“Effective Executive” Series with Eric Newman, VP Products & Marketing, Digby

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We are pleased to share another insightful ”Effective Executive” interview with Eric Newman, Vice President of Products & Marketing for Digby.  In this role, Eric Newman helps brands leverage the power of Localpoint, a cross channel marketing platform. During his 18-year career, Eric has ridden the cutting edge of a number of online revolutions at a successful startups, including Demand Media’s Pluck, Powered, IBM’s DataBeam, Ask Jeeve’s Direct Hit and Motive Corporation’s Question Technologies. He holds a M.B.A. from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University and a B.A. in Information Systems and Marketing from the University of Cincinnati.

Eric shared his thoughts on location-based marketing behavior and which loyalty programs top his list.  He also shared his insights with us on why Austin has become such a growing city for tech companies, especially start ups.

What’s the challenge in attaining a location-based marketing strategy?

Using time and place as a real-time trigger for marketing, engagement and customer service in brick and mortar locations adds a whole new dimension to an organization’s marketing and operational thinking – and therein lies the challenge.  It starts with figuring out how you want to react to a consumer’s entry into a store, or presence in a target neighborhood – notifying associates of the consumer’s entry or sending a visit-encouraging message to the consumer as examples.  From there, the retailers we work with are using that real-world event as a key juncture for mapping the consumer’s cross-channel history – understanding that they shopped on the ecommerce site last night and are likely entering the store to put their hands on the product before making the purchase.  That kind of omni-channel use is where location really shines as the link between the on and offline worlds, but it is also the most challenging for an organization to adopt when typically those worlds were organizationally separated in the past.

What have you seen over the last year in terms of measured success of a good location-based marketing strategy?

We have witnessed some amazing results.  While we cannot speak to specific customers’ performance metrics, we can talk about campaigns where 60+% of consumers in neighborhoods near a store opened a location-based announcement with push notification set up by the marketer and then in turn, visited the nearby store to redeem the offer.  We’ve seen social check-in campaigns through the retailer’s app generate astounding redemption rates as consumers walked into the store, received an offer and then shared the offer with their friends.

What are some of the best loyalty programs you’ve seen for customers?

As a marketer I really appreciate the Kohl’s cash program.  Giving consumers discounts they can apply against any product in a virtual cash format makes it easy to earn and easy to spend those points, but all within Kohl’s stores.

As a consumer, I like loyalty programs that offer something a little different as a loyalty reward.  Using earned loyalty points at a grocery like Randall’s to get a steep discount on gas at their fueling station is significant enough to actually spur conversation about it at the family dinner table.  Any time you can get someone teaching their children about a loyalty program, that’s longevity.

What’s your dream customer – i.e., who could use some improvement with Digby?

Location context as a trigger to more relevantly market and engage the consumer is not limited to one vertical or most appropriate for just one customer.  We see interest in Digby from brands in many sectors – from hospitality to dining and even sports franchises – anyone who has a physical place of business and would like to better engage their customers.  Interestingly, we learn new use cases for our technology with every potential customer we meet.  One of my favorite unexpected use cases was a convenience store chain that builds 50-100 stores a year.  That’s millions of dollars of real-estate investment where building on the wrong spot can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars of missed revenue.  In this case, the retailer wanted to identify locations where they were considering store development, and use the knowledge of how many of their app-holding, loyal customers drive by these various locations as a set of decision input into their real estate evaluation.

What’s the connection with mobile apps to successful in-store service?

There are so many use cases around customer service where awareness that the customer is at the store is so important.  For example, a fast food restaurant wants to allow consumers to order their burgers online for pickup in the restaurant.  Doesn’t sound all that complicated until you realize that a fast food sandwich has about a two minute shelf life under the heat lamps.  Get caught at a red light on the way to the store for pickup, and they have to start the order all over again.  Instead, the restaurant wants to use our Localpoint platform to know when the remote ordering customer has entered the parking lot and place the order into the queue at that moment – ensuring a burger ready to go with minimal waste.

Any predictions for 2014 in terms of marketing behavior, from a B to B or B to C standpoint?

Location is becoming white hot right now as organizations see the relevancy and depth it can add to their customer relationships, and the ROI it can drive in terms of incremental store visits, conversion and cart size growth.  Generally speaking, this technology applies best to the B to C experience, given the nature of shopping behavior where consumers visit malls, stores and other retail locations.

