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The Back Deck

Our view on navigating today’s marketing landscape

24 Jul

What We’re Reading Now: Advertising, Branding and 10 Things You May Not Have Known About Social Media

From updated right-rail ads on Facebook to 10 things you likely didn’t know about social media, this week’s “What We’re Reading Now” is all about new discoveries. Here are the some of our favorite reads:FB-f-Logo__blue_144

  • 10 Significant Things You Likely Didn’t Know About Social Media but Should: We’re not going to give them all away, but did you know that your biggest advocates on Twitter often are those with the smallest followings? Read the rest of the top-10 social tips, as found by Megan Krzmarzick (@MessengerBird85).
  • Facebook Right-Rail Ads Update: The stepchild of Facebook ads is finally getting some attention. If you’re interested in how Facebook is optimizing right-rail ads (hint: bigger), take a peek at the article Laura Lundberg (@LuaLundberg) found.
  • Asset Branding on Social Media: For some great reminders and helpful tips on social media branding, check out this online asset guide that Elizabeth Johnston (@Liz_John) dug up.
  • The Future of Digital Marketing: Mashable’s “Mashie Awards” are right around the corner. Check out what Mashable had to say and where they think the future of digital marketing is headed per this Twitter chat found by Scott Horlbeck (@scott_horlbeck).

What was your favorite marketing or social media news of the week? Let us know by tweeting @CMDCreates with #GoodReads.

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14 Jul

CMD Adds Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, Expands Leadership Team


PORTLAND, Ore. – CMD, one of the leading marketing agencies on the West Coast, has added Jon McAnnis as vice president, chief technology officer to the agency’s leadership team.

With expertise in strategic planning and software development, McAnnis will oversee the Information Systems and Technical Services groups at CMD, leading the agency’s digital practice and technical infrastructure initiatives.

Prior to joining the agency, McAnnis served for three years as the chief information officer at Optum International, where he was responsible for all IT-related functions as well as providing technological leadership for development programs, software delivery and architecture. McAnnis also worked at OptumHealth as the director of web development, and LifeEra as the chief information officer.

“Jon is an integral part of implementing our technology vision, which is vital when it comes to not only our expanding operations, but also to growing our digital capabilities,” said CMD President Phil Reilly. “His wealth of experience across different industrial segments will be a tremendous asset for us.”

About CMD

With an arsenal of specialized disciplines, CMD takes a synergistic approach to tackling the toughest marketing challenges in a new era of communications by using the right blend of powerful solutions – including digital, advertising, social media, PR, promotions, film and video, and more. Headquartered in Portland, Ore., and ranked among the nation’s top 20 independent agencies, CMD works with some of the world’s leading brands including Microsoft, JELD-WEN, Intel, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, NW Natural and Timber Products. CMD also has offices in Seattle, Charlotte and San Francisco, and can be found online through the CMD website, Twitter, Facebook or blog.



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1 Jul

Putting Social to Work: Learnings from Social Media Strategies Summit, NYC 2014

Learnings from Social Media Strategies Summit | CMD Blog

Soaking up the latest in social media strategy in NYC, June 15, 2014.

I could start off this post with some great social media stats – stats are, after all, quite prevalent in conference sessions presentations – but sharing how many Facebook posts are published every day doesn’t get us anywhere. We’re left with, “Great. Now what?”

Enter the Social Media Strategies Summit. Packed with higher-level strategic sessions, case studies, collaborative labs and so many opportunities to learn, here are my top five conference takeaways:

