Update from the IAF/ISBA Summer Conference:

Many professionals in the industry might not be aware that each year the Idaho Ad Federation and the Idaho State Broadcasters Association put together an affordable and quality conference. The conference serves as the Annual Convention for the ISBA, and is packed with professional educational opportunities for members of the advertising community as well.

The IAF Summer Conference is held at the beautiful Sun Valley Lodge. Registration was only $150 this year, and included a hosted reception on Thursday evening as well as dinner on Friday evening. Attendees have the option of playing in a golf tournament at the renown Sun Valley course, and can opt to attend the Best In Broadcasting Reception and Awards Dinner on Saturday night for an additional charge.

Summer Conference is a great way to network with professionals in our area, and enjoy a little R&R in Sun Valley. Jeff Jones of Central Idaho Broadcasting in Orofino and Lisa Collins (IAF Chair) of KMVT in Twin put this year’s conference together. They did an excellent job of finding a slate of speakers that were both entertaining and informative.

Marshall Simmonds
Marshall Simmonds presenting to the Idaho State Broadcasters Association and Idaho Advertising Federation.

The first presentation I attended Friday morning was on Internet Search Strategies, from Marshall Simmonds. An excellent presentation on the basics of SEO planning for news publishers.

Marshall lives in Boise, Idaho and is a Chief Search Strategist for the New York Times Company. He also owns a search engine marketing consulting firm called Define Search Strategies.

His presentation included several great examples of successes and shortfalls in maximizing search traffic to About.com and the New York Times. He also integrated a few Idaho State Broadcasting Association member sites into his presentation.The Top 10 SEO Questions to ask your organization:

  1. Can Engines Get to All Your Content
  2. How is internal/external linking?
  3. Are URLs Search Friendly?
  4. Duplicate Content?
  5. Are the right keyword markets targeted?
  6. Are Editorial & SEO Goals Balanced?
  7. Are your templates optimized?
  8. Am I optimizing all my assets?
  9. Domain Strength?
  10. Is Traffic Converting?

Marshall concluded with saying Simple is making a comeback. He also reconfirmed that SEO is a long term plan. It doesn’t happen overnight therefore it should be measured in months.

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Jim Gradl
Jim Gradl presenting to the ISBA/IAF Friday afternoon.

Jim Gradl owner of Uboon2, an advertising agency in Chesterfield, Missouri, is a great story teller and presented on the principles of advertising. Using many recognizable brands, Jim provided examples of how to quickly make a lasting impression on your customers. Given that the average thought lasts about 12 seconds, that’s how long you have to impress a consumer.

Jim shared a philosophy that advertising is democracy in action:

  • The agency gets one vote
  • The client gets two votes
  • The consumer gets five votes

Don’t talk about the factory. Talk about the customer.

Overall this presentation was an entertaining reminder that we have to connect with the consumer meaningfully and quickly to compete.

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Bob Taber
Bob Taber, Sr. VP, Account Planning, GyroHSR Denver

Bob Taber, Senior VP of Account Planning at GyroHSR in Denver never disappoints.

Bob used a past agency/client presentation to show his agency pitched a
 restaurant chain. He offered up a view of how they pick clients they would like to work with, and then go after them by developing a new business presentation that includes creative strategy, 
customer segmentation, and recommended positioning. By targeting clients, rather than waiting for RFPs, they are able to present themselves on a playing field free of competition.

After the presentation I asked Bob about his comfort level giving away spec work in the pitch. He said he isn’t comfortable with it in a competitive landscape (i.e. RFP response), because anyone can hit one out of the park for a given presentation. That doesn’t mean they will be consistent over time. GyroHSR feels that by taking a proactive approach and targeting clients they want to work for, investing in spec creative is worth the risk.

This was an insightful presentation that surely had the attendees thinking about their new business strategies. And additionally, we all learned a lot about the restaurant industry.

