The Lost Art of Honest Communications

And Why John Cleese Tickles Our Funny Bone, Every Time

by Francine Carb, President

woman, smiling, trees

I recently attended Kimmel Center lecture by John Cleese. While many of these events are an opportunity to listen to and simply be in the presence of great generals, heads of state, authors, and adventurers, the ‘Master of Silly Walks’ hit the mark with me.

John had quite a few pithy stories and lessons learned to share with the audience. I’ll paraphrase and share them with you, in a business context:


1. Stepping out of political correctness, every now and then, allows us to be honest, without being offensive. There’s great freedom to saying what we mean, without worry about repercussions.

Businesses—especially technically- or engineering-oriented businesses—are often paralyzed by the need to get everything exactly right, rather than focus on the audience. Take a step back, speak in the voice of your customer, and you’ll be heard with honesty and integrity.

2. Being creative requires free time and the ability to just play. Being playful produces lots of creative ideas. When’s the last time you allowed yourself to just play? Without fun, I’m afraid we’re already well down the path to become serious bores.

Take some time to allow yourself and your mind to relax. You’ll be amazed with your newfound ability to problem solve or handle a challenging situation. Go ahead and try that ‘out of the box’ idea you’ve been mulling over. It might be just the thing to get out of your comfort zone and move the bar—especially if you are a leader at your company.

3. Telling a joke, with laughter as a result, requires practice and skill. Telling a joke where people can’t stop crying, cackling, and foot stomping requires a gift.

Not everyone is, or should be, an entertainer; however, laughter can get most people to open up and more easily contribute to a conversation. And isn’t opening up a very useful objective of any company-client or boss-employee relationship.

Ready to have some honest communications with your employees, customers, and peers? Contact the marketing professionals at Markitects for more information about our Markitecture workshops and other consulting services for companies that desire growth.

My Predictions and Preparing for New Challenges in 2017

A Master at Capturing Space… One Church at a Time

by Francine Carb, President


It’s a new year and unlike most of the prior decade, we’ll be facing some unprecedented challenges. Are you ready to take them on? Here are my top 5 business predictions and some prescriptive suggestions to best take advantage of them.

Competition will have a comeback.
There should be no argument that the business climate has been pretty blah for a fairly long period of time. We’ve become complacent and even the most business-savvy of us are used to a bland, if not dreary, competitive environment. That’s going to change this year. With companies upping the ante on investments in capital, people, and technology, you’d better get on your game and start investing in marketing your company. Look to traditional and digital advertising, as well as public relations, to take a jump in 2017.

More businesses will be shopping for your products/services/solutions.
With more competition, and more marketing activity, B2B customers will take shopping very seriously. Price won’t be the major factor either. New ideas, alignment of values, and solid performance will get their attention—while excellent account management and customer service will keep them coming back for more. Look to increased competition for new hires, overall marketing communications, and creative approaches on the rise. Intelligence and creativity will be the most sought after characteristics in companies and people for 2017.

Storytelling will take center stage as the marketing technique of choice.
All businesses have needs. It’s the alignment of these needs with your approach/methodology/culture that will convince new customers to select your company. While experience and skills do matter, storytelling is what will differentiate your company from others. Businesses feel most comfortable when selecting a company who understands their specific needs and has accomplished similar work for similar companies—hence storytelling. Take a hard look at revamping your case studies, testimonials, and presentations to add more engagement. Speak directly to customers to gain the appropriate understanding to become a great raconteur in 2017.

Mobile-friendly is no longer an option.
When is comes to websites, email marketing, and events, it is no longer an option to not be mobile friendly. Google will no longer prioritize your content as important and customers will be less likely to find your information organically. With consumer marketing completely on board, it’s time to ensure that you make a meaningful first impression with B2B customers and prospects alike.

Marketing Automation fees will come down from the stratosphere.
Marketing automation products that are currently sold as upgrades to Salesforce and other CRMs will have to address their exorbitant fee structures in 2017. We all want them; however, we all cannot afford them. 2017 will bring new service offerings and lower fees, so we no longer have to juggle multiple spreadsheets after every marketing outreach campaign—or so I hope.


Check back next year for my top 5 business predictions for 2018!

Yeti Another Outstanding Idea From Markitects

Yeti Hopper, Yeti, Cooler, Bag, Nature, Trees, Marketing Efforts, Giveaway

Looking for out of the “icebox” thinking, masterful execution, and double-digit results from your marketing efforts? Look no further than the professionals at Markitects.

From now until December 31, 2016, if you sign up for a Markitecture strategic planning engagement, you will receive a YETI HOPPER 20.

Your Markitecture includes:

  • A half-day workshop
  • Competitive analysis for up to 6 competitors
  • Client interviews with up to 6 customers
  • One hour presentation with 5-10 solid recommendations

For fees and more information contact Francine Carb, President.

