2017 SAMY Awards: Sales and Marketer of the Year
When a company succeeds, it’s easy to give credit to the president or CEO. When a product makes a big splash, it’s natural to praise the developers that made it. While those rounds of applause aren’t unearned, praise is due for the backbone of any company: sales and marketers.
Without sales, a company’s revenue would plummet, and without marketing, customers wouldn’t know about even the most innovative products. Below, we’ve recognized 17 of the state’s top sales and marketers—but if there are any we’ve forgotten, go ahead and give them a pat on the back.
Also, new this year we’re honoring some of the most innovative marketing and PR campaigns from local companies and agencies. Utah is filled with creative teams who pour their talent into catching the attention of media-saturated consumers. Kudos to all our 2017 Sales and Marketer of the Year award winners!
Scott Hardy joined Vivint Smart Home in 2013, and even though his previous career was in strategy and product marketing roles, he loved the opportunity his new position gave him to contribute to the company’s success.
“I’ve found there is no more exciting place to be than in the crosshairs of generating revenue,” says Hardy. “Your sales strategy puts your company to the ultimate test—does your value proposition resonate with consumers and encourage them to purchase your services? It’s exciting to set, meet and exceed revenue goals and grow the business in such a measurable way.”
Hardy oversees a team of 300 salespeople, digital marketers, strategists and analytics professionals. Since 2013, Hardy’s team has achieved almost 50 percent annualized growth rates and has played a pivotal role in helping the company cross the one-millionth customer milestone. Hardy says that many salespeople tend to overvalue closing a sale and forget that strategy and understanding the client’s needs are equally important ways to achieving success in sales.
“See sales as a worthy profession and master your craft,” he says. “Don’t just blindly pursue a payday; learn from those around you and apply those insights to become a better salesperson.”
Building a startup is no easy task. Eric Marchant and his colleagues have been working on building Jolt, an operations platform for businesses, “from [its] basement days to now.”
“Helping to build an early stage startup has been a roller coaster. When I started with Jolt we only had a handful of users, no defined sales process, and no training. It was a major undertaking for us to learn how to sell our solution,” says Marchant. “Through grit, a lot failed attempts and some sheer luck we have gone from a handful of test users, to today Jolt has a presence in over 500 brands. I have been fortunate to hold a major role in that early hard-fought growth.”
In 2015, Marchant increased his sales 575 percent over the previous year, and in 2016, that number has climbed 200 percent more. He says he reached a point of true growth in his career when he realized salespeople need to “seek understanding, not persuasion.”
“If all you do is convince someone to spend their money, you haven’t really made a sale. All you’ve done is facilitate a transaction,” he says. “The real value comes from truly helping people solve problems.”
Bob Mueller knows that for most people, having a career in sales isn’t one you plan—it’s one that finds you.
“I don’t think most people wake up one day and decide they want to be a salesperson. Many good salespeople get started when they are young,” says Mueller. “You know pretty quickly if this is something you’re going to be good at or not. For most people, it’s not.”
That’s something Mueller would know a little bit about. He’s been with Utility Trailer Sales of Utah for 32 years. Under his guidance as the general sales manager, Mueller’s department has grown from selling less than 100 trailers per year to selling 3,000 annually, with revenues well over $100 million.
Mueller says managing the Utility Trailer Sales of Utah salesforce has been his honor, and he retired from his position at the end of 2016. He leaves this as advice to those salespeople looking to learn from his lengthy career: “If you work hard and integrity and fairness are high up on your priority list, you’ll find the dollars are not far behind.”
A career in sales was always intriguing to Jeff Rossi. “The concept of delivering something of value to someone in need has always captured my attention, from my early days in the lawn mowing business to selling second-day donuts in junior high and eventually to commercial real estate,” he says.
