Two Roads Diverge: Discovery vs. Search

Image via flickr.

A few decades ago, William Trogdon found himself at a crossroads – out of work and out of a marriage. Unsure of what the future held, he set out on what was to be his own personal discovery of America; a journey that would consume three months and some 13,000 miles. Trogden’s only criteria was to stick to two lane highways and small towns. Writing under the pseudonym William Least Half-Moon, he chronicles his travels in Blue Highways: A Journey Into America, a bit of a cult classic. Along the way, he encounters characters ranging from the born-again Christian teenager to a boat builder, a prostitute, a maple syrup farmer, a Hopi Native American medical student, and a host of others.

This past week, my wife and I were invited by friends to spend New Year’s weekend with them in Scottsdale, Arizona. We knew exactly where we were going, and when we wanted to be there, and had only to determine the airline with the best rates and schedule. In making the trek to Arizona, I focused on getting there as quickly and efficiently as possible: no detours, whether they be farmers, hitchhikers, or prostitutes.

My path was direct, like search, while the path of Blue Highways was meandering, like discovery – Charles “discovered” a lot of interesting places and people that he didn’t know he was looking for – but he sure was delighted when he found them. In my case, I knew exactly what I wanted, and was satisfied when I got my answer.

Said another way, Christopher Columbus was “searching” for a water route to India. Of course, he “discovered” America – perhaps not what he set out to do, but arguably a discovery that had far greater economic, social, and historical impact.

Putting this in Trapit’s perspective, when you need information, we like to think of it in two axes. The first is precision: I know what I want – a fact (when did Columbus “discover” America? What was the name of his flagship?) Or it may be driving directions to that new restaurant, or finding that replacement part for your vacuum cleaner.

The second axis is serendipity, the magic we experience when we find something that is really interesting, that didn’t know we were looking for–the Appalachian log cabin restorer that William Trogdon met, or the cocoa beans that Columbus brought back from the New World to the delight of European aristocrats. When it comes to information, a balance of these two axes is important: too much precision is simply boring, while unconstrained serendipity is chaos – a random collection of data without personal relevance.

The web has gotten too big not to be personalized; it is growing and changing much faster than your interests. Can search meet your needs? Sure, sometimes. Maybe for that vaccum cleaner part – if you can wade through the sites that have paid to make sure they have a chance to sell you a vacuum cleaner – or a toaster. But capturing the surprise and delight we remember from when the web was young. Exploring the unknown. That’s discovery.

Gary Griffiths
Trapit CEO and Co-founder

Using Content to Portray Your Professional Brand

In our last blog, Mark discussed how to determine your professional brand. If you missed it, here are the four steps he suggests:

  1. Identify personality traits that you like about yourself.
  2. Interview the people who know you the best.
  3. Think about how your personality fits with your company’s brand.
  4. Brainstorm ways that you can showcase your personal brand online.

For the entire story, click here.

Okay, so, you’ve done the soul searching, you’ve taken the quizzes, you’ve interviewed your inner circle, you’ve aligned your brand with your company’s brand. Now, you’re ready for step 4: how you’re going to show who you are online.

But, how do you do that? Here are four more steps to help you along the way.

Step 1: Pick a few topics that represent your brand

Jot down the topics that are important to you. Is it social media management? Is it personal style and attire? Is it typography? Is it leadership? Is it women in the workplace?

What do you want to be an expert in?

Take, for example, Henry Nothhaft, Jr. As the Chief Product Officer of Trapit, he is interested in content curation and how it can help marketers and salespeople. So, his LinkedIn newsfeed is full of information on content curation. That is part of his individual professional brand.

Step 2: Pick your social channels

By now, we all know that each platform has its own purpose and vibe: professional Linkedin, friendly Facebook, visual Instagram, and Twitter, which does it all. Some platforms accommodate certain topics better than others.

For instance, let’s imagine that you are a make-up artist. Posting selfies of your new favorite lipstick may not be appropriate for LinkedIn, which tends to favor brainier posts. It might be better suited for something like Instagram, which thrives on visual culture.

Step 3: Find content to share

Okay, so, you know the following:

  1. What you want to talk about
  2. Where you want to talk about it

The next step is to start talking about it. One of the easiest ways to start talking about your topics is by sharing links to great articles, videos, blog posts, and news stories.

