How The Marek Group’s Tami Marek-Loper Leads with purpose
By Tami Marek-Loper
In his book, “The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary,” Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D., brilliantly laid out the essence of the brand’s success—a sociology-inspired concept known as “third place.” The concept refers to another place outside the home and work that people could gather and build a sense of community. Founder and CEO Howard Schultz’s vision was to create a chain where people are willing to pay a bit more for coffee because of the caché and potential connection that comes with the purchase.
The Starbucks’ story personally inspired me to push our team to create a “third place” concept within the print and marketing space. Similar to Schultz’ vision, The Marek Group strives to offer a resource our customers can turn to for their print, digital, promotional products, audio and visual and software needs. We no longer think of ourselves as a printing company; instead our vision is to “provide personalized sales material for all at scale.” This strategy enables us to seek opportunities in all areas without depreciating our vision.
Our promise is in our name. We are not Marek Printing, Marek Litho or Marek Marketing Services. We are The Marek Group. Once our vision was set, the branding came easily.
I do not think entrepreneurs think big enough and your vision is one of the most important parts of your business. And let’s not kid ourselves, vision is hard. It takes a lot of work to nail down who you are, what you do and where you want to go. Too many businesses simply cannot agree on a single vision or single purpose because they feel it narrows their opportunities.
Your journey starts with vision. It must come before the brand because without a clear vision, your brand will not have staying power. In other words, it is too hard to try and ride the ebbs and flows of a constantly changing business landscape without a clear picture of where you want to go. Trying to change with every opportunity is just not a recipe for success.
Putting your vision first
One of the things The Marek Group prides itself on is practicing the EOS Traction business methodology, which is at the core of everything we do. The philosophy drives our branding, our culture, our goals and our decisions on a daily basis. The six-part methodology includes:
- Vision — Get everyone in the organization 100% on the same page with where you are going and how you are going to get there.
- People — Surround yourself with great people, top to bottom.
- Data — Cut through all the feelings, personalities, opinions and egos, and boil your organization down to a handful of objective numbers that give the pulse on where things are.
- Issues — Identify the components that need to be solved.
- Process — Systemize your business by identifying and documenting the core processes that define the way to run your business.
- Traction — Bring discipline and accountability into the organization and become great at executing your vision.
Every year, we hold an employee-only meeting to discuss our goals and initiatives for the coming year. The meeting, designed to be a positive reinforcement for our team, helps roll out our corporate theme and marry our annual goals to our corporate vision. The meeting also includes social time, celebrations of our collective success, corporate branded gifts, and more.
This year our theme is “Together Toward Tomorrow,” which will help create a more unified team across the six companies that are part of The Marek Group. The goal is to bring more personalized products and services to our customers and prospects alike.
In addition, we conduct a series of programs throughout the year to help everyone stay aligned with the core values, vision and/or annual corporate theme. For example, in departmental meetings, we start with a positive personal and business achievement from each attendee. We are even revamping our employee review process to incorporate our core values. A key component of the employee’s success is how he or she lived and breathed our core values on a daily basis. As an example, we encourage employees to give shout-outs to co-workers who go above and beyond the call of duty.
The best way for any team to maximize buy-in from the top, down, is to let them be a part of the process. If your employees feel like they are part of creating the vision, they will be more apt to remembering and embracing it every day. Training each manager on your vision statement—the “why” behind it—will help lay the groundwork for the future of the business.
The first step is defining your brand’s perception to your employees and customers. This is likely the biggest differentiating factor for your business. Next, see if you can leverage the findings into a value proposition or elevator pitch. Finally, meet with your most trusted employees and push them to help you make that value proposition relevant three, five, 10 years from now—longer even. If you can do this, you will lay the groundwork of what your vision statement should look like.
At The Marek Group, our mission is to be the industry leader in field sales effectiveness and marketing execution services—transforming the way our clients gather, manage, recommend, and distribute sales and marketing content to the field.
To continually reinforce this vision, our team of nearly 200 professionals in the field help execute and deliver on the strategies we employ for some of the country’s most recognized brands. Our company’s five tenets are as effective as they are straightforward:
- Leadership — Have courage to shape a better future for our clients.
- Collaboration — Leverage collective genius.
- Integrity — Be real, honest and committed at all times.
- Accountability — Take ownership and honor commitments.
- Quality — Pride in quality, always striving for best in class.
On a personal and professional note, I am a big proponent of setting and achieving goals. Each day has a purpose for me, my family and my company. I have established myself as a visionary thinker who pushes the envelope of what is possible in order to achieve the best for my company and my clients. In an industry that continues to change, you have to keep thinking outside of the box. This is where you find the ideas and inspirations that can help change the world. This is what I push my team to do each and every day.
From where I sit, the arc of leadership has many different twists and turns, and should be treated as such. It is all about creating a beacon by which to steer your ship into the future—an endeavor none of us should take lightly. Having good vision enables you to make better decisions, avoid those shiny and often distracting objects, and be happier. Giving yourself a purpose each and every day means you are committed to something worth achieving. This, I have found, will give you the inner peace to fight the daily fight.
“From where I sit, the arc of leadership has many different twists and turns, and should be treated as such. It is all about creating a beacon by which to steer your ship into the future.“
As you set your sights on the road ahead, remember this: Your vision shows what your brand seeks to achieve in the short- and long-term. At the highest level, it sets the direction and purpose for you, your stakeholders (your team and customers) and your industry. Stay agile. Listen. Learn. Engage. Innovate. Do this, and every step of the way will be filled with reward.
It is a code that every entrepreneur should honor.
Tami Marek-Loper is President and Chief Visionary Officer for The Marek Group Inc., a nationally recognized turn-key marketing execution company specializing in print, promotions, mail, incentives, kitting and fulfillment in Waukesha, Wisconsin.