PepperMill January 2019

Tim’s Resolution Idea

Happy New Year!

It’s that time again when we take stock of our current predicament, whatever that may be. You know the usual: diet, exercise, meditation, drinking less, napping more.

Here’s one you might not have considered, but I think could be the healthiest. Because we are all relying on tweets and Facebook posts to communicate more often these days, I think we’d benefit greatly by being proactive when it comes to connecting in person, sharing experiences and deeper thoughts—having more dialog versus posts. We need to go beyond what we had for lunch, or a picture of your grandson sleeping with the dog (granted, some of those are precious).

Here’s my resolution idea: Start a Supper Club. Note that I didn’t say Dinner Club—it’s just too formal. When I think of Supper Club, it’s northwoods, charming, comfortable, unpretentious and with a slower pace. But the twist is that you don’t go out to eat. Instead, you take turns hosting three other couples at your home. Yes, more work for the hosts, but you don’t have time constraints and can manage the background noise in order to have better conversation.

You can make it the same four couples rotating hosting duties, or you could make it yourself and two other “regular” couples, and the host couple invites one “newbie” couple to join in. These Suppers could be monthly, every other month, or once a quarter. Whatever you think would work for you. The important thing is that it has the discipline of a Club.

There are various ways to structure the meals. You could have a potluck side dish aspect, or have guests bring apps and desserts, or maybe there’s a specialty cocktail or a foreign country cuisine theme. Whatever your pleasure.

We’ve got the what down, and now the why: stimulating and engaging dialog with purpose. Yes, cocktail hour can include, “What’s happening with the kids?” Or, “How’s the new job going?” But once the Supper starts, why not lead the conversation where you explore yourself and the other guests?

It’s simple. Ever been to a business event and there’s an icebreaker question? You and your guests are tasked with pondering situations, sharing something that is a what if, or an actual recollection of an earlier event.

Icebreakers are all over the web, so there’s no lack of ideas for them. Five good ones could stretch over the entire meal. Here are a few favorites:

  • Who was your childhood actor/actress crush?
  • What’s your strangest talent?
  • What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  • You have your own late-night talk show, who do you invite as your first guest? What’s your first question?
  • What did you get in the most trouble for when you were a kid?

It’s probably no surprise that these can take many twists and turns. You will find out some pretty interesting and humorous things about your friends—and sometimes you’ll even get a deeper peek into their hearts.

Isn’t it true that as we age, we are more interested in experiences than things? The only thing we have to do is schedule those experiences. Supper Clubs might just catch on! None of us has more time than anyone else. We just have to make time for the right things.

Let’s make 2019 the Year of Connections.

Tim Padgett

True friends are those who really know you but love you anyway.
—Edna Buchanan

There was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time.
—Rebecca West

I had an epiphany a few years ago where I was out at a celebrity party and it suddenly dawned on me that I had yet to meet a celebrity who is as smart and interesting as any of my friends.

Upping Our Clients’ Digital Marketing Game

About a hundred years ago, John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted: the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” That’s not acceptable today. Yet we sometimes still see a lot of waste in digital campaigns.

Here are some examples of where we took over a marketing effort and helped our clients root out inefficiencies, dramatically improving their results.

A Technology Consulting Company

After taking over this clients’ Google search ads campaign from a previous agency, we realized there were a large number of underperforming keywords and ads. The client was investing as much as they could—and generating a fair amount of leads—but the entire budget was devoted to search advertising. By tightening up the campaign and eliminating the waste, we delivered the client a solution that cut their search ad spend in half, while maintaining their current level of leads. We then invested the other half (the previously wasted half) into other lead generating tactics to drive even more results.

A Food Packaging Equipment Company

This client’s digital efforts were performing fairly well, but our client felt they could do better, so they hired Pepper Group. When we analyzed their current campaign we realized that some of the ‘highest performing’ keywords in terms of clicks were actually drawing in the wrong traffic. Though these ads appeared to be successful as viewed by clicks and cost per click, they were incredibly unsuccessful in terms of traffic quality and actual conversions. Each click was costing our client money with no possible sale as a result. We completely revamped their campaign and relaunched a new one with better targeting and better ads. During our 3-month test, our new campaign—with the same budget—drove a 104% increase in qualified leads.

A Commercial HVAC Products Company

This client previously put a significant portion of their budget into SEO. Their previous agency reported ‘great’ results, as website traffic increased significantly. The problem, however, is that the traffic increase was 100% generated from consumers searching for a consumer product, not from B2B buyers searching for this company’s offering. After a little investigation, we helped them revamp their marketing initiatives to better focus on their B2B targets.

