The MadAveGroup Blog
Scott Greggory, Chief Creative Officer
A few months ago, I read a blog post targeted at people who work in radio. The writer focused on how the listening audience's options had evolved in recent years and that people no longer rely on radio as much as they once did.
So, he urged, it was time for the medium to adapt.
As a former radio guy myself, I know it used to be quite common for DJs to ignore incoming phone calls from listeners. They'd let the request line ring because there were too many other things to do while on the air or because, frankly, they didn't want to make the effort to talk with callers.
But now that radio has lost audience share to podcasts, audio books and streaming music services, each listener has become even more important.
The writer of the blog post suggested that instead of ignoring the phone or quickly dismissing callers in order to move onto another task, today's DJs should embrace the opportunity to communicate with the people who keep them in business. They should take the time to ask questions of their listeners, find out which types of music they prefer, learn how they like to spend their free time.
In other words, the DJs should connect with their audience on a personal level and strengthen those "customer" relationships in a way that music apps and satellite feeds can't.
Your business - and how consumers rely on you - may be changing, too.
Due to COVID-19, customers might be locked out of your store right now. Maybe they won't be able to enjoy a meal in your restaurant for the foreseeable future. As a result, they might look for temporary alternatives. Or, they might realize they can do without you.
Yes, the marketplace has shifted dramatically in only a matter of weeks, but with that shift comes an opportunity for positive change.
How will you adapt?
Will you dare brush off a customer (or even a potential customer) ever again or tolerate employees who do? Or will you re-asses your commitment to customer service and provide the consistent training every staff needs?
Or, better yet, can you choose to think of this fracture in your company's timeline as a beginning? Could you seize this opportunity to build a new foundation, one that would support the type of business you've always wanted to run? A company that exists to provide the ideal customer experience? A group of people that inspires loyalty from its employees and buyers? An organization that's the envy of others in your industry?
This is a chance to start over - to whatever extent you want.
What will you do with that chance?
On Sunday, March 22nd, Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton issued a “Stay at Home” directive for all Ohio residents, ordering that non-essential businesses cease all but minimum basic operations.
With help from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Director Acton identified those essential businesses, as well as supporting companies.
Since MadAveGroup provides essential communication and media services, we are considered an Essential Business and will continue to operate at full capacity.
We also support essential businesses, such as community-based government operations and those in the healthcare, finance, food, production industries, and other essential fields.
While most of our agency’s employees will be working from home, our offices will remain open to conduct services that cannot be fulfilled remotely. Feel free to contact us as you always have.
Of course, health and safety is paramount. So, we will continue to take every precaution to keep our team members and their families safe while we work to fulfill your marketing and communication needs.
We’ve been creating video, audio and digital content for many of our clients so they can share their response to the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve also prepared several blog posts with tips on how you can adjust your marketing strategies and content for this unique environment. Here are the links:
• Prepare Now for the Post-Pandemic World
• Think Strategically About Your Response to Coronavirus
• How to Update Your Digital Marketing in Response to COVID-19
• Can You See an Opportunity?
We’re here to provide the strategic guidance and tactical execution that will help you through this crisis and then emerge even stronger when the outbreak subsides.
For 30 years, we’ve been working to help our clients grow. We have no plans to stop now.
Jerry Brown, Founder & CEO
Companies always need problem solvers - people who can react effectively to tough, unusual or unexpected situations; people who can adapt to changing conditions.
So, if you're a college student who's graduating soon or you're already working but considering a job change, think strategically now about your response to the coronavirus. Then, you'll be prepared for questions like these:
- How did you make the most of your last few months at school, despite the interruption to classes? What did you do to continue your education or build your professional network?
- Did you come up with any ideas to help your current company respond to specific challenges during the outbreak?
- How did you invest your time while quarantined? Which skills did you develop? Did you take on any pro bono or passion projects?
- Can you provide examples of how you demonstrated leadership? Ingenuity? Courage?
- What did you do to help others in your workplace? Your neighborhood?
In other words, how did you make the best of this tough, unusual, unexpected situation?
Your answer to that question could go a long way toward proving your unique value as a problem solver.
I ordered some take-out from Waffle House yesterday because 1) I love Waffle House and 2) Did I mention I love Waffle House?
When I walked in, I noticed that the place was spotless!
I asked the waitress how many people had been in that day. “You’re the third,” she said.
The restaurant was immaculate because the waitress had time she wouldn’t normally have to dedicate to deep cleaning.
In a previous post, we encouraged you to look for opportunities to reach out to those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Now may also be the perfect time to look inward to strengthen your company.
If you spent your pre-pandemic workdays serving customers, it’s understandable that you and your staff may have neglected your brand’s needs over the years. But the government-mandated closings and social distancing that have temporarily driven away customers also allow you the chance to re-train your staff, bring in experts to sharpen their skills, and elevate your commitment to an exceptional buying experience by defining your expectations of employees.
A few more suggestions...
Consider your brand. How might you need to tweak or refresh it for a post-corona world? Use this time to create a proper marketing calendar, re-design or punch up your website, write and schedule blog content with a strong perspective, or think of how you might use video more effectively. (We can help you with all of those.)
