At Triad, we believe that every individual, every organization has the potential to be much more than they are today. And we find inspiration supporting that belief in a series of “limitless” quotations that we have compiled. Join us here and on LinkedIn and Facebook for a new quote each week.
Over the past 10 – 20 years, anyone who has been involved in selling into B2B markets has been inundated with information on how one can (or should) sell using the latest technology. Emails, letters, texts, social media messaging, etc. have been promoted as the “sales tools of the future.”
This past Thursday and Friday, while attending our client’s (Portfolio Reinsurance) annual sales meeting, I was reminded how critical “old school” selling is and how the latest techniques can only supplement the proven “old school” way of acquiring a customer.
This sales meeting was primarily run by two experts in the area of automotive dealership F&I (finance and insurance) operations, Greg Hoffman and Graye Wolfe. Greg and Graye are both Managing Directors of Portfolio, and each is an outstanding businessperson, having been high performers throughout their careers. These two gentlemen have a strong track record of successfully closing very high-ticket transactions, and during the meetings, both Graye and Greg emphasized that their use of “old school” selling approaches have long been a key to their success. Some of their techniques are well worth noting, and remembering:
- If selling a large-ticket item, or an ongoing business relationship, the process is personal. Whenever possible, visit with the customer or prospect in person, and have a face-to-face discussion. Email and texts, letters, and even phone conversations are great communications tools, but they will never replace the connection, and the nuanced and clear communications, that can be realized by meeting with someone in person. And remember, most prospect’s Inboxes are loaded with emails. Similarly, many of your prospects are inundated with text messages.
- When possible, fully address the points of a transaction or business relationship that might be contentious. If these elements are going to be barriers to doing business, you are doing the prospect and yourself a disservice by not getting that information on the table as soon as possible. No one enjoys discussing what might be an uncomfortable subject, but the sooner it is addressed, the better for all involved.
- At some point in the sales cycle, one must determine whether the prospect is going to become a customer…ask for the order, or the commitment. I believe that most who sell for a living, at one time or the other, have hesitated to take the actions necessary to find out whether a prospect could be (or was going to be) a customer or not. This hesitancy is probably based on a core fear that the answer is actually going to be “no.”
Now, I am not naïve enough to think that one can rely strictly on selling to successfully move their products or services over the long term. Marketing has always played a key role in the whole “making a customer” process, at times even serving to predispose the prospect towards your sales message prior to a meeting. Today, a company has many new options for marketing success – digital advertising, social media (particularly LinkedIn®), email marketing, Search Engine Marketing (including Pay-Per-Click Google ads), e-marketing/retargeting advertising, e-newsletter and website advertising, emailing, texting, etc.
However, even in the area of B2B marketing, certain “old school” techniques can be very effective, when combined with some of the new marketing techniques.
- Print advertising, creatively developed and placed in carefully selected trade publications, can often help garner attention, build a brand, and elicit a prospect response.
- Because the volume of B2B direct mail has been reduced (mostly replaced by less-expensive email), a well-concepted, written, and designed direct mailer can stand out in a manner that gets noticed.
- Carefully crafted letters, professionally produced, can also get attention that an email cannot.
So, while anyone who is selling or marketing into the B2B space should be conversant in all of the new marketing and sales tools at their disposal, one should not forget the many proven “old school” techniques. Using these techniques in conjunction with modern marketing and sales tools, can add to the effectiveness and efficiency of your overall sales and marketing efforts.
On August 4th, Triad will celebrate its 25 years in business. This milestone has made me think of the many people whose efforts have contributed to the development and sustaining of this organization. Over the next three weeks, I will be highlighting 25 people who have played key roles in Triad’s history.
Limiting the number of people that we acknowledge to 25 has been particularly difficult, and I certainly want to thank all of the people with whom Triad has worked – employees, clients, and suppliers who are not specifically mentioned. Without your support, this agency would have never reached this very significant anniversary.
25 Contributors to Triad – A Gallery
Contributor #12 – Kenny Wood and Whitney Bouterie – K&B Industries
Creating a new identity for a well-respected company is always a daunting task. However, working with Kenny Wood, the president of the company, and Whitney Bouterie, the marketing director, the task was a very satisfying venture. Both Kenny and Whitney clearly communicated their thinking in a manner that allowed the Triad creative team to focus in on answers that both reflected the true nature of K&B and was motivational to the company’s various markets.
