Monday, November 26, 2012

4 Steps to a Better Sales & Marketing Relationship

So maybe you’re investing in a new brand position. Or you’re rolling out a new ad campaign. Or launching a new website.

In any of these processes, there’s one audience you should never overlook (besides your customers): your salespeople.

Marketing and messaging, after all, is meant to set the stage for easier and more effective selling. Plus, your sales team is often the main customer touch point, making it especially important that they’re on the same page as management regarding your brand and how to portray it.

That’s why it’s essential to incorporate sales in the branding process from the very beginning. For maximum ROI – and the most consistent and rewarding experience for your customers – your people must be empowered to take advantage of all your marketing efforts daily and consistently.

Here are four steps to getting your sales team properly involved.
  • Kick it off. Sit down with the team to explore target customers’ situations and hot-button issues, as well as the sales team’s current use of marketing messages and materials. Find areas of improvement or confusion.
  • Develop messaging. Apply key elements of the brand to craft specific messaging that meets sales’ unique challenges. Fill in missing pieces and ensure consistency across all messaging.
  • Deploy it. Review new messages with the staff and practice use in common sales scenarios.
  • Follow up. Review successful sales interactions that leveraged the messaging and address evolving issues.
Equipping your sales team with consistent, brand-based messaging will create the best sales experience for both your company and your customers, ensuring better relationships and results. So what are you waiting for? Plan a sales meeting today!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Integrate to Elevate – How to Get More from Your Digital Investments

Want people to see your company as the leader you know it is? Great interactive design and content can make it happen.

However, to take full advantage of what’s possible online, it pays to have a good plan. In an earlier post, we highlighted three keys to integrated digital marketing. Now, let’s take a quick look at how a few of today’s best online marketing elements can enhance your integrated strategy.

Web Video 
There’s little doubt about the engagement power of video. Consider the ongoing, explosive growth of online video viewing on mobile devices, laptops, TVs and more.
Start with a brand-based strategy that adds up to more than just features or capabilities. If you’re taking a content marketing approach, make sure you’re reinforcing your expertise in a way that supports your brand.

In any case, you can get a lot more from your investment by integrating your video across multiple platforms – presentations, email, social media posts, even embedded in an online press release – to drive more awareness and leads.

Photography & Graphics
Get real. Be interesting. Those are perhaps the top two ways you should be connecting with your audiences online.

Fortunately, with original digital photography and a variety of options for creating engaging graphics, it’s never been easier. Photography keeps it real and unique. Infographics and icons make it clear and simple.

A solid strategy will help you develop the widest variety of images and graphics that best demonstrate your value proposition – whether it’s technical work, customer service or another attribute on display. Then you can stretch your initial photo shoot or graphic development investment by using images across collateral, direct marketing, PR efforts and more.

The point is – there’s a web of opportunity out there. If you make the effort to do it right, an integrated, professionally created online presence will help your company show up like a force to be reckoned with.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crisis Communications Lessons from the Sikh Temple Shooting

What started as a bright Sunday morning in August quickly turned tragic.  A gunman opened fire at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., killing six worshippers before finally succumbing to police fire himself.  Meanwhile, as Froedtert Hospital staff went into crisis mode to treat the wounded, the global media spotlight set its sights on Milwaukee…..

Crisis is integral to the emergency room, but another department also had to be at the ready – the public relations team. Due to intense global interest, the PR team immediately faced nonstop media pressure, while also balancing the concerns of the victims, their families and hospital staff.

At a recent PRSA-WI luncheon, four members of Froedtert’s PR team shared their experience, as well as lessons you can apply in any business’s crisis communications planning.

Expect the Unexpected

Though by nature, the hospital is prepared for crisis; the temple shooting brought numerous unforeseen challenges, including communication barriers with Indian family members and media, coordination with key officials including Gov. Scott Walker, and miscommunication among law enforcement, emergency response and other parties.

