Tag Archives: marketing

Beating Marketing FOMO

May 15, 2018 by

I may not be Nostradamus, Jeane Dixon, or even Miss Cleo (and thank goodness, considering they’ve all ceased to be), but I’m fairly confident when I predict that your marketing efforts are seriously behind both the times and the eight ball, and that your company is but one Twitter fail away from extinction. 

How do I know this? Simple: You have no chatbot. Seriously, my good marketing manager, what are you thinking? You need a chatbot. And, come to think of it, an Alexa strategy. And a Google Home strategy. Also, influencers. Gotta have ’em. Never mind that your firm’s main line of business is industrial fasteners. At least you have a chief advocacy officer. What? No? Why do I even bother?

If the above feels a touch extreme, chances are you’re reading this on a Monday morning and have yet to slip back into the cacophonous deluge of marketing tips, tricks, and death notices (TV’s been dead for 16 years, don’t’chaknow) that fill your feeds to the brim. If you pay attention to even a fraction of it, you’re likely second-guessing every marketing decision you make.

And how could you not? This is a fast-paced world full of exponential change that you can’t possibly understand if you’re not taking the deep dive into big data. Right?

Of course not. 

The marketing fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. It also understandable, and beatable. All the things I mentioned above are tools that numerous brands have used successfully (according their own reporting, which may be suspect). But the key word in that sentence is “tools.” Nearly everything you see being touted as the latest, greatest, holy grailiest of advertising excellence is merely another tactic.

And that’s where your years of experience should kick in, helping you to determine which of the new (and existing) tools fit your brand’s needs best. Should you learn about them? Certainly, even though it sometimes seems impossible to keep up. Should you try some out? Absolutely; setting aside a bit of your budget—marketing or otherwise—for experimentation is always a good idea. But do you have to scrap everything and rush pell-mell into the next big thing in order to stay alive? No, a thousand retweets no.

The tidal wave of new-and-questionably-improved ad tools will probably never ebb. But remember this: Anyone insisting that you embrace their prescribed tool is selling a book about it, runs an agency that specializes in it, doesn’t know how to use other marketing tactics well, or all of the above. 

So stay interesting. Create boldly. Speak strategically. Act honestly. Sure, you may miss out on synergizing the newest adtech, but you won’t miss out on the most important thing—having a brand people actually like.


This column was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer who can make all your dreams come true at jasonfox.net.

Invest In Yourself

January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There is nothing easy about running a business. But if keeping going is akin to spinning grandma’s good china while juggling flaming knives as you tame a coterie of ill-tempered badgers with little more than a spork—while blindfolded—actually starting the business is doubly so. Ask me how I know, assuming I can manage to get the badgers tranquilized and carted back to Wisconsin.

One of the most difficult things about starting a business is acquiring money. And, if you’re thinking of striking out on your own after 15 years as a roofer, you’re probably not going to find an angel investor at the Colab Construction Incubator who wants to float you a year or two’s operating costs and a pallet of roofing nails. So, maybe you get a loan. Maybe your friends and family invest. Maybe you scrape along project-by-project trying to make the cash flow actually live up to its name. Regardless, you don’t have a fistful of dollars to drop on anything inessential. Which is why you absolutely must lessen your kung-fu grip and drop some bread on your brand.

Notice that I said “brand” and not “marketing.” While I do think you should start making a habit of spending actual money on marketing as soon as possible, I believe in putting first things first. And your brand is first. Because you shouldn’t market what you don’t yet have figured out.

Chances are, you didn’t set aside much (any?) startup money for brand development beyond promising your cousin with the mad Creative Suite skills a case of microbrew for doing your logo. I understand the desire/ necessity to be as frugal as possible. But while it is technically possible to fix your brand later, it’s neither strategically nor financially sound to go that route.

So, here are the things you should consider paying money for from professionals who know what they’re doing: Business name, brand platform, logo, color palette/design standards, tone-of-voice, and doughnuts. Even if you think you have a good name for your company, at least consult someone with no emotional attachment to it or an in-law relationship to you. If you don’t know what a brand platform is, that’s all the more reason to have one—it will keep you focused on doing the right things while targeting the right people. The logo, standards, and tone- of-voice are the embodiment of your brand in the marketplace—it’s easier to stand out when these are done well. The doughnuts speak for themselves.