There’s a catch, though. You have to find the links to share. For starters, you can share links from your company’s blog, or perhaps you have your own blog. You can share those posts, too.

A word of caution: If you share only your company’s blogs, your feed will look like corporate spam. If you share only your own blog posts, you will look self-centered.

There’s a general rule for social media sharing. It’s called the 4-1-1 rule, and it was popularized by Joe Pulizzi, the man behind the Content Marketing Institute. For every self-serving tweet, you should retweet one relevant tweet and, most importantly, share four pieces of relevant content written by others.” (If you’re not in the biz, sharing content written by others is commonly referred to as “content curation.”)

While this rule was written for Twitter, the same applies across social channels. For instance, the posting schedule for the CEO of a wearable tech company might look like this:

Monday Post: Promotional – Information on your company’s products or services.Tuesday Post AM: Relevant content from others– Topic: Leadership in tech companies.Tuesday Post PM: Relevant, educational content from the company’s blog.Wednesday: Educational content from a well-respected industry thought leader – Topic: The future of wearable devices.Thursday: Relevant content from others Topic: Marketing through wearable devices.Friday: Relevant content from others– Topic: Creating harmony in the C-suite.

Next week, we will talk about how to find great content to build your professional brand. For now, let’s talk more about how to infuse your personality into your content sharing strategy.

Step 4: Optimize for your individuality

As you pick out pieces of content to share, return to the personality traits that you like about yourself. Sharing content is a simple way to let your personality shine through.

For example, I am a formally trained dancer, and consider myself pretty artsy. So, I like content that is visually appealing and focuses on how things work and move. The content I post tends to reflect this. I cannot write about my love for motion all day everyday, unfortunately, so, with Trapit, I will edit the title of a piece to reflect my interest or perhaps change the photo to something I find more intriguing, something I think will capture my audience’s attention, and that resonates more closely with my personal brand.

One final tip: Be mindful and be consistent

You must remember to be mindful and be consistent. This means be consistent with your brand and be consistent across platforms. Although it’s great to show different sides of yourself, you don’t want these sides to contradict each other.

We’ve all met someone and described them as “being all over the place.” One minute they like red, the next they like blue. They agree, they disagree, you never know what you’re going to get. When posting on social media, you don’t want to give off this impression. It’s not good for business. People will see what you post, and if you are “all over the place,” they will distrust you and your professional brand.

You need to be congruent when you’re posting, regardless of platform. Don’t just share anything you come across, or write a rant about something topical. Remember, Mark pointed out that we must be professional when portraying our personal brand. Stop and think. How will this reflect on me and on my company?

Once you know who you are, have defined your brand, and are ready to reveal yourself online, remember that content curation is going to be your best bet for standing out. You want to set yourself up for success, content curation will get you there.

Mark will follow up with more details on how to curate content, and how it all works.

Stay tuned!

-Maura

Download our white paper called Content Curation: What is it, and Why should I care?

Image via:Stefano Principato

Two Mandatory Content Marketing Checklists

The daily life of a marketer can be pure chaos. Since each program and promotion has multiple moving parts, it is hard to stay on top of everything.

I don’t know about you, but I have had nightmares about my daily marketing routine. On more than one occasion, the thought of scheduling 10 posts for LinkedIn on a given day (rather than Twitter) has woken me up in the middle of the night.

To put my mind at ease and to help keep track of everything, I have created several checklists for Trapit’s marketing activities. I thought that I would share a couple of my lists with you.

I hope that they help you get done everything you need to get done!

Your Daily Social Media Checklist

Social media never sleeps. It’s always going. Don’t worry, though. You can tame the social media beast. Here’s a shortened version of the Trapit social media checklist.

Read and respond to all incoming tweets, LinkedIn comments, Google+ comments, and Facebook messages from the previous business day.

If you do not know the response to an enquiry, ask someone in your company who does know.

Check for connection requests, friend requests, and new followers. Accept and follow back when appropriate.

Triple-check all your scheduled posts. Make sure that the links work, that you have tagged the right people, and that there are no misspelled words.

Examine the flow of your social media posts. Are you sharing a good mix of content that includes both educational and promotional content, as well as created and third-party content? If not, adjust accordingly.

Check with your colleagues (or content curation management tool) to see if there are any events, promotions, industry news, or pre-approved content that you should share.

Track your metrics and adjust accordingly.

Metrics: Are your paid promotions under budget?

