphia, Chicago and New York. His fourth was a caramel company he sold in 1900 for $1 million (over $25m in today’s dollars). Oh yeah, then he got into chocolates.

J.K. Rowling is currently #3 on Forbes’ list of highest-paid celebrities and she’s the richest author in the world. But in 1995, her first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 different publishers. Even Bloomsbury, the small publishing house that finally purchased Rowling’s manuscript, told the author to “get a day job.”

Walt Disney struggled to release some of his now-classic films. He was told Mickey Mouse would fail because the mouse would “terrify women.” Distributors rejected The Three Little Pigs, saying it needed more characters. Pinocchio was shut down during production and Disney had to rewrite the entire storyline. His greatest example of perseverance was talking P.L. Travers into letting him create a film version of her book, Mary Poppins. It took him 16 years to persuade her.

Do you think it’s too late to start something? How about finishing something? Seventy-seven years after taking her first college course in 1930, Nola Ochs became the oldest college graduate in history, earning a degree from Fort Hays State University in Kansas at the age of 96.

Everyone looks for an edge when starting a new year. Will we persevere and earn the edge? At the end of the perseverance journey, you’ll find your chocolate!

Tim Padgett

You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.
—Walt Disney

Client Spotlight: Oakwood Contractors

Delivering the highest quality of carpentry and millwork by focusing on the details. That is what drives Oakwood Contractors’ success.

After working with Pepper Group nearly five years ago on its website, Oakwood asked for our help again. We began by completing an important phase of our proven process—a comprehensive Brand Review. This included a thorough analysis of Oakwood’s competitors and an in-depth discovery session with the Oakwood team to understand what makes the company unique. Using this research, we created a detailed document establishing Oakwood’s audiences, key messages and differentiators. Now it was time to drive business growth.

Since the website is one of the first stops for potential customers, we recommended creating a new online presence. The new site reflects a sophisticated look, succinct brand messaging, and showcases the company’s impeccable work in retail, commercial and healthcare. Individual pages showcase each completed project, so visitors can quickly and easily see examples of Oakwood’s capabilities and successes.

Next, we developed tactics to drive enablement, engagement and retention with potential and existing clients. Our research revealed that online RFPs give Oakwood very limited opportunity to communicate its full capabilities to project managers. To fill in the gaps, we created a bold 6" x 6" direct mailer that showcases work for the Chicago Blackhawks, Northwestern University, the Willis Tower and other high-profile projects. Each card features striking images, key project details and often, a powerful testimonial. These mailers are sent immediately after Oakwood returns a bid, in a clear envelope for maximum impact. Oakwood can also send individual cards as a drip campaign to prospects. In addition, we developed an email newsletter to highlight recent projects, grow existing relationships and provide ongoing outreach to contacts.

These efforts have given Oakwood a unique brand and voice in Chicago’s crowded subcontractor marketplace, while the mailer is a significant improvement to the company’s RFP process. Pepper Group continues to work with Oakwood to strategize new ways for marketing to help grow its business.

To see the new website, click here.

Melissa Troha

2018: Content is Critical. Creativity is King.

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s recently released 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report, 91% of B2B respondents use content marketing, up from 88% last year. And get this—more than half of the remaining 9% said they plan to launch a content effort in 2018.

We first wrote about the content shock more than four years ago, and there’s no question that more content is competing for the attention of your target audience. So how can you break through?

Smart SEO techniques, content repurposing via the Content Matrix™, good quality and content promotion are all important. In addition, Pepper Group helps our clients create specificity. Specificity is about creating content for a carefully defined audience and/or a targeted niche or pain point.

If you really want to boost results, you need novelty, too. Novelty is about presenting great content in a more creative way, in an interesting format or through a unique distribution method. We even have a name for it—The Novelty Multiplier™. Creative content gets attention. Sometimes it’s so powerful, it gets a “Hey Joe!” reaction, as in “Hey Joe, check this out!” Engagement and sharing are critical to success, and novelty helps make it happen.

The Novelty Multiplier can take multiple forms. You can create interactive content such as value calculators, self-assessments and games. You can spice up standard content with dynamic infographics, active emails and animated graphics. It can even take a physical form to drive leads at a trade show, as we did when we helped one of our clients run a promotion to win a trip to outer space (seriously).

Let’s get creative in 2018!

George Couris

Top 5 Digital Ads From the Creative Suite

This month I present the third of five digital ads that are a cut above the rest. Post-it® notes and remarketing ads are familiar to almost everyone. 3M brought the two together to create a browsing experience that's more productive and personalized. Check out its helpful campaign here!

Joe Whittington

360° video: Bloopers

Happy New Year! Seems like a good time to look back on 2017 with a little bit of humor, so here’s a short clip to make you smile.

If there’s one thing you learn when you start shooting 360° videos, it’s that the camera sees everything. The fine, fun folks at the New York Times who’ve been producing their Daily 360 series just put together a reel of some of their own bloopers related to trying to hide from the camera, or things captured when it’s been left unattended. We use the same camera that they do and I’ve got my own share of shots of me running away from the camera, or thinking I’m hidden by a tree when I’m not completely.

Playback of 360° videos is most immersive if you have some form of a Google Cardboard viewer and can open the video in the YouTube app on your smartphone (email me if you don’t have a viewer and I will send you one). You can still have a lot of fun without one though by making the video full-screen in your Chrome browser and clicking and dragging with your mouse to explore.

Did we spark any ideas about how to involve 360 in your business? Reach out and we’d love to talk with you about it!

Want more? Check out our Pepper Group holiday 360 offering.

Todd Underwood