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Roiann Gunnells died Monday, January 20th.
She was our Fulfillment Coordinator from the fall of 2013 until December 2019 when cancer started to get the best of her.
“When I would make client calls, Roiann would sit next to me and ask if I needed anything,” remembered Courtney Buczkowski, our Service and Production Coordinator. “Or she would tell me to give her some of my work to do because she wanted to help me out. She didn’t ask if she could help; she told me she was going to.”
That's how Roiann was. “She always put aside what she was doing if anyone needed a hand,” said BusinessVoice Director Steve Evert. “Roiann was always a team player and willing to help anywhere she could, even while she was sick,” said Accounting Associate Cheri Stewart.
Roiann struggled with her illness for several years, yet her sass and resilience still came shining through. “Once I told Roiann I was having a bad day,” recalled Cheri. “She looked at me and, in her typical Roiann tone, said 'just because you're having a bad day doesn’t mean it's okay to be a jerk to people.' It was the best advice I ever got, and now I smile more every day because of her.”
Nikki Brown is the Director of the MadAveCollective. She knew Roiann long before they worked together at MadAveGroup. “After 20 years of friendship, I have more than a few stories about her. I'll miss hearing her answer the front desk phone and helping callers who just couldn’t get her name right. I’d hear her say, 'It's Roiann. ROI-ANN. No, ROOOIIIII-ANNN.' That always cracked me up.”
“Roiann would bring me lunch sometimes,” said Courtney. “She'd bring in meatloaf when she made it at home because she knew it's my favorite. And hers was the best. I also made her write down her sloppy Joe recipe. I still keep it in my wallet.”
“She always wanted the work done right,” said Fulfillment Manager Susan Harris, yet “I'll miss her laugh and her sarcastic sense of humor the most.”
“She was outgoing; always the life of the party,” according to Cheri.
Courtney said, “Roiann would sing along with the songs that came on the overhead [music system], especially 'Diamonds' by Rhianna. She would sing it obnoxiously, and then we'd just 'shine bright like a diamond' for the rest of the day. Oh, and whenever 'You Raise Me Up' by Josh Groban played she would intercom Jess down the hall and let her know it was on. She knew Jess doesn't like the song, so Roiann called her just to kind of torture her about it. She thought it was funny.” (It was.)
“I'll miss our daily lunch conversations, her hugs after work, and the light that beamed from her beautiful soul,” said Cheri. “I loved her so much.”
“I could go on and on about her, but I think my eyes may float out of my head,” said Courtney. “I miss her already.”
Roiann was just 48 years old.
Portions of a video we produced for Toledo Public Schools have been incorporated into another video that's part of the Robert F. Kennedy / Discovery Education compilation called "Speak Truth To Power - Master Class Series."
"TPS asked us to create a documentary about the Ohio Teacher of the Year, Mona Al Hayani," said Michael Seay, Director of our branding, advertising and design agency d2i. "Mona is also part of the RFK Human Rights group. She was honored by the organization for her focus on human trafficking after she created a curriculum on the subject to educate both teachers and students."
Click here to access the RFK video. After a quick scroll, look for the title "Speak Truth to Power's Cross-Curricular Ties" and click "View Video."
The list of the 2019 MarCom Award winners includes national brands like Nationwide, AARP, Cisco, Dell, Fender and Morgan Stanley. And once again, MadAveGroup is on that list, too.
Platinum Award: Lakeland Auto & Marine - “Previously”
Platinum Award: Binkelman - “Time Stands Still”
Gold Award: Binkelman - “All Roads”
Honorable Mention: Med-Line - HIPPA-tastic”
On its website, the MarCom Awards is described as “an international creative competition that recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communication professionals. Entries come from corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, public relations firms, design shops, production companies and freelancers.”
Entrants range from individual communicators to media conglomerates and Fortune 500 companies, and come from throughout the United States, Canada and dozens of other countries.
MarCom Award judges reward those entries that “exceed a high standard of excellence and serve as a benchmark for the industry.”
On May 14, 2019, the Toledo City Council acknowledged MadAveGroup for our 30 years in business. Representing our agency at the ceremony were Jerry Brown (fourth from left), Valerie Likens and Scott Greggory.