Does Your Marketing Firm Make House Calls?

by Francine Carb, President

doctor bag, stethoscope, marketing firm, markitects


When Boiron, a world leader in homeopathic medicines, decided to introduce their popular Arnicare® analgesic line to the growing urgent care market, they contacted Markitects. As a long-term client, Boiron knew they could trust our marketing firm to work seamlessly, as an extension of their internal team, to determine how to introduce their products and gain market share.

As a foundation of the campaign, Markitects developed a Clinic Education Program to create brand awareness and educate the market. Our campaign included list development, outbound calls, and in-person visits, supported by sample kits that included informational pamphlets, coupons, product samples, and an easy way for the clinicians to reorder.

The in-person visits were key to getting to know the nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other medical staff. Our visits were very well received—even the impromptu ones—because so many patients are looking for medicines with no drug interactions or complications, which is particularly important after trauma or surgery to reduce pain, swelling and bruising.

healthcare industry team, group of people, trees, marketing firm

Taking a page from traditional pharmaceutical companies, putting a face with the name of the company and its products, increases trust and provides an opportunity to answer questions. Through those visits, we also verified that chiropractors and physical therapists are underserved by big pharma drug reps and therefore more open to accepting and distributing product samples to their patients.

As a result of our outreach efforts, 15% of the clinics in our target markets (PA, NJ, NY, and DE) accepted our sample kits, compared with an industry average of less than 5%. Our clinic education program gave the clinicians the tools they needed to learn about Boiron, share samples, and recommend Boiron’s homeopathic products to their patients. Our recommendations to expand the program include placing a ‘Boiron rep’ in the field to follow up on the kit placements and expanding our program outside of the Mid-Atlantic Region.

For more information about how our marketing firm can help you to conquer a new or growing market, contact Francine Carb, President.

Human (or Canine) Behavior and Insanity

by Francine Carb, President

My dog Oreo has some crazy facial expressions, so I thought it best that he pose for this issue about insanity. I think we all know the businessperson’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. While we all chuckle a little when we hear that, I’m going to suggest that all of you business people take a good look in the mirror. How many of you send your salespeople out to the same prospects over and over again and wonder why they can’t close a single piece of new business? Or direct your prospects to take a look at your website for more information, yet there’s been nothing added for years? Or ask your marketing department why there are no new leads from the same trade show you’ve been attending over and over again? Now that’s truly insane.

So what is it about human nature that causes this behavior? People don’t like to change. We like to keep things the way they are, stick with the familiar, and don’t rock the boat, by any means. Well that’s OK if you don’t mind going backwards. Because if you don’t move forward, change, and take initiative; by definition, you’re already behind.

What Is Standing In Your Way?

What else hinders progress? Fear of spending money…or more accurately stated, wasting money. So let me get this right, in my example of the salesperson going out to the same prospects over and over again, you’re paying him or her what? At least $80K plus benefits and travel expenses, so over $100K per year—and that’s not a waste of money?

My suggestion is to have the executive team do that function (that of staying in contact with clients)—and likely perform it expertly and better. I’m all for great sales people, but please focus them on NEW business opportunities and closely monitor your pipeline and their progress. What about fear of marketing expenses? True, marketing investments cost money. But what are you losing if your website is not on a responsive platform or if it lacks SEO, and therefore cannot be found by Google—likely quite a few opportunities and the confidence of ‘under 40’ decision makers! So now you’re losing business because the only people who can find your website are those who already know the URL. And how many people would that be?

What if you start a case study marketing program and highlight your successes with storytelling and meaningful content? Of course you’ll need to pay for someone to interview your customers, do the write-ups, design the piece, and custom program it for dissemination. But what might you gain from that? In other words, what’s the ROI? If one case study resulted in 3 meaningful opportunities, would that be worth it? How about 5 or 10 opportunities? In the B2B world, any investment of let’s say $5K that results in three $100,000 opportunities, and one closed piece of business, is quite good—don’t you think? Now multiply that times 10 case studies.

If inertia is frustrating you and your leadership team, contact the professionals at Markitects. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Markitects Leverages Familiar Faces to Differentiate Contract Pharmacy Services

by Francine Carb, President


When working with a new client to develop their marketing strategy, we at Markitects are always on the look out for exceptional qualities that make their company stand out. We call these “compelling reasons to buy”, which are both the tangible and emotional reasons a prospect selects that company over other choices.

In the world of institutional pharmacy services, clients such as long-term care facilities, behavior health organizations, and corrections institutions have many choices—both local and national. When we interviewed Contract Pharmacy Services’ clients, we found that accuracy, ‘round the clock service, and the use of advanced technologies to mitigate costs are almost expected.