Even if your company isn’t in the ER business, it’s still vulnerable to a crisis – misconduct by employees, sudden resignation of the CEO, product recalls, accidents, etc. Every company should have a good crisis plan in place to lead the way toward a better day.

As highlighted at the PRSA meeting, here are six basic steps to solid crisis communications planning.
1.  Identify potential crises for your business and industry.
2.  Analyze your organization’s state of readiness.
3.  Identify a crisis team – include employees from all areas, not just communications.
4.  Designate appropriate team roles, responsibilities and processes.
5.  Schedule media training for key employees.
6.  Practice.

Other takeaways from the meeting:
  • Use all available resources and make it a team effort – You can’t handle it all on your own.
  • Make sure contact info is current, including emergency phone chains.
  • Consider a news conference to reduce the constant demands on individuals.
  • Keep internal leaders up to date.
  • Media training is absolutely critical.
While the true test of readiness won’t be measured until crisis actually strikes, it’s never too early to get started on a plan to head off unnecessary chaos when the time does come. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Improve Your Email Open Rate with these Dos and Don’ts

In any web-based communication, you have seconds to capture the interest of your audience. Hundreds of messages stream through your audience’s inbox in any given week, making it critical to set yourself apart with relevant, concise writing.  

Debating the must-haves of successful email copy, we came up with some helpful reminders during our most recent copywriter’s best practices meeting:

First up - The Subject Line

It better be intriguing, clear and brief. People have too much to read as it is, so make it easy for them to choose your email.

Do: strive to keep it between 30-50 characters, and never exceed 72.
Don’t: use words like free, help, buy, open, join, or similar gimmicky sales terms
Do: stress urgency – people are more likely to want to read if they have limited time to act
Don’t: use symbols like $$, or % – spam filters are sure to stop emails with these ploys
Do: use actual numbers – especially if there’s a numerical benefit

The Main Attraction - The Body Copy

This is where you ensure audiences see an immediate benefit to opening your email.  What does your topic mean to the customer and why?  Some things to remember here are:

Do: choose one key benefit – too many and your readers lose interest; none at all and you’re forgotten
Don’t: divert to other topics – gear all your relating material to support the one chosen benefit
Do: use bullets and numbers to increase scanability
Don’t: leave all the calls to action at the bottom
Do: write in 2nd person – you, you, you! Help your audience relate to your message and its benefit.

So there you have it, how to make the most of email communications. Brief and to the point – just like your subject line and copy should be.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Turn the Skills Gap into a Competitive Edge

The writing’s on the Web – here, here, here and here. American companies in many industries face a shortage of skilled workers. It’s perhaps the single greatest challenge facing manufacturers today.

But it isn’t a burden – it’s an opportunity. It’s time to take charge, set your business apart and bring in the talent you need to keep growing.

Start by sharing your story. Show recruits and employees what’s special about your company, why the work matters and what the future holds – for them, for your customers, for your industry, for your community.
Then make that story the foundation of a complete, ongoing recruitment and retention program that supports your HR team by reaching and resonating with vital recruits. 

Components might include:
  • A careers website
  • Media relations
  • Social media engagement
  • Special events
  • Public-private partnerships
There’s plenty more to the success of your recruiting efforts, of course. Explore more about how our agency is helping clients deal with the crucial talent issue. Or check out the case study below: 
Case Study (PDF): How a comprehensive program can support  HR recruiting efforts

Thursday, August 2, 2012

3 Keys to Integrated Digital Marketing

You know it’s important for your company to speak with “one voice.” But with all the online platforms available today, how do you do that consistently and effectively?

Boil it down to these three essential tasks:

1.     Take a comprehensive approach. Review your goals for the year and determine which online channels will help you achieve those goals.