Metrics: Which types of posts have performed well? And at what time have they performed well?

Your Daily Blog Post Checklist

At Trapit, we write both original and curated blog posts. The following list is meant for the latter, but you can easily adapt it for your original content.

This blog post has an introduction. (Yeah, it seems kind of obvious, but sometimes, you need a good reminder.)

This blog post has a conclusion. (Again, it seems obvious, but…)

All the links work.

The headers follow the company’s style guidelines.

I have given myself enough time to edit the post – at least 5 hours ahead of the deadline.

I have brainstormed multiple headlines, and this headline is the best one for my post.

There aren’t any run-on sentences.

This post is written for the web, and none of the paragraphs are too long.

Every word is spelled correctly.

I can’t cut any words or sentences.

I have provided context to the articles. My readers can understand why this article is important.

I have added my own take on the articles provided in the post.

What’s on Your List?

What can I say? I’m a nerd.

I enjoy creating lists – largely because no list is ever complete. I like having a work in a perpetual state of progress, and I’m always trying to add to my own. So, what’s on your lists? What did I miss?

-Mark

Want more help getting organized?

Download our interactive content curation workbook, which walks you through planning your content curation strategy.

In it, you will learn how to:

  • Explore your content curation objectives
  • Understand your audience
  • Determine your content themes for your curation
  • Create an editorial calendar for your blog, e-mail, and social media channels
  • And more!

Two of the Worst Sales Enablement Headaches (and How to Fix Them)

Pain points – everyone has them.

Typically, when B2B marketers and salespeople discuss pain points, they’re referring to their customer’s problems. But we can’t forget that marketing and sales departments have their own pain points, too. Sadly, those pain points often arise from a shaky sales enablement relationship.

Let’s look at two of the most annoying problems that sales enablement faces today. Plus, we’ll give you actionable tips on how to fix those problems.

1. Your Marketing and Sales Collateral Isn’t Easily Findable

Compared to a decade ago, we have better search capabilities today. We have better storage capabilities. Yet, marketing and sales teams can’t find better ways to organize their content. Sales teams spend far too much time searching for marketing collateral.

In 2009, salespeople spent:

  • 5 hours a week looking for marketing material (IDC)

Over time, those numbers have not improved. In 2015…

  • Sales representatives spend 31% of their time searching for or creating content (Docurated)

Why are sales teams spending so much time looking for content? In part, it’s because marketing teams are relying too heavily on email.

  • 49% of the respondents indicated that their content is distributed by email (IDC)

If you’re like me, your inbox is a black hole for content. It’s impossible to find anything.

The Solution

Invest in creating a content library, where salespeople can find content and sample messages that marketing has approved. Ensure that this portal is…

  • Easily accessible
  • Flexible enough to group content according to your sales team’s needs
  • Available on mobile devices so that your sales team can find content wherever they are
  • Designed to facilitate easy social sharing

2. Your Content Isn’t Helpful

We, marketers, spend a lot of time and money on creating content. It pains us to know that much of our content is not getting used – ever.

The numbers vary slightly, depending on the source that you consult. But generally speaking, a lot of content isn’t used:

  • Over 40% of content doesn’t get used (Qvidian)
  • 33% of marketing assets go unused or under-utilized (IDC)

Why aren’t people using your marketing assets? On the one hand, it could be because your content is hard to find. On the other hand, it could be because the content is not good.

Even though we, marketers, know that buyers want educational content, we have a tendency to create content about us and our product – not about the buyers and their needs.

  • 56% of sales representatives say that their library is purely product-centric (IDC)

Other times, our content is too generic. Buyers read our content and think, “This could apply to anyone.” As the Demand Gen Report writes in an ebook on content preferences:

Sometimes, your sales team needs industry-specific marketing collateral because that’s what buyers want. They want to know, for instance, if other tourism boards are using your product.

The Solution

Ultimately, content marketers aren’t in the business of reading minds. They shouldn’t guess what the sales team needs or what their customers need. Instead, they should take the time to interview customers and speak with salespeople.

When meeting with salespeople, don’t let your conversations turn into pointing fingers. Instead, make your sales and marketing meetings about the customer. It seems simple, but we often forget it.