Weigh in on Austin and its growth in the tech world – how would you say Austin has changed over the year climate-wise for tech companies?

Austin is an incredible place for technology and has been for many years.  A startup community increases in velocity as it builds momentum with entrepreneurs at all organizational levels building startups and then facilitating the sale and integration of the startup into larger technology companies.  This creates a powerful secondary effect of drawing larger companies into Austin and then setting up the entrepreneur to make a run at their next big idea.  Austin has been doing this successfully for 20 years and has mature, fertile field of technology companies and startups spanning from the B to C space, like MapMyFitness who recently announced acquisition by UnderArmour, to B to B and even hardware solutions.  The whole city has adopted tech as a mainstay of the economy and culture and the tech companies fit right into the “Keep Austin Weird” message we are known for.

Have you gone to SXSW? What’s your experience or viewpoint on it as a value for organizations or evangelists?

SXSW is an amazing mix of digital technology, media, movies and music.  However, its meteoric growth has moved well beyond its roots as an interactive conference to an expansive showcase.  The biggest challenge is navigating the breadth of things you can do during the show, ranging from actually learning something in session, to hobnobbing with the digital elite, to immersing yourself in the non-stop party swirling around the event.  You need a SXSW plan of action before stepping foot into the show and sign up for the sessions you need as early as possible to ensure attendance.

Top marketing outlets you read?

Being all mobile, all the time, I spend most of my reading budget on sites like Mobile Commerce Daily and the Location Based Marketing Association.  I augment that with industry specific sites like Stores Magazine and Advertising Age.  As a technology product guy, I cannot live without Business Insider or our Forrester relationship, as industry analysts give a deep, cross-vendor view of the world that is hard to find from more traditional industry media publications.

“Influencers Who Inspire” Our Latest Interview with Dan Rowinski, Mobile Editor at ReadWrite

dan_rowinski_headshot (3)This week we are happy to share our latest interview with Dan Rowinski, Mobile Editor at ReadWrite. We follow Dan’s work religiously and are excited to share his thoughts on working with PR people, what he loves about Boston and what he loves about his current role.

How did you transition from covering sports to covering technology? What do you miss about it?

My transition from sports to tech had a lot to do with the advanced study of baseball statistics. In baseball nerd circles, these are called sabermetrics. You ever heard of Moneyball (first a book, then a movie starring Brad Pitt)? For a long time I studied these advanced statistics to the point that I knew them by heart. It awakened a very statistically-driven analyst in me and taught me that I could basically learn anything and break it down into simple, understandable terms for my readers.

After I left TBD.com in D.C., I was on the lookout for a steady gig in either tech, sports or investigative reporting. I like tech and have always had kind of a casual interest in how things are made and then put to use. So, I landed at Government Computer News writing about smartphones. The clincher for me in getting that job was telling one of the editors at GCN about how I had taught myself sabermetrics and how that learning process informed my world view. Hurray for baseball.

What I miss most about sports is being at the arena or ballpark and the competitive but close-knit relationship with other beat reporters. They all may work for different outlets, but it is kind of a club. What don’t I miss about it? The fact that most professional athletes are trained to say absolutely nothing of substance. Lots of, “I trust my teammates and god” (in that order), type of quotes.

As a native of the Boston area, what do you love most about our city?

You ever been the Green Dragon Tavern? It was supposed to be the headquarters of the American Revolution and guys like Sam Adams and Paul Revere met there to discuss the resistance against the British. The actual Green Dragon was torn down in 1854 and the current pub (tucked behind Bell In Hand by all those bars on Union Street) is a few blocks from where the original building was. But, it is still a part of history, of both Boston and the United States. Boston is full of those little types of places. Hell, Harvard is quite a bit older than the U.S.

I love history. I have a degree in it (next to my English degree and Master’s in Journalism). I love living in a city where major history is so casually interspersed with the everyday and modern.

Also, the Red Sox. ;)

As a journalist, what is your biggest pet peeve about PR professionals?

Multiple emails. If I don’t answer the first time, the pitch may have gotten lost but not bloody likely. I am well on top of my email. If a PR person sends two, three, four or more follow ups, I will actually ban them to my spam folder. This is probably the worst possible outcome for a PR person trying to get my attention because it will mean that all subsequent communication from them will go to my spam. There is a good chance I wasn’t interested in the pitch the first time. I don’t have time to respond to everything, so my silence is generally my answer.