Councilman Tom Waniewski (third from left) sponsored the following resolution:
Toledo City Council Resolution Recognizing MadAveGroup
WHEREAS, MadAveGroup has been a member of the Toledo business community for 30 years, hiring and developing local talent, serving local companies, as well as national and internal brands, and sustaining partnerships around the world; and
WHEREAS, the MadAveGroup agency BusinessVoice was a pioneer in the On Hold Marketing industry, leading with fresh approaches to branding, revenue models, delivery systems, marketing content, and account management, and today is the Caller Experience Marketing agency most awarded for creative excellence; and
WHEREAS, MadAveGroup has prioritized building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships as proven by its service to more than 500 clients throughout the world, 100 of which have been with the agency for 20 years or longer; and
WHEREAS, MadAveGroup, through its agency MadAveCollective, is committed to helping area non-profit organizations focus and share their messages for the benefit of those in need; and
WHEREAS, the impressions made by the work of the MadAveGroup agencies - BusinessVoice, SensoryMax, MadAveCollective, MadAve Marketing Management, and design2influence - affect the senses of tens of millions of people every day.
NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Council of the City of Toledo that we recognize MadAveGroup.
Humor On Hold is a specialty of BusinessVoice, our Caller Experience Marketing agency. And, once again, their humorous approach to communicating with callers on hold has earned acclaim from an international awards show.
The BusinessVoice team won two trophies from the 2019 Communicator Awards. The On Hold Marketing we created for International Translating Company called “Take a Bath” earned a Gold Award, while the production for Lakeland Auto & Marine called “Just West of France” won a Silver Award. Chief Creative Officer Scott Greggory wrote and served as the voice talent for both productions.
The Communicator Awards has recognized big ideas in marketing and communications for 25 years. More than 6,000 companies and agencies enter annually, making it one of the world’s largest creative competitions.
You can listen to the winning work in the videos below.
In the late 1980s, the marketing and advertising environment was a little simpler; a little quieter. There was no consumer Internet. No social media. No commercial-skipping DVRs. And when the Toledo-based agency MadAveGroup first opened in 1989, it wasn't even called MadAveGroup.
“We started out as PowerHouse Productions,” recalled founder and CEO Jerry Brown (pictured). “And we developed a new service called On Hold Messaging.”
That's the music and customized messages you hear when you're placed on hold with a company. PowerHouse was an early pioneer in that industry. And it was the creative thinking they applied to every aspect of their business that allowed the small agency to grow. Soon, they started providing clients with other marketing services, like online audio, telephone skills training, and in-store audio marketing.
But as digital technology expanded, the marketing and advertising world changed, client expectations evolved, and the pace picked up.
PowerHouse Productions was facing its own challenges, too: more competition, the need for more space, the financial pains that come with growth, and always - the hit or miss nature of developing new services.
“There were many times when I woke up in the middle of the night wondering how I was going to make payroll, or how we'd solve some other problem. It was stressful,” said Brown. “But I always believed in the idea: the commitment to serving clients, our commitment to asking the hard questions that help us uncover great solutions. And I believed in our people.”
More diverse client needs turned into new skill sets, which turned into sister agencies. In 2004, WebArt was formed to deliver digital marketing services.
SensoryMax followed in 2012 to help clients build lasting impressions through branded video and aroma marketing.
In 2013, the MadAveCollective began as an idea to help aspiring freelance creatives. By 2016, it had become its own agency that provides marketing services for non-profit organizations.
MadAve Marketing Management followed a year later, born out of the opportunity to serve under-performing marketing departments.
Then, in 2015, d2i - design2influence - was born, solidifying the commitment to branding, advertising and design.
By 2012, there was a need to bring the individual agencies under one name, yet still allow them to shine as independent units with unique strengths. The name MadAveGroup was chosen to reflect the location of the agency’s four-story building on Madison Avenue in the UpTown district of Toledo, Ohio.
Only the Beginning
MadAveGroup represents the best of old and new; experience and innovation. The group’s creative leaders have roots in more traditional forms of media and production, such as print, radio and TV, while the rest of the team is more than comfortable working with the latest technology. It’s that balance that allows MadAveGroup to share simplified communication and brand stories through the newest, most exciting channels. And over the decades, they've earned hundreds of awards for creative excellence for their work.
