We are thrilled to announce that our AMA Richmond chapter has been recognized for not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE Chapter Excellence Awards (CEAs)  for the 2019—20 year under Jennifer Barbin’s leadership as President. It’s truly an honor for our chapter to receive such amazing recognition amongst so many other chapters nationwide. The Richmond chapter received the following awards: Leadership Special Merit, Finance Special Merit, Membership Special Merit, Community Special Merit and the Resilience award. 

The Resilience Award

The Resilience award was a new and unique award created specifically for 2020, as it was awarded to chapters that were able to make a quick pivot in March as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Chapters could submit a separate “COVID” entry that was based on the following criteria: Situational Clarity, Community Empathy, Collaborative Learning, Response Creativity and Communication Effectiveness. Only three chapters received this award: Houston, Richmond and Washington D.C.

We are so proud of our Board for coming together quickly to pivot our events to virtual quickly and continue to bring value and events to our members during that time. Behind the scenes, our Board worked tirelessly to find a virtual platform, reschedule events, communicate to members and collaborate with other AMA chapters to figure out the best solutions to continue to provide educational content for our members and provide value for our sponsors. It was truly a team effort and we couldn’t have done it without our amazing team.

About the CEAs

The AMA’s annual Chapter Excellence Awards (CEAs) program highlights exceptional performance among the organization’s 70+ professional chapters across the U.S. and Canada. The CEAs were established in 1974 to recognize local AMA chapters for outstanding achievements in leadership, membership and programming. Entries are judged over a three-day period by a panel of past-presidents of award-winning chapters and members of the AMA Professional Chapters Council.

The AMA Richmond Board is proud to have our chapter recognized on a national level for the hard work and dedication of our board members to make the chapter great for our membership!



image of Coleen MooreCongratulations to Shelby Garzon on being named the AMA Richmond October Effectv Volunteer of the Month!

What She Does for AMA Richmond and Why We Nominated Her:

“A marketing specialist at Markel, Shelby Garzon is our AMA volunteer of the month. Shelby jumped in to help update the AMA Richmond website, adding events to the site to keep the site current. Digitally savvy and a graphic designer, Shelby is a real asset to the AMA Richmond board.” – Antonia Hite, Director Communications

Effectv combines the power of traditional television and premium digital video advertising to reach audiences through high-quality content at any time, on any device, and we’re ready to prove our impact on your business.

2020 has ushered in tremendous change. It’s also been a time for reflection: What we value. How, where, when and WHY we engage. What we desire for the future.

Marketers Empower Others Through Community
One thing that’s become abundantly clear is the critical role of community. It’s central to our mental, emotional and physical well-being. As humans, social connection is a very powerful, fundamental need. (Yes, even for the most introverted among us, like myself.) Community enables us to share experiences, gain exposure to new ideas and open doorways to new opportunities. It gives us a space to learn from each other—and helps us share the burden of challenges and work together to devise solutions.

As marketers, we have the awesome opportunity, and responsibility, for creating community. Whether it’s helping our internal organization align around new ideas, helping the business connect with customers, fostering engagement across a network of customers—or at a larger scale, being change agents for powerful social and societal movements, we’re at the center. Brands like Nike, Patagonia and Airbnb have shown the power of strong communities, both in building brand enthusiasts and in bringing that collective power to bear as a force for social good.

But, Marketers Need Communities Too
That’s why it’s so important that we as marketers have our own communities. The work we do is big, and we can’t go it alone. Whether it’s in social media groups, professional organizations or just ad-hoc [virtual] coffee meetups to learn from and challenge each other, and to lend support in stressful or difficult times.

AMA has been such a community for me. My husband and I relocated to Richmond a few years ago, not knowing many people and without any local professional connections. We had moved to get closer to family and had both kept our jobs in our previous city, so we had nothing to help anchor us here (professionally speaking). And being one of only a few remote employees at my company, I felt a little out of the loop and less able to easily discuss ideas. I still remember my first Marketing Strategy SIG, where I anxiously sidled up to the table, feeling like the “new kid” at the first day of school. Everyone was so welcoming, and I suddenly found myself excitedly talking about my own wins and challenges as a marketer and bouncing questions off the other attendees to understand the best practices they’d discovered. I was hooked.

