Building a New Digital Hub

October 27th, 2014

You will hear a lot of talk over the next several months about the big changes we have in store at the AMA Tampa Bay.

We wanted to give you a preview.

One of our volunteers interviewed board members, volunteers and other members to get a better sense of what is in the works. This is what she came up with to describe what is in store. Let us know what you think.

AMA Tampa’s Vision

Big changes and benefits are coming for AMA Tampa members! We have a new vision: to create an interactive, dynamic, and engaging digital community. For our members, we want to be a source of education, ideas, inspiration, and relationships…not just a LinkedIn group and an annual membership fee. One key step in creating a strong community is ensuring that all of our members truly feel the benefits of their membership. Several plans will launch us toward that vision.

The First Step: Our Digital Hub

To achieve the dynamic community we envision, we will have to build it. This will require us to replace our current website with a more robust one. AMA members will congregate here to learn, write, share ideas, and connect with each other. Choosing a company to build our digital hub was time consuming, but worth it. From the start, we knew we wanted our web developer to be a Tampa based shop. We were looking for a highly skilled and experienced establishment that was excited to become one of us and to help strengthen our community.

We finally found our match! Ten companies responded to our request for proposal and our board was impressed with every one, which made the decision tough. First, the review committee interviewed 5 of the 10 companies and then chose 2 finalists from that group. There were some technical considerations involved in the decision. One company was a .net platform and the other a WordPress based solution. Both platforms were different in how they would allow the site to grow, in the future maintenance costs, and in the learning curves associated with them.

Each platform had its benefits, but we ultimately chose WordPress, which partially dictated which company we chose in the end. Technicalities and skills aside, our 2 finalists were chosen because they truly shared our vision of building a strong community and they were excited to build a site that will help us do that.

Group Effort

Our website developer will kick-start our efforts to be he hub for marketing innovation in the Tampa Bay area. The website is only the beginning, though. To become a true hub for Tampa area marketers, we need more than a great website. Rebuilding our chapter is a huge ongoing project; we must involve the entire AMA Tampa membership in building the community we envision. Our members who put effort into the overhaul of our chapter can mold the chapter to fit their individual needs. Those who are most involved will benefit the most from their memberships in the end. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for members with all different skill sets and levels of commitment, so don’t be shy!


About the Author

Chiara Tedone

Chiara Tedone

Chiara currently serves as Director of a non-profit medical research organization called Winning the Fight Against Neurodegenerative Diseases, otherwise known as Winning the Fight. She co-founded the organization in 2010 and directs Winning the Fight’s marketing and fundraising projects. She is currently earning her MBA with a specialty in marketing from the University of South Florida. 

Prior to switching careers to be near family, Chiara worked in the national defense field via her employment with Booz Allen Hamilton, a global defense consulting firm. She lived in Washington, DC and served the United States Department of Defense with a focus on global terrorism issues. Prior to her defense work, she earned her BA in International Studies from American University’s School of International Services in 2007.
Chiara’s hobbies include obstacle racing, running, swimming, kayaking, SCUBA diving, and opera/classical singing. She also loves country music and chocolate!

Getting Personal: A Lesson Learned from Genesis Direct

October 10th, 2014

Genesis Direct logoThis was my first time visiting Genesis Direct headquarters. While it was a beautiful building, I saw things you might expect – a lobby, a receptionist, a couch, some magazines… and a sign with my name that welcomed me to the company…

Wait … what?

GD_welcome_signAh, the sign! It took me by surprise at first, but it made me feel special   and predisposed me for my meeting with Mike McNally, Genesis Direct’s  Senior Account Executive!

Mike talked with passion about the entire work process at Genesis Direct, from the idea all the way to mailing with the USPS in their building. Let’s not forget the 3 H-P Indigo 10000 Digital Presses that are the showcase of the entire  plant.  These digital presses are still a rarity in direct mail marketing because of their price and because they are so new, but they are the key to variable data printing. Speaking of optimization and customization; on a single sheet you can image nine large cards at a time, and each and every card is unique to the individual—the graphics, the offers, etc.

