The MadAveGroup Blog
Scott Greggory, Chief Creative Officer
In baseball, one swing of the bat can keep an inning alive, which can provide one more chance to score.
And that one extra run can mean the difference between winning and losing a game.
And one more win during a 162-game season - just one - can earn a team a playoff berth, which can lead to a spot in the World Series, which can culminate in a championship.
And making history.
Of course, it's not merely a single swing of a bat that makes a winning baseball team. Nor is it one perfect pitch from your sales team that takes your company to the next level. It's the years of training and keeping your eye on the ball and, yes, even committing errors that teach you and your team how to win together. It's your daily effort and commitment that lead you to opportunities to grow into a clutch player.
And as much as baseball is a team sport, it also requires individual performance, as your work likely does - which takes us back to the idea of one more swing leading to one more run, one more win and one more chance to achieve something special; something lasting.
What does that swing equate to in your job? Throughout the 12-month-per-year season that is your career, how can you gut it out each day to produce uncommon results for yourself and your team?
In a country of 327 million people, there are only 750 Major League ball players. They're in the bigs because they're the best at what they do. And each day, they work to find a way to win.
But there's more than one game in town. Whether you repair cars or manage a marketing staff or run your own firm, define your industry's Major Leagues, your World Series. Then, step into the box each day and take your cuts as if something important is riding on it.
Because something important is riding on it.
Fifty years ago, a dedicated team of people made history, changing our perception of what was possible by landing two men on the moon and returning them safely to Earth.
If you weren’t alive in July of 1969 or you were too young to remember the Apollo 11 mission, it might be easy to minimize their accomplishment given all our technological advances in the decades since.
But at the core of their commitment to reach the moon was that human quality that’s so often present at the leading edge of innovation - courage.
In September 1962, when President Kennedy urged American citizens to support a lunar mission, NASA was not prepared to deliver a solution, yet they accepted the challenge.
Everyone involved understood that preparing for the expedition would be physically and mentally demanding, so they persevered.
The astronauts assumed they had only a 50/50 chance of surviving the flight, but still, they sat atop hundreds of thousands of gallons of explosive rocket fuel willingly.
And as a result of all that courageous focus, the work of the Apollo 11 team stands among the greatest achievements in human history.
In your work, can you summon the courage to chart new frontiers? They don’t need to be as daunting as space travel. But, whether you own a small shop, spend your nights developing new software, or lead a team of medical professionals each day, you can dare to dream.
Then, set to making it real.
Will it be hard? Probably.
Will it matter? Certainly.
Remember, walking on the moon began as nothing more than an idea, too.
As you look to the night sky on this important anniversary - and forevermore - let it inspire you to wonder what’s possible. And let it remind you that courage can make it so.
Michael, one of our agency directors, drove across town to pick up lunch for the 15 people in our office. (The rest of the staff were on a company-sponsored trip.)
When he got back, he realized that one of the large foil trays of food had been mislabeled. Instead of the peach cobbler he ordered he was given green beans.
Hardly a tragedy, but Michael called the restaurant to see how they might correct their mistake. “Just come back and pick up the cobbler,” the manager suggested. But the restaurant was 20 minutes away, so Michael would have to make another 40-minute roundtrip just to get what he ordered.
Michael asked if the manager could send a driver to our offices with the cobbler. “No,” came the reply.
“But you cater, and I saw two of your company vans in your parking lot,” Michael reasoned.
“Can’t do it,” said the manager.
Guess who will never make another $260 purchase at that restaurant.
Rather than seizing the opportunity to be a customer service hero - by correcting a mistake his team made, no less - the manager chose the easy, short-sighted approach. No suggestion of any options. No offer of a free meal or future discount. Not even an apology.
Imagine how quickly any bad feelings could have been prevented with a heartfelt “I’m so sorry about that” from the manager.
We’ve said it before in this blog: no one expects perfection from your company. Screw-ups are going to happen now and then. But not owning up to those mistakes and making them right will cost you brand damage and buyers.
Can’t fix the problem right away? Then offer a sincere apology on the spot and let your customer know you’ll contact her within a specific amount of time with a few options. Then, let her choose which make-good she wants.
Even the best advertising can’t compensate for a lack of customer care or a staff that’s not empowered to make things right when they go wrong. Every encounter - EVERY encounter - is a chance to wow people and create a business that's worthy of customer loyalty.
