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13 Reflections from 13 Years at DW Green Company

by Ryan Joy — December 22, 2011

Last Wednesday was my 13th anniversary with DW Green Company—I started working here as a Graphic Designer on December 14, 1998.  Since everyone is already reflecting on the passing of time as we near the year’s end, here are some lessons from my time here.1. Companies—and people—can change. Real change doesn’t happen often; in fact we sometimes hit a brick wall trying to help a client reinvent. I’ve seen it though, in our company and others: intentional transformation. And it really is something to behold.2. Brand is the most muddled word in all of business. It would be nice to coin a new word to describe that sub-rational stew of meanings and associations, but at this point I’m thinking it will never happen.3. Great organizational cultures keep great employees. (They also drive some employees to leave, and that’s not a bad thing either.)4. Culture is about the little things, and it comes from paying attention to what is true but unsaid in the organization.5. Companies that stay focused and disciplined in booming times will maintain their momentum through lean times.6. Business relationships are the foundation of sustainability. Advertising is a fickle industry that sees a lot of change for the sake of change. In the time I’ve been with this company, some clients have come and gone, but the majority have stayed for years, and it has been the relationships—company to company and person to person—that have made the biggest impact in our sustainability ove...
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Cyber Monday

by Ryan Joy — November 25, 2011

Last year we helped the outstanding team at Trig’s launch their Facebook page and plan their social media promotions. One of their most successful social media promos was offering online-only coupons (Facebook and Trig’s.com) on “Cyber Monday“.Here’s what the social media manager at Trig’s had to say about the promotion last year (shared with permission):
“Hey, I just wanted to send a quick note to say thanks for the ideas about Cyber Monday. It was SUPER fun and got everyone really engaged in our social media activities. We received phone calls, emails, Facebook inquiries, and more about it. We ran into a few challenges along the way, but overall it was pretty great! The download numbers for most of the coupons managed to do in two hours what many of our coupons do all week.”
At the time they ran the promotion last year, the Trig’s Facebook page was still very new. As the Trig’s current Facebook status says, this year they will be offering “Twenty-one ridiculously hot coupons,” available Monday only, and the Trig’s team has been building for a successful promotion all year.
“It’s amazing what having a year of experience in social media has done for our troops on the ground in terms of understanding and being committed to social media! Last year, we had a lot of success with a sma...
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Focus Is About Saying "No"

by Ryan Joy — November 12, 2011

In 1997, before Steve Jobs returned as Apple’s CEO, he summarized what it would take to turn Apple around:
“You think, well, focusing is saying ‘yes’.
No. Focusing is about saying ‘No.’
You’ve got to say ‘No, no, no.’ And when you say ‘no’ you piss people off…
But the result of that focus is going to be some really great products, where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.”
A recent example of this focus is Apple’s refusal to support Flash on iPhones and iPads, in spite of significant market pressure. Earlier this week Adobe ended development for mobile Flash. I don’t know if this is a victory for Apple, but it illustrates how focusing resources and saying “no” to non-essentials has allowed Apple to consistently stay ahead of competitors.Lack of focus is, in my opinion, the problem with most marketing strategies. It’s common for companies we meet to want to do everything. Our job then, is to help develop a holistic plan to accomplish their goals, and to help maintain that focus as we execute the plan together.New initiatives appear suddenly and spread like weeds around your core activities. Someone suggests an idea in a meeting, another person says “good idea,” and voila, the company now has one more project to squeeze ...
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Stopping to Reflect: The Power of a Strategy Debrief

by Ryan Joy — November 12, 2010

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.” We are all so busy doing, that sometimes we forget to stop and think about what we’ve done and what we want to do. Stopping to really think about your marketing strategy—learning from the past to plan for the future—is a powerful thing, even if you do it just once a quarter.One of our clients has made a tradition of gathering all the key players in their team for a day at the end of the holiday season to debrief. While the season’s successes and blunders are still fresh in their minds, it’s easy to find the spark that leads to new ideas and insights for the year ahead.Another one of our clients recently visited our office to develop next year’s marketing plan. As we reviewed last year’s disappointing numbers for their email coupon redemptions, we realized (“a-ha!”) that a simple layout change could make all the difference. The weekly ad had been taking up most of the space, with the coupon practically hidden in the bottom right-hand corner. We all may have missed this critical adjustment if we had jumped into planning next year before debriefing this one.Debriefing is such a valuable practice, and all it requires is that we pause our busy schedules to:
  • EVALUATE: What worked and what didn’t?
  • LEARN: What insights can you take from what you see?
  • THINK: How
    ...
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Connecting with Younger Customers Part One: 5 Keys to Marketing to Millenials

by Ryan Joy — September 24, 2010

As your loyal, core customers age, it is becoming more critical to really understand younger customers. The children of the Baby Boomers, often referred to as “Gen Y” or “Millenials”, are being courted by national chains. And as the first group of Millenials turns 30 this year, it’s past time to pay attention to these 80 million potential customers.1. Vary your offers and your offerings.
Millenials are a much more ethnically diverse group (about 40% of Gen Y is non-white versus 30% for those over 30 years old). They grew up in a world where sushi and Pad Thai are nearly as common as pizza and pot roast, and they expect variety in your food offerings. Next time you plan to feature chuck roast again on your front page, consider whether there is another story that might get the attention of an audience looking for more.
2. Get to the point and make it fun and interesting.
Millenials have learned to deal with the overload of information constantly coming at them by ignoring anything that isn’t immediately relevant to them. Don’t expect most of them to wade through eight cluttered pages of deals in a circular to find what they want. Focus on one great deal that matters to them.
3. Start investing in new media.
The Web is a basic part of the context of their lives, and these “digital natives” can barely remember a time without mobile texting or connecting socially online. Consider moving some of your circular
...
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Lessons from Trader Joe’s

