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?

Give a warm Albany welcome to #BrittyintheCity!

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From the capital city, to the big city and back, this Account Executive is happy to have found a new professional home at Zone 5! My name is Brittany Gilman and after 5 years of living in New York City and a refreshing trip to South America, I suddenly found myself ready for a change of pace. Having previously worked at A&E Networks for Lifetime TV, I was ready to spend less time on the couch live-tweeting and more time outdoors snapping Instagrams. So, I moved out of my four-story walkup in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn back to my hometown of Albany, NY to continue my career in marketing & advertising while enjoying a better quality of life. In the words of Bed-Stuy native, Biggie Smalls, my decision has been all good baby, baby!

With a background specializing in social media strategy & marketing, and a mixture of additional experience such as public relations, content writing, consulting and account management, I’m super excited to continue my professional growth with Zone 5. As a creative communicator with a passion for people, I’m looking forward to supporting businesses with a distinct purpose to help their communities and the people within them, which is exactly the type of clientele we serve here at Zone 5. I’m so thankful to have joined such an amazing, collaborative team and can’t wait to dive deeper into my work! Brittany is in the Zone! (Zone 5, that is!)


Vicky, Meet Zone 5. Zone 5, Meet Vicky

My name is Victoria Barbeisch, but those on closer terms call me Vicky and I am the newest member here at the Zone 5 team as an Account Executive. Check out my Facebook-esque profile below to find out more about me. I hope you “Like” what you see!


About Victoria Barbeisch

image003    Account Executive at Zone 5

Tocquigny Logo    Past: Tocquigny

University of Texas at Austin   Studied Advertising at The University of Texas at Austin

SUNY Cortland   Past: State of New York College Cortland

Albany Egg   Lives in Albany, NY

Greene, NY   From Greene, NY


Contact Information

Work Phone                          518-242-7003

 Address                                25 Monroe Street



Google +                       [metaslider id=502



About Me

Things I like: Playing Tennis, Bowling, Video games, “Fun Runs”, Exploring Places, Finger Lake Wines, Law & Order: SVU (i.e. Elliot Stabler) and all John Green Books.

Things I loveMy Family and Friends, Iceberg Lettuce, Adult Swim, 90’s Pop, Patrick Swayze from Dirty Dancing, Cooking, Reading Adweek and Ad Age.

This is just a little about me. I am elated to be joining Zone 5 and although it has only been a short time here the people are AMAZING, and the work is fun AND rewarding. I cannot wait to see what is in store for me here.

Feel free to email me at or call me at 518-242-7003 anytime. I look forward to working with you!

Keeping Transfers On Track

Last week, the New York State Transfer Articulation Association (NYSTAA) hosted its annual conference at The Gideon Hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York, home of the famous Saratoga Horse Track. The location was indeed a metaphor for the conference theme—“Tracking Transfers…The Race to Graduate.”

NYSTAA and its members are committed to improving the transfer process and experience for both the student and its member institutions.

This was the first NYSTAA conference for Zone 5 2014 NYSTAA Conference Bookletand myself. Over the many years I’ve worked in higher education marketing, the focus has traditionally been helping colleges and universities attract, enroll and retain first-year college students.

I had to chance to sit in on two key sessions. The first was “Perceptions of Community College Transfer Students.” While many students are excelling academically at their community college, they have concerns regarding the transfer process and going from their two-year to a four-year college. Not surprisingly, cost was a major concern followed closely by the quality of academic advising available to them during the transfer process and upon enrolling at their chosen four-year college.

The second session, “Retention Initiatives: From Enrollment Management to Institutional Interventions,” was even more informative. The focus of this discussion was making sure that transfers not only have a smooth enrollment process but that they also have an engaging successful student experience enough to stay and ultimately graduate. As one of the session speakers pointed out, “for many schools, transfer students have been the ghosts in the overall enrollment process.” These schools must continue to monitor and proactively address the needs of transfer students just as much they do with their traditional, first-year students.

In the end, this conference helped confirm for me that transfer students must continue to be a key target audience for four-year schools. With the ever-rising cost of higher education, four-year schools can’t afford to not address the relevant needs of transfer students—from the point of enrollment and, ultimately, helping them to stay on track to graduation.



Leveraging the YouTube Creator Playbook

Digital marketers often feel like a butterfly in a windstorm when it comes to navigating the algorithmic and regulatory environment of social media. Today’s helpful suggestion may become tomorrow’s mandate. As marketing professionals, we are tasked with pursuing digital marketing strategies that can withstand the test of time. We typically achieve this by crafting compelling stories in a variety of mediums, and using this content in the appropriate way on each social media channel.