On the other hand, while the term ‘familiar faces’ may sound a little too personal, it’s exactly those qualities—attention to detail and accessibility throughout the organization—that clients point to as reasons they not only select, but stay with Contract Pharmacy Services for many years.

Using this theme, we were able to incorporate messaging and custom photography into a new website, email marketing, and other client communications pieces.

According to Ann Borell, President at Contract Pharmacy Services, “Markitects took the time to fully understand our organization and what motivates our clients. We were really impressed with the creativity they applied to our website, trade show signage, email marketing, and newsletters—using ‘familiar faces’ as the foundation to set the tone and communicate our corporate culture.”

As a result, Contract Pharmacy Services is getting rave reviews—having achieved up to a 34% open rate on their new communications pieces. In addition, others in the industry are paying close attention to an even more formidable competitor.

For more information about how Markitects can help your company define and leverage its most compelling differentiators, contact Francine Carb, President.

Reinvigorate. Shake Things Up. But How?

by Francine Carb, President

I just returned from a major industry trade show in a metropolitan city and I have to say, it was pretty dull. The demonstrations hadn’t changed much in five years when I last attended; the booths for the most part were good looking, but no one had anything interesting to say; and the speakers were drier than a James Bond martini. I felt like the entire industry had lost their excitement about innovations, successes, and plain old American ingenuity.

What happened? In some cases, companies became fat and happy, so they don’t have to try so hard, but I don’t buy into that. I honestly think we forgot how to have fun and enjoy yourself while presenting products and services. Yes, there’s regulatory compliance to think about and a conservative executive suite. Certainly, budgets are always under scrutiny. But again, these are just excuses, and poor ones at that.

I think we’ve lost the real pleasure in telling our stories, experiencing healthy competition in a collaborative environment, and injecting some creativity into our businesses.

The solution? One CEO recently scrapped everything—including his management team, in order to gain a new perspective; but that extreme approach is not for everyone, nor do I advise it! You do, however, need to set yourself free from bad habits and complacency that lead to mediocrity.

I do suggest some clear thinking—outside of your office—facilitated by an expert. Maybe even followed by a fun activity or group outing. One colleague suggested creating a consortium of like-minded companies that can leverage each other’s experiences and cultures to create something completely fresh—and for no other reason than to improve the customer experience.

If you’re feeling yourself and your company getting stale, ‘step on the gas’ and call the creative minds at Markitects. Our Markitecture process can help you shake up conventional thinking and tap the hidden creativity within your leadership team. And please don’t give me any excuses of why you can’t; just ask, when can we start presenting products and services in a more creative way?

We’re the Purple Squirrel You’ve Been Seeking

by Francine Carb, President

Before I begin, I must apologize to those executive search firms who use the term purple squirrel in a negative sense, and also sincerely thank those of you looking for employment who have been accused of not being the perfect purple squirrel and who have inspired this article.

First some context: According to Harvard Business Review,

…“Purple Squirrel” is a term recruiters and hiring managers use to define the rarest of candidates, almost mythical in nature. These candidates are nearly impossible to find in an ultra-competitive industry and possess the perfect mix of skills, education and experience.

With the economy mostly humming along, CEOs can and should be more selective when interviewing for key positions. What we’ve noticed; however, is the requirement to have it all. In the case of a CMO or VP Marketing—our areas of expertise—that means:

  • Relevant industry background
  • Leadership, mentoring, and hiring capabilities to grow the department
  • Sales experience (in the industry)
  • Background in most marketing disciplines (here’s where it gets a little tricky) including: website development, marketing and technical writing, PR, metrics & analytics, lead generation, trade show support, brand and creative expertise, content development, website and digital communications design
  • Experience with onboard marketing automation software and gain value from it in less than six months, the ability to find and qualify a lead, help the sales organization turn it into real business, and nurture the client throughout the sales cycle
  • Think and act strategically and then execute all the above items in accordance with the business plan, which the marketing lead would have helped develop

I see all your heads bobbing a unified YES! And I hate to curb your enthusiasm; however, I need to ask you a few questions: Does this sound like one person to you? And also, do you think that if one person had all of these qualities, they would drop everything and come to work for your company? If the answer is yes, and yes, please stop reading.

The reality is that while these qualities and requirements are hugely desirable, it takes a well-orchestrated team, directed by a superstar, to make this happen. Here’s where Markitects comes in to save the day.

This is who we are and what we do. If you have some or most of your requirements in house, we’ll work with that team; if not, we’ll be that team—at a fraction of the cost of an entire department. And you’ll get all the ROI, expertise, and enthusiasm you desire.

In a nutshell, let’s talk.

What Will My Actual Website Look Like?

by Francine Carb, President

We all look at a multitude of websites throughout the day; however, when we’re involved with creating a new website design or any significant upgrade for our own company, many of us take on a quizzical look, and ask “what will my actual website look like?”

