Search engine marketing (SEM) is not usually what comes to mind when marketing non-profits organizations (NPOs). However, with the little known Google and Bing charitable programs, marketers can really make an impact for these organizations.
Both Google and Bing offer programs that allow nonprofit organizations to run paid search advertising with significant in-kind media budgets. If the qualifications (outlined below) are met, NPOs can advertise on the top tier search engines to drive quality traffic to their website, recruit volunteers, and/or collect donations. With grants up to $10,000 in paid media per search engine, there is a real opportunity to make an impact for a good cause.
ymarketing has taken advantage of this opportunity for the NPO, University of the People. This online university provides affordable, accredited higher education to people all over the world. After acquiring grant money from both Bing and Google, ymarketing helped to deliver thousands of quality applicants to the University of the People website.
Here’s how to see if your organization (or client) qualifies for in-kind money from Google and/or Bing:
Ensure that you (or your client) holds valid charity status. Please see the Google for Nonprofits site for definitions of charity status in your country as well as Microsoft’s terms of eligibility.
Acknowledge and agree to both engines required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
Have a live website with substantial content.
Once the grant money has been accepted, your NPO will be able to manage the campaigns the same as any other SEM campaign with a few exceptions. Below are some of the restrictions that Google enforces for its nonprofit partners:
Ads will be entirely text-based (no videos or images).
Ads will appear only on Google search results pages in positions below the ads of paying advertisers.
All campaigns must be keyword-targeted.
The maximum cost-per-click (CPC) is $2.00 USD.
Nonprofit partners receive $10,000 USD (up to $40,000 USD for Grantspro participants) of in-kind AdWords advertising each month.
Some of these constraints can make it tough to spend the full allotment of grant money. Partnering with University of the People, ymarketing expanded their digital footprint by targeting additional countries around the world. Not only does this help drive new applicants, but also increases global brand recognition and awareness.
For more information on search engine marketing, or to see how ymarketing can help your business, get in touch with us.
Hey there. I’m James Ninness, the Senior Copywriter at ymarketing. To now I’ve been writing the yValues series as ymarketing but this blog on our final value, caring, calls for a different approach. I’m going to write it as me, James. I’m a husband, father of three kids and two dogs, and an employee of ymarketing for about two years now.
I promise to be honest. You can trust me, I’m in advertising.
ymarketing cares about their employees.
Let’s chat benefits. They and pay are what keep we employees from constantly updating our LinkedIn profile as we look for hope elsewhere. There’s a certain bundle that most companies offer: paid time off, life insurance, health, vision, and dental insurance, 401k, etc. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but that’s a pretty basic offering. Companies that care do more.
There are a good many above-and-beyond perks offered here I could mention, but two are of particular note to me. The first is an enormous subsidy with a gym across the street that most of us could never afford: Equinox. Signing up for just the Newport Beach location runs the average dad-who-has-neglected-his-body at least the monthly due of $159 plus the $300 initiation fee. Thanks to ymarketing we pay a lot less (under $50, total).
“I care about many things in life. I care about my family, ymarketing, and the planet… I also care about the work that I do with this company. It’s important that I do my best so our customers get the best results. Caring motivates me. “ —Jose Quezada, Web Developer
My favorite benefit is Summer Fridays. After spring and before autumn the ymarketing team gets to leave work on Fridays after four hours of work, but we still get paid for the entire day. With a staff our size, that adds up quickly…
Culture is the second piece of the happy-employee puzzle. ymarketing is teeming with a diverse group of talented folks. It should be a challenge to keep all of those people from different backgrounds with varying worldviews happy, but it certainly looks easy here. The ymarketing employees are inundated with mini-celebrations for holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, each with an abundance of food, drink, and games. We just celebrated Hot Sauce Day. It was delicious. Even when it’s not a “special day” the mood around the office is generally jovial. Memes are traded, laughter is heard, and teams mingle with one another in the break room, around the lunch tables, or in clusters at any given desk.
ymarketing cares about their home.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a lifestyle at ymarketing. Every single decision is dependent on its impact upon the environment. We recently won the Green Office Award from Hines, our building management company. This is not an easy thing to do, as there are a ton of requirements. I won’t list them all but to give you an idea, here are a few:
• “Replace end-of-life computer monitors with ENERGY STAR qualified liquid crystal display flat screen monitors.”
