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We’ve always known what a rock star she is, but now it’s official. Our very own Kasey Hatzung was named one of Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s 2016 Women in Business this past month.

Anyone who has met Kasey knows that she’s a woman who wears a lot of hats. Almost every hat in fact. At work she’s a designer, strategist, client consultant, sales and marketing lead, and overseer of operations. Outside of work, she’s a wife, mother, friend, volunteer and neighborhood networker.

She’s the whole package. And we’re lucky to have her as a boss and mentor. To view the other winners, visit MSP Business Journals.

| Culture

Amy Behrens Named 32 Under 32 Winner.

We believe our team is a key element of what makes Fusion Hill unique. So it’s with great excitement that we announce Amy Behrens, our director of research and strategy, has been named one of AdFed MN’s 32 Under 32 for 2016.

It’s often said that a good mentor teaches and a great leader inspires. As director of research and strategy, Amy drives strategic initiatives not only for her clients but also for her team. She’s a standout individual and a strong representative of Fusion Hill, and we’re thrilled that her innate leadership, warmth and wisdom were recognized and honored by her peers.

32 Under 32 showcases Minnesota’s next generation of advertising, marketing, and PR leaders who are moving the dial in the creative industry and showing leadership early in their career. More than 100 people were nominated this year, and the 32 chosen were honored at an event hosted by AdFed and Ad 2.

To view the other winners and nominees, visit 32 Under 32.

| Culture

Equality in the creative community.

It’s no secret that men make up the majority of executive teams in the United States. There’s also a discrepancy between men and women leaders in the creative community. And while it can be an awkward and uncomfortable topic to discuss, it’s an important one.

We recently attended Mpls MadWomen’s “The Man Event” to gain actionable insight into this issue, and specifically, learn what men can do to support women. The event featured an all-male panel to discuss everything from parenthood to equal pay to work-life balance to “culture fit”– all with the intent of creating an open dialogue to support cross-gender collaboration and form a deeper understanding of it.

Here are some of the takeaways from the discussion:

We tend to get comfortable in our situation, so it’s important to look around – We all have unconscious biases. It’s easy to get comfortable in your setting and not notice underlying gender disparities. It is important to take a step back and acknowledge prejudices. It’s okay to ask difficult questions and learn from the people around you.

We need people to advance the culture, not just fit the culture – “Culture fit” is a term used in the creative community in reference to hiring people who match a company’s culture. However, this concept often leads to hiring similar candidates and not advancing diversity. There is beauty in people’s differences, and more agencies should be adapting to the candidates, not the other way around.

Don’t ever apologize for being a good parent – People have commitments outside of work that interfere with physically being at the office. This is just part of life. A great leadership team will get creative in finding ways to provide flexibility and will prioritize a work-life balance.

Get beyond “the pipeline problem” – It can be an easy out for men in leadership to blame the lack of women in executive positions on a smaller talent pool, but it’s not necessarily true, and it’s certainly not a solution. Sometimes it takes working a little harder to find diverse candidates; sometimes it takes doing a better job of investing in the growth and success of women in junior roles; and sometimes it requires taking a hard look at what internal factors might be making your workplace a less attractive option to female candidates.

These are steps we all must take as individuals and agencies, and we’re proud to be a part of a community that’s committed to changing the creative landscape. A big thanks to the panelists for opening up about their experiences, the audience for asking tough questions and the organization, Mpls MadWomen, for hosting the great event.

| Creative

We Can Do Anything (on our bikes).

From planting trees at our neighborhood park to enjoying afternoons out on the patio – we’re fans of all things outdoors. But one activity stands out from the rest. Biking. With National Employee Health & Fitness Month in full swing and Bike to Work Day upon us, we thought we’d share how this great activity has become a part of our company culture.

The bike brigade, as we call them, organizes group rides to work, weekend trips to Hudson and everything in between. They’re always up for a ride, no matter when, who, where or why. When it comes to this fun sport, they do it all.

We all know, and love, that biking to work has environmental and health benefits, but it also enhances creativity. ‘Active bodies, active minds,’ as we say. It can be easy to get locked into routine and forget to exercise your imaginative side. At Fusion Hill, our brigade will tell you this is not the case. Many of our researchers and creative team members credit their morning ride with being able to use their imagination and create best-in-class work.

So, the next time you’re in a rut, you want some exercise or you just want a fun way to get outside, bike on over to Northeast and say hello.

| Culture

Shifting the Focus from Idea Generation to Idea Execution.