Combined, these elements give you a foundation for your business that should last for years. And it is even possible to find really great people and agencies who can do them at a cost that won’t cause heart palpitations. Also, even though you can list these things as expenses on your tax return, it is best to consider them investments. Because that’s what they are. And you’ll never have to pay capital gains tax on the brand equity you start building today.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This column was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

Reflections On Reflecting

November 22, 2017 by

In the last edition of The Brand Brief, I was a bit blunt in my dismissal of what I termed “overly earnest advertising.” The type of advertising that is ultra-sincere yet utterly devoid of brand personality. In closing, I opined that “advertising, if it has any hope of achieving long-term effectiveness, must reflect the personality of the brand as it sells.” Someone actually had the audacity to ask me just what in tarnation that statement means. Since that someone happens to be my editor, I feel inclined to answer.

One would think that in the wide, wacky world of advertising, finding an example of such work would not be difficult. And one would be correct. However, it is not quite as easy as flipping on the TV and refraining from hitting FF on the DVR. Because it turns out that advertising that truly reflects the personality of the brand is not so common.

Let’s take the consumer insurance industry. We happen to be living in the golden age of insurance advertising. Yes, it may only be 10K plated, but we’ve come a long way from the fear-based, we’re-all-gonna-get-in-car-wrecks-while-our-homes-burn advertising I recall from my youth. In general, the move to better advertising began with Geico. Some of their campaigns rank among my all-time favorites. But if I do business with Geico, do I expect their agents, or adjusters, or claims officers to reflect the personality of a cave man? No. A gecko? Well, maybe a little. Or just the campaign’s tone in general? Not so much. Similarly, Allstate’s “Mayhem” work is outstanding. But I’m not convinced the bulk of the company can pull off Dean Winters’ rakish charm. Perhaps that’s why they keep the more melodious Dennis Haysbert around for voice-over work.

I think both Geico and Allstate have benefited greatly by these campaigns. And I’d give the wisdom teeth I just had surgically removed to work on them. But we’re talking degrees of success here. And I think the current effort by Farmers Insurance beats the competition. Their campaign features famed character actor J. K. Simmons as the living embodiment of the brand. He’s equal parts knowledgeable, folksy, and supportive. He is never condescending. And, of course, the spots are entertaining. I can also picture them belonging to the same group, having the same motives, and demonstrating the same values as Simmons. The ads give me a sense that I might actually get a good company instead of just good marketing. And that is a combination that actually wins in the marketplace.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.

Patsy Sumner and Andrea Brendis

June 19, 2017 by

This sponsored content appears in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0217_125/56

Today’s consumers are bombarded with marketing messages every waking moment. These messages come from traditional mediums such as print, TV, radio, and billboard advertising as well as internet-driven digital and social media options that are increasing exponentially. Businesses that will survive and thrive in this rapidly changing environment are the businesses that take steps to make certain that their message isn’t just white noise.

Creating the perfect message is only part of the marketing challenge. In order to drive results, brands need to deliver that message to the right people. This raises questions. Who are those people? Where do you find them? How do you choose the best possibilities on a fixed budget? For any media question, MediaSpark is the answer.

MediaSpark can discover your best audience. Then, they can tell you where to place your message so that the audience can discover you. Most importantly, MediaSpark can measure your results on an ongoing basis to ensure that your message remains current and effective for your unique audience.

Patsy Sumner founded MediaSpark after almost 20 years of corporate marketing and branding experience. She has designed and launched many multifaceted national media campaigns. Not only does she have an excellent grasp of traditional approaches, she is well versed and connected in the new and developing arenas of digital and social media. Patsy specializes in media strategy to maximize your media budget. And, she makes sure that you understand your results helping you to keep your messaging on track.

Andrea Brendis previously represented a national media agency where she gained experience with local, regional, and national media markets. She understands the best possible way to get the most targeted messaging out of any size media budget. She coordinates the performance of integrated media campaigns with her sharp negotiation skills and her relentless attention to client service.

Not only do these ladies have impressive individual backgrounds—they are a real live sister act. MediaSpark clients can be assured of a unique blend of competitive spirit and camaraderie that comes from working with two powerful women who have been “working” together for over 35 years. Their clients find this partnership refreshing in today’s environment of virtual relationships. 