During those meetings, ask:

  • What do our buyers need?
  • How do we know what our buyers need? (For instance, have we met with them and asked?)
  • What are the common questions that our buyers raise?
  • What kinds of content is currently resonating with our buyers?
  • How do we know which content is resonating with buyers?
  • Can we map our content to the stages of the sales funnel?

Alleviate Your Pain

If you really want to alleviate the pain points between sales and marketing, make a few of these tweaks in your content management process. Take the time to figure out what your customers want, and once you have that information, curate great content that your sales team can easily find.

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Turning your audience into brand ambassadors

When it comes to content marketing, there’s a fine line between a brand knocking one out of the park and whiffing at the pitch. Sticking with the baseball analogy, as a brand steps up to the plate, simply making contact is not enough. The goal is nailing that sweet spot, making a perfect connection–not with a leather ball–but with the audience. However, fans of a brand want to do more than observe from beyond a fence. Brilliantly, brands today are recognizing that great content marketing campaigns often stem from creative ways of boosting audience involvement. To truly feel engaged with a brand, sometimes a fan needs to be the one gripping the bat.

User-Generated Content Selling the Nike Look

I first witnessed this type of role-reversal marketing strategy via Instagram. A friend of mine had posted a stunning image of a pair of Nike Flyknit running shoes marching atop a steamy Manhattan manhole cover with the caption “steam state of mind.” The idea coincided with Nike’s budding technology, which implements a steam machine to mold a shoe’s shape around the unique contours of a runner’s foot. In the photo’s comments, Nike’s official Instagram reached out–via #FlyKnit hashtag–asking to use the image in a “Flyknit is for Winners” marketing campaign. It was refreshing to see a brand on social media operating without a blatant motive to sell-sell-sell, but rather to high-five a loyal consumer for contributing great content in the social sphere. Ever since, I’ve been interested in how brands are creatively engaging with their audiences, particularly those choosing to curate and publish user-generated content, effectively turning common fans into notable brand ambassadors.

Fans and Pros Take the Wheel with Mercedes-Benz

A la Nike, Mercedes-Benz developed a fantastic method of creating audience involvement with their “Take the Wheel” competition this summer. After selecting five of Instagram’s “top” photographers, the group was given five days behind the wheel (of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA) to snap pics of anything life on the road inspired. The total number of “likes” accumulated decided the winner of which photographer got to keep their new set of wheels. Despite how awesome it would be to win a free car for taking photos, you could argue that Mercedes-Benz was the real winner. Newfound fans flocked to its social media account in droves through the #CLATakeTheWheel tag, benefiting both the reach of the participants and brand itself. The campaign curated and published the best images on its website, bringing in great brand exposure from a much younger age demographic that high-end luxury automobiles don’t naturally cater toward.

Curating a Following on Etsy’s Pages

However, not all user-centric campaigns are as easy as creating hashtags for fans to filter content through, which makes for a simple everything in one place curation process. Take Etsy’s freshly launched “Pages” for example. With a very Pinterest-esque feel to it, select users (more notable than the average fan) are able to curate both personal and user-generated content on pages organized by creative themes such as vintage, typography, gifts, or even specific color schemes like “red.” Although the launch seems like a surefire hit, Gigaom writer Laura Owen questions the long-term sustainability of such a feature, due an increasing deluge in an over-flooding marketplace, coupled with the concern of potential “curation fatigue.” With many Etsy Pages contributors already owning Pinterest boards and other various social media outlets, discovering new content to feature in real-time can get overwhelming and time-consuming. Unlike Nike and Mercedes-Benz, the curators are the ones mining for gold, not the audience.

Though there are many noticeable distinctions between Nike, Mercedes-Benz and Etsy’s content marketing strategies, the three tend to revolve around a familiar theme: harnessing a recognition of one’s audience and acknowledging the value regular consumers can provide for a brand on the creative front. User-generated content data will continue its rapid growth in today’s evolving digital age and, back to the baseball analogy, they should be seen as ducks on the pond…

It’s up the brand to drive them home.

-Geoff

Trapit

Machine Learning Engineer

To apply for this job, send us an email at job@trapit.com

We’re building an exciting personalization and recommendation platform. Come and join us and hack on bleeding edge NLP and ML research applied to web-scale datasets in search, information extraction, clustering and collaborative filtering.

