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Triangle AMA Funnel Fuel

by Katie Cothran, APSE-ROI Product Manager – ASPE, Inc.

The Triangle American Marketing Association (TriAMA) recently held their Funnel Fuel event in Raleigh, NC. Thanks to the hard work of the TriAMA board members, the workshop was a success. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed it. While there were many topics I was already familiar with, the ideas and camaraderie that flows from events like this is inspiring.

There’s one phrase that can sum up the focus of the day though:  content marketing. While there were great presentations that contained information about CRM, Google Analytics, SEO, entrepreneurship and much more, everything led back to the value content marketing provides. There were more than 100 marketers from across North Carolina and the Southeast, and I’m sure each one left with another 20+ items on their to-do list. Quite a few of those items, I’m sure, were to write and post a few blogs with important keywords of their industries to improve their own content marketing strategy.

Here is a brief recap of the speakers and their presentations:

The New Business Development Ecosystem
Mark O’Brien, President of
Mark discussed the changing landscape of business development and how marketing automation plays a pivotal role. He stressed the importance of integrating your website, marketing automation and CRM for optimal results. Key takeaway:  Make sure you send the right content to the right person at the right time.

Engage! 7 Strategies for Driving Relevance and Resonance in Written Content
Margot Carmichael Lester, Owner & Steve Peha, Senior Construction Specialist,
The Word Factory
Margot and Steve urged that while you’re writing for your customers, don’t forget to write for your readers. Too many people get distracted by the technical details. Make sure you’re telling a story. Their seven strategies to make sure you’re doing that:

  1. Be the audience
  2. Define your audience
  3. Focus on purpose
  4. Increase relevance with questions
  5. Increase relevance with details
  6. Connect with voice and word choice
  7. Design to entice and inform

How to Build Your Business, Your Brand, and Your Bottom Line with Content Marketing
Marcus Sheridan, Founder of
The Sales Lion
For anybody who doesn’t know who Marcus Sheridan is, he’s a pool guy turned marketing and sales sensation. He figured out that all you have to do to run a successful small business is answer the questions your customers want to know, even the scary ones. And of course put all of that online so you rank higher than your competitors in search results. If he ever comes to speak at an event near you, drop what you’re doing and go. He was by far one of the best presenters I’ve seen. He’s also extremely quotable, so instead of the recap of how he made $1.7 million with one blog post, here were a few of my favorite quotes:

  • They ask. You answer. (This was his revolutionary marketing strategy according to the New York Times)
  • I want to be the best teacher in the world for content marketing
  • Stop leaving it in the hands of marketing to teach everything
  • In Google we trust
  • We all type freaky things in Google

Top 10 Ways to Grow Your Business Online
Danielle Hatfield, Community Envoy for
Danielle stressed the importance of constantly communicating with you customers and building your community. With time, that community will trust you, like you, and buy from you. A few of the key top 10 items were:

  • Identify, grow, reward – make your current customers happy, don’t just prospect for new ones
  • Know your story and educate your people – everyone in the company should know
  • Share the responsibility – marketing can’t be the sole silo for social media
  • Own your digital real estate – make sure your brand is easy to find on any social network
  • Participate in a Twitter chat – these groups are active and loyal
  • Track campaign results – measure across multiple channels
  • Create a balance of content – have some that is timeless and some that is relevant for today
  • Get rid of “find us” policy – they don’t need you, you need them, so go find customers
For more information on depth, visit Daniell’s blog post The ‘Find Us’ Philosophy and Why it Needs to Stop.

A Fresh Look at Google Analytics
Jon Parks, Lead Dijital Strategist at
Dijital Farm & ASPE-ROI Instructor
Google Analytics constantly changes its capabilities, and Jon addressed some of the challenges we find in trying to report and analyze the data we find. He also gave four action items to do today that will help you track your audience and what content is performing for you:

  1. Check your traffic – how are people getting to your site; are people sharing your content? How and when? Use that information to re-focus your social media efforts.
  2. Set up a conversion report and examine your paths – What channels are you using, and how to customers eventually convert? Which channels and what frequency did they have with those?
  3. Post out to social media and watch a real time report – Learn best practices and how to adjust quickly to engage your audience. Jon suggested watching the report during a web seminar or another live event.
  4.  Review navigation patterns – How many steps are people taking and how quickly can they find the right information on your site? Make sure to constantly check to make sure your website is still user-friendly.


Big Data, Small Data:  It’s All About How You Use It
Amanda Steinhardt, CRM Strategist at
Amanda reinforced the fact that even if you have terabytes of data, it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t capitalize. To do that, you need to ask the right questions, set goals, segment your customers, plan communication and act.

Being Found Online – Everything You Know about SEO is Wrong
Phil Buckley, Director of SEO at
Virante & ASPE-ROI Instructor
In his Princess Bride-themed presentation, Phil let us all know that SEO is no longer smoke and mirrors, if you thought that in the first place. Google constantly changes and updates its algorithms, making more than 500 changes in 2012. It’s hard to navigate all the changes, but there are still five key principles of advice Phil offered:

  1. Offer what no one else can
  2. Always help your community
  3. Prepare – you still need a good site
  4. Only link up with good people
  5. Love – build relationships, engage your customers, give them something they want and will talk about.

Entrepreneurship in the Digital Age
Bridgette Beam, Global Entrepreneurship at
As the manager for Google’s entrepreneurship program, Bridgette knows quite a bit of why and how the landscape has changed for those who want to bring their idea to fruition. Here are the main reasons entrepreneurs today have a better chance today of building their brand than ever before.

  • The barriers to entry have never been lower
  • Opportunities are everywhere in the global market
  • You can make a better product faster
  • Creators are empowered by data from testing and analytics
  • Growing your community has a tremendous reach and impact. You can sell your product before it even exists.

Thanks again to everybody who spoke at and organized the TriAMA Funnel Fuel. I can’t wait for the next one.

Katie Cothran (@k_cothran) is the product manager for ASPE-ROI at ASPE, Inc., and has more than seven years of marketing experience in various industries. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

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