Marketing Awards Blog

Engage Your Customers: Social Media Advice From a Stevie Awards Chair

Posted by Liz Dean on Tue, Apr 02, 2013 @ 01:33 PM

Carmen Yazejian is President of Network9, a Web design firm in New York City, and Chair of the Committee for Final Judging of the marketing awards categories in The 2013 (11th Annual) American Business Awards, the top business awards in the United States. (April 24 is the last day that late entries will be accepted with payment of a late fee per entry. If you haven't already done so, you can request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.)

Carmen Yazejian, President, Network9As the president of Network9, you regularly post on your own blog.  What advice do you have for businesses on beefing up their own social media?
Be proud of who you are, and know that you have something unique to contribute. Present a point of view only you can express, be entertaining, and have fun!

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
I only read good news. It helps keep me positive and have continued faith in the good in people.

What is your favorite business app?
I have Zite on my iPad. It gets smarter about what I like to read, and does the legwork for me. I get to read a ton of great articles all in one place. 

If you were to meet young people starting out in Web design, what career advice would you give them?
Learn your craft well: Know the technology and study good examples. Intern or work with a good studio. Always remember you are in service to your client, and place their success above all. Be respectful, read between the lines, communicate clearly and often, and be honest. Always give clients what they ask for, but go a step further and give them what they don’t always know they need.

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
I enjoy working on new and diverse projects with challenging goals, being on the hunt for new technologies, and solving at least one problem each day. Sharing new ideas with brilliant people keeps everything fresh.

About Carmen Yazejian:
“Design is just problem-solving and communication,” says Network9 President Carmen Yazejian. Raised in a close-knit community of multigenerational families—a model echoed in Network9’s Manhattan studio—she studied fashion design and co-founded two companies: Harrow Clothiers, a line of English school blazers that graced Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows; and Pirelli Bags, artist portfolios made of rubber that rocked the art supply market. One marriage and two kids later, she retooled her brain to think digital, fell in love with the Web, and founded Network9 in 2005.  It is now one of the fastest-growing agencies in the country. 

About Network9:
Network9
is a New York-based Web design firm at the cutting-edge intersection of traditional marketing and online communication. Founded in 2005 by former fashion designer Carmen Yazejian, its customer-centric approach brings clients of all sizes a highly talented team with individual expertise in brand development, web and graphic design, search engine optimization (SEO), copywriting, print work, and more.

Tags: business awards, marketing awards, American business awards, stevie awards, Carmen Yazejian, Network9, social media tips

How a Stevie Awards Winner's Integrated Marketing Campaign Increased Global Sales

Posted by Liz Dean on Mon, Mar 04, 2013 @ 05:17 PM

Slack and Company, an integrated marketing communications agency in Chicago, Illinois, USA, was named Marketing Agency of the Year in the 2012 Best of the ABA Awards as part of The American Business Awards, the premier business awards competition in the USA. Introduced in 2012, the Best of the ABA Awards are five best-of-competition prizes that are awarded to the organizations that submit the best body of work to the competition, in their own name or in the names of one or more clients. Here is Slack and Company's award-winning submission for Business-to-Business Advertising Campaign of the Year, submitted in the marketing awards categories of The 2012 American Business Awards. (The entry deadline for the 2013 ABAs is March 27, request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.)

Marketing Challenge
To keep its lead in the paper shredder market, Fellowes needed to:

  • Achieve more brand visibility;
  • Drive home the differences between its shredders and the competition; and
  • Generate more traffic for channel-partner stores and websites.

Communications Strategy
Ron Klingensmith, Chief Creative Officer, Slack and CompanyAn integrated program was created featuring the iconic bulldog mascot, who sets up messages that emphasize the core performance advantages of Fellowes’ lineup of tough and reliable shredders.

The “Bred to Shred” campaign was developed to build awareness and drive action using a mix of media including television and radio, targeted print, airport dioramas, and mobile/online ads supported by strategic search engine optimization and search engine marketing (SEO/SEM).

Although primarily a North American campaign, the television, print, and digital advertising was transcreated and went on to run throughout Europe.

Outstanding Results
The program has strengthened Fellowes’ best-in-breed reputation for reliable, jam-free shredding—and sparked demonstrable buyer interest. In its first seven weeks, the campaign was responsible for a significant traffic uptick at retail-partner websites and boosted visits to the Fellowes site by more than 13%. Total click-through rates from online media averaged 1.06%, sending hundreds of thousands of new shredder shoppers to retail-partner websites.

“With creative magic and strategic, integrated thinking from Slack, we've been better able grow our brand visibility, delight our channel partners, and protect our market leadership,” said Maureen Moore, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Fellowes.

"The Slack and Company team is grateful for this recognition from our peers in the business world,” said Ron Klingensmith, Chief Creative Officer at Slack and Company.  “It shows just how powerful a tool integrated marketing can be in regional, national, and international markets."

