Letter From the President- Cindy Fox

Greetings to our Members and Friends:

Many of you may have noticed that the American Marketing Association is going through a rebrand.  We would like to explain why and what it means to you as Members/Friends of the American Marketing Association-Charlotte Chapter.

As Marketers, we understand the importance of a strong brand.  In the past, each chapter has been allowed to create their own logos and other collateral, some of which fit with the brand and some that didn’t.  One objective of this rebrand is to unite all our many chapters behind one strong brand.  We want you to understand that all the chapters are working together with our international organization (now called the Support Center) to ensure that you are provided a community essential to all marketers-inspiring curiosity, fueling advancement and providing connection, this move is to make that collaboration more apparent.

As part of the brand evolution, the AMA is working to meld together thought leadership from its academic community and experts from the industry to deliver the most relevant and compelling knowledge for today’s marketers.  With the most useful, current and rigorous content, the AMA will continue innovating as the marketing world’s best place for learning, curiosity, debate and connections.

If you haven’t visited our Support Center’s website lately, AMA Source  , check it out-you will find a variety of topics addressed and some questions for you.  A main focus of the new intellectual agenda an exploration of Seven Big Problems that marketers around the globe are wrestling with.  These seven problems were compiled by asking marketers all over the globe what they thought were the most important questions confronting marketers now.  Your Charlotte Chapter will join in this exploration of these seven problems in a variety of ways, so watch for opportunities to hear more about these compelling problems and how you can share your expertise/experience on these topics.

Let us know if you have any questions, Thanks for your support of the American Marketing Association-Charlotte Chapter!

How much should you be spending on digital in 2017?

By: Patrick Rouillard

According to projections from eMarketer, 2017 will be the first year where digital marketing budgets exceed TV in the US. They also anticipate that by 2020, digital spend will surpass TV by 36%. Likewise, in the article “The End of TV’ from the January 2017 issue of marketing news, the authors identify one of the advantages digital has over other media as the ability to establish a social connection with the audience. They said, “online customer experiences are continually being designed by marketers to create the cultural and emotional bonds that ensure higher degrees of engagement and social acceptance”.  

What does this all mean?

Probably what you already realized - digital marketing is here and obviously not going anywhere. That much is clear. However, what might not be as clear is the amount of marketing dollars you should be allocating towards digital.  You want to increase the spend, but by how much and through what channels? 

If these are questions you and your team are asking, you’re not alone. In fact, digital transformation of the modern corporation is listed as number three on AMA’s 7 Big Problems in Marketing.  And one of the key points made is that an increase in digital means less of a one-sided conversation between seller and buyer and more of a back and forth exchange. As well more communications between buyers. 

How do you best navigate these changes as a marketer?

This Wednesday January 25th you take can take a big step forward to answering some of these questions by attending the latest presentation in AMA Charlotte’s Digital Series - Tips for Planning Your 2017 Digital Marketing Budget. You’ll get expert tips, strategies, and best practices for planning your digital budget from Cassie Bernat, a social media marketing expert who is currently ACN’s social media and content marketing manager. Cassie has worked with brands such as Chiquita, Fresh Express, and Off Broadway Shoes. 
So why continue to ‘guess’ about your digital spend for 2017? AMA Charlotte is here to help. Register here for tickets! 

 

Maximize Your Social Media Footprint

By: Caitlin Rodermund 

 

It is no surprise that social media is a driving force for most businesses in the 21st century. But it is not just about creating these accounts; it is about using them to your advantage. Many factors can determine whether your post gets that double tap likable quality or vanish into cyber space. A strong social media presence can have a huge impact on the success of a business. So how do you maximize your social media footprint? Here are a few helpful tips to get you on the right path to successful social media.

1.     Timing is everything

Posting successful content on your social media pages is correlated with the timing of each post. It is important to look at the analytics and see when your followers are mostly online and active. It is important to get the timing right so the most amount of traffic sees the your post.

2.     Follow through with posts

If you are a business that likes to have multiple events a month you need to be posting about each one of those events. Not only do you need to post about the upcoming events but also recap on the previous one. The smart strategy would be to take as many pictures as you can at the event and post one of those. It also helps keep your account consistent and reliable. 

3.     #Hashtags, locations, and tags 

Hashtags are essential in all of your posts in order to reach as many people as possible. They do not always have to be super creative but make them relevant to the posts. If you are posting about exercising put hashtag #healthy. People who search the word healthy will see your post pop up and it might enhance their interest. Locations are necessary because they allow you to notify the audience of your location without having to add it into your caption. People can then click on your location and see where you are and other posts with that location. Also, if you are collaborating with another company/organization make sure you tag them. They might repost your posting and show it to all of their followers.

