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Hit Refresh!

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Learn from industry leaders:Join us at the KAMA Marketing Conference, October 28, 8:30 am to 2 pm, at King University.

Reinvigorate your brand for the digital age. Hit refresh, starting with your workweek. Branding or rebranding. SEO or social media strategy. A change or redo requires soul-searching. You think about who you are, how you do what you do and how to better do it. Come get fresh perspective and knowledge before you hit refresh.

Mark your calendars and stay tuned for news of our speakers and sessions.

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Haley Williams, recent Digital Marketing graduate

Greetings, fellow academics! My name is Haley Williams and I am a recent graduate of the East Tennessee State University Masters of Science in Digital Marketing program. I am a part of the first graduating class for the new, digitally focused program and have immensely enjoyed my time in the program.

Firstly, the degree is 100% online. Sounds too good to be true, right? It’s not! I felt completely at ease each semester and was able to fit my classwork around my busy schedule. At no point did I ever feel like my degree wasn’t the same as an on-campus program; it was even better. I know many people have reservations about online programs (i.e. professor availability, learning on your own, busy work, etc.). This degree couldn’t be further from those notions. Professors respond to emails within the first 24 hours (if not sooner) and give you all of the tools you need to succeed for each assignment. It really gave me a sense of pride knowing that (with some guidance from my professors) I could develop a strategic digital marketing plan that would be both measureable, create value for my company, and ultimately be successful.

Second, the degree is focused primarily about digital marketing. It’s not an all-encompassing MBA with a couple of digital classes here and there. It’s a deeper dive; every class is focused on the digital environment and hits on every aspect that a digital marketer would need to know to develop digital marketing plans. In fact, I searched for other marketing master’s programs and none that I had reviewed quite compared to the experience I’ve received at ETSU.

Finally, the return on investment. When I first started the program, I was interning at my current company in the marketing department and often had meetings with a marketing manager. I shared the insights I gained from my courses in those one-on-ones. Since then, that team has developed a robust digital marketing strategy that includes social media, SEO, SEM, and analytics reporting. My degree gives me the upper hand especially in such a competitive field.

If you’re looking to learn more about digital marketing and the ever-changing online environment, ETSU is definitely a step in the right direction. The professors really know their stuff; they’re working on their own digital communications plans everyday. So, take the plunge and apply today. You won’t regret it. I know I haven’t.

Warm regards,

Haley Williams

Sponsor Spotlight: Colby’s Photography Offers Discounted Portraits for KAMA Members

colbyWe would like to thank Colby McLemore with Colby’s Photography for being one of the Knoxville American Marketing Association’s (KAMA) Sponsors. Colby McLemore and his team focus primarily on advertising imagery, both in the digital world and in print. They specialize in images that involve people telling the stories and benefits of products or services as well as architectural and product photography, both of which have won many awards. As you may know from attending our events, they do business portraits and corporate events as well.

You’ve undoubtedly already seen their work on websites, billboards, and print advertisements around Knoxville, as Colby happens to be one of Knoxville’s favorite and most talented commercial photographers. He has won Gold and Silver Addy awards, and Knoxvillians have voted him the best Knoxville Photographer in both The News Sentinel andCityview three or more years in a row. He’s also highly respected by his peers, having been named one of the International Top Ten Commercial Photographers in a contest sponsored by the largest and oldest photography trade organization–the Professional Photographers of America. He has also been named Photographer of the Year by Tennessee’s Professional Photographers Association (TNPPA), Top 10 Photographer of Tennessee, Fuji Excellence Award, Kodak Gallery Award, and many others.

But Colby isn’t just an exceptional commercial photographer; he’s also fantastic to work with. He somehow manages to combine a laid-back attitude with exemplary professionalism, making his photography projects both timely and painless. Here’s what a few KAMA members have to say:

If you’re looking to convey a message through an image with no words, Colby can make that happen.”
– John McCulley

[Colby is] thorough, detail-oriented, professional and passionate…a true craftsman…fantastic experience from start to finish, and beyond…I was pleased with the experience, the final product and the communication – he hit the trifecta from downtown (literally)!
– Daniel Monday, KAMA president

