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15 minutes with...Cindy Philipson, CEO, Premier Business Solutions

Q: How did Premier Business Solutions get started?
Joyce Manthay and I started the company in 2001 after 15+ years working in various marketing and sales management positions in Corporate America. We had experience outsourcing to companies like ours to support the brands we managed, and we knew that we could provide far superior services – hence the beginning of our now 12-year-old company. We’re a Nationally Certified Women Owned Business (WBENC), thus a diversity supplier, and we work directly with a number of our Fortune 1,000 clients, as well as through their advertising agency partners, to provide successful programs and solutions that grow their business and increase profitability.

Q: Why do you think Branding has become such a popular business tool?
Branding and Brand Strategy has always been at the core of successful products and companies. Branding is how your customers identify, relate to and differentiate your brand over others. It’s about recognition, identification and engagement. It’s how you interact with your customers. It’s who you are as a company. What is a person without a personality? What is a brand without branding?

Q: Describe your first encounter with the term ‘Engagement’
We’ve been involved with loyalty, rewards and recognition programs since the early days of the company and know that engagement is the primary focus of all marketing investments. For us, the term “engagement” as related to what we do really started being widely used about the time that social media exploded a few years back. Keeping customers and users engaged in brands/programs/promotions takes more effort than ever before. You have to keep it fresh, fun & relevant – if it isn’t, customers have so many other options.

Q: What are some of the challenges of growing a business in the current economic climate?
Many existing and prospective clients have tighter budgets and smaller teams but still need to get the job done. This means we have to do more with less and remain a viable partner. To grow your business in today’s economy you have to be really innovative, stay current on technology, provide a valuable product or service and do it better than the other guy all the time. Your team can’t get distracted or lost on the journey, and everyone on the team has to love what they do. That’s a pretty big order day after day.

Q: How do Motivation and Engagement mesh? 
For us, the definition of motivation is “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something.” Keeping individuals motivated is directly associated to how well you’re able to keep them interested in the desired goals. It’s all about consistently providing innovative ways to draw attention and provide relevant incentives for the desired behavior. Without engagement, motivation is often times short-lived. 

Q: Tell us a bit about the connection between Technology and Loyalty
With digital and social media having such a big role in marketing and sales, staying current with technology is a very big factor in loyalty programs. For industries like travel where customers can redeem rewards for booking reservations using mobile devices, it’s a critical component of their programs and it has to be easy and accurate. For other industries, it’s critical to stay current, to be relevant and to keep your audience engaged. It is no longer an option, it’s a critical success factor.

Q: How can Branding be used to engage customers and channel partners?
This is where integration is key and can be really cost-effective. As I said, branding is how your customers identify, relate to and differentiate your brand over others. The Company/The Brand/PR/Promotions/Social Media initiatives – these all need to flow together and be fully integrated. 

Q: What role do Rewards play in developing a Strategic Marketing Initiative?
Many marketing teams miss the boat on this. A strategic marketing initiative is composed of lots of moving parts and can be challenging to define and even more of a challenge to execute successfully. It goes back to integration – the overall plan needs to include meaningful objectives/outcomes for the product/brand; a solid communication plan along with useful tools for those expected to execute the plan (the sales team); and finally, relevant rewards for all involved, including the end user/customer. Once a successful model is established, it needs to be scrutinized frequently to ensure it’s current and relevant. With constant tweaks it can be repeated and become a long-term strategy to grow and sustain under any circumstances.

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