Category : marketing team

Growing Businesses One Dream at a Time“Why” is More Important than What at 360 Direct

“Why” is More Important than What at 360 Direct

When our owner, John Bernhoft, started a mailing service company in 2006, he immediately noticed an alarming trend. Many companies sent direct mail to poorly targeted lists, or sent direct mail pieces that were poorly designed. Companies would send mailings when they were panicked and needed customers desperately, instead of planning them in advance with strategic messaging. Thus 360 Direct was born, to help companies be more strategic in their marketing efforts. That’s what we do, but at 360 Direct we focus just as much on why we do it.

If you browse our website, social media channels, or see any of our marketing materials, you may have noticed an unusual phrase on many of these platforms: we grow businesses one dream at a time. That may seem a little lofty for a marketing agency, especially if you know us well, you know that we specialize in the unglamorous. We rarely do big-budget, extravagant campaigns with large media spends. One of our strengths is the industrial and manufacturing fields. Not exactly the stuff of dreams. Except we know that it IS someone’s dream; every business started as someone’s dream, just like our business began as our owner John’s dream. It just so happens that John’s dream is helping companies like yours.

More Than A Vision Statement

“Growing businesses one dream at a time” is more than a vision statement, it’s our Why, and it’s our way of business.

At 360 Direct, we follow Simon Sinek’s philosophy on Why. Essentially, every individual, team, and organization has a “Why.” It’s what makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning, it’s what gets you excited to go to work. As individuals, we are most fulfilled and happiest when we work in a position or at a company that complements our individual Why.

As a company, our Why is growing businesses one dream at a time. Which means that everyone, account managers, content writers, IT department, has a similar individual sense of purpose and fulfillment by making sure your company achieves great things. To us, it’s not fluff. We know that for our clients, who often manufacture widgets, it’s not really about the widgets. So when we say we grow businesses one dream at a time, we mean we get at the core of what makes your company unique. Anyone can make a widget, but YOU are what makes your widget unique.

What does this mean for you? Why are we telling you this?

Sometimes clients are apprehensive when we talk about blogging, or using a marketing agency at all. They’ll talk about how their work “isn’t that interesting.” But time after time, a few months later they are surprised when our team is as excited about a new machine, new engineer, or new product as they are. Our team is excited every morning to go to work, and excited to work with you and make take your dream to new heights.

We don’t hold ourselves to internal sales quota standards. Our clients aren’t a number. Each one represents someone’s dream, and we’re committed to helping you hit your goals. At 360 Direct, each member of the team is evaluated based on how happy they’ve made our clients. We measure our success by our clients’ success, because that’s what matters to us.

If your company has lost its “Why” or gone through leadership change, we highly recommend Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” and “Find Your Why.”

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When should you fire your marketing agency?When to FIRE Your Marketing Agency

When to FIRE Your Marketing Agency

Marketing agencies can take a business to the next level. They should help your business grow and achieve goals. You know that, that’s why you hired them to begin with! But if your agency seems to be hindering you more than helping you, it’s time to rethink your relationship with an agency. Using a marketing agency requires a trusting relationship between the company and agency. While a marketing agency may use tactics that are new to your company – after all, you hired them because they are marketing experts and you wanted to expand your efforts! – you should be very involved and feel included in all efforts. Here are some signs you need to look elsewhere.

They are out of touch with your needs.

An agency should be responsive to your needs. While there should be a general plan, it should be flexible within the scope of your working relationship with them. The agency should be flexible enough to adapt to your goals and needs, not using a one-size-fits-all template of services. If you request specific efforts or marketing campaigns, and they refuse to alter or consider other opportunities or strategies, you need someone who better understands your goals.

The materials or services they provide for you should be mutually agreed upon. If an agency is providing materials you don’t need or can’t use, find someone who will create what you need! The assets made for you should work – what good is a website if it doesn’t work the way you need it to? Any reputable agency will be upfront with you if what you are asking is not something they can provide. Even if it is something they cannot provide in house, they should be able to point you in the right direction or let you know the limitations of what you are asking for.

You have no idea what they are doing.

Any agency should be able to give you a schedule of when to expect various tasks to be done, whether that’s a press release, blog, video, website build, sell sheet, or postcard design. If they can’t commit to a timeframe, or if deadlines comes and go and the only thing you get are excuses, it’s time to reconsider. An agency should keep you informed of how projects are coming along, and once deadlines are agreed on they should be met.

While agencies are not employees working in house, where you have the option of strolling to their desk and asking a question, they should be accessible within reason. You should be able to call or send an email and receive a response within a reasonable amount of time, including project updates, answers to questions, or time/cost estimates. If you can’t reach your agency and don’t receive regular contact or updates from them, that is a red flag.

You are worried about losing everything.

If you are unhappy but are sticking around because you don’t have the log in information for your accounts, or because you think you’ll lose your website if you change companies, that’s a surefire reason to leave. That problem does not resolve itself, and it only gets worse with time.