Location Palo Alto, CA; Portland, ORSkills and Responsibilities You’ll work on expanding our existing classification, filtering, and content extraction technology. Research and prototype new methods for adaptive learning and relevance determination and ship production ready code by collaborating with the rest of our backend team, each of them passionate and opinionated engineers with their collective experience spanning software engineering, large multi-site databases, and platform scalability.

  • You should have solid experience with machine learning and numerical analysis toolkits
  • Strong background in NLP (tagging, chunking, semantic extraction), Machine Learning (clustering, classification) and information retrieval (lucene, solr, etc)
  • Sound programming fundamentals in Python and optional experience in C, C++, etc.
  • Search relevance experience a plus
  • Interest in Data Visualization (R/D3)
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and strong drive to contribute to all aspects of the product and company
  • Experience working in a UNIX/Linux environment

Technologies (Bonus points for knowing!) We use a number of languages and open source components for our platform. You should enjoy working with some or all of the following:

  • Linux!
  • Git/GitHub for version control
  • Multi-threaded Python (the majority of our code), Java, C/C++
  • Unit tests, Mocking, Continuous integration
  • Multiple production deployments on a daily basis

UI Engineer

To apply for this job, send us an email at job@trapit.com

We are looking for a motivated hacker seeking big challenges and willing to push his or her skills to the limit. We only use the best technologies available and if we can’t find what we need, we create our own.

Location Palo Alto, CA; Portland, ORSkills and Responsibilities

  • Strong knowledge of web-related technologies
  • Strong knowledge of object oriented programming
  • Fluency in HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, jQuery
  • Knowledge of a MVC javascript based framework such as:
  • Your code is your best resume. Big bonus points if you’ve worked on a project involving any of the aforementioned technologies and you are willing to discuss the code with us
  • Knowledge of design principles, user experience, and user interface
  • Light design skills (Illustrator, Photoshop,Gimp)
  • You love learning new programming languages or trying new technologies

Technologies (Bonus points for knowing!)

  • Node Js
  • Twitter bootstrap
  • Bower
  • Responsive web design
  • LESS or SASS
  • A unit testing framework

Territory Sales

To apply for this job, send us an email at job@trapit.com

Trapit is seeking an energetic, experienced self-starter to join the sales organization. This role provides an experienced sale person the autonomy to own their territory and drive revenue growth across all vertical calling into line of business executives. Reporting to the President of the company, the employee will have direct access to experienced executives who can mentor and open doors. Trapit’s content curation platform is the most advanced and comprehensive in the industry and the rate of growth since announcing the Content Curation Center application in September is unsurpassed. By joining Trapit, you will have the opportunity to be an integral part of a fast growing organization with significant opportunity for advancement.

Location Palo Alto, CA; Austin, TXSkills and Responsibilities

  • Manage a sales territory to sell Trapit’s Content Curation Center
  • Build a territory plan – rich with KPI’s and tactics on revenue attainment
  • Be a self starter building leads through prospecting/networking efforts
  • Establish strong customer relationships establishing enduring partnerships for upsell and limit churn
  • Learn to demo the product and curate content that is applicable to the customer use case
  • Use Salesforce to keep opportunities and pipeline successfully managed
  • Report weekly on forecast
  • Meet/beat quota assigned
  • Work across the sales and marketing organization as a member of the team to share ideas and increase knowledge

Must Haves

  • A strong track record of quota achievement
  • 4 – 8 years of sales – SaaS selling experience desired
  • A passion for customer success/satisfaction
  • Knowledge of Salesforce
  • Experience building and managing territory plans
  • Strong communication, presentation, listening and written presentation skills with an excellent ability to formulate
  • compelling content marketing or curation ideas for a web site audit.

  • Highly organized but with a strong sense of urgency to get the deals closed
  • A passion for learning and building – this is a start up with huge growth potential

Nice to haves

  • Bachelor’s degree in Business, Marketing or related fields
  • Experience in selling into line of business with focus on marketing
  • Knowledge of marketing automation systems and workflow
  • Knowledge of content management systems
  • Hands on marketing experience – lead generation, event management or brand mgt.
  • Ability to work in a virtual environment

Other Need to KnowsPosition is based in Austin, TX or Palo Alto, CA occasional travel required. Technologies (Bonus points for knowing!) —

Platform Engineer

To apply for this job, send us an email at job@trapit.com

Trapit’s core machine learning and personalization engine continues to expand. Bring your elite programming and systems architecture skills to bear on the challenges and excitement of growing a highly distributed, big data consumer Internet infrastructure running a cutting-edge data- and compute-intensive learning engine.