Platforms like WordPress and others certainly make it easier to build a website, yet we creative types still go through the process of design, showing the client, revise, repeat, and approve—prior to programming. This process has not changed much since the previous 10-20 years when we created mostly print materials. So how can we make it easier for the client to imagine their site prior to programming?

We at Markitects are in the process of changing what we show clients and how we show it, on multiple levels.

Let’s start with brand identity and logo development. In the old, old days, we would develop logo options in black and white and once approved, we would go through a series of color exercises until the final was selected. This often caused us to go back to square one, when the client wanted to see previous versions or those logos not selected in different colors. This process was certain to cause a headache, at best.

Then in the old days, we developed logo options in colors pertinent to the client’s industry or similar to their old logo to capitalize on brand equity (in the case of existing companies modernizing their brand). What we noticed were a lot of questions about how it would look on their signage in front of the building, or on a T-shirt, or coffee mug. Basically visual brand could not be approved until the client actually saw it where they were accustomed to using the brand—so, not on letterhead, or even on their website. This aha moment made us change our process. Now when showing logo choices, we take the initiative to demonstrate how it will look on common applications. The results: more comfort with the choice, fewer if any changes once approved, and higher pass around value—meaning they are eager to share it with their colleague and employees—before the official launch.

The same happens to be true for websites—especially with parallax or hybrid designs. So now when we show a website design, it’s still in a PDF format; however, we also show what likely will be seen ‘above the fold’, which really means on a typically sized desktop screen. (Let’s assume that everything we’re developing at Markitects is responsive design, so phone and tablet formatting are already taken care of.) We are now embracing two new best practices to address this ‘how will my website look’ issue.

One, we show what the website will actually look like on a screen, or very close to what it will look like on a typical sized monitor. Secondly, we show our designs along side a second computer screen with a similarly behaving website. So if designing a mega-dropdown, the client can see how that might look; and when the menu covers up some of the visuals, how it still works well within the context of the website. Another example is a hybrid site with the characteristics of both a parallax and traditional style site. It’s hard to imagine a sticky navigation bar, or how the header and footers look on landing or tertiary pages; however, when placed side by side, the brain takes over and makes that connection.

To address these dilemmas, we have seen some agencies move to programming, before they show their work to clients; however, this approach is wrought with danger. Using this approach makes it seem as if the programming piece is so simple that anything can be changed. While somewhat true, certainly the change piece, it just introduces another level of choice for the client. And too many choices result in delayed projects that are rarely, if ever, improved. We have found it best to take responsibility for walking the client through a proven process, rather than giving that responsibility, and too many options, to the client. Programming first can also result in ‘back to square one’ scenarios, which often lead to long delays and dissatisfied clients. Providing the design mock-up as a PDF allows the client to evaluate the design, without the confusion of why the website is not yet fully functional with active links and responsive design.

While we realize that our new best practices are not perfect, we know that they have improved the process for our clients…and for us. We are open to hearing from you regarding how you demonstrate website design and functionality.


Learn more about Markitect’s Website Design and Development capabilities, as well as our Digital Upgrades!

Markitects to Sponsor Vistage Executive Summit

by Francine Carb, President

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Vistage, it is a nationwide organization comprised of senior executives and business owners who come together to learn from each other, gain insights through coaching, and develop long-term business relationships. The organization has been around since 1957 and is organized regionally by Vistage Chairs, who are the executive coaches who build and develop each peer advisory group. In the Philadelphia region, there are currently 16 chairs. From my experience, members range from mid-market commercial and industrial enterprises, to multi-generation family owned businesses, to entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses.

A few years ago, I went through the process of becoming a vetted Vistage speaker, which means that chairs can bring me into a group to present my topic, which happens to be “The Great Divide Between Sales and Marketing”. My presentation is about building bridges between these two important functions—via technology (like CRMs), by implementing campaigns that leverage sales activities, and through elevation of marketing as an enabler of the sales process.

In today’s world, the marketing function has to work harder than ever and be accountable for generating leads and growing the business. Furthermore, it’s a multi-faceted role that includes—ongoing brand development, content creation, digital outreach, awareness creation, social media, trade show support, email marketing, website metrics, and more. These functions cannot possibly be the responsibility of one person, nor can they be ignored or pushed into the sales role. My Vistage presentation covers how to build a great sales and marketing organization that is aligned with the business goals.

Each year, Vistage holds an Executive Summit—this year’s topic being “Shifting Perspectives through The Power of Peers”. The Philadelphia region event will take place on April 12th at the Convention Center and Markitects is proud to be a silver sponsor. From my past experience, the speakers are terrific—incredibly energetic, inspiring, and action oriented. If you are Vistage member or guest attending at Summit, please stop by our booth to talk about your sales and marketing challenges. We look forward to seeing you there.

Markitects, Inc.



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