About Ron Klingensmith:
Ron Klingensmith is Chief Creative Officer of Slack and Company, and has worked with the company for 20 years. Ron's strategically driven creative work has earned awards (Tower, Pro-Comm, CEBA) for countless clients. Not only that, he has mentored scores of seasoned creatives, who can be found working throughout Chicago’s ad community.

Before joining Slack and Company, Ron spent nearly a decade at consumer agencies, including a five-year stint at J. Walter Thompson. This consumer sensibility, combined with Ron's love for strategy, is a major reason why Slack and Company’s creative product is so people-friendly, while still driving measurable results.

About Slack and Company:
Slack and Company is an integrated marketing communications agency that works exclusively with business marketers to build strong brands and create profitable demand. Founded in 1988 and based in Chicago, Slack and Company now has additional offices in Singapore and Sweden. In addition to being honored in the ABAs, Slack and Company was also named Marketing Agency of the Year in the 2012 Best of the IBA Awards as part of The International Business Awards, the world's premier business awards competition.  

About Fellowes:
Fellowes’ mission is to provide innovative workspace solutions to help people work more securely, comfortably, and productively.  Founded in 1917 by Harry Fellowes and headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, Fellowes, Inc. employs more than 1,200 people throughout the world and has operations in sixteen countries. Fellowes products are now readily available in over 100 countries across the globe.

Fellowes, Inc. is the global leader in paper shredder design and engineering, providing the highest quality personal and general office business shredders on the market. Known as the “World’s Toughest Shredders™”, the company is notable for inventing the personal shredder and as being the only one to offer 100 percent Jam Proof technology.

Tags: marketing awards, International business awards, American business awards, Best of the ABAs, Slack and Company, Ron Klingensmith, Fellowes, Best of the IBAs, marketing campaign

4 Ways Stevie Awards Winner Used Mobile Marketing to Increase Sales

Posted by Liz Dean on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 @ 11:44 AM

New York-based MediaCom won the Gold Stevie® Award for Mobile Marketing Campaign of the Year in the marketing awards categories of The 2012 American Business Awards, the premier business awards competition in the U.S.A. (The entry deadline for the 2013 ABAs is March 27, request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.) Now that the dust of Super Bowl XLVII has settled, we look behind the scenes at how the innovative technology achieved maximum ROI for a Super Bowl XLVI ad. Ryan Mocan, MediaCom

In 2011, Volkswagen’s “Mini Vader” TV spot was the must-see commercial of the Super Bowl. It was strong enough that MediaCom seeded it online way ahead of game day. Momentum was built up through mobile, search, and social media; and MediaCom was able to capture data that was vital for the targeted remarketing that turned the buzz surrounding the spot into sales floor action. This momentum turned the spot about an adorable kid in a Darth Vader costume into real call-to-action messages.

In 2012, imitation proved to be the sincerest form of flattery for MediaCom when the majority of Super Bowl advertisers copied their strategy—but MediaCom was able to do even better.

The Challenge
The challenge for MediaCom was to provide mobile and tablet support for the VW Super Bowl campaign, “Dog Strikes Back,” that would run before, during, and after game day. MediaCom developed an aggressive mobile search campaign around VW’s Super Bowl spot to not only match the blockbuster results from 2011, but also exceed them. 

The campaign included:

  • Mobile search
  • Contextual search, and
  • Voice search

Here’s a snapshot of how MediaCom’s campaign worked: 

1.  Teaser Video
The campaign started well ahead of the Super Bowl, lending support around a teaser video.  Rather than directing people to YouTube, all these efforts drove them directly to VW’s mobile-optimized website, providing an enhanced viewing experience on a mobile device or tablet. 

2.  Increased Search Traffic Through Paid Channels
Next, MediaCom continued to spread interest and increase traffic via major paid channels, including Google, Bing, Marchex Voice, and Kontera. MediaCom secured terms that were both specific to VW and more general to the Super Bowl. The MediaCom team also worked with ad networks like Kontera to secure in-text terms like “Super Bowl,” “vehicle,” and “new car”, effectively blocking the competition from these terms.

While MediaCom aggressively beat out competitors’ search terms, the real challenge came in defending VW’s own. Not only did other automobile brands bid on VW terms, but so did brands like Sketchers, Old Spice, and Doritos. MediaCom constantly monitored in real-time and adapted relevant keywords and ad copy to defend against competition at all stages of the campaign. 

3.  Voice Search
MediaCom knew that during the game people would be especially active on their phones and mobile devices – texting, Tweeting, and searching – so the team ramped up its efforts on Super Bowl Sunday. MediaCom was one of the first Super Bowl advertisers to use voice search. Consumers searching for related terms were greeted with an audio version of the VW Super Bowl ad and the opportunity to learn more about VW.

