Meet the Marketer: Allen Gannett, CEO and Founder of TrackMaven and Author of The Creative Curve

Author: Kimberly Kufel

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Meet Allen Gannett. CEO and founder of TrackMaven, a marketing analytics software platform that helps marketers, like yourself, take a deep breath and easily prove your marketing ROI across every channel. If you’re like most marketing professionals, you can definitely relate to justifying your marketing game. TrackMaven gives you a leg up - they take care of the dirty work and make you, the marketer, look like a rockstar.

 

Not only is Allen a CEO and founder, but he can now add author to his list of accomplishments. The launch of his new book, The Creative Curve, debuted last week and reveals the science behind achieving creative success in any field. You’d be surprised to hear that yes, even if you can only manage to doodle up a sub-par stick figure - you still can teach yourself to be a so-called creative.
 

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We recently got the opportunity to sit down with Allen and chat about his new book, gain some valuable marketing advice (including a little pep talk), and get to know what’s next for the marketing maven.


Q: You're the founder of a marketing analytics company and now an author of a book about the creative process. How have you bridged the two seemingly different categories?

Allen: I think both are more similar than people realize.

Being a good leader is all about listening, and so is being a good author. Over the course of my research, I spoke to dozens of living creative geniuses to try to uncover the secrets behind their creative success.

I think more leaders need to practice flexible listening. When you let the other person drive the conversation, and you spend your energy listening attentively, you’re bound to learn something interesting.

I knew going into these interviews a lot of the questions I wanted to ask, but a lot of the time the most interesting moments of the conversation were spontaneous and unexpected. If I had just kept my nose in my notes and hadn’t made flexible listening a priority, a lot of those interesting interactions wouldn’t have happened.

I think more leaders need to practice flexible listening. When you let the other person drive the conversation, and you spend your energy listening attentively, you’re bound to learn something interesting.

I feel like the process of researching and writing this book has helped me become a better listener, and that has hopefully made me a better, and more attentive, leader.

 

Q: What's one piece of advice you'd give a fellow marketing professional?

A: Creativity is a muscle. If you want to be able to rely on your creativity, you’re going to need to train it.

I’ve spend a lot of time over the past few years talking with people about creativity. And I’ve heard, more times than I can count, some variation of this phrase: “Oh, I’m just not a very creative person.” In my mind, that’s like someone who never goes to the gym saying “Oh, I’m just not the type of person who can do 50 pushups.”

Creativity is, in my opinion, one of the most important things that an established company can invest in.

If you make physical exercise a priority, almost anyone can work their way up to doing half a hundred pushups. Similarly, if you make mental training a priority, you’ll be able to execute feats of creative strength that once seemed far beyond your reach.


Q: On a scale from “not at all” to “table stakes”, how important is it for established companies to invest in creativity as a discipline?

A: Creativity is, in my opinion, one of the most important things that an established company can invest in.

One of the major storylines of the internet era is the reduction or obliteration of barriers for participation in business. 50 years ago, if you wanted to design and sell a t-shirt, you’d have to find a factory willing to print a small batch of shirts, source the material, and establish a distribution system. Now, all that can be accomplished in an afternoon by visiting CustomInk and setting up an Amazon seller account. Anyone with an internet connection and some investment capital can buy in to an industry.

That means that established companies can’t use logistical or institutional barriers as a defense against upstarts as they once could. So, they need a new way to stay competitive. And, in my mind, that is creativity.

If your company is really pushing the creative envelope, it’s going to be difficult even for a scrappy newcomer to knock you off your perch. Invest in your company’s creative culture and think of it as “upstart insurance.”


Q: What was the biggest surprise or most unexpected learning you had when writing this book?

A: I spoke to a ton of leading academics who study creativity, and I was surprised how almost across the board they believe that the concept of “inborn creative genius” is, at best, oversold and, at worst, completely untrue.

In popular culture, there’s pretty broad consensus that creativity is this mystical, indecipherable force that some people are naturally blessed with. We pretend that we have no idea where creative insight comes from, or how to make it come more often.

But the academics know that’s not true! They’re standing in college lecture halls and laboratories jumping up and down shouting that creativity is a learnable, developable process.

They have the data to prove it. I think we should start listening to them.

If you’re working in an industry, market, or office where creativity is in short supply, recognize that you’re smack in the middle of a fantastic opportunity.


Q: What's your pre-game pep talk to marketers who might be working in perceived "boring" categories. What would you say to get them excited about breaking through?

A: Hey! Coach Gannett here. You should be thrilled! You’re working in an area of marketing that has huge creative upside. “Boring” just means that other people haven’t done much to break out of the mold. If you can find a new spin or engaging angle, you’ll blast to the front of that lackluster pack.

If you’re working in an industry, market, or office where creativity is in short supply, recognize that you’re smack in the middle of a fantastic opportunity. It’s economics 101: scarcity increases value. If you can be the creative oasis in a desert of boring, you’ll attract customers, praise, and promotions like you never thought possible.

 

Q: Now that your book is finished, what's next for you?

A: I'm just busy at TrackMaven. So now that I’m done book writing, I’ll probably be spending less weekend time in coffee shops furiously tapping at my keyboard, so hopefully being a better friend.

Also, I have a corgi at home named Maven who hasn’t gotten nearly enough belly rubs over the past few months. So I’ll need to make that a priority.

 

Want to get your hands on a copy of The Creative Curve? Be sure to check out our upcoming event on June 28th featuring Allen at Avidxchange.