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” – Thomas Edison

This concept — putting ideas into action — is the driving force behind the 99U Conference, which two of our designers recently attended in New York City. 99U features some of the top authors, designers, creators and business owners all over the world from companies like Buzzfeed, Basecamp, The New York Times and Project Greenlight, to name a few. The speakers, along with master classes and studio visits to the likes of Shake Shack, MoMA, and Shinola, foster a learning culture and an environment for people to share insights on how to shift the focus from idea generation to idea execution.

The speakers and topics were diverse, but they all shared common threads on this basic question: How do you bring ideas to life?

  • Know thyself. Know what you do and why, know what you need (is it help?), and know how you lead and how you participate (the good and the bad).
  • Don’t let failure get personal. Rise above the obstacles.
  • Sweat the small stuff. Design is in the details, so make it the best you can.
  • Find yourself some peace. A creative mind is a calm mind and better able to create more successful solutions.
  • Trials and blessings are the same thing. See them as such and you’ll never be stuck for long.
  • Begin with the end in mind. Think about what you want people to say about your impact or the impact of your brand, and then devise a step-by-step plan to get there.
  • Invite yourself to the table. Create opportunities without permission; the table needs your voice.
  • Fall madly out of love with something you’re doing. Be creative with your process and your projects will benefit.

It is not enough to have a great idea. To give it wings, you must grow, plan, advocate, defend and share it.

Above quotes by: Effie Brown, Ryan Carson, Jason Fried, Ryan Holiday, Maria Konnikova, Tristan Walker, Jeff Sheldon and Kristy Tillman

| Creative, Culture

Locally Inspired, Nationally Noticed.

Fulton, Summit, Surly, Fair State. The Twin Cities is among the leaders in the independent craft brewing trend, and its popularity locally inspired us to explore its effect nationally. The craft movement taps into consumer desires for unique, innovative experiences when they dine, and it has exploded into a wider variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options such as craft liquor and even craft soda.

Inspired by local pride, we decided to dig deeper and discovered that craft beer is only the tip of the iceberg in national beverage trends.

Similar to general trends in the food industry overall, consumers have become much more health conscious in their selection of beverages. This has led to a marked decline in consumption of soda, milk, juice and other highly processed or sugary drinks. And a variety of healthier options, such as non-dairy, plant-based “milks,” premium juices and bottled water, have risen to fill the gap.

Convenience and functionality are also key in consumers’ beverage choices. The popular desire to grab-and-go has led to a frenzy of ready-to-drink novelty beverages such as energy drinks, tea and coffee. If you incorporate a stop at Starbucks or Caribou into your morning ritual, you are part of the trend.

So how do beverage companies reach consumers during this new craze, and how do they make their product the “drink of choice”? For starters, they make it healthy, make it unique and make it easy for consumers to integrate into their busy lives. To learn more about how these trends impact categories inside and outside beverages, read the full report.

Email info@fusionhill.com.

| Culture, Research

Giving Back.

At Fusion Hill, we believe that philanthropy is most effective when it is motivated by personal passion. And our principals have crafted a unique approach to giving back based on this perspective. In addition to company-based volunteer efforts, each of us has four hours set aside every month to dig in where we’re most invested. It’s a corporate commitment that totals over 1,300 hours each year and impacts 20+ organizations.

Together, we’ve done pro bono work to help families, children and aspiring creatives. Individually we’ve used company time for everything from public radio to the humane society. And we aren’t stopping anytime soon.

Let’s join together this month and give back to our community: at home and throughout the world. See how we’re helping out on our Facebook page.

| Culture

Celebrating Women’s History Month.

Over the years, we’ve worked with and on behalf of a lot of women. From researching women’s personal financial and investment strategies to observing moms’ caregiving and shopping routines, we’ve been immersed in women’s lives and consider ourselves experts on the subject. Having two women as our company’s principals has probably helped us gain a little insight too.

One look at Fusion Hill’s team and you’ll note a striking difference from other agencies. Our group is made up of more than 30 vibrant women. What started out as two businesswomen with an idea turned into a full-service creative agency with people from diverse backgrounds. And because we are a women-owned and –managed agency, the month of March is near and dear to our hearts.

March is a month to reflect on, learn about and celebrate the important contributions so many women have made to our society. From the trailblazers of the past to the influential leaders of today, these women have broken down barriers and opened new doors so that we all have a chance to succeed. While women have come a long way, adversity still exists, and that’s why this month we want to move beyond reflection into action and share how we champion the women around us.

Expand our network. Women need to support women. And that’s why over the years we’ve aligned with organizations like The Woman’s Club, United Way Women’s Leadership Council and most recently Mpls MadWomen. Here we find strong, talented women with big ideas and generous hearts. And whether our conversations are personal or professional, connections like these encourage all of us to chase our dreams, achieve our goals and, most important, urge change and equality in our own creative industry.

