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Leading is not going it alone

Ahh, the fearless leader – striding forward, blazing a trail, thinking, and acting independently – basically going it alone. It is an image that seems to resonate with a lot of people, something baked into at least the American consciousness. But is it completely accurate? Isn’t it missing something?  Something like other people?

I recently graduated from the Leadership Montana Master’s Class, an 8-month program designed to help Leadership Montana alumni take a deeper dive into the concept of leadership and what it means to them. It was fascinating, challenging, overwhelming, eye-opening, and visionary all at once. I am still processing everything I learned and will be for quite a while. But one thing which really stood out to me during the final session in June was my new understanding of how empty leadership is without other people.

Of course, leadership means looking at issues in new ways, setting goals, creating a vision, reframing questions, building order out of confusion, etc. But why is a leader doing that? Is it just for internal satisfaction? Or is it to share the journey, to bring others forward, to create understanding and connection? As important as personal growth is, I do not think that is the end goal of leadership. I think leadership is finding ways to create a shared vision.

The process of leadership can be messy. It can involve a lot of false starts. It can need mid-course corrections and the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances. But it must involve other people. It must be about that connection and creating a team dedicated to a common goal – a goal which is bigger than any single person, even the leader.

In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

Carol Kruger
Senior Vice President

2020-08-10T14:12:38-06:00August 7th, 2020|Culture, Industry Trends|0 Comments

How well do you know your coworkers?

Just how well do you know your coworkers? Oh sure, you might know how Bill takes his coffee or how much Janet loves her golden retriever, but do you know if either of them would rather have telekinesis (the ability to move things with their mind) or telepathy (the ability to read minds)? If they’d prefer to be in a food fight or a water fight? These are the fascinating things you can learn when you play “Would You Rather?” The questions may be silly but the chance to bond over a shared interest in Marvel movies or the joys of living in a tree house is no joke – it’s a great way to build connection. We started playing “Would You Rather” while we were working remotely and decided to play another round and let you all learn a little bit about us – enjoy!

Would you rather team up with Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel?

I am a huge Marvel fan! I could explain in great detail why I would choose to team up with Captain Marvel, but it might take all day! - Tegan Bauer

Would you rather go backstage with your favorite band or be an extra on your favorite TV show?

Backstage with my favorite band! In fact, I have met the members of some of my favorite bands, including visiting on the tour bus with a very eccentric rock star. I still haven’t met my favorite rock star, but I’ve come close by meeting his wife. - Kara Smith

Would you rather communicate only in emoji or never be able to text at all ever again?

Well, I would communicate in emoji! Since many in my family are deaf, I communicate and think in symbolic systems/gestures/ASL all the time so it’s not that different. 🤩🤓👍🏻🗣🙋🏼‍♀‍🧏🏻‍♀‍🙊🙉🙈🤟🏼💪🏻🙌🏼🤐🤗🧐🦄 This is “starry eyed nerd feeling positive speaking out to you. Yes you. Using my deaf skills to say nothing, hear nothing, see nothing... with love to everyone, staying strong, praise up, zipping my lips, hugs all around, I know it’s weird, I’m weird...because I’m a rainbow heart unicorn. Kiss” 😘 - Pamela Bennett

Would you rather go back to the past and meet your loved ones who passed away or go to the future to meet your children or grandchildren to be?

Go back to the past and meet a loved one who passed away. There is so much we can learn from those who have gone before us and by spending time with someone whose life directly impacted mine, I can gain insight that I can then pass onto my children. Also, my family is made up of some colorful characters and I would love to hear their stories first hand! - Jennifer Beisecker

Would you rather win $25,000 or your best friend win $100,000??

If either I or my best friend won any amount of money we would split it with each other, so it would benefit us both if she won. - Haley Thomas

Would you rather walk to work in heels or drive to work in reverse?

Drive to work in reverse, than walk to work in heels. Since we live 28 miles outside of Great Falls, I’m guessing walking to work in heels would take me at least 10 hours. Plus, my tootsies would never forgive me! Driving in reverse, no problem! - Brenda Peterson

Would you rather have a pause or a rewind button in your life?

