The Benefits of a Pet-Friendly Workplace

Most mornings at CMA begin with the soft jingling of identification tags as Babe, a nearly 10-year-old Yorkie-mix rescue dog, follows her owner Dave down the hall to the office kitchen for a glass of water.

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Dave, Babe’s owner, helps her unwrap her gift from Santa Paws. Dogs are such a part of the culture at CMA that they are more likely to get a gift during our Secret Santa exchange than their owner!

“Good Morning Dave, Good Morning Babe,” is a familiar refrain as members of the CMA crew begin their workday.

Whether it’s Babe on the hunt for her morning tummy scratch or one of my three dogs making the office rounds to say hello, dogs are a regular part of our culture here at CMA. We have been a dog-friendly workplace since I founded the firm in 1987. I’m a dog lover. But my love of dogs was not the main reason why I chose to allow them in the office. There were bigger reasons at play and ones that I encourage you to consider for your own workplace.

A Pet-Friendly Office Boosts Productivity: I always say that happy employees are productive employees. Sure, those who bring dogs to work will typically get up from their desks several times a day to take their dog outside, but shhh!, that’s a plus in my book. Research from sports scientist Jack Groppel shows benefits to those who get up from their desks at regular intervals.

“Interspersing short movements and exercises throughout the workday can boost employee energy, engagement and efficiency,” wrote Alison Griswold in Forbes, describing Groppel’s research.

Clio helps her owner Nicole answer emails.

Clio helps her owner Nicole answer emails.

“Whether it’s stretching periodically in your cubicle or walking to a coworker’s desk rather than sending that intra-office email, small actions can go a long way toward improving both individual and company performance.”

It is often true that a break, even a quick walk around the parking lot, can help relax the brain and spark creative ideas for a project. So employees who take their dogs outside periodically may be more energetic and productive.

Dexter and Cali love being at the office.

Dexter and Cali love being at the office.

A Pet-Friendly Office Boosts Morale: People love their pets. Pampered canines get baths, regular grooming, daily walks, top-quality pet food, comfortable beds and a plethora of tummy scratching. It’s no coincidence that dogs have earned the moniker “man’s best friend.” All dogs really want is to be by their owner’s side throughout the day. When you let employees bring their dogs to work, you are telling them they are allowed to bring their best friend to work and that is a real treat. We leave it up to employees’ judgement as to whether or not their particular pet will be a good fit in the office. But as long as they behave well, dogs are simply part of life here at CMA.

Babe sleeps on a chair next to her owner’s desk in our design studio, curled up in her pink blanket and within easy access to her water bowl. Clio, a Lhaso Apso with her hair pulled into a stylish Bam Bam ponytail, generally sticks close to her cushy, fleece blanket and BarkBox, but occasionally escapes and jumps into a willing employee’s lap for a much-needed cuddle session.

Lulu looks forlorn as she waits for her next treat. Every dog knows the treat trail in the office and makes their rounds.

Lulu looks forlorn as she waits for her next treat. Every dog knows the treat trail in the office and makes their rounds.

A Pet-Friendly Office Improves Work-Life Balance: It can be a challenge to leave a dog home all day. Employees who work full-time will worry about their pets during the day. They may use their lunch break to run home or have a friend or family member stop by to take the dog for a walk. But a company that welcomes dogs into the office eliminates that stress. Employees do not worry when their dog is asleep next to the desk or sleeping under the conference table during a meeting.

A Pet-Friendly Office Helps Reduce Stress:  Who doesn’t love giving a friendly dog a scratch behind the ears? It feels good to interact with dogs. But the reason we gravitate towards dogs and feel good afterwards may be rooted in science. According to AnimalSmart.org, playing with or petting an animal “can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.” Studies have shown that when people are in the presence of a dog during stress tests or physical exams, they actually show lower heart rates and blood pressure, AnimalSmart reports.

Wroxton patiently waits for his owners meeting to wrap up.

Wroxton patiently waits for his owners meeting to wrap up.

At CMA it is not unusual to be at a meeting in a conference room and look around at Scott, Jennifer, Erin…and wait…there’s Wroxton, the St. Berdoodle puppy sprawled out sound asleep on the floor. You can’t help but smile.

