Christine Moorman reveals the latest CMO Survey at CMO Smart

How often do you get a chance to interact with the creator of an industry-standard survey 24 hours after its most recent results are published?

That’s what happened at CMO Smart on August 29, when Christine Moorman, Founder and Managing Director of The CMO Survey, spoke with members of AMA Chicago 24 hours after the release of the latest survey.

Moorman said the CMO Survey “reflects trends and data, but it certainly doesn’t have all the answers.” So several times during her presentation, she made a point of stopping to let audience groups discuss the data and share their observations with the room.

It was an evening full of insight and “a-ha” moments. Here are some questions that were posed and pondered during the session.

Why is The CMO Survey essential?

While anyone in marketing has access to any number of surveys, The CMO Survey is different. Its only participants are top marketers—Chief Marketing Officers, VPs of Marketing, etc.—in for-profit U.S. companies, so its results truly reflect marketing decision-making at the highest level.

Plus, the survey compiles results gathered every six months over the past 10 years, giving marketing leaders a rare chronological glimpse at trends as they develop and mature.

Moorman said, “It’s a forward looking survey that tracks marketing excellence and helps establish benchmarks. It’s important that it’s non-commercial, so it can be an objective source of info about the field. It can take a critical look at the industry, because it’s not selling people with results.”

And just as Moorman—who is also T. Austin Finch, Sr. Professor of Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business— says, “I never discount the fact that my students collectively know more than I do,” there’s little question that the CMO Survey reveals more about the future of our industry than any single marketing executive could ever foretell.

Are CMOs less optimistic than investors?

The first chart Moorman shared was a 10-year plot of marketer optimism, answering the question How optimistic are you about the overall U.S. economy on a scale with 0 being least optimistic and 100 most optimistic?

With the dip in the last six months, marketing leaders’ optimism has essentially been flat for the last five years—a period during which the U.S. stock market has risen 77 percent.

“Marketers are the outward-looking part of an organization,” Moorman said. “This chart displays some real uncertainty.”

What’s the most important factor for growth?

We marketers spend so much time collecting, managing and interpreting data, it must be the single most important factor for growth, right?

Wrong! According to CMOs, “Having the right data” is the least important factor for organic growth. The most important? “Having the right talent”—by a nearly 4-to-1 ratio over data.

Later, discussing talent, Moorman observed that more companies cited creativity as the top skill they prioritized when hiring marketing talent. “I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. “I expected ‘martech platform experience’ or ‘data science background’ to dominate.”

Do we get our money’s worth from digital marketing?

It should surprise no one that marketing leaders predict substantial growth in digital and social media marketing. What may be surprising is that they still have trouble demonstrating these strategies’ effectiveness.

“Marketers are very bullish in this kind of spending,” Moorman said. “But getting performance from spending is more challenging. There’s not as much clarity about what works and what doesn’t.”

The percentage of marketers unable to show a quantitative impact remains far higher than that of those who can. That said, Moorman said she was encouraged by a sharp uptick in the lower number, suggesting that the gap may be closing.

Should marketers be politically active?

While discussions were lively about other topics, the noise level in the room reached its peak when Moorman opened the floor to questions about marketing leadership.

The percentage of marketing leaders who say it’s appropriate for their brands to take a stance on politically charged issues dropped since the February, 2018 CMO Survey, but more than three-quarters still say “yes.”

Moorman pointed out that the number dips sharply for companies with annual revenues between a half billion and one billion dollars, suggesting that bigger companies may have less to fear from political backlash. Meanwhile, for niche players, “if you want to attract millennials, as customers or employees, you have to stand for something.”

It was a charged ending to a fascinating, insightful presentation.

If you’re a top marketer in a for-profit U.S. company, you should participate in the next CMO survey. Your outlook is invaluable!

Develop a content calendar for supercharged campaign management

By: Ryan Gould

A fully-comprehensive content strategy is a living, breathing entity that must be sustained through vigorous attention and daily monitoring. This is difficult without the proper resources to keep your strategy organized – there are so many moving parts, that it would be easy to let one slip, which could then cause an avalanche of destruction as all the other variable parts of your strategy fall to pieces around you, which is the wrong way to do things.

The right way—develop a content calendar, where the sum of your strategy’s parts are all neatly contained for your convenience.

A skilled marketer can devise a content calendar that tells marketing managers, content writers and developers, as well as distributors, exactly what content to create, how to disseminate it, and when. The best part is, you don’t have to have years of experience to create a content schedule to behold. You only need to know a few tricks of the trade.

This is the easy way to devise a content calendar your team can be proud of, and one that supercharges your campaign for more reach, conversions, and higher ROI.

Not So Fast – What’s Your Strategy?

