December 26, 2017 - Comments Off on Out With The Old. In With The True.

Out With The Old. In With The True.

As many of you know, we recently moved from an outmoded office park to a trendy and modish neighborhood.

Excitement and anticipation lingered as we packed up and prepared to move into a wide-open, newly renovated warehouse with soaring ceilings. Knowing my space would be smaller in the new digs, the daunting task of editing the flotsam I had collected over the years was upon me. I could no longer ignore the need to part with decades of stuff. The “stuff” that had just gotten boxed up and unloaded down the hall in another office now had to be addressed. And boy, I felt a purge coming on. This was my chance, (cue Lynard Skynard Free Bird). Though as I began the process some questions emerged.

  1. How do I distinguish what I need and let go of the rest?
  2. How do I make the old and the new compliment each other?
  3. How do I keep the authentic self, shaped through the years, but meld it with the need to embrace ever constant change?

These same points should be considered when reviewing your marketing. Are you hanging on to your “stuff” because you don’t know what to keep or toss? Afraid to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak? To that I'd say, don’t automatically continue every past campaign that you’ve done over the years simply because you’ve “always done it.” Truth is, some of the things we do in marketing and in life are predicated by our comfort level.  Don’t box up your stuff and move it. Weed it out.

I’m not suggesting that every program, sponsorship and campaign you’ve ever done be scraped. I am suggesting you embrace change! First, separate the bath water and save the baby. As you move forward, identify the “baby;” your goals, culture, or mission statement and get rid of everything that doesn’t align with or support them.

  1. Make your public image work for you while staying true to the goals you’ve outlined in  your short and long term plan.
  2. Decide which of your past efforts should be combined into a new direction and which ones need to be abandoned or at the very less updated.
  3. What “stuff” do you need to let go of? Are you hanging on to old marketing points? Strip it down.

You may have to dig deep to find the best avenue to market your business. And recognize that it’s going to be a process. Change is gonna’ come. But with diligence and a fearless attitude, you can meet it head on.

Shelley Sergent
Senior Media Buyer & Planner

December 21, 2017 - Comments Off on The Holidays are About Connection. Right?

The Holidays are About Connection. Right?

KFC and their agency got a lot of press this Thanksgiving when they announced a new product for the holiday season — The Internet Escape Pod. Which is basically a Faraday cage wrapped in a hug from Colonel Sanders.

The stunt of actually offering this item for sale on garnered a lot of attention from a range of sources including AdWeekFox NewsFortune and Forbes as well as various tech and family blogs.

The internet itself applauded the joke and the over the top execution. At the time of this post, the limited-edition-of-one is still available for a reduced price of $5000 after hitting the market at an already affordable $10,000. 😉

As a PR stunt it’s obviously brilliant, but what has me thinking today just a few days before Christmas is the increasing relevance of the commentary. As a piece of satire the point it makes continues to grow.

Over the next couple of weeks families will come together to step away from busy lives and connect. They'll be stepping into a relatively new kind of holiday experience where increasingly everyone has a device (or nine) and seamless data connections are a given and no longer optional.

Happy Holidays! Let’s go camping in the New Year! 😉

Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

December 12, 2017 - Comments Off on Five Key Lessons Shared Between Non-Profits and Franchise Businesses

Five Key Lessons Shared Between Non-Profits and Franchise Businesses

Recently, I’ve had some very honest and candid chats with some national non-profit leaders about the future of fundraising. Simultaneously, I’ve been talking with local franchise owners about the greatest challenges they face — regarding everything from communications to operations.

As it turns out, their challenges and struggles echoed each other. Be it easing cultural tensions, improving communication, encouraging mission alignment, or fostering consistency, many of the same issues keep them up at night. Between the two segments, I’ve distilled some parallels and will outline here five key lessons that local franchise owners can learn from national non-profit leaders.