2.     For each online channel, develop a set of communication goals, strategies and tracking tailored for the medium.

3.     Make your website the hub for all your efforts, defining how each of the other channels fits in that framework.

Here’s an example of how it can work. You pick a social media platform where you can reach your target audience. And via that social media platform, you continuously promote relevant content that’s hosted on your website. Your social media strategy should consider short-term goals and of-the-moment issues to increase engagement, while also allowing for the long-term, brand-building approach supported on your website.

Done right, an integrated approach creates a deeper brand experience and brings more and better sales leads to your company. In a future post, we’ll talk more about how to do that, exploring various forms of online media content and how they relate to an integrated digital marketing strategy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You There – You Don’t Know Everything

I’m not telling you this to hurt your feelings. I’m telling you because knowing that you know nothing – to paraphrase Socrates – is the only true wisdom. 

When you recognize the unknown, you ask questions. And asking questions illuminates answers. 

For example, ever heard of the Five Whys? It’s a technique originated by Toyota in which you get to the root of a problem by asking "why" five times. Watch a good Five Whys primer from Harvard Business Review below.

But asking questions isn’t just good problem-solving policy. It’s essential to all leadership, creativity and innovation.

The key is to continuously break free from the biases and assumptions that hold back fresh ideas. After all, you know what happens when you assume, right? (It’s the mother of all mistakes.)

That’s why, in B2B marketing just like anywhere else, it always pays to start by challenging your assumptions and asking questions, whether you’re:
  •  Launching a product
  • Considering a brand extension
  • Starting an ad campaign
  • Entering a new market
  • Going after new customers

What’s the main objective and why? What’s the primary audience? What do they care about? How does what you’re offering make life better for them? And how do those answers fit into a single, clear message for the marketplace?

Those are just some of the questions bouncing around our office as we challenge our inner-know-it-alls and uncover new perspectives.

And now a question for you: What questions do you find helpful in your process?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

To Hire a Millennial, Think Like a Millennial

Earlier, we demonstrated how to create a strong employer brand to attract talent in a highly competitive marketplace.  Different generations require different recruitment approaches, and with baby boomers nearing the cusp of retirement, it may be time to focus more on the dynamic, 80 million strong, Millennial generation.

Just how worried should you be about these generational changes?

Well, the Office of Employment projected that the average large company in the U.S. will lose 30-40% of its workforce due to retirement over the next 5-10 years. Yikes. Definitely time to shift your Millennial recruitment strategies into high gear.

Young Talent

Hiring young talent has many benefits:
  • Flexibility.  You have the opportunity to shape an individual to be the best fit for your company.
  • Youthful perspective.  Millennials bring fervor and excitement to client engagements, meetings and projects.
  • Innovation.  This is the most educated and technology-savvy generation.  They bring fresh ideas, creative thinking and the ability to see things differently.
The key to unlocking this talent pool is understanding the background and characteristics of this generation, as well as accommodating their work style and motivators.

To hire a Millennial, you need to think like a Millennial.

So here’s how we suggest you focus.

The Top Three Ways to Get on the Millennial Radar

1.  Foster their interest in technology

Growing up in a digital savvy world has created the expectation of innovative websites, social media engagement, and interactive recruiting efforts. Everyone wants to be excited about the company they work for.  If your website is outdated and doesn’t captivate the skilled person checking you out (believe us, they Google EVERYTHING), they won’t even bat an eye as they cross you off and move onto the next company on their list.

Do yourself a favor, update your website, get on social media, and invest in a well-designed career page that encourages applicants to get excited to work for you.

2.  Participate in the community

According to a recent USA Today article, Study: Millennial generation more educated, less employed, civic trends have always risen with age, but this generation is emerging as being much more involved at an early age.  Millennials care about community involvement. 

To get on their radar, you need to look at the bigger picture.  Figure out how to promote yourself as not only a thought leader, but also as an active member of making your community, industry, and the big picture, better.