Today, Rossi is the executive director at Cushman & Wakefield, where he provides real estate strategy to companies. In his 14-year career, he has achieved a total sales volume of $1.5 billion, with sales in 2015 totaling $400 million. He has been a Cushman & Wakefield top 10 broker in 2011, 2013-15, and is currently No. 2 in the office for 2016.
“The rewards are in the personal relationships that I take away from each project that I work on,” says Rossi. “Each project lasts for several months, involves some very challenging conversations, and requires many hours of attention. That type of investment in the client typically yields a successful project, but also a connection. I’m grateful for those connections, some of which have become life-long friends.”
He adds, “The challenges are in the same effort–I become personally invested in the success of the company, and it’s difficult to see when the business takes a different turn.”
For Jeffery Thomas, sales within the banking industry is all about service. Thomas was director of Executive Banking for Zions Bank since 2010 and recently became regional president. It’s a job, he says, that allows him to meet new people, understand their goals and then facilitate the achievement of those dreams.
“The rewards in our line of business and our line of sales are many. Seeing an employee achieve a goal or get a promotion is so fulfilling. Watching a client’s business rapidly grow and feel that we played a part is impactful,” says Thomas. “Most importantly, sales is a vehicle to have communication and relationships with so many people.”
Caring about the relationships you form, says Thomas, is what keeps a salesperson and their client both successful. And he’s certainly known success: The executive banking team Thomas leads has maintained consistent growth over the last few years, doubling loans and deposits in the last six years. The team manages over $500 million in loans and over $1.2 billion in deposits.
“I believe that people have their individual strengths and should focus on those rather than their perceived flaws,” says Thomas. “Whatever the approach or strength, authenticity is the catalyst in our industry.”
An eye for design and a fascination with how a change in aesthetics can change how a customer responds to a product or an ad drew McKay Bird to marketing—and the thrill of lead generation has kept him there.
In his career at TCN, Bird has helped the company establish partnerships and execute breakthrough product launches, as well as a merger with Global Connect that expanded TCN’s customer base to more than 1,600 annually. Over the last year alone, TCN has seen growth of more than 75 percent, due in no small part to the innovative marketing programs implemented by or under Bird.
While the internet has been a big tool for marketers in every industry, Bird says the shifting landscape and changing rules can produce too many challenging factors outside of a company’s control to really be considered a magic marketing solution. To effectively use it, he says, marketers have to be more in tune with their field and what really works to drive a sale.
“By providing unique content strategies, ads and emails, we’re able to get right to our target audience. This is not to say that you’ll avoid all the noise you see online, but it makes it easier to move through all the noise when you know your audience and can identify points for improvement,” he says.
Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC
With a combined 27 years of experience in the financial industry, the marketing team at Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC, has plenty of breadth and depth to navigate the challenges of marketing in a highly regulated industry. Each team member is an expert in his or her own field, but can also help support every other member of the team, says Castle & Cooke Director of Marketing Bradley Herbert.
The team has risen to the challenge of crafting tailor-made resources for loan officers in 44 branches throughout the country—with another dozen coming in the next year—in a time-sensitive business. Herbert says the team has raised their level of service without sacrificing quality by improving processes, allowing easy access to existing tools and adding resources to give loan officers the best chance at success.
Because of the media landscape that allows unprecedented ease for advertising, Herbert says the challenge has become finding a message that will rise above the rest. Digital marketing is useful for its virtually instant feedback on the effectiveness of a new campaign, he says, allowing nimble adjustments if needed.
“Learn to become a numbers person. You’ve already identified that you have an eye for design and enjoy the creative side of advertising. Confirm your hunch by becoming an expert in market research. You will be able to go to market with more confidence knowing that you’ve done your homework,” Herbert says.
