Top 5 Tips for a Successful AMA Mentorship Program Experience

No matter what functional area of business you’re in, having a mentor is important. Everyone will tell you that. You find out quickly you don’t know half as much as you thought you did. Finding someone to help guide you, offer advice, encourage you and listen will go a long way. The AMA Mentorship Program is a fantastic way to help you find that person. I had the privilege of being a mentee in the very first round of the program and below are my top 5 tips for a successful Mentorship Program experience.

1. Know Your Goals.

Are you looking to learn about a new industry? Excel in your current job? Get help networking? Think about why you’re joining the Mentorship Program and what you hope to get out of it before it starts. That will help you choose your mentor, focus your discussions and make sure the time and effort you both put in is maximized.

2. Find Ways to Add Value.

The benefits of the mentor/mentee relationship are weighted pretty heavily towards the mentee. That’s no secret. Most of the value a mentor will get is simple- the satisfaction from helping you. But try finding things you can offer them. Maybe there’s someone in your network they’d benefit from knowing. Have experience in an area they don’t, like social media? Offer to teach them everything you know.

3. Set a Schedule.

This is something I definitely could have done better. Mentors are busy people, both professionally and personally. So are you. Try to coordinate schedules and see when you’re both available to get together as early as possible.

4. Follow Up.

Things pop up. Follow up on your scheduled meetings the week of and day before. Be flexible and if plans fall through, try to get something else on the schedule right away to replace it. You don’t need hour long in-person meetings. You’ll be surprised how much you can get accomplished in a 15 minute phone call.

5. Be Honest.

The reason you get a mentor is to help guide you through your professional career and navigate the questions and situations you may not be certain about. Remember, this person isn’t your boss. You don’t need a filter when talking to them. The only way they’ll be able to help you reach your goals is if you communicate openly and honestly.

I went into this program knowing it was time for me to move on from my current job to something new. I knew I wanted to build a brand, but wasn’t sure how to go about that or where those opportunities may be. Luckily, I was paired with John Hambrick who helped school me on the branding world and steer me in the right direction to accomplish that goal. We attended events, met over coffee and chatted on the phone. The formal “Program” is coming to an end but I’ll be leaving with a life-long mentor, an amazing experience and will be starting a new job this week as the Growth Manager for a food-delivery startup called DoorDash that just launched operations in Chicago (Hungry? Give us a try!). I look forward to hearing more success stories from other participants and hopefully staying involved in the AMA Mentorship Program for years to come!

-Dylan Richter

Five Insights to Improve Marketing Performance

Written by Sarah Witzig

At CAMA Momentum 2014 we had the pleasure of interacting with Mark Jeffery, award-winning author, Kellogg lecturer, and managing partner of Agile Insights LLC.  It didn’t take us long before we all realized that data-driven marketing has actually been around for quite a long time!  So why is this established principle such a mainstream topic among marketers?  With unprecedented access to data comes the expectation that we act on that data, as quickly and effectively as possible.  Our CMOs need to be armed, says Jeffery, as they are tired of showing up to a gunfight (aka senior team meeting) with a knife.