And, if all of that is not enough, these two were born and raised in Omaha and are genuinely committed to the community. Patsy serves on the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Friends Board and Andrea is a Scrubs Ambassador. They are also involved in a number of other charitable endeavors, including The Aksarben Coronation Ball and Scholarship Fund, Angels Among Us, and The Girl Scouts of America.

There is no doubt—you want these sisters on your team. They are a win/win proposition in every sense of the word. They would love to buy you a cup of coffee, listen to your needs, and explore the possibilities.

P.O. Box 540965
Omaha, NE 68154
402.980.1688
themediaspark.com

Design Needs Language Needs Design

May 20, 2017 by

In 2009, filmmaker Doug Pray released Art & Copy, a feature-length documentary that, according to IMDb, aimed to reveal “the work and wisdom of some of the most influential advertising creatives of our time.” Having watched the film on multiple occasions over the years (it pops up periodically on Netflix), I can endorse that description. Even if the names Lee Clow, George Lois, Mary Wells, Dan Wieden, or Hal Riney (to cite a few) mean nothing to you, their stories of turning insights into ideas and ideas into brand- and pop-culture-defining work should be required viewing for anyone involved in marketing. But of all the interesting nuggets one can glean from this movie, one of the most important is hiding in plain sight in the title. I’m speaking, naturally, of the ampersand.

The phrase “art & copy” is not unique to this film’s title. It’s been applied to the two main components of the creative side of advertising for decades: the art (what you see) and the copy (what you read or hear). It also refers to the duos charged with creating all of those hopefully persuasive messages—the teams of copywriters and art directors that first became standard operating procedure at Doyle, Dane, Bernbach in the 1960s. The importance of the ampersand lies in its brief, blunt affirmation that it takes both design and language to create an effective ad. It is not “art or copy,” “art over copy,” or “art instead of copy.”

In a piece of work’s final form, the split between art & copy is, of course, rarely 50-50. That’s natural. Some campaigns rely more on clever wordplay or provocative statements, while others let the design and art direction carry more weight. In the industry at large, the fondness for one over the other tends to be cyclical. Some decades see a renaissance of the written word, only to be followed by a resurgence of the visual.

We find ourselves in an image-driven era. Partly due to the cycle described above, and partly due to the rise of mobile platforms and their associated apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever has taken the lead in livestreaming. Which is all well and good up to a point. As long as we don’t forget that ampersand. Enticing visuals without narrative—whether in literal copy/dialogue or in a piece’s underlying narrative structure—tend to lack weight. Their impact is alluring for the moment, but their message is forgotten the moment someone swipes “next,” turns the page, or clicks “skip ad.”

We live in a world where good design is all around us, and great design isn’t difficult to find. Not just in marketing, but also in products, publishing, architecture, and even food. (There’s still plenty of hideous design, by the way, so let us not grow complacent in fighting the proliferation of mediocrity.) But how much of that design is just proverbial lipstick on a pig instead of an indication of substance? Once your eye moves beyond the well-composed, shallow-depth-of-field shot to the accompanying text, is the message enhanced, the brand uplifted, and your curiosity piqued? Or do you wonder why it incongruently sounds like a Buzzfeed listicle only less clever? If so, it’s because the design is either dancing alone, or with an oaf of a partner.

It is not enough to merely look good. Because as soon as you, as a brand, open your pretty mouth, you will sound dumb, boring, or indistinguishable from the herd—akin to saying, “just do something” instead of “just do it.” Nor is it enough to merely sound smart (well, aside from radio), as few want to pay initial attention to the visually cluttered or cliché. No. It takes both design & language—rooted in truth, expressed in interesting, relevant ways—to create advertising worthy of its purpose.

No ifs. No buts. Yet always with an &.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This column was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Professional Pets

May 3, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Some of the names spoken about at the marketing firm Envoy might seem unorthodox: Adam, Steve, Stella … and Butter? These names don’t belong to people, but to a pair of Devon rex cats, a French bulldog/pug, and a mini goldendoodle. Dentists have kept tropical aquariums in their waiting rooms for generations, but expanding a workplace’s pet-tential is far more common than that.