That being said, I archive just about every single email I get. It is a fairly large archive at this point. If I am looking for something on a particular topic, I search my email for products, points of reference and people to talk to. It’s a resource, just like Twitter is a resource or Google+ (yes, I use Google+).

Also, don’t ever, ever, ever cold call me if we have not communicated before. I might give you 30 seconds, if you are lucky.

Also, don’t send things to me in the mail (actual, physical mail) if I have not asked for them and am expecting them. The PR person from Mophie once sent me a lunch box before CES with one of their battery packs and some energy bars. Clever, I have to say, but really annoyed the hell out of me.

What has been the most fascinating interview you have conducted over the years?

It was actually a series of interviews in a 24-hour span. When I was still covering government tech and doing freelance sports, I talked to former NASA CIO Linda Cureton and former CTO Chris Kemp. The next day I covered both a Washington Capitals game and then a Wizards NBA game that night (one of those rare days when both teams play on the same day at the same arena and the bull gang has to change over from the ice to the parquet). So, within that day I interviewed both Cureton and Kemp as well as Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan. That was pretty cool.

Of those interviews, Kemp was the most fascinating. This was when tablets were still pretty new and Kemp (who now is the CEO of a cloud company called Nebula) gave me one of my favorite lines ever; “tablets are the gateway to the cloud.” That has stuck with me as I have studied the confluence of the cloud and mobile revolutions.

What do you love about your job?

Learning. I feel like I have gotten another whole degree since becoming a tech reporter. I study everything mobile, all day just about everyday. Been doing it for years now. I’ve gotten to the point where I might be able to cobble together a book or two on subjects like mobile payments and the proliferation of the app. I like to get pretty wonky with my articles sometimes, so I will find and study source code or take a look at new integrated developer environments. Basically, my job allows me to absorb information and that makes me really happy.

Outside of work, what are you passionate about?

I am a pretty big cycler. I have a very nice Jamis racer road bike. Love to get out into the roads in Metro West and do 50 or 60 miles around Lexington and Concord.

After I stopped being a sports reporter, I have always rediscovered the pleasure of being a sports fan. I love baseball. When you are a sports reporter, it becomes a job. Even if your job is to wake up and go watch hockey for a living, there are days (everybody has them) where you just say, “I don’t want to go to work today.” You lose that exuberance that made you a fan in the first place. It took a couple of years for me to get over that but I have found that I can once again watch the Red Sox game and enjoy it without having to worry about filing a story as soon as the game ends.

What is next for you for the remainder of 2013?

Work, work, work. Absorb more knowledge. Get ready for the mobile product blitz that is the holiday shopping season. Looking forward to seeing exactly how Apple has cobbled together the new aspects of iOS 7 with the iPhone 5S. Also want to see whether the concept of the “smartwatch” becomes a popular product item. My editor-in-chief Owen Thomas is not a fan of the smartwatch, but I think it could be really cool. I want to be like Dick Tracy, damnit, and I don’t want to have to tether my smartphone to a watch to be able to do so. A couple scheduled trips to New York and San Francisco (those are the only places I seem to go these days) and then home for Christmas. Trying to take it easy on the travel because my spring travel schedule is brutal (Las Vegas, Barcelona and Austin, Texas).

Other than that, just keep on keeping on.

Summer Fun at IMS13 With PerkettPR – Get Your Schwag With Bite

ActualSharksIf you’re attending IMS in San Francisco today, please be sure to find our own Jennifer Hellickson, who will be giving away these cool shark bottle openers to the first 100 folks to connect with her. We’re having some fun at the show by combining our love of summer, Shark Week and our intent on delivering killer marketing. Find Jennifer at the show (hint: follow her or us on Twitter to help you do so) and you will also get directions on how to enter a chance to win our $100 gift card drawing, which will be announced on Friday, August 2 at 10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST on Google+, so join us there, too.

If you’re not at IMS this week, take heart! We also thought it would be fun to share some shark trivia, so follow along today and tomorrow on Twitter or Facebook and test your shark knowledge. We’ll be randomly choosing five online folks to receive a complimentary bottle opener as well. (Hint, you could increase your chances by tweeting with @PerkettPR and #killermarketing in your tweets!)