You might think all of this is trivial in the grand scheme of daily operations but it will make a difference. Social media is only getting bigger and staying in tune with all of the added features is essential to being successful with online marketing. While it might help to have a savvy social media coordinator not everyone can hire one. These hints will help your business get that second look from all your followers and non-followers. Never stop thinking of creative ways to spice up your social media and add that extra flare to your business. If you are interested in more aspects of social media and marketing I highly suggest joining AMA. Check out the Charlotte AMA social media accounts and website and learn how to get involved. 

6 FAQs for The Ronald MacDonald House of Charlotte

By: Patrick Rouillard

You've probably heard of the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) but if not, they keep families with sick children close to each other while giving them the care and resources they need. RMHC started in Philadelphia over 40 years ago and now their chapters can be found in more than 63 countries and regions around the world. In 2015, they helped lessen the burden for more than 7 million families going through difficult times.

On Tuesday December 6th, AMA Charlotte will be hosting the SIlverbell Shindig along with CIMA, BMA, CIABC, PRSA and SMCLT and all proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. Get Tickets HERE.

To familiarize yourself with the amazing work of the RMHC, here are 6 FAQs:

  1. What is the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte? The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte is a "home away from home" for families of seriously ill children from across the Carolinas and country who are receiving medical treatment in Charlotte medical facilities.
  2. Why was a Ronald McDonald House built in Charlotte? The opening of Carolinas Medical Center's new 240-bed Levine Children's Hospital and the expansion of Novant Health Hemby Children's Hospital created the need for a nearby facility to host families with sick children seeking world-class medical care in Charlotte.
  3. Are there other Ronald McDonald Houses in the Carolinas? The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte is the 5th facility in North Carolina and the first was in Durham in 1980. There are also facilities across North and South Carolina in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem, Charleston, Columbia and Greenville NC and SC.
  4. Who owns and operates the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte? Ronald McDonald House programs are owned and operated by the local community. The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte is managed by a local Board of Directors.
  5. How much does it cost for families to stay in the Ronald McDonald House? The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte offers an economic alternative to families with seriously ill children during short-term and extended hospital stays, as well as the support and comfort of other families facing similar medical crises together. Families are asked to make a modest donation but no one will ever be turned away due to inability to pay.
  6. How can I help? Attend the Silverbell Shindig on December 6th or click here to learn more about how to contribute to Charlotte's "home away from home" for families of sick children.

3 Tips for Ensuring Your SEO Strategy Keeps Your Content Interesting

When considering SEO, it’s easy to focus on keywords. And for good reason. At the core of any successful SEO strategy is proper research and use of keywords. However, with all the focus on the strategic use of words that build your content – whether it be a web page, eBook, or case study – you want to make sure the quality of the content is not being sacrificed for the strategy. And by quality I mean how readable and appealing your content is to the target audience. Because if your content is not interesting to them, you won’t get the results you want- no matter how effectively you employ keywords.

This can be especially true in B2B, where there can be the tendency to produce dry content because business professionals are the target audience. In fact, Heather Lloyd-Martin from SEO Content Institute recently said in an interview “Some industries expect content to be dry and boring, but it doesn’t have to be. Yes, you need to get facts to the buyer. But factual and boring aren’t the same thing”.

So what steps can you take to make sure you’re not producing content that will make your prospects fall asleep in their chair? Here are 3 tips:

1.  Watch your tone

In B2B, just because you’re marketing to business professionals doesn’t mean your content needs to read like a textbook, no matter how technical your product or service may be. Prospects are going to relate best to materials that read like people talk. Meaning the writing should flow in a conversational style.  This will help the piece seem more inviting to read and allow the prospects to easily connect with it. I think a ‘business casual’ style of writing works best, where your content would read as if you were having a conversation with the prospect during a meeting or at a trade show.

2. Use storytelling

Effective storytelling works just as well in B2B as it does in B2C. When making a purchase decision for a product or service, business buyers are obviously motivated by improving the bottom line. However, personal motivations can play just as large of a role. Maybe it could help them get a promotion, or even just save enough time to be home earlier for their families.  Whatever the reason, storytelling can keep your content interesting by helping clearly express benefits that appeal to both the business and personal buying motivations of your prospects.

3. Have people outside the target audience read the content

One way to effectively test how engaging your content is to have people who are not in the target audience read it. This allows you to see where your content falls on the ‘readability scale’. Because even though they may have no knowledge, interest, or use for your product, they can provide useful feedback on how well it flows. You and your team know your audience, so you already know its ‘useful’ content for them. The question you’re trying to answer with this exercise is “Is it written in an appealing, conversational-style where anyone can make their way through it and get the general idea?”

Hope these tips help. Interested in more on SEO best practices?

