Friday, April 29, 2016

Association Spotlight - Ad Fed MN: For Those Who Make!


"Creative without strategy is called 'art.' Creative with strategy is called 'advertising.'"

The advertising scene in the Twin Cities is full of incredibly talented people who churn out amazing creative, content and strategy. There are over thirty agencies in Minneapolis and St. Paul alone. Agencies like Mono, Carmichael Lynch, Periscope, BBDO and more, either have their headquarters or a branch here. These advertisers typically meet at association meetings to share and gain knowledge, case studies, tools, etc. with and from each other. One of those associations is AdFed.

What is AdFed?

The Advertising Federation of Minnesota (AdFed) is a professional association "that serves the Minnesota advertising community including agencies, advertisers, suppliers, and students." The organisation, which is connected to the oldest national advertising trade association, the American Advertising Association, puts on many great events like the Student Ad Summit, Mentorship events, The Show and the Women's Leadership Panel. Many advertising and marketing pros in the metro area volunteer their time and talents to nurture and inspire the new generation of advertising talent. 

If you are looking for a way to connect with local industry greats, learn from ad women in leadership, find a mentor or have someone look over your portfolio or resume, you should make it a point to attend some of these events. 

NK and AdFed MN

I joined October last year and attended the Media Panel Luncheon, which was focused on the challenges of traditional and digital media buying, and featured agencies like Space150, Fallon and Clarity Coverdale Fury. I had the chance to learn from industry veterans and networked with people from different fields and agencies.

The Student Ad Summit is another event I would like to call out and recommend, especially for students or new professional looking to learn about the various areas and professions of advertising in the Twin Cities. This and other AdFed events can be great forums for learning about new and emerging trends in advertising and digital marketing, as agencies share case studies, knowledge and tools to help build your repertoire.

How to join Ad Fed MN

AdFed has student memberships ($50), membership for young adults under 32 ($95), and full memberships ($195, $150 for 6 or more team members). If you want to learn more about AdFed or sign-up for an event or membership, click here. Be sure to sign up for the 32 under 32 awards shows on May 19th, as the industry honors some incredible young professionals breaking the mold in adverting!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Diving into Data - Article Repost


"Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway."

As some of you know, I started working with the St. Thomas's Executive Education department as a market researcher. I have learned many techniques and tools and will be publishing a post about what I am terming "digital marketing research" in the coming weeks. 

I was fortunate enough to take one of the many marketing courses the department offers: Marketing Data Analysis: Design, Dissect, Decide, taught by instructor, Jeff Sauer of Jeffalytics. Jeff taught us many valuable skills, including an in-depth training in Google Analytics, how to do analyses of competitors' websites and campaigns, digital measurement strategy and advanced digital measurement. I wrote an article about the course and my learnings. I have posted a snippet of the article as well as a link below.

Diving Into Data

This spring, I participated in Marketing Data Analysis: Design, Dissect, Decide through Executive Education. The program, which includes 20 hours of instruction presented over four days, is a deep dive into digital measurement strategy, Google Analytics training, qualitative digital measurement and advanced digital measurement.

I took the course because I wanted to learn how to effectively use Google Analytics for data collection and analysis and wanted to see real-world applications and examples. I also wanted to learn how to construct web and landing pages that are user-friendly and lead to customer conversion.
Because I tend to do a lot of my learning and career development online, I was also looking for an opportunity to connect face-to-face with an instructor and fellow students to help build my network. My instructor was Jeff Sauer, an alumnus of St. Thomas, who has extensive experience in digital marketing as a practitioner, instructor, and speaker. (For more info, check out Sauer’s website, Jeffalytics, where he posts content ranging from podcasts to online tutorials.) READ MORE HERE!
If you live in the Twin Cities Metro area and would like to take the Marketing Data Analysis: Design, Dissect, Decide course, please click here
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

5 Ways to Build Your Brand as a Digital Marketer!


"It’s important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level."  

If you are lucky enough to be one of the people who was able to dive into digital marketing at any point in its infancy, you are a pro, and no one doubts your abilities! If you are an awkwardly old millennial like me or younger, it may be harder to prove your worth as a digital marketer. 

Even though we are called digital natives because we grow up with so much of the technology that is used in marketing today, we may lack a thorough understanding of how to use for example Facebook or Twitter for business. Even if we do know how to use some of these tools and platforms in a business capacity, we fall short in producing concrete portfolio examples. So how do you go about proving that you can be a great asset in this discipline? In the past two years, I have had the opportunity to try a few different things and would like to share my top 5 tips for building your brand as a digital marketer.

1.    Have an up-to-date resume, LinkedIn profile, and business cards!

If you are doing great work at school, a part-time job or through volunteering and you have not updated your resume or LinkedIn profile, you are missing out on opportunities to highlight and showcase your work and learning experience. Be sure to continuously update your capabilities and skills as you gain them. 

Your resume should be concise but detailed enough to stimulate enough excitement in an employer to get you an interview. LinkedIn is a platform to fill in more detail about your work experience or upload portfolio examples. A well worded and crafted LinkedIn profile can have recruiters coming to you, instead of you having to chase them. 