Enjoy learning at IMS, San Francisco, and contact us if you need help taking a bigger bite out of the industry with #killermarketing strategies.

“Effective Executive” Series with Jamie Walker of Fit Approach and SweatGuru

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This week’s “Effective Executive” interview is with Jamie Walker, co-founder of Fit Approach and SweatGuru, fitness fiend and all-around energetic entrepreneur.

Jamie, along with business partner Alyse Mason Brill, launched Fit Approach, a health-centric community, blog and class booking service, back in 2009. Their initial cult following evolved into an impressive (and intensely-loyal) online and offline community, so the team spun off the class-booking portion of the site, creating SweatGuru – the “Open Table” of fitness – last year.

A self-proclaimed “professional hustler who thrives on forging strong partnerships,” Jamie leads vision, strategy and business development for both companies. We asked her about this role, along with some of her business best practices and what’s on deck for the remainder of 2013.

SweatGuru is winning accolades left and right for being one of the hottest San Francisco startups – have you found it difficult breaking into the Silicon Valley boys’ club?

I wouldn’t say that it has been difficult breaking into a male-dominated space, but it has been a challenge that we’ve come to love tackling on a daily basis. My co-founder, Alyse Mason-Brill has a great, short response to it all: “We won’t back down!”

And that’s really the truth. Every day, we work on something that we absolutely love, live and breathe – it makes building a product that will change the fitness industry so much easier. We’re winning awards, but it is only because our fitness community has come to know Alyse and me so well, so they support us and encourage us week after week.

We have had some memorable encounters, though. Like being called “little girls” or the infamous VC who remarked that he “didn’t make investments based on boobs.” Situations like those just add more fuel to our fire. We’re creating a product we believe in and confident that it will make some noise, and that’s why we keep running so hard.

Your professional background is in PR/Marketing. How does that help you in your gig now as an entrepreneur?

Everybody has great ideas and concepts in their minds that they think will be groundbreaking. But an idea without a vision, plan or goal is just that – an idea.

Having worked in marketing and PR for seven years, I was fortunate to learn from a lot of smart people. From building a brand to the art of networking and making personal connections, I can definitely rely on what I did as a marketing and PR geek. Now, we have an idea with a solid roadmap and marketing team behind it. Never underestimate the power of good PR and marketing.

You’ve built a really engaged, loyal community – both online and offline. Can you share your top three tips for engagement and community-building?

This has been one of my favorite parts of this journey so far. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. It takes a lot of hard and genuine work to build a real, engaged and authentic community. If I had to narrow it down into three tips, it’d be this:

  1. Dedicate yourself for the better good of the community – They’ll learn to trust you as a result of that.
  2. Embody the community – If you aren’t involved and making it a huge part of your life AND enjoying it, how can you expect others to?
  3. Be authentic and transparent – Believe in what the community represents, and don’t be afraid to show it. You can’t fake that; people will see right through you.

You’re one very active lady! Tell us about your own athletic pursuits – i.e. how the heck you manage to stay in shape, despite a super hectic schedule.

I follow one major rule of thumb: Staying in shape is not optional.

If I were a dog, I’d be the breed people would be hesitant to buy because I need a lot of space and exercise to stay sane. If I go a few days without a workout or yoga class, I start to feel sluggish, cranky and am not very fun to work with. (But don’t worry; I won’t pee on your carpets, ha!)

That being said, regardless of my schedule or late nights, fitness is essential to my day. The alarm typically goes off at 5:30am, and I’m up and running – literally.

Running and yoga are my two mainstays. I’ve been doing ultra-marathons for the past eight years – I love the 50-milers, but am aiming to conquer the 100 in the near future. Yoga is one of the main reasons I can stay on the daily grind and not feel a letdown. It really does help keep you grounded and focused on the bigger picture.

Tell us, what’s your favorite part of your job(s)?

The fact that it doesn’t feel like a job…I love what I do and love the people I work with.

Also, when it comes to being an entrepreneur, the trial and error of creativity is a fantastic experience. Whether I’m alone in the office or brainstorming with others, the power to create and do things that you want, and then DO them…it’s a really cool feeling. It’s so rewarding. I’ve grown a lot in the past couple years – learned so much – and am humbled by the experience.

Finally, what’s next for you for the second half of 2013?

This both excites and frightens me all at the same time: We’re launching SweatGuru, I’m running a 100 in September and planning my wedding. That’s all. :)