Preaching the Blues in 2020

I’ll have a blue Christmas without hue.

If you were singing the holiday blues last month, you were in good company. In fact, you might even be able to call yourself a visionary.

Every December, Pantone throws some shade on product development and purchasing decisions by announcing its Color of the Year for the approaching 365-day cycle. The selection that will help shape marketing minds for 2020 is – drum roll please – 19-4052 Classic Blue.

But what does this mean and why is it important – or is it even important at all?

First things first: What is Pantone? The New Jersey-headquartered company provides a universal language of color that enables color-critical decisions through every stage of the workflow for brands and manufacturers. According to the company’s website, “In 1963, Pantone revolutionized the printing industry with the colorful Pantone Matching System, an innovative tool allowing for the faithful selection, articulation and reproduction of consistent, accurate color anywhere in the world. The tool organizes color standards through a proprietary numbering system and chip format, which have since become iconic to the Pantone brand. Pantone’s color language supports all color-conscious industries— textiles, apparel, beauty, interiors, architectural and industrial design—encompassing over 10,000 color standards across multiple materials including printing, textiles, plastics, pigments and coatings.”

Since 2000, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced decision-makers in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, industrial design, and product packaging and graphic design. The Pantone Color of the Year selection process includes thoughtful consideration and analysis, with color experts at the Pantone Color Institute scanning the world looking for new color influences to determine the color that best captures the prevailing attitudes and reflections of the coming year.

“They put a lot of research into it and try to establish design trends as well as overall trends,” said Lauren Brumbach, one of the team of graphic designers that delivers unique insight and vision for the clients of M3 Group.

The selection of Classic Blue as the 2020 Color of the Year helps signal the dawn of a new decade and the opportunity for a clean slate, Brumbach noted.

“Blue often means loyalty, a fresh start. … It’s kind of saying that 2020 is a year of revitalization,” she noted. “It’s something fun for designers to pay attention to and stay on trend.”

Although Pantone’s Color of the Year will, indeed, influence the design and marketing decisions for some businesses, one a broader stage it serves to showcase the importance of color selection in conveying specific information to the end user.

“What I like to take away from looking at the decisions by Pantone is the color theory behind it … the general psychological aspects behind it – what it means, how it makes you feel, what it represents,” Brumbach said.

The color blue conjures feelings of relaxation, peace and compassion, she noted, while green can signify new life or growth and red can stir sentiments of warning, boldness and anger. It’s a demonstration of how color can wordlessly convey a message and meaning, as well as subliminally evoke specific emotional responses and shape the way we think about something.

“Most design usually is subconscious,” Brumbach said. “What’s interesting about Pantone is they think about all those things and how it plays into trends for the coming year. … As a designer, I think it’s more something to keep in the back of your mind in the design world.”

As a business owner, color selection should be a more front-of-mind consideration when creating a marketing and branding plan. As Brumbach noted, the choices you make will be a significant component in how you are perceived by consumers

“I think it’s important for them to be aware that there is a lot of color choice and realize how big the color world is,” she said.




Leveraging Earned Media Placement for your Business

Amplify your Influence with HARO

Public relations can be an effective way to get brand exposure and drive more website traffic. Gaining publicity for clients is ultimately what most marketing professionals aim to do to put companies in a positive light. This is why being featured in various publications is crucial for any business. Finding a successful and effective media relations strategy can be slow. Spending hours looking for potential outlets and sources to randomly pitch to can is not a good use of time or resources, so it’s no secret that there are effective outlets out there to speed up the process. One program I prefer to take advantage of Help a Reporter Out or HARO.

HARO is a helpful outlet that journalists use to find industry experts to use as sources in articles featured on major media sites. According to HARO, the network reaches more than 800,000 sources and 55,000 journalists and bloggers.

There are many benefits of getting your business mentioned in leading publications within your industry or market. Besides exposure, link building, which is having a source or website link to your website, can be a great way to help boost search engine optimization ratings. This also is an excellent way to build relationships with writers around the globe that are influencers in your industry. Additionally, it helps to list your site with trustworthy directories.

