Board-meeting-2013

Here are 50 Austin Marketers You Must Meet

You see these lists all the time, right? They can be anything from the 50 leading marketers under 50 to the top power marketers in a specific industry. But not just any marketer can join this list. Its members consistently display commitment, innovation and a startling passion for marketing.

They’re Austin AMA volunteers.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: Volunteering for Austin AMA isn’t glamorous. No one gets paid and while the organization is financially healthy, we have tight budgets. Instead of taking selfies with Barack, Austin AMA volunteers are creating and scheduling emails, checking registrations, scouting for sponsors and scouring analytics. (Heck, I’ve had days where I’ve finalized strategic growth documents and then alphabetized nametags.)

But Austin AMA volunteers consistently contribute their time and efforts in order to deliver on the organization’s mission to help Central Texas marketers lead, connect and grow. They are very serious about the organization and its members.

As president of the chapter, I am deeply grateful and awed by their commitment.

Why do they do it? The answer varies according to which volunteer you speak with. However, the ones that often bubble to the top are professional development, creating stronger ties with the local marketing community, expanding networks and just plain having fun.

I personally have been volunteering for AMA for more than a decade now. As a result of volunteering, I’ve not only added a wide array of skills and insights to my work arsenal but have also been privileged to become friends with truly smart people that always provide fresh perspectives and thought-provoking insights – all volunteers.

Volunteering for Austin AMA can be “job” that doesn’t always get the full recognition it deserves amongst members or guests. Let’s change that.

As this week is National Volunteer Week, I’d like to invite everyone to leave a comment on this blog post thanking Austin AMA volunteers for their contributions, sharing times when a volunteer has helped you or even just listing what some of your favorite Austin AMA activities are. Let’s share the love!

If you’d like to join this elite group of marketers, I invite you to visit our volunteer information page or email volunteer@ascendmarketingtesting.site.

Austin AMA volunteers: Thank you for all that you do. This organization cannot exist without you! 

Three of the Best Business Tips Margaret Thatcher Taught Me

I had always been taught that one’s political viewpoints were to be discussed at home and not in the workplace. No easy feat considering that I spent three years at the onset of my career working in part to recognize world leaders aboard the moored USS Intrepid in New York City.  Indeed, I do believe in peaceful co-existence and honoring the men and women who have helped to defend my freedoms.

So, almost twenty years ago when my boss tasked me with a leading role in planning an event to honor The Right Honorable Baroness Margaret Thatcher, I put aside any preconceived notions. After all, I was an impressionable 23 year old who spent portions of her childhood practicing cold war ‘drills’ under her desk in school and remembers vividly the “Argoesque” era of tying yellow ribbons around my family’s oak tree in solidarity for the U.S. hostages in Tehran.

I watched with wide eyes and ears that could only detect silence in the room other than the voice of one person, Thatcher delivering remarks to 15 people at a luncheon.

When an opportunity presented itself for me to introduce myself to the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I did so as “Jenny.”  Thatcher asked my age and my job responsibilities. I was surprised when she pursed her lips in the middle of my explanation. I paused, she complimented my ‘interesting necklace’ and took my hand asking me to start again with my formal name. From that moment on, I realized that I needed to deliver messages with the same level of conviction that the world leader in front of me did so.

Tip #1:Own your pitch. One of Thatcher’s own mantras of “If you set out to be liked, you will accomplish nothing” should resonate strongly with those who are not currently speaking up during discussions. Whether you are a manager or aspiring to be one, the most effective way to get your messaging across is to deliver it with conviction. When you convey a message with purpose, you are almost certainly increasing your chances of being heard and your ideas considered.

Tip #2: Collaborate but Expect Discourse. In the world of international relations, Thatcher certainly collaborated. Whether with Reagan or Gorbachev, much has been written about her reign to help end the Cold War. But, not every position she took was populist and sometimes isolated her. How does this translate to business? A friend who is a marketing executive expressed her concern that she is spending too much time ‘monitoring in her own silo.’ Monitoring doesn’t mean being a follower instead of a leader; it does mean you need to recognize you do not need to glam onto every trend.

