A special note from our Membership Director

This city, these cities we get to call home, (Charleston and Mt. P, West Ashley, N. CHS, the Ilsn) we are so lucky to live in, to grow our businesses and raise our families here. The livability is unlike any other place I’ve been. It’s a place where we can all grow up and live happy healthy, active lives, especially our kids of which as you see, I have twin boys Henry and Jackson, who are living their best lives in Kindergarten at Laurell Hill right now. 

But anyway, I really do feel that we have something special here and the CDC is proof. So, now, we need to do our part to keep us on the map, we need a full team effort. We are known for other industries as well, tourism, hospitality/ culinary, foodies are loving it here. Justin Beiber got married here… you know this is a cool spot then. 

Speaking of super influencers, whether you realize it or not, you are representing our city in every piece of content you share. Are there any lawyers reading this? I’m speaking directly to you. I want to share our city in the best way possible.  I want our soul to shine on the map, not just be there. 

The Coffee Talk I presented at the Charleston Digital Corridor is what I love about being on the board of the American Marketing Association. I got to present some best practices from my World to hopefully make someone else’s World that much better. It was cool because the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce was there as well as the Library. Like Ernest had his goal to bring a diverse workforce here, it’s my goal to help amplify it. At rūmbo, we like to say we help amplify a brand’s soul. This is exactly what I’m asking us to do. With your help, we can do exactly that. Attached to this email is the deck I presented at the Coffee Talk, use it to help up-produce your next piece of video content you share for your brand on social media. 

Don’t blink, half the year will be over before you know it. Maybe in the very near future we will be doing a halfway through the year status on our vision board or mission map for 2022. I had the goal to write more content and do my best to give as much value as I can from day to day, person to person. Maybe you have the same goal in writing and you maybe wanted to do a speaking engagement? This is a great outlet for doing so. In light of adding value to our membership, we thought, why shouldn’t you get the same opportunity? I’m inviting you to be a guest writer for our quarterly newsletter. This is your time to check off that goal you created to be a part of something bigger and an easy way to get your name out there as a thought leader. 

I encourage you to reach out to me if you want to connect, become a member or have questions about video production!

Mike Compton
Membership Director

All About The Margins

One thing I hear from agency owners all the time is “how do I know if we are doing well financially? What does good look like?”

In my view, the balance sheet is the most important financial statement to look at. I tell all of my clients, “the balance sheet is where the bodies are buried.” In other words, if your accounting processes and procedures are faulty, they will necessarily show up on the balance sheet. Additionally, an accurate balance sheet will tell you whether or not your business is healthy and likely to sustain itself.

The balance sheet is great, but most agency owners focus on the P&L (sometimes exclusively), plus they want to know how their financial performance compares to other agencies. For agency benchmarking, we look at resources such as ProfitCents, RMA and Ibis Industry Reports, as well as industry reports from associations such as The Bureau of Digital. 

While benchmarking data is great, it’s only a point of reference as agency structures and service lines vary greatly. For instance, some agencies utilize contractors to deliver all of their work. Some exclusively utilize internal employees. With so much variability, how can you use benchmarking data effectively? Well, for starters, you should always be benchmarking your agency against itself. However, if you’re going to use external data, it’s all about comparing the margins.

Gross Margin

Gross margin is calculated by subtracting cost of sales from gross revenue, which will tell you what amount of the next dollar you earn is available to pay fixed expenses and/or take as profit. Cost of sales are variable. In other words, they are expenses you will incur only when you derive a dollar of revenue. If the revenue doesn’t exist, neither does the cost. Examples of cost of sales are project-specific contractors, project-specific software and customer website hosting fees. To express this number as a percentage, more meaningful than simply assessing as a dollar figure, simply divide gross margin by gross revenue.