HARO is a pretty straight forward platform used by PR professionals, journalists and experts all over. When you join as a source, HARO sends out new leads three times a day via email, Monday through Friday. Expect these emails to come in around 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. There are emails sent with specific topics, guidelines, industries and so on. When signing up for HARO, there are preferences that allow you to opt-in or out of additional emails tailored explicitly to the categories you’re an industry expert in.

When you’re an expert in a specific subject or industry, the response can seem like the easy part, but HARO is competitive, especially for popular media outlets. Take time to develop a thoughtful pitch to the query. Keep in mind that there are countless submissions to each writer, so your pitch should be concise and stand out from the rest.

I have had great success with pitches to queries via HARO. It has been a source that I continually use for both clients and in-house marketing efforts. Not only do I get free publicity, but it also is a great way to make connections across the globe with expert writers in the industry. HARO is an effort proven to work. M3 Group is a full-service branding agency from marketing and corporate consulting to PR and advertising services. If your business is looking to expand its brand awareness and reach, we’d love to help you out. To learn more about our services, please visit m3group.biz.

First Day Jitters: What It’s Like to Be A New Hire

Written by new M3 Group hire Amanda Fischer on her first day on the job

Do you remember your first day at your job? Most of us probably recall a blur of events, but what we tend to forget is how we felt.

As someone who is writing this blog on her first day, I am going to take you back to those first day jitters to help you prepare for the coming of your next employee. If you’re starting a new job, don’t worry because this will help you prepare for your next endeavor, as well.

Being a new employee isn’t easy. When it comes to starting a job, you can prepare all you want, but until you get there, you don’t know what you don’t know.

This morning, I joined the M3 Group team, and despite my excitement and eagerness to start, I was nervous. Driving into work, my stomach was full of butterflies, and a million small worries crossed my mind: What if I can’t find parking? I hope I’m not late. What door do I go in? How will I find my desk?

You get the point.

Most employers go over job descriptions and larger aspects of the position, but small details like the ones I stressed over this morning are often overlooked by both employee and employer. Businesses can better prepare new employees by having someone in a similar role write out their daily activities and using it to formulate a list of things to let your employees know before their start dates. Conversely, new hires should take time to write down questions they have about the job before beginning.

Once I got in the building, most of my anxiety subsided. I was met at the door by a coworker who promptly gave me a tour of the office, showed me where I would be working and introduced me to many of my coworkers. Feeling awkward is inevitable when beginning a new position, but this made me feel significantly less awkward because I didn’t have to wander around or sit at the entrance waiting for someone to come tell me where to be and what to do.

The first day often feels confusing, unorganized and lacking direction to new people, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s be honest, you’re busy. You can’t push deadlines and halt productivity to stand by your new hire’s side all day, but there are a few things you can provide to employees to clear up ambiguity and give direction to individuals when you aren’t available:

  • Orientation agenda
  • Handbook and company policies documents
  • Organizational chart
  • Company mission and vision statements
  • Calendar of important dates
  • Pay schedule and information
  • List of small projects to work on during downtime

New hires, you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to coworkers and see if there are things you could do or advice they have for you.

Like many individuals starting a job, I was worried about meeting new people and whether we would get along. I quickly learned it would not be a problem at M3 Group. My peers worked to make me feel comfortable, ensuring I stayed up to date on when meetings were and how the organization worked. I must have had three coworkers inform me about our Monday meeting and walk me through what it looks like. Their actions were thoughtful, and it helped immensely to have people who were willing to go out of their way to make sure I knew the lay of the land.  

It is important to remember how scary it can be for a person to come in and meet a group of new people. You don’t know who they are, what the work environment is like or what they will think of you. To help new hires feel more comfortable and integrate them into the company, consider pairing new employees with a mentor or hosting a lunch to welcome new employees. As a new employee, it can be scary to put yourself out there, but opening yourself up to your coworkers and projects will start you out on the right foot and show initiative.