5 Tips for Living in an Omni-Channel World

By: Tammy Tufty

‘‘Cause we are living in a omni-channel world. And I’m a omni-channel girl’

Madonna sang about living in a material world and I’m here to tell you that we are living in an omni-channel world. Marketers now need to provide a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. The rise of digital technologies and the intersection of data combined with a millennial generation present challenges that skilled marketing practitioners need to get their strategic arms around. According to the Retailing 2020 Report, the demand for an omni-channel customer experience will be amplified by the need for nearly perfect execution.  Here are a few tips for living in an Omni-Channel World:

Tip #1 Data is the Alpha and Omega

Data management is the foundation of omni-channel marketing. Ask yourself, is your customer data validated? Is it a mess? Do you know how to leverage it? Are you collecting the right information? You need to be where your customers are and tailor your efforts to the interactions they have with your business.

Tip #2: Know your customers.

This is not “new school” marketing. You should always know your customers, but now customers expect one to one conversations. You have a ton of data on them. Therefore, you should know what they want, where and how they want it. Do you deliver a uniform message and provide a seamless experience for potential customers across all channels and devices?

Tip #3: Walk Your Customer Journey

As marketers, we now need to meet our customers where they are. 98% of Americans switch between devices in the same day according to Google Research. Do you know how customers are interacting with your company? Is your site optimized for mobile and social interactions?

According to Salesforce, 86% of senior-level marketers say that it’s absolutely critical to create a cohesive customer journey.

Tip #4: Break down Silo’s

Is your marketing department siloed? Do you have a unified strategy so your customers receive a consistent message? All components of marketing have to work together to provide a consistent marketing experience on the customer journey. This can be harder in larger corporations where many people manage the pieces of the marketing strategy.

Tip #5: Technology is Your BFF

Every marketer should be best friends with their IT department. Omni-channel success requires tools such as marketing automation and platforms to help you execute across channels and devices. Additionally, our customers create mountains of data with their company interactions and you need to be able to analyze and make sense of it all.

Marketing is evolving at a rapid pace and presents several unique challenges for today’s professionals. You need the right mix of people, processes and technology to achieve a fully seamless customer experience. Marketers need to account for each platform and device customers use to interact with the company and then delivering an integrated experience to align messaging, goals, objectives, and design across each channel and device.

About the Author: Tammy Tufty

Tammy Tufty is a Brand and Marketing Strategist who partners with CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs to grow their professional brands. After spending 18 years in marketing for sports nutrition brands and Fortune 500 companies, Tammy knows how to craft strategies to propel your brand forward. She is an award-winning marketer, blogger and relationship builder. In addition to her extensive marketing experience, Tammy is a mom to two girls, a wife, and a die-hard Virginia Tech football fan. Learn more at TammyTufty.com.

Engaging with the Hispanic Market Beyond Hispanic Heritage Month

This post is by our annual sponsor AC&M Cultural Marketing.

Every year around this time, brands begin to bombard Hispanic consumers with special promotions, ad campaigns and cameo appearances in the community. Many brands take advantage of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) to engage with the U.S. Hispanic community and celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture. But are they perceived as authentic?

Yes, celebrating our success and contributions to this wonderful country is important, and I applaud all of the companies that leverage community events and craft campaigns to engage with Hispanics during this special time period. But, if the Hispanic community is such an important consumer (and I can give you trillion$ of reasons to care), shouldn’t brands be connecting with us year-round? Hispanic marketing outreach shouldn’t be limited to 30 days. Hispanic outreach should be incorporated into a brand’s ongoing marketing efforts.

Here are 4 tips to help brands connect with Hispanic audiences beyond Hispanic Heritage month and create long-lasting authentic customer relationships:

1.    Partner with Local Organizations & Events: Yes, many events and celebrations take place during Hispanic Heritage month, but they also take place throughout the year. Support your local organizations and events, i.e. attend a luncheon, sponsor a scholarship program, or provide supplies for a back-to-school drive or community event.

2.    Know Your Audience: You can’t lump all Hispanics into one bucket. Many are bicultural, bilingual and live in a complex duality with family heritage and American traditions. Create initiatives and campaigns that can speak to specific market segments. Find their passion points. For example, buying Spanish-language radio can help you reach abuelita, but a Snapchat filter may help you reach “Bi-llenials” (Hispanic Millenials).

3.    Be Inclusive: As we shift to a minority-majority nation, all marketing efforts should be inclusive of minorities. You don’t need a specific campaign to engage with Hispanics – as you develop “general market” campaigns, you should be inclusive of Hispanics in your efforts. Ensure that the images that you create are reflective of people of different races, ethnicities and culture.

4.    Be Consistent: In order for your brand to truly connect with this important consumer segment (and positively impact your bottom line), you need to be consistent in your outreach. Remember that your goal is to develop a long-lasting relationship with us and that means that we want you to engage with us often. Connecting with us in a meaningful way throughout the year will help Hispanic consumers truly embrace your brand.

Hispanic consumers account for more than 57 million in the U.S. with a buying power of $1.4 trillion. Hispanics are brand loyal, highly tech-savvy, bicultural, bilingual and super consumers.  Brands need to make engaging with the Hispanic community a year-round commitment. At the end of the day, Hispanic consumers interact with brands that speak to them authentically.

AC&M Group is a full-service marketing agency that connects brands with consumers using cultural insights. Our motto is: Universal Ideas, Cultural Connections.  Through our expertise in crafting culturally relevant campaigns, we help companies reach and efficiently communicate with the new mainstream. Based in Charlotte, AC&M Group has been developing culturally relevant creative campaigns for more than a decade and has expertise spanning industries within retail, food & beverage, soccer, travel, finance and home improvement / construction.

Source: ACMconnect.com

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.