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Thank You! – Daniels College of Business and Executive Education at DU

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, AMA Colorado is able to provide all of our members with the amazing events and networking opportunities that you have come to know and love. The Daniels College of Business and Executive Education unit at DU is one of these incredible sponsors that have partnered with us. The Daniels College of Business and Executive Education understands the unique needs of our members and provides professionals like you opportunities to expand and grow your knowledge with executive and professional MBA programs, graduate certificates, and focused workshops.

“Founded in 1908, the Daniels College of Business is the top-ranked business college at the University of Denver, one of the country’s premier private universities and the oldest university in the Rocky Mountain West. With our rich history of excellence and innovation, Daniels is globally recognized as a leader in providing an immersive and engaged business education. Grounded in ethics, our educational experience not only teaches students, it transforms lives. As a learning community, our students, faculty, and staff nurture service, outreach and personal integrity as we proactively tackle the tough business issues of our day.”

Executive Education specifically works to provide professionals looking to build their existing skill set, learn about a new area of business, or build their leadership skills by offering skill-enhancing workshops and transformational leadership courses. Daniels Executive Education has a just-in-time workshop to keep you current in a multitude of areas. The classes are taught by leading faculty from the Daniels College of Business and designed to boost performance through relevant coursework and hands-on learning opportunities. Build your skills with a workshop like the Digital Marketing Bootcamp, or transform how you lead with the help of the DLX course. Executive Education also offers custom solutions for your business to invest in your employees with leadership development, skill building, and team building.

These courses and workshops are coming up fast and are an excellent way to grow your executive skills and expand your career while supporting our loyal sponsor!

By Gina Masciotro

Marketing Landscape Q&A with Jason Duong of Appliance Factory Outlet

Jason is a Colorado native and studied at Colorado State University for business. He has been at Appliance Factory and Mattress Kingdom for 10 years and has been the Marketing Manager for the past seven years. Appliance Factory does all of their marketing internally through North Media, an internal marketing firm.

 

Comparing marketing challenges from then to now – what’s the single biggest change or challenge?

I think the biggest change is how fragmented it is today compared to a few years ago. We used to be able to reach the majority of consumers advertising in a few traditional mediums such as print or TV.

The evolution of how people today consume information gives us marketers a huge challenge. At this point, to reach consumers in a meaningful way we’ve had to spread our message across multiple channels in hopes to reach them in one form or another.

How have the consumers changed over those 30 years?

Consumers have absolutely changed; today they have an expectation that appliances are going to make their life easier. Features are geared towards ease of use and integration into a customer’s life. Ten years ago, people just wanted a stove that was dependable or a washing machine that cleaned well. Now they want a range that can be turned on from a smartphone or a washer that can do a load in 22 minutes.

What role does branding vs. advertising play into your strategy?

It’s a balancing act we struggle with constantly. Advertising can be pretty simple,– you spend money to advertise a specific sale like the 4th of July and generally we’ll see a lift in business.

Branding is an investment towards the future in hopes of when a customer is ready to buy we will be a company they consider. It takes a lot of self- control and patience to brand a company well, especially since a lift in business isn’t seen immediately. Consumers buy appliances every 7 to 10 years so being in the forefront of their mind when the time comes to replace an appliance is the key for our long term success.

What was the competitive landscape like, and how has AFO managed to outlast those competitors?

The landscape has changed quite a bit, Sears used to be a huge influence but at this point with most of the Sears closing, their share has diminished. Home Depot and Lowes have become bigger players and new companies like JC Penney are trying to throw their hat in the ring. That’s just the local brick and mortar stores; a whole host of online companies have impacted the industry as well.

I believe we’ve been able to thrive because of our unique ability to offer really great values to consumers across Colorado. We’ve leveraged our buying power and relationships with manufacturers while controlling our cost structure to ensure competitive prices.

We have been aggressively marketing our services against our competition. We may not have the same brand recognition as the big box store but we strive to be in the conversation when a consumer is ready to make a purchase. We really feel if a consumer gives us a chance, our experienced sales staff will give them a compelling reason to make a purchase.

