Resolving To Be Better In 2015

Many of us make resolutions this time of year. And while we may personally think about eating less or exercising more, the New Year isn’t a bad time to refocus your marketing efforts and lay down some new ground rules for the year. Here’s what a few members of the Zone 5 team resolve for in 2015 – for themselves and their clients.

z5_NewYears resolutions

 

Dave Homsey, Creative Director

Be simpler, shorter, more to the point.

Earth-shattering revelation: “The attention-span of my clients’ audience isn’t getting longer.” My creative must follow suit. That doesn’t mean I’m going to dumb it down. It’s smarter to be direct — simple is usually harder to do but easier to understand. Clever is dumb if it complicates the message, or worse, hinders its digestion. I resolve to aid in the digestion of my client’s message — to be a Legume of Marketing Communication!

 

Victoria Barbeisch, Account Executive

Re-enforce that positive action can result from less than positive perspectives.

Since joining Zone 5 this summer, I have conducted a variety of focus groups both in and outside of our facility, ranging from shopping preferences to health care initiatives. In these focus groups, client often have one perception of their organization and learn that their audience may have a much different one. That may be difficult to hear, but in many ways is a great thing.

Even negative feedback can provide better insight; drive needed change, and foster an environment that will result in something better. It’s important to understand that all feedback is important and can improve your organization.

Therefore, it is my resolution to inspire my clients to act on that feedback for the better.

 

Timothy Dunn, Vice President 

Focus on strategy, not tactics.

“I NEED A BROCHURE!” That’s the frantic request I get regularly (or swap out brochure for website, bannerstand, press release, or Twitter handle). While the specific deliverable can vary, the request is the same – “I need X tactic.” And while we believe the client is always right, a request for a specific tactic can often come without a strategic look at the core aspects of making an impact in marketing, specifically – what message am I trying to deliver to what audience…and what action do I want them to take?

In 2015, I’m going to work even harder to help clients develop a strategy with a specific goal, then build and deploy the right tactics to reach that goal. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Especially when you’re in crunch time and need that brochure.

 

Brittany Gilman, Account Executive

Bigger isn’t always better.

When it comes to your digital audience and performance, remember to weigh quality over quantity. Sure, having a ton of fans, followers or impressions is great, but what really matters is how much engagement is taking place. In other words, you can have an enormous audience to market your messages to, but it won’t make a difference if they’re not contributing any feedback.

On the other hand, having a smaller, more targeted audience that’s more engaged—and more likely to advocate for your brand—is much more beneficial. Likewise, when analyzing your digital performance, remember to look at the bigger picture. Of course a high number of impressions is great for visibility, but take it further. Of those who saw your message, how many actually took action?

All too often, marketers try to cast a wide net and reel in whatever they can. Instead, understand that bigger isn’t always better. Target your niche audience and benefit from a more passionate, engaging group of those who can help leverage your messaging and advocate your brand or services.

 

Ray Witkowski, Vice President

Be a partner, not a vendor.

I too often hear the term “vendor” when it comes to how prospective clients refer to agencies that they are seeking for a new website, branding campaign, etc. I don’t think they mean anything negative by using the word vendor but it’s still a pet peeve of mine. The work that we do as an agency is built on collaboration and is a partnership, not a “vendorship.” I often say when meeting with prospective new clients for the first time that “every great partnership begins with a conversation.”

So, this year, my goal is help prospective clients appreciate the value of what it means to be in a partnership focused more on interaction and less on transaction. Let’s make it personal.

 

Alyssa J. McClenning, Director of PR and Social Media Strategy

Put the bullhorn down and listen more.

Press releases, press conferences, tweets, Facebook messages, blog posts… These are all important pieces of a comprehensive public relations roll out. However, it’s easy to get so focused on getting your message out that you forget to listen and dialogue with your audiences! Real conversation and message osmosis happens when you build an engaged community. Sometimes you need to come down from the mountaintop from where you are shouting and put your ear on the ground.

You might be surprised at what your customers and followers say and how that will positively affect your future message development. Therefore, it is my resolution to encourage my clients to listen more.

 

Spencer Raggio, Senior Web Strategist

Think like a user.