3.  Appeal to their shared characteristics when constructing recruiting communications, HR initiatives, training programs, and more.   
  • Social - This generation is showing up as totally aware of work-life balance. They value spending time with family and friends doing things they enjoy. They want a fun work environment.
  • Team oriented – A recent survey of Millennial professionals, conducted by Robert Half International and Yahoo! Hot Jobs, found that over 60% of Millennials want to hear from their managers at least once a day.
  • Achievement oriented – Praise is something this group is accustomed to, show that you value your employees and are invested in their individual and group success.
  • Flexible – Technology has opened new doors and more opportunities – Millennials expect convenience.  Find a way to incorporate this into your program.

The foundation of a successful business is an invested, interested employee base and Millennials want to  be a part of that. Those companies that don’t change their thinking and processes to attract, hire, and retain this new generation will risk it all.

Take our advice and invest in Millennials, because by doing that you not only are investing in yourself as a company, but you’re investing in the strength of our nation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Got Skills? How to Become a Winner in Today’s Competitive Talent Search.

The good news? Manufacturing is on the upswing. The bad news? Skilled worker numbers are on the downswing.  Competition from global manufacturers coupled with an outdated perception of manufacturing held by most young people has created a battlefield for good talent.

In this new reality, the company with the best talent will win the game. And clearly there will be winners and losers in this high stakes game that pits small and mid-market companies against the global giants that exist in every market. “I can’t win this battle” many of these smaller companies might say, but for those willing to think differently, Trefoil Group says “yes, you can.” And we’ll tell you how.

The most important thing your company can do is create a powerful brand. Help recruits see the story of the future and why your company and the work you do matters – to them, to your customers, your communities, your industries. 

The Branding Basics -- there are many ways to create a story worth telling:
  1. Understand what characteristics define your company – Involve everyone from your CEO to your customers and vendors to really delve into what is important. Once you know, market it.
  2. Become a thought leader – through articles, speaking engagements and events.  When prospective employees Google you, give them plenty of reading material that showcases the innovation, knowledge, and involvement of your company.
  3. Update your recruiting – Word of mouth isn’t enough anymore. People spend so much time online that it’s critical to develop a digital presence. Develop a careers page, partner with technical colleges and join social media.
  4. Support government and community hiring initiatives – prospective employees want to be a part of something bigger,  see what you can do to help programs, such as Dream It, Do It, in your area.

Waiting for talent to seek you out is no longer adequate - Manpower Group recently released the results of its seventh-annual Talent Shortage Survey, revealing 49 percent of U.S. employers are experiencing difficulty filling mission-critical positions within their organizations.

It’s time to face this new reality and arm your company with all the necessary tools to succeed in today’s hiring market. Creating the right and differentiating employer brand could be the key to finding the perfect person for your company.

What has your company done to set itself apart from the competition? We would love to hear it.   

Monday, June 11, 2012

What Are You Doing After the Show?

The last trucks loaded with machinery and displays have long since pulled away from the shipping bays at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando – site of NPE 2012, North America’s largest plastics tradeshow.

But many people in plastics are still feeling the energy of the event. And as marketers, we need to keep pursuing those opportunities. 

Much of the promotional work for a tradeshow occurs before and during the event. But marketing doesn’t stop when you hand off the sales leads afterward. The magnitude of the investment – often an entire year’s marketing budget – demands that you channel the show’s momentum long after your booth has been dismantled.

For example, NPE exhibitor Milacron is extending the impact of its investment with a post-show landing page. An email campaign and other vehicles are driving traffic to the site, where visitors can explore photos, videos, news coverage, machine specs and more. The page, adapted from a preshow promotional site, is proving to be a cost-effective way to keep the show’s positive vibes going.
Whether you serve up show presentations as web content or breathe new life into a show floor video, you can make a tradeshow investment live on as long as you let it.
Bottom line: Post-show marketing communications is much more than just sales lead follow-up. With marketing support, selling becomes easier, and your substantial investment generates greater returns.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On Finding Our TrueCenter™


Breathe deeply.

Let all distractions fall away.

Now, ponder the big questions. Who are we? What are we doing? Why are we here?

