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NOVEMBER 23, 2016

Interview: Ryan Lash

By: ymarketing

Happy Turkey Day!

A little while back we had our Sr. Copywriter sit down with our CEO for the first of a series of interviews with some of ymarketing’s heavier hitters. You can digest it as text, or listen to it in the embedded video below. Either way, enjoy (and let us know what you think).


Hey there. I am James Ninness, Senior Copywriter at ymarketing, and we are talking with– Well, I’m going to let you introduce yourself. That’s the first question: Who are you?

Yeah, hi! I am Ryan Lash. I founded ymarketing back in 2002 and I am our Chief Executive Officer.

Nice. We’re starting at the top.

So, second question, and this one is probably vague so feel free to dig in wherever you want, but what is ymarketing, specifically to you? Not, ya know, what we put on the company branding materials, but to you, what is ymarketing?

That’s a good question because ymarketing has taken the shape of a few different forms over the years. To me we’ve always been a source of assistance for our clients to help get them to the next level using technology-enabled, sometimes disruptive, media channels; things like search engines and social media platforms. And now it’s “the internet of things”: cool content, that sorta stuff. But to me it’s a living and breathing organism that is complicated because of the dynamic nature of people in teams that come together and collaborate to make things happen. And it’s my first family that I started and it’s been growing up in a fast way, which is scary but exciting at the same time.

Has it grown up in a different way than you anticipated?

Yeah. Early on the notion of a, call it “digital marketing agency,” or something to that effect, didn’t really cross my mind. That wasn’t the purpose. We were here to help our clients grow their businesses. That happened to be through disruptive technologies and the word “agency” sort of came along for the ride as a label. I never really liked it, but that’s what our clients thought we were, so I kind of went with it.

Nice. Now, you’re a father. You have two children?

Yeah, I got two kids–

Which is your favorite?

Well there’s no favorites when it comes to kids. My favorite’s whoever’s behaving at the time.

So why do you think companies need a digital agency? What makes us relevant today?

Well, we live in a world that changes every second. Technology is advancing at an exponential pace these days and it’s very challenging to stay on top of it. More importantly, to understand what opportunities that presents to our clients and a lot of our clients don’t have a deep bench of subject matter experts within their own organizations. And so it’s a good solve to extend your team in a very broad and deep way from a digital or technological perspective to up their marketing game, to essentially become smarter marketers by collaborating with us.

Nice. Now let’s say the digital agency thing didn’t work out 14 years ago. Where is Ryan Lash today?

If it didn’t work out with ymarketing I would probably be at a different agency of sorts, either standalone or in-house at a client’s. But doing something that’s challenging or rewarding on a daily basis.

You’re the CEO. What does that mean to you?

Well, it means a few things… First and foremost the buck stops here, for better or worse. That means I sometimes have to make some tough decisions. But for me, what I really enjoying doing is, looking into my crystal ball through strategic planning of sorts and ensuring that we have an aligned long-term vision and we’re all following the same north star as an organization, because it’s really hard to stay focused on that when you’re lost in the day-to-day client deliverable game called “business as usual.”

In your experience what surprises the clients you’ve had the most about ymarketing; their expectations versus what they actually get from us?

I think a lot of clients have been surprised by how impactful we can be even though we’re not a 10,000-person shop. And that comes through agility, by staying ahead of the curve, understanding “what’s next,” and holding hands to help bring our clients’ businesses forward. I’ve seen a lot of cases where we surpass results from other agency programs, or even dethrone other agencies because we’re, from day one, able to move a lot faster, generating better results.

And is that because we’re a more nimble team, you think?

Yeah, it’s a combination of nimbleness but also getting a very clear understanding of our clients’ businesses and their objectives. But also having a lot of control in terms of their own customers’ experience as a user, if you will. Understand what touchpoints are critical in influencing their path to purchase, but controlling both the media elements and also the creative or development elements – call it “paid” and “owned media,” which I’m starting to dislike from a terminology perspective – but by having the ability to influence those experience, and most importantly optimize them, we’re able to do things a lot fast and efficiently than other organizations.

What is your favorite thing to eat?

I’m a big fan of Mediterranean food; specifically the Lebanese genre of Mediterranean food and it’s because of their hummus. It’s different than a lot the run-of-the-mill hummuses[?], if that’s even a word. Some are made with just garbanzo beans. They tend to add a little bit of lemon and the right type of olive oil, to just create the perfect blend of hummus, which I seem to crave more often than not.

Now I am also craving hummus… What is your favorite part of your job?

