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Community Choice Credit Union Wins Again at the 2017 CUNA Marketing Awards image

Community Choice Marketing Team SMZ and our Community Choice Credit Union client were awarded once again at this year’s Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing and Business Development Council’s annual meeting in San Antonio, TX March 29-April 1. Community Choice won a Category Best for their Let’s Find Your Fit campaign radio, which was a natural progression from the award-winning We Found Your Shirt campaign. With over 1,100 collective advertising category entries this year, it’s great to be recognized for the work and effort on this brand. SMZ has worked with Community Choice for four years, continuously helping to build and evolve the brand beyond just another credit union. We couldn’t ask for a better client partner and can’t wait ...

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Long Live Sushi. image

I enjoy sushi. Part of the experience is the dip into soy sauce. Recently I read an article about Kikkoman Soy Sauce that fused that flavoring with my interest in generational family businesses. Kikkoman’s origins trace back to the 17th century. The product moved from a local brand to a national brand (in Japan) in 1917 and to overseas production in 1973. In the modern business world, longevity is increasingly rare. Companies are dying younger, but are also more prone to collapse at any given time. According to a Boston Consulting Group report, “one-tenth of all public companies fail each year, a fourfold increase since 1965.” There are, however, exceptions to these statistics: world-wide, there are 967 businesses founded prior ...

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It’s in the mail … box image

A May 2016 article in Entrepreneur identified that large and small businesses are recommitting to direct mail as they discover that the pendulum may have swung too far in the digital-only direction. Shaun Buck The Newsletter Pro points out an example: Costco sends 8.6 million magazines/catalogs per month — the third largest monthly publication in the world. The average member who receives Costco Connection has a household income of $156,000 annually, and 56 percent of members who receive the monthly magazine buy something based off of what they read in it. Costco considered discontinuing the print version of the magazine, but found that their members preferred it to the digital edition. Ginnie M. Roeglin, Senior VP of Costco’s e-commerce and publishing, ...

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Why does it matter which pen? image

My top desk drawer is full of the usual: paper clips, change, post-it notes, keys to who knows what, a bag of jump drives filled with who knows what, and pens. Pens of all shapes, sizes, and colors. What is it that makes some mornings scream for jotting things with a Sharpie while other moments call for a precise point? Then it hit me the other morning at the dentist: tools. The hygienist kept pulling different implements off the tray to scrape my teeth. From my up-close, open-mouthed POV some were fine point and some thicker. Some were shiny metal and others more matte. All worked to make something rough much more smooth. When I got back to my office ...

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Experience Matters. image

Late last year I tried a couple of Yoga Basics classes. I certainly see the appeal and have much to learn. In other words, I suck but I’m not giving up. At one class a much older gentleman was doing yoga. He was more fluid than me, had a definite spring in his step, and I gather an active mind. After the class (because during class you are encouraged to stay in the moment) I began thinking about the parallels to how older companies stay young. They try things. They work on being flexible. They know who they are. Sometimes they hang out with the cool kids. Other times with seasoned veterans. They repeat an activity over a long period ...

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Ways to make conversations with anyone easier image

Some of us are natural conversationalists. For others, not so much. But there are times when we meet someone we know can be a valuable business asset or customer. Here are a few good conversation starters … Do you know … Mutual acquaintances help people think of you as familiar and part of their work or social circle. A shared experience. Are you from the same town? Go to the same school? Have a common hobby? This is always a good way to get someone talking. Compliment them. “Great shirt.” “I love that handbag.” Appreciate their taste. But remember, comments on physical appearances are off limits. And never overdo it. Note something pleasant. “This is a great venue.” Starting a ...

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Going Paperless image

eStatements. eBills. ePolicies. eNotifications. I’m working diligently on being more paperless.  Completely paperless is an unreasonable goal. One blog had a nice compromise phrase: paper-lite. Thought I’d outline what I’m doing and see if I can get some additional suggestions. Taking my notes on paper and then scanning. Slowly taking paper files and using the Scannable app to store that information in a now searchable manner via Evernote. Accessing all client-specific and agency operational documents from folders in Dropbox. Switching all financial paper billing statements to e-statement format. Note: I won’t opt-out of junk mail and catalogs as it’s important for me to see what brands are doing in that channel. Just before digitally drafting this blog I completed handwritten ...

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Welcome Victoria! image

We are so happy to have Victoria Arroyo working with us as our winter intern. Victoria is currently a senior at Oakland University earning her degree in communications and a minor in advertising. Her previous work experience has primarily been with children and she enjoys the change of pace working with adults. Her favorite hobby is photography and she loves learning new digital and dark room techniques. Victoria also enjoys critiquing top chefs on the Food Network while sipping vanilla lattes.

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Think image

It seems obvious that before you develop a marketing communications program or message, you take time to think through your options. But too often, deadlines and compressed schedules dictate what’s possible. These days, the cadence of life is driven by technology. It accelerates everything, placing urgency on business and marketing decisions. The variety of ways we engage and communicate with our target audiences has exploded, which only serves to accelerate things even more. Many marketing decisions are now programmatic based with real-time bidding for impression opportunities made in the two-tenths of a second it takes a web page to load.  But developing the ideas, strategies and key messages behind these efforts still requires the attribute of thinking to make rapid-fire ...

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10 ways to be a mentally strong marketing pro image

I’ve read about Navy SEALS and the challenges — physical and mental — they must endure to make the cut. The mental portion intrigues me. After all, our business is not for the faint of heart. So I then read a great article about mental strength. The author says to increase yours, you need to change your outlook and be willing to do things no one else wants to do. And do them regularly.          Such as … Fight when you already feel defeated. Quitting when the going gets tough gets easier every time. Force yourself to face the challenge and it will become easier. Delay gratification. Patience and learning you have to put in the time ...

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