OpenSnow

Q&A with Colorado Marketing Leaders: Eric Strassburger of OpenSnow

Eric StrassbergerEric Strassburger is the Director of Partnerships with Boulder-based OpenSnow, a team of weather forecasters who write “Daily Snow” updates that will point you toward the best snow conditions around the country. 

How did the company get started? And why?
This was a classic “scratch your own itch” beginning for a business. Joel Gratz was forecasting powder for himself and his friends because they all wanted to ski powder and Joel was a trained meteorologist. That turned into a weekly email newsletter, which turned into a blog, which eventually turned into a fully-featured service for skiers and snowboarders across the world.

Who was filling this niche before OpenSnow?
The best place for skiers to get snow forecasts before OpenSnow was from local National Weather Service offices and a few local blogs. The NWS forecasts are created by knowledgeable people, but are more generic and not written especially for skiers. And the small, local blogs are good, but often hard to find.

Who are your biggest competitors? And how do you differentiate yourself?
Lots of websites and apps provide some reports and many provide snow forecasts as well. Our differentiation is that we have local forecasters who know skiing, who know weather, and who put the forecasts into terms that skiers want. For example, instead of saying “chance of snow next Thursday”, we might say “the best powder day in the next 10 days will be next Thursday and the most snow will likely fall for these specific mountains.”

How have you marketed the business, and grown your customer base to 1.5 million skiers and riders?
We have not done any paid marketing. All growth has been word-of-mouth, as skiers tell other skiers about us on the chairlift and when planning powder days. We will likely begin to pay for some limited advertising soon.

What are the biggest challenges you face in marketing the business?
Seasonality. We are most relevant for only 4-6 months of the year, so we have to make those months count!

How is the weather – this year – impacting both ski season? And your own business?
It’s too soon to know. Most of the bookings for Thanksgiving and Christmas are made during the prior season or over the summer, so these times are somewhat insulated from slow starts (warm weather with little snow). However, if the lack of snow and warm air continues into mid-December, I would expect bookings to decrease and interest in snow to wane, which could affect the entire industry and our business. That said, late November and December should be colder and snowier based on many long-range forecasts, so fingers crossed that the flakes begin to fly soon!

How do you stay in touch with your skiers and boarders in- and off-season?
We launched a weather app for hikers called OpenSummit. Right now it provides forecasts for the Colorado 14ers, and we are hoping to expand this to hundreds or thousands of other trails.

What’s your best/favorite accomplishment over the last 3-5 years?
To have created a sustainable, profitable business that educates people about science and helps all of us enjoy a few more powder days than we used to!

What’s your vision for the next 3-5 years?
To create a year-round business made up of snow forecasts in the winter and hiking and biking forecasts in the summer.

What advice would you give to yourself or someone else as they are starting a business?
Love what you’re working on because it’s going to take more time and more effort than you imagine.

Q&A with Colorado Marketing Leaders: Justin Bresler, VISIT DENVER (Part 2)

VISIT DENVER Team Makes Multi-Channel Marketing
a Winning Strategy for Tourism

Justin Bresler, Visit DenverThis is Part 2 of a 2-part interview with Justin Bresler, VP, Marketing & Business Development for VISIT DENVER, the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the city. Click here to read Part 1

Imagine marketing a company that doesn’t sell anything, but has a global audience. Or selling a brand that doesn’t produce anything, but demands discretionary income to consume. And imagine doing it so successfully that you’ve demonstrated a decade of consistent growth without cutting resources, and through a recession when all your industry peers were cutting back.

These challenges may seem insurmountable to some, but for VISIT DENVER, the city’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, it’s a labor of love for the residents and tourists that make Denver what it is today. Justin Bresler, VP of Marketing and Business Development, answers some questions about what it takes to market the Mile High City locally and beyond.