Have a rewind button so I could spend more time with loved ones and friends I’ve lost. I’d love to relive family vacations to Glacier, Yellowstone, and both coasts, as well as enjoy family holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, and birthdays. Those are the activities I miss the most as I grow older and my family grows smaller. - Justin Porter

Would you rather look strong and be weak or look weak and be strong?

Look weak and be strong. I’ve been underestimated by others in the past for various tasks and I’m always delighted to see the looks of surprise on their faces when they discover that they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. - Merle McLeish

Would you rather travel the world for free for a year or have $50,000 to spend however you please?

Travel the world for free for a year. Even if I had $50,000 to spend however I please, there is always the pressure of spending it on bills or other life responsibilities. Imagine the places you could see, the things you could do, the food you could eat, the memories you could make - all while traveling the world (for free!) for an entire year. AMAZING! - Jennifer Fritz

Would you rather master every musical instrument or every type of sport?

Master every musical instrument. Music has always been such a positive influence for me and if I could master every musical instrument, I would be content being able to not only entertain myself, but others for the rest of my life. - Johnny Ewald

Would you rather stay in during a snow day or build a fort?

No offense to the wonder of engineering which is the snow fort but…inside has coffee, blankets, books, Netflix, slippers, snacks, streaming music services, and a lovely view of the snow outside that I can enjoy while staying warm! - Carol Kruger

Would you rather spend a day cleaning your worst enemy’s house or have your crush spend the day cleaning your house?

My crush is my husband, and I would REALLY like to see him cleaning house all day! I would take videos. - Lorie Hager

Would you rather be chronically under-dressed or overdressed?

If by chronically overdressed you mean Prada at Albertson’s, Tom Ford at Petco, Versace at a BBQ, or Gucci at Borrie’s, then sign me up. Oh, and the shoes! A fancy Louboutin will elevate any outfit. Overdressed. Every. Time. - Johna Wilcox

Would you rather never get another present in your life but always pick the perfect present for everyone else or keep getting presents but giving terrible ones to everyone else?

Giving gifts or sending a random card to friends or family has always been something that brings me joy. I love seeing the smile on their face when they open it! - Sheena Annala

2020-07-30T11:19:50-06:00July 22nd, 2020|Culture, Industry Trends|0 Comments

The Importance of WordPress Security

The Important of WordPress Security Featured Image

Written by Justin Porter, UX/UI Designer

As Wendt’s UX/UI Designer, a focus of mine is to look at ways to enhance security on our clients’ websites. There are many tools available to increase security and decrease the likelihood of your site being hacked. Following are some best practices and resources to assist with this.

Create a Unique Username

The most common usernames are those that use the name of a business, a person’s first name, or ‘admin’, and those are what most hackers start with when trying to access a WordPress website. Therefore, it’s important to choose a username that is unique and not predictable. To view a great article that will help discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of WordPress usernames, visit https://tinyblueorange.com/wordpress-usernames/. There are also other ways hackers find usernames, which is why generating a random password is your next line of defense.

Generate a Random Password

WordPress has the ability to generate strong and secure passwords with up to 25 characters using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. You will generate your own password when first setting up your profile but are able to edit your password after you have created your account. In fact, updating your password frequently can help strengthen the security of your site.

Having a hard time coming up with a strong password? There are plenty of password generators available on the web, including 1password.com/password-generator. The more obscure the password, the better! Writing your password on a note at your desk is definitely not the best way to keep a password on file. If you’re the only person using your computer and that’s your main method of accessing the back end of your website, you can select ‘remember me’ below the password field on your login screen. You can also save your password on your internet browser or use an online password manager.

Limit Login Attempts

Add another layer of security by limiting the amount of login attempts that can be used before being locked out for a period time. Though the lockout isn’t permanent, this is a great way to frustrate and limit potential hackers. For most WordPress websites, this ability is already built into the settings. However, for some older sites, you can use a plugin called Limit Login Attempts Reloaded which will give you the same protection.