Net Margin

Net margin is calculated by subtracting fixed expenses from gross margin. Examples of fixed expenses are rent, operational software (e.g. Zoom), salaries, insurance, etc. Net margin is otherwise known as net income, or “the bottom line.” We want this number to be as high as possible, as it represents the amount of money the agency made for any given period. It’s worth noting, though, that net income does not necessarily equal cash flow, the explanation for which is beyond the scope of this blog. To express net margin as a percentage, simply divide net income by gross revenue. Generally, 15% is the minimum percentage we like to see from agencies.

Contribution Margin

Contribution margin is calculated by subtracting payroll expense from gross margin. Remember when I said earlier that benchmarks vary because some agencies use contractors (variable expense, reflected in cost of sales) rather than employees (fixed cost)? This calculation is how you normalize labor cost when considering external benchmarking data in relation to your agency. This measure can also be expressed as a percentage by dividing by gross revenue.

Benchmarking is an important exercise to understand whether your agency is performing good or bad relative to your peer group. Margins are important to measure as they will help you understand how much of the revenue you are likely to keep as you grow, as well as to give you targets to strive for. A good practice is for an agency owner to review all three margins on a regular basis, and to benchmark them both to the agency’s historical performance and the broader industry.

Have more questions? Reach out to Charleston AMA Treasurer and CPA extraordinaire Chris Hervochon here.

5 Digital Marketing Tips, Tricks and Trends to Know Right Now

Whether you’re scrolling through Instagram or hear something on a podcast, there is literally no way you can ignore new tips, tricks or trends around digital marketing. If you’re even remotely tapped into the industry, you will get hit over the head with something you may not have known about or HAVE heard/seen it before but it sparks your imagination to think of your work in a different way.

That’s where this round-up comes from. 

There is no real continuity or cohesiveness to any of these on the list other than they may help you learn something new or remind you of something you haven’t thought about in a while. Either way, here are five tips, tricks and trends you can use right away.

  1. An easy way to go viral on Twitter

Written a blog post or long-form article recently? Great, you now have what you need to go viral on Twitter. A very easy way to get more exposure and engagement on your Tweets is by creating a Twitter thread with all the content you already have. Keep on with your Twitter game since there will likely be new changes headed to the platform VERY soon with its new owner!

  1. Keep in mind this new vocab that is leaking out in to the WWW

That’s right! A new digital language = ‘algospeak’, which is literally new words being published online and across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch in an effort to create a brand-safe lexicon that will avoid getting posts removed or down-ranked by content moderation systems. For instance, in many online videos, it’s common to say “unalive” rather than “dead,” “SA” instead of “sexual assault,” or “spicy eggplant” instead of “vibrator.” Keep this in mind for your next SEO meeting…

  1. Create animation or a super quick video with your screen record

Bypass an app, long hours editing or even downloading from another platform to create a very quick, down and dirty video or animation, use your phone’s screen record feature! I do this often to create another piece of content for social channels, especially! Check out this one I created after Mike Compton and I did IGTV Live. I created this fun animation just by scrolling through our faces while I recorded my screen. Done and done!

  1. Remember Blue Ocean Strategy?

Based on the book published in 2004 by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy refers to the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand. It is about creating and capturing uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant. While published some time ago, the principal here still applies: Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Get creative with YOUR brand as it is unique to you in a space where there are no new ideas. 

  1. What the F is an NFT NE way

It’s a digital flex, mostly in the art world and whether you’re the buyer or seller, anyway you put it, I see this fading out real quick. Crypto, however, will be sticking around

So there you have it! Hope this ignited some inspiration for you and your work. Have questions or want to chat about these more? Email me at: taylor@charlestonama.org

Sponsorship Opportunities within Charleston AMA

The board of Charleston AMA prides themselves on the fact that they volunteer hours to create educational, idea-sharing, networking opportunities for marketing professionals in the Charleston area. But these opportunities would not be possible without the kindness and support of sponsors. As a credited 501c3, Charleston AMA uses the generosity of sponsors to organize exceptional events and programming, share new ideas, along with aiding fellow Charleston marketers to advance in their careers. 