What do you consider your primary role on the team at VISIT DENVER, and how has it changed in the last 8 years you’ve been there?
As a brand steward for the city and all it has to offer. But also to manage the functionality of the various levers we can pull. There are more channels available to us than ever before. We’ve had to figure out how to incorporate how to use these channels as they come online. There are unique challenges and opportunities with each. It allows us marketers new opportunities to show success and to reach new people.

Speaking of reaching new people, who are the audiences you are trying to reach? And, how do you find them?
Our international efforts and domestic efforts are two different sales efforts. Internationally, there are a lot of intermediaries like travel agents and tour operators, who are still vital because of their clients’ unfamiliarity with a foreign country. We work to add Denver and Colorado vacations to their product catalog.

Domestically, we market nationally, but focus on key target markets for media spend. We have a media philosophy to go deep in fewer markets than broader in more markets. New York City sends a lot of people everywhere. But you can blow $5 million in a month there. We are in markets that have a history of sending visitors to Denver with great flight access, or a great drive. Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Diego are markets where we attract a lot of visitors. We have secondary markets as well.

And as for who we are trying to reach – as long as you are of a certain age with discretionary income, we are going to try to find you. Our tactics include are offline, TV, digital and video. Study after study shows the impact of video, which can be expensive to produce. Luckily, technology has given us lots of other places to place that. And, we still have a place for certain print placements.

Nowadays, you have to be everywhere. And digital advertising is great because it’s trackable, but it’s more of a cold medium. It’s hard to inspire someone using a banner ad.

We layer on top of our paid media a lot of other things – outbound PR. Social media effort reaches not just existing but new audiences. That’s been huge for us. We are getting more and more into sponsored content, taking advantage of online publications and their reach. There are a couple of mainstays in our marketing strategy – search is always on, social is always on. But from a marketing standpoint, we are campaign-driven throughout the year. Every time we have a new campaign, we have a fresh media strategy and campaign strategy and vendors that we use.

How do you track the interactions and ‘success’ you have reaching your audiences?
We are moving to measure engagement. A lot of our engagement comes from the website or the social media channels. But it can be equalized across channels. We look at the level of engagement visitors have, determine where they came from, and decide if it’s worth it to keep that channel going. It happens internally with our agency partners. They report to us, we put it thru our data machine internally and we feed back to them and say these are vendors that we feel are performing well.

You mention strategizing with your vendors. How do you decide when to partner with a vendor and when to build an in-house team to handle your marketing?
We really wait until a channel is fairly well developed before we bring on staff. We had social media contracted for a couple of years before we brought on a staff member. Not because we thought social was going away, but because didn’t really know the criteria required or the skill set to staff it. We are a little bit conservative in that way. Because we are a tax-funded organization, we have to be conscious about the investment we make in new platforms and spending in new areas.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to market either themselves or their company?
I would say more than anything today, stay on brand. Your brand is your friend. But be flexible with your tactics because they change so frequently now. Today you need to be well rounded and you need to tell stories. People are going to engage with your stories more than your advertising and it’s always going to be that way. Unless you’re selling toilet paper and just waiting for the next coupon. If those stories are true to your brand, you will be able to differentiate yourself.

Colorado Marketing Leaders: VISIT COLORADO

Q&A with Colorado Marketing Leaders: Justin Bresler, VISIT DENVER (Part 1)

VISIT DENVER Team Makes Multi-Channel Marketing
a Winning Strategy for Tourism

Justin Bresler, Visit DenverThis is part 1 of a 2-part interview with Justin Bresler, VP, Marketing & Business Development for VISIT DENVER, the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the city.  Click here to read part 2.

Imagine marketing a company that doesn’t sell anything, but has a global audience. Or selling a brand that doesn’t produce anything, but demands discretionary income to consume. And imagine doing it so successfully that you’ve demonstrated a decade of consistent growth without cutting resources, and through a recession when all your industry peers were cutting back.