4.  Free Skype Calls for Pizza
It’s a well-known fact that many people order food during the Super Bowl—especially pizza.  MediaCom secured “pizza”-related terms, with VW sponsoring free Skype calls from consumers to pizzerias.

Phenomenal Results
By providing consumers with an easy mobile search experience, MediaCom drove phenomenal results:

  • 31.9% of YouTube commercial viewings came from mobile traffic
  • Clicks increased 14% from 2011 to 2012
  • Impressions increased 80% from 2011 to 2012
  • A 1,745% lift in clicks on game day versus pre-launch
  • Over 700,000 callers heard the VW voice ad on Super Bowl day

Most importantly, VW saw its sales soar 42% year-over-year in February, the carmaker’s best February for sales since 1973.

"The mobile media work we've done for VW shows how businesses can harness the power of new media to push sales to new heights,” commented Ryan Mocan, Digital Media Director at MediaCom. “Being acknowledged as Best Mobile Marketing Campaign in The American Business Awards shows that the business community is equally aware of this."

About Ryan Mocan:
Ryan Mocan is the Digital Media Director at MediaCom. He crafts strategies to lead and strengthen his clients business while developing POVs, providing thought leadership, and driving innovation. He also ensures that companies target the right audience to drive qualified traffic to their website, and increase their online ROI with digital strategies including SEM, SEO, social media, local search optimization, mobile, display, and web analytics.

Mocan’s work has been widely recognized throughout the industry and has received numerous accolades, including an OMMA Award; two IAB MIXX Awards; a Direct Marketing Association ECHO Award; an Adrian Award; a ClickZ Connected Marketing Award; and seven American Business Awards. Mocan has twelve years of online marketing experience and holds a double MBA in online marketing and management information systems. 

About MediaCom:
Part of the WPP Group, MediaCom is one of the largest media planning and buying agencies in the world. Billing nearly $25 billion USD a year globally, MediaCom boasts over 4,500 employees across 89 countries and in 111 offices. MediaCom provides clients with business-building media communications strategies for some of the world’s biggest and best-known global brand names.

Tags: marketing awards, American business awards, innovative technology, Ryan Mocan, Tablet Marketing, MediaCom, Mobile Marketing

8 Tips to Spice Up Your Email Marketing, From a Multi-Stevie® Awards Winner

Posted by Liz Dean on Thu, Feb 07, 2013 @ 11:54 AM

Janine Popick, CEO and Founder of VerticalResponse in San Francisco, California, USA, has won multiple Stevie® Awards, most recently for Executive of the Year in Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations in the management awards categories of The 2012 American Business Awards, the premier business awards competition in the U.S.A. (The entry deadline for the 2013 ABAs is March 27, request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.)

Janine Popick, CEO, VerticalResponseNow that the novelty of a new year has come and gone, you may have slipped into some old bad habits with your email marketing. Today, I’m going to share 8 things that will spice up your email marketing in 2013.

  1. Facebook—More Than Status Updates: You have got a Facebook page, right? Well, it’s super easy to set up an email address sign-up form on your Facebook page, and nearly every email marketing service provider has instructions for this. Plus, while you’re driving people to check out your Facebook page, give them a reason—like a sale—for supplying you with their email address.
  1. Email + Social Media = Power Couple: Email and social media need to be thought of as a great team, like Jay-Z and Beyonce. If you utilize one and not the other, you could be missing out on some killer traffic back to your website or blog. Include social media icons linking to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest sites in all your emails and newsletters. These give your readers another way to engage and connect with your business. Want even more engagement? Share your emails on your social networks each time you send one.
  1. Start at the Top with Pre-header: We’ve all read a million times that your subject line is one of the most important parts of your email. But, the pre-header (i.e., the first line of text above the body of your email) serves as a wingman, or secondary subject line. It shows up in the mobile version of your email, and provides more content, which can get more people opening your emails. Use a pre-header regularly and see how it impacts your open rate. 
  1. Kick Dull to the Curb: If your subject lines are a snooze-fest, then using a pre-header won’t help. If you’re sending out a monthly newsletter and your subject line is “February 2013 Newsletter,” you can certainly do better. Read the content of your newsletter. What’s the most interesting thing that stands out? What do you think would make someone stop, read, and click-through to your website? Craft your subject line using that info. No more dull subject lines. Ever.
  1. ALT Text Has Got It Going On: Follow my advice from Kick Dull to the Curb and add some zing. ALT text is the copy you place “behind” an image (instead of the default tag) that displays if your recipient’s email browser turns images off by default. For example, instead of leaving your image’s super-exciting default tag of “dogfood3.JPG,” you could write: “Get 25% off all dog food until 3/31/13!” This will give your readers more context if their images are turned off, and prompt them to enable images to get the scoop.
  1. Target Practice: It’s time to do more with less. Take portions of your audience based on what they’re doing (or not doing) and send them a message that means something to them. Here’s an example: Got a winery? I bet you know who bought Pinot Noir in the last 6 months. Send an exclusive offer to your Pinot fans and see if you get better results than just sending it to everyone on your list. Give ‘em a killer deal to try a new varietal at a steep discount.
  1. How Often Do You Do It? Have you been sending monthly or weekly emails, at the same time, every time? Time to shake it up! Try to mail more often, or maybe less. It’s simple and easy to test: Just take a portion of your list (say 20% for trial purposes) and send two newsletters a month instead of one. See if you get a lift in opens and clicks, or a decrease in unsubscribes.
  1. Content Rules the Roost: You know your business inside and out, and everything that makes it interesting and unique, so share this in your emails, on your blog, everywhere. And use your content to your advantage. You can take blog posts you’ve created with a common theme and turn them into a helpful guide, or take a few guides you’ve written and turn them into an eBook. At VerticalResponse we do a number of webinars with a common theme, like Facebook, then send out a bundle of them to our prospects. By providing useful information, we help potential customers; and when it's time to look for an email and social media provider, we hope they’ll remember us.

