The Sarasota-based marketing and communications firm announces the addition of three new team members as it expands client footprint and new services


SARASOTA, Fla. – Next-Mark, a full-service marketing and communications firm serving clients in Florida and nationwide, announced today the addition of three new team members to meet demand for its growing roster of clients and expand its service offerings.

New team members joining the downtown Sarasota-based agency arrive with varying and distinguished backgrounds, which span agency and corporate settings alike.

“We’re excited to welcome each of our new, talented team members and feel strongly that through them, our clients will continue to benefit from the top-rated marketing and communications services Next-Mark is known for,” said Next-Mark president and founder, Joseph Grano, Jr. “By bringing on top talent, we’ve bolstered our strategic marketing communications and design capabilities and added new, highly demanded service offerings as a Certified Salesforce Partner. We see this as a significant opportunity for further expansion this year and the future.”

Digital transformation and client performance director, Joseph “JT” Grano, III, a Sarasota-native and graduate of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Grano holds over five years of experience managing end-to-end Salesforce and Kronos Software implementations for notable healthcare and financial institutions throughout the U.S along with significant marketing communications experience.


Client experience manager, Justin Mayfield. Hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina and a graduate of East Carolina University, Mayfield is an award-winning marketing communications professional who guided proactive PR campaigns and crisis management initiatives for notable national brands as a partner at a Tampa-based agency.


Senior Creative Specialist, Sandy Hendrickson. From Charlotte, North Carolina, Hendrickson holds a BFA in graphic design from Radford University and has spent two decades defining the look, feel and voice of some of the world’s most recognized companies, including Electrolux Major Appliances, Lowes, Rubbermaid, United Way and more.

Strategic marketing and communications were never more important than in 2020, as strategy drove tactics as never before. After 16 years in business, we found ourselves evolving quickly to help our clients take on the challenges in the path of moving their brands forward. We are proud of them and the work we did together last year and in years past, as different times dictated different measures.
It is in that spirit that we introduce our newly updated digital LookBook, which outlines the various tools we leverage and combine to create effective marketing that endures and propels, fashioned to fit the needs and goals of each client.
These include:

  • Branding, with examples from refreshing the look of a popular destination to driving a stake in the ground for a new era in a financial firm’s history.
  • Strategic content that starts with strong messaging and is molded to resonate with target markets.
  • Web and digital strategy that creates an image and helps clients stand out visually and come across clearly amid all the noise.
  • Creative design that draws the eye so the message can be heard.
  • Public relations through earned media, careful placement of content and use of a variety of platforms.
  • CRM services and Salesforce, bridging the gap between strategic content and full utilization of the powerful Salesforce application.
  • Trade shows and events, as they migrate to new forms and concepts.
  • Infographics that deliver high impact in few words.
  • Video production, the ongoing wave, make that the tsunami, of the future of message distribution.
  • Social media, which is a must for every enterprise seeking to connect with audiences today.

We invite you to take a look at what we can do – and what we could do for you. As always, we’re here to help, always collaborating, always communicating and always dedicated to our clients’ continued success. To learn more, view our 2021 LookBook or contact us 941.544.2765.

Traditionally, sales and marketing have been treated as two separate disciplines, causing both to operate in their own separate silos. Today, however, we know these departments are extensions of each other, and these silos are causing brands to miss out on serious leads and opportunities.

Customers have dramatically shifted their expectations. They now expect personalized, connected and cohesive experiences, and insist that each channel in the customer journey bring them the same high-level experience.

So, what does this mean? It means that, in order to create these unique customer experiences, sales and marketing must work together. And they need the technology to do so.

A tried-and-true way to do this is to use an all-in-one software solution that can unify and foster collaboration between. the two functions, breaking down those silos so brands can deliver the experiences customers have come to expect.

And we have just the one in mind – Salesforce.

Here are a few reasons why we recommend Salesforce for fostering collaboration across Marketing and Sales:

  1. When sales and marketing are connected on a single platform such as Salesforce, they provide access to a single view of the customer.

We emphasized how important it is for brands to deliver a cohesive, connected brand experience for customers. And if there’s one thing Salesforce does well, it’s put the customer at the center of everything, allowing your company to integrate data from anywhere, so you receive a complete  360 degree view of each and every customer.

  1. Salesforce provides end-to-end analytics to measure campaign ROI and performance, supporting customer retention and finely honed marketing initiatives.