Too often we forget that our clients/customers/audiences don’t know our company or sector as well as we do. This is especially important on the web, where we need to ensure that new visitors can easily find what they need. But it also applies to all our marketing and communications efforts, where industry jargon and acronyms can easily obscure our intended message.

All told, pretty solid resolutions to drive toward more impactful marketing in 2015.  What’s your marketing New Year Resolution?

Borderless Education Appreciation

Zone 5 is committed to learning, expanding, and working with organizations beyond borders at all twists and turns. In honor of last week being International Education Week (#IEW2014), we would like to send a shout out to some of our clients in the higher education sector who really apply themselves and create opportunities for their students to experience beyond borders as well!

Across the world, students have been learning about a variety of disciplines for decades. Marshall University’s 51st annual International Festival demonstrates just that by having an annual exposition that features international foods, world music and dance, as well as a multitude of displays representing many different countries and cultures. Check out some the photos below showcasing the talent and cultural breadth that this event offers each year to its students and members of the surrounding community:

Marshall Festival 1 Marshall Festival 2

Marshall Festival 3 Marshall Festival 4

Photo Credit: Marshall University Photos 

At St. Thomas Aquinas College students are taking a hands on approach to cultural experience through not only their study abroad programs in regions like Oxford, England but also through service learning trips across the globe! This past spring, students were fortunate enough to learn and soak in all that Nicaragua has to offer while assisting to build homes for families through the Bridges to Community Organization program.

Additionally, these higher education organizations have students from other areas around the world that are coming to the United States to enhance their education, which according to IDP is leading in quality collegiate programming.

See the infographic below for other aspects and countries and how they rank:

IDP Infographic

Source: IDP Education, International Student Buyer Behavioral Research 2014

 

So, in honor of International Education Week, Zone 5 would like to state how proud we are to work with such wonderful organizations and to be an international firm through our work with our friends to the north at Algoma University!

A 25/25 Perspective on #AMAHigherEd

(Image credit: Ty Wilkins @TyWilkins)Last week, I was in the great state of Texas to attend the 25th annual Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, sponsored by the American Marketing Association (AMA). The conference was held in Austin, known to be a bit weird at times and proud of it.

I felt a little weird myself heading into the conference since I realized the Higher Education Symposium and I were celebrating the same anniversary. I’ve actually spent my entire 25-year career exclusively in higher education marketing so I was contemplating what I would experience in Austin and at the conference itself.

Austin, TX hosted the AMA Higher Education Symposium

Capitol view from UT Austin

The first evening of the conference kicks off with a welcome reception where everyone has a chance to settle in, meet old and new friends, and get geared up for the sessions over the next three days. I walked into the reception with a weird feeling like the one you get walking into a high school reunion not knowing who you might see, what the conversations would be like, etc. After only a few minutes at the reception, I was received with many handshakes and hugs, and that weird Austin vibe quickly went away. The evening concluded with some great Texas BBQ at Stubb’s.

After a morning run on the University of Texas campus, I was looking forward to the first keynote session of the higher education conference. I wasn’t disappointed. And, with all the buzz that morning around #AMAHigherEd, many felt the same way. The session theme focused on how colleges and universities should embrace the unique aspects of their location as they define and communicate their institution’s character. A first for any keynote that I’ve ever attended, it was highlighted by live music by Darden Smith, as well as, stories and poems from real Texas cowboys talking about the importance of place and showing a willingness to brag about who they are and what they do. A willingness to “brag” resonated with many in the audience but not in a negative context. If you have something good to say about your school and are truthful to what that is, go ahead and brag about. As I tweeted during the session, Bragging=Branding.

Ray AMA Higher Education tweet

Following the keynote, I was geared up to attend a few key sessions. One revealed the latest insights on how students and parents go about the college search and selection process and the overwhelming impact campus visits have on their final college decision. Another focused on the art and science of demographics and the importance of knowing and using the right data in making key strategic enrollment and marketing decisions. The last session of my day highlighted the development of a reimagined higher education website for Columbia College in Chicago. Amazingly, Columbia took their old site of over 36,000 content pages down to less than 1,000 with one purpose in mind…to create a site for right-fit prospective students only. It certainly paid off with inquiries increasing 44% in the first month the site was launched. Lesson here? Know who your audience is and create content (“stories”) that are relevant and appeal to them. How weird!