Don’t miss AMA Charlotte’s digital marketing event this Tuesday 10/18 at UNION:  Performing SEO audits with Sona Medspa’s CMO Rene Fielder and Digital Marketing Director Brett Lutz.

Click Here For Details and Registration

Who Should Run Your Content Marketing? Agency vs. Insourcing

Content has become one of the hottest topics in marketing as its ROI has become more demonstrable over time and new systems and strategy have become more accessible. With the upcoming digital marketing event focused on content marketing, now is the perfect opportunity to update your perspective and reassess your business's approach to this evolving discipline. Hendrick Motorsports, Christine Brownlow, will be reviewing the challenges planning and strategy behind their content marketing mindset on Tuesday August 16th.

As interest in content strategies continues to grow, many companies are left wondering how to best develop an effective content marketing initiative. One of the biggest decisions you have to make is whether to carry it out internally or to outsource the responsibility to agencies or other third parties. The choice is not always easy and can be different for every business. However there are a few basic considerations to help any organization determine the most effective strategy for delivering content marketing ROI. 

1. What Does Content Marketing Mean to You?

Content Marketing has a lot of definitions depending on who you ask. The exact recipe of content that is best for your business will be different from any other organization's. Whether you're considering hiring content marketing talent or choosing an agency partner, one of the primary goals should be to understand what content marketing means to them. It is important that you share a similar vision and priorities. 

Look for specific answers that address:

  • How they will determine how much content is needed
  • How they will determine which type of content is needed
  • Who will be creating the content
  • How they will encourage engagement and ensure growth over time

2. What Internal Content Capabilities Do You Have?

If content marketing was easy, everyone would already be doing it effectively. A fully developed content marketing operation should have experts in at least 5 key disciplines contributing to the effort. In order to be successful, you need to have access to a wide variety of creative, analytical, digital and marketing talent. This expertise is how you make content exceptional enough to standout instead of getting lost in the crowd.

Content Marketers need to excel in these three skills at a minimum:

  • Communication
  • Industry insight- comfort and competence with the subjects at hand
  • Promotion skills- the ability to place and promote content effectively

It is not very difficult to find someone with competence in one or two of these areas, but it is very hard to find someone with all three- especially if your business operates in an obscure or niche market. 42% of companies said they currently did not have the in-house expertise to use content marketing effectively. And they're not talking about one person having the necessary skills; these companies couldn't find all the necessary skills within their whole department.

If you're fortunate enough to have that talent in-house right now, then you at least have the option, if not the motivation, to handle your content marketing yourself. But if not, you'll need to outsource or build your own team of full-time and contract talent. 

3. What are Your KPIs?

There is a different understanding of success for every one of content marketing's myriad definitions. In order to have a good working relationship, especially with an external third party, you need to agree upon reasonable guidelines for success beforehand. Before you agree to work with someone you should determine which KPIs you both think are most critical to success. 

You probably have very specific goals for your content marketing so make sure you go through why you care about each and what results for each metric you consider desirable. If you can find a third party partner that shares your goals; great! But if not, you might want to consider insourcing to build your own team so you have very specific control over strategy and destination.

4. What Part Will Content Play in Your Big Picture Marketing Strategy?

Before you even think about hiring anyone to help you with content marketing, get a good picture of how content marketing fits into your business.

If you are already extremely busy and occupied with your current marketing operations, introducing a new factor may only lead to the chaos rather than being a useful asset. If that's the case, then you are probably not in a good position to be on boarding a new team because you will not be setting them- or your business- up for success. This is a scenario that an agency or other external partner might be just the thing you need. They can create and execute a strategy without putting more strain on your organization's current structure. 

Bio: Mark Miller is Marketing Manager for MarketPro, a marketing recruitment firm. He writes on marketing career development and trends that can impact marketing jobs. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Meet the Acronyms of the Alphabet Bash!

By: Patrick Rouillard

The Charlotte Chapter of the American Marketing Association will be hosting the Alphabet Bash along with 7 other local organizations. Join us and support a great cause at The Oak Room on June 21st from 6pm-9pm. 

The Alphabet Bash is a great networking opportunity including many facets of local marketers including B2B, digital, direct, PR and social. Proceeds go to helping support the Community School of the Art's Levine Children's Hospital Arts Day.

So who will be there?

Check out the list below for a brief description of the participating organizations 'behind the acronyms'.

Get Tickets Now!

CAMA

For the past 75 years, the American Marketing Association has been making an impact on the marketing world through resources and expertise provided to its members. In 1982, a chapter was established in Charlotte to help bring the innovation of the organization to a vastly growing region of the country. Since then the Charlotte American Marketing Association (CAMA) has become a vital element to the national organization and the Queen City!