A fully-developed content calendar is actually the second step in a process that will have your marketing department running like a finely-tuned machine. The first step is to devise your content strategy, and it’s especially important because 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated strategy. Don’t be one of those, instead, devise a strategy that gives your campaign its fuel to rocket forward.

Your strategy is the purpose of your campaign—It’s the why, as well as the who, and where. Put simply, the entire process of your campaign should be laid out from start to finish, including the platforms you are targeting, the individuals you are aiming at, and the types of content and information you plan to distribute far and wide.

You must get tactical with your lead generation or else your content calendar will quickly seem like a mess of tasks with no clear direction. Instead, set SMART goals for your campaign. These are Specific,

Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

For instance, you hope to increase your web traffic by 50% in the next six-months by guest blogging for four to five major brands. Now that is a plan that can be inputted into your content calendar for simple follow-through.

Your content strategy should not only include your goals for the next six months to a year, but you should know everyone’s roles, who is involved in the content approval process, and who will be measuring stats and monitoring reports. There should also be information regarding how to tweak the campaign if those numbers and reports dictate a need for it.

Calendar Creation Made Simple

The platform you use to host your calendar depends on your preferences. Some use Google Calendar, while others might use a template. As long as you can track your content and where it will be published, you should be okay. You can even write your calendar on a print-out that is posted beside your desk.

On the other hand, Google Docs and similar platforms have the benefit of keeping your team on the same page. This includes your writers, marketers, salespeople, managers, and anyone else involved. When everyone is working off the same synced-up document, if changes are made, the team will know about those changes in real time. Keep that in mind as you choose your ideal calendar layout.

What Goes In?

Your calendar should include blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters, ebooks and white papers, infographics, videos, podcasts, webinars, and any other type of content you or your team will be creating as your campaign progresses.

If you think you need to constantly reinvent the wheel, don’t, as 29% of marketers reuse and repurpose content. As your calendar comes together, look for ways you can retool your content to fit another medium or audience segment.

Content Calendar Points to Consider

Your content calendar can be as detailed as you need it to be. Here are some elements you may want to include in your calendar for a boost in effectiveness.

  • Content Goal: Each piece of content should have a specific goal, and each should fall in line with your overall content strategy. For instance, a white paper may be used to increase email subscribers by 50% in six months.
  • Pillar Topic: Google reportedly awards topic-based content. Therefore, do your best to create content that falls under the umbrella of pillar topics. Your pillar topic is the main problem your customers will turn to you for, such as having to do their accounting on their own.
  • Subtopic: A content subtopic further whittles down your pillar topic. If we are using the above example, a subtopic might be finding easy and affordable help with Quicken accounting software.
  • Content Type: This is where you will specify if the content is a blog post, video, infographic or Facebook ad.
  • Author(s) or Creator(s): This is where you will list the developers of the content so that someone can be easily contacted in case the content needs to be tweaked or altered in any way.
  • Accompanying Media: Blog posts, white papers, and other pieces of content typically have images associated with them, or blog posts that should be linked to. You should have a place to list these elements so that they’re easy to retrieve at any time.
  • Links: Keeping the link handy once the piece goes live allows you to easily link to that content with other elements from within your content calendar.
  • Important Dates: Your content calendar should include the date the content was created, when it is scheduled to be distributed.
  • Distribution Location: Your blog posts might be published on your website and then submitted as PDFs to SlideShare. Record this in your content calendar so that no steps are missed.
  • Metrics: Leave a space on your content calendar to record important metrics, such as visitors, shares, downloads, and subscribers. Then, every few months or so, revisit your content calendar, examine your metrics, and tweak your goals and strategy accordingly.

Going Deeper

Of course, your content calendar can be made extra meticulous by including such distilled details as targeted keywords, headlines, and synopses. Whatever you need to envision your content strategy as a whole at a single glance, that’s how you should build your content calendar. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of details to start. As your strategy matures and grows, you can add more details along the way to supercharge your campaigns even further.

Give Your Team Leeway

Remember that sometimes plans get muddled, especially when real life gets in the way. Therefore, ensure you give your team a slight amount of leeway so that if one deadline is missed or an infographic needs a tweak before it can go live, your entire calendar isn’t thrown out of the loop.

Keep Tabs on Your Progress

Ideally speaking, one person should be involved with the monitoring and tweaking of the calendar. But the entire team should be consulted regularly so that if things need to be changed, everyone can be involved in those changes to help create an evolving content strategy that always hits its mark.



Ryan Gould
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services
Elevation Marketing
Linkedin | Twitter


A strategic marketing and branding expert, Ryan helps Elevation’s clients solve their problems and achieve their business goals through integrated marketing solutions distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion. With a proven track record of energizing brands and having worked with a variety of Fortune 500 companies, Ryan is a respected expert in achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives and innovative problem solving.

