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

eric_newman_headshot_square (3)

 

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.

Life Lessons From Mom That Also Apply to a Career in PR

For some of us, “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” still rings true. Play nice, share with others, don’t interrupt, work hard; the list goes on.

For me, a lot of the advice I call upon in my adult life revolves around what my parents taught me. I use their advice in parenting, how I treat my loved ones – both family and friends – and everything in between. Much of their advice I even apply to my career as a PR executive. In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share my thoughts, and those of my teammates, on how Mom’s early lessons stick with us and still help us in our careers today.

momWhen I was young, I struggled with math. Words always came much easier to me. As the daughter of two parents who worked for a national newspaper, you could say it was in the blood. How could I get through this math monkey on my back and change my perspective? My mother taught me that we all have to do things we don’t want to do. We all have to tackle the hard things. Part of life is this yin and yang of easy and hard. So with the assistance of kind teachers, patient parents, and most importantly a change in me, I switched my thinking and began to use the mantra, “I will not give up.” I heeded my mother’s tough advice. She didn’t have a ton of sympathy, but rather told me over and over, “Keep at it, be tough, and do not give up.”

I am no longer tackling Pi or the Pythagorean Theorem, or cringing after being called up to write on the blackboard in math class  - but each day as a PR professional, I am still faced with challenges that call for mental toughness and confidence. This is when the parts of my job that are harder and grittier than others call for my mom’s good old “don’t give up” mantra. This mantra makes for happy clients, solid journalistic relationships and a constant quest for me to deliver top results while striving to do better.

My PerkettPR colleagues shared what they’ve learned from their mothers as well. Here’s a collection of the awesome advice that they still carry with them in their PR careers.

From Christine Perkett

My mother taught me not to undervalue myself – which comes in handy when negotiating as both employer and vendor. My grandmother taught me that men are like street cars — a new one will always come along. I say the same is true clients – not that I don’t appreciate the ones we have (I so do!), but that they come and go and that losing one is not the end of the world.

 From Susan Sweenie:

My mom taught me that even when dealing with someone tough or not interested, just kill them with kindness. 

From Crystal Monahan:

I’ve had the privilege of having two moms in my life – my actual mom and my stepmother. Although different in innumerable ways, they both share one admirable trait that I have tried to emulate in my life and career. They both possess a remarkable work ethic. They work dawn to dusk if necessary. They have held multiple jobs to provide for their families. Nothing is beneath them – if it needs to get done, they do it. They both understand that nothing in life comes free and great pride comes from a job well done.

I’ve always tried to do my best and work my hardest, and have always appreciated the sense of accomplishment at seeing the results of my efforts whether it’s completing monthly status reports on time, writing a solid press release, or seeing my clients in the media.

Whenever I’m feeling lazy, I think about my two moms and I know they’ve probably already accomplished more in a day than many people do in a week, and I’m inspired to get back to work.

From Susie Dougherty:

“Mind your manners…” Something my mom was a stickler about, much to my benefit. I think most of us (well, maybe not as many as I’d like to think) grow up to be mindful of the simple words and gestures that help make us respected adults. But with today’s email and social media – suddenly a lot of those manners have gone out the window. Thanks to my mom for somehow making those words stick –even as the Internet has fundamentally changed in so many ways how we communicate. I’m still using my manners behind my laptop or iPhone or tablet screen – and I know that stands out to clients, reporters and even my own colleagues.”

From Jennifer Hellickson:

My mom’s a big proponent of the Golden Rule – treat others as you’d like to be treated – and this goes a long way in PR. Going that extra mile for both our clients and our colleagues in the media means trying to not only think from their perspective, but also anticipate their needs, as well. This creates a better working environment for everyone and ultimately allows us, as PR professionals, to better serve the company’s mission.

From Heather Bliss :

Mom taught me so many amazing lessons, but one of the most valuable was to be a good listener and problem solver. She has an uncanny ability to be able to listen to ANYONE, and I mean anyone. Whether it’s a family member, friend, colleague or a stranger on the park bench next to her — if they have a problem my mom has the time and patience to listen and to try and help solve it. I learned how to translate some small part of this gift of hers to my work in PR to really listen to clients and understand the issues they face and try to problem solve solutions as my mother would with quickness and calm.