1. Everyone can fund raise, but not everyone is a fundraiser.
To be a skilled fundraiser takes training and practice. Just because someone has the desire to go out and raise money, does not ensure they will be successful. Even if they are successful, it doesn’t guarantee that the success will be sustainable. Instead, train your people for the skills you need. Training should happen every time someone joins, but should also be on-going. Teaching the skills needed enables both success and sustainability.

2. It’s critical to connect people to your mission.
For non-profits, connecting people to their mission is the key to keeping the lights on. When individuals and corporations believe what you’re doing matters, then they show their support through donations and gifts. However, as more and more non-profits develop and ask for donations, the mission becomes a critical differentiator between them and their competition. Likewise, as the number of businesses increase and therefor competition, why you do what you do becomes as important as how you do it or what you offer. Know your mission, live your mission, and clearly communicate your mission so others can align with you.

3. Plan on people making it personal.
The more people invest in something, the more it matters to them. This investment could be time, money or both. Whether it’s the woman who dedicates hours volunteering for a cause because she or a family member is affected by a disease, or the husband and wife team who poured their retirement savings into buying into a franchise store. When it matters, it becomes personal. Channeling this passion can be an organization’s greatest challenge. To do so, give people a chance to express themselves. Listen as they express their concerns or share their ideas. Empower people to use their passions and motivations in creative ways. Give them a platform and the support needed to plan their Do-It-Yourself fundraiser, or design their own local marketing outreach. Yet, be clear and direct in policies and procedures so they know where the boundaries are.

4. Think global, act local.
The best executives always remember that for both non-profits and franchises, many of the most critical decisions happen quickly and at the local level. It’s easy to fall back on the national name recognition and forget about how stressful the small business environment can be. It’s tough! But, always remember to prioritize your goals, and work toward reaching one goal before moving on to the rest.

5. Incentivize initiative and show your appreciation.
Above all else, remember to say thank you. Be it volunteers or franchisees, expressing your gratitude matters. And it’s usually the little things that mean the most. A coffee mug filled with chocolates, a t-shirt with a note, these small things let the individual know that their hard work is noticed and appreciated. You can even set incentive levels to reward good work along the way. However, be weary of saying thanks with things. If you go too far and give someone too nice of a gift, it makes the whole experience transactional, cheapens it, and demotivates. Instead to motivate employees, thank then sincerely and frequently with small, appropriately sized gifts.

Though I never recognized it, the similarities between the national non-profit and the franchise business models are striking. Both have a national brand supported by local factions, yet, though connected by name, these chapters or stores often operate independently. So, it makes sense that they share similar struggles. All of these listed takeaways represent real organizational challenges for both non-profits and franchise businesses. They are all primarily people concerns and every organization will benefit from realizing it’s living, breathing, human value.

Jane Broadbent
Senior Strategist

December 7, 2017 - Comments Off on Great Style is a Gift and Cato Wants You to Treat Yourself

Great Style is a Gift and Cato Wants You to Treat Yourself

THE BRIEF: Create a broadcast and social campaign for Cato Fashions that improves awareness and trial by attracting the occasional Cato shopper and connecting with the core Cato customer. Communicate that Cato has on-trend Holiday styles at affordable prices.



  1. Between the push for fashion-focused gifts, holiday party trends, and cold weather apparel, there are a whole lot of clothing promotions going on during the holidays. How can we cut through all the holiday clutter in the women’s fashion arena?
  2. Cato doesn’t do sales. Their prices stay low 365 days a year, which is great for shoppers! But it means in the world of Black Friday Blowouts and December Door-Busters, Cato does have a sale message to enter the conversation with. How can we get the attention of our audience and move them from awareness to trial without the attraction of a sale?


THE CREATIVE: The idea behind our “Imagine the Holidays” campaign, comprised of one 30-second television spot and corresponding social posts, was to remind women (namely the busy Cato customer) to “treat themselves” this holiday season.

We worked with Richmond-based VFX house, Hue & Cry to incorporate playful, animated illustrations into the live action footage. Throughout the television spot we see our model in charming scenes with moving, swirling and twinkling animations that enhance the spot’s holiday feel. An accompanying voiceover prompts customers to take a break from the busy holiday season and treat themselves by shopping at Cato.