By getting back to the basics with these 8 Email Marketing tips you can succeed with your subscribers, prospects, and customers in 2013 and beyond.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, sign up for the free VR Buzz weekly newsletter and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

About Janine Popick:
Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, a leading provider of self-service email, social media, event marketing, online surveys, and direct mail solutions for businesses and non-profits. She has won the Stevie Award for Best Entrepreneur in the Stevie Awards for Women in Business every year since 2008. Janine recently won the U.S. Small Business Administration award for Small Business Person of the Year and was named a 2012 Small Biz Influencer Champion by Small Biz Trends. Janine brings over 20 years of experience leading direct and Internet marketing programs for some of the biggest brands in technology and entertainment. Follow her on Twitter at @janinepopick.

About VerticalResponse:
VerticalResponse Inc. provides a full suite of self-service marketing solutions for small businesses, including email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, online surveys, and direct-mail marketing. Its mission is to empower small businesses and non-profit organizations to easily and affordably create, manage, and analyze their own marketing campaigns. Users can benefit from a wide variety of features via a single dashboard, including more than 700 free email-marketing templates; social media management tools to create, schedule, and publish content, and engage with followers; and robust reporting so that they can understand overall marketing success. VerticalResponse is headquartered in San Francisco, California. For more information visit www.verticalresponse.com.

Tags: Email Marketing, Janine Popick, business awards, American business awards, stevie awards, management awards, VerticalResponse

4 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Social Media, From an America Means Business Presenter

Posted by Liz Dean on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 @ 02:52 PM

Janine Popick, CEO and Founder of VerticalResponse in San Francisco, California, USA, has won multiple Stevie® Awards, most recently for Best Entrepreneur in the 2011 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Gold Stevie for Executive of the Year/Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations in The 2012 American Business Awards. (The entry deadline for the 2012 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the world's premier awards for women executives, entrepreneurs, and the organizations they run, is August 29. If you can't make the deadline, late entries will be accepted through September 28 with payment of a late fee. Request your entry kit today.) Janine recently spoke at America Means Business, a three day event for entrepreneurs, sponsored by the Stevie Awards. The following is an extract from that presentation: Janine Popick

As a business owner, the last thing you’re probably thinking about as you go through your day is posting to Facebook or tweeting on Twitter. I get it. I’ve been there. But getting started with social media is not that hard or intimidating—really! And if you are already using some form of email marketing, it’s even easier. Here are four tips on how to make the most of your already limited time and to make social media work to grow your business.

1. What to Publish
You’ve probably heard the phrase: Content is king. With social media, content is more important than ever. But who has all this content, and who has the time to create it?  Not me, you’re thinking.

Here’s a secret: You already have a ton of content that you can share with your fans and customers. Here are some fresh examples:

- Employee stories

- Photos and videos

- Guides, whitepapers, or notes

- Outside content (content you don’t own but can share)

- Questions and polls

- Great offers

- Events

- Press and awards

If you have a blog, this is where all your content should reside because a) you can post your content there and easily link to it in your social media posts, and b) a blog is ever-changing while your website is not. (If you don’t already have a blog yet, this is a key reason to start one.) A blog also gives you search engine optimization (SEO) benefits because search engines like Google love content. The more new content you have about a particular topic or category such as your industry, the more likely it is to appear on the results pages when someone is searching for those words.

The next step is to create a social media content calendar. It can be as simple as a monthly calendar that shows what you plan to post every day throughout the month. You'll want to leave room for spur-of-the-moment posts, of course, but having a plan will keep you organized and focused on the big picture. Don’t forget to designate who will be in charge of writing and/or posting them.

2. How to Increase Reach
The ultimate goal of being on social media is to increase your reach—i.e. the number of people who have the opportunity to be exposed to your company and message—and to increase engagement. There are multiple ways people can engage with you on social media, from someone answering a question, sharing your post or your tweet, or commenting on a post, to liking your Facebook post or Facebook page.