Conduct an audit of your operations, re-evaluate your vendors and supply chain, or consider the efficiency of your building’s floorplan.
Increase your recruiting efforts. There could be a lot of people looking for work or a new direction in the wake of COVID-19. Put in the effort now to get your company firing on all cylinders and it’ll be a more attractive option for top talent.
Prepare to tell your story. Once this is all over, use your marketing content to let customers, prospects and potential hires know how this moment in time made you better, leaner, smarter and ready to take on future challenges.
Investing in your own brand right now - while you have the time - could pay huge dividends once the coronavirus blows over. Embrace this temporary slowdown as a chance to get your own (Waffle) house in order.
Yes, COVID-19 is affecting the walk-in traffic of many brick-and-mortar businesses, but you can adjust your online strategy and content to limit the pandemic's effect on your digital marketing.
Check out these tips from MadAveGroup’s Digital Marketing Strategist Nathan Steinmetz.
• If necessary, update your business hours on all your social pages.
• If you’ve canceled or postponed events or appointments, let your followers know how and when you’ll be re-scheduling.
• Double-check your scheduled posts and paid social ads to make sure their tone is still appropriate. A fun post promoting St. Patrick’s Day, for instance, may not be the best idea right now.
• Share the steps your business is taking to keep your staff and customers safe. Highlight any actions that are different from those listed by other companies.
• Consider using social media to urge your followers to support your community. Provide links to fundraisers, promote local businesses that are still open, etc.
• Email your clients, prospects, staff and subscribers with information on your updated hours, closings, cancellations and how to re-schedule appointments.
• Are some or all your employees working from home? Alert your customers in advance if there’s a chance of communication delays or a reduction in the quality of the service you provide. Re-establish your buyers’ expectations before problems arise related to your staff's telecommuting.
• Add a page that includes details on any changes to your business: new hours, closings and cancellations, the extra precautions you’re taking, etc. Then, add a banner to your most popular pages to direct visitors to that new coronavirus information.
• Create blog posts on how your business is making a difference during the crisis. Showcase how you’re helping others and the unique solutions you’ve developed to serve your customers.
• If necessary, update your Google My Business pages and any other local listings pages to show your adjusted hours.
• Use Google My Business messaging to share information related to closings, adjusted hours, re-scheduling appointments, etc.
All Digital Advertising
• Re-evaluate any ads you’re running. Make sure the copy and tone are appropriate, considering the current climate.
• Depending on your company’s financial situation, consider increasing, decreasing or pausing current ad campaigns until the crisis is over.
• Virtually everyone’s routine has been disrupted and will continue to be for many weeks. Consider how this new reality will affect people’s online behaviors and motivations. For example:
- Many people will be home without as much to do, so they may be spending more time online.
- Those same people may be using mobile devices from home, rather than the desktop computer they use at work. Is your site mobile-friendly?
- Certain people trying to be even more productive while working at home may tackle projects they haven’t previously had time for. Do they need your products, software, online lessons or other services?
- Similarly, businesses experiencing a slow-down may be able to dedicate time to projects they’ve put off in the past and may now need your expertise.
“There is always a little bit of heaven in a disaster area.”
If you’re a fan of the 1970 concert film Woodstock, you may remember that quote from Wavy Gravy, one of the event’s stage announcers.
I was reminded of the line after reading about a Michigan restaurant that’s offering free boxed lunches to kids whose schools have closed due to coronavirus.
And I’m absolutely certain I’ll see many more stories like it in the weeks to come.
Because that’s what Americans do.
As politically divided as we are, as enraged as we become when we’re cut off in traffic, as petty as we can be in response to an opposing point of view on Facebook, we step up when our neighbors need help.
That’s how we respond.
But this thing that’s going around now - this may be different.
It’s not an earthquake or hurricane that affects a small portion of the country. It’s not a workplace shooting that devastates “only” one town. This thing may touch all of us. Or get close, anyway.
And given that “social distancing” is the best protection we’ve got right now, it’s understandable that our first reaction might be to run from each other.
But, as is so often the case, this moment in time is an opportunity to come together. The only question is "how?"
It may start with identifying a need in your own neighborhood or town, just as the folks at that Michigan restaurant did.
So, stay open to the ways you can make a difference; how you and your company can help, not for the profit of it, but because you’re a member of the human community.
Coronavirus may fizzle out as quickly as it came, or it may prove to be a serious concern for decades. We don’t know right now. But we do know we need people with ideas and companies with resources to provide that little bit of heaven during this disaster.
The bread truck I followed for a few miles today was filthy.
I get it - just because the picture of the bread on the truck was covered in road grime doesn’t mean the bread inside the truck was. But the dirty truck did nothing to inspire confidence in the product.
And it certainly didn’t present the bread in the best possible light. It’s hard for bread to look delicious, after all, when it’s veiled in a thick layer of crud.