• “Angle all mini-blinds “up” at a 45-degree angle to prevent the sun’s radiant heat load from being transferred into the tenant space.”
• “Transition from paper products to compostable products such as corn-based or potato-based products if disposable plates, cups or bowls are necessary.”
CSR is about more than our environmental footprint. Most of the ymarketing leadership says they want to make a direct impact in our community. They mean it. In my time here I’ve seen two particular programs bloom despite the daily chaos of agency work.
“There’s no such thing as a great employee who doesn’t care about their work. There’s a sense of responsibility and ownership within every project: Make something you’re proud of!” —Rachel Krumwiede, Community Manager
FOCUS is the first program. I’ve already written about what FOCUS is and why we do it, but let me tell you what I’ve seen. When the sessions begin the kidsyoung adults future billionaires show up a bit unsure… They’re excited to be here, but it’s a tad intimidating. By the end of their time with us, they’ve forged fast friendships with the volunteers who take the time to lead classes, answer questions, and challenge the students’ understanding of what it is a digital agency does.
PaStars is the other program. This one is the closest to my heart. Like FOCUS, I’ve already written about what PaStars is, but let me tell you what it does. I’ve volunteered for many shifts at the Boys & Girls Club and I look forward to it every week. Kids are excited, lined up down the hallway for some pasta. We feed them, talk to them, hang out with them, and sometimes help with homework. Each week a few of them help serve their peers (our sign-up sheet is loaded with names weeks in advance). They have fun. We have fun. It’s a blessing for all involved.
Remember: ymarketing pays for all of this. They pay for the tangible resources (pens, paper, aprons, etc.) and they foot the bill for their employees to serve the community. That’s rare and something to be proud of.
ymarketing cares about their clients.
ymarketing says, “Yes.” Look, stuff happens. Things rarely go to plan. Last-minute changes come, mistakes are occasionally made, and sometimes minds are changed and efforts must be redoubled to hit a deadline. I’ve worked at some places where workflows are not nimble, where course adjustments come at an incredible cost of both time and money on the parts of the client and agency. Not here. At ymarketing the entire team goes above and beyond to do what they can, when they can, for the people we’re working with. We bend (and yes, sometimes to the point of near-breaking) to get the job done right, on time, and always above expectation.
“We come to work because we care. This company is fun but more than anything we care for our clients. Everyone here is emotionally invested, which allows us to produce the highest quality work.” —Richard Varalla, Account Executive
ymarketing says, “No.” This may not seem like a sign of caring, but stay with me here… Some agencies and clients don’t work well together. The relationship just isn’t meant to be. Most times this regretful future can be avoided with an honest decline early on. Some agency actions are dictated by dollar signs and what should be an emphatic “No,” turns into a dribbled, “Sure.” Chaos ensues. Sometimes the best way for an agency to care for a company is to tell them that the pairing just isn’t a good fit.
A lot of companies claim to care. Few actually do. Even less do something about it. Whether you work with ymarketing as a part of the team, the community, or a client, you’re in luck. At least, that’s how I feel. And I’m not just saying that because they are paying me to write this blog, which they are.
Our office comes with a remote section near the windows lined with a few stand-up desks. These desks are ideal when looking for a distraction-free environment. In my effort to get to a stand-up desk to write this article, I was interrupted, disrupted, and stopped more times than I can count. I never made it.
Interruptions are commonplace in the fast-paced agency environment.
I was discussing this with a friend and she said, “Maybe you shouldn’t plan on being creative at work.” That’s crazy talk. I’m the Creative Director. The word creative is in my title. It’s why I’m here.
I spend a lot of time in meetings. Most of them are productive. Some require creative problem solving (brainstorming), some roadmapping, but many are administrative. There is little time left in the day for actual creativity. When not in meetings I am usually downloading various bits of information to the rest of my team.
The more I consider not being creative at work the more it starts to make sense.