A Pet-Friendly Office Helps Employee Communication: People get caught up in their own work; it happens. The great thing about dogs is they often force us to take a break, relax and interact. One of our office dogs, Jet, has a habit of stealing other dog’s toys. As Jet’s owner makes the rounds to return toys, it naturally sparks conversation between dog owners, who laugh and commiserate over dog behavior. Sometimes those coworkers do not work together on a daily basis, but getting to know each other apart from the work improves communication and trust.

Being a pet-friendly office is part of what CMA is all about. It has helped define our culture. We work long and hard for our clients. Dogs help us keep our sense of humor, spark creativity and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

CMA CEO Jeff Barnhart and his three dogs and fish in his office.

CMA CEO Jeff Barnhart and his three dogs and fish in his office.

If you are on the fence about welcoming dogs into your office, I encourage you to take the leap and try it!

And to all our dogs — Babe, Clio, Bode, Sophie, Abby, Lulu, Dexter, Cali, Jet and Wroxton, thanks for being part of CMA!

Jeffrey Barnhart is founder and CEO of Creative Marketing Alliance, a full-service marketing communications firm that helps organizations build reputation, relationships and revenue. He can be reached at jbarnhart@cmasolutions.com.

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How to Reel in Top Media Coverage

When it comes to getting media placements for your company, it’s not blind luck — just as you need bait for fishing, you need a media strategy in business. As a CEO for nearly three decades, I’ve learned the most effective ways to get (free) media placements and how to leverage key points of a brand’s story.

When I talk about free media coverage, I’m referring to the art of getting the attention of a reporter or editor so that your company either receives mention in an originally reported article or that the news you submit is included in an upcoming edition. This may seem like an impossible feat and you do need to earn it. Reporters are not generally inclined to mention a company simply because you ask nicely. What is effective, however, is to think like a reporter.

newspaper

There are thousands of businesses vying for free or earned coverage, so you need to consider your bait. Think about what makes your news different or special. Take an objective look at the message you’re trying to put out there. Try to highlight what’s new or unusual. Differentiate yourself.

How you write the press release is as important as the content when it comes to getting media attention. The ‘who, what, when, where and why’ should all be explained in the first two sentences. Don’t forget the critically important question, “Who cares?” Why is this news important and why should someone bother reading it? Failure to answer all six of these questions will significantly increase the chance of your release ending up in the trash.

Think about the audience you want to reach. Are you looking to attract Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States? Or is your target east coast businesses with annual revenues of $50-$100 million? Every company will have a different target audience. Now consider which media outlets will reach your target market — think about newspapers, magazines, online publications, TV and radio. Once you have your list, research each publication in which you want placement. What topics do the reporters cover? Do they focus on geographic newsbeats or are they subject matter experts?

Also consider the type of news you want to share. If you want to announce a new hire or a promotion, local and hyperlocal media outlets will probably be your best bet. If you’re an organization with a staff expert on a subject that’s become a topic of national debate, that news has the potential to lure a much wider audience. Remember to consider trade publications that focus on the markets you’re trying to reach.

We’ve all heard about the cutbacks in the news business, but this can actually work to your advantage. Fewer reporters mean those who remain are stretched thin and usually grateful for news that is pertinent to their particular beat. If you’re a pharmaceutical company, for example, your news is more likely to appeal to health and business reporters than be picked up by a political reporter.

Build your media list with an eye to detail. You may want to create a few different lists and write different versions of each press release to appeal to different reporters. Tailoring your pitch will only increase your chances of media pickup.

I like to think of media outlets as partners. Reporters and editors strive to publish news that their readers want. For Creative Marketing Alliance, we try to share news that will catch their attention — pitches that showcase our market expertise, talented employees and charitable works.

Our recent big news was the announcement that CMA was named Outstanding Small Business of the Year 2016 by the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce. We were thrilled with the news and have shared it far and wide — even here.

So go ahead, you can’t catch anything unless you have a lure in the water!

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CMA Recognized With Joint Legislative Proclamation

Award-Winning Marketing Communications Firm Recognized for Nearly 30 Years of Service Dedicated to Helping Businesses Grow and Succeed

Jeffrey Barnhart, CMA CEO and president, whose firm was recognized for its history of helping businesses grow with branding, marketing and public relations, with the proclamation at the New Jersey Statehouse.

Jeffrey Barnhart, CMA CEO and president, whose firm was recognized for its history of helping businesses grow with branding, marketing and public relations, with the proclamation at the New Jersey Statehouse.