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “the numbers don’t lie.” This is why taking a data-driven approach to your sales and marketing efforts is critical to developing effective campaigns.

Whether it be a direct mail program, email campaign, webinar or other initiative, Salesforce allows you to measure individual campaign performance, track where leads are emanating and measure ROI so your marketing and sales teams can easily see what’s working and what needs to be refined.

  1. That platform enables a collaboration layer, so teams across the business can share files and comments and engage more precisely on individual customers and prospects.

Think about your favorite band. One of the main reasons you like them is the way they use their instruments to create a unique, but interconnected sound, right? But imagine if the band all played in a different key. They wouldn’t sound harmonious, let alone get into a groove. The same holds true for sales and marketing teams that can’t efficiently communicate.

Salesforce has tools that allow teams such as Sales and Marketing to communicate harmoniously and share information. You can collaborate on sales opportunities and act on critical updates wherever you are to make the most of every moment.

  1. Salesforce easily automates business processes. As soon as a function completes a task, a notification is automatically created for the next function to pick it up. And because they’re completed on the same platform, the next person has all historical data.

Automation tools are one of the tools that make it such a powerful platform. Other than the obvious reasons of saving time and increasing productivity, Salesforce automation tools allow the customer to see the same brand experience across all your teams.

Salesforce automation can automatically trigger relevant content and messaging at scale based on your central hub of customer data, allowing you to convert prospects into lifelong brand advocates.

We understand all this may sound a bit complicated, especially if you don’t have the resources or prior knowledge to put these software systems into place. But it doesn’t have to be, and that’s where we can help.

Next-Mark is now a Salesforce Certified Partner. So we’re fully equipped to audit all your current sales and marketing systems and put new systems into place so your marketing and sales departments can collaborate efficiently and easily.

That means no more silos and a better brand experience for the customer.

Visit Next-Mark.com/Salesforce-Partner to learn more.

Marketing today moves at the speed of technology and changes as it does. Thus, it’s no longer enough to keep up with where eyes and ears are going and what they want to see and hear; it’s a matter of staying ahead of a rapidly moving curve.

As we look to a New Year, here are some trends we’re seeing and recommendations for how to use them to your best advantage in the unique environment of 2021.

1. Keep in mind that many businesses continue to work virtually
 due to the pandemic and a number of them are considering making it a permanent change. This makes on-line communication more important than ever. Factor into that an increased dependence on social media to remain in touch in a socially distanced world, and you can see the bond that can be created with your audiences when your marketing plan includes on-line marketing targeted by platform and users.

2. Strategic messaging, in general, never has been more important.
 If you have a solid messaging plan, now is the time to fine tune it to reflect who you are in 2021 and what you want to say to your audiences. If you don’t have a common “song sheet” that is used organization-wide, creating one should be Marketing Job One in the New Year.

3. Content continues its reign as monarch of consumer engagement. A key to creating content that customers and prospects will seek out is not looking at what you have to offer but, rather, how what you have can help them. It’s an outward look that companies of all sizes are using to their advantage, becoming a trusted source of information and building relationships. Thus, content marketing is a core piece of any marketing plan.

4. On the process side, customer relationship management (CRM) remains a critical component in converting prospects to customers and retaining them once you get them. By enabling documentation, management and analysis of the entire engagement process and client lifecycle, applications such as Salesforce and HubSpot facilitate more personalized, and productive, outreach and relationships.

5. Creativity is the oxygen in marketing. In 2021, it will be important to evaluate how your organization is standing out in the blur of competition and to become a true steward of your brand. This involves taking creativity to the next level in all media and choosing the right partner to help you do it.

6. Be aware of digital trends and look at your advertising spend within the digital context. 
This is a fast-moving train that you’ll want to be sure you’re safely aboard. Digital ad spending already is greater than traditional ad spending in the United States and, according to eMarketer research, it is expected to exceed two-thirds of total media spending by 2023.


7. Your website is the gateway to your presence and should be an important part of your strategy. Too many companies create a site and leave it to languish, with an occasional blog to show they’re still in business. In 2021, look at strengthening your online brand messaging, perhaps updating the site’s look and assuring back-end operations make access easy and fluid. And, of course, Search Engine Optimization remains essential in increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

8. We’ve said it before and may say it evermore: Video rules. n fact, according to a recent Cisco study, by 2021, 82% of consumer internet traffic will be video. Why? Because it’s the easiest, fastest and most enjoyable way to receive information for most of us. The best part is that it can be done on any budget – from the magnitude of a full production to a quick animation – and still make an impact.