With all the fears of beginning a new job, comes an even greater excitement to dive in and get to work – personally, I have been enthusiastic about getting my hands dirty and contributing to the successes of my new venture since I accepted the job. Before you can get to that point, you must complete preliminary paperwork and have the proper materials. If you’re starting a new job, you should bring the following items on your first day:

  • Direct deposit, tax and 401K information
  • Proper identification (passport or license and social security card)
  • Office supplies
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Headphones
  • Vehicle registration

The more prepared you are for your first day, the quicker you will be able to get to work.

As I write about being new, the feeling I hope to never forget is the excitement I have for my future at M3 Group. Employee or employer, you have the power to help make your first impression a good one. Be prepared, be open and be ready to help your organization grow and prosper.

Shake It Up!

The average working person spends around 40 or more hours in the office every week. For some, it can be easy to lose their spark in the workplace. Job burnout can cause problems in work relationships, attitude and job performance. In order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what to look out for. Being burnt out can lead to feeling drained, irritability, cognitive issues, lack of effort and the list goes on.

The Mayo Clinic describes job burnout as a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. Instead of being miserable at the office, try shaking things up a bit. Sometimes change is as simple as making an attitude adjustment. And remember negative habits and thought patterns can be contagious. Stay positive in the office. Learn to manage the stress and feelings that come with your business and leave them at the door when you enter – and when you leave. 

Sometimes job burnout can happen when one person has too much on their plate.

  • Consider finding efficient solutions that will lighten your workload.
  • Identify some ways to manage a more reasonable and realistic workload and offer those solutions to your manager.
  • Be sure to celebrate your accomplishments in the workday, even the small ones.
  • Remind yourself that the work you do is meaningful and purpose-driven.
  • Try shaking up your daily routine by working in a different location (if possible) for a day or even beautifying your personal workspace to make it feel a little cozier.
  • Go somewhere new for lunch or clear your head if needed with a short break doing something enjoyable like meditating or reading.
  • Take a break every now and again to recalibrate and destress.

Make sure to focus on the basics in your home life as well, like exercising, getting enough sleep and making sure you are living a rich and full life outside of the office.

Regardless of the reason, it’s important to find the stressors that are causing job burn out and implement a solution to fix it. Without identifying the cause, you can’t begin to fix the problem. It’s easy to throw yourself into work and let the stress build-up. Make a goal to identify the root cause and move forward with a positive solution.

Making the most of Marketing Trends

Everyone is keen to jump on the latest trends to market their business. Many are game-changers. Some are costly. But is it worth it? Oftentimes, you really get what you pay for. The key is to do your research – or let a knowledgeable marketing firm do the work for you.

Social Media 

A now long-running trend, social media can be a huge boost to your business. But in this case, you do have to spend money to see results unless you are lucky enough to have the kind of business that attracts followers organically. Use tools available in Facebook to target your ad dollars to a specific group. If you are seeking the attention of other businesses – consider LinkedIn as a “business to business” approach. New reports state that if your employees post about your business on LinkedIn, the chances of getting your message out are greatly increased. Incentivize your staff to share your business message.

Artificial Intelligence

Many marketers are currently making use of technology that will allow them to pull data from several sources. This data is used for reporting information, which is then used to create marketing plans and to gauge their success. It is also used in decision-making, optimization and goal setting. Look into different software and service providers, read reviews, and do your research into which best fits your operation. 

Integrated Marking

You can’t really have too many cooks in the marketing kitchen. It takes a savvy team to integrate marketing across multiple platforms. The key to this recipe is consistency across those platforms – adapting to the readers on each but keeping the message the same at its core.


Essentially, geofencing creates a virtual perimeter around a location that allows a business to target a specific group with a specific message. Ads can be served to a group while at a specific location and for quite some time after. 

There are countless other trending options for clients to utilize, but it is important not to forget that face-to-face interaction and a human touch are just as important as all the grandest tools in the kit. In a very digital world, the human connection can be an important key to success. More than a trend, it keeps relationships cultivated and communication at its best.