When I need to work through something on a personal level I head to the trails on my mountain bike or go for a surf. I find nature. I leave all that is familiar and distracting behind. Being active outside clears my mind. I notice things like my breath and heartrate. I hear waves breaking, birds chirping, and the grind of tires on hard packed dirt.
I am present.
Seldom do I think about problems I should be working on (which is the intention). But afterward, when I am driving home from the beach or cleaning off my bike, solutions to those problems start to present themselves.
I find clarity. The noise is gone.
If my goal at work is to be available for meetings, to keep my team on fire, and our current project fresh, I need to be clear, empty, and focused. Planning to spend time in creative pursuits at work sets me up for frustration when the time just isn’t there. I feel unproductive. If I plan on not being creative at work, I am left disappointed, as I don’t accomplish my goals.
I, like so many creatives, believe that I work great under pressure. What that really means is that my forced, laser focus on an idea removes the unnecessary. While it is a form of being present, it can be a struggle and often results in walking away and returning to the idea. It can also mean pushing something else aside.
Clearing my headspace before and after work – and sometimes at lunch – allows me to be open for whatever the day holds. There will still be stress and demands on time and creativity, but the source of my perspective changes for the better.
Productivity requires creativity, but one must have the space for it.
Having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability
Clever, witty, or readily effective, as a speaker, speech, rejoinder, etc.
Dashingly or impressively neat or trim in appearance, as persons, dress, etc.
This isn’t a particularly easy blog to write. Of the yValues series, this is the stickiest. Telling people you’re smart is…tricky. People like to be known as intelligent, but claiming that intelligence is more often seen as hubris than informative. We certainly think we’re smart, and the clients we partner with seem not to disagree, but how do we get that point across to you, dear reader, without coming across as, well, egomaniacs?
It’s a conundrum, to be certain. But that’s what we do, isn’t it? We solve problems. Let’s give this one a try.
“Our industry is dynamic. It is imperative that our team be, and remain, smart to provide cutting-edge insights to our clients day in and day out.” —Henry Crook, Media Planner
The sum total of ymarketing’s intelligence comes from its people. Those who bolster brands tend to define them, and ymarketing is no different.
Our team wasn’t just taught; they were forged. Professionals in their own right, each member of the ymarketing family stands alone as a pillar in their field. Most of our team comes with a long list of accomplishments from within their discipline, bringing with them an independent brand of their own.
Not every person who works here is a fully blossomed flower. Our team of experts is supplemented with new blood as we occasionally welcome hungry young minds to be trained, mentored, and crafted by the very experts previously mentioned. No person is an island at ymarketing, with each group rooted in tenure and seasoned with ambition.
“Smart teams make everything a little bit easier. I rely on them to do my best work. With faith in my team, we can solve any problem, get through any obstacle, and produce quality work. I am more excited about the work I do because I learn and grow with my teammates.” —Lonna Dayhoff, Sr. Account Executive
We are smart enough to know that we are not smart enough. There is no end to education. The marketing game changes often with new technologies, methodologies, mediums, and tools revealing themselves daily. It’s not enough to have a degree or some experience – we have to adapt, constantly, regardless of the particular field we are in. It’s one thing to know what the cutting edge of technology is, but it’s another to be able to utilize it.
ymarketing is fully invested in each person that works here, encouraging a constant flow of training, education, and understanding for all industries. Is there new software available for our Paid Media Team? Let’s send them to training. A rare conference with a hard-to-access creative wizard? Book the Creative Team a flight. We expect everyone on our team to continue sharpening his or her professional toolkit, and ymarketing is ready and able to help however possible.
“New technologies are rapidly accelerating the speed at which companies can go to market. Our clients can’t afford us to be anything other than smart and evolving.” —Mark Palmer, Sr. Analyst, Analytics & Insights
As Isaac Newton said, “Only my application brings me success.” Do you know what’s better than being smart? Using that intelligence towards an admirable goal. All the training in the world wouldn’t make the ymarketing team add up to much if we couldn’t make it worth our partners’ while. We are genuinely excited by strides in our disciplines, and anxious to leverage that momentum for our clients. We do this not only because it helps to maximize our partners’ top lines, but also because new toys are fun for us to play with.