The ability to make things happen. I’m truly driven by results, so when we do great things and we take a look at them and see how amazing some things are, I’m really excited and encouraged by that.

I like the ability to, to shift gears very quickly if things- if there’s a better, call it opportunity, or a different way to do something, or to just create something new because it didn’t exist before. As a very creative thinking organization we have the ability to come up with better solutions, test them to see if they’re going to be effective, and if we pass these tests, or if they become, call it “statistically significant,” we can roll them out across the organization or within our clients’ organizations on many different levels. So the fluidity is very exciting. We can come to work with new clay to play with and mold it into whatever we want.

And what is your least favorite part of your job?

Employee reviews. There’s gotta be a better way.

Where will you and ymarketing be in ten years?

We’ll be part of something a lot bigger. We’ve got a lot of grandiose goals. We do a lot of work today in the healthcare and automotive spaces, which are great because they kind of- they’re very complimentary in terms of client expectations and the type of campaigns we roll out, the speed and scale… In ten year though, we’ll be in ten different verticals, like healthcare and automotive, but other categories like pharmaceuticals, insurance, retail, and probably some new verticals that don’t exist today because they’re all being disruptive- being disrupted by technology and those technologies will disrupt each other and so on and so forth. But we’ll have a very great depth of clients in their own respective industries to work on as a team and to learn from and cross-pollinate with and we’ll have a lot recognition for doing so. I believe we’ll have won Ad Agency’s Agency of the Year at least once over the next ten years. And the future looks bright. We’re going to be a part of something a lot bigger and greater than we have today, which is very exciting.

ymarketing does a lot of philanthropic work. Why is that so important to you?

Well it’s great to show up to work or to the office and continue to do great things for our clients and to help each other… But there’s always a third leg to that stool, if you will, that really helps you sit up and that’s giving back to the community. And we’ve always had a dedicated corporate social responsibility program in place at different levels with the help of team members that volunteer their time, but it’s very important that we give back in a big way. I always refer to it as good karma. But we are part of a community in Orange Car- Orange County, California. And the community is very supportive of us as a business, and I feel that we have an obligation to give back. But more importantly it just feels really good.

Awesome. That’s it! Thank you for talking to me today.

Thank you. I appreciate the time.

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NOVEMBER 10, 2016

yValues: Real

By: ymarketing

[ree-uh l, reel]
adjective

  1. True; not merely ostensible, nominal, or apparent.
  2. Existing or occurring as fact; actual rather than imaginary, ideal, or fictitious.
  3. Being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary.
  4. Being actually such; not merely so-called.
  5. Genuine; not counterfeit, artificial, or imitation; authentic.
  6. Unfeigned or sincere.
  7. Informal. Absolute; complete; utter.

ymarketing embraces authenticity. It’s a value that can simultaneously challenge and encourage. When someone who is “real” tells you that you’re doing a thing well, it can mean the world, particularly when that same person has provided opportunities for improvement in the past; appreciate the bitter to enjoy the sweet. Whether it’s with our clients, for the company, or amongst the people who work here, being real may be our most prized value.

We talk a lot about results. Our clients know that we pride ourselves on generating tangible solutions that impact business. Those results come with hard work and can, at times, require a bit of flexibility on the part of the client. Nobody likes to hear that they need to adjust their expectations, or reassess their marketing collateral, or investigate a rebranding… These can be timely and costly, but when properly executed they can mean the difference between exceeded expectations and mediocre results.

“Being ‘real’ means saying it how it is and not holding back, which I’m very good at by the way.” —Alice To, Performance Media Manager

ymarketing wants our clients to succeed (after all, their thing is our thing). To achieve the results we all want, honesty is crucial. It doesn’t really matter what someone wants to hear – the truth is the truth. We don’t offer fluff or Band-Aid solutions. ymarketing is here to help our clients achieve their goals and we develop the right plan of action to do just that.

Have you ever tried on a new outfit that you thought looked cool and showed it to someone whose opinion you trust, only to have that person tell you it looked ridiculous? Were they right? That’s the honesty we expect from our team.

“At ymarketing, being “real” means being your authentic self, without fear of reprobation, and thriving in whatever environment you find yourself in.” —Muhammad Ali, Analytics & Insights Manager

We are a team of creative folks with varying ideas on how things should be done. We are constantly refining, improving, and realigning our processes and expectations. To do that effectively we require a team capable of quick, honest, and reliable feedback. That feedback can feel…brutal, especially if it’s your idea that is being criticized. On the flipside, there is no better feeling than a team you trust supporting your suggestions.