The Social Media Content Challenge

Although most brands have embraced content marketing as a primary driver of social media marketing success, many are still in the dark on the right approach. Varied levels of transparency or definiteness on best practices from the social media platform itself can add to this challenge. Even more frustrating for businesses is creating content that translates well across platforms and resonates with target audiences.

So it’s little wonder that I sat up straight when Google released the YouTube Creator Playbook for Brands. The first YouTube Creator Playbook, released in 2011, was a general guide for all YouTube content creators. Although helpful, it did not address the specific challenges faced by brands. The latest brand-specific guide is a rare gift from the Google gods and can positively impact your digital marketing efforts across various channels. You should be sitting up straight, too.

Why You Should Care About YouTube

Ok, so you’ve never uploaded a YouTube video in your life and don’t think the platform is appropriate for your brand. I’d challenge you to rethink your stance. As the second largest search engine in the world, it is the perfect mixture of social media and search marketing.

YouTube as a search tool

YouTube as a search tool

YouTube as a content delivery system

YouTube as a content delivery system

YouTube as a driver of social engagement

YouTube as a driver of social engagement

YouTube as a driver of ongoing social engagement

YouTube as a driver of ongoing social engagement

Regardless of your interest in curating video content, you should view YouTube as an important marketing test bed. What works well in terms of content on YouTube can likely be translated to either the social or search marketing realm.

Scraping the Best from the YouTube Creator Playbook

So now that you’re (hopefully) convinced, time to dig into the meat of the Playbook. It’s a great visual guide, but if you’re looking for the highlights, we’re here to help:

Section 1: Content Marketing as Part of Your Brand Strategy

  • Combine your brand’s identity and positioning with user intent and interests to create content that inspires, educates, and entertains
  • Create complementary content that fall into the hygiene (e.g. – customer-focused how-tos and product demos), hub (e.g. – vertically-focused product positioning), or hero content (e.g. – product launches or recognition within your industry) framework
  • Store your marketing content in a centralized, easy to access location, remain consistent in your content delivery, and boost your content’s reach through an integrated outreach campaign
  • Benchmark success against your industry and set metrics for performance

Section 2: The 10 Fundamentals of a Creative Strategy on YouTube

  • Create easy to share content
  • Collaborate with YouTube content producers who are already reaching your target audience
  • Center content on trending topics (within and outside your industry)
  • Make your content accessible and understandable to unfamiliar audiences
  • Be consistent with formats, schedule, elements, and voice
  • Target your audience by studying competitor user engagement trends
  • Create timeless content that can be re-purposed over the span of your campaign
  • Ask for feedback and respond to viewer comments
  • Use viewer comments or questions as fodder for your next video
  • Feature real people within your organization rather than paid actors or stock footage

Section 3: Schedule Your Content

  • Build a content calendar for predictable and ongoing content
  • Plan for larger campaigns for hub content types
  • Aim for one to two hero content types throughout the year for a big push

Section 4: Optimize Your Content

  • Use annotations to create calls-to-action in your video
  • Use playlists to group together similar content types
  • Choose thumbnails that represent the primary theme and message of your video
  • Use metadata such as tags and descriptions to attach keyword-rich identifiers to your content

Section 5: Promote Your Content With Paid Media

  • Boost the visibility of your content with a paid campaign
  • Identify the advertising tactic within the platform’s media kit that best highlights your content type
  • Use the platform’s analytics dashboard to monitor campaign progress and make adjustments as needed
  • Start with a broad campaign then refine the target audience based on campaign engagement
  • Define success on a pre-determined conversion metric (e.g. – clicks to website, channel subscribers, number of shares)

Section 6: Amplify Your Content With Social

  • Use the platform’s built-in analytics to identify top users and fans
  • Highlight users who consistently interact with your content in a positive way
  • Respond to comments and feedback using a “human,” genuine voice
  • Link Youtube and Google+ to access “top fans” data

Section 7: Measurement

  • Identify one key metric within the following categories: audience, expression, and participation
  • Segment performance based on media type: paid, owned (i.e. – organic), and earned (i.e. – PR and social sharing)

Again, the Playbook warrants a thorough read over a cup of tea, but these highlights can get you started. How would you apply these principles across other digital marketing channels?