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.
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.
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?
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, well 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.
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!
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.
by Francine Carb, President
When you think about the most popular or effective marketing strategy for 2016, your mind immediately turns to the digital landscape. While hugely important in delivering your company’s message, nothing tops the list as positively affecting sales more than in-person attendance at trade shows and conferences. Compared to the annual Las Vegas junket of days past, these are primarily regional and niche conferences where colleagues discuss issues, experts speak about trends, and thought leaders chart the future of a particular business segment in which they are experts.
Why? Pressing the flesh and open dialog forums are the most effective way to meet like-minded individuals who are expanding their base of knowledge as a predecessor (and requirement) to making an informed decision. If this sounds logical, that’s because it is. When a major institution, company or organization is ready to take on a major initiative, they investigate, discuss, and then make a sound decision. And the most efficient way to do so is to ask and speak with those in the know.
Which Conferences Are Trending?
There are a number of top-notch events on the calendar over the next few months. Take a look at where some of our clients are spending their time, dollars, and brainpower.
Phorum Philly—April 14, 2016
Now in it’s 5th year, Phorum keeps attracting the créme de la créme of technology firms primarily spanning NY to DC, and this year’s keynote speaker will not disappoint. None other than Paul DePodesta, a focal point of best-selling book and Oscar-nominated film, “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game”, will be speaking on a data driven approach to winning – basically big data and predictive analytics in professional sports – what could be more fascinating! Furthermore, Phorum is stepping up the cool factor by holding this year’s conference at the new hot spot, the Fillmore Philadelphia. Look to the Demo Pit and Expo areas to see truly innovative companies showing their stuff.
Angel Venture Fair—April 26, 2016
The Angel Venture Fair brings together the largest gathering of Angel Investors and Entrepreneurs in the Mid-Atlantic region. This will event will be held at the Union League in Philadelphia.
INTERPHEX—April 26-28, 2016
The premier pharma, biotech, and medical device conference now in it’s 37th year, is not just the place to see the latest in technology and scientific innovations. It’s also where industry panelists come together to debate the latest trends, like facilities of the future that are modern, sterile, and compliant, but also flexible enough to accommodate small dose manufacturing and other innovations. Other topics include: cell therapy commercialization, plant retrofits, and 3D system innovations. Just hop on the Amtrak and take a cab to the Javitz Center in NYC.
PACT Enterprise Awards—May 12, 2016
The 23rd annual Enterprise Awards are a celebration of our region’s technology and life sciences companies, leaders, and entrepreneurs. This event will be held at the PA Convention Center in Philadelphia.
DVAPPA—Throughout the year
For those of you involved with or selling to Higher Ed, no other organization holds more clout than APPA. Furthermore they have a regional chapter right here, the Delaware Valley APPA, or DVAPPA. With events throughout the year and usually taking place at a local university, there are a variety of topic choices. Just be aware that they only accept a certain number of service providers, so you cannot just show up for a meeting. It really is an exclusive organization for those in Higher Ed; hence, it’s beauty and value!
SMPS Philadelphia—Throughout the year
This organization holds events and education opportunities for architectural, engineering and construction marketing professionals.
by Francine Carb, President
Never got to that new website project? Need to get your email campaigns on the right track? Does your brand look a little dated? Did you sign up for that conference, but don’t yet have a plan to capture your leads?
There’s no need to delay your marketing any longer when you can work with a trusted partner, like Markitects. We have the creativity, talent, and skill sets to make viable recommendations and execute actionable programs based on your priorities.
When you select Markitects, you get the counsel of an extensive team of experts, skilled in all facets of marketing communications. Let the professionals at Markitects show you how to achieve marketing excellence without high overhead costs and with an increase in quality.
Whether you are filling a talent gap, improving your focus, or just stepping up your game, Markitects can quickly get up to speed on the tightest of schedules. Just say, “Run with it” and start focusing on your other priorities.
Want to learn more? Check out our new website to see what we have achieved for other companies, like yours.
Join the SEMPO Education Committees
on the next Chat with Industry Experts, Featuring Francine Carb
All About Branding
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
11 AM PST, 1 PM CST, 2 PM EST, 7 PM GMT, 8 PM CET
In this informative session, presented by the SEMPO Education Committee, we will discuss the latest strategies and trends of branding.
Join our SEMPO Education Committee & Industry Expert Guest Speakers as they cover these topics, and more, in an open question-and-answer format. You can join on-air or just watch live and submit questions on Google+ or on twitter at #SEMPOChat.
