Passion with a purpose: Strategies to sell more stuff drive marketing

Matthew Breman, owner of Cranium 360, discusses some of the packaging and other materials the Grand Junction-based marketing and communications firm has developed for clients over the years. The firm was among just 38 finalists for the Top Company Awards, an annual recognition program billed as one of the most competitive in Colorado.
Matthew Breman, owner of Cranium 360, discusses some of the packaging and other materials the Grand Junction-based marketing and communications firm has developed for clients over the years. The firm was among just 38 finalists for the Top Company Awards, an annual recognition program billed as one of the most competitive in Colorado.

Phil Castle, The Business Times

As surely as form follows function, Matthew Breman believes even the most creative marketing and communication efforts must serve a purpose. And for most businesses, that purpose is straightforward: sell more products and services.

It’s part of what Breman considers the very definition of marketing. “Marketing helps you sell more stuff to more people for more money more efficiently.”

The approach makes Breman and his Grand Junction firm not only storytellers, but also problem solvers and goal achievers. In the process of helping clients, Cranium 360 has enjoyed sustained growth and, along with it, a prestigious measure of recognition.

Cranium 360 was selected as one of just 38 finalists — and the only firm from Western Colorado — for the latest Colorado Biz magazine Top Company Awards, an annual program billed as one of the most competitive in Colorado.

Cranium 360 was among three finalists for the award in the industry category for media, advertising and public relations firms. Madwire Media in Loveland won the award. Webolutions in Greenwood Village was the other finalist.

Breman, owner of Cranium 360, says the recognition demonstrates a small firm in a small market can compete with larger firms in larger markets. It’s a conclusion he says applies not only to Cranium 360, but also other local advertising and marketing firms. “You don’t have to go out of market to get great marketing,” he says. “You can have great work done right here on the Western Slope. I mean national-level work.”

Since its inception in 1988, the Top Company Awards have recognized Colorado businesses that display innovation, dedication to excellence and sustained success. The competition judges small and large businesses alike by the same criteria: the ability to differentiate themselves in a saturated market and deliver lasting results to clients and consumers.

Breman says Cranium 360 has entered the competition the last two years, providing information about income and other financial performance as well as employment growth and company culture. “You have to share a lot.”

Breman attributes the selection of Cranium 360 as a finalist to his company’s sustained growth in a small market based on work for local as well as national clients.

Cranium 360 has been able to differentiate its operation from competitors, he says, because of the different experiences Breman and his staff of five full-time employees bring to their duties. “We have a diverse toolbox of experience to pull from.”

Breman launched Cranium 360 in 2005 after more than 15 years of experience in the entertainment industry, including positions with the Nickelodeon television network and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Breman earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, where he studied technical theater arts.

He started out working for Nickelodeon on a free lance basis in its scene shop, but subsequently took on work as a draftsman, staging manager and project manager.

Over the course of nine years, Breman estimates he was involved in the production of more than 2,500 episodes for broadcast television in addition to internal and external marketing campaigns and product and retail store development.

Breman earned a master’s of business administration degree from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park Florida. His studies focused on marketing and international finance.

Breman was recruited for a position with Walt Disney World Resort, where he helped establish an internal communications design agency. He says his work with Disney was an education in itself in teaching him the importance of business strategies in driving marketing and communications efforts and using creativity to solve business problems. “They are so strategic in what they do.”

Breman subsequently moved with his family to Grand Junction for what he described as a needed lifestyle change and brought with him Cranium 360.

The firm offers a wide range of services, he says, including everything from advertising, graphic design and video production to marketing planning and execution to Web site and social media development.

A lot of the services boil down to crafting and communicating messages, he says. “It’s still all about storytelling.”

Regardless of what particular service is offered, though, the effort must serve a purpose, Breman adds. “We drive everything back to the business.”

The process often starts by working with clients to identify and understand goals that serve as a sort of road map. It’s important to review where a company has been and determine where it would like to go, he says. “We help clarify what they want to do.”

Then it’s a matter of developing not only the appropriate message for a client, but who to send that message to and how, he says.

Additional work then is needed to evaluate the results of the efforts and make changes as needed, he adds.

While Cranium 360 works with large businesses —including some Fortune 500 corporations — Breman says  his firm also works with small clients. And his services can add value to their operations, sometimes producing more change more quickly than with his large clients.

Rapidly changing trends and technology have made the process considerably more complicated, Breman says.

Depending on the business and its customers, there’s still a place for traditional radio, print and television advertising. But Web sites and social media also offer the means to effectively reach other customers, he says. “It’s not a one size fits all.”

By one estimate, 80 percent of people contemplating purchases of more than $500 now conduct research online before making a decision, he says.

Moreover, Web sites and social media have shifted control of the conversations between businesses and consumers from businesses to consumers, he says.

In developing Web sites, timely and relevant content remains essential, Breman says. The use of short online videos has become increasingly important as well.

In responding to the complaints and criticisms that can sometimes arise on social media over a product or service, businesses must react quickly and truthfully, he says.

As for his own business, Breman says he hopes Cranium 360 will continue to grow. “The reward for good work is more work,” he says.

Breman says he’d like to expand the operation geographically into the right smaller markets when he can find the right people to work there.

Meanwhile, though, Breman says he enjoys what he’s doing. “It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s challenging, it’s frustrating all at the same time.”

But a large portion of that passion involves a purpose, and that’s helping clients achieve their goals, he says. “It’s always about the business and what makes businesses grow.”

For more information about Cranium 360, call 257-7000 or visit