How do you encourage engagement? You can:

- Ask questions

- Share blog posts, events, company news, industry news, videos, and photos

- Thank your customers on their Facebook profiles or send them a tweet for mentioning your company or sharing your content (people love to be acknowledged!)

- Include calls to action with your content

- Use contests and giveaways to incentivize your followers

- Send solo email campaigns encouraging a follow or like (be sure to offer a bonus offer or flash discount)

Just remember: Your posts don’t have to be all about business, and they definitely shouldn’t just be about you. Tap in to your audience’s interests. You can share content about topics that are currently in the news, or a worthy cause, or just something fun. The goal is to catch your readers’ attention and get them to take an action.

3. Get it all to Work Together
Recent research by my marketing technology company VerticalResponse found that businesses that use both email and social media get a 28% higher open rate on their emails than those that don’t use both channels. Here are some easy ways to integrate email, blog content, and social media that will get more people to pay attention:

Blog:

- Add an email opt-in form to your blog.

- Repurpose blog posts as content for your email newsletters.

- Use email to help build a strong following for your blog.

Get that email address!

- Ask Facebook followers for their email address.

- Have a welcome tab on your Facebook page with a form asking for their email address.

- Tweet “sign up to receive email-only” offers, then link to an opt-in form.

Email and Social Media:

- Post your email to your Facebook page and Twitter feed.

- Include “like us on Facebook” and “follow us on Twitter” buttons in your emails. Most email service providers offer the option to include these.

- Send a solo email asking recipients to follow you on your social networks.

4. Keeping Track
Like any business plan or strategy, when it comes to social media it’s important to see what’s working, what isn’t, and to learn from what you’re doing. Fortunately there are a lot of free or low-cost tools out there. Google Analytics is a great, free tool that tells you how many people visit your website and what they like to click on. Facebook Insights is another free, easy-to-use tool that lets you see which posts are popular, how many people they reach, and other metrics. For Twitter, check out Twitter Counter or TweetDeck.

Social media should not take you away from running your business. Instead, put these timesaving ideas in to action and watch your business grow!

For the full American Means Business Days presentation, download it for free here.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, sign up for the free VR Buzz weekly newsletter and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

About Janine Popick:
Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, a leading provider of self-service email, social media, event marketing, online surveys, and direct mail solutions for businesses and non-profits. She has won the Stevie Award for Best Entrepreneur in the Stevie Awards for Women in Business every year since 2008. Janine recently won the U.S. Small Business Administration award for Small Business Person of the Year and was named a 2012 Small Biz Influencer Champion by Small Biz Trends. Janine brings over 20 years of experience leading direct and Internet marketing programs for some of the biggest brands in technology and entertainment. Follow her on Twitter at @janinepopick.

About VerticalResponse:
VerticalResponse Inc. provides a full suite of self-service marketing solutions for small businesses including email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, online surveys, and direct mail marketing. Its mission is to empower small businesses and non-profit organizations to easily and affordably create, manage, and analyze their own marketing campaigns. Users can benefit from a wide variety of features via a single dashboard, including more than 700 free email-marketing templates; social media management tools to create, schedule, and publish content, and engage with followers; and robust reporting so that they can understand overall marketing success. VerticalResponse is headquartered in San Francisco, California. For more information visit www.verticalresponse.com

Tags: Social Media, Email Marketing, Janine Popick, VeritcalResponse, America Means Business, American business awards, stevie awards for women in business, stevie awards

4 Ways Marketing Awards Winner Successfully Launched New App Campaign

Posted by Liz Dean on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 @ 10:55 AM

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Durham, NC, USA won a Stevie® Award for Marketing Campaign of the Year in the marketing awards categories of The 2011 American Business Awards, the premier business awards program in the U.S.A. (The final entry deadline for the 2012 ABAs is April 25, you can request an entry kit here and you will receive it right away.) Here we look at how Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) used emerging technology to help the lives of their customers.

Seeking innovative ways to reach their constituency, the marketing award winner developed HealthNAV, an application for the iPhone to help customers save time and money. Easily accessible, the app has several features, including:

    • BCBSNCAn Urgent Care Finder that locates the closest in-network urgent care center anywhere you are in North Carolina and then maps the way there, and
    • A Find-A-Drug feature that gives average pricing for formulary drugs, including cheaper generic options, to help users save money on medications.

BCBSNC used best marketing practices to run their HealthNAV campaign which encouraged customers to download the free app. Running between October 1 and December 31, 2010, the campaign focused on advertising that would connect with people on the go. The insurance company:

  1. Placed ads in North Carolina’s three major airports,
  2. Placed posters in a popular sports and entertainment arena,
  3. Aired a radio spot during local broadcasts, and
  4. Used online banner ads.