PRINCETON JUNCTION, N.J.—August 5, 2016— The New Jersey Senate and Assembly has recognized Creative Marketing Alliance (CMA), a full-service, award-winning strategic marketing communications firm, with a joint proclamation for being named Outstanding Small Business of the Year by the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce.

“I am thrilled to receive this proclamation,” said Jeffrey Barnhart, CMA CEO and president, whose firm was recognized for its history of helping businesses grow with branding, marketing and public relations. “When I began CMA nearly 30 years ago, I could not have imagined how the business has grown since then. It is truly humbling that we are being recognized by the state in addition to the Chamber for all the work the team has accomplished throughout the years.”

Located in Princeton Junction, CMA has been a leading strategic marketing and integrated communications partner to mid-Atlantic, national and global organizations focused on business growth. The company’s strategic marketing expertise and creative solutions for clients in a wide range of industries are held to a single standard — results.

“This special award and recognition from our lawmakers is an honor shared by the entire team at CMA,” Barnhart said. “It celebrates the hard work achieved during the last 29 years in New Jersey for our clients across the state, region, nation and world.”

Barnhart, of West Windsor, has more than 30 years of experience developing and implementing strategic programs to help numerous companies grow and achieve their strategic imperatives. His rich background includes the integration of sales and marketing through three mergers at Philips Lighting, and the launch of compact fluorescent lamps, one of the first energy-efficient, environmentally-beneficial lighting products in the U.S. market. He was also instrumental in launching the first program that advocated using new lighting technologies to reduce electricity demand—the precursor to the current Energy Star program.

To learn more about CMA, visit http://gotocma.com/cma-outstanding/.

Proclamation staff

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About Creative Marketing Alliance

Creative Marketing Alliance (CMA) is a full-service, strategic marketing and integrated communications firm that delivers award-winning campaigns, recommendations and return-on-investment (ROI). CMA builds brands from a client-side, value-based perspective. It successfully launches and manages integrated marketing programs using Marketecture™, a strategic analysis process that helps clients understand how their company can be best positioned. Based in Princeton Junction, N.J., for more than 29 years, CMA provides innovative solutions in the areas of traditional design, interactive design, publications, public relations and social media with an in-house studio for advertising and creative design. For more information, please visit GoToCMA.com, call 609-297-2235 or email us at info@cmasolutions.com.

 

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Keeping Score: Leverage Business Metrics

Your team practices for weeks. On the day of the big game, the offensive line holds off the opposition while your quarterback throws a perfect pass. The team drives the ball down the field into the end zone and you breathe a sigh of relief. At halftime, you congratulate the team and begin thinking about next week’s game.

No, wait. That’s not how football works. There’s no congratulations at halftime. Instead, the coach evaluates what’s working, what’s not, and whether the strategy and game plays need to be reevaluated.

The same is true for business. You’ve probably heard the adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Think about it. At any given moment do you know precisely how your company is performing? I’m not talking about general, “Oh sure, things are great” responses. What I’m describing are the 5-15 key business metrics, provided to management on a regular basis, that tell you at a quick glance where your company stands. These numbers are different from your profit and loss statement; in fact, these numbers will predict your profit and loss statement.

If you don’t collect these types of numbers yet, don’t worry. It’s a fairly simple process to create them. The key is to collect the right metrics. According to Gino Wickman, author of the book “Traction,” there’s a trick for knowing what information you need. Imagine that you’re on a desert island. You need to keep your company successful and profitable, but you can’t be on-site. The only communication you have is a set of specific numbers provided to you each week. What are the key metrics that would allow you to immediately understand the state of your company?

Metrics Image

You’ll also need to determine who has responsibility over each metric collected. This doesn’t mean who will provide you the numbers, but the member of your management team who is ultimately responsible for them.

Once you have your metrics in hand and know who is responsible for them, collect the data weekly for several months and see if these are the correct numbers for your use. Feel free to change and adjust however you feel is necessary, but make sure that by the end of those three months you are confident that the data you’re collecting is the information that will help you make informed decisions about your business.

The purpose of this exercise is simple. You don’t want to wait until the end of each quarter or year to make adjustments to your strategy. Just like you need to know the score of the football game at half-time in order to make adjustments to your strategy for the second half, you need to know your business’ key metrics, be it payroll, revenue, proposals, closed business and the like. If the weekly metrics show your company is on course, by all means proceed. But if you need a course correction, these metrics will help you be proactive and make changes before you veer completely off course.

