StrataBlue Employee Spotlight featuring Eric Gaffin

Eric Gaffin - Graphic Designer - StrataBlue

Meet Eric Gaffin, one of StrataBlue’s talented Graphic Designers…

Question: What is your title and how long have you been with StrataBlue?My title is Graphic Designer and I’ve been with the company for 1 year and 1 month.

 

 

What is your title and how long have you been with the company?My day-to-day duties have included everything from logo design, magazine print ad design, social media design and web design. My time usually centers around social media campaign ads.

 

When deciding how to create a graphic, poster, or any other project for a client, what is the brainstorming process you go through?I always start with the deadline. Knowing how much time I have to work on the project helps me allot the appropriate amount of time to brainstorming, sketching, and creating. I then assess what project details and materials I’m provided and I seek more information and materials if necessary. I usually write out a few concepts, sketch a few thumbnails and then I get to work compositing my digital materials together and working with typography to create a first draft. The rest of the process consists of client feedback and minor revisions.

What are some of your favorite pieces you've done for clients at StrataBlue?This is a very hard question! There are projects that have required very technical, detailed work that I’m very proud of and there are others that have simply required perseverance. My favorite projects, though, are the ones that allow me to be clever or playful with the solution.

My two best examples would be the Plow & Anchor Restaurant logo and the seasonal logos I create for StrataBlue. The Plow & Anchor logo solution was nearly an accident and was a simple, elegant solution after many failed attempts to be too clever. The StrataBlue seasonal logos help me embrace the seasons and be clever in reworking our logo. I’ve always loved it when brands to playful things for special events or holidays.

StrataBlue Designs - Eric Gaffin

What are some of your hobbies?I’m a craft beer enthusiast (not a snob!) and I’m a current events junkie. I love reading about politics, design, and technology in my spare time, accompanied by a good beer, or course.

 

 

What is your favorite craft beer?It’s so hard to pick just one! Flat 12’s Pogue’s Run Porter is my go-to, but when it’s available I LOVE Triton’s Midnight Rail!

StrataBlue Employee Spotlight featuring Julie Perry

Meet Julie Perry, StrataBlue’s Director of Digital Media Marketing:

Q3_AMy official title is Director of Digital Media Marketing, and I’ve been at StrataBlue since March 2014. Initially, I was hired as Director of Social Media, but that title is misleading, because I don’t think it accurately describes the breadth of services we offer clients within the digital space. Here at StrataBlue, our focus is providing full-scale digital marketing services within paid, owned, and earned channels. Social media is certainly an aspect of that, but for the most part, we take a more holistic approach to our clients’ digital-marketing needs and campaigns.

To explain that a bit further, our team at StrataBlue knows that integrating multiple channels is the best way to deliver results, so we work to incorporate everything from content creation, social advertising, paid search, SEO, mobile, creative, video—and yes, social media marketing plays a big hand in each of those buckets. In the end though, we distinguish our brand of social as being “social media with substance,” or in other words, executing with purpose and intention. We don’t do anything devoid of understanding its impact. Rather, our social campaigns are strategic, deliberate, measurable, and in most all cases, they converge into other trackable digital touch points within owned, earned, and paid channels—blog, search, email, site, video, mobile, and distributed content.

 

 

Q2_AThat is a tough question, because every day can be so different. And because we are growing so quickly while also trying to stay on top of constant industry changes, there are never enough hours in the day. In short, as Director of Digital Media Marketing, I rely on my 13 years of online marketing experience to focus on digital thought-leadership activities and provide expertise in digital strategy to further bolster our digital services offering. (If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working in online and digital marketing, it’s that you must always be innovating.)

I also support major client assignments and serve as a data analyst in order to guide overall client strategy. Meanwhile, I like to stay as active as I can on the execution side of client campaigns—otherwise, it’s too easy to become rusty and unable to follow new trends. So even though I’m managing and directing our team of digital specialists, I’m still all about jumping in to, say, tweet for a client, run a Facebook ad, or write an email drip campaign when needed. In fact, taking time to optimize a YouTube video for a client can often be the highlight of my day. #geek

 

 

Q3I got my start in digital marketing as a copywriter for online-marketing content—email campaigns, website content, digital ad copy and blogging for SEO. Since those aren’t necessarily skills they teach in college (and they certainly didn’t when I was at Indiana University in the mid 90s), I got much of my training by taking courses from über successful copywriters in the Internet Marketing space, such as Michel Fortin (a mentor and personal friend) and John Carlton. During that time (circa 2003-4), SEO / ranking #1 in Google was the holy grail of marketing, so as soon as social media sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter came onto the scene and proved to have an increasing impact on search results, it was a natural transition for me to focus on social content creation.

Handling social networking for two tech start-ups in 2007 led to my first foray into digital video content. YouTube marketing—from both a video SEO and an audience development perspective—really was my main area of practice from 2007 to 2010. So I would say that online video marketing is where a majority of my expertise still lies. But in 2010, I wanted to diversify my digital marketing tactics, so I took a job at BLASTmedia, a media relations agency that was looking to grow its social media services. I was able to combine my years of working in online marketing via direct response copywriting, online video, and blogging to launch the agency’s social media team from scratch. While we started off just executing social media to support PR campaigns and media outreach, over the course of three years and building my team to 11 members total, our campaigns took on more of a marketing approach. This was the heyday of inbound marketing, and we had tons of success — after all, PR was already BLAST’s specialty, so combining it with more owned and paid media allowed us to take clients to the next level. Working at BLAST was a wonderful experience (they continue to kill it for their customers), and it allowed me to diversity my areas of expertise by getting to implement more full-scale digital marketing campaigns on a national and international level.