Since, as we said, the marketing space changes daily, so to do the problems that come with it. With clients across multiple industry spaces, each of those problems requires a unique solution. Every day presents a new set of hurdles to vault. To overcome those challenges effectively we depend on smart people who like to be challenged. Thankfully, we’ve got plenty.
The world of SEO is constantly changing. What SEO looks like in five years could be completely different than SEO today. What is true one year can depreciate by the next, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest industry happenings.
Let’s take a look at the trends in SEO for 2017:
Google has begun testing on their mobile-first index, which means that their results will make mobile the primary consideration of their ranking algorithm. While Google has stated that their primary index will still be a single index of websites and apps, their algorithms will use the mobile versions of a site’s content to rank pages, understand structured data, and show snippets from those pages in the results.
Google stated that those without a mobile site don’t need to worry about ranking as they will use the desktop site instead. The only drawback is that if someone does not make their site mobile-friendly they will not enjoy the mobile-friendly ranking boost.
“If your content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, and your site is responsive or a dynamic serving site, you shouldn’t have to change anything.”
“If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making changes to your site.”
“Structured markup must exist on both the desktop and mobile version.”
“If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user-agent to view your site.”
Since Google is testing their mobile index it is likely to become their official index in 2017, including a primary focus on mobile users overall. In fact, as of this writing, the Google mobile-first index has been pushed live for certain subsets of users. Google’s move towards mobile signals a shift in SEO towards the optimization of websites for the mobile experience.
During the latest SEJ Summit in New York, Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, reinforced this idea, noting that it is important to focus on creating mobile-first content since mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches.
AMP and Page Speed
Google launched their new framework for enhancing page speed back in February of 2016. In an effort to curtail the ranking of sites that aren’t optimized, Google created a custom framework to ensure that all sites have the best-optimized page speed when loaded from their search results.
AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, are a “spec to enforce the critical rendering path” as laid out in this presentation from Michael King, Managing Director of iPullRank Digital Marketing Agency. Alternatively, Ms. Ohye confirmed that it would be required to have HTTPS websites for PWAs (progressive web apps) and much of the AMP functionality on Google’s search results. She also confirmed that there are 150 million AMP pages currently in the Google index, with about 4 million new pages being created every week. This reinforces Ms. Ohye’s April 2016 SEJ Summit assertion that Google is “investing in AMP in a big way”.
An Increase in Website Implementations Featuring Sweeping Technical SEO Changes
Despite the rhetoric of some (see: “Why Modern SEO Requires No Technical Expertise”), good SEO does, in fact, require a great deal of technical expertise. Coding, code structure, website structure, optimizing site speed, and a deep understanding of several other topics are all required to be the most effective at SEO. One can concentrate on things like content and/or links alone if that’s preferred, but it is a mistake to think that those things make up SEO entirely.
Some may say that SEO is not technical. To anyone seeking to reap the most benefits from their SEO work, the naysayers are wrong. The most technically savvy SEO folks will be at the forefront of a technical renaissance in 2017 – why not be with them? This is not to say that quality content takes a back seat to technical know-how. It will be important to get both content and technical SEO right in 2017 since they work hand in hand towards a synergistic power rankings relationship.
Entities Will Become Even More Important
According to a patent filed by Google, they are working on methods to associate entities with an actual search query. Upon the integration of this kind of search protocol, when a person enters a search query it will be more likely to return results that entities associated with the query. This means more accurate search results for users and these search results can end up associating other objects with the entity in question.
In 2017, Schema.org markup will become even more important and should be heavily considered for all SEO workflows (some industries will be heavily reliant on Schema.org markup compared to others). Not only is the individual markup important, but the markup’s relationships and how it defines entity-related items on websites as well. This will become even more crucial to get right when running SEO campaigns.
New TLDs Will Become a Big Thing
.com, .net, .org – these are all known as TLDs (top-level domains). For a while, they remained the TLD kings because they were all that most people were familiar with. In the past year, however, some TLDs have seen significant growth: .nba, .you, .shop, .nike, and .open to name a few. And TLDs like .zip, .cc, .gdn, .mov, and .buy have all seen a substantial increase of usage.
