You Can’t Improve without Improv!

Learning effective communication by wearing a chicken hat, dancing and speaking gibberish may sound - for the lack of a better word - weird. I get it, it’s not what you’d normally do at a networking event, but let me tell you, this was no ordinary event. This BMA Chicago Breakfast was led by Erin Diehl from Improve It!   Her aim was to teach us effective communication through improv. It sounded fun and I was intrigued but I got a lot more out of it than expected. Why? Well, there was a purpose. Right then and there we started putting theory into practice. There were no laptops or note taking, this was a roll up your sleeves, we’re doing this kind of BMA Breakfast.   Erin started us off with this simple message: “Our mission is to provide high-energy, laughter-filled team-building workshops that incorporate improvisation.” From there it was all fun and games,...

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5 Reasons Why I Attend Conferences

I’m heading off to Content Marketing World 2016 in Cleveland this morning. This is one of the several investments I make each year to attend conferences, luncheons, webinars, training sessions and other events that get my networking juices flowing.   Why do I attend conferences? Why should you? Here are a few things to think about.   1. I genuinely like networking. I know that not everyone likes to network as much as I do. And sometimes, believe it or not, I have to psych myself up to network. But almost all of the time, I get benefit from making the effort to attend these events and you will too. You just have to try.   2. I actually learn things. Yes, there are always snooze-fest presentations and people you don’t want to be stuck with. But information that is useful sometimes appears when you don’t expect it. So you need to be ready and willing...

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B2B Marketing Conference

5 Takeaways from #BMA16

I had the pleasure of attending my 4th BMA National Conference this week at the Hilton Chicago. Every year the conference seems to grow and change, this year with the ANA partnership front and center. Regardless, I can always count on the BMA Conference for great networking, quality content and a wealth of insights and ideas to bring back to my job and my clients. Some of the most common themes from this year’s conference included how marketing can and should drive business results, ways to build compelling brands through storytelling, and making marketing more important within organizations.   There were plenty of great B2B insights to choose from, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5 takeaways over the 3-day event.   It’s not B2B or B2C its B2H= Business to Human. While this isn’t a new idea, it bears repeating. Linda Boff, Chief Marketing Office at GE, reminded us that business...

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Top 10 Takeaways from BMA15 Chapter Leader Day

[caption id="attachment_3162" align="aligncenter" width="500"] #BMA15 kicked off today with the Chapter Leader pre-session[/caption] No long blog posts here this week! The 2015 edition of the National Business Marketing Association National Conference, BMA15 / Be More, kicked off today with a pre-session of Chapter Leaders. Chapter Leaders are those who serve in leadership positions at the 20+ local chapters that make up the BMA.   As promised, no long blog posts from Tell Your Story this week. So here are my take-aways from today. Watch for our other lists from my colleagues at the end of each day.   10. Chapter Leaders are passionate. We have all built great communities. That needs to continue – local B2B community building.   9. The merger with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) could potentially be a good thing in terms of promoting the profession of B2B Marketing, but the beauty of BMA is that we are not too corporate. ANA is...

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Tell Your Story Brings Home Social Media Gold

  [caption id="attachment_2714" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Nicole accepts Tell Your Story's Gold Tower Award[/caption]   Last night at Moonlight Studios, the Tell Your Story team proudly accepted a Gold Business Marketing Association of Chicago Tower Award in the social media category for work done for client, USG Corporation. It was a terrific event and celebration of the best and brightest in Chicago B2B marketing.   [caption id="attachment_2708" align="alignright" width="168"] George shows off our Social Media Gold[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2706" align="alignleft" width="300"] Nicole and Erin at #BMAtower[/caption] Our winning social media program helped USG tell the story of their new brand identity and Team USA sponsorship through employee Brand Ambassadors. Tell Your Story worked to utilize the Brand Ambassadors as a team of social media champions whose exponential reach spread the word throughout the organization and externally to customers and influencers.       [caption id="attachment_2705" align="alignleft" width="300"] Ellen, Nicole and Amanda celebrate #BMAtower Gold[/caption] This wasn’t the only award our team received for USG...

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My First Time at BMA National

  I was fortunate to be one of nearly 800 B2B marketers to attend BMA Blaze, Business Marketing Association’s National Conference last week in Chicago. It was my first time attending the entire conference and boy was it jam-packed full of energizing education sessions and— of course— lots of networking and fun.   There were plenty of great B2B insights to choose from, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 4 takeaways over the 3-day event.   1)   We’re all in sales. Get over it. During Dan Pink’s fantastic keynote he shared the top words people associate with sales and not surprisingly they aren’t pretty: yuck, smarmy and sleazy. But we all spend time in our jobs convincing or persuading someone… in other words sales. Gone are the times of the typical sleazy car salesmen though. We have gone from “Buyer Beware” to “Seller Beware.” Today, buyers are well-informed, have more choices and plenty...

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Back to School Means Back to Networking

I had a great last several days of summer. I was fortunate enough to stay flexible with my work schedule while spending a lot of time with my 7-year-old son who was in between summer camp and the start of school. A portion of that time was called “Daddy Camp” and I hope it will be an August tradition.


Although you may think all good things must come to an end, I couldn’t be more excited. As my son embarks onto a new adventure to 2nd grade, I get to rev up my networking engines. And I started it last night by attending the Chicago Business Marketing Association (BMA) membership event on a rooftop overlooking a Cubs game at historic Wrigley Field.


Yes, the Cubs lost, but it was still a great night. Networking with marketing folks energizes me and helps me prioritize my professional thinking and goals. I meet new people and connect with old friends. We catch up, talk, make connections and hopefully walk away with that something extra that can help us take the next step in our professional lives.