Francine has over 25 years of experience in branding, launching and promoting technology and engineering products, nationally and globally. Her expertise extends from strategic market planning through sales and distribution channel development. She is an award-winning member of the business community and has been recognized by the region, state, and internationally as a top tier professional. Francine also has professional ties to the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Villanova University as an adjunct professor. Francine has a B.A. in Economics from Lafayette College and an M.B.A. in Marketing from St. Joseph’s University.
by Brooke Meyer, Graphic Designer
This Tuesday, Markitects was a proud co-sponsor of SEMPO Cities Philadelphia: Up Your Digital Marketing Tempo in collaboration with local WSI affiliate, Vinkler Internet Enterprise. This event was part of SEMPO’s outreach initiative for local networking and learning. As one of only 20 cities around the world to be included the first-ever SEMPO Cities Month, it was truly an honor for Philadelphia to be chosen. Taking place at The Pyramid Club, one of the finest venues in Philadelphia, the entire morning was fast-paced, engaging, and incredibly insightful for all who attended.
As a graphic designer at Markitects, I was fortunate enough to participate in SEMPO’s outreach event. I had never attended something of this scale, and was pleasantly surprised as to how the day unfolded. Located at the very top floor of the BNY Mellon Center building, the guests were treated to a fantastic view of the cityscape as they greeted each other and signed in at the desk. Before the event started, it seemed more like a reunion than a meeting: attendees giving each other hugs and warm handshakes and talking about their marketing experiences over mugs of coffee and breakfast.
The keynote speaker was Dan Monaghan, Co-Founder of WSI, one of CIO Magazine’s 20 Most Promising Digital Marketing Solution Providers. His presentation, entitled “Harnessing Digital”, was an eye-opening experience for both marketing novices and veterans alike. He fully engaged the audience by speaking to them as business peers, offering insightful advice, tips and facts on marketing strategies that many would not have considered.
It was a surprise even to me to learn that 65% of web developers have never tested anything–that it’s based entirely on the approval of the client without testing. Or that when driving web traffic, using SEO is obvious, but most people don’t know it can be downright dangerous to the business. If SEO is not done correctly, it can potentially cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars to undo the damage. SEO can be manipulated (or “hacked”) to shoot through the rankings, but can crash shortly after when Google nails you. Instead of coding tricks and buzzwords, using relevant and meaningful content for gradual SEO growth is better in the long-term.
Monaghan then delved into Facebook and other social media, explaining that it can be rendered useless if the audience is not determined to make it succeed. He raised the question if a company’s social media property is even controlled by the company, or is the page being maintained by a former employee—ouch! If that person leaves and a login migration plan is not in effect, the social media presence essentially leaves the hands of the business, too. Monaghan also stressed the importance of content consistency across all properties–even something as minor as an address discrepancy can affect rankings in search engines.
Following Dan’s presentation was the “Digital Marketing in Action” panel, which was a refreshing interactive segment facilitates by our very own Francine Carb, President & CEO. Joining here were Justin Pizzi, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Saxbys Coffee, Kevin Crowly, Sales Performance Analyst at Tozour Energy Systems, and Chris Schalleur, Partner at Christo IT Services who offered insights into how marketing strategies work for them in their own businesses. The beauty of digital marketing is how adaptive and responsive it can be for each individual company. What works for one business may not necessarily work for someone else. However, the underlying elements remain the same: client engagement is crucial and is the root of digital marketing for businesses. Justin Pizzi says that one should always be open to working with marketing agencies and new methods to reach your audience. He also urged that a strong website is the foundation of a business presence; all other materials can be created around it. Kevin Crowley added that for his company, email campaigns and brand consistency greatly helped increase the company’s presence and customer awareness. Chris Schalleur emphasized the importance of getting uncomfortable–as a reminder to engage in continuous improvements is you are to be successful and grown your business.
Next, one of our featured speakers, Julianne Gaudio, Agency Development Manager at Google, presented “Micro Moments, Creating and Capturing Demand with Google”. Did you know that the average person checks their phone 150 times per day and spends a 177 minutes using their smart phone? Many of these moments are spent searching for what we need or want at that moment—Google calls these micro-moments. For marketers, these moments are an open invitation to engage. This directly tied into the discussion panel earlier where client engagement was emphasized as crucial. After hearing Gaudio speak, it was fascinating to realize how many different companies, both large and small, have experienced such positive results from digital marketing.
The SEMPO Cities Philadelphia event was truly a success for everyone involved. I was so grateful to be a part of this and will continue to utilize what I learned at SEMPO for my future design and creative goals for Markitects and its clients. View more about our SEO capabilities here.