Changing the URL of the Login Page

By default, the login page for a WordPress website is www.yoursite.com/wp-admin. Since that’s the first place a hacker will go to log in, consider changing that URL. WPS Hide Login, is a helpful plugin which allows you to safely change the URL of the login page.

Final Thoughts

Technology is always evolving and hackers are always finding new ways to infiltrate people’s sites. However, if you adopt WordPress security best practices, you will be significantly reducing the opportunity for someone to access your site.

2020-10-26T14:20:10-06:00June 9th, 2020|Clients, Industry Trends, Uncategorized, Work|0 Comments

A Q&A Session About Marketing Part 2

We are back with more answers to the most-searched questions about marketing as determined by Google’s Autocomplete.

Q: How marketing agencies get clients?

A: By doing excellent work and strategic outreach. Marketing firms are constantly sharing their story – in meetings, on websites, through social media, in an RFP (request for proposal) – and showcasing their expertise. We know the importance of getting the word out about our skills!

Q: How marketing helps sales?

A: Marketing can analyze consumer data to build an understanding of the ideal or potential customer – likes, dislikes, communication styles, media usage, buying cycle, etc. – and create a customized marketing outreach program to bring those customers to the sales team.

Q: How marketing benefits our society?

A: It brings products and services to people’s attention, helping them find things which will make their lives easier. It helps businesses find the customers they need to succeed. It builds ongoing communication between people and businesses to benefit both.

Q: How marketing has evolved?

A: It has become more sophisticated and research based. Successful marketing is not about just throwing a message out there to anyone and everyone. It is a strategically based style of communication involving businesses and consumers in an ongoing two-way communication.

That’s it for this edition but you never know, we might be back with more in the future, so you’ll want to keep checking out our blog!

2020-06-03T11:26:21-06:00June 3rd, 2020|Clients, Industry Trends, Uncategorized, Work|0 Comments

A Q&A Session About Marketing Part 1

Google’s Autocomplete is a great way to speed up your search results since it helps fill in your request with popular queries. We were inspired by the WIRED Autocomplete series and decided to try our hand at answering the web’s most-searched marketing questions. And, people seem to have a lot of questions so, here is part one and you can look for part two in the future!

Q: How Marketing Works?

A: By creating awareness and interest in specific companies, products, charities, ideas, services, or experiences. People cannot buy new tires or set up a 529 college savings account if they do not know their options. Strategic marketing spreads the word and gets people talking.

Q: How marketing is changing?

A: Every day in every way! Marketing cannot stand still. It needs to constantly adapt to the ways people are communicating. Reaching the modern consumer is a complicated undertaking based on research, strategy, and using multiple media outreach channels.

Q: How marketing has changed over time?

A: Marketing has been around for centuries, adapting to changes in how we live and communicate. In our increasingly interconnected world, that means increasing digital marketing efforts to find people where they learn, work, and socialize online.

Q: How marketing and sales work together?

A: Marketing creates the awareness and interest while sales works to sell the specific product, service, or experience. Ideally, both work together to create a seamless interaction with the customer, so interest leads to knowledge which can increase sales and repeat purchases.

If you have a question about marketing, let us know in the comments!

2020-06-03T11:18:32-06:00May 6th, 2020|Clients, Industry Trends, Uncategorized, Work|0 Comments

When Times are Tough, Wendt Knows How to Thrive

February 1st, 1929, was the first day The Wendt Agency officially existed. Called Wendt and Bird Advertising, the agency had roughly 8 months to get established before the stock market crash in September 1929 ushered in the Great Depression. Was the next decade an easy one? Of course not; not for the agency, the state, or the country. But Wendt’s founders and early employees adapted and persevered – taking on event planning, testing cookbook recipes, and even working out of Wally Wendt’s garage for a while.