Social posts took on the same visual technique. Working with our in-house motion content studio, Quick Brown Fox, we created illustrated live action videos tailored to fit on social platforms. The short clips show our model posing in her Cato outfits while playful illustrations animate around her.

With “Imagine the Holidays” we were able to accentuate the personality of the Cato brand, relate to the Cato customer, and most importantly, headline Cato’s 2017 holiday outfits. We imagine it’ll be a good holiday season for Cato.

See the work here! 


December 7, 2017 - Comments Off on A New Generation of Makers

A New Generation of Makers

We are fully ready for the Christmas season here at BMA.

And as part of the team behind the homemade wreaths and lit garland with glued ornaments and wrapped ribbon, I can say that decorating the new office was a project. It was a lot of hands-on work but I’m glad we chose the DIY route. It was cheaper and we are super pleased with how everything turned out, and have gotten so many compliments! In fact, while decorating we had a running joke that we should open a BMA Etsy account (stay tuned).

During my hours spent decking the office halls, I couldn’t help but ponder my personal love for crafting, art, and projects. So I decided to revisit this topic and take a deeper look what is happening in the growing industry of DIY (that has gone from a 30 to 44 billion dollar industry in the past 5 years (Craft Industry Alliance).

How many others truly share my maker spirit?

Turns out a lot do. 55% of older millennials used online videos in the past year to learn an art/craft skill or technique compared to 33% of Americans overall (Mintel). That's more than I expected! Online platforms such as Pinterest and Youtube have created an awesome space for people to learn, develop and share their own DIY talents. And some eventually continue on to sell their products online.

Not only are more people creating, but more people are selling their creations. Mintel states, “45 percent of older millennials (age 30-39) sold an art/craft project they made through an online shop in the past year, compared to 18 percent of consumers overall.” It just makes sense! Millennials are digitally native and known for being savvy entrepreneurs, so what better generation to conduct mini businesses and navigate through these online resources?

Buyers are also realizing that these online platforms such as Etsy and ArtFire are teeming with unique creations. According to Statista, the number of Etsy buyers from 2015-2016 increased by 4 million. And interestingly enough, 60% of visitor traffic was generated through mobile devices. Instead of driving around to every little boutique in town to shop for something unconventional, buyers are whipping out their phones and getting items delivered right to their front door.

The passion for crafting and art has always been there. But people now have more and more digital resources at their disposal, which has encouraged a new generation of makers. But furthermore, a healthy exchange between sellers and people looking for homemade, personalized items. It’s just easier and more efficient now.

Just think of it as your modern day Sunday afternoon market.

Emily Mondloch
Research and Insights

November 30, 2017 - Comments Off on Barber Martin Gives Thanks

Barber Martin Gives Thanks

Each of us at Barber Martin Agency hopes that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Whether you ate too much, waited in Black Friday lines, supported local businesses on Small Business Saturday or simply chose to #optoutside we hope it was time enjoyed with family and friends.

Here are some snapshots of our families giving thanks.

Leigh brought her sons to the Science Museum for the train exhibit and to just get out of the house.

Deb took a much needed break from cooking to visit Upper Shirley vineyard! Cheers!

Emily spent Thanksgiving with her family and boyfriend and enjoyed a strenuous mountain bike ride to cap off the weekend.

Jane took her two boys to the Potterfield Bridge to enjoy the sunshine and views!

Michelle and her husband spent lots of quality time with their new puppy King!

Christie and her family hiked up to the Masons Knob Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Gizelle, as always, had a packed house of family and loved every minute of it!

Brian had to wake up his dog Chloe after all that turkey to take her on a walk to these beautiful cotton fields!

 And we are also thankful for you, our friends.

