spoke Blog

In our spare time, we all write stuff, too.

Sigmund Freud once said, “if you really want to know someone, look at their browser history.” OK. That’s not true. But, he’d probably think reading blog posts would provide insight into what a company thinks is important and a glimpse into the personalities that drive the business.

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Activating the Customer Buyer Journey

Jeff Roberts

Our North Star – developing marketing strategies that inspire your customers to take action – will always be what motivates our every action.

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We All Know That Content is King. (Now How Will You Make It Serve You and Your Audience?)

Jeff Roberts

Speak directly to customers, brand followers and prospects in a way that initiates a productive dialogue and builds brand relationships.

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Before Heading to a Trade Show, Pack Some PR Essentials

David Meyer

Heading to a trade show to network with current customers and meet new prospects? That’s great. Even in a hyper-connected world, trade shows and conferences remain a valuable and necessary staple for businesses and organizations looking to connect with key stakeholders.

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Marketing Tools Are No Match for Customer Power

David Meyer

Consumers have more power than ever before. When they’re upset, they can do incredible harm to your brand (through things such as online reviews and even your social media), and they have access to more information (mostly true) about your products and services at their fingertips.

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Marketing During a Recession

David Meyer

Growing share during a booming economy is difficult (everyone is spending). Gaining market share during a recession requires capital, but the eventual ROI can’t be beat.

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Preheat Your Data to 450 Degrees

David Meyer

Most companies have great data. The problem is that it’s stuck in silos (CRM, Marketing Automation, Web Analytics, Accounting, Social Data, Customer Support, etc.). By combining the data into one Customer Data Platform, marketers obtain a Single View of the Customer…and then your marketing can really start cookin’.

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Those Darned Kids (And Grandparents)

Ian Cohen

Like many things, marketing used to be much simpler; the days of brands targeting broad categories (i.e., adults 18-49 years old) are long gone. Today, there are three distinct generations within that one category (GenX, Millennials, and GenZ), each with a completely different set of values.

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I Know Why You Don’t Have a Digital Strategy in Place.

Ali Tucker

Should you have a defined digital strategy for your business? Absolutely. But you likely aren’t utilizing the digital space to its full potential, and you’re not alone.

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Not All Anchors Weigh You Down

Rich Roden

The speed at which business happens today is crazy fast. And it is only getting faster. Business owners and operators need to make hundreds of decisions each day, and it can be tempting to let decisions about brand and marketing slip through the cracks.

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Funk? No!

Debbie Arata

Keeping burnout at bay. After 35 years in the industry (did I just write that?), I’ve been fortunate to have seen some fascinating changes; new technology, new ways to slice and dice messaging, and new techniques.

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Take Stock of Higher Quality Stock (please).

David Meyer

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a lousy stock photo’s thousand words are ‘crap.’ OK, maybe some of them are ‘lazy.’

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The guy dancing in the end zone isn’t the only hero.

David Meyer

What was once a simple spike (first attributed to Homer Jones of the New York Giants in 1965) has evolved into a choreographed party – so long as it’s not deemed ‘excessive.’

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Marketing Myopia Revisited

Angie Lawing

You are defined by your customer. You are not in the business of whatever your product or service you sell, you are actually “a customer-creating and customer-satisfying organism,” as spoken by Theodore Levitt in his classic article “Marketing Myopia,” first published in 1960 by Harvard Business Review and revisited by Levitt in 2004.

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Where Brand Happens

Drew Mangels

“Let’s practice what we preach” … that was our mindset before we began the task of rebranding ourselves. The goal was to do exactly what we do for our clients, but this time, do it for ourselves.

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The Best Ways to Waste Money at a Trade Show

Steve Slais

There are a lot of great ways to burn money (we’ve seen ‘em all). Our favorites are the ones where you spend a lot of money, but don’t spend it the right way and get no results. Hilarity ensues.

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Why Austin Is Becoming One Of The Best Cities for Creatives

David Meyer

If you’ve opened a national newspaper, INC, Fortune, Fast Company, Wired or read any news story about fastest growing cities in the last few years, each recognizes Austin as a great place to live. But why? The cost of living is rising, traffic is a nightmare, and the city is in constant change.

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The cobbler HAS shoes.

David Meyer

You know that saying about the ‘cobbler’s kids with no shoes’ (implying he’s too busy with work to take care of himself). Have you ever noticed that it’s the ‘cobbler’s kids’ and not the cobbler himself? I bet the cobbler didn’t just have shoes, he had really nice ones (for the record, my great-grandfather was a cobbler, and legend has it that he always wore nice shoes).