I’ve been a member of AMA Richmond for almost five years now, and last year I made the leap to joining the board. It’s been such a rewarding experience for me, getting to know so many, learning from others and being challenged in my own skills as I take on new responsibilities and approach new scenarios. (Shout out to anyone handling communications through the spring of 2020!) And while my main goal was to build a professional peer group, I have also found valuable friendships.

Marketing Week Is the Perfect Time to Experience the Power of the AMA Community
October 5 – 9 marks this year’s AMA Marketing Week, and there’s never been a better time to experience the amazing community of marketers that makes up AMA. AMA National is hosting a FREE, 3-day virtual conference on the new digital landscape. And if you’re not a member yet, AMA is unlocking three perks usually only available to AMA members—these tools are meant to help you sharpen your skills and keep you “in the know” on the fast-evolving marketing landscape.

While the events and resources put out by AMA national are a huge part of the value of membership, our local professional chapters take it to the next level. Influential industry speakers, roundtable discussions, opportunities to network…all of those come to life at the local level. And though the pandemic has made in-person events temporarily off-limits, it’s also opened our eyes to our ability to connect on a larger scale. Many professional chapters, including AMA Richmond, have opened up events beyond immediate geographies. If you haven’t checked them out already, I encourage you to take a look at all that’s going on across AMA chapters, in Richmond and beyond, by viewing the professional chapter events listings on the AMA national site.

Start Building Your Community
With so much going on, where do you start? Here are four easy ways to begin building (or strengthening) your community:

  • Attend an AMA event this week. (AMA Richmond’s Content Marketing SIG is 10/7!) If you have an opportunity to speak with others and you feel like you’ve made a connection, jot down their name and connect with them on LinkedIn. When you reach out, be sure to show appreciation for what you learned, or the value of the discussion you had.
  • Schedule a [virtual] coffee date with a connection you haven’t spoken to in a while. Ask about new projects they’re working on that are exciting to them or are challenging them. Ask what they’ve learned through the disruption of 2020. Share your own experiences and learnings.
  • If you’re not a member, join AMA for only $149. While all are welcome, becoming a member unlocks more access to resources and events that can help you hone your craft or take the next step in your career.
  • If you’re already a member and want to deepen your engagement, look for volunteer opportunities. AMA Richmond offers a number of volunteer roles suited to a wide variety of interests, skill sets and time commitment. Volunteering is a win-win for the organization and the volunteer—most volunteers benefit from new relationships and new opportunities to grow in their own development.

However you choose to get involved, I encourage you to take a step forward and focus on building and strengthening your own community so you can be your best in helping create powerful communities for others.

Amanda Creger | Vice President, Communications

image of Coleen MooreCongratulations to Coleen Moore on being named the AMA Richmond September Effectv Volunteer of the Month!

What She Does for AMA Richmond and Why We Nominated Her:

“A senior content and proposal specialist at Keiter, Coleen Moore is our AMA volunteer of the month. This past spring Coleen worked for months, on behalf of the AMA Collegiate Student Scholarships. Lending her marketing expertise, Coleen assisted with marketing campaigns, application reviews and scholarship interviews. A special thanks to Coleen for her efforts, on behalf of our future AMA marketers!” – Shelley Burns


Effectv combines the power of traditional television and premium digital video advertising to reach audiences through high-quality content at any time, on any device, and we’re ready to prove our impact on your business.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, marketing director or a content marketing specialist, developing a social media strategy for your company and managing all the different accounts can be a daunting process. But the importance of social media to your overall strategy can’t be ignored.

Social media is one of the most effective ways to grow your business and generate new leads, and having a presence on major social media platforms is essential in today’s digital landscape. But you don’t want to jump in without a plan! We’ve put together several steps to help you get started with managing your social media accounts.

Develop a strategy
Just like any other marketing initiative, having a strategy is important for achieving your goals. A strategy guides the kind of content you post, serves as a way to track your successes and where you’re falling short of your goals. Your social media goals should be aligned with your brand and the overall marketing goals of the company, so it is helpful to have an executive who has knowledge of these goals involved in the planning.