Speaking of our team, the individual women and men who make up the body of our family are just as demanding as the clients or the company – perhaps even more so. Each ymarketing employee is carefully selected and tasked according to their professional strengths. We work tightly together and we’re always working to hit landmarks before handing projects off to the next department, leaving little time for indecision.

“ ‘Come as you are.’ Yes, it’s an old Nirvana song, but it’s also the ymarketing vibe. We have employees from all walks of life. They bring their individuality and flare to work with them every day.” —Alex Franks, Sr. Systems Engineer

There is a great amount of trust in one another’s expertise. ymarketing works hard to hire the very best we can find, which bolsters faith in each other’s ability to function at a high level. We rely on one another to provide honest feedback according so that the all employees can provide the greatest service possible. Our cornerstone is one of trust, faith, and sincerity.

We thrive on real.

It starts with individual integrity, a trust bred from sincerity amongst employees. The ymarketing brand leverages that group-trust into an authenticity, breeding dependability wherever we go. And as a dependable company committed to results, our clients benefit from genuine insights and recommendations. ymarketing’s success is directly tied into our interpersonal and professional ability to be real. We’re pretty proud of that.

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OCTOBER 28, 2016

Generating Content Ideas for “Boring” Industries

By: ymarketing

0r How to Make Sheep Farming Even More Interesting

More businesses than ever are investing in content and content marketing. These days they’re one of the most effective ways to strengthen SEO and generate online brand awareness. But what’s a brand to do if they perceive their industry as, well, boring?

We’ve put together a few starting points that can help you generate content ideas for your brand. Whether you’re a niche boutique, a large B2B corporation, or (for the illustrative purposes of this post) a sheep farmer, these steps should get you started.

What You Know

When it comes to content ideation, starting close to home is usually the easiest. Take what you know and use it to solve problems for your customers or audience.

Employee Insights

Even if they aren’t the ones creating content, your employees are on the front lines and are likely the greatest source of content for your business. By tapping sales teams, customer support teams, or any other group of employees that engage with your customers, you can discover a wealth of information about your customer’s needs. Meet with your teams and find out what questions they’re being asked the most. Look for common themes or pain points that customers are experiencing and develop content to answer those questions. Chances are that before they talked with your employees they tried to find a solution online.

"Who shears your wool?" "The baa-baa."

“Who shears your wool?” “The baa-baa.”

Proprietary Knowledge & Insights

Regardless of your business type, you are bound to have information related to your industry that might be of interest to your customers or peers. When thinking of content opportunities look at what’s happening in your business: Are you seeing a trend in your market that nobody else is discussing? Do you have data that tells a story about your customers or product? These can be great content opportunities that only you have the insight into, and if it’s of value to your customers or your industry it’s bound to benefit your business. Our sheep farmer may want to share how much wool a single sheep nets.

Fun fact: The fear of being nude is called gymnophobia.

Fun fact: The fear of being nude is called gymnophobia.

Analytics

While this tactic is often suggested, it’s still an area many businesses overlook. Your own website analytics and tracking can be a great place to find useful content ideas. Looking at data in tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console give you a direct line-of-sight to the keywords people are searching to get to your website. Do those keywords align with the content that is being delivered? If not this may be an opportunity. Take it a step further if your site offers search functionality and leverage the data to see if your content fulfills the needs of those searching within your website.

"They'll never see this coming..."

“They’ll never see this coming…”

Topics Parallel With Your Business or Product

More great opportunities for content creation are the things that are happening around you. Identify ways to work with that content and spin it to your benefit. While these pieces are usually better at targeting higher in the funnel, they tend to be great ways to generate buzz around a brand.

Pop Culture

Pop culture is always a great place to look for content ideas. What’s popular? What are people buzzing about online? Is there an angle that your business can take to speak to this popular thing and tied it back to your brand or product? (Spoiler: There almost always is.) Think outside of the box. Find the lowest common denominator and give people a reason to appreciate your efforts. Whether it’s a lengthy retrospective on a complicated issue, or a quick joke to make people smile, get your brand out there. It’s an election year, so our sheep farmer can discuss presidential events featuring sheep, like when President Woodrow Wilson used a flock of sheep to keep the White House lawn manageable.

President Wilson: green before it was cool.

President Wilson: green before it was cool.

