PepperMill October 2018

Tim’s Gettin’ Comfy

As the seasons change, it’s the time of year when we find ourselves on a crisp and cloudy Saturday afternoon, on a comfy couch, nestled in an afghan our grammy made us, with a mug of warm cider and an engaging book.

Which sounds like it’s time for another round of Bookshelf Roulette. Those of you who have been here before know the rules: I grab five books off the shelf and within 60 seconds of opening them I have to find a passage to share. It’s not easy, but I’m up for it. Let’s go …

The future of your organization and the potential of your employees are intertwined; their destinies are linked. An organization can only become the-best-version-of-itself to the extent that the people who drive that organization are striving to become better-versions-of-themselves. This is universally true whether the organization is a business, a school, a government, a nonprofit, or a sports team.
The Dream Manager
Matthew Kelly

Hack #288
Stretch for five minutes before going to bed. Your muscles will be more relaxed and it’ll be easier to find a comfortable position to sleep in.

Life Hacks
Keith Bradford

In my experience, it’s better to sell to a few big customers. Why? Because you can do it quicker, with fewer staff, with less capital investment, less advertising—and it’s easier to develop meaningful relationships.
Bag the Elephant!
How to Win & Keep BIG Customers
Steve Kaplan

Washington, D.C. Streets Are Named Alphabetically. Why Is There No “J” Street?
There are two theories:

1. J, as written during the eighteenth century, was often confused with other letters of the alphabet, particularly I.
2. Pierre L’Enfant and other founders of Washington, D.C., were political, professional, and personal enemies of John Jay and therefore snubbed him when naming the streets in 1791.
Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise?
David Feldman

The average person thinks about 12,000 thoughts per day. A deeper thinker puts forth 50,000 thoughts daily.
Think or Sink
The ONE Choice That Changes Everything
Gina Mollicone-Long

As you look for that one book to snuggle on the couch with, what’s your choice? We’d love to hear your suggestions and will post them in a future column.

Tim Padgett

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down, and the harvest is in, and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.
—Mitchell Burgess,
Northern Exposure, Thanksgiving, 1992

Client Spotlight: Innovative Products That Improve Lives

A premier developer of specialty medical devices, Parasol Medical is dedicated to making the lives of clinicians easier and improving patient outcomes throughout the healthcare market.

Over the past few years, this dedication has driven them to create new brands and expand their product lines. But as their footprint grew, they struggled to find a way to connect these all back to the corporate brand online. Parasol turned to Pepper Group to help them create one corporate website that would help continue to establish their brand image and credibility in the industry.

The challenge: to create one website that told the corporate story while maintaining the identity of the individual brands. It needed to house all their products and be easy to maintain and build out as the company continued to develop new solutions.

Leveraging our extensive experience in website strategy and development, we started by researching and creating the best plan to fold in all these brands while positioning the site for growth. The approach we devised was to create one site that would link to a series of microsites for each brand. Each microsite would follow a similar template—with a unique look and feel—making it easy for Parasol Medical to launch new websites in the future.  

Up next, we developed the wireframes and user flow for the website to ensure that visitors had access to the information they needed. This included a full product menu to highlight Parasol Medical’s wide breadth of solutions and a blog that would showcase thought leadership content in all of their focus areas. With these set, our team got to work creating a compelling message and bold design for the corporate site that reinforced Parasol Medical’s innovative approach and leading technology.

Once the corporate site was developed, we began the design for the product microsites, using their Cultivate line first. Our goal was to create something that allowed for a unique brand identity but still felt a part of the family of brands. Using a simple navigation, we developed areas to share information on the entire product line and a resource library to share brochures and technical specifications. Another exciting feature we included in the microsite was a full product catalog, as well as a search function to find a specific product’s certificate of analysis.

Now that the corporate site and first microsite have been created, Pepper Group is excited to continue helping Parasol Medical bring their other brands into the site and to develop more resources they can share on each product. Going forward, this new setup will help Parasol Medical improve their organic search rankings and allow for them to cross-sell their products to visitors who may not have been aware of their extensive offerings. 