Pictured are Bradley Herbert, Director of Marketing; Starlee Basinger, Project Manager; Alison Andersen, Content Manager; Harrison Keith, Digital Marketing Manager; and Cara Jaffee, Graphic Designer
Brett Pharis and his marketing teams have had a pretty good year: between 2015 and 2016, they raised Clearlink’s revenue from $5 million to $12 million and grew the team from 15 marketers to 40 digital marketing specialists. And through a combination of technology improvements and extensive optimization of on-site conversion rates and campaigns, the company’s call-through rates nearly doubled year-over-year, says Pharis, marketing director for Clearlink.
Pharis says it’s rewarding to see growth from creative solutions to problems, especially since Clearlink’s digital dependency means it’s particularly impacted by changes to the landscape. His marketing teams have to be on the cutting edge of all of the channels they compete in, as well as continually be on the lookout for new directions to grow, he says.
As marketing director, Pharis says it’s important to understand his teams’ impact on campaigns, in order to provide the best results for customers and partners.
“Marketing requires an aptitude for problem solving and a confidence in your abilities to find solutions. I enjoy the fact that there isn’t a single right way to accomplish our goals and seeing the creative solutions (campaigns) my colleagues propose is one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” he says.
Over the past 30 years, Jim Phillips has learned plenty about marketing and lead generation. That experience helped him last year as he recruited 55,000 employees for 36 contact centers across the United States and Guyana for a local telecommunications company.
The constant change and innovation required in the marketing field attracted Phillips to it in the first place. The prospect of keeping ahead of the curve and ensuring a brand is protected while attracting the right employees for the job has been a challenge Phillips has relished through his career. It is particularly rewarding, he says, to hear people talking about his work without knowing it was him who orchestrated that project.
Because of the innate challenges of marketing, it’s vital to keep abreast of the changing landscape and charge forward without fear. “You have to stay one step ahead of everyone,” he says. “Never be afraid to fail.”
Wade Stevenson was drawn to marketing through a love for telling stories—stories for customers, brands, products—and the challenges that come with finding ways to meet customer needs, take advantage of company strengths and outmaneuver competition.
These days, he’s telling the story for BioFire Diagnostics as its senior vice president of global marketing. Among his accomplishments is launching a product now considered a U.S. medical gold standard and leading nine product launches and the creation of a product franchise that now defines BioFire.
Stevenson says with the glut of marketing options now available, prioritization is key. “The greatest challenge in marketing is deciding what not to do. There are so many great options for marketing products today. The challenge we face as marketers is to allocate limited resources to the marketing strategies and tactics most likely to meet your marketing objectives and most consistent with your brand identity.”
Still, he says, the essence of marketing hasn’t changed, and he views online marketing as a chiefly tactical, not strategic, exercise, and includes webinars, retargeting, SEO, online advertising and sponsorships in his marketing arsenal. The rapid expansion of online marketing programs, he says, has only increased the ability to execute a marketing strategy.
Since being hired as vice president of marketing in October 2015, Michelle Suzuki helped successfully rebrand the company to RizePoint and put together a crack marketing team to propel the tech firm to new heights. In just this year, the company has seen a 39,000 percent growth in active prospects/leads, a 297 percent increase in qualified sales opportunities and a 317 percent increase in year-over-year sales.
Although she started her career in public relations, Suzuki quickly found that what she liked about public relations—identifying a challenge, formulating a strategy and then structuring how to best accomplish the goals at hand—leant itself best to marketing. Twenty-two years later, Suzuki has taken every professional opportunity that has come her way and amassed a broad set of skills, from speechwriting to content marketing. She’s still eager to learn more, and always encourages young marketers to do the same.
“Take every opportunity available to you,” she says. “Sign up for projects outside the scope of your day-to-day work. If your company forms an integration team or a tiger team, volunteer to help. Expanding your skills in new and different directions can only help your long-term career. You will meet new people, learn new processes, and who knows—you may even unearth a new passion that will change the course of your life.”
“We make diagramming software, and we’re passionate about flowcharts,” says Lauren McNeeley, content marketing specialist for Lucid Software. But unfortunately, she says, only the nerdiest of engineers are excited about flowcharts. Lucid Software set out to change that with its Flowchart Fridays campaign.