Even though it’s tough for all of us to tear ourselves away from the piles of work on our desks, Summer Conference is always a well deserved mini vacation. Once again I returned home with more industry insight and having connected with old and new friends from around Idaho. Spotted at the Lodge were Ed Moore and (BAF President) Carolyn Sali of Davies Moore – Boise, Lisa Collins of KMVT – Twin Falls, Rick Magnuson and Mike Sanders of MSVM Group – Pocatello, and countless other familiar faces from the world of advertising and broadcasting in Idaho.

I’d love to hear about other attendees’ experiences and what types of workshops you would be interested in seeing next year.

Mike Kerby

Incoming IAF Chair

Guest Post: A Little Market Research Goes a Long Way

The following is a guest post from Dan Bobinski, CEO and Director of The Center for Workplace Excellence.  It was originally published on their site, and reused here with permission.  Dan took me up on the offer when I posed the question Have You Got Something to Say? The offer still stands, if others feel like contributing as well.

When was the last time you conducted market research? I mean REALLY analyzed who buys your products and how much they spend? The information you get from such an exercise is invaluable, yet far too many business owners and sales professionals neglect this activity, because it’s not “urgent.”

This past Friday I spoke to a group of restaurant and vending machine owners about re-inventing themselves in the new economy. Out of the 12 tips that I gave them, the very first one was to create a spreadsheet to identify what products were selling the most, when were they selling well, and who was buying them. You can analyze a lot more than that, but those are the basics.

Many people perceive the process as an academic exercise, and if they just sift through the info, that’s about right. To get the valuable golden nuggets, you have to dig deep into the info, ask a lot of who/what/when/why/how questions, and look for trends. You also have to consider what trends are happening in the market, as well as where your biggest profits are.

I’ve done this with my own business several times and each time the knowledge I gained was more valuable than I could have imagined.

No, it’s not urgent, but it’s SO important. The time you invest will pay itself back many times over.

Have you done this lately? If not, why not do it soon? Everything is changing, and complacency is death to any business. The common saying is that a little market research goes a long way. If that’s too cliché for you, think of it in practical terms: A few adjustments in the right places can make a huge impact on your income.

Breaking In: A Guest Post from George Condit

Several months ago I had the chance to sit down and chat with George Condit, who is interested in getting into the marketing and advertising business. He is currently an MBA student at Northwest Nazarene University, and I invited him to write a guest post for the Idaho Ad Agencies blog about his experience so far.

Here is his story:

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is George Condit, and for the past year I have been making an enormous change in my life. I started this journey with a grand vision, and since I began this new endeavor, I have found out some interesting information. What, you ask, is this huge change and new endeavor? Well, I shall tell you, but you will first need a little background.

I grew up in Upstate New York and Graduated from a small satellite campus of Syracuse University with a degree in Construction Management. Since that time I have tried many things, including a short stint with Sears in sales, a life insurance Agent at New York Life in Rhode Island, A camp Counselor in Maine, A Russian Linguist in The United States Army, mostly in Kansas, and finally a masonry contractor here in Boise. For the past eleven years I have designed and built things out of concrete, brick, stone, and tile. Some of them today are landmarks; those abstract sculptures at 906 Harrison, yep, those are mine.

Alas, I’ve aged (these old bones can’t take the abuse anymore), the market for craftsmen isn’t what it used to be, and I’ve been stung by the marketing bug. About a year ago, almost to the very day, I took the first steps to see this fever through. I registered at Northwest Nazarene University to get a Masters in business administration. I have nearly four months to go and now I’ve started exploring the various avenues and opportunities in the advertising and marketing industry.

The first thing I learned is that networking is key. It all started back in May, when I had the opportunity to make contact with Brian Harrison. I had been working on a fundraising plan for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games with the NNU. I met Brian as a result of a classmate’s connection through LinkedIn with, none other than, Josh Mercaldo. Perhaps some of you know him. He’s a great guy and I owe him a debt of gratitude. Anyway, he gave me Brian’s number and we met. Brian, another fantastic individual, gave me the next piece of advice that has really helped me focus my efforts. He said, “The most important part to any search for the right job is, ‘fit’. Where, and with whom will you best fit? is the question you need to answer.” And he was right. Finding that right fit has now become my mission.