Create unique content for each platform
Determine your target audience for each platform and the kind of content that will resonate with them. A common social media marketing mistake is to post the same content across all of your accounts, when your strategy should actually be different for each one. Each platform has different audiences, purposes, and vocabulary. Customizing your content to be unique to each platform doesn’t have to be difficult—it simply requires some knowledge of each platform’s nuances. Here’s a brief summary of the best kinds of content to post on the major platforms:

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform where you can showcase jobs and career information, company news and updates, and thought leadership content such as webinars, whitepapers and blog posts.

Facebook allows for a more conversational tone compared to LinkedIn, and you can share posts about your employees, company culture, community involvement, or events. Video marketing is a big trend in 2020, and Facebook is a great platform for it. After YouTube, Facebook is the second leading source for the consumption of video content.

Twitter should be viewed as a real-time platform, and expect your tweets to get a half-life of only 18 minutes. Share lots of relevant and timely content throughout the day that adds value for your audience such as news stories, relevant articles from industry thought leaders and your own educational content. Also note that tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without.

Instagram is the place to post your best-quality photos and share behind-the-scenes photos that feature your company culture. Sometimes brushed aside as an irrelevant platform for businesses, Instagram is actually a great way to showcase your work and your company.

A common social media marketing mistake is to post the same content across all of your accounts, when your strategy should actually be different for each one.
Be careful when connecting your Instagram profile to your other social media accounts and using it as a hub for posting to multiple. Not only is Instagram content not always appropriate for other platforms, there are technical differences as well. For instance, sending an Instagram post to Twitter shares a link instead of the actual image, and an Instagram handle may not be the same on this platform, therefore showing up as a dead link on Twitter.

Some content is appropriate for multiple platforms, but it’s important to edit it to be platform-specific, so that your audience has a reason to follow you on multiple channels and isn’t seeing the exact same content repeatedly. Sometimes this simply requires small tweaks in vocabulary and formatting.

Aim for quality and consistency over quantity
Think of each social media platform as a plant that needs regular, consistent care over time to grow. If you’re just getting started with social media for your company, we recommend beginning with one or two platforms and establishing a regular posting interval, aiming for quality and consistency. Your following on each will learn to expect to see your posts every so often and will rely on your insights. Once you feel comfortable with those platforms, you can expand to using others.

Plan a content roadmap
Once you have a strategy, it’s helpful to create a content roadmap that identifies the topics you want to cover on a monthly, weekly or quarterly basis. Research content roadmaps and editorial calendars to see which works best for you, or create your own. Sometimes a simple spreadsheet does the job.

What many won’t tell you is that developing a content roadmap takes time, especially if you’re planning blog posts as part of your social media content. But don’t get bogged down in the details. Plan ahead yet be flexible to time-sensitive events. If there’s an event that your company should share with your audience, simply postpone other posts that aren’t time sensitive to a later date. Every once in a while, you may reach a point where you are low on content and don’t know what to post. As you develop your content roadmap, this is a great time to come up with evergreen content – content that is always relevant – that you can pull from during those content dry periods.

Schedule content
Once you have a roadmap, you can begin scheduling content to post automatically on some platforms, which will save you time. Reserve a time slot during your day to focus on scheduling content for one week – Fridays often work best. Scheduling one week at a time is very manageable and keeps the process from becoming overwhelming. It also keeps your content up-to-date and relevant for your followers, and it helps you stay responsive to time-sensitive events or posts. As you’re scheduling, keep in mind the best time to post on each platform.

Even after you’ve scheduled all of your social media posts for the week, be sure to monitor your accounts daily to respond to comments or discussions. It’s important to interact with your followers, and a quicker response time is favorable for your company page on platforms such as Facebook, which displays your average message response time.

There are many social media tools out there that can help with streamlining your social media efforts, such as Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprout.

You also may be able to utilize the social media tools of your CRM, such as Hubspot, which enables you to have your blog posts, landing pages and other campaign content all in the same place that you manage your social media accounts. That way, you can easily share this content as well as monitor interactions and your social analytics.