On May 14, 2019, the Toledo City Council acknowledged MadAveGroup for our 30 years in business. Representing our agency at the ceremony were Jerry Brown (fourth from left), Valerie Likens and Scott Greggory.
Councilman Tom Waniewski (third from left) sponsored the following resolution:
Toledo City Council Resolution Recognizing MadAveGroup
WHEREAS, MadAveGroup has been a member of the Toledo business community for 30 years, hiring and developing local talent, serving local companies, as well as national and internal brands, and sustaining partnerships around the world; and
WHEREAS, the MadAveGroup agency BusinessVoice was a pioneer in the On Hold Marketing industry, leading with fresh approaches to branding, revenue models, delivery systems, marketing content, and account management, and today is the Caller Experience Marketing agency most awarded for creative excellence; and
WHEREAS, MadAveGroup has prioritized building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships as proven by its service to more than 500 clients throughout the world, 100 of which have been with the agency for 20 years or longer; and
WHEREAS, MadAveGroup, through its agency MadAveCollective, is committed to helping area non-profit organizations focus and share their messages for the benefit of those in need; and
WHEREAS, the impressions made by the work of the MadAveGroup agencies - BusinessVoice, WebArt, SensoryMax, MadAveCollective, MadAve Marketing Management, and design2influence - affect the senses of tens of millions of people every day.
NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Council of the City of Toledo that we recognize MadAveGroup.
Humor On Hold is a specialty of BusinessVoice, our Caller Experience Marketing agency. And, once again, their humorous approach to communicating with callers on hold has earned acclaim from an international awards show.
The BusinessVoice team won two trophies from the 2019 Communicator Awards. The On Hold Marketing we created for International Translating Company called “Take a Bath” earned a Gold Award, while the production for Lakeland Auto & Marine called “Just West of France” won a Silver Award. Chief Creative Officer Scott Greggory wrote and served as the voice talent for both productions.
The Communicator Awards has recognized big ideas in marketing and communications for 25 years. More than 6,000 companies and agencies enter annually, making it one of the world’s largest creative competitions.
You can listen to the winning work in the videos below.
If you think you can’t draw inspiration from younger people, I urge you to reconsider that notion.
I spent a recent Saturday morning with several graphic design students from Bowling Green State University. The occasion was the Graphic Design Department’s Portfolio Review, a chance for juniors and seniors to network with advertising professionals and get feedback on their work.
I met several talented designers, but two stood out. One showcased work that was born of her personal passion - the protection of coral reefs around the world; the other created from his personal pain - the loss of his parents earlier in the year.
Both projects were thoughtful and beautifully executed, but it was the inspiration and the story behind each one that allowed the messages to resonate. Each designer followed his or her heart and worked sincerely with the goal of helping others. I was truly moved by the obvious care they had invested.
What about you?
Are you doing work that matters to you? Are you leading your team, your department or your entire company to change the world - or your small corner of it - for the better?
If your workplace isn’t fertile ground for that sort of thought, how can you invest your personal time in a way that feeds your need to serve others?
It’s easy to slip into auto-pilot. It’s easy to lose sight of the professional vision you had long ago. But it’s just as easy to re-commit to making a difference with your life and your work.
So, what matters to you?
In the late 1980s, the marketing and advertising environment was a little simpler; a little quieter. There was no consumer Internet. No social media. No commercial-skipping DVRs. And when the Toledo-based agency MadAveGroup first opened in 1989, it wasn't even called MadAveGroup.
“We started out as PowerHouse Productions,” recalled founder and CEO Jerry Brown (pictured). “And we developed a new service called On Hold Messaging.”
That's the music and customized messages you hear when you're placed on hold with a company. PowerHouse was an early pioneer in that industry. And it was the creative thinking they applied to every aspect of their business that allowed the small agency to grow. Soon, they started providing clients with other marketing services, like online audio, telephone skills training, and in-store audio marketing.
But as digital technology expanded, the marketing and advertising world changed, client expectations evolved, and the pace picked up.
PowerHouse Productions was facing its own challenges, too: more competition, the need for more space, the financial pains that come with growth, and always - the hit or miss nature of developing new services.