His book, “Data-Driven Marketing – The 15 Metrics Everyone in Marketing Should Know” was awarded the best book of the year by the American Marketing Association and was the motivation for our Momentum 2014 theme.  Jeffery shared some of his research with the packed crowd, and focused on 5 insights that we all felt could drastically improve our marketing performance.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Motivation – Jeffery articulated the need for data-driven marketing. If you aren’t acquiring, analyzing, and applying information about your customers into your marketing strategy, you can bet your competitors are.
  1. The Marketing Divide – He presented data from a study of over 250 firms that represent $53 billion in annual marketing spend. There are fundamental ways that the successful organizations manage marketing differently (buy his book to find out more!)  One thing that stands out – the leading organizations always MEASURE!
  1. Data-driven Marketing – Several case studies were presented, including the story of a catalogue campaign by Sears. The retailer was sending over 250 million catalogues and losing $$$, but upon implementing a data-driven segmentation strategy (using geography, gender, lifestyle, and other attributes) the initiative became quantifiably profitable.  For a more modern example, look at the massive amounts of data that eBay takes in and uses in their marketing campaigns.
  1. Agile Marketing – The point that resonated most with me, we need to be making rapid, iterative changes to our marketing to amplify performance. To do this, Jeffery recommends measuring on a timeframe that is 1/10 the length of the campaign.  Look at the early results and go ahead and make changes, don’t wait until it is too late to affect the outcome.
  1. Social^2 (social squared) – This is where Social Media Marketing is going in the near future. We heard a comparison of an open social network (one connected to many who aren’t connected) and a closed social network (one connected to others who are already linked to each other).  This came with an intriguing example from the year 1775 that compared Paul Revere, with his open social network, to his little known counterpart William Dawes, who had a closed social network, and realized that the next big thing in Social is to target these different types of networks.

S Witzig photo 8-23-13Written by Sarah Witzig, a Chicago AMA volunteer who received the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012-2013 for her work on membership retention strategies and campaigns.  After working in B2B marketing within the digital advertising space, Sarah joined BCU and the Financial Services industry earlier this year to work on the campaign marketing team, where she plans strategy, targeting, and results analysis for all marketing initiatives.  Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.

Darcy Schuller, President Chicago AMA, 2014-15

A Season of Thanks and Giving…

In the spirit of the season, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone in our community who helps make the Chicago AMA the great organization it is, from our dedicated Board of Directors and committee volunteers to our loyal members, speakers, sponsors, partners and supporters. Without the collaboration, participation and guidance from all of you, we would not be able to achieve all that we set out to do to advance the profession of marketing locally and nationally.

As we begin to wind down 2014 and look to the new year, it’s important to reflect on some of the accomplishments that have been made throughout the year.

  •  We will finish the first half of our fiscal year in a strong financial position, allowing us to continue to invest in programming and special initiatives as well as providing more opportunities to extend value to our members.
  •  We successfully hosted 35+ events in 2014, providing thought leadership, networking opportunities and professional development to our marketing community.  We have had world-class speakers from top brands (Kraft, DSW, Progressive, Mead Johnson Nutrition, The Content Marketing Institute, United, Grainger and many more) sharing their insights on the latest trends, techniques and best practices in marketing.
  •  We completed several in-house research studies to uncover unmet needs within the marketing community, allowing us to tailor our strategic goals to better fulfill the needs of our key stakeholders.  We also tapped into the collective knowledge base of our community of over 10,000 marketers to gain valuable insights on trends in marketing, and specifically within the Chicago market (see our latest findings on Chicago’s leading brands.
  •  We increased opportunities for marketers across all disciplines, industries and career levels to interact and engage with us and with each other.  Our Up & Comers young professionals group continues to grow, offering new avenues for peer learning, mentorship and career guidance.  Our new corporate affiliate program provides brands, agencies and vendors the opportunity to participate in several of our events at a significant discount.

These are just a subset of the remarkable things we together as an organization have been able to achieve this year.  “We” is the critical word in everything we do.  As a volunteer run organization, it is very much a community effort. Whether you are a member, a speaker, a volunteer, a sponsor or a participant at our events…your involvement is key to our success.

I hope you will join me on December 9th at our Chicago AMA Gives Back Holiday Party to give a toast to 2014 and a nod to continued success in 2015. This celebration is not only an opportunity to get together as a marketing community, but also to give back. Proceeds from this event will go to UCAN, an organization dedicated to helping youth who have suffered trauma, to become our future leaders by providing them a safe place to mend, heal and grow. It’s going to be a fabulous party, with awesome raffle prizes, festive food and drinks, and of course great conversations.

Thank you again for being part of our remarkable marketing community.

Darcy Schuller
Chicago AMA President, 2014-15
President, Suvonni Digital Marketing