M3 Group has capabilities in all of the above, and a team with the know-how to help brand your business forward. For details, visit m3group.biz.

Blogs are a Key Piece in the Social Media/Web Puzzle

They not only get your message out, they add to your online presence

Do you wonder why blogs are important to businesses? 

Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you?

While some have declared the demise of the blog as businesses turn to other trendy delivery platforms, consider what Mark Twain said at news that he had died: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

That also applies to the rumored death of blogs. They are alive and well, gaining readership and bringing traffic to your website.

There are several ways to bring attention to your blog.

First, businesses must be proactive. Blogs must be updated frequently to continue to drive readers – who may become customers – to their websites. And the writing must be about a specific subject using a ton of relevant keywords, which will increase your “findability” on major search engines.

“A great way to author a blog is to answer an unanswered industry question from a Google-rich snippet,” said Mark Warner, creative manager at M3 Group. “If you can answer the questions users are seeking and add new content to your website, it’s a win-win.”

Take Google, for example. Google adapts to what shows up in a search based partially on how relevant a business is to its industry. So, even if you don’t pay for a Google Ad (which would put a business at the top of search results), you can still show up prominently in a search if you have timely and relevant content on your website – like a blog.

Blogs also increase search engine optimization or SEO. While it is nearly impossible to show up on the first results of an online search unless you pay for an ad or are one of the big players in an industry, using what are called long-tail keywords can increase the chance that you will be found by searchers looking for a specific niche.

Here’s how that works: An accounting firm might not show up early in a search for “accounting firms near me,” but if someone is searching for “accounting firms near me for nonprofit organizations” and you have written a blog about being an accounting firm that works with local nonprofits, you have a better chance of fitting into that search engine’s algorithm and popping early up in a niche search. 

By publishing a blog, a business can also set itself up as an expert in its industry, regardless of how small the company might be. Give readers some solid expert advice that they can actually use and sharing your expertise will set you up as the go-to source for whatever your blog is about.

A blog that enables readers to comment is a way to get to know your audience and reveal what interests readers, enabling you to continue to target content. By including blogs on your other social media platforms, driving readers to your website, you can identify your audience and build trust with them, which could result in a business relationship.

You can also keep readers on your domain through internal links. Let’s say you are reading the aforementioned accounting firm’s blog about nonprofits. The text mentions changes in the 2017 federal tax act that affects nonprofits, and you refer readers to an earlier blog on your domain that deals with how the new law impacts nonprofits. 

“It’s important to remember that the link should be relevant to the content on the page,” Warner explained. “Internal links and backlinks from external sites all play a major role in SEO rankings. Google’s algorithm tracks a variety of factors, so it is important to try to check off as many of the SEO factors when authoring content, such as placing images, titling the page or selection of tags.” 

Warner said the H1 tag is an HTML tag that indicates a header on a page – a snippet of code that tells your web browser how to display the content. An H2 tag is a subheading and should contain similar keywords to your H1 tag.

Now, how often should you post a blog? Research indicates a minimum of 11 blogs per month is ideal. Post the blog not only to your website but link the writing by including the posting on the other social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

If you feel you don’t have the know-how or the time for writing blogs and posting on social media platforms, M3 Group can do the heavy lifting. Not only can we create professional and relevant blogs that hit the mark in terms of SEO optimization, we also can craft effective social media posts and set up a social media schedule, posting at optimal intervals to keep your company in the minds of consumers. 

M3 Group has had success in conducting online surveys, man-on-the-street evaluations and assembling focus groups to better learn what your customers want.

Those are just a few of M3 Group’s proven specialties. Call us at (517) 203-333 to discuss these services and more!

Is it time for a rebrand of your business?

Rebranding is a delicate but very popular decision. A lot of major companies are jumping on the rebranding wagon – from Uber to Dunkin Donuts to Weight Watchers and dozens more. If your company is considering a rebrand it’s helpful to ask the right questions. We sat down with M3 Group Marketing Specialist Zach Krieger for his take on the topic.