Seasonality

Another great content opportunity is seasonal trends. Are there certain holidays or events that lend themselves well to your brand or product? Explore these, and again, think of an angle your business can take to tie your brand or product into the happenings of that season. Need some help? In the age of social media, not every holiday has to fall on the calendar… Almost every day is a hashtag for something; from the serious (#NationalHumanTraffickingAwarenessDay 01/11/16) to the lighthearted (#NationalUglyChristmasSweaterDay 12/16/16), there is something for your brand to connect with. With Halloween season upon us, our sheep farmer might want to do a fun post on horror films featuring sheep. Silence of the Lambs anyone?

"It gets the wool sheared off its skin..."

“It gets the wool sheared off its skin…”

 

"...Or it may overheat again."

“…Or it may overheat again.”

In Demand/of Critical Importance

Exploring critical issues or topics that your business may be able utilize, or help create solutions for, is another way to generate content. Are things happening in the world that people are concerned with, or pressing issues that your company is working to support? If so, there are content opportunities here. How do your company’s business practices, products, employees, or policies impact or align with these goings-on? Tell a story that aligns your brand with the issue at hand and engage with an audience looking for businesses like yours. Sustainable energy and the environment are popular topics both in and out of an election season. Did you know that sheep are being used to help maintain solar farms and keep grass and plants from overtaking solar panels?

Thankfully the sheep don't jump very high.

Thankfully the sheep don’t jump very high.

While content ideation can be difficult, it’s not impossible. Sometimes it takes a little extra digging beneath the surface to find some of the topics that are slightly less obvious, but can be a hit for your business. If executed well, strong content can help generate brand awareness, and if you’re lucky, backlinks and social shares for your website.

-Mike Wilton, SEO Manager

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SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

New Duds

By: ymarketing

ymarketing got a facelift recently. Well, “recently” like, four months ago. We’re only just announcing it because our ducks were all over the place and we wanted them in a nice, clean row before we started chatting about it. Said ducks are now in said row and we’re ready to share.

The branding has been touched up. We’ve got a fresh green in our logo with collateral across the board to match. We’ve prepped our logo bug to take a bit more of our brand’s weight in an effort to maintain simplicity whenever possible (for a great example of this, check out the top of our homepage). And we’ve got a favorite new phrase around the office: Your thing is our thing. It’s a mantra that sort of wraps up what we do with our clients day-to-day.

If you haven’t already, click around our website (which is, we’re assuming, where you’re reading this). Check out US to learn more about ymarketing the company; dig around YOU if getting in touch with us is something you’d like to do; WE is where you’ll learn a bit more about the people behind ymarketing; and, ALL is a great place to see a small sampling of the work we’ve done/can do.

The last thing we’d like to share with you is our brand video. ymarketing started in 2002 and, for whatever reason, we haven’t had one of these. We’re pretty proud of it. Because it’s been a few months since it came out and we’re only just announcing it, we put together a “bubble-up” version with morsels of behind-the-scenes trivia you might enjoy. Check it out:

 

 

Thanks for catching up with us. We know you have a lot of options when it comes to internet ramblings and we appreciate you choosing ymarketing.

 

 

 

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

ymarketing Bings It Home!

By: ymarketing

We don’t do what we do to win awards, but it sure feels nice to be noticed.

On Wednesday, September 14, a handful of ymarketing’s most dapper flew to New York to attend the 2016 Bing Agency Awards. Our agency is honored to have been nominated in not one, not two, but three categories: Account Team of the Year, Philanthropist of the Year, and Independent Agency of the Year.

Pretty cool, eh?

ymarketing-bing-awards

According to Bing, the “Agency Awards aim to recognize and reward outstanding creative, effective and passionate work by Search Advertising individuals, teams and agencies working with Bing Ads.” That makes a lot of sense to us. We love working with Bing, and we like to think we’re fairly creative, pretty effective, and almost always passionate (learn more about that here).

There are a total of twelve categories, but we feel like we’ve gotten nominated for the finest 25% of them:

Account Team of the Year is awarded “to an exemplary account team that partners, engages, and uses Bing Ads insights and recommendations as feedback to optimize. They test and adopt new features, and submit case studies, all while staying transparent in the spirit of partnership.”

Philanthropist of the Year is awarded “to the agency demonstrating the strongest commitment to charitable organizations, both in the day-to-day, as well as through specific activities and donations.”

Independent Agency of the Year is awarded “to an independent agency that engages with Bing Ads in partnership, grows its Bing Ads spend and product adoption, and exhibits ingenuity and creativity around product application and optimization.”

Nomination was, to be honest, enough. Winning anything amongst such strong competition was not expected.

ymarketing is proud to be the inaugural winner of Independent Agency of the Year at the 2016 Bing Agency Awards. We are grateful to Bing for their recognition, humbled by the peers within each category, and challenged to go even further in the coming year.