My last day of the conference was highlighted by the keynote from Dr. Ann Weaver Hart, president of University of Arizona. Dr. Hart shared how the University’s “Never Settle” strategic plan was the foundation for creating an all-new institutional-wide branding campaign. Her points affirmed for me what I’ve always believed…that an institution’s strategic plan must be part of or the driving force behind any new branding initiative.

All in all, this year’s #AMAHigherEd conference raised the bar as far as record attendance, the breadth of session content and the chance to have some good times with clients and friends. I’m now looking forward to next year’s conference in the windy city of Chicago. Until then, stay weird Austin!

SIA Awards Dinner Wrap Up

Last week, as the temperatures began dropping in the 518, the intrepid technology team at Zone 5 headed west to California for a week of meetings, culminating with the annual Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) Awards Dinner.

We enjoyed great meetings with the Silicon Valley Strategic Advisors (SVSA), the leadership of the Fab Owners Association (FOA), and the new venture Silicon Catalyst. It was also a good opportunity to catch up with our friends and clients at Mohawk Valley EDGE and Marcy Nanocenter at SUNY Poly!

The event itself is always great; following a meeting of the SIA Board of Directors, the Awards Dinner provides an opportunity for the top leaders in the semiconductor industry to come together to hear forecasts for the year ahead and bestow the highest honor in the industry – the Noyce Award.

Named for Robert Noyce (inventor of the integrated circuit and co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor), this year’s Award was given to Altera CEO John Daane. I always have carried a great deal of affection for this event, as my former boss, Governor Pataki, was the only elected official to win the award, in 2003. As is normally the case, NY Loves Nanotech was out in full force for this event. Interestingly, they were not alone as state economic developers this year, with an aggressive showing from the State of Indiana led by the Hoosier State’s Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann.

In addition to the award and forecast, the crowd at the SIA Awards was thoroughly entertained by keynote speaker Austen Goolsbee. Goolsbee has served as chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and a member of the cabinet, as well as the chief economist for the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  It’s amazing, but this guy somehow has made economics entertaining! Here’s what our CEO Todd Mosher had to say:

 

Todd's SIA Annual Awards Dinner Tweet

Todd’s SIA Annual Awards Dinner Tweet

Todd’s thoughts seemed to be shared by many at the event, as his Tweet was picked up and quoted by Investor’s Business Daily.

So, we return to Albany, brimming with optimism on semiconductor industry sales for 2015, driven by the human race’s insatiable appetite for digital tools.  Or maybe, in the words of Goolsbee, “compared to what?”

SemiZone: Lita Shon-Roy and Karey Holland of Techcet

We sat down with industry experts at SEMICON West to cull their best business, trends and marketing insights. As we head to the SIA Annual Awards Dinner this week, we wanted to revisit some of our chats. Here’s what materials, market and technology experts Lita Shon-Roy and Karey Holland of Techcet had to say.

The semiconductor industry runs on silicon. What are some of the challenges there with supply and demand?

Lita Shon-Roy and Karey Holland of Techcet

Lita Shon-Roy and Karey Holland of Techcet

Silicon has had a tough time – over supply, over capacity. Prices have dropped and plants have closed; this leads us to believe the price will eventually go up again because the supply will be more constrained. Overall, the market has been learning, not overbuilding and not installing too much capacity like in the past.

The semiconductor industry is so cyclical in nature. How have companies gotten better at responding to the cycles?

The leading edge materials space is still squirrely. In regards to the commodity side, people are now much more disciplined at how to plan and forecast. It just depends on what material set you’re looking at.

We’re seeing an awful lot of consolidations and mergers. Where do you see further opportunities for consolidation or expansions?

What I’m hearing is the challenge is that large companies don’t want to invest more capital right now. I just had a conversation with someone about how large companies are also so fraught with bureaucracy they have a tough time doing development in an cost-effective manner. That being said, I think large companies will continue to look at small, entrepreneurial type companies to buy.

There’s not a lot more room for consolidation on the materials side right now.

The semiconductor industry sometimes struggles to tell their stories well. Do you see this problem and what’s the solution?

Telling stories is a struggle for most companies in our space. The small companies out there are at the disposal of the large companies, so the type of branding that Zone 5 can provide would be very helpful for them. Help with branding will help increase value to their potential buying parties.