Why should a company rebrand? Any organization should take a good look at their brand every five years; that doesn’t mean a HUGE change or overhaul to the look/messaging/culture of the company, but it gives leadership an opportunity to reassess what they’re striving for and what tools are needed to achieve those goals. Sometimes that means tweaks to messaging or a tagline, sometimes that means a new logo, color scheme, website, etc.

What are a few things a company should consider when rebranding? Strategy. Why do we do things the way we do them? How can we do things better? What do people think of when they hear our name or see our materials? A good strategy will put you in a situation to answer these questions and allow you to explore what pieces and parts you might need to ensure your whole team is working towards a singular goal, under a unified message.

Should they develop a logo first or a strategy? Why?  Always a strategy! You might not even need a new logo or name change … if the strategy dictates that this is something to explore, then maybe. But, the most successful brands are never created on a whim.

Why should a company use an agency instead of attempt this in-house? Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t see the label from inside the bottle?” Organizations know their businesses very well, they know their customers very well, they know the industry and the products and the peak seasons. Nine out of 10 people don’t know much about branding. Some may think having a social media page and possibly a sharp business card is a great brand. Agencies are brand professionals. Branding is a force that comes from every aspect of the organization, from top to bottom. An agency specializes in giving organizations the tools and direction they need to sustain a look and feeling to associate with their brand in all aspects, internally and externally.

Any other tips for companies considering rebranding? Designate a budget and be on the same page with internal leadership when looking at this process. Don’t just dip your toe in this; branding is a process and takes time. Proper resources and time NEED to be considered when looking at your brand. There also needs to be a trust factor in the people/agency you decide to work with – don’t turn your creative consultants into order takers. Agencies are trying to empower your organization through new ideas and process… don’t restrict them because that is “the way we’ve always done it”. Lastly, HAVE FUN with this … a brand is something that the TEAM needs to buy into; leadership, employees, families, customers, etc. are your “brand ambassadors”. Give them a reason to have good feelings when it comes to your brand.

If your company is considering a rebrand, let the qualified team at M3 Group help. Contact us at 517-203-3333 or visit our webpage at www.M3Group.biz.

Business Survival 101

What steps to take to prevent being a victim of changing market conditions

According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, about two-thirds of startup businesses survive at least two years and about 50% make it to the five-year mark. After 10 years the survival rate drops to about 35%.

Even if successful at starting a small business, economic and market conditions and changes in trends can cause a temporary downturn and put a business in a precarious position. What’s a small company to do when its profitability is on the ropes?

According to the website Business Know-How, there are steps an entrepreneur can take when market conditions go south. Here are two methods to recharge your presence.

Rebrand your company: Take honest stock of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. What caused the loss of business? Have trends changed? How can you be competitive again by rebranding?

Don’t guess at what customers want and will pay for. Analyze your existing sales and talk to actual customers and prospects. Conduct an online survey to find out which of your products or services are most valued and will bring the greatest profit. 

Another way to gauge your impact on customers is to conduct a focus group. Not only will a focus group tell you what you might be missing, it can also let you know why they are turning to a competitor.

Get social:Are you on all of the social media platforms that your customers use? Social media has become an important tool for all types of industries. The Pew Internet Social Media statistics for 2018 put an exclamation mark on the use of social media.

Facebook and YouTube dominate the social media landscape, as a majority of adults in the United States use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans are noted for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. 

About 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of those users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users.

Breaking that down even further, 68% of adults are Facebook users, with a majority of those reporting they access the site on a daily basis. The video-sharing website YouTube, although not a traditional social media platform, is used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds. 

Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.

But the social media story extends well beyond Facebook. The video-sharing site YouTube – which contains many social elements, even if it is not a traditional social media platform – is now used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds. And the typical (median) American reports that they use three of the eight major platforms that the Center measured in this survey.