November 21, 2017 - Comments Off on Lottery Scratchers Aren’t for Playing, but for Giving

Lottery Scratchers Aren’t for Playing, but for Giving

Like every other retail brand that ever was or will be, the holidays are traditionally a peak sales time for the Virginia Lottery. Of course, Lottery loyalists will be buying holiday-themed Scratchers and raffle tickets with a $1 million payout, but the gift-giving nature of the season presents an opportunity to gain interest from new players who want to get in on the fun.

This year’s holiday campaign for the Virginia Lottery aims to drive both loyal and new player segments to try Lottery Holiday games. So, with our knowledge of traditional player habits and holiday shopping behaviors, we zeroed in on appealing to gift givers. And we did so by positioning Scratchers as the ultimate holiday gift, not to receive or play, but to give.

Our “Win the Holidays” campaign for the Virginia Lottery is all about the feeling you get when you give someone Scratchers. The campaign title itself refers to the idea that you “win the holidays” by giving Scratchers, not by playing them.

This focus on giving allowed us to deviate from the usual comedic tone of the television spots we produce (and totally enjoy producing) for the Lottery, and inspired us to create a narrative that’s more emotionally charged.

The campaign’s two television spots and one digital video feature people of different backgrounds in different scenarios “giving the gift of joy” by giving holiday Scratchers. Scratchers are shown tied to dog bones and mistletoe, left on doormats and office desks, and passed out to family members, parking attendants, hairstylists, etc. Every scenario captures a moment of joy from the giver and receiver.

The spot also features a cameo appearance by actor Jason Kypros of Norfolk, also known as the Virginia Lottery’s Game Guy.

We know a lottery Scratcher isn’t an Apple watch or tickets to Hamilton, but that’s part of their charm. “Win the Holidays” celebrates the idea that a Scratcher can make people feel good by simply acting as a symbol of appreciation.

This campaign does a lot of hard work for the Lottery brand, almost acting as a holiday brand anthem. It positions the Virginia Lottery in a feel-good, emotional light that we think will cut through the holiday clutter and, of course, sell Lottery Scratchers.

Profits from holiday sales, like all Lottery games, benefit K-12 public education in Virginia – another thing we can all feel good about.

See our complete Giving the Gift of Joy holiday campaign for the Virginia Lottery, here.

November 13, 2017 - Comments Off on Bringing Efficiency and Experience to Video Design

Bringing Efficiency and Experience to Video Design

Introducing BMA’s Newest Digital Content Division — 

Highly experienced and nimble in nature- Quick Brown Fox, a video creation and motion design studio focuses on meeting the rising demand for agile web content and cost-effective production. The company was designed to serve clients looking to turn a project around quickly, while simultaneously raising the standard for digital content we see in the market today.

Quick Brown Fox is headed by our very own Brian Harrell, who brings his 30+ years of experience to the studio. They’re serving their own clients directly, from within the walls of Barber Martin Agency. And we couldn't be more excited about it.

Quick Brown Fox handles video editing, post production, motion content, animation and pretty much anything else you might need out of a piece of video or motion content. Whatever the vision is, they can bring it to life!

Check them out at

November 8, 2017 - Comments Off on 2017 Holiday Shopping Forecast — Black Friday is No Big Deal?

2017 Holiday Shopping Forecast — Black Friday is No Big Deal?

Black Friday is here again! Well not here, yet. But that’s how it's worked for years, it’s here even before it’s here, right? It’s the big event before the big event. Retailers and the advertising industry create news and events around announcing that it's almost here. Getting the engines primed, right? In the meantime, Amazon is dominating the early deals game, announcing Black Friday action, 50 days early! So yeah, it’s here.

Black Friday is still the single biggest day of spending and shopping on the calendar. But while online opportunities expand, popular attitudes around friday-focused brick-and-mortar feeding frenzies have cooled a bit. Two years ago REI made noise with their OptOutside campaign, staying closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in a sort of sacredly secular celebration of the outdoors and non-consumerism — and generated a lot of conversation in the process. They stuck to it last year and just announced they will continue the tradition moving forward.

Then last year we saw more stores choosing to stay closed on Thanksgiving.