Now that you have the numbers you need to manage your business, give each of your employees a number. Make the metric applicable to their jobs, of course, but give them a metric to which they should be accountable. If an employee makes widgets, tell them the number of widgets they should produce each week. If an employee does business development, spell out the sales number you expect to see each week or each quarter. You may be asking yourself, why do I need to give everyone a metric?

There are multiple reasons. Numbers provide clarity. Instead of hearing, “I’ve had some great networking meetings,” wouldn’t you prefer to hear, “I’ve given five qualified leads to my business development leader?” Numbers create employee accountability, and hopefully, competition to elevate one another. If each member of your sales team is expected to close $X of business each quarter, but some team members are falling short, a goal number can motivate a team to pull together to achieve the goal. And when metrics aren’t being achieved as expected, the numbers can alert members of your management team of a needed change in strategy.

As a CEO, you need to be able to check the pulse of your business at any given moment. Since you may not be involved in the day-to-day operations, you need a way to get pertinent and timely information. After all, you don’t want to learn that sales are down by 50 percent six months after they began declining. While it may take a little work upfront, think about the key numbers you need to know on a weekly basis and who will ultimately be accountable for those metrics. As the numbers arrive weekly, you should be able to tell at a quick glance if the business is moving in the right direction or if there are problems that jump out at you.

It’s easier to adjust your strategy when things have just begun to veer off course than to attempt a comeback when you’re down six touchdowns. Right, coach?

 

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How to Keep Your Employees Motivated This Summer

It’s getting to be that time again. The temperature is rising, the sun is shining and vacation plans are looming. We all look forward to summer. But, as the owner of a company, it tends to encompass some challenges. How do you keep your employees motivated when all they want to do is spend time somewhere else?

According to a study of 600 white-collar workers, Captivate Networks found that summer has a negative impact on the workplace.

“People report productivity goes down (20 percent), attendance dips (19 percent), project turnaround times increase (13 percent) and they are more distracted (45 percent),” according to the report.

At CMA, we try to incorporate summer fun into the workday. During the months of May, June, July and August, we have biweekly outdoor company picnics involving a grill, several picnic tables and a pile of hot dogs and burgers. Employees pitch in, potluck style, by bringing appetizers, side dishes and desserts. For an hour, we simply enjoy each other’s company, without talk of deadlines, clients or reports. Our biweekly company picnics have proven to also be opportunities for team building and increasing staff relations. For example, once we asked employees to submit their baby pictures and then tried to identify each person by their photo. Another time we had everyone submit a little-known fact about themselves and took turns guessing which fact belonged to each employee.

We have a committee of employees that regularly plan fun outings for the entire staff. Sometimes it’s an egg hunt for Easter, once in a while it’s a happy hour after work hours, and other times it’s as simple as community driven volunteer opportunities. These are moments where all levels of staff can get away from desks, paperwork and phone calls.

If it’s a beautiful day outside and employees have internal meetings planned, the company advocates for attendees to move their meeting outside at the picnic tables to enjoy the beautiful weather. However, while everyone wants to have meetings on a sunny 70-degree day, no one wants to do so in black slacks and long sleeve shirts. This led to us instituting a summer dress code where employees are allowed to wear shorts in the office on Fridays.

Now, here’s my strongest piece of advice: when your employees are on their scheduled vacation, make them BE on vacation. That means strongly encouraging them not to check email, voicemail, or be in touch with clients. Coworkers pitch in to make sure the vacationing employee doesn’t feel like he or she needs to work. Managers and leadership use careful consideration in contacting the vacationing employee with requests or questions, except in case of emergency. Let your employees unplug fully and they’ll be able to immerse themselves in time off and come back to work fully refreshed.

Summer is inevitable and employees are bound to want to be out of the office. With some small adjustments, you can keep your employees motivated through every season. It boils down to understanding people’s basic needs and what drives their seasonal happiness, whether it’s holiday cheer or Vitamin D.

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How to Streamline Your Company & Grow Your Bottom Line

What makes a company great? Is it jumping on the latest trend or bandwagon? Sadly, no. Although, that would make things easier. As Jim Collins outlined in his article, “Good to Great,” his analysis of nearly 1,500 companies found one consistent theme in those that outperformed the stock market at least three times during a 15-year period.

“In each of these dramatic, remarkable, good-to-great corporate transformations, we found the same thing: There was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process—a framework—kept each company, its leaders, and its people on track for the long haul. In each case…the victory of steadfast discipline over the quick fix.”