Business cards are essential in networking, can be an excellent way to make a lasting impression of people you meet at events. You can be creative and showcase some of your skills like photography or design. Be sure to include contact information, websites, blogs and portfolio links. 

2.    Network, Network, Network!!!

Networking is a hard one for anybody, especially those who get drained by being social. It is, however, an important part of building your brand. It gives you a chance to meet people in your field or industry, learn about new and current trends, and allows you to find and connect with people who could be great mentors or career guides. 

Some easy ways to network are joining a professional association or volunteering with one. Most association meetings and events have networking time before and after events to allow for mixing and mingling. This is an excellent time to meet people you have not meet before and strike up a conversation. If you a stumped for what to talk about, try asking why they find the topic interesting or relevant.  

Another technique to use to build your network is “cold-calling” people on LinkedIn. Research and determine a role or two you would like to pursue in the next 5-10 years. Look for people on LinkedIn, who have that role, and reach out to them. I have found that you can identify a commonality like having the same alma mater, coming from the same state or town or having common interests with said person can be an excellent way to connect and break the ice. Many of my LinkedIn connections acquired in this manner have led to friendships, mentorships, and interviews.

3.    Get a Mentor

Mentors are a great resource for building your brand as a digital marketer. You can learn from their experience in the industry, run your resume, LinkedIn profile or any other questions by them. When talking to one of my mentors once, I mentioned I wanted to learn how to blog and create content, and she suggested starting my blog, and here we are. Another mentor was a great resource for figuring out some of the things I was doing wrong in my job search process and gave me advice and little things I could change to make the process go smoother. 

Mentors are typically further along in their career and are very willing to share their knowledge with you. Don’t shy! Reach out to someone you admire and ask them if they would not mind telling you about their career journey and advice for an up-and-comer!

4.    Build Tangible Work Experience

Internships and coursework can be great ways to build your portfolio and showcase the professional and learning experience. When choosing classes or courses at school, be mindful of whether the class has a real-life client and if you will be able to use the resulting work in a portfolio or as a case study. Be sure to consider the various fields of marketing in which you want to gain experience.

You can also look for freelance work with family and friends or volunteer your time and talents with your favorite non-profit. Help them create flyers for an event, market an event on social media, create an editorial calendar, etc. These may seem like minute things, but a non-profit or a family business with a small budget would benefit greatly from this, and you get portfolio material.

You can also build a website that serves as a resume or start a blog on a topic you are passionate about. Projects like this give you hands-on experience with platforms and tools that may be valuable for an internship or job. The fact that you have taken the initiative to teach yourself something will also win you points with potential employers.

5.    Take Online Courses for Skills You Lack.

If there are specific fields of digital marketing, you would like to work in but have not had the opportunity to build the required work experience, take an online course and get certified. If you are interested in Social Media Marketing, Analytics or Paid Search, you should make it a point to study and take some free or low-priced certifications and courses to help show proficiency. Many courses will give you a certification you can post on your LinkedIn profile or even concrete case studies and tools to use during interviews. 

This article is to highlight some of the methods I used to build and grow my brand. It is not all encompassing list. What are some other ways you are building your brands? Please share in the comments below. If you would like to ask me any questions, please comment below or email me at

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Let Google School You on Analytics!

We must move from numbers keeping score to numbers that drive better actions.

It is impossible to work in any field of digital marketing without knowing the importance of analytics. Analytics helps us track how efficient out marketing efforts are, report ROI and informs improvements that can be made to various campaigns. Google Analytics is one of the most recognizable tools for analytics. In 2013, Brafton Inc. reported that about 56% of companies use it in some capacity to track various business efforts. According to, 6970 job listings currently ask for or list "Google Analytics" as a needed tool, with salaries averaging $66,539. 

What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a web analytics tool for tracking and reporting data, specifically web traffic. The service operates on a freemium model, which means most people and companies use the free model to tracking web traffic while enterprises can pay for premium services for more advanced options. Google Analytics uses a tracking code called asynchronous tracking code to track how customers and prospects find your site and what their traffic routes are. The data gathered can often be used to inform new campaigns or changes to campaigns. The data can also be used to inform how best to communicate with customers and prospects.

The Certification Process
The Google Analytics Individual Certification (IQ) is free. All you need to do is sign-up for an account on Google Partners. The course is divided into two sections: Digital Analytics Fundamentals and Google Analytics Platform Principles. The Digital Analytics Fundamentals course takes you through the basics of digital analytics, understanding and using the data gathered, collecting actionable data, and navigating reports. The second section of the course features the Google Analytics Platform Principles, primarily the fundamentals, collection, processing, configuration, and reporting. There are about 21 videos with quizzes. 

There are 70 questions for answer in 90 minutes, and you have to get a score of 80% to pass the exam. If you fail the exam, you have to wait seven days before you can retake it. The exam has to be retaken and successfully passed every 18 months to keep the certification. Head on over to the Google Analytics website and try it out, or take the exam if you are already crazy about Analytics.