Mike_McNally

He also talked about PURLs (not pearls) and QR codes, and multi-channel marketing and everything else that the company does. PURLS or personal URLs are microsites that could carry the name of the client and contain information that is specific to that particular person or company. The same applies to QR codes and Mike provides a thorough explanation in his YouTube video. All these, together with the print machines and the welcome sign are tools that have one main purpose – personalization.

So let’s go back to the welcome sign. I felt special and welcomed and that is what matters in today’s marketing world. I saw my name, where I come from and who is welcoming me. It was personal and sincere but most of all … it was very relevant to the Genesis approach. Through their work, Mike showed me how one should know as much as possible about the customers in order to speak in a relevant way.

Data drives the touch, so try to obtain as much transactional data from your client as possible. It will help you with your acquisition, cross sell, upsell and retention initiatives. Whether B2B or B2C – try to learn  as much as you can about your customers; know their demographics; know what they like; know the specifics of the area they live; consider what might be their struggles; find out what they just bought so you can predict their next logical purchase, etc.

From knowing their first name, to understanding local area point-to-point driving route maps, to speaking to the customer in personalized way; all of it has an impact on the customer.

The bottom line is, do your homework and then use what you learn to make someone feel welcome if you want to trigger action.


About the Author:
Fany Georgieva

Fany Georgieva

In 2006 Fany landed in Florida straight from Bulgaria and brought with her two Bachelor’s degrees  – Broadcast Journalism and Film Production. With such diverse, yet related academic background, she decided the right thing to do was to get a Master’s degree in “something similar”. So, she graduated from the University of South Florida with her Master’s in Strategic Communications. Currently, Fany is a Production Assistant at AVI-SPL Creative Show Services and is constantly on a quest for learning and gaining professional knowledge to establish herself in the field of Communications.

Marketing Not to Be Ignored

May 12th, 2014
by, Chiara I. Tedone

Email is a marketing area that cannot be ignored. According to a study done by McKinsey & Company, email is nearly 40 times more effective at obtaining customers than Facebook and Twitter are. Email will serve you well in your efforts to keep your brand, products, and services on customers’ minds; and it will also help you build loyalty and increase your revenue in the long term. Email marketing is also an extremely effective way to reach customers on their mobile phones and mobile marketing is a must! As important as email marketing is, believe it or not, some companies which otherwise have strong marketing strategies still do email marketing incorrectly. These tips will act as a basic cheat sheet to guide you on your way to a successful email marketing strategy.
Best Practices
1) Focus on your goals! Make sure your goals for your email plan are in line with your broader marketing and business plans.
2) Use analytics tools. It is important to know how many subscribers you have, how many are reading your emails on desktops and on mobile devices, how many are visiting your website via email links, and how many are making purchases thereafter.
3) More focus on email centric content. Email content should not just be cut and pasted from a website or from a template designed for traditional mail. Email content should be specifically designed to work well in an email, whether the person is opening the email on a mobile device or a desktop.
4) Personalize and target. Target your emails to specific subgroups within your customer community. Broad reaching impersonal emails tend to be overlooked. Remember, your customers receive hundreds of emails a day from companies. Tailoring to the customer’s interests, demographics, behaviors, etc. will set you apart from the rest. Obviously, to gather enough information about your customers to successfully segment them requires the use of analytics tools and/or surveys customers are required to fill out upon creating accounts on your website.
5) Facilitate site visits. Make sure your emails entice customers to visit your site and make it easy for them to do so.
6) Use email to engage. Use email to invite your customers to engage with your brand. You can invite them to write humorous stories about their experiences with your products, take pictures of themselves using your products, enter contests to win merchandise or discounts, etc. Use your imagination!
7) What’s in it for them? Your emails should always be about your customers; each email should offer information or opportunities of value to them. If you tend to only write promotional emails about yourself and your products, your customers will likely see you as an annoyance, which detrimentally impact your brand.
8) Landing Page. What is just as important as the email you send is the landing page to which the email leads. This page should be continuously updated and optimized to offer fresh images and new valuable information. This page should be easy to navigate.
9) Test, test, test! Always test your emails within your company before sending them. Test the links, the appearance, ease of navigation within emails and from emails to landing pages. Also, make sure the right emails go to the right inboxes when you are segmenting your customers.
10) Creative content is essential. Include it in your emails and update it frequently.
11) Mix email campaign styles and methods and switch content types. Test them out to see which work best for different segments of customers.
12) Avoid spam filter trigger words. Words such as free, opportunity, offer, click here, and discount will likely send your email to customers’ spam folders. Research online to find more trigger words and make sure they do not appear in your emails.
13) Keep in touch! Stay connected with customers and prospective customers by checking in every once in a while with emails that offer information valuable to them.