Even the Mall of America closed on Thanksgiving last year, opening at a tasteful 5am on Friday morning. Malls are feeling the pinch as much as any individual retailer as spending continues to rise, but primarily in newer transaction channels. Malls are generally claiming a desire to spare the employees and the shoppers all that stress but reducing overhead in the face of stiff competition is also pretty fundamental.

So what does that mean for expectations this year?

According to a study from Field Agent, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are polling at just over 50% of respondents saying they are “very likely” to shop on those days. The question now is not so much about When or, which days will get the most sales activity — but rather Where and How will customers choose to shop this year? Over half of respondents said they plan to buy “most” of their holiday gifts online. This is the first year this expectation has hit a majority percentage.

With shifting behaviors we also see shifting values. “Affordability” and “quality” are top values this year, while “traditions,” and “brand names” are falling to the bottom of the pile. Amazon is loving it, Macy’s not so much. Macy’s and Nordstrom are forecast to see outright declining sales through holiday season as malls struggle to draw shoppers.

Amazon, WalMart and Target lead the field for retailers overall. soundly dominates the website category with 62% of shoppers expecting to use it. is #2 at 11%. Amazon and WalMart also lead with customers in the mobile app category.

With online and mobile shopping sliding into the forefront of all shopping experiences this year it only makes sense that the in-store frenzy of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping may be a thing of the past. The same study cites a lot of frustration from a majority of shoppers around overcrowded stores with under-trained agents and fickle availability of in-demand inventory. These realities may accelerate the trend toward better shopping experiences that hinge on more convenient technology.

Make no mistake that physical stores are an asset to the brands that use them well and staff them well. But the familiar narrative around Black Friday highlights some very apparent pain points for customers. And in turn, smart technology and savvy shoppers have deemed all that FOMO and frenzy to be an easy trade off for a happier holiday experience.

Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

October 31, 2017 - Comments Off on 70/20/10 — The Responsible Recipe for Discovery and Innovation

70/20/10 — The Responsible Recipe for Discovery and Innovation

Say it with me now. Seventy, twenty, ten. Seventy, twenty, ten.

Is it the recommended ratio of lean proteins to fats and carbs? Maybe it’s a stock market strategy or a component in a learning and development process. You’d be correct in every instance. The 70-20-10 model can be useful in many aspects of our daily life. In relationship to the marketing industry, the 70-20-10 model is a flexible path to help allocate your marketing dollars.

Words tossed around in current marketing strategy discussions are “agile, flexible, and nimble.” Companies need the agility to react in a timely manner to new industry developments. Flexibility is fundamental. Adaptation reigns in the chameleon world that is digital marketing. Blah, blah, blah. It’s enough confusion to keep you from doing anything. But before you run willy-nilly chasing the latest “something shiny”, tossing dollars at everything that might produce results, put a plan in place.

That plan can be loosely based on the 70-20-10 principle. Simple, and easily remembered
it works in the digital world with social and content marketing as well as traditional marketing. The basics are to allot 70% of your budget to tried and true, low risk, steady mediums that have worked for you in the past. The next 20% of your budget is earmarked for media that is relatively new, but has “legs.” The idea is to develop media that will move into the 70% bucket.

Finally, the last 10% of marketing dollars go to experimenting, finding the next big opportunity in untested areas. High risk? Yes. But it pays off when you find high reward in the process. The future of the 70% depends on knowing what’s out there and what works for you. We are in an age of emerging media and testing new ideas and new channels is a vital way to turn small plays today into big scores tomorrow.

Some industries refer to the process as Now, New, Next. Coca-Cola has structured their content marketing around the principle. McKinsey & Company a global management consulting firm, outlined a similar model in its approach to creating organic growth in the industry. “Now” focuses on generating growth quickly. “New” takes something that works and uses some aspect of it to innovate. Next is total disruption, off the rails, the great unknown.

So that’s the key! Build in tolerance for the great unknown and invest responsibly in it. This will set you up to learn from unexpected and exciting discoveries in emerging media.

Shelley Sergent
Senior Media Buyer & Planner