This branding assignment extended to a wide range of marketing tasks, including advertising development, literature creation, public relations efforts, and a wide range of digital activities. Through each and all of this work, we could always can count on the candor and cooperation of Whitney and Kenny.
Honest and forthcoming, and aware of the power of marketing for their company, Kenny and Whitney have been significant contributors to this agency.
Contributor #11 – Don Vogelsang – General Manager of LEWCO Drilling Equipment
The LEWCO product line begin with high horsepower mud pumps used in oil and gas drilling applications. At the time LEWCO was being formed, industry giant National Oilwell Varco (NOV) had over 80% market share in high-horsepower mud pumps. Don launched the LEWCO line of mud pumps based on 5 characteristics that made them superior:
- The LEWCO pump sported a fabricated and machined crankshaft that was inherently balanced. By comparison the NOV pumps used “wobbly,” failure-prone cast crankshafts. LEWCO pumps ran so smooth that one could balance a quarter on their decks while they were running at full horsepower.
- All LEWCO mud pumps employed more bearings than the competition, and the bearings used on these mud pumps were of the highest quality.
- LEWCO mud pumps featured pump-driven lubrication, which was superior to NOV’s dated gravity system.
- The LEWCO mud pumps also featured alloy steel gears and pinions for long life, a very big improvement over the mild steel gears and pinions found on the NOV mud pumps.
- All LEWCO mud pumps were pressure tested at full horsepower, a first in the industry.
Don allowed Triad the freedom to campaign the marketing effort for the mud pumps, with consistent focus on these 5 key points of difference.
After three years of aggressive sales and marketing efforts, LEWCO had garnered in excess of 60% market share in high horsepower mud pumps.
Don was a great client for whom to work – he was open in the level of input he provided, he was willing to take chances, he was aggressive in his approach to the market, and he listened (while not always agreeing).
All of Triad liked, and more importantly, respected Don Vogelsang.
Contributor #10 – Bob Brown, Owner of Berry-Brown Advertising and Mentor
Bob was one of those unique people who, while being very talented, never took himself too seriously. While he was quite capable of making a point when a change was needed in some area of the Business Group, he was able to make his point while allowing the person’s sense of dignity to remain intact. I can still remember how everyone at the Business Group would absolutely light up when Bob would visit.
I owe a great deal to Bob Brown, and I was lucky enough to have been able to tell him as much. Being somewhat self-effacing, Bob sort of brushed off my comment, but I believe that deep down he understood how I felt about him.
Contributor #9 – Ryan Bonner, Alcoa Fastening Systems (now Arconic Fastening Systems)
Ryan is an absolute fastener marketing maniac. He understands the technology of advanced engineered fasteners and the many factors and considerations that drive the specification and purchase of these specialized products.
Until recently, Ryan operated out of a company office in Indianapolis. We would normally meet in person in our offices once a month, although sometimes the meetings were held in Indy. Those meetings would usually include 20+ agenda items, and together we would plow through them in a focused and efficient manner. Ryan was one of the special clients who always liked a good idea. Several of those ideas were award winners that delivered outstanding results. I think Ryan and Triad both take pride in those efforts. However, there were times when we would present something that Ryan didn’t particularly like, and his usual response was, “Well, I don’t hate it.” Hearing that response always told us to go back to the drawing board.
Alcoa (and Arconic) Fastening Systems was a great client for Triad for many years, and Ryan had a great deal to do with that fact. So, he is, indeed, a key contributor to our 25 years.
Contributor #8 – Carlos Kenda, Client and Friend
If you want to know where the oil and gas industry is going from a drilling and production perspective, one conversation with Carlos would clear any questions you might have. From his days of building NOV’s operation in China to meeting the needs of today’s artificial lift industry with wireless monitoring equipment, Carlos is one of the oil and gas market’s true leaders.
Carlos is, indeed, a man of the world, with contacts throughout the Far East, the Middle East, and even in former Iron Curtain countries. His international connections are so broad, Julie Gardner (former creative director at Triad) termed Carlos, as an “international man of mystery.”