Continue to educate. The best way to empower women is to educate women. And we start right here in our own shop. Each year, our team travels all over the country to attend workshops, panels and conferences that highlight new techniques and the latest industry trends. This year, we’ll be attending the 99U Conference in New York to learn how to shift the focus from idea generation to idea execution. In the fall, the research team is attending the Epic Conference, a showcase on how to create transformative innovation, growth and strategic success for companies, industries and communities. And the INBOUND conference in Boston at the end of the year is sure to inspire us with ideas from the country’s biggest names in marketing. These conferences enhance the way we think and empower us to find new ways to be better, do better and achieve more.

Spread the word. In order to truly eliminate the gender gap, people have to keep talking about its prevalence. We take to social media to spread the word, sharing photos, articles and quotes. We also join groups whose hope is to plant a seed of inspiration for people in all communities and whose mission is to overcome inequality in all societies. The more involved we become, the more changes we will see.

The activists of the past need to be remembered, the leaders of the present need to be supported, and we need to work together to quash gender inequality once and for all. Let’s celebrate Women’s History Month in March, but let’s all get involved in the long-term mission as well.

To women and girls everywhere — you can do it, be it, own it and celebrate it. Believe it.

| Culture

Understanding Your Consumer: Start to Finish.

We’ve been thinking a lot about the role of concept testing in innovation lately. Concept testing is sometimes the last, forgotten or skipped step in the innovation process. And we get it: Concept testing isn’t as sexy as ethnographies that serve up the next incredible idea.

But there aren’t many things more costly for a brand than debuting a new product or service in the market. That’s why when there’s a big opportunity on the table, it’s essential to test with consumers before launching. Concept testing and refinement is critical to product innovation because it not only highlights strengths but also identifies weaknesses. A concept may be 90% there, but it can be that last 10% that makes the difference between more of the same and something truly groundbreaking.

Successful innovation begins and ends with research. Whether that beginning is ethnographies, focus groups or interviews, it is all about generating deep insights that we can synthesize into meaningful opportunity areas and resulting product or marketing concepts. But even the best concepts are just concepts. They are the result of hours of synthesis, strategizing and internal negotiating. And we all know that the ideas that come out of the consumer research are not always the same as the ideas that are presented in the approved final concept — and that evolution from consumer spark to actual concept is not always a good thing.

That’s why taking those ideas back out to consumers and doing concept testing is so important. We’ve found that a single word or phrase can invoke a wide range of emotions in a variety of people — and can genuinely make or break a concept. When concept testing for a medical device company, we included a phrase that some people found humorous but others found offensive. Concept testing revealed small nuances and helped us find a vernacular that better suited our audience.

We worked with a well-known handbag company that had conducted research to understand its consumers’ general likes and dislikes to drive product development but that had never gone back out and tested the actual concepts. So we took multiple concepts based on the same general consumer-ideated design guidelines back out for concept testing. Not only did this research help determine which product lines to move forward with, but also we understood the optimal way to describe each new product, even using the consumers’ own words. Because of the concept testing, the brand added accessories to the line and ordered a larger stock for launch because it was able to predict the level of consumer interest. That product line went on to become their best-selling pattern to date and is still viewed as a consumer favorite.

And in this instance, getting the right words to describe the concept was as important as getting feedback on the concept itself. We often tell clients that it is not enough to optimize a product to be consumer-centric — it is just as critical to ensure that the right consumer vernacular is being used to describe it, whether for success in future quantitative research or for success in launch. A product cannot just be exactly what consumers need — it also needs to convey to consumers that it directly fulfills a need for them.

We know another round of research can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. A variety of methodologies are available — whether in-depth interviews, focus groups or online platforms — to match any project’s timeline and budget. It’s a tool to test positioning, messages, creative and product concepts, and challenge implications found in research to uncover potential pitfalls. And concept testing helps separate the decent ideas from the great ideas — and then refine and optimize those great ideas into success. Through it, brands are able to understand which products resonate with consumers and why, and can ultimately develop consumer-centric products that perfectly match their market.

So go ahead and consider that last step. You can make it as simple or complex as needed in order to fit every product, service, project schedule or team’s desires. And remember, compared to the cost of an unsuccessful launch or a missed opportunity, concept testing is cheap.

| Research

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1414 Marshall Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
612 638 5000


If you share our passion for integrated problem solving and developing remarkable creative solutions, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our careers page to view openings.



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