It is a history all of us at Wendt are proud of and one that inspires us during these challenging times. We are committed to our work, our clients, our community, and the success of each of them. The last 90+ years have seen this agency grow and change in innumerable ways:

  • working in downtown offices, garages, and living rooms
  • handling local, regional, national, and international outreach
  • creating print ads, TV spots, websites, and social media strategies
  • meeting in person, on a phone call, and by video conferencing

What hasn’t changed?

Our commitment to strategic thinking for our clients. Our team of 13 talented individuals might be working remotely these days, but we are still creating, still partnering with each other and our clients in innovative ways. Wendt’s not going anywhere. We are confident our founders would be proud.

2020-05-06T15:27:50-06:00May 6th, 2020|Clients, Industry Trends, Uncategorized, Work|0 Comments

Marketing Successes During a Pandemic

To say the last six weeks have been hard and heavy is an understatement. We have certainly seen challenges and uncertainties, but we have also witnessed brands, teams, companies, and organizations across the world adapt to new ways of working and communicating with each other and their customers. Even though “curves may be flattening”, we all know the challenges and uncertainties will continue.

We also know that history demonstrates that brands who continue to advertise in an economic downturn benefit by long lasting boosts in sales and market share.

Following are a few client success stories we have experienced over the last month and want to share as examples of best practices in marketing during a crisis.

Stay relevant. Provide valuable and useful information. Be creative.

Shodair Children’s Hospital – It is an honor to partner with Shodair and watch as they navigate this very difficult situation with transparency, urgency, and grace. Shodair was incredibly responsive to COVID-19 and worked diligently and quickly to implement policies and procedures to ensure the safety of their patients, staff, and visitors. We worked with Shodair to create a special landing page on their website to house information, resources, and tips. Shodair has done a tremendous job of communicating internally and externally with daily updates posted on their public website and employee intranet. Shodair has also worked to develop content that is relevant, useful, and creative. Creating videos with ideas for kids’ activities at home, importance of sleep, hygiene, tips for teenagers, and more, has delivered important content to people who need it, and also helped to maintain the strength of Shodair’s brand and their mission to heal, help, and inspire hope.

Maintain brand strength. Pivot strategy.

West Yellowstone Tourism – Part of our annual strategy for West Yellowstone includes outreach for spring travel, promoting direct flights into Bozeman for a quick trip to West Yellowstone, as well as creating awareness for West Yellowstone as a meeting destination in the spring. This strategy had to quickly pivot as “stay at home” restrictions were put into place and the safety of travel was jeopardized. West Yellowstone chose not to abandon their media, but rather shift the message. Our outreach went from a “travel now” message to a “plan now, travel later” message. It is important for the travel region to remain visible and create inspiration for future trips. A couple samples of this messaging include an HTML email sent to their large database of subscribers as well as dynamic social ads.

West Yellowstone Facebook Ad

Shift in message. Reassure your audience.

Achieve Montana – Each year we partner with Achieve Montana to develop a marketing and communications strategy for increasing awareness of 529 plans, the importance of saving for higher education, and increasing enrollment numbers for the state 529 plan. Spring is always an important time period to promote the Achieve Montana message since it is after the tax season and leading up to national 529 Day. This year we have a lot of efforts planned around promoting plan improvements for Achieve Montana which include lower fees and increased investment options. Within the last month we have continued with these promotional efforts, but we have shifted the message a bit to be sensitive to the current climate. With all the uncertainties and challenges that Montanans are currently facing, Achieve Montana wants to communicate a message of reassurance, security, and simplicity while encouraging people to stay the course with investing for higher education and that Achieve Montana is and always will be here to help people achieve their dreams. Outreach tactics over the last month and continuing into the future include guest editorials, blog posts, print ads, email, digital video, native content, and display/banner ads.

Achieve Montana Facebook Image

Marketing and advertising during times like we are currently facing presents different and new challenges, and we will continue working with our partner clients to shift strategies and messaging as needed to elevate brands, reach audiences, and drive conversions and sales.