Today, Carlos’ company, Bright Automation, is setting new standards for reliability in wireless pumpjack monitoring equipment. He saw a market need based on cable issues associated with conventional measurement equipment and applying the latest in solar-powered wireless technology, provided a reliable, cost-effective solution.
More than an outstanding businessman, Carlos is a great friend and supporter of Triad. More than once he has introduced the agency to people who became clients. And on a personal note, one of my favorite things is dining with Carlos at Perry’s in Houston. Carlos does know how to enjoy the finer things in life.
Contributor #7 – Gary Bradbury and Bill Prikryl “The Old Men of Triad”
Both Bill and Gary were looking to provide 3 – 4 more productive years before they took retirement. I knew Gary from his days as a Senior Account Director at Berry-Brown Advertising, and Bill… well, he was my brother, so I knew him reasonably well.
Bill handled the PR, media buying, and database marketing effort for the agency, adding a level of detail and sophistication to these areas. Gary served a wide range of functions including account service, production management, and traffic. Both Bill and Gary were active members of the company’s management group.
These two were both hardworking and strong in their belief in the future of Triad. Gary has moved into a very good retirement, and Bill passed away several years ago. However, both of them will be remembered for their contribution to Triad.
Contributor #6 – Julie Gardner, Creative Director
In 2004, it became apparent to me that Triad needed to “up” its creative game. We had always been a very strong marketing agency, but I felt that to continue to grow we needed to bring our creative services in line with our marketing expertise. Julie Gardner was the key to meeting that objective.
Julie came to Triad from a B2C background, having most recently worked for Travelocity. I made it clear to her at the outset that she was walking into a very different creative world. As was her style, Julie jumped into the Triad creative effort with both feet. The quality of the agency’s creative product improved significantly, and before we knew it Triad was winning numerous awards for the work it produced.
Julie was much more than “just a creative person.” She understood the agency business and was particularly beneficial in the area of client relationships and new business. She also served on Triad’s management team for a number of years, adding a different perspective to the operation of the agency.
Contributor #5 – Waynette Ray, Account and Office Manager
Waynette joined Triad in the early 2000s, bringing with her a much more sophisticated approach to our accounting process. Through her 13+ years at Triad, Waynette played a number of roles within the company…in addition to her primary financial role. Waynette often assisted in production and traffic management, and even provided some back-up account management services. In addition, she served on the Triad management team for a number of years.
While a very serious businessperson, Waynette would surprise you with her sense of humor and willingness to move out of her own box.
After having worked together for more than 13 years, Waynette and I sometimes (rarely) had our differences, but I always knew that I could count on her best efforts, her integrity, and her loyalty to Triad.
Contributor #4 – Marty Mauer, Fibergrate Composite Structures
Triad had been working with Fibergrate Composite Products for a year when Marty Mauer came on board as Director of Marketing. After the company was sold to Cortech (a PE firm), the account really took off. I remember at one time, Susan Worthington, who was the AE on the account, had 27 active jobs on the roster. These jobs, most of which were multi-page literature projects, could not have been completed in a quick and efficient manner, if Marty had not driven the projects internally.
A newly minted MBA, Marty was a great combination of professionalism, competency, and self-effacing modesty. One could not ask for a better client.
Contributor #3 – Dan Eckermann, LeTourneau Technologies
We began working with LeTourneau’s Mining Group, which manufactured the world’s largest front-end loaders. What a great product line to market!
Soon after, we began working with the Marine Group, which built the first offshore rig and was the market leader in jack-up rigs. Then in 2003, LeTourneau formed the Drilling Equipment Group, which also became a client. In 2006, Triad had the opportunity to brand the entire group of LeTourneau companies, which turned out to be a very rewarding effort.
One quick story that speaks volumes to the quality managerial style and quality of Dan. In 1999, our contact in the Mining Group was becoming increasingly difficult, playing games and beating up our account executive on a regular basis. It seemed that the more our AE worked to satisfy this client, the worse the situation became. After I learned the details, I immediately called Dan to ask for a meeting. That evening I drove to Longview to meet with Dan, who stayed late to see me. After spelling out the details of the issue, I told Dan that we were a young organization, and it would be difficult to turn our back on a great account like LeTourneau, but I was prepared to do just that.