“There were many times when I woke up in the middle of the night wondering how I was going to make payroll, or how we'd solve some other problem. It was stressful,” said Brown. “But I always believed in the idea: the commitment to serving clients, our commitment to asking the hard questions that help us uncover great solutions. And I believed in our people.”
More diverse client needs turned into new skill sets, which turned into sister agencies. In 2004, WebArt was formed to deliver digital marketing services.
SensoryMax followed in 2012 to help clients build lasting impressions through branded video and aroma marketing.
In 2013, the MadAveCollective began as an idea to help aspiring freelance creatives. By 2016, it had become its own agency that provides marketing services for non-profit organizations.
MadAve Marketing Management followed a year later, born out of the opportunity to serve under-performing marketing departments.
Then, in 2015, d2i - design2influence - was born, solidifying the commitment to branding, advertising and design.
By 2012, there was a need to bring the individual agencies under one name, yet still allow them to shine as independent units with unique strengths. The name MadAveGroup was chosen to reflect the location of the agency’s four-story building on Madison Avenue in the UpTown district of Toledo, Ohio.
Only the Beginning
MadAveGroup represents the best of old and new; experience and innovation. The group’s creative leaders have roots in more traditional forms of media and production, such as print, radio and TV, while the rest of the team is more than comfortable working with the latest technology. It’s that balance that allows MadAveGroup to share simplified communication and brand stories through the newest, most exciting channels. And over the decades, they've earned hundreds of awards for creative excellence for their work.
The part-time project that began with three people in Jerry Brown's horse barn has grown into a full-service marketing and advertising agency that serves clients throughout the United States and more than 40 other countries, has developed partnerships all over the world, and employs 42 talented, marketing-focused staff members, each with specialized skills.
“It’s been an amazing 30 years!” said Brown. And the passion for what we do is still here! I truly feel like we’re just getting started.”
In early April, my family and I spent a week in Charleston, South Carolina.
We love the city. And we’re not alone. Charleston welcomes about 7 million visitors each year. Tourism supports nearly 50,000 jobs and is worth about $7.5 billion annually to the “lowcountry” town. Travelers have even voted it America’s number one city for many consecutive years.
And what’s at least one reason for that?
Founded in 1670, Charleston is still filled with a stunning array of historical homes, churches and other magnificent buildings, including The Old Exchange, where President George Washington was once honored with a lavish ball.
That history is palpable throughout the city. And even if you aren’t aware of any of the specific historical details, the architecture alone serves as a constant reminder of how special and significant the town is.
In other words, Charleston is proof that people are drawn to a good story.
Your company may not be able to boast that America’s first president danced in your conference room, or that the initial shots of the Civil War were fired from your lobby, but it’s likely that you have a compelling story of your own to tell. Maybe it’s developed as your business has grown, or maybe it’s been part of you all along.
Your story could be about what motivates you to do what you do.
It could center around the care and attention to detail you invest while making your product.
Maybe your story is about the people you choose to hire, your unusual culture, or how you direct profits to serve the less fortunate.
Or, like Charleston’s, your story might be rooted in your unique heritage.
If you’re not already telling that story, think about what it could be and all the channels you can use to share it with your audience.
MadAveGroup’s branding, advertising and design agency, d2i, was acknowledged at the 2019 American Advertising Federation (Toledo) Addy Awards with a Bronze Addy.
The other day I heard a lightning-quick disclaimer at the end of a radio spot. The voiceover was so fast and mixed at such a low volume that I couldn’t begin to understand it.
And that’s the point.
That advertiser didn’t want me - or anyone else - to hear those details.
My immediate response to that tactic is “what are they trying to hide?” And, just as quickly, any trust I may have had in the advertiser evaporates.
Even if you don’t use radio or TV to advertise, are you purposely hiding valuable or even necessary information from consumers in other channels?
Maybe it’s that fine print on a sales form. Or contact information that’s buried deep within your website. Or details about the restrictions on a warranty.
Ask yourself if discovering that information after the sale would anger your customers, or cause them to lose faith in you, or lessen their willingness to buy from you again.
Then ask, “As a consumer, would I want easy access to that information?”
If your buyers knew about that hidden information, might it jeopardize sales? Maybe. But are you willing to exchange a quick sale for disappointed customers who’ve lost trust in your brand?