Whenever anyone asks me for photographer suggestions, the first name that comes to mind is Colby McLemore…he has blown me away. He always goes the extra mile for clients…he’s not satisfied until you’re satisfied…gorgeous photos…I highly recommend Colby.
– Ana Ritchers, KAMA VP of Communications

extremely knowledgeable…I couldn’t be more pleased!
– Bethany Yandell

Lucky for us, Colby strongly believes in giving back to the community and is an active volunteer on KAMA’s communications board, the Professional Photographers of America’s National Council, Tennessee’s board of the American Society of Media Professionals and many more. In this spirit, he’s offering business portraits at a discount for all KAMA members. (This is a deal you seriously don’t want to miss! If you haven’t yet experienced Colby’s style and expertise, now’s the time to do it!) And if you’ve been looking for other advertising photography like architectural shots of the place you or clients work, group staff photos, lifestyle advertisements—Colby’s Photography has you covered. We’re proud to have him as a member of KAMA and are thankful for his sponsorship.

If you’d like to know more about his services or talk to him about getting your discounted business portraits, check out his website.

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Black Thursday is the New Black Friday

Here are some thoughts to consider long before that Thanksgiving meal settles. Thanks to KAMA member Kathleen Atkins for contributing this guest post:

Last year, I documented the day after Thanksgiving shopping madness I have annually participated in and has been dubbed by retailers and consumers as the biggest shopping day of the year — Black Friday. The article was based on a tweet from @LauraLPotts: “Black Friday is like zombie apocalypse: you’re either one of them, or you’re locked inside praying that loved ones don’t get trampled.”

This evening, as I’m scouring the Internet doing my research, I’m prepping and flipping through Black Friday ads that have been pre-released, scanned, and posted on various web sites. I’m beginning to formulate my plan of attack.

But this year is different.

Nearly all of the stores are now opening at midnight or earlier. Gone are the days of 5 a.m. store openings I was accustomed to in the “early days.” Black Friday has evolved into Black Thursday, a round-the-clock, nationwide, sleep-deprived shopping massacre.

Black Thursday is the new Black Friday.

I will be among the thousands lined up on a sidewalk or in a parking lot with red blood-colored cranberry sauce stains on my shirt, and everyone will be facing the store’s front door just waiting for the doors to open. Traffic will be at a standstill in Turkey Creek and West Town Mall, and the struggle to obtain the best deals has never been so perilous.

The zombie shopping fever has spread, and I’m afraid it’s hit a pandemic level. I can’t help but wonder, what would Rick from The Walking Dead do?

Zombies in The Walking Dead are quite similar to Black Thursday shoppers:

  • They devour any living thing (deal) they can catch.
  • They never sleep.
  • They are more dangerous in large numbers.
  • Loud noises attract large herds of them.
  • They stand still or shuffle around rather slowly. However when in pursuit, they move much more quickly.
  • They may turn what would normally be a harmless household item into a weapon.

As I prepare to head out into the darkness the evening of Black Thursday, I will be double-knotting my tennis shoes and keeping in mind that the swiftest shoppers can be far more dangerous than the walkers roaming the earth.

Re-thinking Digital: The Evolution of Mobile & Its Impact on Web Strategies

As the number of mobile users increases, the need to integrate mobile strategies into marketing initiatives is increasing as well, a topic discussed by our own founder and lead advisor Brian at a Knoxville AMA event last week.

The Importance Of Mobile

Reaching customers has become increasingly difficult in our digital world, and as the fastest growing segment of the web, mobile is a part of that. Brian shared that the growth of the mobile web has outpaced that of desktop by 10 times, and smartphone sales have significantly surpassed PC sales in recent years.

Many marketers treat “the web” as a single medium like “print” or “TV” or “radio,” but that’s not how we see it at Pyxl. In reality, “the web” is made up of multiple distinct yet connected mediums on desktops, tablets and smartphones. As a business, it’s up to you to not only reach your audience wherever they are, but also to optimize content to work across devices.

Designing For Mobile To Optimize Integrated Engagement

As Brian discussed, desktop computers provide the most space for content display, and visitors tend to spend more time on a site when viewed on a desktop. However, more individuals are beginning to access information through tablets, which provide less space for content but still include web browsing as part of the experience. Finally, smartphones, which provide the least real estate for content, are focused, with visitors heading to a website looking for specific information on-the-go.

So, how do we integrate web strategies that satisfy all mediums?

Four Strategies For Integrating Mobile

Brian shared four options for companies considering their mobile strategy:

1. Do Nothing

The first option is to simply do nothing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If your site covers a complex topic, those looking for information are probably expecting to complete deep research, which usually isn’t done on a small device like a smartphone. Brian shared the example of the Provision Health Alliance website, one of Pyxl’s clients. For a healthcare company like Provision, people wanting to know more will most likely seek information through a desktop.