The key is finding and following a pragmatic approach that will grow your company’s profits. Trust me, this is not an easy process. As a CEO, your company is your baby. In the beginning, you probably held the role of receptionist, head of sales, accountant and public relations¬— all at the same time. As the company grew, you had to relinquish some control. And here’s where I tell you it’s time to give up more control.

What I’m about to describe isn’t an easy exercise, but I encourage you to try. In your mind, remove yourself from the company. Forget that you’re the CEO. Forget what’s happened in the past and what might happen in the future. And then ignore what’s happening in the day-to-day operations. This is the time to objectively evaluate your company.

To do this at CMA, we used the concept of the Accountability Chart that Gino Wickman describes in his book, “Traction.” I sat down with my leadership team and together we identified the company’s 3-5 basic functions. Often, the functions will fall along three lines: sales/marketing, operations and finance. Now look at the business lines you’ve created and fill in the names of who has responsibility for each. Then, evaluate the following:

  • Are each of your primary functions equally strong? Ideally, they should be. If they’re not, you’ve just discovered one area of improvement.
  • Is there more than one person ultimately responsible for a piece of the business? This can cause confusion and inefficiency. Streamline company operations by putting one person in charge of each business unit.

Think about where your own passion lies. Are you a creative, big picture person who likes to be out cultivating new relationships and establishing company culture? Or do you prefer managing many different moving parts and staying on top of a million details? Are you a visionary or an integrator? I would argue that most entrepreneurs are visionaries. I know I am.

Decide who will manage the daily operations. I hired an integrator who leads and manages the business, someone skilled at overcoming obstacles and ensuring that all of the moving parts of the business are operating at peak efficiency.

The integrator does not replace the visionary CEO in any way. It’s a complementary relationship that allows both leaders to follow their passion for the benefit of the entire company. The CEO doesn’t get bogged down in the details and the integrator doesn’t have responsibility for the creative vision.

But the process doesn’t stop there. Continue to evaluate everyone in your company to determine if each person is in the position that maximizes his or her passion. Are the right people sitting in the right seats? In last month’s blog, I outlined how we developed CMA’s core values.

We measure each of our employees against our core values. We use our core values in times of hiring, firing, raises and evaluations. But we also evaluate employees by rating their intrinsic values. We ask, do they:
1. Get It. Truly understand their role and function.
2. Want It. A sincere desire to do what they are doing.
3. Capacity to Do It. Physically, emotionally and intellectually.

The goal is simple: We want to hire the best person for each position and then deploy them in the most effective way possible. By zeroing in on each person’s unique abilities and allowing them to pursue that passion, our company and mission thrives.

In nearly 30 years, our company has never been stronger and I believe the sky is the limit for CMA. I hope you will join us on this journey.

Jeff Barnhart is the CEO of Creative Marketing Alliance. He can be reached at jbarnhart@cmasolutions.com.

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Why It’s Important to Establish & Live by Your Company’s Core Values

Do you know your company’s core values? In a way, every CEO knows his or her company’s ideals. The question is, could you recite them at a moment’s notice? More importantly, could your employees do the same if asked?

Be careful not to just pluck ideals out of the sky. The danger of doing so is best illustrated by Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of the Table Group, who wrote this in an article published in the Harvard Business Review:

“Take a look at this list of corporate values: Communication. Respect. Integrity. Excellence. They sound pretty good, don’t they? Strong, concise, meaningful. Maybe they even resemble your own company’s values, the ones you spent so much time writing, debating, and revising. If so, you should be nervous. These are the corporate values of Enron, as stated in the company’s 2000 annual report. And as events have shown, they’re not meaningful; they’re meaningless.”

Your core values need to be real, and let’s face it, grounded in reality. They need to set your company apart from every other company out there. As a CEO, you will be held accountable to these values as will every employee. But it must be done. And trust me, it will only benefit your company in the long run.

Putting your company’s core values into just a few phrases is a little tricky. It just takes some practice to tease them out into simple and easily digestible nuggets of information.

When I founded Creative Marketing Alliance in 1987, I was an entrepreneur looking to build my business and my future. Along the way I’ve had many employees join the company- some have been by my side since the earliest days, while others have come and gone. The question became, how do we hire the right people and build the company for long-term growth? I decided it was time to formalize CMA’s Core Values, a set of words and phrases that, when combined, would define the soul of the company. It wasn’t an easy task, but it was a worthy one.