BCBSNC's use of innovative technology paid off; during the campaign period, the app was:

  • Downloaded 5,504 times,
  • Opened 8,186 times,
  • The Urgent Care function was accessed 6,483 times, and
  • Find-a-Drug was accessed 4,449 times.

Through the development of their HealthNAV app, BCBSNC successfully showed customers that the company is both tech-savvy and looks for ways to make health care less expensive and more convenient for customers.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina delivers innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.7 million members. For 76 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. To learn more, visit www.bcbsnc.com.

Tags: business awards, American business awards, innovative technology, emerging technology marketing awards, best marketing, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

3 Tips for Business-to-Business Marketing Success, From an American Business Awards Judge

Posted by Liz Dean on Thu, Apr 05, 2012 @ 10:13 AM

Kirby Wadsworth, Vice President of Global Marketing for F5 Networks, is Chair of the final judging committee for the marketing awards categories of The 2012 American Business Awards. (The final entry deadline for 10th Annual ABAs, the premier business awards program in the U.S.A., is April 25; request your entry kit now.) Here Kirby shares best marketing tips for business-to-business marketing.

What are your top 3 tips on how to make your mark in business-to-business Kirby Wadsworthmarketing?

  1. Align marketing and sales efforts into one holistic effort
    Marketing must start a conversation that sales is ready and willing to carry to conclusion.  Success here requires alignment of targets, content, training, process, and compensation systems. Research proves that companies that focus on sales and marketing alignment outperform those that allow the two functions to operate orthogonally.
  1. Measurement is the basis for alignment
    Marketing operations should be your first investment. Fill this group with experts in data analysis who are fully up to speed on modern marketing automation systems. Don’t be afraid of what you find initially. Measurement allows you to find and fix leaks in the system, and you will find many ugly ones when you first start measuring.
  1. Make sure you have broad cross-functional agreement on key performance indicators (KPIs)
    Make sure everyone understands and agrees with the areas you are measuring and reporting, then stick to it and report transparently on a regular basis. It's important to keep educating internal audiences, especially in finance, sales, and executive offices, on the value marketing is bringing to the business, and to do it without “taking credit.” Uniquely, marketing is both a service organization and a leadership organization, but is rarely appreciated for its contributions to pipeline. 

What item of news recently caught your eye and why?
The evolution in appreciation for Big Data and Business Intelligence—these areas are quickly becoming the hottest topics in a decade. I'm particularly fascinated by the potential for virtually every enterprise to leverage the power of Big Data to improve customer experience, create customized offers, and differentiate themselves.  In a lot of ways, Big Data feels like the Internet did back in the late 1990s: Lots of hype, but also massive underlying substance.

What is your favorite sport or hobby?
I use my time in airplanes and hotels to write. I'm 100,000 words into a paranormal novel that takes place in 1850s Nantucket.  It’s a lot of fun.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?
Bestselling author…

What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?
Honesty and a sense of humor.

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
I get my motivation helping others learn and grow in our profession.  Teaching and coaching others forces me to really know my stuff—or at least stay one step ahead of my employees and students.  They push pretty hard, and keep me on my toes. My best day is the day I can help someone overcome a problem, learn something new, or take on a new responsibility.

About Kirby Wadsworth:
Kirby Wadsworth is Vice President of Global Marketing for F5 Networks and leads all marketing-demand generation and branding functions worldwide. Kirby has played a key role in many projects including the installation F5's global marketing function which delivers outbound communication, branding, PR/AR, marketing services, web experience, and global demand campaigns, introducing F5’s first marketing automation system, and creating a global revenue campaign model to align marketing with sales objectives. Prior to F5, Kirby served as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for several startups including Acopia Networks, Revivio, and Storability. Kirby has been named a Stevie® Award Finalist twice, and F5 received the Stevie Award for Best Marketing Campaign in The 2011 American Business Awards.

About F5 Networks:
F5 Networks, Inc., a global leader in Application Delivery Networking (ADN), helps some of the world’s largest enterprises and service providers to realize the full value of virtualization, cloud computing, and on-demand IT. F5® solutions help integrate disparate technologies to provide greater control of the infrastructure, improve application delivery and data management, and give users seamless, secure, and accelerated access to applications from their corporate desktops and smart devices. F5 products give customers the agility they need to align IT with changing business conditions, deploy scalable solutions on demand, and manage mobile access to data and services. Enterprises, service and cloud providers, and leading online companies worldwide rely on F5 to optimize their IT investments and drive business forward. For more information, go to www.f5.com.

Tags: business awards, marketing awards, American business awards, stevie awards, Kirby Wadsworth, F5 Networks, marketing campaign of the year, best marketing

Two Tips for Increasing Sales Impact, From a Marketing Award Winner

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 @ 03:54 PM

BDS Marketing, Inc. of Irvine, California, USA won the Stevie® Award for Best Marketing Team in the marketing awards categories of the very first American Business Awards, back in 2003. As part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the start of the Stevie Awards movement, we've been talking with past Stevie winners to learn about how their win has positively impacted their businesses.  Here we interview BDS Marketing's CEO Mark Dean. He explains how winning a Stevie Award has helped BDS, and shares some sales tips he's learned along the way. (The 2012 ABA entry deadline is March 28. Get your entry kit here and begin submitting entries today.)