2. Build a Mobile Site on the Same or Separate CMS

A second option is to build a mobile site on a single CMS, which provides easier updates and maintenance. Using a single CMS on two platforms decreases the cost of development with some increase in maintenance, but provides a tailored mobile experience. The downside? There will be an inconsistent experience between the desktop/tablet and smartphone experiences.

3. Build a Mobile App

This is a great option for companies that want to create a distinct experience for customers, separate from that of the main website. For instance, Pyxl client Pilot Flying J has a core website that focuses on consumers and is optimized for desktop and tablets, while its mobile app focuses purposely on travelers looking for a specific location or service.

4. Build a Responsive Site (on a Single CMS)

Building responsive websites is becoming one of the best options for companies hoping to utilize integrated engagement, with the created site adjusting naturally for each distinct medium on which it’s viewed. For companies hoping to integrate responsive web design into their strategy, Brian provided a checklist for success:

  • Wireframe. Wireframe. Wireframe.
  • Information hierarchy
  • Ration and scale imagery
  • Readability
  • “The fold” is dead
  • Orientation – horizontal, vertical
  • Less is more
  • Test. Test. Test.

Regardless of the option you choose, simply considering and thinking about mobile as part of your greater web strategy is critical to maximizing integrated engagement. If you want success in reaching customers in this digital age, having a mobile strategy is key.

Do you agree? How are you integrating mobile strategies into your marketing initiatives?

Want more information? Here’s Brian’s presentation in its entirety (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Copper Cellar Going Social

Bart Fricks, COO of the Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants, brings more than 27 years of restaurant experience to the table (yes, pun intended J). Previously with Mr. Gatti’s and then Ruby Tuesday, the man behind the Calhoun’s Restaurant Twitter handle @Calhouns, says being part of the “social party” gives him the opportunity to stay close to customers.  Fricks says that managing their many restaurant concepts within the Copper Cellar brand is a challenge but customers follow and engage with the restaurants they enjoy most. Their team, Fricks says it is definitely a group effort at this point, uses tools such as Hootsuite to help space out their posts so they don’t bombard customers all at once with messages from each concept.

The locally-loved restaurant brand first launched into the social web with Facebook pages for Smoky Mountain Brewery and Copper Cellar in the fall of 2009 followed shortly with pages for Calhoun’s and Chesapeake’s. By the end of 2009, the brand had accumulated 1,518 followers. It wasn’t until the group really started joining in the conversation that they saw the biggest increase in followers. Posting each concept’s daily specials, events, and responding to customer feedback and suggestions quickly has driven much of their success in continuing to grow in the social space.  Twitter proved to be a bit different story for the brand. Fricks says that in 2009 and 2010, they didn’t do a very good job with Twitter. He took over as the voice behind @Calhouns and began thanking people for following them, retweeting, and jumping in the conversation especially on #FollowFriday where you suggest that your friends “follow” others on Twitter. “More is better on Twitter,” says Fricks, as he encourages the group to be active in the space and comment on what others are saying.

Posting great food photos and monitoring searches like “Where to eat in Knoxville” has helped the brand expand their reach. Fricks says it’s easy to go after big numbers, using an app to buy followers for example, but he’s not interested in that.  His goal is for the brand “to be great at a few things” and not try to be everywhere such as places like Foursquare, Flickr, or Pinterest. For now, the brand is focusing on cultivating great conversations with their customers mainly on Facebook and Twitter.

My favorite conversation point of the luncheon is when Fricks exclaims, “I hate coupons.” Most people assume that restaurants are just going to be in the coupon business. He goes on to say that in his experience coupons have a way of abruptly bringing in clientele which the restaurant isn’t quite prepared for, and then service and food quality suffers. “You can’t just hire servers for 4 weeks and expect them to provide great service then let them go,” which is what would be required for a huge influx of customers which a deep offer coupon. To Fricks, great service and quality of food every time a guest comes in to one of their restaurants is the ultimate goal of the brand.

The Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants is continuing to expand its real estate in the digital and social space. New websites for each restaurant concept are coming soon, and Fricks says they are looking into hiring someone to manage their social strategy. So keep on the lookout for new great things coming from this local restaurant family!

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