9. Speaking of impact, consider the power of the Millennials, our nation’s largest generation group. Research has shown that they rely heavily on peer recommendations for buying decisions and those peers include online influencers. This represents a sea of change from companies creating personas to push product to individuals who have created their own online spheres of influence and can be powerful brand champions.

10. And, finally, don’t fear business as usual. Though parts of our lives and commerce are, or seem to be, in pause mode, it’s important for companies to press the “play” button and prepare for their next phase of operations and growth.

We wish you all good things in the coming year and stand ready to help you strengthen your brand and business in 2021 and beyond.

New Services for New Challenges 
We want to share some exciting news: Next-Mark is now a Salesforce Certified Partner – now serving clients throughout the US and becoming the first Salesforce Partner based in Sarasota, Florida.

This connection, with the world’s No. 1 customer relationship management (CRM) platform, will enable us to not only help clients implement this powerful tool but to also use it to its full potential.

The current climate has forced businesses to rethink how they engage with their customers and reassess how they get work done – all at a distance. As a Salesforce Certified Partner, we can help clients close the gap, driving digital transformation while simplifying the process to promote success even in disruptive and highly competitive markets.

Our full range of Salesforce solutions includes:
·      Quick Start Implementations

·      Full Scale Marketing Cloud, Pardot, HealthCloud and SalesCloud Implementations

·      Existing Environment Audits

·      Salesforce Managed Services

·      Lead Generation Optimization

Significantly, this certification enables us to connect our core competency of content creation with robust digital strategy, enabling client marketing and sales departments to communicate effectively with customers, prospects and each other. This means that even in the most challenging times, organizations can enhance outreach and grow their businesses. Learn more here or give us a call to get started at 941.544.2765.

Today, Next-Mark president and founder, Joseph Grano presented via Zoom to the Florida Public Relations Association’s Tampa Bay Chapter, discussing the steps required to build and sustain a successful thought leadership program.
The presentation was predicated on the assumption that no matter where a person is in their career or a business is in its evolution, there is a wealth of experience, passion and knowledge that probably isn’t being promoted to its full potential. When it is, those elements can combine to create an environment in which an individual or organization becomes a recognized authority and source of valuable information. This, in turn, creates an affinity for the personal or business brand, creating conversations and relationships.


About Thought Leaders

Thought leadership is a serious pursuit. However, that doesn’t mean that the voices behind it are grandstanders, self-appointed gurus or pontificators. Rather, they are trusted, informed, go-to sources in their fields of expertise. Moreover, they are influencers who are both inspirational and aspirational, while providing credible, notable and sustainable content – both their own and that curated from others. Their goal is to provide their audiences with the best answers to their questions.

Benefits of Thought Leadership

Good thought leadership (1) creates an affinity for a brand; introduces that brand as part of the conversation early in the consumer journey; creates a new level of intimacy with targeted audiences; is extremely cost efficient.

A Journey of 10 Steps

1. Build Your Thought Leadership Platform; Create/Curate Content that Drives Results:

  • Identify topics that align with the brand
  • Identify opportunities to gain share of mind.
  • Identify questions customers are asking and answer them in multiple formats.
  • Create value in the process, that is, provide something valuable to receive something else that’s more valuable to you.

2. Create a “Sphere of Influence” With Three Simple Questions:

  • Whom do you want to reach?
  • What will resonate with the audience?
  • How will you do it?

3. Make it Personal:

  • Your message is inseparable from who you are.
  • Your transparency will translate into an authentic and sustainable message.
  • Your unique story must resonate.

4. Map the Leadership Conversation:

  • Tell your story.
  • Align your leadership message to your brand.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be ethical.

5. Build an Arsenal of Thought Leadership Assets:

  • Information from trusted sources, including media and influencers
  • Social network posts
  • Blogs
  • Case studies
  • Infographics
  • White papers
  • Executive briefs
  • Videos

6. Stand Out in the Crowd:

  • Create and curate thought leadership content that drives results.
  • Take measured chances, don’t be afraid to surprise the audience.
  • Add value to existing content that is memorable, shareable and sustainable.