Penny Hatchell and Kathy Broniecki have owned Envoy for 13 years, producing materials for clients as varied as Hiland Dairy, Boys Town, and Max I. Walker Cleaners. The decision to allow pets in the office came from the desire to create a flexible and welcoming work environment: “We love to come to work, and we want our employees to come to work,” Broniecki explains. The decision seems to be working for them: “There’s a much greater overall wellness to the office—our quality and productivity has improved, and it keeps things light.”

Kathy Broniecki’s French bulldog/pug, Stella, comes to the office daily.

The animals are great for keeping employees happy, or helping employees who have a bad day cheer up.

“This has been studied and we can see that animals have value in emotional therapy, or to be assistant animals in places like nursing homes,” says Teresa T. Freeman, a therapist in Omaha. “They have noticed a positive effect in studies pets have on people in isolated situations to help boost their mood, wellness, and even improve physiology—things like heart rate, blood pressure, and other stress responses.”

The cats were rescued and considered part of Envoy, while the dogs and a hedgehog are others’ personal pets.

Broniecki says the company is reasonable about how having pets around can affect productivity, too: “It’s natural to get distracted at work, and focusing too hard can just make things worse. Getting by distracted by the pets is a much more positive outlet than other options,” Broniecki says.

Perhaps the greatest boon to Envoy has been the camaraderie the animals’ presence has built. “One stormy day,” Broniecki says, “Adam the cat went missing. It became an all-hands-on- deck situation in that moment trying to find him.” Everyone keeps treats on their desks for them, and when the dogs arrive in the morning, they make sure to greet every employee first thing, desk by desk. Hatchell, who takes the cats home with her when the day is over, adds: “even over the holidays, I’ll get texts asking how they’re doing, and even requesting pics.”

That camaraderie is a common bond between employees and furry friends, and can be a way to connect with shyer clients or new staff members.

“It breaks down barriers,” Freeman says. “People may not be comfortable with where they’re at emotionally, or isolated.”

Envoy’s office cat Adam, is a rescue cat.

Envoy is not alone in enjoying the pet perks. At J.A. McCoy CPA (located off 90th and Maple streets) Julie McCoy, in partnership with her rescue dog JoJo, tackles that lightning rod of stressful situations—taxes. McCoy has kept a dog at work since day one of starting her firm. “We work a lot of long hours, and dealing with taxes and estates is often not a fun experience. But with JoJo here, people look forward to coming in,” she says. Like at Envoy, McCoy has seen the same positive influence in her office: “Clients love it–we get a lot of business by word of mouth because of JoJo.” And of course, employees are encouraged to have play time. “We’re doing stuff that requires a lot of concentration, so it’s good to have a break.”

Pam Wiese, V.P. of public relations for the Nebraska Humane Society, also believes that having pets in the office can do wonders to reduce stress. “Focusing on something that isn’t another person, like the nurturing qualities of animals, can help calm people down.” Pets, she says, provide an element of levity that certainly has value in defusing tense work scenarios. She brings her own dog to work every day, but cats, fish, and even critters can all contribute. “We once had a bearded dragon here in the office. He’d sit out on his rock and sunbathe while people came to visit him over their lunches,” Wiese says. Though the NHS has not made any concerted push to get animals into offices, they have had their share of interested parties looking to adopt. “We’re happy to work with people to find an animal for them,” she says, “as long as it’s an appropriate situation.”

There are certainly many factors to weigh before introducing a pet into your own office. “Animals need to be comfortable,” Weise says. If the conditions aren’t safe or comforting for the pet, that opens up the opportunity for additional problems, like becoming loud or aggressive. If you’re going to have a pet, they will need to have their own private space and occasionally training to cope with many active people surrounding them. There’s also the human factor to consider: not everyone is an animal lover. “You’ll need to be considerate of the phobias, allergies, and even prejudices of the people passing through your workplace.”

McCoy, Broniecki, and Hatchell were all able to speak to experiences with clients that turned sour because of their furry compatriots, but also noted that they were few and far between. “Only one client of ours didn’t want to come to the office because we had cats,” Hatchell explains. Similarly, McCoy shared that she did have clients with phobias: “We always try to be upfront and communicate ahead we’re a pet-friendly office. When a client comes in that has trouble with that, we make sure JoJo stays in her ‘office’ [and she does have an office, nameplate and all].”