The book I have found immensely helpful in this process, and many others, is called Traction by Gino Wickman. It’s a short, but powerful, read and offers simple yet impactful ways entrepreneurs and their leadership teams can focus, grow, and drive more enjoyment.

When it came down to develop CMA’s core values I sat down with my senior leadership team and we each came up with names of employees who, in an ideal world, we would clone. We thought of who had the innate qualities that we wanted to emulate throughout the company. No surprise, many of the names overlapped. The tricky part came when it was time to distill exactly what those qualities were that we loved. It took several meetings and involved hearty debate. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Client Passion: We create unmatched client loyalty by being passionately committed to what we do and the clients we serve.
  • Masterful Excellence: We provide something extra whenever possible. We strive to exceed our own and others’ expectations.
  • Always Professional: We are professional in all that we do, say and represent.
  • Team Spirit: We recognize that the star of the team is the team. We supersedes me.
  • Enthusiasm: We radiate positive energy and energize those around us.
  • Accountability: We do what we say we are going to do when we say we are going to do it.
  • Meticulous Quality: We provide fanatical attention to consistency and detail.

Now comes the critical step. Once you create your core values don’t just pop the document into a filing cabinet and forget about it. We hire every employee based on our core values. We ask every employee to post a copy of our core values at his or desk so it remains a constant reminder.

We review our employees against the company’s core values, and yes, we’ve said goodbye to employees who didn’t meet those expectations. Each month employees nominate a co-worker they believe exemplifies one of our core values. The recipient receives a gift card, a public shout out on a company-wide email, and their name and core value recognition noted on a company bulletin board.

Each quarter our leadership team selects one employee “Crew Star” who exhibits all of CMA’s core values. We surprise that employee with a shower of confetti and an impromptu celebration. We then share that recognition on our social media channels and in the local media. The employee’s photo is added to our Crew Star Recognition wall in the company lobby. I personally take the employee and their supervisor out to lunch and deliver the gift card. We make it a big deal because when you have treasured employees living and working alongside your company’s core values it IS a big deal.

 

I know what you’re thinking. “Sure, this sounds very nice, but how will it help my bottom line?” It’s simple. If you have a company in which employees are unsure of your leadership or what’s expected of them, that uncertainty can manifest itself into poor performance, confusion, and maybe even leaving for another job. These events cost you money in the form of human resources time and time spent hiring and retraining new employees. Remember, people work best when they know exactly what’s expected of them to succeed. Show them how to succeed (i.e. your core values) and you will be surprised by their passion and dedication.

When your crew is all pulling in the same direction and working to achieve the same goals, there really is no limit to how far your company can go.

 

 

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Leverage Storytelling to Build Your Brand

Me and Sophie.

Me and Sophie.

Do you know the story of your brand? One of the keys to effective branding is how well you tell your story.

Your brand needs to emotionally connect to your audience. The story of your brand and your company helps build your emotional connection. What is your company all about, what do you stand for and why does that matter to your potential customers?

I think branding is part of who I am. Growing up, I was drawn to TV commercials and wanted to know what went into making them. When I watched the ABC sitcom “Bewitched,” I related most closely not to the stars of the show, the witches, but to husband Darrin Stevens, the ad man.

Later I discovered that I had a knack for writing and creating a brand. I had a successful career in marketing at Philips Lighting, but ultimately decided that I wanted to open a different kind of marketing and communications firm- one that delivered a wide-range of pragmatic, results oriented services to meet CLIENT, not agency, objectives.

I started CMA in 1987. Yes, it was during a recession and my wife and family members often answered the office phones. Our first major campaign was for Philips Lighting and it focused on the benefits of new color corrected, high lumen fluorescent lighting.

I remember one of our earliest campaigns the most vividly. We were hired to explain to chief financial officers in office buildings about the potential savings of switching to energy efficient lighting. First we mailed out a silver dollar in a jewelry box and attached a note that said “Found a buck- maybe we can find more.” Then we sent out magician boxes that churned out a $1 bill and a brochure that explained how more effective energy use could save the CFOs and their companies $1 per square foot in their office buildings. It was an immensely successful campaign that got our client’s phones ringing from across the country!

Based on my background and some of our early success, CMA has developed a niche in the lighting industry. But we don’t rest on our laurels. Over the years, I saw a need among non-profit associations for professional association management, a team that can provide strategic leadership, day to day operations, public relations and conference management. CMA expanded to provide that service and I’m proud to say that Association Management now represents half of our business.