As a sponsor of Charleston AMA, you are not only supporting their efforts to strengthen and nurture the local marketing community, you are also able to benefit from the countless business and networking opportunities that Charleston AMA provides. We encourage sponsors to promote their brands at events they back by setting up a table/space with products/promotional collateral, along with the opportunity to speak to attendees about their business. Besides brand promotion at events, sponsors also receive digital promotion through Charleston AMA’s social media outlets (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn) as well as through email marketing. 

Sponsors not only have access to Charleston AMA’s 100+ members, social followers (Instagram: 1,070, Facebook: 2,300, Twitter: 4,165, LinkedIn: 598) and email recipients, but they can also obtain connections with American Marketing Association’s National organization and the 70+ surrounding AMA chapters. Is that an appealing way to grow your audience or what?! 

There are dozens of opportunities to get involved with Charleston AMA, such as:

  • Coffee Talks
  • Happy Hours
  • Luncheons
  • Special Events (such as the annual Spark! Awards and educational Boot Camp)
  • Newsletters 
  • Podcast (NEW!)

Charleston AMA understands that no two businesses are the same, so they customize each package to best benefit the sponsor. 

If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities with Charleston AMA, contact sponsorship director, Noelle Richard noelle@charlestonama.org

Marketing in 2022 (or is it 2020, too?)

It feels like the remix of 2020, and across the board many of us marketers are having a bit of PTSD. With COVID cases spiking everywhere, it leaves a lot of uncertainty as to what the next steps should be to kick off the new year.

While there are still many in-person events and luckily no lockdowns insight, it still begs the question of whether planning events is worth the risk? Or better yet – what is the best ROI for marketing dollars in 2022? What are the best use of your time, efforts, and talents?

Let’s jump into some ideas that won’t blow your budget and should make a bigger splash than a New Year’s Day polar plunge:

Hone your brand

Have you been itching for a rebrand, a fresh website, or a new color scheme? If it doesn’t carry a big price tag, now might be the time to try that edgy image update. Another idea is to take a moment to organize and polish yourself with a new brand book, fresh graphics, an entire year campaign strategy, and more. 

Content, content, content!

The old adage is true – content is king, so build an empire in 2022 with more content. Take this time to create a content strategy and stick to it. Analyze your results, and pivot focus if necessary (we are pros at that now!). Work on that SEO research you have been putting off. View this as a gift – it’s time to be more proactive than reactive, and really craft the marketing content and campaigns of your (and your clients!) dreams. 

And with that, we get to our third idea…

Try something new

Mastered blog posts and boosted your social following? That’s great, but can you TikTok? The point is, expand your skillset. Keeping your marketing chops sharp is all about continual learning. Social media platforms are always adding new features and updating algorithms so it is up to you and your team to stay keen on the latest and greatest. 

So stay agile, curious, and connected with your Charleston AMA Community! Together, we can make 2022 a year of marketing triumphs here in the Holy City. 

Reflecting on 2021

And just like that, we are at the end of 2021. 

This year wasn’t the year that I had prepared for when I considered running for president-elect. No one could see what was going to happen in 2020, and we certainly did not think we would still be in the pandemic at the end of 2021. Well, at least this overly optimistic person did not. Despite the past two years not developing to be all that we had hoped, we have proved the resiliency of our Charleston chapter and the community we love. Together we pivoted and created opportunities for professional development outside of our norm. You all kept showing up for events, even when the Zoom fatigue was next-level. And for this, the board and I are forever grateful.

As we go into the New Year, I am excited for not only the opportunity to be back in person for events but to have the opportunity to take what we learned in the past year to grow. We recognize that one of the many benefits of being a member of the Charleston American Marketing Association is the opportunity to network and gather together. We are excitedly working on a new calendar of events full of opportunities to learn, grow and engage in our community.