Track Metrics and Analytics
Be sure to take the time to track and measure your social media analytics and goals in order to continue to refine your strategy. Most social platforms have their own built-in analytics tools, and many of the social media management tools do too. Google Analytics can also offer important insights on referrals and lead generation. There are rich insights to be gained from your social media analytics that go well beyond follower counts. They can also be a powerful tool in proving the ROI and value of your social media efforts.

Commit to the long haul
Getting started with social media takes time and effort to build your following. Commit to the long haul! Develop a reasonable content roadmap that you feel comfortable with and stick to it. If you’re regularly sharing quality content that’s valuable to your target audience, then the followers will come.

In the United States, you’ll observe that the condiments aisle of a typical grocery store has over 20 mustard brands. Within these mustard brands, there are often five to eight variations that reflect different tastes (e.g., horseradish, sriracha). In my local market, the mustards take up about six feet of shelf space and run from the very bottom shelf to the top shelf. There are literally hundreds of bottles. As such, the mustard category is an excellent example of a highly contested market.

We have been preoccupied with revenue growth in highly contested markets for the past 20 years. As former senior partners of a global consulting firm, we developed a systematic approach to organic growth that challenges conventional wisdom (it is the focus of our new book published by AMA, The Organic Growth Playbook). We’ll be producing a series of blog posts on ama.org devoted to this topic. We want to stress that we’ll be focusing on organic growth challenges in general – not simply the book content. That said, this being the first blog, herein we will focus on a few of the principles found in the book.

In brief, we have found that the conventional marketing wisdom that permeates all of our textbooks is woefully unreliable. It works sometimes, but more often than not, it does not produce revenue growth. So, what is this conventional wisdom? It typically follows two basic stages: (1) it begins with a focus on refining the product positioning to make it as unique and differentiated as possible, and then (2) effort shifts to activating the target segment with a campaign focused on brand choice (i.e., choose French’s mustard on your next trip to the store). The owners of the major mustard brands (Gulden’s, French’s, Grey Poupon, and relatively new entrants like Heinz) are all following this approach today – with very mixed results. Instead, we would argue that mustard brand owners need to ask themselves three unconventional questions:

  • Is positioning the right card to play?
    While positioning is often necessary for growth, it is not sufficient for growth. Sure, positioning a product uniquely in the minds of target customers (e.g., Grey Poupon’s exclusive, symbolic position) can be beneficial. But the hard truth is that customers often don’t buy brands they like and think are really different. Even when the brand claims a unique location in mind of target customers, sales don’t automatically follow. Instead, sales are a result of a behavior change. The behavior change may be switching from French’s mustard, bringing new users in the mustard category, purchasing a greater volume of Grey Poupon, or other changes. Our key point is that many brands are positioned “well enough” in the minds of their target customers. As such, the key is to look for specific behaviors to change that can drive brand sales.
  • Are we fighting a barroom brawl with our competitors at the brand choice stage of the buying process?
    The brand choice stage is a very tough game to play, since everyone is focused on winning share. Instead, Grey Poupon would be better off exploring nonobvious early stages of the buying process to explore where it can influence customer behavior. We call this activity “exploring upstream buyer behavior” to look for high-yield behaviors to change. Over the past 20 years of client work, we have always found that the path-dependent behaviors that occur early in the decision process shape downstream brand choice behavior. It could be a product trial at friend’s home, tasting the mustard at a local restaurant, or simply observing the use of the brand on a cooking show. These are just ideas – the firm would need to map the process in fine detail – to look for the high-yield opportunities.
  • Are we practicing “peanut butter marketing” and spreading our marketing communication investment across all stages of the buying process?
    When we see brands that spread money across many marketing activities, this typically means that the brand owners have limited knowledge of what marketing tactics work the best. In contrast, a focused marketing spend on one behavior that is upstream can pay enormous dividends. We have seen many winning strategies in which the brand team allocates 70%–80% of its spend on that point of the buying process. Having observed Grey Poupon in the marketplace, we see a whole host of marketing spend across a range of television, internet, and in-store communications. This suggests an “ushering of the consumer throughout the buying process” rather than a focused spend on one customer behavior.

In sum, these three nontraditional questions represent a different way to tackle flat brand sales. This does not mean that we throw away the concept of positioning; rather, it implies that positioning by itself does not necessarily lead to sales increases. Instead, it must be supplemented with a behavior change orientation and targeted spend on key upstream behaviors.