Regardless, they were each in confident agreement: their pawed pals have been a big plus for their businesses.

Nora belongs to Amy Goldyn.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

The Brand Brief

February 23, 2017 by

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that greatness is a state of mind. The bad news is that others’ minds decide your state. As with many things in life, this is true for people as well as brands. A brand is, in its most basic description, what people believe, feel, and think about a company. Companies like to think that their brand (or “brand image” if you’re old school) is whatever they’re currently telling the public it is. Which is rare. However, that is the goal. Because when what people think of you matches up with what you claim to be, you’ve hit the branding bull’s-eye.

Great branding is built on a solid foundation. This foundation is commonly referred to as a “brand platform.” Used correctly, a brand platform can act as a launching pad for your branding efforts. Conversely, it may resemble the 10-meter Olympic diving platform, except, instead of water, the pool is filled with buy-one-get-five coupons that cause financial ruin and death by a thousand paper cuts.

A brand platform defines who you are as a company in a way that everyone in the organization can understand—even Chuck in H.R.—by codifying beliefs into a framework that doesn’t change with the shifting winds of accounts receivable. The platform becomes the guiding document in how you speak about the brand and how the brand acts. It is no use marketing something and then failing to live up to those promises operationally when people finally find time to “act now.”

There is no standard template for a brand platform. Most advertising agencies that deal in branding have developed their own process and format. I prefer a classic format that defines a brand purpose (why you exist beyond making money or even your current product), brand position (who you are relative to your competition and audience), brand personality (five or six adjectives, none of which are “sleepy”), and brand affiliation (the type of people your brand wants to attract). Feel free to Google these terms. Other platforms include brand archetypes or variations on all of the above. The important thing is that the platform brings clarity, unity, and direction. So beware the agency attempting to sell you a process that they themselves don’t seem to fully understand—just because it comes with a cool infographic doesn’t make it actionable.

I do not recommend trying to create a brand platform on your own. Anyone inside the company is too close to the situation to be completely objective. Nonetheless, you should be actively involved in the process. An agency that insists on doing everything themselves before delivering a final document fait accompli is probably doing a lot of finding and replacing on a platform they first wrote in 1998.

Once your platform is in place, use it. This is not as obvious as you would think. Weigh marketing decisions against it. Use it to filter operational objectives. Spread it throughout the company so that when an employee gets asked about where they work, they give an accurate answer. Eventually, because branding is a long game, your brand will be cohesive and consistent. And all your marketing will automatically be strategic in tone and message (and media, too, if you’re paying attention).

You will still need to decide on creative directions and tactics, of course, but you won’t have to do the heavy lifting of figuring out foundational principles every time you write a new tweet. Because you will know who you are. And, more importantly, customers current and potential will, too.

Jason Fox is a freelance creative director and writer. He can be found at jasonfox.net and adsavior.com.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Joan Neuhaus

December 27, 2016 by
Photography by Keith Binder

“A good education is critical, but a lot of it is learning as you go and moving into opportunities as they present themselves,” she says. “If someone had said, ‘do you know how to conduct strategic planning?’ I would have said, ‘No. But I am eager to learn and willing to do my best. So let’s give it a shot.’”

-Joan Neuhaus

 Joan Neuhaus didn’t set out to become a health care executive after graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Creighton University in the early 1980s. But when she landed a marketing position at Bergan Mercy Hospital, she quickly discovered she had an affinity and passion for the health care industry and its chief mission—helping people.

“I have been with CHI Health or one of its legacy organizations (such as Bergan Mercy) for 31 years,” the Omaha native says. “It has been a tremendous opportunity to work with an operation whose values mirror my own.”

These values run deeper than the typical business values of honesty, integrity, and hard work, says Neuhaus, now a senior vice president and the chief operating officer for CHI Health. CHI values, she says, create a healing environment that’s faithful to the ministry of Jesus Christ.

“It’s respect for the dignity of every person, treating every patient as an individual and respecting their choices, positions, and background. Having that value set and coming to an organization that respects and preserves that in every interaction has been very powerful for me.”

Enabling Connections
As CHI Health’s COO, Neuhaus manages the operations of 15 hospitals, lines of health care services outside of hospitals, and 7,000 to 8,000 of the health care organization’s 12,000 employees. That awesome responsibility requires a strong leadership philosophy that ensures the best-possible health care for patients while achieving the organization’s financial goals.

