From the value of programmatic advertising to the wonders of the 21st century (have you tried Slack?!) to activating latent badassery in our office, here are 10 things we’ve learned in 2017.
1. Social media is a great place to test new creative ideas. Trying to decide between two versions of a headline? Two different images? Post them both and see which one resonates better with your audience. Voilà, there’s your answer.
2. Direct mail still works, folks. Call us crazy, but when we have a wild thought with big potential here at IN Food, we like to see where it takes us.
Case in point: We’re not afraid to go retro. Did you hear that direct mail marketing is dead? Certainly not from us. As an element of recent campaigns, we (er, a bunch of US Postal Service employees) took to the streets with some old-fashioned paper-and-ink marketing, and even we were surprised by the results. In campaigns with multiple touch points, we’ve found that direct mail can still out-perform other more “advanced” tactics.
3. Budget a little tighter than you anticipated? Programmatic advertising provides the best bang for your buck. The “golden age” (or not-so-golden-age, if you were a woman…) of advertising recently romanticized by the TV show Mad Men, is ALL about the creative. But today’s placement-driven marketing landscape is pretty darn sexy too—albeit a bit more futuristic. Programmatic advertising uses an automated bidding system to reach targets, resulting in a lot of impressions to a wide audience on a small budget. Employed strategically, a good programmatic ad could take Don Draper’s most creative idea any day.
4. Babies boost office morale. Our office manager, Erin, was between daycare providers for a few weeks this year and brought her son Felix to the office on Tuesdays. Suddenly there weren’t enough Tuesdays in a week for any of us with little Felix scooting around our desks and assisting his mom with conference calls.
A great example of the culture of flexibility and understanding that we cultivate here at IN Food, we’re all secretly hoping Erin might switch daycare providers again. (Although she feels like the arrangement she’s got going now is a good one…you sure Erin?)
5. We are among the smaller agencies in the Twin Cities, but we still play ball in the big leagues. Small can be mighty, especially when you put your whole heart into an endeavor. This year we were selected as the agency of record for General Mills Convenience & Foodservice and reminded just how big a role passion, grit and ingenuity play in success—regardless of the numbers.
6. A little playtime pays off. In 2017, we made an effort to do more things together—inside and outside of work. From dinners to happy hours, retreats, birthday celebrations and taking turns making soup for office lunches, we’ve discovered that quality “team” time really does translate to a near-seamless work environment.
7. All aboard the Slack train! No, really. Bringing this cloud-based messaging and collaboration tool to our office has streamlined communication between colleagues and departments and given us all an excuse to giggle at our screens together (as if we needed another platform for inside jokes…) Slack makes communication fast, easy, effective and fun!
8. Giving back feels great. As a food marketing agency we’re passionate about serving our community and helping to combat hunger. In addition to our annual Click For Lunch campaign, this year we also cooked and served dinner for the Jeremiah Program, made over one hundred sandwiches for the homeless, and volunteered at Second Harvest Heartland.
9. Everyone can be a badass. As part of our agency retreat in October we read Jen Sincero’s book You Are a Badass. Her refreshing, realistic and often-hilarious take on life, work and success gave us all a new idea or two to mull over, a little extra swagger in our step, and a reminder of our own badassery.
10. Staying active keeps you fresh. From #PlankTime (one minute planks every hour on the hour, anyone?) to complimentary Sculpt Yoga classes taught by our very own Assistant Account Executive, Emily, we’ve been reminded that a little physical activity throughout the day improves performance, productivity and happiness.