Location Palo Alto, CA; Portland, ORSkills and Responsibilities

  • Deep experience in building big distributed data and compute clusters
  • Concurrent high-performance programming experience in Python, C/C++, and optionally other high-level dynamic languages
  • Real experience in active production environments
  • Rockstar UNIX/Linux architecture, development, and systems skills

Technologies (Bonus points for knowing!) The Trapit engineering team uses a number of languages and open source components for our platform. You should enjoy working with some or all of the following:

  • Concurrent Python (the majority of our code)
  • Lucene or other search information retrieval
  • Redis
  • Postgres clusters; and advanced queries
  • Linux with emphasis on deployment automation
  • C/C++/Objective-C
  • Node/Backbone/jQuery
  • nginx/gunicorn
  • Distributed version control, especially git
  • Familiarity with lean/scrum development practices

Turn the Page Again – An Announcement from Addvocate-Trapit CEO, Gary Griffiths

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” – Benjamin Franklin

It wasn’t long ago – less than a year – that I wrote about the first significant change to our business. It was a difficult but necessary decision to abandon our then popular free consumer service. Today is also about change, but instead of shutting something down, we’re expanding. Expanding our product offerings, expanding our team, and hopefully expanding our opportunities.

Today we are announcing the merger of Addvocate and Trapit. Not only a change for Addvocate and Trapit but also a major change for the marketplace and how content marketing needs will be met.

We all know the market is fragmented – literally hundreds of companies attacking different elements of the problems you face in reaching prospective companies. We heard from many of our customers and prospects that they had to purchase many point solutions to get what was needed to execute their marketing plans. We listened, and we decided to be aggressive and be on the leading edge of many more expected mergers and acquisitions in the industry. We wanted to be first to deliver a truly comprehensive solution to meet your needs. We decided to make a change. We decided to merge two companies.

Addvocate and Trapit have much in common; California-based startups, venture backed, both looking to build a successful business serving the increasingly expanding market broadly defined as Content Marketing.

But our two companies are very different, as well. Addvocate’s operations are contained solely in San Francisco. While Trapit maintains headquarters in San Francisco, our small company is decentralized, with our largest office in Portland, Oregon.

Prior to our merger, we were addressing this large market from different perspectives. For Addvocate, it was about enabling a company’s entire work force to generate, curate, and share information in the interest of building awareness for the brand or product. It’s a powerful concept – employee advocacy – one in which every single employee becomes an extension of the marketing team. Meanwhile, Trapit’s approach focused on content: the discovery, curation, and distribution of highly relevant, real-time content to the audience our customers are trying to reach. For content is the currency in which marketers trade.

This difference between Addvocate and Trapit is critical, for together we deliver a complete range of capabilities needed by marketing leaders as they execute their content marketing strategies. The new platform combines the power of discovery (both machine and user-generated), curation, distribution, and amplification of highly relevant content. All of this is integrated with analytic tools to help marketers determine what content is working and what is not, thus providing the insight needed to derive real ROI.

This change allows us to solve two real problems: 1) marketers are able to get the right content, at the right time, and they can deliver it through the right channels; and 2) they can do it all within one solution. Trapit brings the unsurpassed power of its AI/Machine Learning content discovery and curation platform, while Addvocate empowers employees to amplify the voice of the brand in a very human way.

You can read about the power of this combination in our press release. As you can imagine, I want to talk about change. And culture.

Like people, every company has a unique personality. Both companies have built brands they are proud of, and they have developed work styles and routines that are familiar and comfortable. And now that changes, for both sides. We will embrace this change so as to provide an even better experience for our customers. This will be evident in a richer, more complete solution, continued focus on excellence in execution, an undying passion for our customers’ coupled with even more excitement about winning in the marketplace.

I will not trivialize that we have work to do to ensure that our objectives are achieved. Change is hard. Mergers are hard. Mergers require give and take.

But rest assured that we will adapt accordingly so the new company emerges better and stronger than before. Our identity will be forged in how well we serve our customers. From listening to your needs and responding with the delivery of a high-quality solution, to sales integrity, to informative marketing, thought leadership, and most importantly customer success.

We believe that the combination of Addvocate and Trapit position us to do just that and to do it better than anyone else.