As more and more people become familiar with new TLDs it will be easier to use them. While they will become more popular they will probably not be as utilized as .com. This will make them much easier to use in nabbing new online sales from a marketing and SEO perspective. It is likely we will also see the emergence of new TLD markets as a result.
As the research (and above image) shows, many domains are purchased to ensure that nobody else in a given competitive space snatches them. High trust flow and authority websites have not yet been created with these domains and there is no sign that these sites are in a development stage. It would be a good idea to check on this every few months to see just how the use of these newer TLDs is progressing.
What Should an SEO Campaign Look Like in 2017?
With the rise of mobile indexing, website owners should concentrate on making their sites more mobile-friendly, which includes AMP implementations. The mobile-first focus should help websites have a top-down development approach and take into account Google Analytics data. This development approach should include responsive designs rather than separate websites that use a .mobile subdomain. Proper implementation will allow one to modify content on the mobile site without ever touching the same content on a desktop site.
Technical SEO implementations should focus on improving site speed so that a website is faster than competitors in the same space. Development should be focused first and foremost on laying out code so that it is optimized as much as possible for both AMP and improving site speed.
Schema data types, relationships, and how they interact with one another should be a focus of optimization workflows, ensuring that the end result is increased proliferation throughout rich snippets showing up in Google search. In order to have the best possible results, it will be necessary to include research and optimization in Schema.org SEO campaigns, focusing workflows on accurate coding implementation.
Keeping up to date on the latest SEO technologies above will help any website be at the forefront of the industry, beginning with two major foundations: cross-device compatibility (with a mobile focus) and technical SEO. The more technical SEO gets, the more granularity can be expected, and the better SEO will be.
If you gathered the CEOs of every company in the world together and asked them whether or not they and their employees are driven, chances are they would reply with a hearty, “duh.”
Compulsion is how things get done. We are each propelled to make decisions every single day. Hungry? Find food. Need money? Find work. Looking for love? Find a date. Being driven is the natural way by which we move forward.
The real question is not whether or not a person or company is driven, but what is it that drives them? Sure, we all go to work every day and do what we need to do, but why? What drives us to get through the workday?
At ymarketing, we’re driven by something special… But to understand it fully, one must first look at the things that do not drive us.
“There’s a Tupac lyric that has stayed with me: ‘Never surrender, it’s all about the faith you got, don’t ever stop, just push until you hit the top.’ That’s the drive every single day – reaching the top.” —Miguel Estevez, Jr. Systems Engineer
Money. It’s not about the paycheck here. Don’t get us wrong, paydays are great days, but that’s not why we’re at ymarketing. Our team could find a check at any number of other agencies.
Fear. There probably aren’t too many folks who would admit to it, but fear (particularly fear of failure) is a powerful motivator. Many people do what they do for validation, or as compensation for something – all of which is based in fear. It’s possible to achieve great things with fear as a driving force (or even money for that matter), but the goal in those cases isn’t to be great at something, it’s to not be bad at it.
“Being driven means, to me, that you are so passionate about something that you chase it, hunger for it, find ways to evolve it and make it better.” —Adam Ortman, Performance Media Strategist
It’s not money, shame, or fear of failure… So what is it that drives the team at ymarketing?
Autonomy. The people who make up ymarketing are inspired to remain individuals; the things that make us unique motivate us.
We did not stumble into our respective disciplines. Nobody is here by accident. Spend some time with the people at ymarketing and you’ll find that everyone is exactly where they want to be. The passion for our craft – to continually learn about it, understand it, and improve it – is the reason each of us does what it is we do. That individual passion permeates every action we take; it consumes us wholly.
“Keep working and fighting for your personal goals (not the ones someone else sets for you). It’s going to be hard, but you can never give up on you.” —Ashley de la Rosa, Digital Designer
The autonomy within our craft is embraced at ymarketing, never muted. While we continue to develop individually as designers, analysts, production experts, and more, we enhance the abilities of our team as a whole. We are driven to remain individually sharp, well informed, and at the ready for change.