 

 

Q4Spending time with family and friends is very important to me, but I’m also a self-proclaimed workaholic, so balancing can be tough. I’ve actually gotten a lot better in recent years at achieving that balance; I take more time off, realizing that returning to work rejuvenated makes me more productive, not to mention more fulfilled.

I also spend a lot of my free time working on something else I’m passionate about, which is blogging and running social media for my book, “The Insiders’ Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess.” (Being a megayacht stewardess was something I did after college, many moons ago.) I originally wrote my yachting book in 2006, but I published a 2nd edition in 2013 when Bravo TV’s reality series, Below Deck, came out. It’s opened up a whole new audience for my book, and I’ve been having a ball interacting with my readers online.

The Insiders Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess

Julie’s book about how to get a job on superyachts.

I suppose, technically, my book marketing activities could still be considered work, but I get a lot of fulfillment out of helping guide young people into a fascinating career traveling the world in the superyacht industry. It was a life-altering experience for me when I worked as a yacht stewardess, so promoting my book is also a way for me to stay in touch with that industry and my many friends who still work within it. I still try to get down to Fort Lauderdale at least 3-4 times a year and travel to as many boat shows as I can fit in with my vacation time.

 

Q6_AThe fact that it’s fast-paced and constantly changing. Routine and consistency have always bored me and I crave challenges, so working in digital media is perfect for me. Add in the agency aspect, and it is literally a playground of opportunity to test new platforms and emerging digital tools across a number of different clients and industry verticals all the time. There is always something to learn.

I’m very fond of the quote that’s been attributed to Wayne Gretzky, where, when asked about the key to his success, he said that he doesn’t skate where the puck has been, but rather, he skates where the puck is going. I thrive on being able to stay on that cutting edge of innovative digital marketing tactics and pioneering the use of emerging strategies, especially with regard to targeting and measurement. It’s all about staying on top of how the customer journey is changing, and then trying to figure out how to incorporate those changes as we’re carving a sales and ROI pathway for our clients. To that end, the StrataBlue team prides itself on smart strategy and efficient execution, but we realize we have to be willing to recognize when something isn’t working. Measurement leads to adjusting tactics to meet goals; it’s that constant fine tuning and adapting in order to achieve success for our clients that invigorates me on a daily basis.

 

 

Q6Virginia Woolf. As for where we’d go, I would like to think we’d just stroll around the Bloomsbury district of London and have philosophical and literary discussions over afternoon tea… But, knowing me, I’d probably try to convince her to take a weekend jaunt down to Paris to join F. Scott Fitzgerald and friends for a more Gatsby-esque time… Or, maybe we’d even crash a party at Gertrude Stein’s flat. (What can I say, I was an English Major and am kind of obsessed with modernist literature and writers.)

 

 

Stick to the Point: How to Master Content Marketing

In the age of digital media and online marketing, there are several areas that a company should consider before developing a social media marketing strategy, but the most important aspect always comes back to content. You’ve heard the saying before: content is king. So how do you put a content marketing plan into place?

  • Define. The first thing you should do when creating a content strategy is to define your goals. What do you want to gain from creating content? New leads? A better awareness of your product or services? Who is your target audience? Have a clear picture of what your strategy will be and put it into writing. When you feel that you might be veering off course, go back to your defined goals and get back on track.
  • Distribute. Great content won’t do you any good if it doesn’t reach anyone. How will customers find your content? There is a wide range of social media channels to distribute your content, so you have to decide what is going to work best for your brand. From YouTube to white papers to Facebook, consider the pros and cons of each platform and pick two to three that you think will best benefit you. Make sure to keep your content fresh by regularly updating your blog and social networks.
  • Discover. What kind of content will keep your customers connected? Your brand should have different types of content to help people at any point in their journey. Whether the person is a potential customer or a repeat visitor, you should have content that caters to all sorts of groups. Each of these customer segments is different and should have unique content.
  • Develop. Content can take many forms, so try different methods to see what works best for you. Tell stories that are engaging about your employees, founders or even customers to make an emotional connection with your audience. Find relevant information about similar topics to share, including statistics, quotes or funny facts. You can even crowd source and have your customers create content for you by asking them to share stories about themselves and your product/services.
  • Design. Make your content visually-appealing by using graphics and videos. Did you know that 90% of information that comes to the brain is visual? Infographics are great ways to get your content distributed in a fun and interesting way. They are eye-catching, they show that you are an expert in a subject and they have a tendency to go viral. 40% of people will respond better to visual information than simply plain text.

Remember: quality always wins over quantity. Yes, there is always a positive spin to being in front of a readers’ eyes when they are scrolling through their feed, but what really makes an impact, is when they stop to read what you have to say. At that given moment, you can effectively make a sale, engage them as a client and keep their interest in the future.