Regularly posting on social media platforms can give your business a boost, but don’t overdo it. Y

It also may be time to look at your current advertising and add in marketing techniques like email blasts, pop-up marketing and guerilla marketing will make you stand out from your competition.

Both of these solutions, from rebranding to short and snappy videos to marketing techniques have been refined by M3 Group. We work on SWOT reports for our clients, analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 

You don’t have the know-how or the time for social media? M3 Group can create effective social media posts and set up a social media schedule, posting at optimal intervals to keep your company in the minds of consumers. 

M3 Group has had success in conducting online surveys, man-on-the-street evaluations and assembling focus groups to better learn what your customers want.

Those are just a few of M3 Group’s proven specialties. Call us at (517) 203-333 to discuss these services and more!

Employee Education Benefits

…and why you should jump at the chance to offer them!

Learning doesn’t have to stop the day you earn your degree. It is now more important than ever to diversify your skills, and when you work at an especially creative workplace it is imperative to stay at the top of your game.

M3 Group offers this benefit to staff and enjoys seeing them return from seminars and workshops feeling empowered, motivated and armed with new skills.

If you’re an employer who does not make opportunity for growth an option for your staff; here are a few things to consider.

Keeping up to date

If your key staff have been in the workforce for some time, chances are technology has changed. Offering them re-fresher courses and opportunities to learn new skills will help them catch up with the times.

Invest in your staff

Knowledge is power. By continuing to learn and grow – your staff will gain confidence. Show them you are invested in them, and they’ll invest in you in return. Their improved skill set will also help take your business to the next level.

Employee retention

According to schoolofpe.com, 87% of millennials have been reported as listing “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as an important factor when choosing to stay long-term with a company. It is also an attractive benefit to offer potential hires.

Put a few guidelines in place. It’s wise to consider employee tenure and commitment when contemplating more expensive education plans. There are also many valuable and affordable options available that all staff should consider.

M3 Group is proud to be a company that invests in our employees. Just another step in our plans for world domination.

M3 Group Fosters Community Feel Through Events

Here at M3 Group we feel more like a family than a collection of coworkers. Perhaps that’s because, as a fully integrated marketing and advertising firm, we often have graphics artists and copywriters working in tandem with  photographers, videographers and account executives to achieve a single goal.

The entire staff participates in scheduled brainstorming sessions, where we collectively seek creative solutions for our clients to provide them with the very best and newest idea to get their message to their target markets.

We also emphasize that family feeling with internal events. Take our recent potluck for example – it kind of signifies the cohesion and collaboration of our talented and diversified staff.

It was a taco potluck. Some people provided seasoned meat for filling. Another brought a scrumptious guacamole, while another employee provided spicy salsa. Some contributed shredded cheese, while others brought taco shells and tortillas.

Pretty much everything on that list would be tasty on its own, but when the ingredients were placed together in a taco shell or tortilla they became not a collection of individual foods, but rather a cohesive group of flavors that tasted complete and wonderful.

It isn’t just gastronomical collaboration that we exhibit at M3 Group. Any occasion to be creative and fun is game. Take May 4th, for example. It was “Star Wars Day” – may the fourth be with you – and as such we celebrated as a team. One member of our creative team brought in several masks he had picked up on his way into work – some were very “Star Wars” specific, while others were … well, not so much, but still fun. Light sabers were present throughout the day as well.

And now M3 Group has a coed softball team participating in Lansing leagues. Enthusiasm for the team was high even before the first pitch had been thrown in competitive play. The one team practice yielded three participants, but it was still an example of teamwork, as are the discussions of who will play at what position.  At the first game, every team member showed up ready to play. The outcome of the game was not as desired, but the team-building make everyone involved a winner.  Those of us who are not taking part on the field will likely be perched somewhere beside the diamond rooting our teammates on.

That’s the type of collaboration M3 Group practices both on the field and during our brainstorm sessions in conference rooms. It’s that teamwork that enables us to develop a plan that hits it out of the park for our clients.