After a school trip to South East Asia (which was excellent, by the way), I began poking around the industry, in earnest, gathering information as a precursor to entry. The main focus of this post is to let you know what I’ve found with the intent that my experiences may help others to join what, from my perspective, looks like a ton of fun.

Anyway Brian gave me the names of people he thought would help me on my journey; Russ Stoddard at Oliver Russell, and John Drake of Drake Cooper; class acts, both. Both were extremely helpful in my search, each offering a different take on my situation and the information that would be most helpful.

While every person’s life and circumstances are different, there are a few nuggets of wisdom that are general enough to be helpful to everyone; either starting out, or making a change.

First: have your resume professionally produced by someone with design experience. I haven’t actually been applying for any particular position yet, because I’m not quite finished with school, but when you present that resume just to help whoever you’re talking to get a better idea of who you are and what your experience is, you want it looking sharp; especially to those creative artsy types.

Second: ask lots of questions. Make a list before you get there so you are prepared and don’t take up a bunch of time with the person who is across the table. School has helped me with this because there are so many parts to business. But remember, the journey is evolving and how you use the last bit of information to get the next bit of information is important as well, so for each appointment you make, customize the questions.

Third: Listen to everything they have to say intently. Statements that don’t seem relevant at the time may be insightful hints that will guide you later on. Not only that, but the people you get in front of have a ton of experience and can guide you to the right spot.

Fourth: Get referrals and follow up with a “thank you”. Everyone knows at least one other person that may be able to help you figure out where you’re going and how to get there. Being grateful for the help is just the polite thing to do anyway. This is part of the networking mentioned earlier.

Fifth: The advertising/marketing business covers a broad spectrum of categories and divisions, and an agency is just one place to try to fit in. I had the opportunity to meet Lisa Wilson over at Zeta Interactive and she gave me some info that really expanded the territory. Large corporations, like ConAgra, Simplot, HP, and many others around the planet have their own marketing departments. I know that sounds obvious enough, but sometimes it takes someone saying it to make the light click on. Anyway, what was interesting about what she told me is that one has a better chance to get exposed to many if not all the various forms of media the industry uses.

My journey has shown me these few glittering jewels of guidance, and so far I think I should be somewhere between the client and the agency. Who knows? I’ve got a few more months left of school, about thirty people to see, and the road ahead is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. It’s like a good book; I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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Finding Inspiration in Letters

Russ Stoddard, Founder and President of Oliver Russell, is at it again.

Last year, it was all about the letter V. This time around, Russ shares his thoughts as they relate to the letter P.

I came across a guest article yesterday morning, written by Russ, for Talent Zoo, wherein he shares his thoughts on people, power and purpose (just to name a few), in the agency world, and marketplace in general.

The article is currently at the top of the Featured Articles section on Talent Zoo’s website, and a link to the full article can be found here.

Well done Russ. Well done.

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Guest Submission

A few months ago, I posted an open invitation for anyone who’d like to contribute to the Idaho Ad Agencies blog. Recently, Shane Vaughan, Vice President of Marketing at Balihoo, took me up on the offer.

Search Marketing

Search marketing is defined as a set of marketing methods to increase the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs). This is an exploding industry…$9B dollars spent in 2006 and that’s expected to double in the next 5 years. Search Marketing is leading the exploding growth of internet advertising and is revolutionizing the marketing and advertising fields with it’s metricability and true ROI measurement.

Here’s the question…where’s the expertise in Boise? As I talk to the major agencies here in town it seems that no one has this type of expertise on staff. I’ve seen a firm or two (Cendesic) pop up that specializes in this, but it seems that traditional ad agencies are hesitant to add this to their abilities.

This is where web development was in 1998…traditional agencies thought they didn’t need to have this type of ability on staff. They soon realized that specialized agencies were eating up all of the internet business and as campaigns became more integrated they scrambled to build this capability for fear of losing entire accounts. Search marketing is in exactly the same space. Smart agencies and smart people who want to be positioned to be successful in the future will develop these skills.

Feel free to comment away.

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