7. Select the Optimal Channels, Platforms and Outlets; Go Where YOUR Audiences Are:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Digg
  • YouTube
  • Etcetera and so on

Visionary Marshall McLuhan once famously said, “the medium is the message,” interpreted to mean that the way we send and receive information is more important than the information itself. He was talking about television and radio. But think of it in today’s digital world: Where we once were consumers of information, we now also are producers, creating our own information, as well. That’s a lot of opportunity – and responsibility.


8. Always Be Strategic:

Work toward goals and plan well. Thought leadership is more than throwing all you know at an audience, depending on the laws of probability that something might stick.


9. Measure Results Through Routine Audits:

  • Online metrics
  • Response rates
  • Monitoring formal and informal conversations about your brand

10. And Always Communicate Your Success:

And all along the way, seek to showcase excellence through engaging, thought-provoking content; be authentic, concise and fact-based; and enjoy the journey to becoming an acknowledged thought leader.


If we can collaborate with your thought leadership initiatives or provide any other marketing communications solutions, please contact us directly at 941.544.2765.

In these times of resource conservation for many businesses, some marketing tools may have fallen off the radar. If one of those is video, that’s neither good nor necessary.

Even if your marketing budget is challenged at the moment, it’s important to remember that videos are what consumers prefer, and some versions don’t cost a lot – or much of anything – to create.

Video has been climbing the charts of effective consumer outreach for a number of years. In a recent article for the American Marketing Association of Chicago, award-winning producer Tony Gnau noted some of the HubSpot statistics that have propelled video to its current ranking among marketing tools:
– Video marketers get 66% more qualified leads yearly than those who don’t focus on video.
– Video marketers see a 54% increase in brand awareness with their content among audience members.
– Product videos can increase purchases by 144%.

He then laid out three types of video that he believes businesses can – and should – produce during these unprecedented times.

First was the company value proposition video. Short and to the point, it involves simply telling customers and prospects your brand story and how you’re conducting business at this time. We love this idea, as it is humanizing and honest and, we believe, could create personal bonds at a time they’re in short supply. We caution you, however, to make the video your own, with personal touches that set you apart and reflect your authenticity. This can easily be accomplished with tools like Zoom for recording content along with added branding including transitional graphics and video bumpers.

This can be reinforced by the second suggested production: animated content videos which tell your story with animated motion graphics along with voiceover. These do not require camera crews or studios and can be disseminated via direct marketing, social media or other promotional tools or platforms.

Finally, we come to testimonials, which are a double-edged means of strengthening existing relationships and creating new ones. That said, these should be testimonials with a twist, that is, with the focus on the customer, how they are doing and, where appropriate, how you’re helping. Again, they don’t have to be fancy. They do, however, have to be heartfelt.

As noted recently in Forbes, studies show that 80% of consumers have ingested more content since the coronavirus outbreak than they did before, and video is their preferred type of getting that content. By 2022, in fact, it is estimated that 82% of all content creation will be video.

Putting it all together, companies need to revisit their marketing plan to assure misgivings didn’t lead to miscalculations in the cost and value of tactical tools, among which are videos, which can help them through the pandemic and keep them on track for an increasingly digital future.

If we can help, give us a call at 941.544.2765 or email us directly at info@next-mark.com.

Congratulations to our president and founder Joseph S. Grano, Jr., MBA for being awarded the 2020 Ginnie Duffy Troyer Award of Professionalism. Named in honor of former Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (CWC-FPRA) and Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) president, Ginnie Duffey Troyer, APR, CPRC, this award is presented to a member who displays the highest level of professionalism in the public relations field.”

What’s your favorite brand? Maybe the latest technology has always peaked your interest.  Perhaps styles or fresh design keep you coming back to your favorite clothing outlet.  What gets you excited to shop online, browse through a store or follow a brand on social media? There must be something that triggers your brain to actually bother to check up on the latest news or products from your favorite brand, right? You bet. This is called brand connection – what you want to achieve with your own brand ecosystem. 

These terms refer to the experience you create for your customers, how people view your products as potential buyers and how you track customers and prospects across all channels of communication. Messaging, social media presence, website usability and image are all key components. Brand connection is what makes someone refer your product, follow you on social media or continue to make the same or different purchase over and over again. But how does this happen? 

All successful brands understand that in order to build a lasting connection with customers, they need to connect with them on an emotional level. We are all human beings. Emotion is in our DNA, whether we like it or not. This gives a company multiple opportunities to engage with the natural, unfiltered side of humanity and make lasting connections with potential buyers. 