Three Social Media Tips for Building Your Network

By Wendy Lalli

Building a strong professional network is essential for every career. There are, of course, many ways to develop this essential career tool. Joining and actively participating in organizations like the Chicago AMA is one thing you can do. You can also go to business events and socialize with colleagues, vendors and even competitors out of the office.  Of course, you should do all of the above but social media provides you with another way to deepen the contacts you make face-to-face and connect with people you may never meet in person.

LinkedIn is the gold standard for professional networking.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are all useful networking venues but none of these channels has the reach or the power of LinkedIn. The fact is, having a fully functioning LinkedIn profile is as important as having an up-to-date resume. Moreover, when you meet new people at networking events, asking them to link in with you is the easiest and most effective way to connect with them immediately and in the future.

To take full advantage of LinkedIn, fill in all the sections of your profile and include a professional looking photo. Then make your profile as public as possible. Add updates to your profile several times a week including networking events, educational events, blogs posted, etc. Join appropriate LinkedIn groups and comment on discussions within these groups. Even better, initiate discussions of your own. Blog for Pulse on topics of general interest or personal insights and experiences that can help others with their careers. Post links to articles on your update section that will reflect your expertise in your industry and your willingness to share your knowledge.  LinkedIn isn’t about connecting with old school chums and family members but adding weight to your professional presence online.

Here are three tips to keep in mind to help achieve that goal:

  1. Networking is a numbers game. Play it to win. The more people you can connect with who are in your industry or in industries related to yours – the better. However, this is NOT the same as just adding more names to your LinkedIn contact list. For example, if you’re a copywriter, adding plumbers, waiters and insurance reps to your professional network probably won’t help you find a new job or learn more about the latest trends in your industry. On the other hand, connecting with art directors, media specialists, account executives and other writers will help you do all of the above.
  1. Help others to help yourself. The real secret to building a business network is proactively helping others whether or not you immediately get something back in return.  This assistance can take many forms. Telling someone about a job, passing on the contact information of an appropriate hiring manager, advising someone on their resume, writing a blog to share what you know or just giving moral support to a job hunter when they didn’t get the job.  If you have a solid social media presence, these interactions can take place even with people you’ve never met who live thousands of miles away!  Here are two examples of how to network via social media:

Example 1: One night about six years ago, I opened up my LinkedIn account to find an invitation from Henry B. I had never met Henry – he lives in Los Angeles and I’m in Chicago. When I looked at his LinkedIn profile, I discovered that, like me, he blogged frequently for Pulse. (In fact, I think that’s how he found me.) It turned out that Henry had held senior leadership positions at some of the biggest ad agencies in the country and now was a consultant to major corporations on new business development. I was extremely flattered that someone at his level of experience would be interested in connecting with me and accepted his invitation as soon as I could. A few months later Henry sent me a message via LinkedIn that Sally, his college-age daughter was coming to Chicago to start a career in marketing. Knowing from my profile that I taught copywriting at Columbia College and had previously been a recruiter, he asked if I would be willing to advise her about her resume and then pass it on to my contacts in the city.

After an email exchange with Sally, I suggested some changes to her resume and then gave her the names and contact information of about 15 recruiters in town. I also alerted these recruiters that she would be in touch with them shortly. A few weeks later I was pleasantly surprised to receive a check for $100 from one of these agencies as a finder’s fee. It seems that Henry’s daughter was a dynamite candidate and the recruiter had been able to place her immediately in a full time job.

Since then, Henry has coached me at various times via email on creating new business proposals and he also sent me a DVD of one of his speeches. (He’s a well-known motivational speaker on business presentations and networking for corporations and universities.) Although we’ve still never met or even talked on the phone, I am very proud to be connected to Henry and I think he feels the same way about me.

Example 2: A year and a half ago I posted a blog on Pulse offering advice on networking and Victor D., a project manager at Dell, wrote a nice comment about it. Checking out his LinkedIn profile before I responded to his comment, I saw that he worked in Austin, Texas. At that time, I was considering relocating to Austin if I found a suitable position. In thanking him for his kind remarks, I mentioned that I was considering relocating to Austin myself.

Within a few days, Victor sent me several job descriptions from his company’s internal job board along with the names and direct phone numbers of the department managers responsible for filling these positions. Of course, I thanked him for his efforts on my behalf but since the jobs were above my level of experience, I was reluctant to send off a resume. Victor responded to my reluctance by sending me two more job descriptions a little lower on the food chain that had not yet been posted publicly. As it turned out, due to family considerations I decided that relocation was just not an option. But if it had been, I’m sure Victor would have helped make it happen! It goes without saying that if Victor wants my help in the future, he’s got it!