In complex organizations such as CHI, leadership is about mobilizing employees to take on tough problems, she says, tapping employees’ intelligence and other talents.

“My role is as an enabler. I make the connections between the parts of the organization that need to come together to figure out a problem,” she says. “It’s messy; it’s a little chaotic. It’s trusting that you have the right people in place and that you connect the right people to the right people.”

The key, Neuhaus says, is to just set the direction and not micromanage. Leaders need to give people clear direction and then let them go to work.

Take Risks, Always Learn
As a woman, hurdles must be overcome to reach the executive suite. After all, that’s why the phrase “glass ceiling” was coined.

Neuhaus offers simple recommendations for leadership success: eagerly take on new opportunities, deal with conflict productively, read and learn as much as you can, and most importantly, focus on building relationships every step of the way.

“A good education is critical, but a lot of it is learning as you go and moving into opportunities as they present themselves,” she says. “If someone had said, ‘do you know how to conduct planning?’ I would have said, ‘No. But I am eager to learn and willing to do my best. So let’s give it a shot.’”

It’s the advice Neuhaus and her husband give their 30-year-old daughter.

“Take some risks, take some initiative in areas you might not be comfortable with, and develop the relationships you need to be successful,” Neuhaus says. “Life is not a solo sport.”

Visit chihealth.com for more information.

Joan Neuhaus

Joan Neuhaus

The Golden Rule of Marketing

December 20, 2016 by

There is no shortage of bad marketing to lampoon, nor is just a small amount of it targeted at women. When writing this column, I worried that some readers (not you, of course) might take my attempted satire seriously—seeing it at best as a middle-aged white guy mansplaining the finer points of selling to the gender that is not his own; or, at worst, a guide worth following. Besides, if I can’t end with the literary equivalent of Slim Pickens riding off into the nuclear sunset atop an H-bomb, what’s the point?

Nonetheless, as the Brand Brief is geared—however dubiously—towards offering helpful advice for my fellow marketers, I will attempt to shed some light on advertising to women. All I ask is that you please read the entire piece before tweeting me a stink eye GIF or Willy Wonka meme. Thank you.

The foundation of any successful advertising campaign, to women or otherwise, is what I call the Golden Rule of Marketing. I call it that because it’s a wholesale appropriation of the Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12 and formerly taught in kindergarten before the New Math confused society’s collective moral compass or something. In this case, the Golden Rule of Marketing is defined as “market unto others as you would have them market unto you.”

The beauty of this purloined proverb is that, when followed, one avoids committing any number of marketing sins. Do you want to be shouted at? Then don’t shout at the consumer. Do you want to watch a boring ad? Then don’t create boring ads. Do you want more spam? Then go forth and spam not.

Applied to the specific task of marketing to women, the Golden Rule of Marketing actually keeps it more generalized, forcing you, the marketer, to consider your audience not as a collective group sporting double-X chromosomes, but as individual human beings. Like, I assume, you are. Treat women like the people they are and not the bottomless pool of profits you hope them to be.

Of course, we see painful violations of this spread throughout the advertising landscape. Often, this involves a headline that sounds like it came from Oprah’s third cousin thrice removed. And unless you really are The Oprah, calling someone “girlfriend” while marketing wrinkle-free business attire just doesn’t ring true. In fact, it signals that your brand isn’t strong enough to have a real personality of its own and, instead, is content to glom onto an individual’s or subgroup’s cultural cachet in hopes that it rubs off on your company in a lucrative way. Which it won’t.

Having written for companies whose target customers were either mainly women (Walmart) or almost exclusively women (Beauty Brands), I can guarantee you that no one ever gets upset at or tunes out from messages that are smart, interesting, and focused on solving a problem or fulfilling a desire. It’s the awkward, tone-deaf sucking up that does you in.

Today, we live in an increasingly fractious and fractured society. One in which, from a marketing perspective, it is easy to assume every sub-niche of an already divvied-up demographic demands a certain level of magic “ingratiation” dust to be successful. But while we should always strive to know our customers and relate to them on their own terms, we would be wise to always think of them as people first and purchasers 143rd.

Do that, and your marketing to women or men or millennials or boomers or Oprah groupies has a much, much better chance of being golden.