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Can you hear and see me now?

Chris Martel

Advertising should make you visible, not invisible.

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Networking is not working…it’s partying.

David Meyer

How our intimate get-togethers turned into a networking party.

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"Bees Knees" to Bring You to Your Knees

Dan Klein

Spoke Friday has been a tradition going back since we opened in 2008.

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The Secret Sauce for A Successful Content Campaign

David Meyer

Yes, content marketing is important. Per a recent article in The Harvard Business Review, nine of ten organizations are using content marketing as part of their marketing efforts.

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Words Get On Your Nerves (whether you like it or not)

David Meyer

For a company whose primary business is dependent upon communication, it seems obvious that being able to write compelling copy for print ads, brochures, TV and radio ads is a basic requirement. Yet, crafting a compelling message can be challenging. Why?

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The Voice of the Customer

Angie Lawing

We all know the central role that the customer has in business. But this doesn’t always translate into listening to the voice of the customer when it comes to product development, improving operations, marketing, and customer service, among other areas.

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The brands, they are a changin’

David Meyer

First, let’s get one thing clear; a great brand is no guarantee of success (pets.com was fun while it lasted). As marketing pioneer, Bill Bernbach famously quoted, “a great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster.” In other words, you can only fool people once.

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All your base are belong to us

David Meyer

No, the alien robots from the 1989 video game Zero Wing aren’t coming to get you.

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Don’t hit the play button (I dare you).

David Meyer

OK, not everyone can be a trendsetter (wrote the guy wearing tattered Chuck Taylor’s and well-worn Levi 501’s). One of the things I love most about our industry is that it’s constantly changing; it requires an unwavering commitment to learning.

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Nobody loves your new product (sorry).

David Meyer

You love your new ‘precious’ product, don’t you? It’s okay, admit it. The problem is; nobody knows your product better than you. If you hope to have any chance of selling it, that’s got to change. Like now.

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I can’t say ‘squishy ball’ with a straight face.

David Meyer

No knock on the promotional products industry, but the sales and marketing effort for your tradeshow shouldn’t revolve around the tchotchke that you give away. I’ve yet to make a purchase decision based on the logo on my squishy ball or pen.

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Guide Your Customers Through the Buyer's Journey

David Meyer

There’s knowing who your customer is, and then there’s knowing your customer (hint: the second one is better).

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Go Down the Rabbit Hole and Follow the Buyer’s Journey.

Ali Tucker

Many companies are living in a fantasy world in which they are not personalizing messaging to provide the right message to the right target at the right time.

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A Persona Can’t Drive Your Car (but they can drive your business)

David Meyer

As we set up clients’ marketing automation programs, we’ve found that many are confused by creating personas. “How is it different than my target market?” Personas aren’t different; they’re better.

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Automate Yourself

Ali Tucker

You’ve realized that you want to feel the ease and freedom that marketing automation brings (plus the extra dough doesn’t hurt). Now, what? There are many choices for marketing automation systems, and you should find what is right for your budget, resources, and goals.

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It’s a push-button world

David Meyer

It’s the future, and it’s a push-button world. Hovercrafts exist, robots clean our floors (at least until the uprising), and we automate as many tasks as possible in our everyday lives (how dare you suggest that I do manual math like a peasant!). In this world where we consistently choose automation over manual tasks, it amazes me that less than ten percent of companies are utilizing marketing automation.

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Client Highlight: Telling the MyLaw Story

David Meyer

A great example of using lead generation to target qualified leads to maximize ROI is our client AppointLink. They show that if you build it (correctly), they will come.

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If you build it (correctly), they will come

Ali Tucker

61% of companies surveyed say that getting leads is their biggest challenge (IDG Study). 

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Lead Generation May Not Be Your Problem

David Meyer

Prospects often call us because they want more leads; plain-and-simple. Most of the time, the quantity of leads isn’t the problem. After asking a few questions (using our patented client decoder), we find that they really want more ‘qualified’ leads (after all, why waste your time trying to sell people that have no likelihood of buying?).

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Getting The Right Leads (with a good ROI)

David Meyer

You know who you’re targeting for qualified leads and what you want them to do, right? Oh, and you’re converting those qualified leads into sales at a good rate, and high return on investment? Good.