  1. Stay in touch to get ahead. Networking, like any activity involving personal interaction, takes work and constant attention. To stay connected to your contacts you need to know where they are and what they’re doing, and then let them know the same about you. Fortunately, LinkedIn makes this relatively easy even if your contact list, like mine, is over 700 people. If someone is having an anniversary, congratulate them on it. If they’ve been promoted, send them a little LinkedIn message acknowledging their achievement. If someone endorses you, thank them for their recognition of your skill sets. Keep these messages short, cheerful and to the point, but send them as often as you can.

Is there someone you haven’t connected with for a while who you’d like to be closer to? Post a recommendation for them on LinkedIn based on your previous experience with them. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor and write a recommendation for you. But even if they don’t, you’ll have reminded them of your work together and why you’re worth staying in touch with.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Remember, networking is always about giving whatever and wherever and to whomever you can. Concern for others allows you to build bridges – making the world a smaller and much friendlier place.

Connecting Ideas to Drive Results: A Brandsmart Recap

By Jessica Schaeffer, Director of Marketing, LaSalle Network

A clear theme emerged at 22 West Washington Street on April 28th as some of the biggest minds in marketing gathered to share insights around the brands they manage. The theme: the new wave of marketing: the power of storytelling to build relationships and trust with your consumers and clients.

Chicago American Marketing Associaton’s BrandSmart offered a smattering of perspectives from not-for-profits, ad agencies, big brands and up and coming brands.

Here’s a peek at the day in case you missed it, or just want to compare notes.

Session 1: Marketing for Tomorrow Starting Today – First Session

The day kicked off with a tag team effort by Ron Bess of Havas Worldwide and Zain Raj of Shapiro + Raj. Their message? Great brands (both your personal brand and an organization’s brand) build enduring bonds by fulfilling relationship expectations and sharing brand control.

Raj highlighted eight actionable relationships a consumer has with a brand – the best being a devoted relationship and the worst being a passable relationship. While every brand should strive to achieve devoted relationships with their customers, a mere 12% of customers say they have a devoted relationship with a brand.

So how do you deepen attachment and improve the experience? Raj shared five tips:

  1. Create a new focus: Begin with your most devoted customers to convert your most attractive prospects. Stop going after customers who don’t LOVE your brand.
  2. Try a new approach: Treat customers with respect, trust and loyalty
  3. Adopt a new mindset: Brands need to be perpetually evolving and try to improve
  4. Build a new model: Every company needs to be focused on cutting costs and producing faster
  5. Solve a new equation: Values x Authenticity: The strongest brands know they have to have commendable values, and LIVE those values

Bess closed out the session by drawing parallels between Raj’s presentation and personal branding. Just like a company’s brand, your personal brand is tied to the results you produce and the relationships you build. As a professional, you need to be focused on building trust, respect and loyalty.

Session 2: Transforming the Cubs Brand

Director of Marketing at the Chicago Cubs, Allison Miller, gave attendees a glimpse into the challenges the Cubs’ brand has faced during her tenure. Chief among them understanding and honing in on their target market.

Miller joined the Cubs and realized quickly they were selling a bad product. The Cubs had an aging team, the third highest payroll in the league and amenities that were deteriorating. They had a large, diverse fan base, and yet they knew nothing about them. They were marketing to everyone, without a clear focus of who would really move the needle for the brand.

Miller began the process by segmenting their customers and creating a fan and brand promise. The Cubs took time to understand the different brand personas and talk with these customers. Then, they worked to develop a brand message, campaigns and experiences they wanted these customers to have.

The findings helped the Cubs narrow their marketing, target their messaging around changes within the organization and bridge what the community wanted to do with the stadium with what the Cubs needed to do to advance the organization.

Session 3: Redefining a brand through a cause partnership

Chuck Gitkin, SVP of Brand Marketing at Smithfield Foods gave attendees a glimpse into a strategic partnership with Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront assists military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, moving assistance and financial assistance among other things.

If you aren’t familiar with Smithfield Foods, Gitkin says you probably aren’t alone….packaged meats isn’t the sexiest or most well-known industry, and that’s one of the primary reasons behind partnering with Operation Homefront. Not only does Smithfield Foods believe in giving back and supporting those and their families who protect our country, but the partnership helps bring visibility to both organizations.

Gitkin explained that cause marketing has allowed the company, which has a limited marketing budget, to create more exposure for less. They’ve brought in spokespeople to help champion Operation Homefront, and by default, Smithfield Foods. They’ve also created special packaging that a portion of the proceeds is donated directly to Operation Homefront.

