At Next-Mark, our work is all about our clients. We focus on four key characteristics (the four C’s) to give our clients the best possible experience:

1. Collaboration. We don’t just see you as a client, we see you as a partner. We want work with you to do what’s best for your brand and we value your participation every step of the way. According to an article I read on PR Daily recently, active participation from both ends creates a collaborative and positive working relationship.

2. Communication. On that note, we believe in keeping an open line of communication with our clients. We strive to create great work for you and your brand, but we also know this takes time, feedback and a strong work relationship.

3. Creativity. It can be hard to stand out in today’s content and graphic-driven world. At Next-Mark, we work with you to create unique and interesting content so your brand really shines. Whether your brand is in need of a new look and feel or a quick update, we’re happy to help you along the way.

4. Commitment. We value our clients and our work more than anything. As Next-Mark’s Director of Client Experience, I am committed to providing you with a great experience from day one.

Are you looking for a brand strategy partner? Give us a call anytime or read more about our approach here.

The Next-Mark leadership team often shares stories of brands and companies that have influenced our perception of the marketing industry and shaped the way we do business. Our focus tends to center around the start-ups that beat to different drums, color outside the lines and embrace the unconventional.

We think you’ll like reading about one of our favorite companies that makes us say, “AHA!”

A minimalist stainless steel toilet paper holder from Portland, Oreg. Combat boots from Italy. A cushion appliqued with a shaggy cow from the UK. These are just some of things you can find on Etsy, the online marketplace that connects small-scale artisans and artists with millions of buyers from around the world.

In the past several years, Etsy has become my go-to place for artwork, jewelry and Christmas presents for my design-loving sister-in-law. Actually, my sister-in-law and I exchanged gifts from Etsy this year.

Apparently, we’re not alone. Last year, Etsy sellers, known as Etsians, sold nearly $1 billion in handmade items, according to a recent Economist article. While Etsy only receives about 20 cents per item posted and 3.5% of every sale, the company is said to be worth $1 billion, and there are rumors that it will go public in 2014.

Etsy may be tapping into a movement away from big box stores and feeding people’s desire to make a personal connection with the producers of the things they buy (I usually get a handwritten note in my Etsy packages).

Through training, online and offline meetings, and their Seller Handbook blog, they also do a very good job of helping part-time crafters and hobbyists become business people and marketers. For examples, see the “Building Your Brand” video below, or check out their other YouTube videos on branding product packaging  and photography using models.

Now, off to buy that toilet paper roll.


Sarasota, Fla., October 8, 2013 – Next-Mark is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Morrison to the position of public relations and social media manager. He will be responsible for developing and managing public relations and social media strategies across client categories.

“We have seen a significant client and revenue growth in 2013, particularly in the areas of public relations and social media, along with brand creation,” said Next-Mark President Joseph Grano. “The addition of Mike Morrison rounds out our leadership team and positions us for continued business growth.”

Morrison brings more than a decade of media experience to Next-Mark. He previously served as a public information officer for multiple criminal justice agencies, where he provided media interviews during high-profile criminal investigations, developed crisis communications strategies and marketed local and statewide public awareness campaigns. He also is a skilled social media strategist with experience across social media platforms.


Social Media Mistakes

Social media is no different than playing in the sandbox. There are some things you just shouldn’t do.’s article, “3 Annoying Social-Media Mistakes Businesses Need to Avoid,” provides a solid list of common mistakes businesses should remember to avoid and why:

1. Only talking about your products and services. 
By now, this one should be a no-brainer. Don’t be that guy at the party who only talks about himself. Posting status updates, tweets and pins that narcissistically revolve around your brand only is tantamount to social-media suicide. You’ll quickly come off as too corporate, self-serving and disconnected from your customers and their needs. An exodus of followers is sure to, well, follow.

2. Not playing (sharing) well with others.
Instead of tweeting repeated promotional messages about your products and services, make an effort to retweet, share and pin your followers’ content often. Also exchange friendly, conversational tweets with your followers, particularly those who are significant influencers within your industry. Doing so can encourage a sense of community within your social networks, boost your brand exposure and help you earn your followers’ trust.

3. Posting insensitive content about sensitive subjects.
One of the fastest ways to get people trash-talking your brand over social media is to post poorly-timed, offensive remarks about sensitive topics, especially those that are political in nature and inspire strong emotions. Foot-in-mouth tweets like these can weaken your brand value and your company’s reputation. Trying to make a buck off of others’ suffering in times of crisis doesn’t go over well. Just don’t do it.

The Next-Mark team frequently assists clients with developing engaging content that speaks directly to the intended target audiences. Give us a shout when you’re ready to engage – we won’t be offended.


We were knee-deep in both proofreading and brand standards projects last week, so I thought it fitting that I should stumble across a Huffington Post article on the importance of  brand style guides. In it, author Dave Standen argues that companies should act like publishers and set guidelines and standards for their digital and print content.

Why? Well, there are lots of good reasons, but in a nutshell,  according to Standen, “A good style guide lays the foundations for consistent, on-message brand content to be created (be it in-house, agency or freelance) and approved.”

If you are considering creating a style guide for your brand, read on for six steps you can take to make sure your guide is useful and easy-to-use.