If this is your situation, read your agreement carefully to see who “owns” the website or other creative assets. Unfortunately, there will be few options if your contract states they retain ownership. But that doesn’t mean you should stay with a company who is holding your company’s assets hostage! Look for an agency that gives you complete ownership, and realize that you are going to have to rebuild many assets. Before you tell your current agency you are thinking of leaving, start speaking confidentially to other agencies or coders to determine how long it will take to remake those assets, always ensuring that you will retain ownership once they are complete. They will help you proceed with minimal disruption to your business.

How does your situation stack up?

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to revisit your options! Your company deserves better marketing, and you deserve someone you work well with. The company/agency relationship is critical for marketing success. Finding a good fit is essential.

It’s for these reasons and more that 360 Direct doesn’t use long term contracts or retainers – instead we prove our worth every month for you. We also guarantee you retain ownership and access to all your accounts – including your website! After all, this is a relationship, not a hostage situation. We believe in transparency on all levels. You can count on us to be upfront, even if that means we can’t fill your needs. To start a conversation about whether or not we could be the agency for you, contact us!

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Your Marketing AgencyWhy Hire a Marketing Agency?

Why Hire a Marketing Agency?

Deciding to use a marketing agency for the first time can feel like a huge leap of faith. In addition to the sizable investment, it can be difficult to relinquish autonomy, even though you will still maintain oversight. Marketing is particularly difficult to outsource, since it has a direct influence over sales and revenue. Ultimately, why should you outsource marketing?

They specialize in marketing.

Often, business leaders say they can’t go with an outside agency because no one knows about their product/company/industry as much as they do. And that is likely true, but that is exactly why you should consider an agency. You are an expert in your product or service, but are you an expert at web-building, SEO, social media, content creation, ad development, PR, and more?

An outside marketing agency brings years of accumulative experience, education, ongoing training, and research in marketing. They know what works and – equally important – what doesn’t. Even if you’ve done marketing internally for years, you can be limited to your company’s past experience. Whereas an agency has the benefit of seeing the trial and errors of many companies over time. They are more in tune with changing marketing trends and buyer behavior. An outside marketing agency brings in fresh ideas and sees your products with new eyes – much like a prospective client will.

There are many specific marketing skills that are easily identifiable, but one point of expertise that is often overlooked is the ability to convey a complicated or new product or service to an uninformed audience. Often a business owner or CEO is so entrenched in their field that educating people who do not yet realize they want your product isn’t high on the radar.

And when it comes to learning the ins and outs of your specific brand and industry, any agency worth their salt will spend the on-boarding process researching and analyzing your company, its competitors, and its client base. Just like your company can talk to many different clients and adapt your service for various applications, marketing agencies apply tried and true marketing principles to your company in applications that make the most sense for your specific goals.

They give the gift of time.

Good marketing isn’t something that can be “squeezed in” when you have time. That leads to sporadic results at best. Most marketing efforts are ongoing and take time to lead a prospective client through the buying process before they becomes a customer. An agency provides the continuity and persistence that leads to steadier revenue streams.

If you are like most business leaders, you likely have a laundry list of things you wish you could do but you don’t have the time. Perhaps you have even postponed a great opportunity because you know you do not have the time to do it right. That’s where a marketing agency comes in. They can complete that to-do list and much more. This frees up your valuable time to do more of what you do best. You’ll have more time to lead other aspects of your company rather than scrambling to throw together ad hoc efforts.

Marketing is much more than tactics! Having a team at your disposal with the sole goal of marketing ensures that all your efforts will be comprehensive, not based on the time restraints that come from running a company. Research, planning, execution, and measuring results all work hand in hand to elevate your brand. Because agencies are purely engaged in marketing efforts, you’ll be much better positioned to take advantage of new opportunities when they arise.

They are the best of both worlds.

Hiring a marketing agency is less expensive than hiring a new employee, and instead of one person’s experience and strengths, you get a whole team.

Even when you have your own dedicated marketing professional or department, it can be useful to bring in an agency for specific projects. Product launches, website redesign, and other new initiatives can overwhelm existing staff with an influx of additional work to be done. Utilizing an agency ensures no marketing responsibilities get forgotten in the midst of a major project. Good marketing agencies work in tandem with your existing staff, always ensuring your branding is consistent. It’s a great way to get an influx of new ideas and the additional staff you need when your staff has a full plate but a new hire is impractical.

Whether you are looking to bolster your existing marketing department or just looking to have someone (anyone!) dedicated to the content marketing strategy of the company, a marketing agency has the flexibility to fill short- or long- term needs and tackle projects of all sizes.

Is it time to take the leap?

Marketing agencies can help improve inbound marketing, web design, ROI on current marketing efforts and can lead to more consistent sales, customer retention, and brand recognition. If those are things you want, it may be time to take that leap. Time lost is opportunity lost.