by Ryan Joy — August 26, 2010

This month’s Fortune Magazine features a wonderful article on Trader Joe’s, and it made me think about the kinds of competitive advantages that are often overlooked.1. Distinctive private brands are a competitive advantage. From “Two Buck Chuck” to “Trader Jose’s” to “Reduced Guilt Potato Chips,” Trader Joe’s does not carry generics; they skillfully craft private brands.2. Culture is a competitive advantage. Employee culture is a source of innovation and authentic customer connection. It’s also a powerful advantage in employee recruiting and retention. Trader Joe’s pays higher than average, encourages creativity and fun, and has built a reputation as being a great place to work.3. Stories are a competitive advantage. Who knew that procurement was such a resource for storytelling? The tales of the Trader Joe’s buyers trotting across the globe to find the most interesting products have become a powerful part of the store’s identity. What are your most potent stories?4. Customer experience details are a competitive advantage. Like any other relationship, your relationship with customers is won or lost in the little things. Trader Joe’s has developed specific, standardized customer service practices, like commenting on a product in your basket as you check out, carrying stickers for kids, and ringing a bell for front end service help. These are practices that flow from an empowered employee culture, and a management team that recognizes a good idea worth spreading.5. Pe...
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Lessons from Trader Joe’s

by Ryan Joy — August 26, 2010

This month’s Fortune Magazine features a wonderful article on Trader Joe’s, and it made me think about the kinds of competitive advantages that are often overlooked.1. Distinctive private brands are a competitive advantage. From “Two Buck Chuck” to “Trader Jose’s” to “Reduced Guilt Potato Chips,” Trader Joe’s does not carry generics; they skillfully craft private brands.2. Culture is a competitive advantage. Employee culture is a source of innovation and authentic customer connection. It’s also a powerful advantage in employee recruiting and retention. Trader Joe’s pays higher than average, encourages creativity and fun, and has built a reputation as being a great place to work.3. Stories are a competitive advantage. Who knew that procurement was such a resource for storytelling? The tales of the Trader Joe’s buyers trotting across the globe to find the most interesting products have become a powerful part of the store’s identity. What are your most potent stories?4. Customer experience details are a competitive advantage. Like any other relationship, your relationship with customers is won or lost in the little things. Trader Joe’s has developed specific, standardized customer service practices, like commenting on a product in your basket as you check out, carrying stickers for kids, and ringing a bell for front end service help. These are practices that flow from an empowered employee culture, and a management team that recognizes a good idea ...
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Creating Customer Moments

by Ryan Joy — August 5, 2010

So much has been said about experience in retail, that sometimes it seems like a tired, commonplace idea. And yet, when we look around the marketplace, virtually no one is actually implementing a true experiential approach. Experience is the art of creating moments. It is about empathy, thinking creatively from the customer’s point of view to design a better shopping trip, a special eating experience, and an intimate relationship with your customer. So what does an experience-focused store look like?Instead of just working on customer complaints, experience-focused stores work to remove sacrifices customers have come to accept, like standing in line at the check out or walking down long, lifeless aisles in the center store.Instead of regarding events merely as selling opportunities, an experience-focused store stages celebrations of food and community that are anticipated, enjoyed, and remembered.Instead of being satisfied with orderly planograms and stocked shelves, an experience-focused store merchandises to immerse the senses in memorable ways.Instead of narrowly defining product categories, like “general merchandise” and “canned goods”, an experience-focused store thinks of product categories from a customer’s experience, like their “morning grooming rituals” or “quick lunch in the breakroom at work”.Instead of viewing customers solely as rational decision makers, an experience-focused store understands the customer as social, emotional, irrational and rational ...
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Marketing To Your Most Important Customer

by Ryan Joy — July 17, 2010

Question: What is the most important market segment you should be targeting?Answer: Your employees. Good companies aim first to make raving fans within their own team. Employees should be excited to tell your stories, sell your products, and explain how you provide value to customers. If your employee culture is authentic and vibrant, your other customers will feel the magnetism of a special place. Here are five ways to market to your employees:

1. Orientation

Tap into the power of first impressions by creating an experience for new employees that tells them everything you want them to know and feel about your brand. At Whole Foods, the entire team votes to decide whether to accept the new team member—a process that tells employees a lot about the company’s values and culture. New employees at Apple stores are given an iPod to watch movies about the brand, including their famous “1984” commercial. How can your orientation process tell your unique story?

2. Employee-Only Tasting Events

As employees taste your unique products, explain how it was produced and what makes it special. Or give employees a punch card of signature products to try for free on their own time.

3. Names

Why does Trader Joe’s call their store directors “capt...
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Marketing To Your Most Important Customer

by Ryan Joy — July 1, 2010

Question: What is the most important market segment you should be targeting?Answer: Your employees. Good companies aim first to make raving fans within their own team. Employees should be excited to tell your stories, sell your products, and explain how you provide value to customers. If your employee culture is authentic and vibrant, your other customers will feel the magnetism of a special place. Here are five ways to market to your employees:

1. Orientation

Tap into the power of first impressions by creating an experience for new employees that tells them everything you want them to know and feel about your brand. At Whole Foods, the entire team votes to decide whether to accept the new team member—a process that tells employees a lot about the company’s values and culture. New employees at Apple stores are given an iPod to watch movies about the brand, including their famous “1984” commercial. How can your orientation process tell your unique story?

2. Employee-Only Tasting Events

As employees taste your unique products, explain how it was produced and what makes it special. Or give employees a punch card of signature products to try for free on their own time.

3. Names

Why does Trader Joe’s call their store directors “captains” and their employees ...
read more


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