I didn’t have to…Dan accurately read the situation and immediately took steps to remedy the situation. Triad worked another 9 years with LeTourneau prior to its being sold to Joy Global.
Today, Dan remains a good friend.
Contributor #2 – Geralyn Harvey, Miltronics
I had significant experience in the instrumentation business, having worked for a major measuring device company, TN Technologies, for a number of years prior to starting Triad. Since I was contractually obligated to not work with TN Technologies, I started out by searching for a similar instrumentation company. I found one in Arlington, TX, Miltronics. The director of marketing at Miltronics was Geralyn Harvey. Geralyn was not only a very savvy B2B marketer, but also a great person with whom to work.
Triad worked with Miltronics for several years, and even produced our first digital program for this client in 1995…a touch-screen activated, interactive instrumentation selection program housed in a kiosk. We developed this program for the 1995 Instrument Society of America Show in New Orleans. I remember all-too-well working with a programmer in a steamy tradeshow venue (the AC is always turned off during set up), just trying to get the device working properly. Eventually, we prevailed, and our interactive program was one of the hits of the show.
Geralyn eventually was married and moved to Seattle. I have yet been able to locate her and thank her for believing in this young, start-up agency.
Contributor #1 – Rhonda Anderson and Susan Worthington
So, I am beginning with two people listed together as the agency’s first contributor…call it poetic license.
Rhonda was Triad’s first employee (albeit part-time initially, before moving into a full-time role). Having moved over to Triad from a small printing shop she owned with her husband, Rhonda covered a number of functions for the start-up agency – accounting, production management, and general operations management. Rhonda’s ability and willingness to take on a number of jobs, combined with her positive outlook, made her an outstanding asset for the company.
Susan Worthington had worked for me when I operated Berry-Brown’s B2B division, The Business Group. From my time working with Susan at The Business Group, I knew that I could count on her to provide a high level of quality and responsive account service. Early Triad clients knew that they could count on Susan working on their behalf…always able to be counted on to do what she said she would do.
Triad started with my occupying a single office in an executive suite. When Rhonda was hired, I rented another office, which Rhonda later shared with Susan. According to Susan, “We didn’t get a lot of work done, but we did get to know each other well.” Susan was right about getting to know each other well, but wrong on her “work” comment. In reality these two played a great role in helping Triad to get off the ground.
– Tom Prikryl, President & CEO
Get Triad’s New Infographic, 7 Takeaways from the 2019 World Oil Forecast Breakfast. Download the digital PDF or get the limited print poster mailed to you for free.
The story of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is intertwined with the evolution of the modern search engine. The history of SEO is the history of the search engine, the devices we use, and the internet itself.
The Great Library of Alexandria burns to the ground. The destruction of the library erased untold knowledge collected from around the world.
Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development Director, Dr. Vannevar Bush, proposes a common record. A collection of data and observations to be amended, improved, and revised to reflect current knowledge and understanding, a singular compilation of all contemporary knowledge. A radical idea prior to the internet.
The Pre-Google Internet
McGill University student Alan Emtage creates Archie, progenitor of the modern search engine.
Stanford students create Architext, the first search engine to sort search engine result pages (SERPs) by keyword density.
Website owners can manually submit their sites to ALIWEB for search engine indexing.
Search engines begin using web crawler robots to sift website content for indexing.
Search engines begin to resemble how they look today (AltaVista, Lycos, Yahoo!).
Protective foam equipment seller Greg Boser begins researching how to optimize his website to increase traffic and drive sales.
Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin start building BackRub (Google), a search engine that emphasizes backlinks as website ranking criteria.
Google goes live.
The Wild Frontier of 90’s SEO
Early search engine ranked website pages based on the amount of times the queried search term was found on the page. This led to people stuffing their web pages full of often-searched keywords. This practice overflowed into excessive meta-tagging of pages. Many optimizers also engaged in churning out spammy, low-quality backlinks to improve their SERP position. These bad practices were specifically targeted by Brin and Page as they developed Google. Their new search engine would rank websites based on keyword relevancy AND content quality.