  1. Build your social presence first, learn who your audience is and then crowdsource content ideas. This one really stuck with me because it feels like a reversal to common practice. A Twitter handle, for instance, is commonly created after a company has some type of web presence. Stephanie Ramirez, social media manager for FLAMA, a new Univision website, advised the opposite. Build a social presence first, then create content to fit that audience based on their interests and conversations.
  2. Free?! There’s no such thing as free social media anymore. The time of organic reach and impressions has exited stage left. Due to more online users, more content to consume and fragmented social networks, there’s an increased need for a social media ad strategy and budget. CMD has been ahead of the curve in pairing both organic and paid strategy, and it was great to hear multiple speakers emphasize the importance of this change. Cory Padveen, director of global social business strategy at t2 Marketing x International even stated that building a social ad campaign is no longer an option, but a necessity.
  3. If your business’s success is measured in sales, so should your social media campaigns. You may say “duh,” but the truth is, the marketing industry has struggled with proving ROI for social media. We understand impressions, engagement, even conversions, click-through rates and sentiment – all of which take place in an evolving environment – but for many, this is where reporting ends. To earn the approval, support and continued budget from the C-Suite, reporting needs to track back to business-level goals.
  4. Your customers expected a response…20 minutes ago. Social media users are increasingly turning to social to vent, for customer service help and to find answers. And, they expect it immediately. To provide excellent service quickly and effectively, here are a few key takeaways:
    • Plan for the unexpected. Plan for that one question you never thought you would get.
    • Identify internal resources now so you’re not scrambling later.
    • Finally, if you don’t think you can solve the issue in two public back-and-forths, take it offline immediately.
  5. If you’re not thinking about the law, you should be. Pedram Tabibi, social media lawyer, explained, don’t let your amazing campaign or company get hit with a multimillion dollar lawsuit that could have been avoided if you just hadn’t posted that one tweet.

Interested in more? Stayed tuned for my deeper dive into social analytics as I look at what it takes to build a social business plan, the move to predictive insights and the new team role of social analyst.

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20 Jun

Business Journal CEO Marketing Roundtable: Perspectives from CMD’s President Phil Reilly

What happens when eight top execs from some of the region’s largest agencies and corporations sit down together to discuss the future of the marketing industry? One thing is for certain: you can count on a lot of different opinions, viewpoints and spirited conversation.

That’s what happened recently when CMD President Phil Reilly was invited to be part of the Portland Business Journal’s CEO Marketing Roundtable this week. While the group didn’t have time to cover all of the planned questions, here are just a few of his thoughts on the state of the business and the industry.

Phil Reilly PDX Biz Roundtable | CMD Back Deck Blog

CMD President Phil Reilly discusses the state of the industry and business.

Q: After lean times during the recession, are any/all of you rebuilding capacity or maintaining or adding staff? What’s different, if anything?

(Reilly): “Two things happened during the recession: the financial markets tanked, but also the marketing industry itself was in the midst of massive transformation. Social media was in its infancy, as was the idea of data-driven metrics to inform marketing strategies.  With budgets hit hard, clients were looking to these new solutions to make their marketing dollars go further and work harder. As with any market shock, some agencies were too slow to react. CMD took a different approach and invested early on, adding critical services, such as social media, metrics and analytics, along with additional capacity in our strategy group. That set us up well for the future, gave us a lead on the competition and we’ve continued to grow since.”

Q: What is the biggest difference between marketing today and marketing five years ago?

(Reilly): “It’s no secret, digital has changed everything. To say there are digital agencies and traditional agencies is a misnomer; all agencies need to be vested in digital at this point. Also, marketing solutions have grown more complex and are evolving every day–and it’s all moving faster. Just when you think you’ve figured out one tool or solution, a better one comes along. You have to be quick, nimble, adaptable to change and never get married to just one way of doing things. Today’s best marketers know they constantly have to be testing, learning, discovering and adapting.”

Q: Marketing is often more complex than people realize. I’ll ask each of you to finish this sentence: My job is to….

(Reilly): “Do the best job possible for our clients. That includes being aware of changing trends in the marketplace related to clients’ needs. Our goal is to always make sure we are adding value to our client relationships and align the agency’s resources and culture to support those objectives.”

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3 Jun

The Art of Telling Stories: Insights from the Portland Communicators Conference

The tables quickly filled up in the conference room, and participants chatted eagerly about the day’s event as they flipped through the pamphlets. Tales of past conferences were swapped by rookies and veterans alike. The words “Storytelling. Storymaking. Storydoing.” were emblazoned across the ballroom’s ceiling. Everyone had gathered here for one reason; to master the art of storytelling.

The 2014 Portland Communicators Conference may be over, but the insights and takeaways still remain. Focused exclusively on storytelling, the conference had a slew of innovative and interesting keynote and session speakers who stressed the importance of always telling a good story.