Of course, not all agencies are created equally. Look for ones that are talk with you earnestly about your goals and business pains and then tailor a plan to your unique needs. A good agency has the flexibility to adapt to your circumstances and doesn’t hold your materials and accounts hostage when you want to make changes. But we’ll get into that next time, when we talk about when you should fire your marketing agency.

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360 View of ManufacturingThe 360 View of Why Manufacturing Matters

The 360 View of Why Manufacturing Matters

Wisconsin is highly impacted by the manufacturing industry, with many residents employed by manufacturing companies. There are many different types of manufacturing companies some of which use industrial computers. If you have a manufacturing company then you may like to visit Even Wisconsin has a diverse range of manufacturing companies. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Wisconsin stands out as one of few states where manufacturing has remained the biggest employer” (1). Events such as Manufacturing Matters, which took place in February, is just one example of how manufacturing is regularly highlighted as a significant part of Wisconsin’s economy. 360 Direct also recognizes how important manufacturing is to this area, and strives to serve the manufacturing industry on a daily basis.

This is why manufacturing matters to 360 Direct:

At 360 Direct, we know that the manufacturing industry needs assistance with regards to marketing. As a company in the Greater Milwaukee area, we understand how imperative Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector is to our economy. We also recognize that the Wisconsin manufacturing sector has allowed marketing to sit stagnate with outdated tactics and not engaging the new rules of marketing due to long established regional business relationships and practices that until now, have always seemed to be enough to keep manufacturers growing. Our goal is to help manufacturers become more marketable with current business, prospective business, and the new crop of skilled workers coming out of trade schools and instructional programs, utilizing digital and traditional tools to get there.

When it comes to the manufacturing industry, 360 Direct stands apart from other marketing agencies in regards to how we can help them. Having worked with numerous manufacturing companies before, we have a first hand knowledge and understanding of the industry. 360 Direct also offers education and understanding on strategy and tactical development, to keep our customers in the know. Providing insider knowledge to manufacturers helps them understand why we encourage the use of a specific tactic, which can be just as important as implementing the tactic itself. Additionally, our years of experience in the local manufacturing sector have allowed us to develop tried and tested methods that enhance the reputation and reach of manufacturing companies in Wisconsin. We offer a service that is specifically tooled to help manufacturers profit. Our work is valuable to them because its flexibility generates a custom solution with custom results.

For those not yet ready to work with an agency, 360 Direct does have some quick advice for manufacturing companies considering updating their marketing. First of all, develop strategy before activating tactics. Knowing the what, who, when, where, and why before the how will make activating tactics easier, less stressful, and provide insights into the target audience they may not have known existed. Developing strategy will also help avoid those panic modes of producing a tactic that has poor messaging and may not have been leveraged in the most appropriate of ways. Also, develop a digital presence. This involves becoming active on social media, which has targeted application amongst a wide swath of age groups, and has become increasingly essential for expanding business in growing leads, creating partnerships, and generating one’s own talent pipeline. A digital presence involves having a fully responsive and mobile friendly website that acts as a central hub for any marketing efforts. Not having a website in this day and age incredibly harms a brands reputation, even and especially in “old school” industries like manufacturing. Start with these basic steps and you will be on the right path to improving your marketing.

If you are interested in additional information about growing your manufacturing business, expanding the talent pipeline, and filling the skills gap, contact 360 Direct at 262-289-9210 or fill out our contact form on the contact tab above.





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Strategize-like-spidersStrategize Like Spiders

Strategize Like Spiders

Spiders are some of the most intelligent creepy crawlers around. Though their intimidating fangs and many eyes can give them a bad reputation, they’re actually fascinating creatures that help control pests like mosquitoes, making the outdoors a whole lot more habitable for humans.

Known scientifically as araneae, spiders are master strategists when it comes to catching their next meal. Not all spiders make webs, but they all use strategy. For web-building spiders, they begin with a basic Y-shaped structure, and construct what scientists call frame threads. Just like a marketing strategy, this structure ensures that the entire web is sound before the spider even attempts to catch its prey. Next, the spider builds a non-sticky auxiliary spiral, which helps them test out where they want their critter-catching strands to go. Then they lay down the sticky strand all along the auxiliary spiral guide, finishing the web.

At 360 Direct, we’ve gotten past the fangs, and aren’t afraid to take some pointers from these eight-legged strategists. Spider web building is actually a great way to understand the importance of marketing strategy. Our team of marketers builds a basic marketing strategy first, then moves to test and measure that strategy before locking in tactics to an overall marketing plan, just like a spider builds frame threads and auxiliary spirals, before laying down the sticky threads.

Brown-SpiderSpiders are an intrinsic part of a healthy environment, and growing, community-minded businesses keep our economic ecosystem flourishing too. Our team of strategists wants to help build communities and healthy businesses right along with you.

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