Whether it’s BMA, an alumni association or any other formal or informal group, back to school means back to networking. Take advantage of the buzz in the air and make it work for you.


P.S. I’m biased, but the Chicago BMA is the best place to do marketing networking in the city. Check out for a schedule of events.

Chickens, Brand Architecture and Other Things I Learned at #BMAGROW

GROW BMA Conference

I’m still digesting all of the great presentations and experiences from this year’s, 2012 Business Marketing Association National Conference, GROW, but here are a few things I learned:


Chickens and Brand Architecture Just Don’t Mix


You had me at chickens, but lost me at architecture. I loved the start of the presentation by BBN Global Network, Bader Rutter and Pfizer Animal Health about Global Brand Activation. Pfizer Animal Health’s poultry business embarked on developing a global brand and they started out by using great visuals in their presentation evoking affection and emotion about what they do. Then they got into the brand architecture and positioning mumbo jumbo language and hard-to-read slides and lost me. Then again, maybe it was too early after a late night at Red Head Piano Bar.


Consistent Quality Networking is Key to Career Happiness


I’ve had the great opportunity to attend many national BMA conferences. I am involved on the local level and have always worked for companies who believe in the value of the organization. Over the past four days, it was confirmed to me that the ones doing the right amount of networking consistently over time are the ones who are most successful and happiest with their careers. BMA gives B2B marketers that forum.



Onramp Ad CampaignA quick thought on purpose during the holidays.As we celebrate the holiday season,we often reflect back on the year and develop plans for the future. We think about what we have accomplished with our lives both from a personal and professional perspective. Often we think of our own purpose in life and how we may be able to find true meaning for what we do every day. This holiday season, we hope you take time to reflect upon your purpose and if what you are doing both professionally and personally is helping you achieve your goals.


Now back to marketing.


Thinking about purpose for ourselves and our clients has been something Tell Your Story has been doing every day this year, and are looking to expand that even more in 2012. Getting to an organization’s core purpose makes marketing communications more compelling to our target audiences. Our purpose, if articulated correctly, can make a connection with our audience that is powerful, compelling and successful.


In June we had the privilege of attending the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference where Roy Spence, best-selling author of “It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For” and co-founder & chairman of ad agency GSD&M spoke about purpose-based marketing, a philosophy we embrace here at Tell Your Story.


Today, there’s a 5th “P” in marketing aside from product, price, placement and promotion – purpose. This is more than just your mission statement, which is how you’ll actually fulfill your purpose. Roy defined the 5th “P” by saying it’s a, “Definitive statement about the difference you want to make in the world.”


As we develop stories for our clients, we have applied Roy’s philosophy to our client work. As an example, when we were approached by OnRamp Transportation Services, a full-service transportation resource that offers both equipment and business services to independent truckers and transportation carriers, we discovered that their customers wanted to be independent, but did not want to go into the world of independent trucking alone. By identifying the problem facing potential users of OnRamp’s services, we were able to develop a clear and concise purpose to guide their communications strategy.


Purpose: Everything OnRamp does is to help you be more independent, successful and fulfilled within the transportation industry. 


So how are we working to achieve OnRamp’s purpose? In order to launch the company into the marketplace, we created brand awareness and worked to increase leads among independent truckers and small to mid-size carriers through the use of a full integrated campaign with a huge dose of Social PR. Our priorities were to introduce OnRamp to influential trucking and transportation media, develop long-term relationships with key media members and increase general awareness using social media. Results:


  • 142 articles in transportation trade, local and national media (both online and print)
  • These articles equiate to 2,058,847 impressions and advertizing equivalency of $343,915
  • 360+ visits to OnRamp websites from Social PR efforts
  • 1,700+ acts of social media engagement to date (comments, re-tweets, etc.)
  • 172,000+ social media impressions to date
  • 19 YouTube videos with over 1,500 views to date


Onramp Transportation Services
In Roy’s book he goes as far as to say, “When the ashes clear from the economic Armageddon, the only organization left standing will be the ones that actually stand for something. Without a purpose that improves peoples’ lives, and contributes to the greater good, organizations will struggle.”


To learn more about OnRamp Transportation Services click here or follow them on Facebook & Twitter.

Stealing the Highest Form of Flattery?

Marketing Innovators ChicagoIf there is one thing we took away from attending the Business Marketing Association‘s Marketing Innovators Luncheon on October 12th, it’s that original ideas are overrated in the marketing world. The luncheon’s special guest and speaker, Dan Michelson, introduced the controversial idea. Michelson, Chief Marketing Officer at Allscripts, the most utilized electronic health record solutions company in the healthcare arena today, discussed the unnecessary need for originality during his remarks. Instead he suggested marketers should do the reasonable thing – steal from one another. Stealing, a word with such negative connotations, perhaps we’ll meet Dan in the middle and call it ‘borrowing’? No matter the word choice, the advice makes sense. If something is working for someone else, why don’t you do it too if it makes sense for your company, organization or client?


No matter your stance, it’s an undeniable fact that Dan has played a major role in leading Allscripts to the top of the healthcare technology industry, growing the company’s employee pool from 200 to 6,000 workers and increasing revenue to over $1.5 billion. Tell Your Story has been there to watch the company grow as we serve our healthcare industry client, Daymarck, who aims to make medical coding easy and pain-free for home-healthcare professionals.


Intrigued by Dan’s philosophy? Watch this video we ‘stole’ from BMAChicago to hear more from the Allscripts CMO himself.


We want to hear your thoughts. Is there less nobility in following another company’s lead, or is using the ideas of others a smart business tactic? Comment below or tweet us at @tellyourstorybc.


The One Question with Dan Michelson, Allscripts