One of our highlights this year was the highly successful Spark! Awards. After having to take a year off to do a virtual event, it was wonderful to be amongst our peers and celebrate our marketing community in person with dancing, drinks, and seeing new and familiar faces. We have exciting plans for the 2022 Spark! Awards and our annual Marketing Bootcamp coming up in a few months. Not to leave out our signature programming and new opportunities to mix and mingle. Let’s just say, I am exhilarated, proud, and hopeful for all the things to come.

I want to take a moment to thank my fellow board members and volunteers for their dedication and hard work throughout this past year. Some of you started during the pandemic and quickly jumped in headfirst. All of us were forced to evolve and think outside the box to deliver programming that mattered. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to work beside you, and as you know, are all marketing superheroes in my book.

2022, we are coming in hot and hope you are ready. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you at an event soon. Happy New Year! 🎉

Stephanie Barrow
President, Charleston AMA

Compton’s Corner- October Edition

As I’m delivering the last Spark! Awards to our winners, I’m fortunate enough to see these companies with fresh eyes as I’m still learning all that Charleston has to offer. Each company I stop by has its own story, its own KPI’s, its own clients, and most importantly: their own teams filled with HUMANS. They are so very unique and different from each other, yet they all have more things in common than you’d think, the Charleston lifestyle and AMA are the easy ones to point out. I’m sure we can all agree that they all have another major common denominator in creating the best work for their clients so that they keep coming back. This is where I love the Spark! Awards, the best in CHS shine and CAMA gets to brag about it.

Once we dig in, we also find that there are a lot of things we have in common along with the reasons why we should come together as a community. There, I said it, this is our call to action, this is our north star, we are calling for our members to support CAMA with our mission to bring our community together and find growth, together, in our local economy because of it. Look at what the Tech industry is doing with The Charleston Digital Corridor. We can do that with advertising and marketing.

We need to come together and share each other’s stories, for reasons I don’t have to mention (2020 did happen).  

CAMA is in the beginning stages of this Community > Membership campaign. You may have heard that Zuckerberg might famously close his meetings with the mantra “Company over Country” with his fist-pumping in the air. We are taking a different approach, one would say, the opposite approach.

CAMA feels the need to come together as one to put CHS on the map as a creative hub that knows advertising and marketing, not only in the hospitality and tourism industry, but also with the big brands in technology, healthcare, and nonprofit industries. We further lift Charleston as a lifestyle destination for: 

  • Marketing execs that want to escape their (mostly) cold headquarters
  • Recognize and capitalize on the plethora of talent (it is vast!)
  • Charleston’s ever-expanding HQ hub of major brands who continue to build and expand 
  • The booming diversity of small startups, new boutique shops and independent entrepreneurs

The workplace is so remote these days that the HQ or the CMO can be elsewhere and you can still build a prosperous business with a rich marketing strategy. Charleston has so many ties to large organizations or remote workers who are here because they choose to be. People are moving from all over to grow our community. 

I realize I may be alienating or making some execs (SUITS!) feel uneasy with this campaign of Community > Membership, but that’s where I believe we grow. Within these uneasy feelings, begins new conversations, real conversations about corporate consciousness, connecting to the next generation, driving authentic experiences, and truly reaching out for diverse POV’s. 

Technically, I am one of those suits, and as an agency owner, I feel that it’s important for us to constantly be putting ourselves and our businesses out there with authenticity and a touch of vulnerability that will help our culture thrive along with our KPI’s and ROI. This is not a new concept, but it’s finally getting the respect it deserves. Be HUMAN, put people over profit, share your stories, share your strategies, be vulnerable, your brand will grow and you’ll help your client’s brand grow with you, instead of the other way around. Beiber sings about it, lol, you’re the BRAND now!

For that to happen, we have to start by being the change, we have to be the voice and complacency is not an option. Know that when you join CAMA you aren’t just joining a club, a grocery store coupon list, a gym or just paying a yearly subscription to discounted CAMA events – you’re joining our community. Our growing, thriving, interesting Charleston marketing community.

Community > Membership.

Email me if you want to participate in this campaign with us: mike@charlestonama.org

Mike Compton
Director of Membership