How can you collaborate? You need to make the time to meet with others. You can plan and organize your own thoughts but do not lose sight that the path to creativity involves working together to achieve your set goals. Try to set a weekly meeting about one potential project. If the potential project is in its nascent state, your collaboration can save you time in the long run. You can define milestones on research and analysis and determine that the project is/is not a worthwhile endeavor.

Tip #3 Contemplate. Margaret Thatcher was a strong, disciplined leader not unlike a college roommate I had who was an artist. Sometimes, the rest of us would be in the living room reading our various school books and she would have her sketch book and a piece of charcoal. An hour or two would pass and she would never move from her spot, sometimes drawing and other times just deep in thought.

How do you take time to contemplate?

Leaders take time to tune out the rest of the ‘noise,’ and just simply think. Remember, contemplating does not involve being fast and furious but rather thinking through an issue with limited distractions.

Finally, in partial jest, I was honored to have met such a powerful leader whose statement pins and hats matched my statement necklaces.  And, note to those who know me well, especially from the Upper West Side of Manhattan where I resided for many years, I’ll always be Jenny from the Block except this month it just happens that my family and I moved 1,700 miles away to Austin, Texas.

bankston_imageJennifer S. Bankston is the former Chief Marketing Officer of law firm Labaton Sucharow LLP in New York, NY.

Agile Across the Enterprise: Why Let Development Have All the Fun?

For marketing teams, the amount of change happening daily is astounding.

  • 294 billion emails are sent
  • 2 million blog posts are written
  • 172 million different people on F’book
  • 532 million status updates
  • 844,000 hours of video sent to YouTube
  • 40 million different people on Twitter
  • 22 million different people on LinkedIn

(Source: MBA Online)

Since the inking of the Agile Manifesto, Agile has been primarily used within development and IT teams.

IT and development teams have enjoyed tremendous boosts in collaboration, customer value delivery, and software releases on a predictable cadence.

But why hasn’t marketing learned from development and tried to incorporate Agile practices into their daily routines?

The answer: they’re trying.

It is a far cry from the majority of marketing teams using Agile practices, but many teams are starting to experiment with what Agile can introduce into their teams.

A mere 5 years ago told a very different tale. Marketing projects were typified by rigid scheduling; chaotic, fragmented attempts at teamwork; missed delivery dates; major disconnects with development or the ‘delivery’ teams.

By necessity, marketing teams are wise to deliver value in shorter chunks (iterations).

A pronounced and visible movement towards Agile and Lean methods, popularized by Eric Ries’ seminal work, The Lean Startup has marketers viewing their work and their role in the business in a whole new light.

So what will Agile bring to your marketing team?

Some of the most important things:

  • ‘Test and learn’ DNA
  • A close connection to the customer voice
  • Thoughtful risk-taking
  • A tight-knit, focused collaborative team

All these will be featured in a series of upcoming blog posts at http://www.dannaden.com.

Stay tuned to hear how marketers can start using Agile today to build stronger teams and deliver more focused value to the business.

About Guest Blogger Dan Naden  

Dan Naden Over the past two decades, Dan Naden went from checking every new Web site that came out via Yahoo  Search (you could actually do this in 1994!!) to effectively building online and offline communities while  embracing the Agile mindset. He’s accomplished in the areas of product strategy, product marketing,  communications, product development, community building and agile project management in both  entrepreneurial and corporate environments. Currently, Dan is the Community Manager at VersionOne.  VersionOne develops a leading agile project management tool for software development teams.

Headshot of AMA Austin board member

Ask Me Anything: Austin AMA Vice President of Communications Stacy Glover

Headshot of AMA Austin board memberIn this series of blog posts titled “Ask Me Anything”, Stacy Glover, who has previously volunteered as website director for AMA discusses her favorite Austin AMA membership benefits and maintaining marketing relevance at her “day job” as Director of Communications for Texas PTA with infometrics.

Q: What prompted you to first volunteer for AMA?

A: I wanted to make connections in my field because I was new to the area, sharpen my current skills and  expand my skill set with new challenges.

Q: What have been one of the best benefits you have found from volunteering for AMA?

