May 18, 2018 - Comments Off on MN Business Best Places to Work

MN Business Best Places to Work

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Minneapolis-based SCHERMER, has been named one of Minnesota’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Minnesota Business Magazine. The 2018 honor adds fuel to an already busy year of growth and expansion for the 40-person independent B2B marketing firm. SCHERMER was also recognized by the publication in 2015 and 2016 for its enviable work space and culture, compensation and benefits, and overall employee satisfaction.

Serving as home base to an impressive list of Fortune 500 companies, and top-notch corporations and divisions, Minnesota offers opportunities to work at some of the best companies to work for in the world, and SCHERMER is one of them. “I’m proud SCHERMER is recognized as an outstanding place to build and enjoy career success,” says agency owner and president, Chris Schermer. He adds, “Company perks and benefits are important, for sure. But people, purpose and passion are the keys to creating a relevant company and rewarding culture. So I’m grateful for our talented employees and the client partners, who make us the ‘best place to work’ year-after-year.”

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In the past year, SCHERMER added several new brands to its well-stacked client list: Joining anchor clients 3M Medical and Honeywell are ADP, Red Wing Shoes, GE Ecomagination and Zillow Group. Engagements range from enterprise websites to branding to digital marketing campaigns.

Additionally, the downtown agency recently completed a full-scale office expansion to accommodate the increase in talent and work in research and analytics, digital marketing and demand gen, content strategy and marketing, and UX + UI design.

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SCHERMER is also a member of the Marketing and Advertising Global Network (MAGNET), a strategic alliance of 40+ independent agencies worldwide that allows the agency to provide expert regional support for global clients.

With several new business agreements pending and in play, SCHERMER is actively seeking talent-for-hire. To learn more about our company, culture and careers, visit schermer.co.

Companies interested in SCHERMER brand, demand and digital capabilities are encouraged to call 612-375-9999 or contact chris.schermer@schermer.co.

April 14, 2018 - Comments Off on Company-Wide Compassion

Company-Wide Compassion

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SCHERMER celebrated the end of 2016 with an honored, annual tradition: Giving. In addition to our corporate support of several charities and non-profits, employees at SCHERMER are also given the opportunity to collectively allocate over $10,000 to a charity of their choice. With so many deserving charities to choose from it’s impossible to just choose one—This year, 24 charities that are near and dear to our hearts were carefully selected.

To maximize our impact, contributions were distributed on Give to the Max Day; A 24-hour donation-matching period organized by GiveMN. On this day GiveMN raised $20 million. SCHERMER is happy to give back to the state we call home—and is proud to be surrounded by those motivated to do the same.

To complete our tradition we also donated something that is highly valued in the agency world–time. SCHERMER closed the doors for half a day to volunteer at the Salvation Army Headquarters. The Salvation Army collects enough toys to gift to 18,000 children during the holidays. In order to make this distribution as efficient as possible, they need volunteers to help sort the toys. We all had a great time taking trips down memory lane while helping spread smiles in our community.

To learn more about (or contribute to!) the causes we care about, check out the list below.

February 3, 2018 - Comments Off on Why Branding Campaigns Fail, and Agencies Get Fired

Why Branding Campaigns Fail, and Agencies Get Fired

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Ever run a branding campaign? Ever had one fail? Fail to perform, fail to drive more business, fail to last? You’re not alone. That’s because most people go about “branding” the wrong way, starting with the wrong intent and expectations.

To most companies and agencies, “branding” is limited to an identity exercise or marketing campaign. A typical branding initiative involves: redesigning a logo, revising a tagline, rewriting messaging, rebuilding the front end of a website, running a new ad campaign.

All of those are big investments, with no clear ROI. No wonder why CEOs are loathe to fund these initiatives, and departments other than marketing are slow to support them!

Traditional advertising agencies are often the biggest beneficiaries from and perpetrators of the problem. Most think of branding simply as “creative campaigns”, which is a big reason why so many are fired not long after their work launches. Their surface efforts don’t in-and-of themselves generate changes in beliefs, actions or results. Consequently, the client either stops investing in the brand, or hires a new agency to create the next branding campaign. And the cycle goes on and on.