Session 4: Panel Discussion: Getting Creative with the B2C agency of the future

Maybe you’ve seen this commercial. What you may not know is that Wrigley and ad agency, Energy BBDO worked collaboratively to create it. The two companies, which have been working together for years, gave us a glimpse into their relationship with John Starkey, VP, Gum, Mints and Media at Wrigley talking with Lianne Sinclair and Andres Ordonez of Energy BBDO.

The trio shared how their relationship has evolved over the years – emphasizing the fact that Energy BBDO is an extension of the Wrigley team, and explaining that now Energy BBDO is brought in earlier in Wrigley’s process. Wrigley is also exposed to Energy BBDO’s “unfinished product” to gauge their temperature and get their input on a project before it’s nearly complete.

Session 5: Hear the Brand: The Rise of Audio Branding: How to get the Most from Your Sound

Colleen Fahey sang, hummed and tapped her way to her main message on Thursday: leave an earprint with every piece of brand communication.

Fahey runs Sixieme Son, an audio branding company that strives to express brand values through sound. The audio brand of a company, Fahey explained, is everything from its on-hold music, to its app sounds, TV and radio spots and sales presentations.

Fahey argued a few key reasons why every company needs to consider its audio DNA.

  1. Music is a language that is universally understood
  2. Music moves behavior
  3. Sounds lead to sales
  4. Sounds speeds search
  5. Audio branding builds brand value

Not convinced? Check out these great examples of audio branding successes Fahey shared: Samsung, Tropicana, and Michelin.

Session 6: Insurance Agents are Rock Stars

Assurance Agency has been recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 100 Places to Work in the Country. This is one of dozens of awards the company has won throughout its tenure, and VP of Marketing, Steve Handmaker argues it’s been good for business, too….but it hasn’t always been this way.

Assurance wasn’t always a great place to work. In fact, staff was disengaged and profits were suffering as a result. In 1998, Assurance brought on new leadership to right the ship. They decided to focus on people.

Their philosophy was simple. Happy employees = happy clients. Handmaker borrowed from fellow marketer Seth Godin’s theory of purple cows, explaining that Assurance’s culture was their purple cow, the one thing that makes them truly remarkable and sets them apart from competitors in the insurance industry.

Since that decision, not only has Assurance invested in staff to build an incredible culture, they’ve also effectively marketed employee engagement programs to ensure the country knows they are a purple cow.

“Our culture doesn’t automatically mean we win, but its’ getting us to the finish line and helping make us a part of the conversation.” – Steve Handmaker

Session 7: Brand Building and Data Driven Demand Generation

Data paralysis.

Ad resistant.

Craig Greenfield, COO of Performics explained that in today’s world, marketers are overwhelmed by data, and consumers are resistant to our messages and skeptical of our ads.

How do we overcome this? We have to better understand our customers and what they want. We have to identify customer intent before they want express it. As marketers, we can do this by measuring time on site, bounce rates, coupon downloads, the list goes on and on….any piece of content that captures data about our audience.

If you don’t have the data you want, Greenfield says to identify needed data, then create audiences, design experiences and then plan, launch, test and learn.

Session 8: The Impact of Content Creativity with Always on Brands

In typical Leo Burnett fashion, Vincent Geraghty, EVP and Head of Production at Leo Burnett, wowed us showing some incredible campaigns, with one of the most poignant being the Runlikeagirl campaign created for Always.

This was about as conventional as it got though, as Geraghty discussed how his greenhouse team is changing the way Leo Burnett does business. The greenhouse content team is run like a newroom. They’ve adopted a “maker mentality,” where concepting is no longer good enough. They are executers, doers, creators.

This team has allowed Leo Burnett to streamline the approval process, execute on trending ideas quickly and efficiently.

The Greenhouse team is focused on telling great stories that are finely crafted full of human insights. Their goal is to deliver content that entertains, resonates, and weaves the brand into the insight and story.

Session 9: Panel: Getting Creative with the B2B Agency of the Future

According to Linda McGovern, SVP Global Marketing at USG, and Mike Hensley, President at Gyro, the B2B agency of the future is one that understands how to curate brand touchpoints, one that is able to expand and shrink based on the needs of its client, and one that is insanely focused on user experience and content creation.

Like speakers before them, McGovern and Hensley echoed the need to create experiences, not just compelling messages. They touched on the importance emotion plays in the decision making process, and how marketing today needs to connect with the customer.

Session 10: Think Differently: Opportunity Identification or Breakthrough Ideas

After Lindsay Avner stepped off the stage, there may not have been a dry eye in the house. Avner, who founded BrightPink, shared her story of undergoing a risk reducing double mastectomy at the age of 22 to help prevent a future seemingly inevitable diagnosis of breast and ovarian cancer.

As Avner shared her passion for education and getting one step ahead of cancer, it was clear that her powerful message was reaching the right audience because of unique marketing tactics.