Choose an external style guide like the Chicago Manual of Style, The AP Stylebook or, the new kid on the block, The Yahoo! Style Guide.  (At Next-Mark, we use the AP.)

Decide upon internal style guidelines. This is especially useful for the consistent use of product names and industry terminology (e.g., Is it ‘healthcare’ or ‘health care’?).

Clearly define your tone and voice. Are you formal or pithy? Provide examples, so your writers really know what you mean.

Describe how you write for the Web. Don’t assume that your writers know how to write for the Web; be sure to include guidelines for SEO and metadata.

Set a style for social media. If your brand has a social media presence, lay out the differences between writing for each of the different platforms.

Visual content. Content isn’t just text. Provide standards for things like video and infographics, too.

Many of our clients already have content style guides that are part of, or used to augment, their brand playbooks.  I am comforted by the fact that I have somewhere to turn when deciding whether or not to use a serial comma and when to use sentence case. (Confession: It doesn’t follow AP, but I love the Oxford comma.)

Inspired by an uptick in the number of website development projects we’ve been working on here at Next-Mark, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how user experience – everything from a website’s usability to its error messages – relates to brands. So, I was intrigued when I came across Co.Design’s article that takes David Ogilvy’s rules for developing advertising campaigns and, by changing a word here and there, changes their context from campaigns to user experiences.

David Ogilvy, often called the original Mad Man, wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man in 1963 when big one-way, top-down campaigns and splashy print and TV ads were the dominant trends in advertising.  How do Ogilvy’s principles hold up fifty years later, in an era of digital products and services, customer engagement, and two-way conversations? As it turns out, very well.

I’ve summarized three of the new rules below; however, I encourage you to don your smoking jacket and your best English accent and read them all.

1. What you say provide is more important than how you say provide it.
For Ogilvy, advertising was about making sales. What helps people decide to buy isn’t the beautiful design or soaring copy, it’s telling them about product’s value. Similarly, digital services and products must provide real value, utility and content.

3. Give the facts benefit.
Ogilvy wanted to convey to the consumer as many facts about a product as he could. As was true with campaigns, with digital products and services, customers are interested in what it enables them to do.

7. Committees can criticize advertisments experiences, but they cannot write them.
Design by committee didn’t work in Madison Avenue’s hey day and it doesn’t work now. Many digital products and services lack coherency because there are too many cooks in the kitchen during the design process. Small, agile design teams can make great products quickly.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hub bub surrounding content marketing. But, before you start churning out content, make sure you know if your video, white paper, blog post, Tweet, etc. will really be valuable to your customers. Or, as The Guardian put it in a recent article, “…for content marketing to succeed, brands need to produce authentic content that clearly resonates with the consumer.”

Like your marketing strategy, your content marketing strategy should be backed by data and research about your customers. To do this, more and more brands are scrapping their demographics in favor of creating buyer personas – detailed descriptions of who buys your product or service. These personas are examples of people you’d like to influence that you can turn to again and again when you are considering what content to create and how to distribute it.

Creating buyer personas is a complex process that involves bringing together customer and non-customer interviews, as well as internal and external research and analytics. Of those companies that have taken the time to tackle their brand personas,  many are using them for their overall brand strategies and to determine the success of individual campaigns. The smart marketers are also using them to make sure their content aligns with their customers needs.

For more information on brand personas:

NBC News Kills The Demographic, Personifies Its Viewers Instead

Companies That Totally Get Their Buyer Personas

4 Common Persona Mistakes to Avoid


Sarasota, FL – March 8, 2013 – Next-Mark, LLC today announced the appointment of Steve Wroczynski, Director of Creative Strategy and Kerry Shaw, Manager of Account Services.

Wroczynski comes to the firm after spending several years as a Marketing Director and Graphic Designer based in Jacksonville, FL. He polished his skills in visual communication and typography in Marshall University’s Art Program.  Steve brings to Next-Mark a wealth of experience building client creative strategy and developing brands.

Shaw recently led an information technology marketing team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  A Colby College graduate, she began her career as a Marketing Assistant at Penguin Putnam, then moved to OgilvyInteractive – Ogilvy & Mather where she helped clients create strategies for their digital content. At Next-Mark, Kerry will oversee client account management and assist with content development.

“I am very pleased to have Steve and Kerry on the Next-Mark team,” said Joseph Grano, Next-Mark president and founder. “With the skills and experience they bring to the firm, we are poised to continue to grow, add to our capabilities, and strengthen relationships with our clients.”

About Next-Mark, LLC

Next-Mark was founded in 2005 to help client organizations reach their full potential through marketing success. Breaking away from the constraints of traditional marketing service organizations, the Next-Mark team takes an intuitive marketing approach, integrating our experience, analytics and innovation in developing strategic marketing solutions to meet clients’ individual needs. Next-Mark focuses on internationally and nationally recognized brands along with growing companies across a broad spectrum of categories, including healthcare, technology, retail, real estate, environmental, marine products and tourism, among others. With clients from Alaska to The Netherlands, its roster includes industry leaders such as LexisNexis, The Rivolta Group, Elsevier Health Sciences and Nuance Communications, among many others.

Media Contact:
Joseph Grano
Next-Mark, LLC