What these companies and those agencies fail to understand is that great branding is more than just packaging and promotion. It’s about defining, designing, and delivering what matters most to the people who matter most —your buyers and customers. For that, you need to engineer differentiating and desirable experiences that depend on data, discipline and drive from throughout the organization.

Great branding respects and reflects the relationship between the company and its customers in both tangible and intangible ways. From identity design to experience design. From creative campaigns to compelling content. From sales to solutions. From analytics to answers. When these areas are aligned, employees and customers both will sense that the brand isn’t just a campaign, it’s a company-wide promise to make meaning, not just marketing.

Buyers don’t crave another branding campaign, trust me. What they crave is to be educated, enabled, empowered, and engaged by people who will help them be who they want to be, do what they want to do, and achieve what they want to achieve. That’s what a great brand does – and that’s why the new definition of branding as experience matters so much in this media-filtered, ad-blocking, information-overloaded world.

If your agency isn’t already telling you these same things, it might be time to fire them and find a new one.

January 5, 2018 - Comments Off on Building a B2B Brand Starts With Stories, Not Standards

Building a B2B Brand Starts With Stories, Not Standards

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As a B2B marketing agency, SCHERMER is often asked to do "branding". Typically, it's marketers who want help with their brand positioning, messaging and identity so they can create more consistent and compelling communications.

These initiatives generally spawn a standards manual, website and advertising campaign, but not truly complete and compelling brand experiences – which is why most branding initiatives fall flat and fail fast both internally and externally.

Some B2B companies we've worked with over the past few years had a different intention, however. They wanted to make the shift from a product-focused to a purpose-driven brand, starting with the experience – not the end – in mind.

Purpose-driven brands are different. They focus on their “why” – why they exist and what they do for customers, rather than what their products do or how they work. In other words, a reason to be (brand) vs. a reason to buy (value proposition).

What makes defining a brand more difficult for B2B companies is that a brand is not typically a single product with an easy to tell story (like beef jerky and Sasquatch). Instead, it’s the sum of an entire solution or experience that is often unique for every different employee or customer. And it's a story only they are qualified to tell.

If a brand is unique experience then, it can't just be relegated to identity, or even messaging management, as it's typically defined and usually policed. Instead, it's coordinated interactions delivered at multiple moments and touchpoints – from how the product performs, to how people order the product, to how easy it is talk about it with others. These moments make up a customer’s total brand experience – so they all need to be defined and designed experiences from start to finish. Companies therefore must discover their purpose and deliver it in stories, not standards.

One of our favorite examples of how a company's stories shaped its brand comes from a tech manufacturer we worked with a few years ago. In an input session with a broad range of marketers, engineers and sales people, we asked: "Tell us what your company makes." The participants attempted to explain the company, with answers ranging from "We make flex circuits" to "We engineer flex circuits" to "We engineer, design and manufacture flex circuits for customers". Their words were oriented around defining them and what they make, instead of what they do and why they do it.

Then we asked them "Tell us what your company does." They lit up, telling us story after story that was fascinating and exciting. Stories you'd never suspect a Flex Circuit manufacturing employee would tell. One person told us about their circuits and heaters aboard NASA's Cassini space probe that is currently circling Saturn. Our minds pictured colorful, mysterious images we'd seen, not the thousands of parts and millions of lines of code that made it possible. They told us that the imaging equipment aboard Cassini was dormant during the seven-year trip, until their components were activated, warming up and powering the equipment that has sent us the incredible pictures we've marveled at for years. Imagine not knowing if your product would work for seven years, and that billions of dollars and countless hours depended the reliability of your tiny little circuit. Now, imagine having the confidence that it would. They did.