Yes, it’s an effort to wash a fleet of trucks, but when they also serve as giant mobile billboards for your product, the trucks should be clean. That's because they’re more than just delivery vehicles - they’re representations of your brand. They say something about you and your attention to detail and how much you care.
The same goes for the people who wear your company’s uniform or talk with customers via your company’s phones.
Look for the opportunities. Invest in the training. Improve the interaction. Create the better experience.
Wash the truck.
Exercising creativity in one form often inspires creativity in other forms. That's one of the reasons for the MadAveGroup Art Show.
On Valentine's Day 2020, we opened our first in-house display of employee artwork, complete with wine and cheese. Many of the pieces are shown below.
"While none of us make our living as fine artists, many of our team members work as visual communicators," said Chief Creative Officer Scott Greggory. "Others have an art background or have just wanted to experiment with painting. This is a nice opportunity to stretch a little bit and practice a different skill set."
The ongoing Art Show is open to all members of the MadAveGroup team. We hope to show new work every three to four months.
MadAveGroup was chosen as a Top Workplace based on responses to an employee survey conducted by Energage. They study successful organizations and apply the findings to their Intentional Culture Platform to help other companies improve.
And culture is a subject that MadAveGroup founder and CEO Jerry Brown takes seriously. “Most of us spend more time with our workmates than we do with our families,” he said. “So, it’s imperative that we do all we can to make sure that time is enjoyable and rewarding.”
One of the aspects of MadAveGroup’s culture that many staff members enjoy is the openness and authenticity. “It’s honest and direct, and yes, it’s politically incorrect sometimes,” said Brown, “but everyone is free to express themselves without having to worry about the consequences of offending someone.”
We also earned one of seven special awards. We were singled out for "Superior Appreciation" since so many of our team members wrote that they feel appreciated at work.
According to the Energage website, “Creating a top workplace is about more than offering great benefits and vacation time. It’s about organizational health. Employees want to align with the company’s vision, be challenged by a high-performance culture, and feel that they are valued and that their voices are heard.”
“At MadAveGroup, our employees come first, their family comes second, and work comes third,” said Brown. “We also work to ensure that people are in the right roles by matching both their technical skill sets and personality propensities with their job.”
Brown also stressed that “we train heavily, provide the tools and direction, and then give our people the freedom to do the work as they see fit.”
And while we work hard, we play hard, too. MadAveGroup employees can take advantage of the annual President’s Club vacation, our in-house Social Club, and many events, including the MadAveGroup Olympics, quarterly fitness days, the Downtown Toledo scavenger hunt, the Chili Cook-Off and others.
Roiann Gunnells died Monday, January 20th.
She was our Fulfillment Coordinator from the fall of 2013 until December 2019 when cancer started to get the best of her.
“When I would make client calls, Roiann would sit next to me and ask if I needed anything,” remembered Courtney Buczkowski, our Service and Production Coordinator. “Or she would tell me to give her some of my work to do because she wanted to help me out. She didn’t ask if she could help; she told me she was going to.”
That's how Roiann was. “She always put aside what she was doing if anyone needed a hand,” said BusinessVoice Director Steve Evert. “Roiann was always a team player and willing to help anywhere she could, even while she was sick,” said Accounting Associate Cheri Stewart.
Roiann struggled with her illness for several years, yet her sass and resilience still came shining through. “Once I told Roiann I was having a bad day,” recalled Cheri. “She looked at me and, in her typical Roiann tone, said 'just because you're having a bad day doesn’t mean it's okay to be a jerk to people.' It was the best advice I ever got, and now I smile more every day because of her.”
Nikki Brown is the Director of the MadAveCollective. She knew Roiann long before they worked together at MadAveGroup. “After 20 years of friendship, I have more than a few stories about her. I'll miss hearing her answer the front desk phone and helping callers who just couldn’t get her name right. I’d hear her say, 'It's Roiann. ROI-ANN. No, ROOOIIIII-ANNN.' That always cracked me up.”
“Roiann would bring me lunch sometimes,” said Courtney. “She'd bring in meatloaf when she made it at home because she knew it's my favorite. And hers was the best. I also made her write down her sloppy Joe recipe. I still keep it in my wallet.”
“She always wanted the work done right,” said Fulfillment Manager Susan Harris, yet “I'll miss her laugh and her sarcastic sense of humor the most.”
“She was outgoing; always the life of the party,” according to Cheri.
Courtney said, “Roiann would sing along with the songs that came on the overhead [music system], especially 'Diamonds' by Rhianna. She would sing it obnoxiously, and then we'd just 'shine bright like a diamond' for the rest of the day. Oh, and whenever 'You Raise Me Up' by Josh Groban played she would intercom Jess down the hall and let her know it was on. She knew Jess doesn't like the song, so Roiann called her just to kind of torture her about it. She thought it was funny.” (It was.)
“I'll miss our daily lunch conversations, her hugs after work, and the light that beamed from her beautiful soul,” said Cheri. “I loved her so much.”
“I could go on and on about her, but I think my eyes may float out of my head,” said Courtney. “I miss her already.”
Roiann was just 48 years old.