How a Stevie® Awards Winner Uses Guerrilla Marketing to Create Brand Recognition

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, May 22, 2013 @ 11:44 AM

Julia Shih, Director of Strategic Alliances at AMAX, in Fremont, California, USA, received  the Gold Stevie® Award for Female Executive of the Year – Business Services in the 2012 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the world's premier awards for women executives, entrepreneurs, and the organizations they run. (July 24 is the early-bird deadline for the 2013 awards. If you haven't already done so, you can request an entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.) Here we look at how Julia is changing tech branding.

Julia Shih, Director of Strategic Alliances, AMAXJulia Shih has been described as part drill sergeant, part cruise director, and all heart.  As Director of Strategic Alliances at AMAX, her passion for the company’s growth and well-being is contagious. She is a strong believer in a healthy work/play balance, a management that truly cares, and a system that focuses on each person’s potential instead of fixed roles.  This encourages AMAX team members to feel that they are truly a part of something. Julia is a visionary leader who brings out her team’s highest potential and who allows them to showcase their unique personalities. She makes it easy for people to get behind her for a common goal.

On winning the Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year in 2012, Julia responded with her now-infamous PHAT-Data™ rap, celebrating the PHAT-Data™ Hadoop Cluster line (winner of a Gold Stevie for Product of the Year in The 2012 International Business Awards), which you can listen to at:

Best-kept Secret
The core business of AMAX has always been OEM Server Manufacturing, so its brand has always been hidden behind that of customers such as McAfee, Riverbed, Cisco—some of the best-recognized names in the industry. As a result, most people had never heard of AMAX, despite it being an award-winning x86 hardware manufacturer with 30 years in the industry.

When Julia Shih joined AMAX in 2010 she was given the challenging task of being the key handler of the AMAX brand.  Her objective was not only to develop and market the new AMAX-branded product lines of servers, storage, and big data solutions to industries, but also to have AMAX’s name stand out amongst household Tier 1 competitors such as Dell, HP, and IBM.

The key was to create memorable marketing initiatives that served a very focused purpose: to get AMAX’s name out there and to generate revenue through viral campaigns that would create brand recognition, core-competency/product recognition, and ultimately brand appreciation for one of the industry’s best-kept secrets.

“Genius” Initiatives
Some of Julia’s most creative initiatives were guerrilla campaigns, including Project Captive Audience at the 2012 RSA conference and trade show.  Free chair massages were offered to attendees, who were also offered iPads loaded with a (relaxing) AMAX product presentation streamed for customers wearing noise-canceling earphones. Feedback from attendees was that this was “genius,” and many attendees commented that they consequently “knew more about AMAX than any other company at the show.” 

Other initiatives included passing out pints of beer—with the catchphrase: "That's a SWEET Rack!"—in exchange for seeing product demos to promote AMAX's rack server solutions; and a Big Data Haiku contest which raised Facebook likes by over 1100% in a matter of weeks. The press release alone received 900 views within the first 12 hours, went viral on social media, and was picked up by bloggers the next day.

Perhaps one of Julia’s most successful initiatives was the creation of Ballapalooza, an industry basketball tournament benefiting Autism Speaks. The tournament brought key members of the tech industry together in a one-of-a-kind networking event. Working on the theory that those who play together are more likely to do business together, the tournament’s format placed players on teams according to both skill level and professional fit.  The event not only generated a surprising amount for the charity: it also increased business, deepened relationships, and allowed employees within the same companies to bond and to improve work relationships.

Doing More with Less
Julia does more with a small marketing budget than most companies that spend millions. Her marketing philosophy is based on common sense. When asked about her core approach to marketing strategy, Julia says: “You don't need to spend millions if you truly understand your brand, your audience, and how to connect the two in a compelling story.”

Outstanding Results
Julia’s strategic campaigns for product launches—including the PHAT Data Hadoop Cluster—increased total sales inquiries by over 640% and led to an increased company revenue of $26 million in 2011, most of which was from AMAX-branded solutions. 