Avner explained that she borrows the equity and brand recognition of powerful partners like Arie and Paul Mitchell to communicate BrightPink’s message. The not-for-profit has created highly visible campaigns around Mother’s Day, with the most recent being the #goaskyourmother campaign which urged young women to talk about family history of breast and ovarian cancer.

BrightPink created an online assessment that allows women to assess their risk of breast and ovarian cancer quickly and easily.

Avner’s philosophy is: awareness doesn’t save lives, action does…and all of BrightPink’s marketing efforts are judged based on that simple premise. Has our content, our partnerships caused people to make a change?

Session 11: LUV Lessons: Building a Brand from the Inside Out

He may be retired, but Dave Ridley definitely still has it….the former head of marketing at Southwest Airlines reminded the audience of our biggest brand advocates, our employees.

A few key quotes from his speech sum up his message:

  • “The business of business is people” –Herb Kelleher
  • To develop a great brand, start from the inside out.
  • “I still bleed canyon blue” – as marketers we need more of that diehard marketing. That commitment and dedication to our brands
  • It is a privilege to lead people – you get to invest in the hearts and minds of people
  • Everyone is a CEO…a chief encouragement officer, that’s the number one way to make a difference in people’s lives

Social Media Rules! How Can Higher Ed Marketers Reach Prospective Students?

When trying to reach Generation Z or Millennials, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter are the “it” social media platforms. Print still serves a purpose — mainly driving the recipient to your digital presence – but social media is the place where engagement and conversion happens. That was the message Michael Mullarkey, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Brickfish, delivered at the Higher Ed SIG gathering that took place April 6.

The SIG meeting, which was held at Troquet North, was a discussion about how to optimize social media for colleges and universities. In keeping with our new format for these gatherings, the meeting was more of a moderated conversation as opposed to a presentation.  It was a huge success!

Brickfish, whose slogan is “Engagement is Everything,” manages the content and social media of large brands like Neiman Marcus and Hertz.  Relevant, fresh content along with a quick response to visitors’ queries is essential to the success of any enterprise. Generation Z and Millennials expect instance responses. Mullarkey believes Facebook is still important, but these cohorts spend most of their time exchanging rapid-fire communiqués with their friends on SnapChat and WhatsApp. Marketers need to become a relevant part of these exchanges.

Mullarkey also spoke about the shrinking reach of Facebook and Instagram. Once brands established their presence on these platforms, these firms monetized their sites.  You now have to boost your post to expand your reach and that requires paying for it. He offered some advice about how to get around having to pay, which includes unique, relevant content, engagement and short video.

Bottom line: For us higher education communicators, it’s new a world. We just need to fasten our seat belts and enjoy the ride.

Betsy Butterworth Dean Petrulakis

Betsy Butterworth and Dean Petrulakis

Co-Chairs, Chicago AMA Higher Education Special Interest Group

Link In To Move Up

People with strong networks get better jobs quicker, promoted faster and have more resources to draw upon throughout their career. The truth is – your success depends as much on WHO you know, as it does on WHAT you do. (That’s why politicians worry about their favorability ratings. Voters – like hiring managers – tend to choose people they know and like over people they don’t.)

Today we have an especially effective resource for networking – social media. Through it, you can expand your professional network far beyond your immediate geographic location. For example, one of my favorite people in my own professional network is Hank Blank. Hank is a consultant to ad agencies and marketing departments on how to function most effectively in the new normal.  He has a great blog and gives seminars all over the country on the topics of networking, job search and career development.

We linked in with each other about five years ago (I forget how) and have been commenting on each other’s blogs ever since. Although Hank lives in California and I’m in Chicago, we still manage to swap favors from time to time. (I helped his daughter find a new job in Chicago and Hank has advised me on new business presentations.) Like me, Hank knows that building a strong network is the best way to assure continual employment. Below is a brief review of some ideas I got from Hank on networking – online and off: 

Networking is the best way to build professional relationships.

Moreover, like almost everything else involving more than one person, networking is most effective when it serves the interests of both parties. So view networking as a way to:

  • Help others, as well as yourself, achieve professional goals
  • Meet people you’d like to know through people you already know
  • Connect people you know with people they want to know
  • Build long-term relationships that you can depend on throughout your lifetime

Practice networking constantly throughout your career.

Whatever your position, industry or job title, networking should be part of your own personal best professional practices.  Here are some guidelines to help you:

  • Be open to meeting new people – in social situations as well as at professional events
  • Keep in touch with the people you meet and get to know through email, phone calls, and informal meetings
  • Meet people one-on-one after connecting at an event, party, class or other group activity
  • Make an effort to proactively help your networking contacts in any way you can
  • Thank people when they help you through email, a phone call or a written note
  • Find ways to pay back favors as soon as you can

Social media is the perfect vehicle for networking in the digital age.

