Friday, January 29, 2016

Association Spotlight - MN AMA: Connect. Learn. Grow.


Ian Schafer brilliantly expressed why it is so important for marketers to keep learning and growing professionally: “Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Consumers are transforming faster than we are, and if we don't catch up, we’re in trouble.”

What is the MN AMA?
I have been fortunate enough to find great spaces and resources not only online, but in the city where I work and live, to continue to learn and grow my network. One of those spaces is the Minnesota Chapter of American Marketing Association (MN AMA). MN AMA has monthly events that aim to provide opportunities for members to interact with each other and network, and learn about industry best practices, trends, and issues. 

In 2015, the chapter hosted events such as "Building Up Endurance, An Introduction to Agile Marketing", Converting Strangers into Customers in the Mobile Revolution", "How a Savvy Media Strategy Can Boost Your Branded Content", and "Winning the Game - What's the Story Behind a Great Name?". In addition to the live content at the various events, MN AMA has a blog where you can find valuable content like "Five Interview Traps and How to Avoid Them", Five Ways to Rethink the Marketing Skills Gap", and the "Questions with..." series with industry influencers such as AMA CEO Russ Klein and Jeff Julian CMO of AJi. 

I joined the Association after attending my first event in May 2015, themed "How Market Research Guided the Launch and Activation of the New Cargill Brand." It was fascinating to see a company be so open and candid about the challenges they have faced in updating the incredibly big and global brand while ensuring that stakeholders around the world left involved in the process. I was hooked, and I have been attending events and volunteering on the programming committee since. 

How to join!
If you are interested in joining the AMA and/or your local chapter, there are a few easy steps to follow. You need to need to sign-up on the AMA's website and choose the type of membership that fits your career stage. The AMA has varying student and professional levels of membership. You will also have to pay organization dues in addition to chapter dues.

If you are interested in becoming a member of MN AMA or an AMA chapter in your city, you can learn more here.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 22, 2016

What HubSpot Taught Me!


"Focus on the core problem your business solves and put out lots of content and enthusiasm, and ideas about how to solve that problem."
Laura Fitton, Inbound Marketing Evangelist, HubSpot.

This Laura Fitton quote beautifully summarizes what HubSpot taught me during the Inbound Marketing Certification process. Early last year, I set out on a journey to improve my digital marketing acumen and find ways to demonstrate my expertiseI researched various marketing associations and articles for information on what industry influencers were recommending as industry standards for further learning and accreditation. Along with Google Analytics and AdWords, HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Certification was consistently mentioned as an essential certification to have under your belt

What is Inbound Marketing
Before we dive into the certification process, I think it behooves us to take a look at what Inbound Marketing is. HubSpot defines Inbound Marketing as "marketing focused on getting found by customers. It’s customer-focused." The diagram below highlights HubSpot's Inbound Methodology of attracting strangers, converting leads, closing customers and then delighting customers into promoters. The central premise of Inbound Marketing is that you put out great content at different stages of the buyer's journey (the Awareness, Consideration, and Decision stages).

Image Source

The Certification Process

HubSpot's Certification process is free and consists of 12 Classes that span a total of 4.5 hours. The topics reviewed include;
  • Inbound Strategy
  • Content Creation
  • Fundamentals of Blogging
  • Social Media
  • The Conversion Process
  • Email Marketing
  • Smarketing (Sales + Marketing)
Each of the 12 classes dealt with the theory and best practices of the topics, looked at real life applications and successes, as well as cautionary tales. At the end of each class, there was a 5 question exam to test mastery of the knowledge, and prepare you for the exam. The certification is valid for 13 months.

The EXAM!!! (Tan, Tan, Tannnnnn!!!)
HubSpot gives you 75 minutes to finish 60 multiple choice and true/false questions. 75% or higher gives you a passing grade. You have three chances to pass the exam. If you need to retake it after the three tries, you have to wait for 30 days. After the exam, you receive a printable certificate as well, as badge for LinkedIn and other social media. If you score in the upper 90th percentileyou are invited to join HubSpot User Groups in your city.

To learn more about the HubSpot Inbound Marketing certification process and/or take the exam, click here

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What is Digital Marketing?


In the wise words of Amrita Sahasrabudhe, “Take a risk and keep testing, because what works today won’t work tomorrow, but what worked yesterday may work again.” To me, this is what is so exciting and vibrant about digital marketing - you can plan your campaign or strategy, implement it, track it, see what is succeeding or failing, and make instant adjustments. The field is consistently changing, so you have to work hard to keep up. But before I get ahead of myself, let's define what digital marketing is, and look at how it differs from traditional marketing. 

The Financial Times Lexicon defines digital marketing as "an umbrella term for the targeted, measurable, and interactive marketing of products or services using digital technologies to reach and convert leads into customers. The key objective is to promote brands, build preference, and increase sales through various digital marketing techniques." Traditional marketing typically spans commercials, radio spots and print ads such as newspaper/magazine ads, flyers, and billboards. 

Traditional and digital marketing are not conflicting or mutually exclusive ways of marketing, but are used in tandem with companies and their supporting agencies to connect with and gain customers, and reach business goals. 

Some functional areas under the branch of digital marketing include analytics and data; e-mail marketing, search engine marketing (SEM/SEO/PPC); social media marketing; content marketing; and interactive design, and production. Typical roles include digital marketing strategist, user experience designer, social media manager, digital project manager, and paid search planner.

In the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts about digital marketing and digital vs. traditional. What do you find fascinating about strategies?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year everyone! I wanted to say a big thank you for following and reading my blog last year and take this opportunity to give you a snapshot of what is coming this year.

This year will be loaded with reviews of the various products, tools, courses, and certification I have been and will be exploring and using. There will also be features of different associations, networking tools and methods, and so much more.
One of the things I am most excited this year launching spotlights of the many amazing marketing and advertising professionals I am learning from and meeting. I cannot wait to share my experiences as I continue this journey. I am also aiming to post weekly. (Hooray for editorial calendars!) 

If there is anything you would like to learn more about or suggest, please feel free to comment below or e-mail me at

Thanks for reading!