That’s how it all started a few months back when we embarked on a branding and positioning project for our agency.

It’s a challenging and rewarding process that involves distilling a lot of complex issues down to one simple idea. After a period of intense self-reflection, research, analysis and argument, we’ve re-established our TrueCenter™, and we’re excited to be revealing the results today.

Introducing ...
Introducing Trefoil Group

Cutting through complex issues to produce decisive actions – in our case, a name change – is what we believe makes our team special. In a complicated world, we’re determined to help our clients see clearly toward achieving their goals.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Boosting Consumer Confidence in Interest-Based Advertising

With the increasing use of social networks, particularly Facebook, interest-based advertising is growing rapidly. By analyzing consumers’ online conversations and consumption habits, advertisers can customize their messages to specific audiences. Done right, it increases an ad’s effectiveness and can enhance consumer satisfaction.

But we must be careful, whenever tapping into info about people’s web activity, to earn and maintain their trust (a topic that can be read in more detail here).

To that end, the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) Self-Regulatory Program – endorsed earlier this year by the White House, Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission – provides a good framework for improving consumer confidence and ensuring best practices. Building on the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, the nation's largest media and marketing associations have collaborated to launch this program to give consumers a better understanding of and greater control over ads that are customized based on their online behavior.

How can you get involved?
  •  Learn about the program by reading the principles, and find out more about the participating associations. To learn how your company can implement the principles, review the Implementation Guides.
  • Register to start using the Advertising Option Icon as a means for providing enhanced notice of online behavioral advertising practices. To register to use the icon, click here.
  • Inform consumers about data practices through clear, meaningful and prominent notices.
  • Register to receive information about how to be listed on the Consumer Opt-Out Page, where consumers will be able to easily opt out of receiving online behavioral advertising from some or all participating companies.
  • Report a complaint if you believe that you have witnessed a practice or ad that may violate the Principles. You can report the incident to either the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) or the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Complaints may be filed by consumers, business entities or other stakeholders. 
Thanks to for the above information on how companies can participate in the DAA’s Self-Regulatory Program.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How Tapping into Emotions Plays a Larger Role in Building Brand Trust

The science of selling is changing. With the growth of social media, tapping into emotions has become an increasingly influential part of decision making. Although statistical data hasn’t gone to the wayside, consumers look to fellow purchasers for their opinions of, or experiences with, businesses, as well as goods and services. It’s these experiences and interactions that form people’s opinions and in turn, influence brand trust.

During a Southeastern Wisconsin PRSA luncheon, Eric Goering, manager of global system communications for McDonald’s, discussed the idea of brand trust, commenting, “No one wants to feel like a guinea pig. Consumers want to know that a product or service is already safe and effective.” Referencing McDonald’s new “field to fork” commercials, he continued by suggesting that the value proposition now takes a different form – facts mean less and emotions mean more.

In addition to McDonald’s new commercials, Chipotle has leveraged its new sustainable farming campaign to make that emotional connection with consumers. The commercial has been largely popular among audiences because of its honest, authentic message, which plays into consumers’ demands – products that are fresh, locally grown and nutritious, while also helping to boost the nation’s agriculture industry.

Today, the story is becoming more about these relationships, which highlight a company’s commitment to quality and consistency that drive customer decisions. In turn, those decisions are now broadcast across social networks, earning businesses positive word-of-mouth marketing that ultimately increases sales and new opportunities overtime. In the same vein, this idea should resonate with B2B companies, as true partnerships, not just one-off relationships, become critical to future success.

Have you seen good examples of companies tapping into customers’ emotions? If so, what made it compelling?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

To Lead Your Way to a Stronger Network, Start Here

So, you have a vision. You’re ready to “be the change you want to see in the world” (or in your community, industry or organization). You have aspirations of becoming a change catalyst and want to be viewed as a thought leader.

But where do you start? Who will support your vision? And where can you find these like-minded and equally inspired allies?