As a result of this merger, there will be more choices, more service, more resources. And of course, more cash, thanks to a new infusion of capital led by Rogers Venture Partners of Palo Alto. Trust that I realize that the challenge will be combining the best of two cultures, creating one that is unique and stronger than either alone.

We are all excited about today’s news and ask that you reach out to us to learn more about our plans and how you can benefit immediately. Embrace the change with us.

-Gary Griffiths, CEO of Addvocate-Trapit

True Confessions of a Novice Marketer

As a new marketer, I have felt a plethora of emotions. Some days are up, some days are down, and some days are just downright crazy. But every day I have learned something new. As I think about it, I have noticed some pretty important trends that have helped me to survive my first year as a marketer.

Here are 4 of the most important lessons I’ve learned.

Make A List and Check it Twice – Get Organized, and Stay That Way

In marketing, every day is different. We wear many hats and are often in charge of different kinds of tasks. The first lesson I learned to be successful (and not lose my mind) was to organize, organize, organize!

Personally, I manage events, leads, and campaigns. I also write blogs, punch numbers, create reports, attend meetings, collaborate with other departments, qualify leads, and anything else that might come up in a day.

This can get confusing, and things can slip through the cracks. As a result, my calendar has become my bible. I set aside time everyday to review it and update it. If I am working on a project, I create a timeline with small and big goals and make sure that they are on my calendar. I update all deadlines for events, give myself daily and weekly “To Dos”, and even schedule in lunch. (Otherwise, I might forget to eat.)

So, it might seem obvious, but I cannot stress enough how valuable taking the time to organize can be for the life of a marketer.

Team Up! Use internal and external resources

It is important to not be an island when working in marketing. Even when you’re geared up and excited about a project, there will inevitably be some snags. Make sure you keep your colleagues in the loop. They can help you think through a problem, or look at things from a new angle.

Marketing can be tricky because you have to be both pragmatic and creative. That can be harder than it sounds. Using your coworkers as a resource is a wonderful way to do this. Whether they act as a second set of eyes, or co-lead a new campaign with you, collaboration will be your saving grace.

If you can’t solve a problem or find inspiration by talking it through with your colleagues, use external resources. It’s 2014; most of us sit in front of our computers with the internet right at our finger tips all day long. Don’t let that go to waste.

Here at Trapit, we use our technology everyday to help us become inspired, be aware of what’s happening in marketing, identify problems, and research trends or topics we are interested in. By reading and doing research, I have been able to grow as a professional.

Never Turn Off Your Marketer’s Eye

Something that I find extremely valuable in life and in work is the power to observe. You never know when the opportunity to learn something new will arise. Therefore, try and make your marketer’s mindset a constant, even outside of work.

Observe marketing that happens everyday in your life. Think about the programs you watch, the activities you do for fun, restaurants you like to patronize. Why do you like them? What are some of the marketing techniques that work? How can you adapt them for your next campaign? These questions and observations have helped me be a better marketer and think outside of the box.

Know the Numbers, But Don’t Be a Slave to the Numbers

Let’s face it, numbers rule the day. However, they can also be the worst thing for you when you are trying to be creative. So, when I’m brainstorming new ideas or different strategies, I try and put the numbers to the side and bring them back in later once I develop an idea I like.

The balancing act of being pragmatic and creative is more of an art than a science. Therefore, anything you can do to maximize your success is important. Take the risk, try the different idea, run it past your coworker or your supervisor.

The numbers can be stifling; find a way to set yourself free and you will be much more successful.

So there you have it, the 4 lessons that got me through my first year as a marketer. I hope whether you are starting out too, or have been in the game for years, these ideas resonate true with you.

What are some of your biggest secrets for success? Leave them in the comments section below. I’d love to hear them.

– Maura

Image via Denise Rowlands on Flickr

Trap of the Day: Whitney Houston, RIP

One of my favorite sayings comes from the short-lived Judd Apatow show, Undeclared, in which a peripheral character watches two of the main characters caught up in a lovers’ argument and comments, “They’re just like Whitney and Bobby Brown. So much passion, yet so much pain.” There are some things that shouldn’t be joked about. For me, those things also tend to be the ones that are too hard to handle without the protective distance of humor.