These challenges may seem insurmountable to some, but for VISIT DENVER, the city’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, it’s a labor of love for the residents and tourists that make Denver what it is today. Justin Bresler, VP of Marketing and Business Development, answers some questions about what it takes to market the Mile High City locally and beyond.

How is marketing a city different than marketing a business? We don’t own anything. You can’t buy anything from the Bureau. You can’t ‘buy’ Denver. We don’t own hotels, we don’t operate restaurants, or operate tours. But there is a sales funnel in travel, just as there is in lots of businesses.

You (as a traveler) may be dreaming of a destination but don’t go for five years. There could be 10 other places ahead of it. But it’s not like you have five cars in mind and you are going to buy one every year for the next five years. I think that’s what is different about travel. And once we do our job, we must track the results by proxy. We measure through website traffic, engagement, hotel visits and some of those other tangibles we don’t ‘own.’

What’s unique about Denver as a brand? Compared to other businesses, and/or compared to its tourism competitors?
Travel is an interesting sector because you must have discretionary income to do it. And that may ebb and flow over the course of years. Travel – and international travel – has become a lot easier and some respects a lot more affordable. So, our marketplace is global. And, because travel is a discretionary purchase, we are competing with other destinations, but we also are competing with things like ‘am I going to redo my basement this year?’

While travel is a ‘considered’ purchase it’s certainly something people can see as necessary in their lives. When they do that, they have to connect with a destination. Lots of destinations market themselves with some kind of “lots to see and do” messaging. But every destination has lots to see and do. We try to do things differently in Denver.

Denver has a unique market because we aren’t just an urban destination. We have the rest of the state to help pull people in. We know that people who want to come here want that combination of city and mountains. Years ago, we were just a gateway to push people to the mountains. That’s changed over the years. Now, you have to ask someone the question, “How do we get someone from Chicago to want to spend time in Denver and not just in the mountains?” We ask ourselves that all the time.
It starts with the outdoors, layered with some great urban experiences. The Denver brand position is an outdoor city full of urban adventure.

With that outdoor city/urban adventure messaging, you can line up the “brand pillars” neatly underneath that. The things that we use in the city are outdoor activities – call it light adventure. We might be the gateway for extreme mountain biking, but the experiences you’ll have in the city are open to everyone. It might be the B-cycle program, Yoga on the Rocks or drinking craft beer on an outdoor patio. That’s become a big draw in the city – the outdoor dining scene. Some people mountain bike or ski, but everybody eats. Five to ten years ago, it was Downtown and Larimer Square that held the urban dining options. Now, Highlands is a hot spot, so is River North and South Broadway. You can go to any part of the city and get a great meal.

Denver is one of the fastest-growing markets in the country – what challenges does that come with?
The things that make Denver a great place to live also make it a great place to visit. We want to make sure that locals don’t feel visitors are a burden on the city. Tourism is clean money. It’s one of the few places that a city can invest and bring back a big return. We can say to residents, ‘if it wasn’t for tourism, each family would spend $600-$700 more each year in taxes to enjoy the same services they enjoy today.’ Visitors have a much lower impact on the city because they come in and go home. The tourists are the 20 percenters that make a good year great for the restaurants and the performing arts complexes and other attractions in our city.

What do you consider the greatest accomplishments of the VISIT DENVER team? And why?
We’ve grown tourism for 10 straight years. Some of those years were tough economic years. If you look at 2008-2009, the statics we were seeing showed not that fewer people were traveling, but they were taking fewer trips and traveling shorter distances. So, we decided we would work on marketing to the 600-mile radius around Denver. That’s a function of being flexible and good planning. As soon as the worsening economic situation was pretty clear, we did a whole retreat as a leadership staff and asked ourselves, ‘how are we going to respond?’ We were able to maintain our budgets while our peers were cutting. It was just smart financial management and smart media buying. We actually grew during that time. So, the thing that I’m most proud of is the $6 billion economic impact that tourism brings to the city. It’s a function of good leadership, having the budget to do the things we need to do and having the patience to not chase something that is so short-term.

Read part 2 of the interview with Justin.