Earlier this week, Mary Scheibel presented on the topic of leadership at the Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA) 2nd Annual Young Professionals Leadership Academy. Her presentation “Taking Your Network to the Next Level,” looked at how to build a supportive, reliable network by first demonstrating your leadership aptitude.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and a leader is no different. Find a cause, organization or an association that’s important to you. Then, figure out where you can make an impact, offer to lead an initiative or program, roll up your sleeves and help get the work done.

The benefits are numerous. You’ll make good things happen. You’ll develop a new or sharpened focus for your career and maybe even your life. You’ll gain emotional fortitude and build character. And in the process, you’ll diversify your network, establishing relationships with business and community leaders you otherwise wouldn’t have met.

Excellence starts with leaders of good character who engage in the entire process of leadership. Exhibit attributes of a values-driven leader – ethical, courageous, conscientious and aspiring. Build your value as a leader and watch your network expand and strengthen.

Discover other key success factors in taking your network to the next level by viewing the presentation slides.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rethinking the Stock Answer for Photography

The heroic handshake. The people in suits jumping for joy. The meeting room full of diverse employees.

I’m sure you have your own examples of stock photography clich├ęs. Of course, there are reasons why stock images are so popular. They’re fast. They’re easy. They’re affordable.

Problem is, certain types of stock photos have become way too common. That’s not to say there aren’t lots of great stock images around. You just have to work harder to present the images in a fresh way and make sure they’re relevant and meaningful to your audience. (Here’s some good use of stock photography, for example.)

Or, if you have the right opportunity and resources, and you really want to stand out and show what’s special about your company, it may be time once again to consider original photography in some instances – your website and your brand collateral, perhaps.

Yes, it’s a significant investment. Yes, it takes more time and effort. But here are just three reasons why it may be worth the trouble:

  • Personality. Pictures of the real people in your real organization show who you really are – much better than images of nameless guys and gals with call-center headsets ever could.
  • Professionalism. High-quality original photos convey a strong company and a respect for your audiences, who don’t have to see those same old, arms-folded executive teams.
  • Relevance. You can set up your images to support your message and brand, instead of scouring iStock for a standard image that’s only marginally related.

Some of the advantages of original photography are on display at and (above right), two award-winning sites we’ve developed recently for clients.

So please, don’t force us to look at another generic close-up of fingers on a keyboard. Give your stock images some more thought, or give original photography a shot in your next marketing communications vehicle.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

7 Essential Attributes of Successful Email Campaigns

Online services like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor can make creating and distributing email campaigns easier and more efficient.

But beware: There’s more to successful email marketing than plugging your data into a form on one of these sites.

Email best practices continue to evolve on many fronts. Staying ahead of the changes can mean the difference between a campaign that captures your audience’s attention and one that’s captured by spam filters.

Here are some of the key areas to keep in mind:

Design that pops. Many online templates leave a lot to be desired, but good designers can help customize your look to make it more attractive and reflective of your brand.

Content that audiences care about. It pays to take the time to identify your audiences . Segment them in a way that makes sense for your company – whether that’s demographically, geographically or by products/services used.  Then you can address their needs, wants and pain points in a way that piques interest without giving away too much intellectual property. 

Spam filter friendliness. The restrictions imposed by filter programs are a moving target, with a growing array of red-flag phrases and practices – pay particular attention to subject lines – that will doom your distribution.

An accurate contact list. It’s crucial that you have correct info for people you’d like to reach as well as those who don’t want to be reached. Contacting only people who know you and who’ve opted in via web forms or in person will help keep you in their good graces – and off spam lists.

Optimization for relevant mail clients. Whether it’s mobile or desktop/browser software, you’ve got to make sure your email can be accessed easily and creates a consistent brand experience.

Review and adaptation. Heed your results and learn from them. What types of articles do audiences click on the most? Use the knowledge to adjust your approach.