Jim Olson, VP of global communications for Starbucks, kicked off the conference with a keynote that emphasized the importance of highlighting the humanity behind your story and utilizing visuals to focus your reader on the message. He had several key points and pointed to Starbucks for his prime examples. storytelling[1]

  1. Public relations continues to evolve. Even though press releases are still required, they don’t have to be traditional. He suggested pairing a press release with a man-on-the street video or short profile stories. By pairing the press release with these additional media, your release will be brought to life and the message will have a better chance of sticking with your audience.
  2. Create a dedicated news handle on Twitter where journalists can easily access your press releases, announcements and other important company information.
  3. Create a news section on your brand’s website that displays large images and videos that help put a face to your writing. 

Tight, focused, and with plenty of examples that emphasized Starbucks’ growth in the storytelling world, Olson wrapped up his keynote by explaining that it’s not just about telling your story, it’s how you position it.

I particularly enjoyed the session on “How to Become a Master Storyteller,” led by Melissa Havel, executive vice president of Waggner Edstrom. She explained that while almost anything can be a story, it’s not worth talking about if it doesn’t leave an impact. This key point is pivotal if you want to cut through all of the other brand noise and connect to your readers. A few additional key points I found useful were:

  1. Word-of-mouth is always more powerful than any ad.
  2. Our brains are hard-wired for stories, but in order to cut through all of the brand noise, you have to ask yourself, “What can I do to make my story a pass-along story?”
  3. While your story should always be unique and relevant on individual channels, each facet of your story should contribute to the master narrative.

The lunch keynote, run by Jim Signorelli, author of Storybranding, was another invigorating session full of laughs and ideas that resonated with me. His unique keynote session went beyond storytelling – to teach the audience how to do storybranding. He pointed out that humans are willing to give up a lot for stories, and if your brand tells an emotional and effective story, that story will rub off on the brand itself. People will begin to associate your brand with the story and the emotions the story conveyed, like with the many heartwarming Bud Light commercials. His three major points of the keynote: 

  1. Storybranding is an all-in process – everyone should be on board and willing to do whatever it takes to tell stories and make them stick to the brand.
  2. Every customer touch-point is a chapter of your brand’s story – regardless of where they are in the purchasing decision, there is always an emotional story to tell.
  3. If you have a birth certificate, you are a brand.

Overall, the conference was filled with new ideas and important lessons.

So, what was my biggest takeaway?

Although storytelling has evolved from cave paintings on a wall, we are still willing to huddle around a campfire to listen if the story resonates with us. 

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16 May

Happy National Bike to Work Day!

In celebration of National Bike to Work Day, we asked a few of our fellow CMD cyclists why they ride to work, what they think about the Portland bike community, and why cycling is so much better than driving. Have a look! 

What do you love about the bike community in Portland? 

Bill Morgan (Associate Media Director)

The crowds of other bike commuters, the beautiful neighborhoods, trees and flowers to look at, and the city roads/infrastructure are so conducive to biking.

Matthew Douglass (Integrated Production Director)

Portland is a very bicycle-friendly city with bike lanes and bike thoroughfares to ease your commute. Portland has more cyclists per capita than any U.S. city so I’m in good company.

Bill Morgan

Why do you prefer to bike to work?

Sharon Huber (Director of User Experience)

It gets me out in the world. I always feel too sheltered in a car, but when biking I interact with the city more closely – face-to-face hello’s with neighbors, the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind, or the diesel stink of trucks and buses. 

Plus, if I bike, I get my exercise in while I’m going to and from work. It saves time AND I don’t have to go to the gym.

Matt Douglass

Do you find biking to work to be better than driving?

Nate Scott (Producer) 

It takes about the same amount of time to commute on my bike as it does in my car during rush hour.  When you add in the fitness benefits, biking to work is much more time-efficient than sitting in a car.  It’s also easier to find a parking spot. Biking to work is better than driving.

Happy National Bike to Work Day! 


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16 May

CMD Jams | May 2014 Playlist

With summer just around the corner, we asked the CMD staff to pick their favorite tunes for our 2014 May Playlist. There’s a little something for everyone here, from Florence + The Machine to the National. Take a listen, play it loud or play it low, but most importantly, enjoy!

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2 May

Look Before You Leap: Is A Facebook Global Page Right For Your Brand?

For worldwide brands trying to manage their geo social pages, a Facebook global brand page make perfect sense, right? Not so fast…before you dive into this type of Facebook page structure, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Our very own Nathan Rome breaks it down for brands:

What global brands do you think do the best job with their Facebook page?