And here’s why that matters: ymarketing is always evolving. We’re adapting and changing to adjust with each announcement of new technology, every update to our various toolkits, and the constant ebb and flow of the way the world does business. We do this not because we are driven by finance or some personal insecurity, but because we, as individuals, love what we do, and as a team we do it well.
Earlier this month we posted a blog about family. While the company as a whole did just fine in 2016, our family had a truly monumental year. We had marriages, life changing trips across the globe, intimate moments of connection between friends and families, and even a few fresh new humans brought into the world.
We asked our team to share their favorite moment from 2016. Here’s what they said:
Thank you to everyone who made 2016 the year it was.
Families are amorphous. There is not one set style of family. Parents, siblings, and friends come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes related by blood and sometimes not. Different families behave in different ways, each with their own set of customs, rules, and beliefs. The relationship dynamics between various members of any given family are not unlike thumbprints, unique to the participants.
What is acceptable in one family might not be for another, and vice versa. For example, if a couple of brothers grew up pranking one another and, at one time, hypothetically of course, the eldest brother locked the youngest brother in a dog kennel for several hours until their parents returned home, some might see that totally fictional scenario as mean, while others could view this absolutely made-up and not-at-all-real-to-the-writer-of-this-blog moment as laughable through the lens of history.
Different strokes for different folks, right?
“Being family at ymarketing means that I have 60+ supporters cheering me on to succeed in my career, both personally and professionally. At ymarketing our family is so tightly knit that no matter where you turn, you have a friend to laugh with, grow with, and ultimately, experience life with.” —Chelsea Vogt, HR/Recruiting Associate
To define “family” is to build a wall around a constantly changing, ever-evolving cluster of relationships that seems to evade entrapment. And yet, when we talk about family, we understand the closeness, dependability, and enjoyment implied.
When ymarketing mentions family as a value we use it as an adjective, a word that describes the nature of our relationships with one another and our clients.
Among its peer values (caring, driven, fun, and real) family is the easiest to slip into at ymarketing. The luster of camaraderie is undeniable among those who work here. Relationships are fostered through honesty, embracing the things that make us different from one another while founded on the tenets that unite us.
“My Italian mom and I got into an argument one time where she ended up launching a perfectly juicy sausage my way, hitting me in the head. We had an awkward dinner that evening but after some of her amazing crumb cake, we kissed and made up. Even though the ymarketing family isn’t blood, we spend a lot of time with each other. That’s important. We care for the work of our clients and the work that we do for them. It can be tense. Stuff happens. It’s okay to throw a sausage as long as you kiss and make up.” —Peter Corsello, Account Director
With our clients the bond remains. Sure, we don’t see clients as often as we see one another, but we generate relationships that pick up where they left off every single time. Those awkward moments you experience when you don’t see someone for a while and you don’t know what to say? Yeah, we don’t have that. Our clients excite us. We are enthusiastic to see them as much as we are to keep in touch with them. The only thing more exciting to us then developing relationships with our clients might be the pride we wear when we help their business succeed beyond precedent.
Something else found in almost all families is making up after a disagreement. When you live with someone you’re bound to butt heads – the same is true of working together. Maybe DJ forgets to put his dishes in the sink, which really annoys Chelsea. Perhaps Manny takes his shoes off and forgot to thoroughly scrub his toes the night before, driving Kingsley’s olfactory sense into a rage. (Like the completely untrue brother-in-a-kennel example above, these examples absolutely never happen.) Whatever the reason, gripes occur.
And that’s okay.
“On some days we spend more time at work than we do at home. It helps that we enjoy one another’s company and have become extensions of each other’s families.” —Penny Laris, Senior Media Planner
The trick is to air out frustrations, find a resolution, and move on amicably. Disagreements happen with one another and with our clients, but we’re family so we can make up and move on. We don’t do this out of obligation, but because we genuinely care for one another and hope that we can build each other up as often as possible.
The definition of “family” is tricky. It’s a term that continues to spark great debate across the globe. But there are ideals common to all familial relationships that can be found here at ymarketing. It’s important to us that those ideals remain standard across the links of every relationship we develop. Family is a priority at ymarketing, even if we can’t define it. We just… feel it. Work with us and you will too.
*In reference to ymarketing, this particular definition may, at times, be false.
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.