2000 – 2002 SEO’s Intermediate Years
This time period was a struggle as search engine developers looked for ways to guide and motivate website owners to optimize their content the right way. Google labored to separate advertising from the function of the search engine. They provided guidelines on how to optimize website content the right way. This is commonly referred to as “white hat” SEO. However, without ranking penalties for bad behavior it did little to allay exploitative, “black hat” practices.
The Rise of Google
Google algorithm update Florida institutes penalization for keyword stuffing.
Google makes its first step towards voice search by combining customized urls with telephone calls.
Google, MSN, and Yahoo! unite to reduce spam links and website comments by instituting NoFollow link attribution.
Google launches Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console), and purchases YouTube.
Search engines universally adopt XML sitemaps (search engine bot sitemaps).
Google Universal Search arrives adding news, images, and video to web search results.
Google Suggest (autocomplete) beings showing search suggestions based on aggregated data.
Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, launches.
Bing and Yahoo ally to combat Google’s 70% US search engine market share.
Expanding Search Results
Google begins delivering real-time search results including breaking news and social media posts. SEO became a concern for journalists and social media managers.
Google announces site speed is a ranking factor.
Bing and Google further integrate social media by showing related social media posts in the SERPs and assigning PageRank (measure of link’s relevance and authority) to frequently linked profiles.
Google’s Panda update course corrects its algorithms to downplay ad-riddled content farms specializing in frequent, high quantity/low quality content posting.
Google introduces enhanced search feature Knowledge Graph, focused on search intent and semantics often displayed in knowledge panels, carousels, and boxes.
Google Penguin update penalizes web pages with spam links that do not complement the page’s H1 (header).
Above the Fold update begins penalizing sites with heavy advertising in the above-fold area.
Google Hummingbird update better interprets conversational language used in mobile and voice search.
Google Pigeon update improved map and local search queries by implementing the spelling correction, synonym, and knowledge graph features of other search functions.
Moving Beyond the PC
Google mobile update begins penalizing mobile unfriendly websites and pushing websites towards responsive design.
Google introduces Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), resource-light pages designed to instantly load content on mobile devices.
Google begins mobile-first indexing.
SEO in 2018 and Beyond
Contemporary SEO is About the User.
Every Google update is focused on providing a better experience for the user. You can do five things to please the people and the robots.
- Provide quality, original, updated content
- Recognize what searchers want and give them more of it
- Design your website for the best user experience possible on all devices
- Make your website and changes easy and straightforward for spiders to index
- Link your website to relevant, high-quality websites and disavow bad links
I got my first job in advertising as the result of a college paper I’d written. It was about a scene from Shakespeare’s “Henry IV Part 1,” where Falstaff — not scared to be a coward — is questioning the whole concept of “honor.” I was there, interviewing for a job any young writer would die for, with no experience, no advertising credits in college, and no advertising portfolio.
Little did I know, I was talking with a local legend in Dallas advertising: the late, great Les Gibson. I would come to have a lot of good stories about him in later years.
“It’s good writing,” he said, when he finished reading my paper. “But what do you know about advertising?” Part of me felt frozen. Was this my Falstaff moment? Should I stay and fight? Fold up and disappear? Or try to talk my way through it?
“I’ve never had the chance to write an ad, but I’m willing to learn,” I found myself saying, not sure what he would make of the answer. But a thought seemed to cross his mind, he got up from his desk, told me to hang on, and disappeared down the hall. A few minutes later, he returned with various objects and papers in hand – a bar-code reader, some pictures of software screens, and a painted porcelain eagle.
“Three spec projects, if you want to take a shot,” he said, laying the items on top of his cluttered desk. “The bar code reader reads bar codes, and this model is the newest and smallest one. The software needs a name and an ad written. The eagle is for an ad in The Reader’s Digest. Call me next week and show me what you’ve got.”
I left the interview feeling equal parts excitement and fear about the speculative “test” work I had just been given. I wasn’t really sure where to start! So, I did the only thing I knew to do at the time: I looked for answers in books. I bought a hardbound classic called Ogilvy on Advertising at the local bookstore that afternoon, and read it cover to cover, including captions, that evening. It was a joy to read, and it told me everything I needed to know that day.