That’s why many brands seek partnerships and ways they can promote their brand alongside organizations or events that seek to make a difference and/or speak to a population.  Sponsorships also give a business the chance to not only gain important exposure, but voice their company beliefs or values. Have you ever seen companies partner with sports or teams?  Of course. Do brands donate parts of their profits to charity involving nature or disease research? Sure they do. This activity plays to our own likes and/or tugs at our heartstrings to foster respect for these brands. This, in turn, motivates us to spread the word or follow them in the news. We become an advocate for them.  Now that’s brand connection.

The brand ecosystem involves all the important decisions a business makes behind the scenes and designs for our customers. Today, most of this comes down to digital marketing. The goal is to create organic leads that drive to meet a customers’ needs.  Create an experience that is so interconnected that they’ll never want to leave.

Once you identify your target audience and test your customer experience process, you’re ready to launch. But it doesn’t stop there. Next, you need to track the results. Are there any gaps in the online experience you missed? Are your sales increasing or decreasing? Does your experience generate organic interaction and real leads? Keep testing and analyzing data and soon enough, your brand ecosystem will be thriving.

Brand connection truly comes down to having a healthy brand ecosystem. They go hand in hand. Connecting with your target demographic and honing your online experience will keep potential customers coming back time and time again.  It’s not a ‘one-time stop.’  It’s called an ‘experience’ for a reason.  A stronger experience leads to a stronger connection, which leads to a stronger brand.

There’s something to be learned from every experience, and the current pandemic has taught us a lot about ourselves and others, testing us in ways we could not have imagined just a couple of months ago.

Lately, we’ve been hearing about a “new now” that likely will challenge us even further as we step into an altered landscape. Let’s face it, we all harbor concerns about what’s ahead. But that’s to be expected. What could be unexpected is that we look deep into our hearts and minds as we make decisions in this new world and realize that, if we stick together, we are limitless.

This applies to business communications, as well as interpersonal interactions. There’s nothing new in the formula except the amplitude. It’s a matter of taking what’s good about us and making it even better. In that vein, here are few thoughts we’d like to share on working together – in any world.

Being positive. It’s a luxury for those of us who can see the light and not just the tunnel. It’s also something that costs us nothing to share. Positivity and persistence reflect optimism and dedication to getting the job done and hope for a better future.

Being compassionate. From American businesses who have stepped up to the plate to every essential worker and volunteer to everyone doing their part, we have shown that we care about each other and are willing to do what has to be done to get us through as a people. In the current situation, when one person’s inconvenience could be another person’s tragedy, we’ve seen what separates us and unites us. As companies and individuals, we must realize that others always need our help and understanding and let it show in everything we do and communicate.

Being flexible. Some things may never be the same, but people and businesses must strive to evolve and progress no matter the circumstances. This involves a new look at corporate and life strategies, operations and goals and articulating that in a way that says who we are now and what that means to others.

Being authentic. We’ve seen the effects of not knowing whom to trust. Transparency, always important, has increased in value in the past months. In the corporate world, transparency builds trust both among the public and employees and provides the foundation for the creation of reachable goals.

Being responsible. Never in recent history have we had such an opportunity to help protect others with simple actions. It’s something worth remembering going forward: not being tone deaf to others’ needs as we recover and doing nothing that puts our families, friends, colleagues and others at risk.

Being proactive. It’s easy to feel deflated, but there is still the future to be considered. Thinking about the next strategy, the next plan, the next stage of life and commerce will serve you well, helping you be prepared and ahead of what’s being thrown at you.

Being open minded. The words “we’ve always done it this way” have flown the coop never to return. If we know anything at this point, it’s that a lot of things can be done differently – and well. Consider that when someone comes up with an idea you’d normally quickly quash. Take a breath and let it breathe.

Being a friend. Yes, we all need friends right now, and just knowing they’re out there can make the day better. Going forward, we can draw on that to reach out, really listen and be a friend to others. We also can make a greater effort to look at things from another’s perspective, as we all deal with challenges in different – not necessarily incorrect – ways.

Being persistent.  Things may not run smoothly at first, so we’ll have to hang in there, adapting to change and making it work. We’ve proven we can do it. We just have to keep on doing it. How we cope and how we move forward will define us for years to come.

We at Next-Mark hope all is well, and will continue to be, for you and yours. We also are here should you need help in assessing, restructuring or enhancing your marketing communications as your business or organization moves ahead. To paraphrase the song, we’re in this world together. And, working together, we can make it better.