Ideally, as a member of the Chicago AMA you network at several different events every year. However, if you’re like most people you have a limited amount of time to devote to onsite meetings. Fortunately, social media allows you to interact with dozens of people with a relatively small investment of time and effort. Here are TEN TIPS on how to use LinkedIn and other social media sites to expand and deepen your network relationships.

1. Fill in your LinkedIn profile as completely as you can including a photo.

In today’s job market a LinkedIn profile is as important as a resume and much more useful. It’s not only an information source you can direct other people to (see tip #2), it will be viewed by employers and recruiters throughout the world without you doing anything at all. Make sure to include a recent photo that shows you as you want to appear during an interview. Well-groomed, smiling and well worth talking to. 

2. Put your LinkedIn link on your business cards along with your email and URL.

This allows people to learn more about you without passing our resumes or performing elevator speeches. And since your LinkedIn profile can include access to work samples and recommendations as well as details of your work history, it’s an incredibly efficient information source.

3. Link in with new contacts.

After a meeting or other event where you’ve met people you’d like to include in your network, send them an invitation to link in with you using the email address they have on their business card. Make sure you personalize the invitation to include a reference to how you met and what you do. You might also suggest meeting again face-to-face in to continue and deepen your connection.

4. Share an update on LinkedIn at least once a week.

It’s a great way to keep your LinkedIn network up on what you’re doing, learning, reading, etc. Remember, LinkedIn is NOT facebook! References to grandkids, dogs and vacations are not appropriate. But do mention your attendance at a seminar, job fair, receipt of an invitation to pitch a new piece of business and any awards you win. You can also include a link to your latest blog, YouTube production or online articles.

5. Do NOT use personal social media pages for your professional contacts.

Remember, whatever you put on line could be seen by EVERYONE including future employers. So keep your personal correspondence private. Facebook is wonderful for sharing family news, political views and favorite jokes. But none of these are appropriate to include in a professional presentation.

6. Use LinkedIn groups to extend your professional network.

These groups often have job boards that could lead to employment opportunities. Also commenting on other group member’s observations or answering questions they have, is a great way to enhance your professional reputation.

7. Don’t use your LinkedIn network as a cold call list of prospects.

Social media isn’t about increasing sales in the short term. The whole point of it is to develop strong, mutually beneficial long-term relationships with professional contacts. Trying to sell something to someone you just met does not engender trust. But as your LinkedIn contact, they’ll have a chance to get to know and like you better through your profile, updates and blogs – even if you rarely meet face to face. In the end, this interaction is the best way to build the kind of relationships you can depend on throughout your career.

8. Take advantage of the insights LinkedIn offers you on a profile or job description.

When you look up someone else’s profile, LinkedIn provides you with information about who you have in common, where they’ve worked, went to school and the organizations they belong to. You can also read what others think of them and see samples of their work. If you search for a job on LinkedIn, the system automatically lists any of your contacts who are working for that company now or did so in the past. All of this is terrific information to have before you even apply for the job, let alone have to prepare for an interview.

 9. Treat your networking contacts like the good friends you hope they’ll become.

Offline – don’t be late for a date. Thank them if they treat you to coffee or a meal and follow up with a written thank you by email or snail mail. Then treat them at the next meeting. Online – acknowledge their emails and messages within 24 hours. Congratulate them on promotions and new positions. Like and comment on their Pulse blogs. And always try to help them with their professional goals if you expect them to help you with yours.

10. Remember – one way or another you’ll always get back more than you give.

Networking works best when you genuinely try to help other people, not use them.

The payback may take a while, but eventually the people you help will help you. Furthermore, the surest way to empower yourself is to help others. So practice “Altruistic Self-interest: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – only do it FIRST!”

Happy Networking!

Wendy Lalli VP Creative, Crux Creative

Wendy Lalli
VP Creative, Crux Creative

Wendy Lalli consults on marketing projects through her own agency, Wendy Lalli Ltd. and is CD of Crux Creative, a marketing agency in Wisconsin.  She also mentors other marketing professionals in transition and wrote on job search for the Chicago Tribune and 25 newspapers in the Chicago Sun Times network.

Marketing Insights for the Digital Age: Bill Whitman, Jr.

Written by Wendy Lalli

With Social Media, “word of mouth” has a more powerful bite than ever before.

Bill Whitman, Jr. Senior Public Relations & Corporate Communications Advisor

Bill Whitman, Jr.
Senior Public Relations & Corporate Communications Advisor

In this Chicago AMA interview on the industry challenges we face today, Bill Whitman, Jr., senior public relations advisor offers valuable advice to marketers on how to enhance customer relationships.