A: Most people are willing to help and will give you a chance. The people on AMA are amazing, both in personality and in their own skill set, and will work with you.

Q: What’s an AMA member benefit that many may not know about?

A: Making friends. I know if I were to leave the area or the association today, there are a handful of people that I could still contact professionally and personally. The networking is not just about career advancement.

Q: What do you hope members take away from their interaction with AMA?

A: Know that there is an association out there that can not only help you make connections for your own personal gain and connections that can help in so many ways. While career advancement and opportunities are always a consideration, there are several companies that my current company does business with today simply because I met someone at a luncheon and asked some questions. Membership can work both ways.

Q: What do you like most about AMA?

A: I would have to say board development meetings. It may not count as much for recruiting members unless you take the path to the board in the message but I like the fact that a group of people can sit down, operate as a unit and have so much fun. The organization has goals and has great resources, but it’s all about the people!

Q: What are some communications trends you’ve identified lately?  

A: Infometrics for me, personally, at work. I love, love, love them and think they make marketing analytics much easier to understand … and pretty. I’m incorporating them into everything I can, including our new annual report! Depending on your market – and mine is 20-40 year old parents – you have to evolve in your marketing efforts to maintain relevancy. For us, it is really evaluating our web and email strategy (web is information and reference, email is up-to-date relevant information) and segmenting our social media strategy. Our association is focused on advocacy for children and education. When the legislature was not in session, we added a legislative Facebook page that focused solely on educational legislative efforts. I believe focusing on what your members tell you is important is key. So many companies do not do this and think they know what their members want. Member benefits and discounts are ok but we find that a survey on school safety gets far more hits than an email about a Six Flags discount. Our age group of parents care far less about “joining” an organization than they do about participating in something that affects their kid and their school in their school district. Maintaining that focus is crucial.

Q: What’s the best advice you ever got?

A: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Seriously. If you are confident in your abilities and know that some things (because it will never be all) you do make a difference, don’t sweat the small stuff.

Connect with Stacy through email, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Ask Me Anything: Austin AMA Vice President of Events Lauren Evans

Austin AMA Board Member Lauren EvansIn this series of blog posts titled “Ask Me Anything”, Evans, who has previously volunteered as part of the AMA Events team as Luncheon Logistics Coordinator and works as as marketing and outreach specialist for Whole Foods’ Whole Planet Foundation, talks Austin AMA network building and trends in non-profit marketing.

Q: What prompted you to first volunteer for AMA?

A: When I moved back to Austin three years ago, I wanted to build a community for myself outside of work. I joined five organizations, and the Austin AMA is the only one that really resonated with me. I am so proud to be a part of this great organization.

Q: What have been some of the greatest takeaways you have from volunteering for AMA?

A: I have made some life-long friends and have also built up a solid network of marketing professionals I would not have had access to otherwise. I have also benefited from the learning opportunities offered – through resources from our national chapter, through our members and their areas of expertise and from our programming.

Q: What would you like to see happen this year in regards to your volunteer position?

A: This year, I hope to recruit more volunteers to participate on the Events team in hopes of having the support to build an impactful programming strategy. I want the Austin AMA to be the buzz in Austin as the organization with the best events!

Q: What’s an AMA member benefit that many may not know about?

A: This year, we have started hosting members-only Marketing Executive Panels. The Marketing Executive Panel’s mission is to foster an environment of collaboration, professional support and continuous education for the marketing communications professionals of the greater Austin, Texas area. Very few people have the opportunity to interact on a personal level with these CMO-level marketing leaders.

Q: What do you hope members take away from their interaction with AMA?

A: I have learned so much in the Austin AMA that has benefited me professionally and personally. In addition to building a marketing community for themselves, I hope that all members are able to learn about areas of marketing they would not have had the opportunity to learn about without their AMA membership and that they will benefit them in their current and future professional endeavors. If member are interested in volunteering and joining the Board, the Austin AMA is a great place to build leadership skills.

Q: What are important trends for non-profit marketing?

A: Deliver quality content. As non-profits, content fuels our relationship building in-person, across platforms and devices. It’s vital for lead generation and for motivating action. We as non-profits must provide the highest quality and most relevant information that our audiences want. The message needs to be simple, clear and easily digestible so that our audiences take action.