To learn more about the exam, click here!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Meet Felicia Johnson, Social Media and PR rockstar


"You don’t get into something to test the waters; you go in to make waves.” 


Felicia Johnson is a Social Media and PR rockstar in the Twin Cities. She currently works as a Senior Social Engagement Specialist at Spong PR, creating and managing great social media content for brands including Lorissa’s Kitchen, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Bath & Body Works, Genuine Thermos Brand, Arla and many more. 

Prior to her career at Spong, she worked at Fallon in Minneapolis and simultaneously freelanced as a social media strategist for brands and businesses in Minneapolis. Felicia got her Bachelor of Arts in Professional Strategic Communications and Advertising at the University of Minnesota and is a steadfast member of MPLS MadWomen.

What does a typical day in your role look like?
The funny thing about PR and advertising is that there is no such thing typical day. It’s an ever-changing industry and that’s why I enjoy it. For the most part, it begins with coffee followed by a number of client meetings, creative reviews, brainstorms, strategy briefings and more. Lots of emails and phone calls, of course!

What are you passionate about? 

I will always be a student of advertising and digital marketing. I just like making rad things for people. When it comes to work, I’m extremely passionate about creating campaigns that have never been thought of or done before. It’s a challenge every day to come up with new and fresh thinking for my clients, and it’s one I don’t take lightly. To be honest, I completely nerd out on strategy and audience research. I try to take our findings and the truths about the world and come up with interesting, clever campaigns that people enjoy sharing with their friends, family, and co-workers.

What do you find most challenging about your job/career? 

Every job has its ups and downs. I’ve always said a bad day in public relations and advertising beats a good day at most other companies. Sometimes the industry is volatile. Sometimes you lose clients. Sometimes your ideas get rejected. Sometimes we have to deal with a crisis. The good news is that all of these things are temporary – having these low moments every now and again helps me appreciate the highs.

What do you find most enriching about your job/career? 

I love teaching people about new things. Whether I’m showing a colleague a new social media channel or speaking to students about the industry or explaining digital trends to clients, I find true enjoyment in educating people. Fortunately for me, there’s always more to learn which means there will always be more to teach. Knowledge is power, and it feels really good to share it.

How did you find yourself in your current career? 

I’ve always said that getting where you want to go takes a little bit of luck, a lot of hard work and incredibly good timing. Even in college, I had the innate sense that I belonged in marketing and advertising - more specifically in social and digital media. Although I studied advertising in school and worked at a major agency right out of college, I wound up encountering an opportunity in public relations firm where I could continue to explore my passion for social media. Not all paths are linear, but if you have a good sense of where you want to be in the future, you’ll get there.

Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue this career? 

Hustle hard. If you’re new to the industry and just starting out, figure out exactly where you want to be before you begin applying. Agencies are going to be able to tell when you haven’t done your research, and they’ll definitely know when you’re applying to multiple places. You’ve got to want a job more than the next person because everyone is vying for the same position. Keep grinding and going after what you want. Persistence is everything, especially in such a fast-paced industry.

If you would like to learn more about Felicia's great work, click here.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Grow Your Skills… with Canva!


Sometimes is incredibly difficult to communicate data collected to colleagues in other departments. It may even be hard to get readers to open a blog post without the right imagery or graphics tied to it. As Saul Bass so beautifully put, “Design is thinking made visual.” It allows people to easily understand and digest data. As the adage goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." It is essential to use engaging, brand appropriate colors and visuals to illustrate the information and knowledge you want to convey. 
The tool I use to create most of the graphics you see on my blog is Canva. It is easy to learn and use, and will help you channel you inner design genius. 

For teams who cannot bring on a designer, or creative team full-time, Canva can be an excellent resource for smaller projects. It is even a good way to promote cross-functional understanding in teams, as other teams gain an understanding of the design team's work and efforts.

What is Canva?

Canva is an online graphic design platform that stays true to its slogan: "Amazingly simple graphic design software." The platform has the formats and dimensions needed for most social media posts, display ads, and marketing materials. There is a free version that gives to access to most of the options and tools available. If you need more proprietary images or templates, you can opt for the paid version, called Canva for Work

How do you use Canva?

To start using the platform, all you need to do is set up an account via email, Facebook or Google+ sign-up. If you do not have a design background, a second step would be to sign up for the design school, which gives 30 short tutorials on how to use the platform as well as design tips. Canva has a lot of free templates for revolving around various themes like holidays, sales, branding and more. Canva for Work cost $12.95/month or $119.40/year lump sum. If you typically use your own images and templates, you can go for the free version and just pay the occasional dollar when needed. 

Here is an example of a free infographic template you can find and adapt on Canva.

NK and Canva

As I mentioned earlier, I use this tool for almost all my graphics on the blog as well as my fancier social media posts, particularly Instagram posts with text overlay. One of the things I love the most about the platform is the ability to tap into my creative prowess. If I am ever lost, I can get inspired by other designers' pieces.

To learn more about the platform and try your hand at some fabulous designs, click here. Go ahead and give it a try! Who knows, there may be a Van Gogh or Munch yearning to burst forth!

Thanks for reading!