About the author

Bernie Jaworski is the Peter F. Drucker Chair at the Drucker School of Management. He has published extensively in the most highly regarded marketing journals and has been ranked among the most highly cited scholars in the field of marketing. He has won all three major awards from the Journal of Marketing—the Maynard, Alpha Kappa Psi, and Jagdish Sheth Award—as well as several other awards. For 10 years he was a senior partner at Monitor Group, a global management consulting firm, where he helped lead several large-scale transformations of marketing at Fortune 500 firms.


Hello Richmond marketing community!

Welcome to the start of a new chapter and Board year! I am honored to be your 2020-2021 President. This year’s Board has many familiar faces who have served our marketing community for many years, as well as some new faces that are energized and ready to bring new ideas to the chapter.

As we start this chapter year in the midst of extraordinary circumstances, we are working hard to adapt to ensure we continue to be the vital community for all marketers to learn, connect, serve and grow. Over the past two months, the Board has been meeting and making tough decisions to ensure we keep the safety of our members as our top priority. For August through January, we will continue to host all virtual events, and reassess in January for the reminder of the chapter year.

Our Board’s inspiration & vision this year is to “Be Agile. Be Creative. Be Positive.”  While this is by no means the year we were hoping for, we are committed to bringing top-notch programming and opportunities for our community to network and connect.

I hope to see you soon virtually and again in person very soon!


Alex Mercer
President, AMA Richmond

During our Board’s first planning session back in June 2019, I emphasized that we were part of an AMAzing organization and we were going to “Bring the ‘Zing” to the 2019-2020 season.

I am incredibly proud of how our Board came together and brought the ‘Zing, while having a few zings thrown our way. I want to send my sincere appreciation to this year’s Board, speakers, educators, mentors, volunteers, sponsors, and moderators for giving their time and talents to AMA Richmond.

AMAzing Individuals to Celebrate
Every year, AMA Richmond awards two students with a scholarship on behalf of the Robert R. Barber endowment fund. While we typically would award our scholarship winners at a Signature Speaker luncheon, we celebrated virtually on June 9th with members of our Board and past presidents.

Congratulations to our 2019-2020 scholarship winners:

  • First place – Claire Burke
  • Second place – Alessandra Castaneda

Check out the recording to meet these deserving women and learn more about the scholarship’s namesake Bob Barber, who passed away in September 2019. You can also learn more about winners on our Scholarship page.

Additionally, we present the Golden Candlestick Award annually which recognizes a chapter member for extraordinary volunteerism. This award has been presented since 1974, and we weren’t going to let a pandemic break the streak.

This year, we had two Board members who were both incredibly deserving of this award:

  • Connie Dye – Director of Finance – 7x board member, including AMA President ’09-10
  • Barbara Slatcher – VP of Sponsorship – 8x board member

Connie and Barbara’s work in Finances and Sponsorship, respectively, has strengthened our chapter and even allowed us to use our budget surplus to donate to RVA Makers’ PPE project in April.

We had many successes this year while overcoming some hurdles, and I’m humbled to have led the Board as president. The 2020-2021 season welcomes the leadership of Alex Mercer who will continue AMA’s mission. We’ve come together as a community to support each other, engage in conversation, and provide education and training in our industry. As we start our new season, we are working on improving our Diversity, Inclusion and Equity strategies to strengthen our chapter and continue to be the essential community for all marketers in the Richmond area to learn, connect, serve and grow.

Stay Strong. Stay Healthy. Stay Safe.
Be kind to yourself & others and always be AMAzing!

Dear AMA Richmond Community,

Across the country and right here in Richmond, we are witnessing tragic events affecting the Black community, as a result of the deep, unresolved racial inequalities that led to the senseless murders of George Floyd and so many others. It’s heartbreaking, and we’re all experiencing a mix of emotions. We acknowledge this and don’t presume any of us can fully understand how these events impact each of us individually.

As an organization, and as your fellow marketers, we oppose racism and discrimination in every form. Our mission is to be the essential community of marketers – a community that includes people from all different perspectives and backgrounds. We recognize these differences are what make us a stronger marketing community, and we know we can be better allies to our Black members, colleagues, and friends.