 

 

Cheers!

Special nod to iProspect/Beeby Clark & Meyler (tie), and Performics for winning Account Team(s) of the Year and Philanthropist of the Year respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

Good Works

By: ymarketing

If you’ve taken some time to peruse ymarketing’s (new) website, you may have come across our CSR statement at the bottom of the US page. No? Well, here it is:

Corporate Social Responsibility: At ymarketing we believe in leaving a positive, lasting impact in our community. We support local businesses, charitable organizations, and environmental improvement efforts. Our agency utilizes many sustainable resources across every facet of our business to cultivate our Be Orange initiative. And we empower our team, as residents of our community, to help us continually discover exciting stewardship opportunities. While our ethical investments are diverse in execution, they are singular in focus: to make our community a place for all to thrive.

At ymarketing, we live according to five core values: SMART, REAL, DRIVEN, FAMILY, and CARING. The goal isn’t to live by one or a few of these, but all five, weaving them into the fabric of our day-to-day goings-on. We, each of us, strive to incorporate these five values into everything we do individually and as a whole. There may be no particular area, however, wherein all five are more apparent than our CSR efforts.

CSR is a big deal at ymarketing, which is why the above statement is on the very first page of our website. Giving back is in the DNA of every employee here. None of our CSR initiatives are mandatory, but the volume of volunteers we get for every activity is abundant. We enjoy participating. If you work here and you want to take part in one of the many charitable opportunities sponsored by ymarketing, you better sign up fast or the spots will be gone.

2016 has been a particularly busy year for the ymarketing family.

In January we launched PaStars in partnership with Caterina’s Club and several of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Orange County. Through PaStars, ymarketing has provided the staff to cook and serve over 6,500 hot meals to awesome young kids. Each Wednesday 7-10 volunteers leave work a bit early, head to one of the three participating Boys & Girls Club locations, and participate in the fun – and it is fun (we’re leaving work early to hang out with a bunch of energetic and grateful children who like to play. How could it not be fun?). Though we recently took a break for summer vacation, we’re beginning the 2017 season in September and the anticipation level is high.

February marked the launch of another ymarketing program: FOCUS. This is a natural extension of ymarketing’s internal learning curriculum, yUniversity. In FOCUS, ymarketing partners with Anaheim’s Innovative Mentoring Experience (AIME) to bolster the 21st century readiness of eager digital marketing learners. Students (from a different high school each year) are brought into the office and taught the 101-level basics of our craft. Members of our team are made available to teach, answer questions, and share their personal journeys with the students on a personal level. We teach, we bond, and we try to help these brilliant kids figure out which parts of digital marketing might be a good fit for them.

What else? ymarketing has established a Charitable Giving Fund wherein our FOCUS students have the opportunity to apply for scholarships towards their higher education (with all funds raised internally by ymarketing employees). We’ve also partnered with the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) for several events, including a quarterly Family Dinner Night at the hospital, wherein we cater and serve dinner to patients and their families. And we raise funds multiple times per year for various charities and organizations throughout Orange County. Busy, busy, busy…

Finally, as a way to encourage the ymarketing team to “do good” outside of our office walls, the agency has partnered with OneOC, a nonprofit resource center that offers volunteering, training, consulting, and fiscal sponsorship services to nonprofits. All ymarketing staff is able to take advantage of OneOC’s training opportunities so that those who do may each be better equipped to coordinate with, and serve various charities throughout the county.

We’re excited that we’re getting noticed, which feels great. Bing Agency Awards nominated us as Philanthropist of the Year and our office was recently given a Green Office Award as a result of our Be Orange campaign, which focuses on lessening our environmental footprint through every aspect of our business.

So what’s the point of writing all this down for the world to read? Is it to brag about how awesome we think our people are?

Not necessarily.

Well, okay. Perhaps a bit…

More importantly, we have scribed this unto the internet so that we might learn and inspire. The majority of us live in Orange County, so we’re trying “to make our community a place for all to thrive,” but we think we can do more…

That’s where you come in. We want you to give us ideas. What else could we be doing? How can we branch out even further? What do you do to give back to your community? Tell us in a comment so we can ponder your magnificence.

Or, perhaps, this will go the other way. Maybe you’ve read something here and thought, “You know what? My company should do something like this.” You’re right! They should! Talk to the folks in your office and find ways to enhance your own community. We believe in you.

You’ll have fun, promise. We certainly are.

 

 

 

 

 

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