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Client Highlight: Sit On It

David Meyer

A great (maybe the best) example we have of executing a marketing plan is a campaign we developed for ANOVA. Their marketing plan revealed that landscape architects were a prime target to grow their business. The tactic chosen was a simple (giant) cardboard chair (2 big pieces, two pegs) and delivered it in a giant box, along with assembly instructions and information about ANOVA.

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The Secret Sauce

Ali Tucker

Having a marketing plan is a great first step (really, the only first step) to grow your business employing cost-effective marketing. But, it’s just a first step.

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Resolution #2: Follow Your Marketing Plan

David Meyer

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu – The Art of War

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Resolution #1: Have a marketing plan

David Meyer

Remember paper calendars? It was always refreshing to start January with a clean slate. The fresh pad always smelled good, too. Like optimism, or something.

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Spoke learns about state incentive programs the hard way.

David Meyer

The state of Missouri has a program, Missouri Works, that offers tax incentives to companies adding as few as two jobs.

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We've Got More Spokes in the Wheel.

David Meyer

For years, we’ve been thinking, “how could we make Spoke better?” We’ve tried everything, Ouija boards, Tarot cards, sage smudging, and hired a shaman (who turned out to be just a college kid selling CutCo knives). The answer turned out to be pretty simple.

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Spoke Marketing Expands to Austin, TX

David Meyer

St. Louis, MO (January 22, 2015) — Spoke Marketing, full-service marketing for the emerging and middle markets, is announcing today the agency is expanding into Austin, TX, with the new office being headed by Managing Director Joanna Heinrich.

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You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

David Meyer

Happy Holidays

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Hey doc, I need an antibiotic.

David Meyer

It’s that time of year; doctors get the call all the time – patients looking for a quick fix to whatever’s ailing them. We get similar calls almost daily (no, not for drugs…not anymore, anyway). Prospective clients call up wanting a solution without knowing the cause of their problem.

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The Evolution of Banner Ads

David Meyer

Remember in the late 90’s when all anyone talked about was ‘eyeballs’? That was the (really stupid) rationale to invest in dotcoms based solely on the traffic the site would generate (even if the site operated at a loss). It was the reason companies had insane valuations and no real, sustainable revenue model.

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Go Big or Go Home

David Meyer

What do you think a good direct mail response rate would be? How about 100%? Would that be good enough for you?

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This Is Your Last Warning

David Meyer

For years marketing experts have been stressing the importance of including social media in the marketing mix of small and large businesses alike. How is it, then, that so many companies are still solely relying on their company website and paid media to enhance their online presence?

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EVERYONE ELSE’S BLOG SUCKS (and they torture puppies)

David Meyer

This month we’ll be looking at choosing the best medium for your advertising. It’s estimated that consumers are exposed to hundreds (likely thousands) of marketing messages each day. Breaking through the clutter is one of a marketer’s biggest challenges, and finding the right media mix is a key ingredient to success.

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Talariant

David Meyer

Arch Grants Winner CoMo Medical wanted to rebrand…and we weren’t about to stop them.

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Maybe Dental School Isn't The Answer, After All

David Meyer

For years, I’ve been suggesting that marketing students go to dental school. Great money, great hours, and nobody (hardly) ever dies in a dentist’s chair.

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Why Referrals Work

David Meyer

Spoke has been able to grow during the ‘great recession’ and ‘slow rebound’ not just because we do great work and focus on finding our clients’ fastest path to cash™; it’s through referrals. Literally 90% of our business comes in the door that way.

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DawaDawa

David Meyer

If The Blessing Basket Project had a hoard of obnoxious groupies, they’d have to get in line behind us. We’ve done multiple projects for them over the years (you try to say no to their founder Theresa…let us know how that goes).

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Kölsch

David Meyer

Spoke is excited to start off the fall season with a philanthropic bang! On Friday, September 26, we will be entering our Devil’s Tongue Kölsch beer into the 1st Annual Agency Homebrew Competition to benefit the Megan Foundation.

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Sprockets Wrap Up

David Meyer

As summer’s closing (along with our sixth year of the Sprockets program), we thought it would be fun to tell you what (kickass, pro bono) work our interns have been doing for non-profits and start-ups.

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A 'Squeaky Clean' list

David Meyer

Garbage in, garbage out. With direct marketing, having a good list is the most important element (more important than creative).

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The Fastest Path to Cash™ (or, Spoke's Secret to Success)

David Meyer

Yeah, we liked the line so much we trademarked it. But, it really is our key touchstone for every client we work with and something we focus on every day.

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