Apps for Marketing Gurus

April 6th, 2014
by, Chiara I. Tedone

There are quite a few apps useful to marketers. The apps listed here focus on organizing information, managing social media, managing contacts, blogging, and web analytics/SEO. This list only scratches the surface in terms of informing marketers about useful apps. However, the apps on this list can be useful to almost any business.

  • Evernote will help you collaborate with peers, organize information, and securely save information in the form of notes, pictures, and web clippings. All of the information you save in Evernote will remain searchable. Information will sync across all of your mobile and desktop devices and you can access it offline as well. This app can help streamline marketing and communication efforts and can aid project coordination and peer to peer communication between team members working remotely, which makes it a marketing team’s dream! Evernote is also compatible with video conferencing software to enable note sharing and a variety of other business software.
  • Flawk and Hootsuite are useful to social media marketers. Flawk will allow you to host live Twitter Q&As with your followers. Hootsuite will enable you to update multiple social media accounts simultaneously and pre-schedule updates.
  • With Contacts+, marketers can easily maintain relationships with clients and other useful contacts. The app links those in your contact list to social and communication networks and allows you to send messages through one of many platforms by syncing the contacts’ profile data and contact information.
  • Feedly & Buffer are two blogging apps that work well together. Feedly is an RSS reader. When using it in conjunction with Buffer, you will be able to read your blogs on Feedly, pre-schedule your blog sharing on Buffer, and do it all from your phone!
  • iAnalytics brings Google Analytics to iPhone users.
  • Spydermate SEO Score Card is another SEO/analytics tool that will score any domain name based on the following data: Domain Authority, Unique Domain Backlinks, Google US Traffic Value, Google US Keywords, Facebook Shares, Twitter Shares, Google+ Shares & Domain Age. The overall SpyderMate SEO Score reveals the percentage of web sites performing worse than the domain that was scored, which is a good way to perform a quick assessment of your competitors’ sites.
  • Analytic, another SEO app, tracks website visitors’ bounce rate, average time on site, average pages per visit, and page views. It reveals visitors’ operating systems and browsers and the countries from which they access your site. It also records whether visitors come from direct traffic, search engines, or referring sites.
  • Website SEO Analyzer generates individual SEO reports on a URL and will provide a breakdown of on-page SEO including Meta data, page headings, images, and alt tags. The app will provide details on the domain, its age, site location, and number of indexed pages. However, it does not provide continuous real time analytics like some of the other apps do.

How Businesses Get in Gear for the Holiday Season

August 19th, 2013

Yes, it's still August, but that doesn't mean that you should wait to make your marketing campaign for the holidays.

Even though the weather in Tampa is hot and summer-like pretty much all year round, the holiday season will be approaching fast. As consumers, we may not even start to think about holiday shopping until at least November, but for advertising and marketing professionals, the season gets an early start.

Planning ahead
Many retailers and businesses start planning for the holiday season sales before the school year begins. So much time and effort is put into planning that they need to have their ideas finished and put into place fairly quickly. You also want to be sure that your campaign is fresh and new. Never recycle ideas from previous years. Tap into your imagination!

Quick changes
You may have noticed that many stores decorate early for various holidays, which means that you see Halloween items in September and Christmas decorations as early as October. When you celebrate Thanksgiving as well, there isn't a whole lot of time for preparation in between. When you're ready for the quick turn-around, everything will go according to plan.

Being ready
When the holiday season actually begins, make sure that you have everything in place to make your seasonal campaign a success. You can even keep your creative juices flowing and do year-round marketing for the holidays.

Make sure that you're ready for anything when it comes to marketing your business professionally and successfully. Keep checking out the AMA Tampa Bay website for more insider tips, tricks and the latest industry news.