Learn more at: www.charlotteama.com

AAF Charlotte

We are an affiliate of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), a national organization empowered by 50,000 professionals in 220 professional advertising clubs, 220 college chapters and 110 corporations. The AAF works to advance the broad interests of the advertising industry, including the freedom to truthfully advertise legal products.

Learn more at: www.aafcharlotte.com

BMA

The Business Marketing Association is the leading professional resource for business-to-business (B2B) marketers. We connect members with the kind of knowledge, people and programs that make achieving their business objectives more efficient and effective.

Learn more at: www.bmacarolinas.org

CIMA

The Charlotte Interactive Marketing Association (Charlotte IMA) is a forum for digital marketing professionals, businesses and educators in the Queen City and surrounding areas dedicated to sharing ideas, information and best practices that will help define and develop the growing digital marketing industry and its disciplines. Charlotte IMA's membership base and meeting attendees represent digital marketers from local Fortune 1000 companies, demand generation and digital agencies, marketing-related technology firms, marketing-focused consulting firms and online media companies.

Learn more at: www.charlotteima.org

CDMA

The Charlotte Direct Marketing Association (now merged with CAMA) will promote direct marketing excellence in our community by providing career development and social opportunities that advocate the highest standards of professional conduct. The Charlotte Direct Marketing Association is the Carolina's premier association for direct and interactive marketing professionals.

Learn more at: www.charlotteama.com

IABC

The International Association of Business Communications/Charlotte is an organization of professionals from across the communications industry spectrum. We are partners in an international association of more than 13,000 communicators in 60 countries. Our mission is to provide professional development and opportunities for our members to enhance their skills and increase their success via a variety of programs, events, seminars, networking opportunities and conferences.

Learn more at: www.ciabc.com

PRSA

With approximately 300 members, the Charlotte Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America is one of the region's largest and most active chapters. Founded in 1978, the chapter helps members become more valuable to their organizations and clients- and more successful professionally.

Learn more at: www.prsacharlotte.org

SMCLT

Social Media Charlotte was created in 2013 to help bring together different parts of Charlotte's rampantly-growing online marketing and social media businesses and the professionals who guided them, along with those new to the scene who simply wanted to learn more.

Learn more at: www.socialmediacharlotte.com

3 Things I learned at Market Charlotte 2016

By: Patrick Rouillard

At the start of Market Charlotte 2016, the speakers asked for a show of hands from the audience of how many were familiar with Agile Marketing. Only a few hands popped up.

Personally, I was somewhat familiar with the concept of Agile, but was looking forwarding to learning more from the featured speakers – Russ Lange from CMG Partners and Roland Smart from Oracle.

And they did not disappoint!  I left the event feeling like I just gained “insider knowledge” on a truly cutting edge marketing approach. And it’s probably safe to say I was not the only attendee who felt this way.

Here are 3 of my main takeaways:

1.    Agile keeps the customer experience front and center

As marketers, we always intend to have the customer experience be the focal point in our campaigns.  However, as the speakers pointed out, this requires the ability to pivot and adapt to changes midstream.

Traditional marketing approaches can make that difficult, whereas the iterative style of Agile allows for a continual series of “Launch. Results. Improve.” You are essentially building a continual customer feedback loop that you can base your next product developments around. 

Why is all this important?

Moving forward, it is likely that competition of customer experience will only increase. And it seems companies that adopt Agile will have the leading edge.

2.    The Peak-End Rule

I was somewhat familiar with the “peak-end” rule prior to attending Market Charlotte. However, having Roland Smart and Russ Lange explain it in the context of Agile only emphasized its importance.

As the speakers outlined, along the customer journey, the two most important points for marketers are the peak and the end. The peak represents the most ‘intense’ experience for the customer during that particular buying journey. It carries the most weight when averaging the final score of the overall customer experience. And it can be either positive or negative.

For example, as Roland Smart pointed out, you can hypothetically score a 10 on most of the touch points in the customer journey. However, if the peak experience is a 2 or 3, the overall satisfaction with the buying experience as a whole will plummet.

So if nothing else, at least for me, this emphasized the importance of gaining more control and flexibility over the customers’ buying journey -- which Agile allows you to do.

3.    Agile can be molded to your needs

Towards the end of the program, both speakers made sure to emphasize that Agile is not a strict, prescriptive formula. Rather, it’s a mindset and methodology that can be assimilated into how your company is already doing things.  The speakers also pointed out that Agile is not something that can be fully implemented after a 2-day workshop. It’s a process that requires ongoing diligence and commitment. 

Needless to say, it was a real treat to hear Roland and Russ discuss a truly cutting-edge marketing approach.

Want to learn more about Agile Marketing? Click here.

And as always, a very special thanks to our sponsors who really make it all possible:

The Creative Group
Boingo Graphics
Passport
Helio One
Wray Ward
Marketing Talent Inc.
ACC Queen City Club