B: SEO. In the non-profit world, we need to integrate top keywords in all of your content on every platform. Earlier this year, we applied for a $10,000 grant from Google AdWords to support our SEO, and it has created a HUGE impact in driving traffic and creating impact. You can learn more about these special grants by visiting http://www.google.com/grants.

C: Social media and mobile are mandatory! Many non-profits feel they don’t have the resources or structure in place to maintain a presence in social media or on mobile, and creating an integrated social media and mobile strategy as part of the overall marketing plan is a MUST for all non-profits. And for social media, it’s not just Facebook…you must dig deeper.

Q: What’s the best advice you ever got (marketing or otherwise)?

A: “Don’t tell the customer where to go—tell them why they need to be there.”

Connect with Lauren through email, Facebook and LinkedIn.

AMA Austin board member Priscilla Brave

Ask Me Anything: Austin AMA Vice President of Community Outreach Priscilla Brave

AMA Austin board member Priscilla BraveIn this series of blog posts titled “Ask Me Anything”, Brave, who has previously volunteered as vice president of special interest groups and vice president of communications for AMA, discusses community outreach, Austin AMA membership benefits and her “day job” as regional events manager for Gerson Lehrman Group.

Q: Why did you begin volunteering for AMA?

A: I became a member of AMA about four years ago to learn more about the latest trends in marketing and to expand my network in Central Texas. A board member for the Austin Chapter asked me if I was interested in volunteering for the Austin Chapter when I attended my first local event, and I’ve been volunteering in different capacities since joining the organization.

Q: How has volunteering benefited you?

A: When collaborating with thought leaders, you often gain valuable experiences and insights that translate into best practices. While these benefits are invaluable, I’ve also been honored to have the opportunity to attend a national Leadership Summit (multiple times), identify and drive chapter initiatives, lead team members and partner with other local organizations. As an added bonus, I’ve also made some wonderful friends over the years!

Q: What’s your plan for community outreach this year?

A: Our Community Outreach program started in 2011 and it’s still gaining momentum. We pursue partnerships with local nonprofit organizations to raise awareness, give back and ultimately support our community. To date, the program has supported several organizations in different capacities including Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Lights. Camera. Help, Knowability’s 2012 Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) and Dress for Success Austin, but we look forward to exploring and supporting additional organizations in the future. Ultimately, we strive to host an annual signature event or activity, where AMA members join together to support our community. While we include this program on our annual survey to request feedback, people are welcome to reach out to me throughout the year as potential opportunities arise for collaboration.

Q: What’s an AMA member benefit that many may not know about?

A: www.marketingpower.com offers countless resources to learn about the latest developments in marketing, as well as opportunities to connect all over the world. I often focus on the local benefits, but have to remind myself that there are tons of resources available.

Q: What do you hope members take away from their interaction with AMA?

A: I hope AMA meets and exceeds their expectations depending on what they seek to gain from being a member. If not, let us know how we can improve.

Q: What’s the best advice you ever got?

A: Build a solid foundation of knowledge and experience within your industry / profession. But eventually specializing in something you excel at and enjoy.

Q: Tell us about some trends you’re seeing in integrated marketing.

A: Experiential marketing through events – objective and execution varies. It is also interesting to see the shift from in-person to digital to a renewed focus on in-person meetings with integration of digital media to encourage connectivity.

Connect with Priscilla through email, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Austin AMA Rocks Race for the Cure

The Austin AMA crew at Race for the Cure

On Sunday, November 4, 2012, we laced up our running shoes and tied on our red bandannas to help support the Austin Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure ®. Our team of members, non members and family joined together to participate in the event. While Austin AMA is looking to have fun this board term (cue the rock-n-roll reference you may have heard throughout this year), it was an inspiring experience to honor those that were just diagnosed, who fought the battle or who may have lost the battle to breast cancer.

The Austin Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® has been raising money to provide breast cancer screening, education and medical services, as well as financial and emotional support since 1999. Up to 75 percent of the money raised each year is put to work in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties to improve the lives of everyone affected by this deadly disease. The remaining funds go to national research to find a cure for breast cancer once and for all.