And, fellow PerkettPR staff member (and new mom herself) agrees:

Johanna Lucia adds:

My Mom always taught me the importance of being a good listener. She helped instill this very powerful life skill in me, and when it comes to PR– we need to hear our clients. Listening to our clients’ wants and needs is a vital part of our role and in helping develop effective PR strategies.

What inspirational mom lessons can you share with us? Do you have a favorite piece of advice learned in childhood that still remains a part of your work habit today? Please share your stories in the comments.

Effective Executive: David Baeza, CMO of Apperian

We are delighted to share another interview in our “Effective Executives” series. This week’s interview is with David Baeza, Chief Marketing Officer at Apperian. David is well known as the founder of several private and one public tech company. He’s the former VP of Global Demand Gen for Citrix Online, makers of GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC. He regularly blogs about marketing and social media, contributing blogger at workshifting.com, producer of online mobility conferences, and speaks on the topic of media and brand positioning. He is also the Advisor to TreeHouse and TwitterKids.

You have a very dynamic background including roles as CEO, VP, Advisor and CMO. Which role fits you best and why?

What most people don’t know is that while I was CEO of a public company, I was also officially the CMO. I have never been able to let go of marketing, so to be perfectly honest with myself, the role that fits me best is CMO. I love all aspects of marketing, but disruptive positioning, design and content creation are closest to my heart. The real role of the CMO is that of a story teller. We tell stories through content. We make promises of what could be. However, CMOs are only as good as the products and services they market. The price of entry is an amazing product. Great CMOs don’t get behind products they don’t deeply believe in. If they do, it is all but guaranteed your marketing is going to fail.

When did you spark an interest in working in the technology field?

It was less of an interest, and more of an accident. After grad school I landed at a small financial consulting firm in L.A. Our clients were in the telecom business. I joined one of our clients to manage sales. That client was a technology provider to the large telephone carriers. I never looked back. Fast forward to 1998 and I launched the first national ISP to compete with AOL. Damn that was fun! During that time, I launched a television campaign called saygoodbyetoaol.com. We figured out that people would switch from AOL if they could keep their AIM account. So that’s exactly what we advertised. Yes, we got sued. A lot. In the end, it really worked. Since then, I’ve launched a few tech companies, and had the opportunity to work at some amazing tech brands. I am certain that there is no other industry that is as sexy as technology. My job is to make it even sexier.

What do you love about your role as CMO?

It’s the only profession that you’re paid to break all the rules. At best, “best practices” in marketing are directional. For example, I was reading a survey from Sirius Decisions about marketing to the CIO. Last on the list as an effective tactic was newsletters. I thought, Wow! What an amazing opportunity to reinvent the newsletter. What if I simply blew up the standard, boring newsletter template and created an amazing digital experience ? Think Flipboard for the CIO. A completely immersive piece of content. I get excited just thinking about it! That’s the reason I love what I do.

You are a lead organizer for Twestival, benefiting Charity:Water and Concern Worldwide. Can you tell us a little bit about your role and about the event?

Twestival is a global event that takes place on a single day to benefit one charitable organization. It uses crowd sourcing and volunteers to organize in person meetups for the benefit of the charity. The founder of Twestival, Amanda Rose, has taken that formula and teamed up with Jamie Oliver to produce FoodRevolutionDay.com to educate and highlight the world’s food issues. My role at Twestival was that of a sponsor and fund raiser. I managed the Santa Barbara Twestival, both online and meetup. I think that any company of any size should always strive to have charity as part of their DNA, even if the company is not profitable. By starting early, even if it’s just donating your company’s time and resources, it builds a foundation of character and giving. That ultimately results in a broader perspective of the world. Recently, we created a living art project in Spain at Mobile World Congress for the benefit of Global Hope International Network. The impact far exceeded our expectations. An artist from Misfit flew to Spain and created a living art project – which means that she painted live during the exhibit and finished the project on the last day. People came up and were given the opportunity to paint different portions of the art. Each time someone painted, Apperian donated $50 to Global Hope. In the process, we created an amazing exhibition, had insane engagement from attendees, and raised a lot of money.