About Julia Shih:
Julia Shih has always thought outside of the box. She started her career in the film industry, and so brings a refreshing, dynamic, and creative perspective to the work she is now doing in the tech industry.  As AMAX’s Director of Strategic Alliance, Julia is the key handler of AMAX’s brand as it touches sales, marketing, and client/vendor partnerships. She utilizes a Hollywood deal-making mentality to build symbiotic relationships with leading technology partners to build AMAX’s brand as a global technology leader. By targeting breakout technologies and products in the datacenter, Big Data, and high performance arenas, Julia is bringing cutting-edge solutions to market.

About AMAX:
Founded in 1979, AMAX specializes in engineering and manufacturing advanced Cluster, Server, and Storage Solutions. Headquartered in Fremont, California, AMAX globally operates ISO:9001/14001/ TL9000 certified and UL approved facilities throughout North America and China to service the US, Canadian, LTAM, APAC, and EMEA regions. AMAX's expertise drives two key divisions that deliver customized computing solutions to a wide range of industries: AMAX's Appliance Manufacturing Division provides efficient and top-of-the-line manufacturing solutions and global logistics to OEM customers, while its Enterprise & High Performance Computing Division provides innovative and scalable cluster, server, and storage products developed for HPC, Cloud, Virtualization, and Big Data applications.

Topics: marketing awards, stevie awards for women in business, Julia Shih, AMAX, branding, female executive of the year

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:


- 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

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

9 Marketing Awards in the 2012 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Aug 08, 2012 @ 12:23 PM

The entry deadline for the 2012 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business is August 29, and we thought it would be helpful for communications professionals if we highlighted the many marketing awards categories available. (Don't fret if you can't make the entry deadline, entries for the 2012 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the world's premier business awards for women executives, entrepreneurs, and the organizations they run, can still be submitted through the final entry deadline of September 28 with a late fee of $35.00; request your entry kit today.)

Stevie Awards for Women in BusinessOur marketing award categories for Marketing Campaign of the Year which recognizes excellence in marketing by or for women since July 1, 2011 include:

  1. Business-to-Business Advertising Campaign of the Year
  2. Business-to-Business Marketing Campaign of the Year
  3. Consumer Advertising Campaign of the Year
  4. Consumer Marketing Campaign of the Year
  5. Mobile Marketing Campaign of the Year
  6. Online Marketing Campaign of the Year
  7. Retail/Merchandising Marketing Campaign of the Year
  8. Small-Budget Marketing Campaign of the Year (<$3 million/€2 million)
  9. Viral Marketing Campaign of the Year

Entries in these categories require an essay of up to 500 words describing the nominated campaign: its genesis, development, planning, commission, and performance to date, a biography of the leader of the team that developed the campaign (up to 100 words), and optional (but highly recommended), a collection of supporting files and web addresses that you may upload to our server to support your entry and provide more background information to the judges.

Other website awards, blog awards, app awards, and video awards that may be of interest include:

  • Website of the Year:
    Recognizing excellence in web sites created and maintained by or for women. There is no eligibility period requirement for this category - it doesn't matter when the site was first published.

  • Blog of the Year:
    Recognizing excellence in individual or company blogs created by or for women. There is no eligibility period requirement for this category - it doesn't matter when the blog was first published.

  • Smartphone or Tablet App of the Year:
    Recognizing excellence in smartphone and tablet apps produced by or for women. There is no eligibility period requirement for this category - it doesn't matter when the app was first published.

  • Video of the Year:
    Recognizing excellence in videos produced by or for women since July 1, 2011.

These categories only require an essay of up to 100 words describing the nominated work: its purpose and results to date, the nominated work itself, which you should upload to our server via the new uploading tool on our online entry form, and optionally, you can provide creative and production credits for the work, such as writers, creative directors, and programmers.

Not sure where to start? All entries are submitted directly online through your account. You can begin by registering here.

Topics: business awards, app awards, video awards, website awards, marketing awards, stevie awards for women in business, blog awards, marketing award