I called Les the next morning to say I had the ads ready
He told me to come in. “Let’s see what you got.”
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Give yourself a hand around the office with 9.2.5 software.
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Les smiled when he saw the first headline, then took a red pen to my copy. “You’re missing something, here,” he said. “Something important. If you want to write copy, it’s one thing you can never forget.”
Then he said something else unforgettable: “I’m rolling the dice here, but I’m willing to take a chance on you.”
Here are some advertising lessons I learned that day
- Don’t let a lack of experience stop you from pursuing your goals. If you think you can do it, you probably can.
- You can learn what you need to know quickly, if you look in the right places.
- Work is always best when it’s fun, so make it that way.
- Seize opportunities, they are important.
- Show your enthusiasm. It’s the only way others will see it.
- Put time on your side; you might need it later.
- Let people know your interest – that’s the first step in collaboration.
- Apart from headlines, photo captions are the most-read part of an ad.
- Give young people a chance. There’s a first time for everything and everybody.
- Remember those who took a chance on you.
- Always include a call to action in your copy.
– Tony Ammerman, Sr. Creative Contact
I was amazed, when in college, by how many of my peers knew what their major would be while in their freshman year! I did decide, but even today I find myself fascinated by so many areas of discipline and enjoy exploring new realms that I joke I have yet to decide what I’ll be “when I grow up.” When you approach new opportunities and possibilities in this way, it is not unusual to experience resistance and skepticism by those who have trained and studied in a specific discipline. I strongly believe the ability and desire to learn new things are paramount to happiness and fulfillment, and contend any organization that embraces this perspective is better off for five main reasons.
“Where all think alike nobody thinks very much.” – Walter Lippman
Reason #1: Shake Things Up a Little
When you are watching a play unfold in front of you – whether football or theatre – you are able to see a wider perspective. The trick is to not approach your fresh perspective as Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but in fact to challenge the way things have always been done with appropriate reverence for foundational principles. Insiders may be too steeped in the organization’s past practices to envision new approaches, and therein lies the outsider’s value.
Reason #2: Excuse for Asking Questions
I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken up to ask a “stupid” question when everyone else acted like they understood … only to discover many people didn’t understand, but were hesitant to unveil their ignorance. When you have been in an environment long enough, it is often viewed as unacceptable to ask a very basic question. When you are an outsider, it is expected. Take advantage of this and ask those questions! By doing so, you are giving others an opportunity to learn something they were supposed to have known all along.
Reason #3: Apply “Foreign” Principles
When I worked for General Motors, the Japanese methods of continuous improvement were embraced – Kaizen means “change for the better.” This constant, continuous improvement is a mindset that can be applied anywhere, at any job.
This works not only for principles and philosophies, but sometimes tools and techniques. What works at a law firm to improve processes may also work at an advertising agency.
Bringing someone on board from another industry or profession is practiced all the time … it’s called Consulting!
Reason #4: Brainstorming
In order to truly brainstorm, everyone must agree there are no bad ideas. This is a tough one, though, when an outsider doesn’t have the same background as most of the team and doesn’t speak the same “language.”
A team that truly embraces brainstorming will encourage participation by EVERYONE … especially those with varied experience.
Mark Strand, captured these feelings in the opening lines of his poem, Keeping Things Whole. “In a field, I am the absence of field. This is always the case. Wherever I am, I am what is missing.”
David Burkus, a Forbes contributor, put it this way:
“As individuals grow in their expertise, their opinions about what won’t work may grow because of past experiences trying similar ideas and failing. Those with enough expertise to generate an idea, but not enough to dismiss it untried, end up testing more ideas and, even though most still fail, every once in awhile they discover an untried idea that leads to disruptive innovation.”
Reason #5: Identify New Opportunities
I have enjoyed the opportunity to be a “connector” through my exposure to and experience in various industries. For example, a client looking to trademark their branding appreciated the fact I could connect them with an intellectual property attorney. A diverse set of competencies and backgrounds can also provide a unique perspective to identify opportunities to enter new markets, target a different type of client, and develop professional relationships and cooperative agreements.
I guess I will always be an outsider of sorts. I am thankful for the discomfort in order to enjoy the benefits.
– Cheryl Roberts, Account Executive