An Automotive Services Provider

In this case, we helped our client re-think how they were going after prospective employees. Our team applied sponsored content posts—with very specific targeting filters—on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. It was supplemented with a Google remarketing effort. The creative ads targeted prospective employees who weren’t actively searching but might be unhappy with their current employer. The calls to action included interactive tools and videos that beat benchmark averages by 52%, driving hundreds of new, qualified prospective employees (many of whom would not have been searching job postings) to apply.

We can help eliminate the John Wanamaker issue—worrying about which half of your advertising money is being wasted. See how we’ve helped clients put their resources to the best use and read more success stories here.

George Couris

The Increasing Importance of B2B Digital Marketing in 2019, with Some Recent Stats

If you think that your digital presence isn’t critical because your buyers are “old-school,” you may want to think again.

According to a recent study by Merit, some 73% of 20- to 35-year-olds are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies, with one-third reporting that they are the sole decision-maker for their department. It’s a generation who clearly defaults to digital, and will make up 50% of the entire workforce in the next two years.

As you are thinking about your digital marketing efforts for this year, here are some interesting facts to keep in mind, along with references for additional reading:

  1. 71% of B2B executives say they increasingly expect B2C-like experiences compared to just a few years ago. (Accenture)
  2. B2B digital ad budgets have increased 111% in five years. (Emarketer)
  3. 67% of purchases for multiple industrial manufacturing and pack-and-ship industries were influenced by digital. (Google)
  4. Mobile drives or influences an average of more than 40% of revenue in leading B2B organizations. (Google)
  5. 22% of the fastest-growing B2B companies have a live chat widget on their website. (Blue Corona)
  6. The most successful content marketers have access to 40% of the total marketing budget, and the least successful have just 14% of the marketing budget. (Content Marketing Institute)
  7. 57% of B2B marketers stated that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative. (Junto)
  8. 70% of B2B buyers and researchers watch videos on their path to purchase. (Blue Corona)
  9. 53% of B2B prospects say social media played a role in their buying decisions. (
  10. B2B customers are 20% more likely to make a purchase after engaging with video content and social media channels. (LinkedIn)

Want to talk about your digital marketing plan for 2019? Give us a call!

Daniel Stillman

My 8 Copywriting New Year’s Resolutions

It’s early January, which is the best time of the year to make your New Year’s resolutions. You can make them next August, but it sort of defeats the purpose.

There are all sorts of “no-no’s” in marketing copywriting. And I vow to write better, and avoid all of those “no-no’s.” Or, at least, many of them. I promise to:

  1. Do the research. People don’t think of copywriters as researchers, but a lot of our job is interviewing, learning, talking, reading and searching online. You can’t just write … stuff. Or it sounds like … stuff. Everything a copywriter writes should be based on an insight or benefit.
  2. Avoid weasel words. These are words that are vague and seem to imply something, but don’t really. Politicians use them all the time. Marketing examples include phrases like, “Most people think …” or “It is said that …” and many more. (By the way, the term weasel words was actually coined by Shakespeare, and comes from the egg-eating habits of weasels. Weasels puncture a small hole through an egg’s shell and suck out its contents. While the egg looks fine on the outside, closer examination reveals a fragile shell without any substance.)
  3. Avoid going off on random tangents, such as referring to Shakespeare.
  4. Avoid redundancy. Short copy is king. Saying something twice merely adds words for no reason. Saying something twice merely adds words for no reason.
  5. Read more. If you want to be a better musician, listen to music. If you want to be a better artist, go to the museum. Reading inspires writers and helps us sharpen our craft.
  6. Never steal copy from another source without crediting it (BTW, the Read More resolution above was stolen from this blog here).
  7. Write benefits, not features. No one cares if a product has the “Whatchamacallit 200.” They care what the “Whatchamacallit 200” does, and why it’s awesome. And if it doesn’t do anything … well, maybe we can dance around it … No. Nix that. See my resolution #2.
  8. Work out more. Fine, this has nothing to do with writing copy, but I wanted to write it down anyway.

Writing down your resolutions helps them come true. But if you do write them down, make sure you avoid weasel words, redundancy and so on.

Allan Woodrow

YouTubin’: Igloo Warmth

Can snow really keep you warm?

Otters and reindeer know what they’re doing in order to stay comfortable in ultra-cold conditions. Inuits developed the same ability hundreds of years ago, but they weren’t born with it. They realized that snow contains a fair amount of air and air makes a good insulator.

In this short video from PBS Digital Studios, you’ll finally get the answer to that question you’ve always been asking ... “how the heck does an igloo manage to keep occupants warm when it’s made of frozen water?”

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

Todd Underwood