The part-time project that began with three people in Jerry Brown's horse barn has grown into a full-service marketing and advertising agency that serves clients throughout the United States and more than 40 other countries, has developed partnerships all over the world, and employs 42 talented, marketing-focused staff members, each with specialized skills.
“It’s been an amazing 30 years!” said Brown. "And the passion for what we do is still here! I truly feel like we’re just getting started.”
MadAveGroup’s branding, advertising and design agency, d2i, was acknowledged at the 2019 American Advertising Federation (Toledo) Addy Awards with a Bronze Addy.
The MarCom Awards recognizes excellence in the world of marketing and communication. In fact, the industry's largest, most prestigious creative firms compete for MarCom recognition.
That's why our MarCom wins and other honors are such an important clue when you're looking for the right marketing agency: those awards reinforce that our work stands up to the best in the marketing world.
In October 2018, we earned a Platinum MarCom Award for one of the humorous On Hold Marketing productions we created for Lakeland Auto and Marine. It features the copywriting and voiceover of Scott Greggory. Chris Zaharias served as Recording Engineer.
The MarCom Awards is administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, an international organization whose members include thousands of marketing, communication, advertising, public relations, digital and web professionals.
In August 2018, BBC.com published an article called "The Art and Science of Being On Hold." Written by Damian Fowler, the piece featured input from members of our BusinessVoice team - Jerry Brown, Steve Evert and Scott Greggory. BusinessVoice is our Caller Experience Marketing agency.
Here is an abridged version of the article.
Hold Music as a Branding Tool
Nowadays, hold music isn’t left to chance. There are companies like BusinessVoice, which specializes in On Hold Marketing for mid-to large-size companies. They see the On Hold experience as an expression of brand identity, mixing music with a verbal message - which sounds closer to a radio advertisement than, say, an easy-listening jazz number.
When creating an On Hold Marketing plan for a new client, BusinessVoice initiates a “caller experience” audit. They will determine things like how frequently the same person calls and the longest time a person will be put on hold. If the average hold time is five minutes, for example, a caller doesn’t want to hear a three-minute loop. The company also determines the caller demographic and from there creates its plan to make the call experience better. “You really want to use the time that people wait on hold to make them feel good about your company,” says Jerry Brown, the founder and CEO of BusinessVoice.
What this means is that on hold music and messaging is necessarily curated according to the needs of the client and the customer. The music and the message are tailored to ensure a positive On Hold experience.
According to Brown, it gets quite scientific. For a company that has a queue for sales and a queue for services, BusinessVoice would create two completely different messages and formats [for] those separate call experiences. “A lot of time we pick out music based on beats per minute of a song. So, if you’re a customer service line where people are holding for 10 minutes, we don’t want to have high beats per minute. If it’s a sales queue and you’re trying to move people to action, we want to increase their heart rate a little bit,” explains Brown.
The company also pays attention to whether hold music should be in a major or a minor key, offering subtle emotional cues to the caller on hold.
The Grammys of Hold Music
The world of on hold music and messaging even has its own awards. The MARCE Awards is an annual competition held by the Experience Marketing Association. This year, the “Most Effective On Hold Marketing” prize went to Behler-Young, a distributor of heating and cooling products based in the U.S. Midwest, for its hold message tagged “I’m Sworn to Secrecy.” Created by BusinessVoice - which has scooped up many MARCE awards over the years - it’s a highly produced sequence featuring spoof spy music, and a humourous voiceover that channels Mission Impossible.
Humor On Hold is another important concept for engaging callers. “If somebody can make me laugh in that space where there’s usually an ad, I feel more of an affection for that company,” says Scott Greggory, the Chief Creative Officer of BusinessVoice. With a background in radio, Greggory pioneered the idea of making On Hold Marketing palatable with what he calls the “spoonful of sugar” approach.
MadAveGroup has earned a 2018 Silver Telly Award in the category of Branded Content / General - Promotional.
Since 1979, The Telly Awards has recognized creativity and effectiveness in video content and production. The competition attracts more than 12,000 entries annually from all 50 states and five continents.
Our winning video (below) is a darker but humorous self-promotional piece that stresses the importance of providing a great customer experience at every touchpoint.
Jason Crockett - Videographer / Editor
Terry Lesniewicz - Director of Photography
Chris Zaharias - Audio Post-Production
Greg Stawicki - Graphics
April Cochran - Production Assistant
Scott Greggory - Writer / Director