Besides technology and branding, what else are you passionate about?

Family. I know that sounds boring but I’m deeply committed and believe in family first. I’m married, and I have two little girls, 6 and 8 years old, and they are my life. I instill family first in my team. I don’t value them based on butt-in-seat time. I care about their results and I insist that they have a well rounded life. I am not impressed by people that work 10 -12 hours per day. In fact, I have the opposite reaction. I tend to think, “What’s wrong?” Are they inefficient? We have amazing tools that allow us to workshift from anywhere in the world. There is simply no excuse for not having a balanced life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s 10pm as I’m writing this from Boston, and I live in California. I do what needs to be done, but I have boundaries. My family needs my time more then they need the money I earn. I don’t let anything stand in the way of them.

How do you define “innovation”?

If a company ever declares innovation is a strategic imperative, it’s the beginning of the end. Innovation is a cultural paradigm. It starts with an intense desire to explore, challenge and break things. Yes, break things. It can’t be contained to a budget item on a spreadsheet. Innovators come in all sizes and shapes. It comes from all aspects of company, not just engineering. It comes from customer service, interns, lawyers, accountants…it’s everywhere. Great companies seek it out and wrap their arms around it. They encourage idea generation, transparency, and failure. If companies let their people fail, without fear of consequence, the speed of innovation is absolutely staggering.

What is next for you in 2012?

Since 2012 is almost halfway over, it’s about execution. We have some great products that we are about to ship. It’s about narrowing the scope of opportunity and focusing on those things that have the greatest impact. I’m also trying to figure out new extensions of content. By that I mean things like Pinterest and Instagram. I’m also thinking about new formats for video, online seminars, and more. On a personal level, I’m going to be speaking at more conferences about marketing. I love to speak, but I hate to travel. That’s like saying I love to eat, but I hate food. The two things go hand in hand. I have a personal blog I’ve been threatening to launch for a year, so I intend to get that out as well. I also love wine. I was dabbling with a wine blog but I put it on the shelf because it took too much time away from my family. I’m planning to travel to Europe in July to do some serious brand disruption and to attend my first Shakespeare play. It sounds crazy, but I think Shakespeare is going to have a significant impact on my marketing in 2013. I feel inspired by his work, and that always leads to great ideas.

 

 

 

Happy Earth Day! How PerkettPR Contributes to Improving Our Environment

PerkettPR is proud of our long-standing contribution to improving the environment. As a virtual company, we reduce our agency’s carbon footprint – less gas, less real estate, lower electric bills, less emissions, etc. In addition, we work diligently to create a positive work environment, including the opportunity for all employees to telecommute, offering successful careers balanced with happy home and personal lives. Being able to work a full day and still fit in time for dinner with the family, or an outdoor run before dark, provides PerkettPR employees with greater opportunity to fulfill both career and personal aspirations. We’re proud of our positive culture from both an eco-friendly standpoint and a happy, satisfied staff who share our passion for innovation in the workplace.

We thought it would be interesting to share some new statistics on telecommuting. Did you know that the estimated average commute for workers is 25.3 minutes? And, according to Telework Research, if the 41 million Americans with telework-compatible jobs worked from home just one day, U.S. savings would total $772 million including:

  • $494 million in commuter costs
  • $185 million from 2.3 million barrels of oil saved
  • $93 million from 775 fewer traffic accidents

And that’s not all. If everyone who could work at home did just one day, the environment would be spared 423,000 tons of greenhouse gas—the equivalent of taking 77,000 cars off the road for a year!

We created this Earth Day infographic to showcase our efforts in reducing our carbon footprint – and as an example of how just one small business can work to reduce environmental emissions by offering telecommuting options.

Please feel free to leave a comment about your business and how you also strive to help the environment. Happy Earth Day!

Influencers Who Inspire Series: Ramon Ray of SmallBizTechnology.com

We begin our PerkettPR “Influencers Who Inspire” series with a chat with Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com.

Ramon is a journalist, technology evangelist & editor of Smallbiztechnology.com, author of “Technology Solutions for Growing Businesses” & “Technology Resources for Growing Businesses” and a national, in-demand speaker.