BDSmktg considers itself a specialist in marketing other companies’ brands, so how has being the first company to win a Stevie Award for Best Marketing Team in The 2003 American Business Awards helped BDS to enhance its own brand?Mark Dean
Since winning the first Stevie Award for Best Marketing Team in 2003, we have found that current and prospective clients are excited to work with us as an award-winning company. There’s a stronger confidence, enthusiasm, and pride in our brand, and we make sure to feature our Stevie Award wins in our marketing materials.

As an industry-recognized honor, the Stevie Awards give greater credibility to our marketing campaigns. Winning the award in 2003 set the standard high for us. Since then, we continually strive to deliver award-worthy programs to each of our clients. Over the past nine years we’ve submitted our most outstanding programs for Stevie Awards, and we’re proud to have won four Stevie Awards and been Finalists in five categories. Right now, we are working on our 2012 submissions and are hoping for another win! 

What events have had the most impact on your business over the past ten years?
As with most businesses, the recession definitely affected BDS. We’ve seen our Fortune 500 clients holding on to their budgets tighter, and waiting longer to make decisions to spend money on marketing services. We’ve also seen big changes in speed-to-market and the speed of connectivity, both of which have greatly impacted our business. Information is more accessible to consumers than ever before, making consumers more educated than ever before. This has caused us to evolve how we train our representatives as well as how they train sales associates. It has made us more nimble, resourceful, and creative with our training solutions.

What are your top tips for increasing sales impact?

  1. Don’t buy any lists. For BDS, it’s always been about the personal relationship we have with our clients.
  2. Our partnerships with our clients are built on trust, honesty, and integrity. BDS is built on long-term relationships: We have client partnerships that go back as far as 15 years. We’ve found that the most successful kind of business relationships come from the recommendations of our clients. We never want to be just a vendor to our clients, but their trusted partner.

What are your company’s plans for the future?
We are looking to become a larger player in the marketing industry over the next few years and are working to achieve that goal by diversifying the industries that we represent. We are also expanding our service offerings by building out our proprietary platforms in business intelligence and training, and developing innovative out-of-store concepts as we see a shift in retail formats.

What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?
I value the long-term team of people here at BDS. Each year our group of 5-year and 10-year employees continues to grow. We have a great culture of people here. I appreciate employees who have a passion for our clients’ business and who demonstrate their integrity and honesty on a daily basis. Our people are the heart of BDS, and without dedicated employees, the business wouldn’t have lasted 27 years

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?

  1. The people I work with—we have a great family here at BDS.
  2. Great clients—we get to work with amazing products from our top brand clients.
  3. The combination of our people, our clients, and representing great products, makes me excited to come to the office each day.

About Mark Dean:
As founder and CEO of BDSmktg, Mark Dean is the heart and soul of BDS. Drawing on more than 30 years of marketing and business management experience, he channels this knowledge into an organization that prizes innovation and teamwork to achieve its clients' marketing goals. Noted as an inspirational leader, Mark has an innate talent for bringing out the best in people and accepts nothing less. Mark is responsible for ensuring that BDS is a well-managed, profitable agency that is an "employer of choice" in Orange County. His responsibilities also include providing senior-level strategy and consultation services to the agency's vast client base. Mark studied public relations, journalism, and business at the University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University. He resides in Aliso Viejo, California with his wife and sons.

About BDS Marketing, Inc.:
BDSmktg is a marketing agency that delivers sales by offering customized solutions that work for its clients and are personalized to each client’s brand. The company is driven by the power of its people. Its high-performance teams generate sell-through and its client service specialists offer expertise to enhance marketing strategy. With retail as its specialty, BDS is an innovator in the areas of marketing analytics, training and learning incentives, market development, performance selling, brand advocacy, and merchandising. Clients include Canon, Dell, FedEx, Jawbone, Motorola, Sam’s Club, Toshiba, and Walmart. BDS is based in Irvine, California, and has been operating with excellence since 1984.  For more information, visit www.BDSmktg.com.

Tags: business awards, marketing awards, American business awards, stevie award, BDS Marketing, Mark Dean, marketing award, best marketing team

Marketing Award Winner's Outreach Overcomes Shoestring Budget

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 @ 05:05 PM

Marketing 24/7, Inc., of Birmingham, Alabama, USA, received the Stevie® Award for Small Budget Marketing Campaign of the Year in the marketing awards categories of The 2011 American Business Awards, the premier business awards program in the U.S.A. (The 2012 ABAs are now accepting entries. Download your entry kit here and submit entries by the March 28 deadline.) Here we look at how Marketing 24/7's outreach catapulted their campaign.