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5 Fundamentals of Marketing a Non-Profit

August 12th, 2013

Help your non-profit organization stand out with these smart marketing strategies.

Working with a non-profit organization's budget can turn successful marketing into a challenge. When marketing a non-profit, try these suggestions for helping your message make a big impact.

1. Make sure that you have a strong social media presence. Social media is a simple, effective, and often free way to deliver news, photos, and other marketing material to a vast audience. In fact, "68% of people are more likely to take the time to learn about a charity if they see a friend posting about it on social," according to a  2012 study.

For a look at some non-profits who are achieving social media success, refer to this infographic.

2. Take advantage of Google+. When it comes to web results, Google is where many customers will turn. Does your non-profit have a Google+ profile page, verified address, or linked blog or website? All of these elements can help your non-profit yield higher search results.

3. Figure out how to define success online. Major fundraising requires major funds to place PSAs, commercials, or other media-friendly ads in the public eye. Instead of stretching your budget, use social media to develop grassroots fundraisers, and be prepared to replace dollar signs with metrics in terms of measuring success.

4. Make it easy for followers to take action. If you've captured someone's attention, don't make them dig through status updates or unclear messages to understand how they can help. Make a donation page, email sign-up, or other important marketing material easy to interact with, both on- and offline.

5. Know when to take it to the streets. Sometimes, "grassroots" or street marketing is the best way to get the word out about the good that you do. Figure out if street marketing could benefit your non-profit.

Make the most of your non-profit marketing budget by joining AMA Tampa Bay! Visit our website to learn more about the leading source of information, knowledge sharing and development in the marketing profession for over 60 years.

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Six Tips for Your Marketing Resume

August 5th, 2013

Seeking a career in marketing? Give your resume a boost with these helpful tips! 

Rising above the pack to get noticed by a hiring manager may seem like a challenge, but instead, consider it a chance to sell a potential "client" on a winning brand: you! Make your marketing resume stand out from the crowd with our suggestions.

1. Include a cover letter. You have the opportunity to let your creativity, passion, and style shine through in a well-crafted and concise cover letter. If you don't take advantage of this, a potential employer may wonder whether you will go above and beyond for the company.

2. Keep it simple. Choose a layout, font, style, and overall design that will leave a potential employer dazzled by your ability to execute an ad. After all, your resume is an advertisement – make sure hiring managers will take notice.

3. Don't waste space. Most hiring managers are extremely busy, so former employment that has no bearing on the job you're trying to obtain will just be regarded as wasted space. Keep your job descriptions, past and present, on point. The same goes for your writing samples – sometimes less is more.

4. Triple-check your work. With stacks of applications to review, a grammatical error could be enough to get your resume tossed into the trash. Your brilliant ideas suddenly don't seem as professional when there's a typo or two in the mix.

5. Include a marketing objective statement. An objective statement allows you to summarize exactly what value and services you can provide to the company. A powerful career objective can highlight your best assets in seconds, which is sometimes the length of time hiring managers spend reviewing resumes. Make yours stand out!

6. Highlight quantifiable results. Did you increase ROI or quarterly profits at your last company? Show the ways that you have created measurable results through bulleted lists. By placing an emphasis on quantified, specific accomplishments, you'll set your resume apart from the others. 

Are you ready to get started with a career in marketing? Give your resume a boost by joining AMA Tampa Bay!

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How to Win at Reputation Marketing

July 29th, 2013

Take advantage of reputation marketing to rise above the competition.

The rise of modern technology has allowed for consumers to swiftly react to their experiences at places of business by posting opinions, both positive and negative, to worldwide websites. Turn reputation marketing into a winning strategy for your business with our tips.

What is reputation marketing?
How many people do you know who have ever left a review for a business on an online site? That’s reputation marketing. When it comes to marketing, nothing beats the value of a referral, right? Reputation marketing is basically a referral on the largest scale – and, because of modern technology, it’s more important than ever before.

How can I use reputation marketing to increase my business?
With reputation marketing, organic results are part of the package. You can’t control what consumers post, but you can try to provide them with a positive experience and to encourage positive feedback.