To check out the new Parasol Medical site and Cultivate microsite visit

Melissa Troha

Five Steps to Improve Your Email Deliverability: Lunch and Learn

If you’re using Act-On marketing automation, don’t miss our free lunch and learn user group event coming up on October 11 in Rosemont!

If you’re not using a marketing automation tool such as Act-On, you may want to seriously consider adding this to your marketing technology stack. Pepper Group has been a close partner with Act-On for more than eight years. In working with various clients, we’ve used Pardot, HubSpot, Marketo and others, and we still feel that Act-On provides the most bang for the buck and the best overall user interface.

In case you didn’t know, you can get Act-On via Pepper Group and gain significant additional benefits.

Here are some of the things we typically do for our clients:

  • Provide deep insights into website visitors and a daily report of who actually visited your site and what pages they viewed.
  • Set up alerts for when certain visitors hit your site.
  • Create a content library for a digital assets.
  • Build prospect lead scores based on the digital body language of your prospects.
  • Elevate email campaign effectiveness and provide an exceptional reporting dashboard.
  • Create powerful landing pages to support campaigns.
  • Connect your website forms to the system to automate data collection.
  • Schedule social media posts and consolidate marketing efforts into one dashboard.
  • Automate and personalize responses and follow ups to prospects and customers.
  • Evaluate, organize and update email lists.
  • Set everything up and provide detailed training and ongoing support as needed.

Although it sounds very expensive, you might be surprised. If you’re not yet using Act-On, but you are considering it, please email me and I can approve you to attend the upcoming user group event. Learn more here!

George Couris

Just Write It

For a writer, few things are as wonderful as a tagline.

In only a few words, a tagline can capture a brand’s essence and compel a consumer to action. While there have been lots of great taglines, nearly every list agrees on which tagline is the all-time best.

Nike’s “Just Do It.”

The line was originally conceived in 1988 by Dan Wieden of the (then unknown) Portland agency Wieden & Kennedy (now spelled Wieden+Kennedy). But you might not know the surprising inspiration behind the line.

In 1977, Gary Gilmore was about to be put in front of a firing squad at the Utah State Prison. The murderer of a gas station employee and a hotel manager, he would be the first prisoner executed in the U.S. in nearly a decade. Before he was shot, he was asked for his last words. “Let’s do it,” he said.

Cut to ten years later. Reebok was the most widely known athletic shoe, and they were marketing their shoes mostly for aerobics. Nike was struggling, and turned to Wieden+Kennedy for a campaign that would target all Americans, regardless of age, gender or level of physical fitness. Dan Wieden needed a tagline and remembered Gilmore’s story.

“Let’s do it” was tweaked.

Wieden knew the line was genius, although not everyone else did. According to legend, “Just Do It” was initially disliked by almost everyone, including Nike co-founder Phil Knight.

Wieden pressed. “Trust me.”

That trust paid off. Over the next ten years, Nike grew its market share of the North American sport-shoe business from 18% to 43%. And while that jump can’t be entirely attributed to the tagline, it certainly played a big role. That the tagline is still used today merely enforces its timelessness.

The very first “Just Do It” television commercial, however, didn’t feature Michael Jordan or any of their soon-to-follow line-up of celebrity athletes. No, the very first ad was true to the concept of targeting all Americans. It featured an 80-year old-runner named Walter Stack. He had aged well—just like the tagline has. Check it out!

Allan Woodrow

YouTubin’: I Could Do That

Artists who purposefully avoid showing off technical skill have just as much validity as those who take a flashier approach.

One of the most intriguing presentations I saw at last week’s Digital Summit Chicago conference was from Brandon Arolfo, Senior Director of Content Development for PBS Headquarters. He shared with us how his team creates videos that educate, entertain, and inspire. Under Brandon’s guidance, PBS has created more than twenty active YouTube channels and seven Facebook Watch series. Each has a unique demographic and one that particularly grabbed me is called The Art Assignment.

I’ve chosen to share an episode where the host, Sarah Urist Green, defends artists whose works may seem simple at first, but always have a deeper meaning than first meets the eye. Prepare to open your eyes!

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

Todd Underwood