We, as the Board of Directors, are committed to doing better. We’re having these important conversations and planning how we can improve our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion strategies in the upcoming Board year—and beyond. We know this is not a one-time conversation or fix. We will continue to offer opportunities to learn, engage in conversation, and provide a safe platform to move us forward as a community. As leaders, we are here to serve you and help AMA Richmond evolve to be more diverse and inclusive.

If you have thoughts to share, we want to hear from you. What resources would help you foster productive work conversations, build diverse teams, and create inclusive campaigns? Let us know what programming, content, workshops, or forums could help you be the best marketers you can be. Email us at info@AMArichmond.org or reach out directly to our board members.

Together, we can make a difference.

Jennifer Barbin | President
Alex Mercer | President-Elect
and the AMA Richmond Board of Directors

Entrepreneurs won’t waste this plague opportunity.

Throughout history, great minds have used times of seclusion to create their best work. During the Bubonic Plague of 1665-66, Isaac Newton retreated from Cambridge to a countryside farm. While holed up, he invented calculus and formulated his laws of motion and gravity.

The same will be true of this plague. Entrepreneurs will use this quiet time to plan new business ventures. And when an entrepreneur creates a plan, the venture will need a name – a brand – in legal speak, a trademark.

Tip to entrepreneurs: Envision building a brand to be like building a strong fort. (Hat tip to trademarks blogger Eric Pelton for the idea of thinking of marks protection as a fort.)

A fort and a brand have similar purposes. A fort is where you can accumulate and store treasure, and protect that treasure from theft or destruction by others. A brand is where you build and store goodwill from consumers. Your brand should engender favorable recognition by consumers so they will be repeat customers and refer others.

Imagine a fort with four walls and a domain (a big yard) around it. Each wall serves purpose, as does the domain. The four walls represent trademark selection, clearance, registration, and proper usage. The domain is your buffer zone – the distance in trademark-wording similarity between your trademark and the trademarks used by those offering the same or similar products and services.

Here’s what each of the five elements of the fort does:

Wall 1 – Selection.

Don’t pick a name that’s a generic name for your product or service, like calling a car an AUTOMOBILE. You can’t have a trademark in a generic name.

Don’t pick a name that merely describes your goods, like calling a bank PEOPLE’S BANK. You won’t be able to protect that name.

It’s better to pick a name that only suggests something about your product (like CHAMPION for sporting goods) or that has nothing to do with your goods (like APPLE for computers) or that’s a made-up word (like EXXON for gas).

Wall 2 – Clearance.

In trademarks, as with horseshoes and hand grenades, too close will kill you. You can’t use a trademark that’s too close to another trademark being used for the same or similar goods or services.

Come up with a list of at least five dissimilar trademark candidates. Have a trademark attorney vet them before you commit to one. Pick the one that does best in clearance.

The more space in wording similarity between your trademark and the trademarks of similar businesses, the better your brand will stand out in the marketplace and avoid confusion with others. This space will be your trademark buffer zone – your domain.

Wall 3 – Registration.

You then will federally register your trademark. Doing so creates at least 23 advantages you won’t have if you merely use your trademark without registering it.

Wall 4 – Proper Usage.

Don’t kill your trademark by how you use it. Use appropriate symbols to identify it as your trademark property, such as using ® after it becomes federally registered. Don’t use your trademark as the generic or descriptive name of what you are branding, and don’t allow others to do so.

The Domain – the Buffer Zone.

To protect your domain, have your trademark attorney to perform regular trademark-infringement watching and policing, to keep that buffer zone clear. The biggest mistake brand owners typically make is not having this done.

Why Does this Matter?

Think about what happens if one of a real fort’s walls is missing or crumbles, or if you don’t keep the domain around the fort clear. Eventually, the fort will be conquered.

Similarly, if you don’t build and maintain a strong trademark fort, your brand will fall. If that happens, the consumer goodwill associated with your wonderful product or service will be lost and your business will decline.

© 2020 Leading-Edge Law Group, PLC. All rights reserved.

Like this blog? Visit the Brand Bodyguards blog for more!