  • Offer exclusive discounts when customers “check in” on popular apps or “feedback” focused websites.
  • Implement fair, competitive pricing.
  • Place links to your business review pages on the bottom of receipts or in doorways, inviting customers to leave reviews.
  • Develop a social media policy so you know how to handle feedback.
  • Address problems and offer to resolve negative experiences.
  • Make social engagement a focus, and respond to customer feedback on all sites where your business has a presence.

What should I avoid when it comes to reputation marketing?

  • It can be tempting to try to sway opinions by offering exclusives or free items in exchange for positive feedback, but that is discouraged.
  • If a customer leaves negative feedback about an experience, don’t ignore it and do not delete it. Instead, address the issue and offer to resolve it.

Reputation marketing is just one aspect of a successful marketing strategy. Learn more about marketing for your business by joining AMA Tampa Bay!

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Social Media Updates Marketers Can Take Advantage Of

July 22nd, 2013

Is your business making the most of social media?

Social media updates occur often, so it can be hard to keep up with the latest trend and decide where to focus your marketing efforts. Take advantage of popular new social media trends to develop buzz, increase interaction, and spread the word about your brand.

Facebook Replies and Photo Comments
In recent months, Facebook has rolled out two comment features that marketers can use to their advantage. Replies to comments allow marketers to target specific clients, while with photos on comments, a marketer has the opportunity to place an image directly in front of an individual consumer.

Example 1: A customer has a bad experience at a restaurant and comments on the restaurant's most recent status. With new replies to comments, a manager can reply directly to the individual instead of an entire comment thread.

Example 2: A customer comments on a status or photo post to ask a specific question about a product. Now reply with a photo of the exact product in question. Or, post a status inviting fans to share photos of their favorite products from your business to increase visibility and interaction.

Vine
Six-second films sound like they might be too short to be effective, but Vine has taken the social media world by storm since it was introduced earlier in 2013. Does your business or brand have a strong visual component? Vine could be the perfect place to showcase stores, products, or storylines through mini-videos.

A few tips:

  • Keep the concept to the six-second timeframe.
  • Make your marketing message clear.
  • Take advantage of the features the app offers.
  • Keep your storyline succinct.

Video for Instagram
The filters you know and love, now in 15-second video format. Does your business already have an Instagram following? Give fans a behind-the-scenes tour or sneak peek using Instagram video. Show them how a product is made, or offer an exclusive video discount. Get creative! 

Social media is a valuable way to reach consumers. To learn more about how AMA Tampa Bay can help you use social media to make the most of your business, visit our website today!

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5 Tips for Creating Successful Calls-to-Action

July 15th, 2013

Make the most of your marketing message with a clear call-to-action!

When it comes to your business website, it is essential to create a strong call-to-action. With so much information available online, knowing how to turn Internet consumers into customers can be tricky. So, how do you create a successful call-to-action? Increase your Internet marketing efforts with these 5 tips:

1. Show consumers the value of your business. Whether you run a small firm or a large corporation, the most important aspect of interacting with a potential customer is making it clear that your business can help fulfill a need or satisfy a desire. When crafting your calls-to-action, use clear, concise language to let readers know exactly what your company can offer.

2. Determine your marketing message. Potential customers can end up on your website in any number of ways – from a web search, through a link, or in another roundabout way. Figure out what message you want to convey, and incorporate this theme into every call-to-action.

3. Use action verbs. Your call-to-action should compel readers to do something that will increase conversions. Whether you want to ask potential customers to click, call, register, or buy, it is essential to use strong action verbs in your calls-to-action.  

4. Make the call-to-action stand out on your website. While content is usually king, a call-to-action relies on good design as well as good copy. Enlist a graphic designer to help design an attractive call-to-action template. Think of it as an advertisement – choosing the right color, text, and images can all play a role in helping your call-to-action capture a reader's attention. 

5. Offer a rebate, discount, or exclusive deal to encourage follow-through on your calls-to-action.
Make potential customers feel significant with your calls-to-action! Encourage them to complete a form or follow a link by baiting it with an exclusive offer for discounts, eBooks, white pages, or rebates.

Creating a successful call-to-action will make your website stand out! AMA Tampa Bay can provide valuable resources to help your business achieve marketing success. Learn more about joining our team.

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