Austin AMA pursues partnerships with local nonprofit organizations to raise awareness, give back and ultimately support our community. The Community Outreach program has supported several organizations in different capacities including Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Lights. Camera. Help, Knowability’s 2012 Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) and Dress for Success Austin, but we look forward to exploring and supporting additional organizations in the future. Keep an eye out for opportunities to support our community through volunteering time, donating professional services and providing gently-used items or monetary donations.

Let us know if you have an organization of interest that would be a good partner for Austin AMA. Feel free to reach me by email to discuss in more detail.

Priscilla Brave, Vice President of Community Outreach

Are Geolocation Apps a Fad or Are They Here to Stay?

Will Franklin, Director of New Media & Research, Texans for Rick Perry and guest blogger for Austin AMA.

Please welcome Will Franklin, guest blogger for Austin AMA and Director of New Media & Research for Texans for Rick Perry. Want to join in the debate? Join us on Thursday, Sept. 16 where he’ll be presenting “The Impact of New Media and Research in Political Marketing.”

Marketers, especially in politics, are always looking to stay on the cutting edge of the “next big thing,” and after the explosion of successful social media strategies in the 2008 election, no candidate wants to appear “Luddite-ish” or hopelessly old-fashioned. Some candidates, on the other hand, misguidedly believe social media is not only a magic bullet, but also a free magic bullet that will trump television and radio ads and may even earn huge sums of money along the way.

Sounds a little bit like what caused the dot com bubble to burst nearly ten years ago.

In politics, there is a strange common wisdom that quickly settles in after one side wins and the other side loses. Everything the winning side did was right, and everything the losing side did was wrong. The winners are prophets and geniuses, and that prophetic genius is universalized across everything they did or did not do throughout the campaign. Errors and mistakes are overlooked. Accidental successes are rewritten as tactical, visionary decisions made by brilliant masterminds.

Let’s not take anything away from the Obama campaign’s tremendous success online and elsewhere, but the reaction to the 2008 election offers a glimpse at how political marketers often chase the blueprint from the last campaign.

Never mind that Barack Obama, with his millions of Twitter followers, admitted, “I have never used Twitter” in 2009 to a group of Chinese youth while in Shanghai. The Obama social media presence in 2008 dwarfed the McCain presence in size, scope, and quality. While the McCain campaign employed a handful of people to push out content online, the Obama campaign famously employed dozens of staffers just to maintain his social media presence across the web. Whether that staffing imbalance was the result or the cause of Obama’s complete domination in fundraising (Obama raised roughly three times the cash that McCain raised) is the ultimate chicken/egg argument in political circles.

In 2010, geolocation apps like Foursquare and Gowalla, which allow GPS-enabled mobile users to “check in” at spots, are emerging as the latest and greatest social media platforms. In a sense, they are virtual clipboards for sign-ins at events. Some restaurants and coffee shops offer discounts for people who check in. These apps are growing, but compared to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, they are only reaching a narrow audience of relatively early adopters.

Are geolocation apps a fad, or are they here to stay? My hunch is that they are not a fad, but they may not pay dividends for political campaigns until that critical mass of people becomes comfortable using them. In the meantime, as with all social media platforms, early adopters are rewarded with more followers, friends, and connections, so why not give them a go? Campaigns that can creatively leverage even just their small but loyal followings into real life action (votes, volunteer hours, etc.) will continue to have an edge over those who cling to marketing strategies that data show are increasingly wastes of resources.

About Will Franklin

Will currently serves as Director of New Media & Research at Texans for Rick Perry. He guides a team that crafts online messaging, directs online fundraising, and engages supporters in grassroots efforts for Texas Governor Rick Perry’s 2010 re-election campaign. In December of 2004, Will began writing at the award-winning WILLisms.com, still “the Classiest Blog Around.” To date, WILLisms.com has received more than 2.8 million visits and 4.2 million page views.

Will graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Government/History, and later, from the University of Houston with a Master’s Degree in Political Science (Public Policy/American Government/Comparative Politics). Will has a wife named Kristel and a Weimaraner named Heidi. They live in Austin.