A holistic approach.  Email marketing is only one piece of the puzzle.  An effective campaign needs to be supported by other online and offline activities that deliver a consistent message and provide valuable information. Consider social media channels, content marketing and public relations.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Case Study: 5 Things to Learn from Milacron’s Talent Acquisition Campaign

The statistics are in, and they’re good. After only six days live, Milacron’s new recruitment website has had 883 unique visitors, more than 4,011 page views and 260 people who filled out forms requesting employment opportunities.

Like many manufacturers, Milacron, a worldwide leader in plastics machinery, was experiencing a workforce shortage and needed help in attracting talent. The initial success of their new microsite is both a testament to the ability of a well-designed website to attract prospective employees and to the fact that there are people looking for manufacturing jobs.

In November, we wrote about 5 ways that manufacturers can address their workforce shortage. We have since been working with Milacron and other clients to put these ideas in actions.

Here are 5 key takeaways from the Milacron Talent Acquisition campaign:

1. Integrate the program: The initial launch of the microsite would not have been as successful had it not been surrounded by a strategic, multi-faceted program. The campaign encompasses social media presence including Facebook and Twitter, as well as public relations securing both local and trade publication coverage. The company is also fostering relationships with local technical and vocational schools, offering both a co-op program and a scholarship program and promoting Milacron as a good choice for job shadowing, apprenticeship and eventually permanent employment.

2. Base the execution in research:
Before designing and executing the campaign, interviews were conducted with current employees at Milacron to understand what was important to the young people in the organization – what they valued about working at Milacron. These interviews were coupled with background research into Millennials to better understand what this generation responds to and cares about. The research informed the employment brand and position as well as the development of the microsite and the surrounding marketing program.

3. Include video:
Video is a medium increasingly preferred to receive online information and is especially important for reaching younger people. We conducted onsite video and photo shoots featuring young people inside the organization. These videos will continue to be used throughout recruitment efforts.

4. Create an employment brand:
Leveraging the research, we developed an employment brand centered on showing prospective employees how they can “Be More at Milacron.” The messaging is woven throughout the microsite and video testimonials and will continue to serve as a foundation to speak to current and prospective employees, students, parents, educators and the marketplace.

5. Build an appealing careers section: The careers sections of many manufacturers’ websites leave a lot to be desired. The section needs to be informative and engaging, helping to familiarize students, teachers, parents and other non-industry individuals with a basic understanding of manufacturing in a way that highlights the long-term, technologically advanced and personally fulfilling career benefits the field can offer. A good careers section should be user friendly with intuitive navigation and be visually appealing to audiences, especially young people.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How I See It: State of the Economy 2012

I preface these comments with three qualifications – one, I am typically a “glass-half-full” personality; two, I’m not an economist (I don’t even play one on TV); and three, I’m assuming that there will be neither a Eurozone economic meltdown nor significant instability in the Middle East.

Given that, I see a rosier business environment in 2012 than what the mainstream media seem to be embracing.

· Consumer confidence is positive and rising.

· Unemployment claims and rates are declining.

· Over 200,000 private sector jobs were added in December, of all months.

· Manufacturers report increasing backlogs and plant capacity utilization.

· Banks are competing again for opportunities to finance business growth.

Yes, there are some tricky issues that still need to be addressed. One of them appears to be an imbalance between available workers and the skillsets needed by employers, especially manufacturers. We’ve often discussed manufacturers’ workforce development challenge here. But many worthwhile efforts are attempting to bridge this gap. Second Chance Partners, an alternative education organization that pairs schools and private industry to create manufacturing apprenticeships for students who are struggling in the traditional high school environment, is a notable example.

As 2012 unfolds, I see prudent businesspeople taking advantage of this increasingly favorable environment. They will begin to reinvest for marketing and sales – not only for customers but also for recruiting the skilled employees they desperately need; they will take advantage of very low interest rates to upgrade if not expand their production facilities; and they will make sure that they take extra-special care of their current employees.