About the Campaign
The Business Makeover Birmingham® (BMB®) project is an annual joint program that was started in 2008 with seven Project Partners including a bank, a sales coach, an accounting firm, an insurance company, a law firm, and the business school of a university. In 2009 and 2010, these businesses and professional service providers contributed services worth more than $30,000 each year.  As part of their services, one company (nominated by Birmingham, Alabama-based companies) received a strategic business makeover.

Promoting the BMB® Contest
The communications awards winner was charged with developing and implementing a marketing campaign for both the 2009 and 2010 BMB® contests. Marketing 24/7's campaign components consisted of announcing the makeover and its services, encouraging the business community to apply, announcing the five finalists and the ultimate winner, branding the Project Partners, and providing updates regarding the winners’ makeover progress. 

Shoestring Budget
The overall budget for promoting BMB® was very much “on a shoestring.” Only one-third of the initial investment by the Project Partners was devoted to advertising in the first year. In the second, the advertising component was increased to two-thirds of the total marketing budget.

Marketing 24/7 secured a free website template and hosting while leveraging social media to promote the business makeover contest.

Despite the small budget, media coverage was beyond expectation with coverage in newspapers, magazines, TV, and the Internet.  The BMB® winners received extensive publicity obtained by Marketing 24/7. 

Campaign Outreach
The Stevie Award winner was responsible for a number of events and activities, some of which included:

  • Planning a winner’s event hosted by BMB® Project Partners where 100 businesspeople heard the lessons learned from the winner’s strategic business makeover
  • Working with a city-wide business newspaper to publish frequent update articles in print and online regarding the competition’s progress and winners
  • Statewide coverage of the inaugural BMB® winner in a business magazine
  • The designing and placing of print ads soliciting BMB® entries and announcing the finalists and winner
  • Providing media training for all Project Partners and winners in order to generate more awareness and coverage of the contest
  • Creating an online feature placement blog through a major lifestyle magazine
  • Providing bi-weekly updates to the BMB® website and to social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Distributing monthly e-newsletters and “best practices” articles
  • Creating numerous promotional fliers
  • Developing an internal e-newsletter for the second annual BMB® winner
  • Writing and distributing news releases to announce the finalists and winners for publication in major publications, online, and in the BMB® e-newsletter
  • Planning a press reception for BMB® finalists
  • Pitching articles for the contest winners’ business and charitable activities
  • Securing numerous feature articles in two different, glossy lifestyle magazines in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Landing a feature article in the Sunday Business section of Alabama’s largest newspaper for the 2010 BMB® winner

Overall Results
With more than 25 articles published over two years, this business award winning campaign has attained exceptional results for BMB® with positive media coverage for all participants.  Other benefits have included:

  • increased awareness from the business community;
  • an up-tick in clients for Project Partners;
  • substantial savings and/or increased revenues for the winners; and
  • a strong following by the general public.

The winners of the contest have been delighted by the results, and many other businesses and individuals are interested in being nominated for future BMB® contests.

Marketing 24/7's Success
Ruwena HealyOn being presented with a marketing award, Ruwena Healy, President of Marketing 24/7, said: “I’m honored to be a Project Partner of Business ‎Makeover Birmingham® and to have had the opportunity to work with top leaders in the business community. ‎This award was made possible by the efforts of a great team of marketing professionals including several from the Project Partners’ companies.” ‎

The communications award winner added: "Winning in The American Business Awards has definitely catapulted my business into a whole different sphere. My company is now working with much bigger clients while providing the same attention to detail that allowed Marketing 24/7 to win this award.”

About Ruwena Healy:
Ruwena Healy founded Marketing 24/7 in 2005 after 18 years of experience working in banking and marketing professional services firms. Healy’s business awards for the two-year campaign of Business Makeover Birmingham include the 2010 PR News PR Platinum Award, a Clarion Award from The Association of Women in Communications, a Platinum Award from Hermes Creative Awards, and she has been a three-time Finalist in The Stevie Awards for Women In Business. Healy holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a master’s degree from Florida State University. She is a member of numerous professional organizations.

About Marketing 24/7:
In 2012, Marketing 24/7, Inc. celebrates its 7th anniversary of providing professionals with marketing and business ‎development solutions. Chief Executive Officer Ruwena Healy founded the firm with the mission of providing ‎high-level marketing and business development consulting, marketing plan development and execution, ‎and strategic planning services to companies, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Marketing 24/7 offers ‎expertise in personal branding and company branding, and in improving marketing and business ‎development effectiveness for the purpose of increasing revenues and profits. For more information, visit www.marketing247.net.

Tags: business awards, marketing awards, American business awards, stevie award, business award communications awards, Marketing 24/7, Ruwena Healy, marketing award, communications award