With over 30 years of experience in global corporate communications and public relations, Bill is a leading expert in media strategy, crisis & issues management and stakeholder engagement. He has served as advisor and manager for a host of organizations including the World Economic Forum, the Executive Leadership Council and the Wall Street Business Roundtable.

Bill’s observations on the importance of developing strong customer relationships are right on the mark – especially in these days when social media and mobile marketing are empowering the consumer as never before. Just consider:

  • In a recent survey conducted by Dimensional Research as many as 90 percent of those interviewed said that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions.
  • Doing similar research, GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81 percent of consumers research products via product reviews and social media posts before buying them in the store or online.

Word of mouth has always been the most effective form of marketing. However, today’s digital communications have pushed consumer power to a whole new level, making Bill’s insights especially pertinent and timely.  Click here to play the interview.


Wendy Lalli VP Creative, Crux Creative

Wendy Lalli
VP Creative, Crux Creative

Wendy Lalli is an award-winning writer and marketing strategist who has served clients in a wide range of industries and created communications in every format. She describes herself as “Peggy from ‘Madmen’ grownup.” She’s had her own company, Wendy Lalli, Ltd., since 1997 and is now a VP/Creative Director at Crux Creative, a creative and marketing agency in Milwaukee.

In addition to creating print, direct response and digital communications for clients like GE Healthcare and MB Financial, she has also written articles and blogs for organizations such as the BMA and the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago. Her interest in career development led her to write frequently on job search for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, contribute several chapters to college textbooks on marketing communications and facilitate career seminars at colleges, libraries and professional associations throughout Chicago.



Marketing Insights for the Digital Age: Michael Kiefer

Written by Wendy Lalli

Mitigating the risks social media poses to the reputation of your brand.

Michael Kiefer General Manager of BrandProtect

Michael Kiefer
General Manager of BrandProtect

In this world of multi-communications channels – print, promotional advertising, broadcast, digital, social media and more – over exposure and improper use of logos and other brand elements have become a major risk for many brands. Michael Kiefer, General Manager of BrandProtect tackles this important issue in this Chicago AMA leadership interview.

As Michael explains, “Brands need to be vigilant regarding what is being said and what is being done by their employees, their customers, their contractors, etc… the Internet provides such phenomenal opportunity for a brand, but it also provides phenomenal risks…”

Kiefer’s insights are similar to observations made by Clifford Young, R. Trenton Ross and Michael Gross in an article prepared for the international research firm IPSOS. “No longer is a good reputation merely an insurance policy against unforeseen threats. Instead, reputation is seen as having a direct impact on consumer purchase intent and that ultimately affects the bottom-line – present value versus future value.”

Of course, a brand’s reputation has always been important. So what’s changed today?

For one thing, social media has given the individual consumer more power to reach a mass audience than ever before. They can share their personal success or horror stories about a product and the company responsible for it with a worldwide audience in literally seconds. According to Michael, what many CMO’s don’t realize is that they may be held personally accountable for any damage done to their company’s reputation due to negative customer communication.

To hear more of what Michael has to say on this subject click here.


Wendy Lalli VP Creative, Crux Creative

Wendy Lalli
VP Creative, Crux Creative

Wendy Lalli is an award-winning writer and marketing strategist who has served clients in a wide range of industries and created communications in every format. She describes herself as “Peggy from ‘Madmen’ grownup.” She’s had her own company, Wendy Lalli, Ltd., since 1997 and is now a VP/Creative Director at Crux Creative, a creative and marketing agency in Milwaukee.

In addition to creating print, direct response and digital communications for clients like GE Healthcare and MB Financial, she has also written articles and blogs for organizations such as the BMA and the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago. Her interest in career development led her to write frequently on job search for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, contribute several chapters to college textbooks on marketing communications and facilitate career seminars at colleges, libraries and professional associations throughout Chicago.

TWITTER FOR BUSINESS A Guide to Social Customer Care on Twitter

The twitter for business sproutrate at which people are adopting social media to ask for help, make buying decisions, lodge complaints and have an ongoing dialogue is remarkable. However, brands’ ability to keep up with the demand is declining under the pressure. In fact, social media response rates have dipped below 20% overall in the past year—meaning 4 out of 5 consumer inquires go unanswered.As these customer messages come in, your business has the opportunity to utilize Twitter to both proactively and reactively manage these service questions and provide critical levels of customer service. In this guide, we’ll overview ways to structure your business and your social media teams to handle Twitter traffic and reap the rewards of successful social customer care.
Explore These Themes:

  • Delighting FollowersTips for creating content that engages your customers.
  • Resolving IssuesHow to effectively create a strategy for managing, routing, and responding to incoming tweets.
  • Measuring SuccessHow to set goals and stay honest about your social efforts.