What made you choose journalism as a profession? 

I didn’t choose it,  it chose me and it was quite accidental. I just really loved to write and so I started writing, then one day Black Enterprise and Inc. Magazine said could you write some articles for us – and the rest is history :)

What four  or five things are always “routine” in your day?

Deleting email, sorting email, sending email, toggling tons of tabs in my browser, wishing I could do puppet shows for poor kids in Mexico, Dominican Republic or somewhere.

Why is small business technology news of interest to you in particular? What has it taught you?

Not sure. I’ve always been a tech tinkerer (as in take apart talking teddy bears in the 1970′s/80′s, shutting off the lights in my home, etc). I think this love of tech and the blend of my love of reading/writing became the love of small business technology news. It has taught me that things change, companies go and come but relationships are forever, ideas are a dime a dozen, successful execution is all that matters.

 Over the years you have had the opportunity to interview some truly great public figures and influencers (such as Hillary Clinton). What has been your favorite interview thus far? Why?

A few things stand out… Back in the days when I didn’t know how to be a journalist I tried to slip Bill Gates a hand written note. His team saw it and took the note away. I didn’t know you were supposed to asked his PR person to interview him. This was many years ago.  I opened an event for Michael Dell and he said he read my blog – that was cool.  Scott Trip founder of TripIt – his story of his company’s growth was really nice (listen to customers). In another context I’ve meet President Obama, President Bush (both) and several other heads of state.  I also really love SXSW and other events where I can meet with my media peers from the world of small business.

What tips do you have to help PR professionals better work with you?

True relationships are so important; where I like you and you like me. Not giving me a story that does not fit. Knowing that I love the story and the market at times more than the feeds and speeds of a product. I like talking to people, but I’m also a massive reader so I get much more (at times) out of some video, blog posts, pdfs and other things than a phone call with an executive running a prepared PPT.  NOTE: the PPT talks are GOOD I just mean that there are other ways to get one’s message across.

What advice would you give to a small business to help them continue to compete with larger competitors this year?

Wow….I could write a book on that.

1)  Be honest

2) Over give

3) Be very excited

4) Do not take NO for an answer

5) There is plenty of room at the table for the big guys and the little guys

6) Fit in where you can and show your value

7) Don’t be afraid of big companies – even those who are direct competitors

8) Big companies who are evaluating you and a bigger one of your competitors will give you a big chance if you’re prepared

9) If you screw up, fess up and OVER make it right

10) I could go on…

You traveled a lot as executive producer of the Small Business Technology Tour and for other events you attended in 2011. What travel secrets save you time, money or sanity when you are on the road?

Plan in advance. Be redundant (I often have 2 notebooks, a tablet and 2 phones) failure is NOT an option. Leverage your network of friends. Pay people (even friends/or “child labor”) for work done (even if you ask for a discount). Review, review, review. Get a team member (I have lots of areas where I’m not so great – hence my team shine in those areas), have a virtual team – even if you are solo,  your virtual 1099 team can do wonders.

How do you unwind after a hectic work week? Do you have any interesting hobbies or little known facts about yourself you would like to share?

I play piano, love doing puppet shows, love joking around and laughing loud, love great food at restaurants (I hate those restaurants that give you a big white plate and a tiny piece of food and charge you $78 for it), watching movies (Bourne, Bauer, Ethan (as in MI3) are my heroes and others like that). But really in my downtime – I TOTALLY ENJOY email, RSS feeds, Twitter – related to small biz tech (I know it’s lame but I really, really LOVE IT).

What are you most looking forward to in 2012?

I’d love to speak lots more to audiences on tech, marketing/pr and/or entrepreneurship. I’d love to provide more content on my own site and for others. I’d love to speak lots more to audiences on tech, marketing/pr and/or entrepreneurship (you know I think I wrote that twice..hmmm). Event production is tough, but I really love it and I think I do it well so working with bigger companies to produce events for their audiences would be like mint!

I’m looking forward to being 40 years old in 2012!

___________________________________________________________

Do you have any follow-up questions for Ramon? Suggestions for other influencers you would like to see interviewed in the PerkettPR Influencers Who Inspire Series? Please add them in the comments below.