Nearly 30 years after I founded CMA, I can say that we still deliver a wide-range of pragmatic, results oriented services to meet client, not agency, objectives. I’m proud of that. We consider ourselves partners, not just service providers.

What’s the story of your brand?

Need help with your company’s brand? Can we help elevate your story above the competition? Please contact me at jbarnhart@CMASolutions.com or call me at (609) 297-2235.

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New Year’s Resolution: Maintain Relationships with Customers

New Year's Message Jeff's BlogEstablishing trusting and authentic one-on-one relationships with each customer is crucial when involved in business.

With the convenience and accessibility of social media and mass technology, we sometimes fall short in maintaining great personal relationships with our clients.

At CMA, we take client passion seriously and are committed to the relationships and service we provide to our partners.

Here are some tips for ways you can maintain relationships with customers in 2016:
Make it personal  

Everything in business doesn’t need to be a pitch of what you can do, that will come. Taking the time to get to know your client’s story is important in making the interaction more personal. It is also valuable to explain who you are and your interests. This will help cultivate a better connection and trust with a client.   

Learn their craft

It isn’t enough to just be able to recognize what they do. To establish a better relationship with customers and their field, do your homework. Follow updates in their organization and stay on top of trends in their industry. This is important ensuring the best service and showing the client you care.

Make every client feel special

Go the extra mile to provide them with the best relationship you can while offering the service they deserve. By showing them you are a resource and willing to help always, you are creating a trusting relationship with your customers. Happy clients, who trust and understand you, will reciprocate the kindness by telling everyone they know about your service.

The Golden Rule Applies

Mom always said: “Treat others the way you would like to be treated,” and this applies to business! Remember to always provide the same respect and care when you serve your clients.

Simply put, relationships with clients are important and are the foundation of your business’ function, so remember to make them a priority!

Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year from the CMA Crew!

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Social Responsibility Makes Good Business Sense

Lynn McCollough, Diane Webster, Nicole Lauzon and Michele Giovine, all CMA staff members, stuff backpacks with school supplies for children to be distributed through One Simple Wish.

Lynn McCollough, Diane Webster, Nicole Lauzon and Michele Giovine, all CMA staff members, stuff backpacks with school supplies for children to be distributed through One Simple Wish.

Client passion is one of CMA’s seven core values and I believe that it extends outwardly to helping make an impact in the community-at-large.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the process an organization takes in an attempt to benefit its society. Companies tend to do this by monitoring and taking the culpability for its effects on the environment and society.

CSR is most commonly referred to as corporate citizenship which involves providing support to organizations such as nonprofits or other charities for no direct reward. CSR is simply giving back to the community because it is the right thing to do. Organizations should get involved in CSR to branch themselves out and build connections that broaden your organization and client base, because after all, the community is an important resource for your team.

VolunteerMatch reports that volunteerism is a win-win for companies and employees as volunteer programs boost employee morale and health, provide opportunities for professional development and increase employee loyalty to the company.

At CMA, we believe it is important to maintain connections with our local community through CSR. We believe in doing philanthropic work within the community by getting involved with nonprofits and local charities to help give back.

Recently, CMA had the opportunity to participate in the One Simple Wish backpack drive to collect school supplies for children in foster care. It was a great experience to be able to supply these children with the materials they needed to succeed.

Public Relations Account Executive Vikki Hurley-Schubert, (left) with Sally Shepherdson (center) and Alicia Barberi of Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey, as they plan the Race for the Cure in October at Six Flags Great Adventure.

Public Relations Account Executive Vikki Hurley-Schubert, (left) with Sally Shepherdson (center) and Alicia Barberi of Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey, as they plan the Race for the Cure in October at Six Flags Great Adventure.

Other crew member volunteerism includes:

CMA is currently partnered with the Rescue Mission of Trenton, as we help them try to beat a Guinness World Record for the largest collection of clothes to be recycled or donated. Clothing collections go to people in need in the Trenton area.

CSR is easy to do. It doesn’t require anything more than a passion for helping those in your community who need it. It is important to do work within your community to build relationships and give your team valuable experiences that help empower both your community and team. Most importantly, doing work within the community shows that we care.

Take initiative and remember to do your part in making sure CSR is achieved in your organization. Giving back is one of the most rewarding and easiest things to do. All you have to do is find a cause that your team is passionate about and offer helping hands.

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