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17 Apr

Is Organic Reach Dead on Facebook?


The window of organic reach on social platforms with self-service advertising products is rapidly closing, and brands are still adjusting to the new realities of paying for their desired reach and frequency. This is especially true when it comes to content marketing. I’ve been banging the drum on this since last year, so it is truly valuable to see up-to-the-minute research on exactly this phenomenon, specific to Facebook.

Facebook is just one of the social media platforms offering advertising products. However, Facebook’s actions can be seen as representative of larger trends. According to eMarketer research presented at ad:tech San Francisco this spring, there are only nine companies sharing two-thirds of all digital ad spending. It’s no surprise that Google and Facebook are at the top of that short list sharing a rather large slice of the paid media pie. eMarketer also reported that this year, digital ad spending will top $50 billion for the first time.

So, what’s up with Facebook’s organic reach? Well, some types of posts are getting less organic reach, and others are getting more.  ShopIgniter studied 2,000 brand posts in the last six months and identified some very important trends before and after Facebook’s Jan. 21 news feed update:

    • The reach of status update posts is down by 65 percent.
    • The reach of link posts is up by 30 percent.

What can you do about it? ShopIgniter’s VP of strategy, Justin Kistner, urges brands to optimize the social mobile experience on Facebook. There are good and bad examples to be found in Justin’s research deck presented at ad:tech. The key takeaway being that marketers should pay greater attention to the transition from clicking on a Facebook link post to interacting with content on a brand page. Keep the visuals bold and easy to find on a small screen; don’t leave your audience hunting and pecking for your content on their mobile phones or tablets. With this in mind, ShopIgniter reported a conversion rate of 4.4 percent from optimized link posts in the last six months.

Key Takeaways
OK, so what if you’re not placing expensive link posts on Facebook on a regular basis? The key takeaways here are still helpful:

    • Add more link posts into your content mix no matter what. Measure the change related to your content.
    • Measure link clicks, not total clicks. Facebook distinguishes between link clicks and other types of clicks, such as clicking to view a photo within Facebook. If you’re paying to merchandise content, it’s link clicks that count.
    • For the sake of your conversion rate, organic or paid, ensure that the user experience on your site is mobile optimized. That’s the truly hard work part of this equation, and ShopIgniter’s research shows that it can help you squeeze those valuable extra percentage points out of your conversion rate.


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3 Apr

So You Want To Work With Social Influencers…

Last Friday brought a welcome opportunity to network with colleagues during a panel discussion at the Greater San Francisco Ad Club. I participated in a panel discussion titled #SocialConvo, which was focused on giving Ad Club members advice on how to get the convo started and steer it in a strategic direction that serves both content creators and target audiences.

Because CMD has established a San Francisco office, this was an awesome invitation to participate with Ad Club members and learn from this community, as well as from the other panelists, including Jim Lin of Busy Dad Blog and Jennifer Burnham from Salesforce. I’d like to offer a few points of advice to our blog readers at large:

So you want to work with social influencers. How do you get started?

Listening is always the best place to start. If you show up at a dinner party and immediately start spouting your opinions without listening to the others at the table or even learning about who they are, you’re in danger of being ignored, or at worse, shown the door. The same is true with brands. We have powerful tools at our disposal to listen to publicly searchable social conversation and understand what resonates with our audience and who is influencing conversation at any point in time. 

photo 2[1]

What tools are available to locate and rank influencers?

Speaking of tools, there are many to choose from. For powerful, but pricey, aggregators of social conversation, it’s hard to beat Radian6 or Sysomos. There are also lower-cost tools like GroupHigh specifically designed to support marketers working with bloggers. I have gathered just a few selected tools (there are many more) in this Slideshare deck:

What are the key factors to evaluate before approaching an influencer?

One of the key themes emerging from our preparation as panelists was: Be cautious about evaluating based on numbers alone. Blindly pursuing content creators who have large communities might not serve business goals that call for reputation building, third-party recommendations and substantive discussion. However, a business goal that calls for awareness would indeed be served by aligning with content creators who can deliver large impressions numbers. Consider the business goal when looking for the best partnership with a content creator.  

What listening tools do you use for finding and working with social influencers?

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