Whitney Houston’s depressingly premature death on Saturday has had a dramatic effect on American fans and figures alike. From Jennifer Hudson’s emotional Grammy tribute to expressions of grief from the likes of Brandy, Beyonce, and Dolly, to a planned dedication on the ever-popular Glee, Houston’s admirers continue to publicly demonstrate the inspirational impact of the late star in their own special ways.

With this passion, though, comes the painful reminder that not everyone in Houston’s life was looking out for her best interests. Tales of Sony hiking up album prices hours after the singer’s death, speculation on Houston’s posthumous net worth, and hurried promises that the Waiting to Exhale sequel will continue on without the singer are already all over the internet as well. Nancy Grace has her own conspiracy theories brewing, and Bill O’Reilly, utilizing his signature brand of jackassery, has suggested that Houston–like all addicts–must simply have wanted to self-destruct (in fairness to O’Reilly, repeatedly checking oneself into rehab in an attempt to get healthy is a recognized form of suicide….oh, wait….no).

Humans are notoriously bad at predicting what will make us happy, and to some extent I think our grief over Houston’s passing is related to our confusion as to what exactly success in life looks like. Even with the enviable talent, kindness, beauty, fortune, fame, and influence (and surely this list could go on) that Houston exhibited, the Dream Life did not protect her from the realities of domestic abuse and addiction. In some sense, I think we want to believe that if we could just have everything we want, we would become invulnerable to the difficulties of being human. The passing of Whitney Houston, though, reminds me that passion may not be enough if we can’t figure out how to manage the pain.

Take care, y’all.

-Becky

Trap of the Day: Tattoos

I swear I once read a quote from Nicole Kidman (whom I only really follow when my sister and I are playing a game we call Freckle Arms, in which we send each other pictures of redheaded celebrities with un-photoshopped skin in order to feel more normal in this largely non-freckle-armed world) about how absurd it is to be represented by a physical body that doesn’t accurately reflect who you feel you are. I can’t find the quote now–and I’m not sure it even sounds like something Kidman would say–but the sentiment is still a powerful one. In an existence where so much of who you are judged to be and how you are treated is based on physicality, it can be frustrating to come to terms with just how limited your power over your own body really is. Enter my interest in tattoos.

Often, tattoos make the personal quite public. I got my first tattoo in remembrance of my deceased bulldog, Dingus, and while there’s still something vulnerable about explaining it to strangers, it’s also a pleasantly open experience. For me, my tattoo is a visible admission of something I value in life (which means I am also fully against the vanity tattooing of pets. What the hell, people?). And while the reasons for getting tattooed may be as diverse as the people getting them–from decorative to defiant to deeply symbolic–I see them all as sharing a common desire to change the outer- to better reflect the inner-self.

Fortunately, tattoos aren’t the scandal they used to be, with even Disney Channel names like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Zac Efron getting publicly inked. Recent statistics suggest that 20% of American adults have at least one tattoo, and even some of those in the older generations are starting to come around to the artform (my parents are still not in this camp, though I appreciate that they only sounded slightly disappointed when I broke the news to them that I got a new tattoo in celebration of my upcoming birthday). Tattoos are even finding a very practical following within the medical community, as people have begun using them to convey allergies and end-of-life wishes, and diabetics may soon get the chance to use them to monitor glucose levels (seriously cool!).

Not everyone’s a fan, though, and those who were initially certain of the permanence of their desires sometimes change their minds. Notably, actress Megan Fox recently began the process of removing all of her nine (or so) tattoos by laser, a procedure that is far more expensive and painful than the initial application of the image. And the appearance and meaning of tattoos can still create some serious public backlash, a fact Erykah Badu has been recently reminded of as Malaysian officials cancelled her concert in outrage over one of her tattoos. But it’s impossible to control for the reactions of others, even the others we might someday become ourselves. Our interior is just as changeable as our exterior, but this doesn’t mean either, in any of their incarnations, is invalid. I see tattoos as one way to make the disconnect between the internal and the physical slightly less wide. And regardless of what a bunch of old white men may want us to believe, our bodies are our own, to understand, modify and come to terms with as we see fit. As a freckle-armed female, there are far worse things people have said to me about my appearance than simply “what’s that tattoo?”

-Becky

PS My new tattoo is an image from the cover of Catch-22, the first book to suggest to me that life is absurd and inherently without meaning, but that it can still be actively and meaningfully lived. Feel free to share your tattoo thoughts, stories, and stances as well, even (especially!) if they differ from mine.

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