The best story came last. A product manager, reserved until that point, said in a quiet but passionate voice, "I'll tell you what our company does. One of our flex circuits is in the pacemaker inside of my father in law's chest. That circuit will deliver the charge that saves his life. So, we make components that work. Every time. No matter what. Because if they don't, people die." There was a beat of silence. Out of respect, but also out of realization. Realization that they didn't just make flexible electronic components. They make something much more – they make "critical components for critical applications." That promise did more than standardize their marketing, it inspired customers and galvanized the workforce from the top floor to the plant floor. It also drove sales in the year after by 33% – a remarkable achievement for a privately held, 50-year-old company, and a true testament to the power of brand stories.

When a clear and compelling purpose is defined and designed in a way people can believe, embrace and share, they're empowered to deliver their versions of consistent and compelling stories in the moments that matter most – the ones that marketers can inspire but can't control.

With this inside/out approach, we see increases in strategic alignment at both the organizational and individual levels. In fact, employees self-police the brand expression because they see themselves as brand stewards. So do customers in the best circumstances. The execution of the brand becomes seamlessly delivered across all touchpoints, experiences and interactions, positioning the company for success in the minds of employees, partners and customers.

Sure, brand guidelines, messaging, campaigns, websites and other digital experiences are necessary to formalize the expression of the brand. Those are the building blocks for a consistent brand experience. But to make your experience compelling, you've got to get at the stories that matter most, and then get them into the hands and hearts of the people who matter most – your employees and customers.

November 4, 2017 - Comments Off on SCHERMER Named 2017 Top B2B Shop by Chief Marketer

SCHERMER Named 2017 Top B2B Shop by Chief Marketer

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SCHERMER has been named a 2017 B2B Top Shop, a list of the top 50 U.S. B2B marketing agencies selected by the editors of Chief Marketer. We were one of three Twin Cities agencies to make the list. We are honored to be ranked among B2B marketing leaders from all around the U.S.

The Chief Marketer B2B Top Shops list is an editorial compilation of the top B2B marketing agencies, both large and small. This is a resource sought after by both brand marketers looking for exceptional agencies and agencies seeking experienced partners for brand work. The list provides a glimpse into each agency’s skills and recent campaigns. “B2B Top Shops is an essential resource for B2B brands and agencies seeking experienced partners in their marketing efforts,” says Chief Marketer.

SCHERMER’s addition to this prestigious list was based on several criteria: an impressive roster of blue-chip clients, like 3M, Eaton and Honeywell, new business wins from Cargill, Capella and U.S. Bank, and demonstrated B2B marketing expertise. “2016 was a banner year for us, and we’re predicting an even better 2017 based on the interest we’re getting in building buyer-driven brand experiences. The investments we’ve made in our UX and digital marketing capabilities have created new opportunities and delivered exciting results to our clients,” stated Chris Schermer, the agency’s president. “We’ve really got a unique formula, and we appreciate that Chief Marketer recognized it.”

About Chief Marketer
Chief Marketer is a trusted source of insights and ideas for more than 140,000 brand and B2B marketers. The complete 2017 B2B Top Shops list can be found online at Chief Marketer.

October 14, 2017 - Comments Off on MN Tech Diversity Pledge

MN Tech Diversity Pledge

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“HAVING THE BENEFIT OF A DIVERSE WORKFORCE MAKES US BETTER ABLE TO CONNECT TO AND SERVE OUR DIVERSE RANGE OF CLIENTS”
–MARIANN HOHE, VP OF STRATEGY AND PLANNING.

SCHERMER took the #MNTechDiversity pledge to help our tech community become a more diverse and accepting workforce. As a contributor to the well-being of the Twin Cities workforce, we believe it is our privilege and responsibility to foster diversity.

Diversity goes beyond race, gender, and sexual orientation to include various backgrounds, experience, and viewpoints. These unique characteristics yield different and interesting opinions–which is what make the brainstorm sessions at SCHERMER so effective.

We look for opportunities to foster diversity both in and outside of SCHERMER, such as our sponsorship and participation in the OutFront Gala. The representatives that attended the Gala on November 17th had a great time celebrating a great organization.