Jason Fox is the founder of AdSavior.net and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Jason Fox is the founder of AdSavior.net and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Talking Passion, Public Relations, Purpose

May 25, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

From working on her parents’ farm to raising a young family while building a business, Linda Lovgren, President and CEO of Lovgren Marketing Group, is no stranger to hard work. Lovgren started her career as a copywriter and producer at Omaha radio station KRCB before moving to a small advertising agency. Several years later, with a new baby, the support of several clients, and a Creighton University intern, Lovgren decided to go into business for herself.

“My mom and dad always said go after whatever it is that you want to do,” says Lovgren. “And I think to some extent that attitude permeated a lot of my thinking in terms of if you don’t try it, you’ll never know if you could’ve done it, number one. And, number two, it would be better to be making tracks on the trail than to be following tracks on the trail. I think it was that seed they planted that made me feel like I could try everything. If it didn’t work or I failed, that was okay too. What did I learn from it? How would I change things? That philosophy has definitely influenced me as a business owner.”

“We kind of laugh about it, but Linda always looks at the glass half full,” says Lovgren Advertising Business Accounting Manager Donna Maxey. “Even if there’s a bump in the road—let’s say something is happening with a client—she doesn’t look at the negative side. She’s always looking for the bright spot and somehow pulls it off. She’s very energetic,” Maxey smiles. “She just goes for it.”

Lovgren likes that her work keeps her life exciting. “I really enjoy having a challenge, and finding a solution to that challenge,” she says. “I enjoy getting up every day because no two days are ever the same. And generally by 10 o’clock, the day I had planned isn’t the same. I enjoy
that flexibility.”

That knack for flexibility and desire to explore new opportunities has served Lovgren well. She’s found great success and satisfaction carving out a niche working on government affairs and election campaigns.

Lovgren says she’s especially proud of the work she did on the bond issue for the Omaha convention center and arena, now the CenturyLink Center Omaha. “I think it made a very big difference in Omaha on a lot of levels. It provided more entertainment and economic development,” she explains. “I’m passionate about the idea that what we can do to help our clients will help the bigger community be a great place to work and raise a family. And to grow a business.”

Lovgren also played a role in helping to bring the National Space Symposium to Omaha in 2003. It was among the first major international meetings held here, she says. Lovgren’s career was flying high. That same year she was elected as the first chairwoman of the Omaha Chamber Board of Directors. “That was a very exciting year to learn the inner workings of the city and the many, many things that go on to make this city great.”

Another highlight came in 2012 when Lovgren was named to the Omaha Business Hall of Fame.
She attributes a central part of her success to surrounding herself with the right people. “I think the best advice I’ve gotten over the years  is to do what I do best and surround myself with people who complement those skills. No one can know how to do everything,” Lovgren says. “I learned that lesson extremely early on, and I’m glad I did.”

Networking has been an important factor, too. “It’s a really vital part of growing,” Lovgren explains. “You have to find the business. It doesn’t come to you just because you have a name on the door. All of the networking and the decisions you make about how you want to spend your time are really important in determining how that business will grow.”

Her attention to relationships doesn’t go unnoticed, says Ann Pederson, Director of Public Relations at Lovgren Marketing Group. “Linda works very hard to build and then maintain excellent relationships in developing strong, long-lasting friendships,” Pederson says. “That speaks very highly of her as an individual.”

Outside of her office, Lovgren has a long history of involvement in professional and civic organizations. She was appointed to the Nebraska State Fair board when the event moved from Lincoln to Grand Island. She’s been heavily involved in education-related causes and currently serves on the Partnership for Kids board.

Lovgren also started a non-profit that combines her passion for making a difference with one of her favorite hobbies—fly fishing. She founded the Nebraska chapter of Casting for Recovery in 2011. The organization takes breast cancer survivors on an all-expenses-paid fly-fishing trip on the Snake River outside of Valentine, Neb.

“It really makes everything worthwhile to know that you’ve made a difference.”

That drive to make a difference is the key to Lovgren’s success, she says. “If you’re passionate and you love doing it, it will make you happy,” she says. “And if it makes you happy, you will be even better at it. I think that’s so true. When your whole heart is in it, you can overcome a lot of adversity and a lot of challenges.”