Each Friday, the company drops a new flowchart built around pop culture themes. The first was Star Wars themed, charting possible parental figures for the character Ray. That first chart garnered 5,000 views, but only a few short weeks later, Lucid Software was racking up 100,000 page views for its Harry Potter flowchart, which helped viewers decide which wizarding profession to choose. The top-performing flowchart so far helps craft a winning fantasy football team, and its views have surpassed 200,000.
Lucid Software uses social media channels to push the charts out to as wide an audience as possible, and those efforts have led to its flowcharts being featured on the Huffington Post, Gizmodo, Screen Rant and CNET. The campaign began in early May 2016 and has already snagged 1.5 million pages views (and counting) and over 5,000 social shares. Lucid set out to prove there’s a flowchart for everyone, and it’s converting viewers one chart at a time.
The Dinosaur National Monument in Uintah County—also known as Utah’s Dinosaurland—has long been a favorite pilgrimage site for children who are obsessed with dinosaurs. But the county wanted to make the experience more engaging for kids and, as a result, increase visitation to the region. To that end, and with the help of Relic, Uintah County launched its Origin of Adventure campaign, which featured two dinosaur cartoon characters named Vern and Al.
The centerpiece of the unique content marketing campaign was a children’s storybook that told the story of an adventure Vern and Al have in Dinosaurland. The storybooks were given out free of charge at hotels, restaurants and other venues throughout Vernal. More than 4,500 children received the books, and a short, interactive video created from the book has received over 87,000 views on YouTube.
More importantly, the campaign has led to a significant increase in visitation to Dinosaurland, with May 2016 seeing 11.4 percent more visitors than the previous year. The summer months saw visitation increases of 3 to 5 percent.
This year will see the launch of a new storybook and commercial, with the goal of continuing to engage children and their families in their own adventures in Dinosaurland.
Utah is a state with an abundance of breathtaking landscapes. National Geographic is a media company geared toward people who love adventure travel and beautiful imagery of the world’s natural wonders. So the marketing campaign coordinated by Love Communications was a natural fit for everyone involved.
In early 2016, Love approached National Geographic about highlighting Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks. National Geographic responded with custom editorial posted on NationalGeographic.com in three pieces: written content, a photo gallery and a video. The media company then promoted that content through its website, eNewsletter, social media and other channels.
According to Love Communications, with an average duration of 10 minutes, the time spent by visitors on this custom editorial content outperformed any other custom or organic content ever created by National Geographic. The written content received 180,601 views, the photo gallery received 89,354 page views and the video received 27,532.
The icing on the cake? Each piece of editorial content was surrounded with banner ads and video ads, giving the Utah Office of Tourism 100 percent share-of-voice as visitors immersed themselves in the stories and images of National Geographic’s “National Parks Road Trip: Utah” feature.
Digital Marketing Campaign
When Sundance launched its digital marketing campaign in the fall of 2015, its goal was to expand brand recognition for the storied resort and increase lodging sales by 6 percent. Working with Penna Powers, the resort developed a series of “Create Your Story” videos that convey some of the iconic stories about Sundance, from actor and director Robert Redford discovering Mount Timpanogos and deciding to “put a stake in the ground” there to U.S. Ski Team member Steven Nyman finding his passion for skiing on its slopes. As the campaign materials state, “Sundance Mountain Resort is a ski resort that inspires stories—of wilderness, and snow, and the Wild West, and all the ways this secluded Utah ski area has left indelible impressions on our hearts.”
The campaign relied on a combination of long-form video, social promotion, native content and search/retargeting in order to drive measurable bookings. And the results speak for themselves: the campaign drove a 12 percent increase in sales year over year and garnered 700,000 video views, 7.3 million impressions and 46,000 microsite impressions. More importantly, it was responsible for thousands of skiers discovering their own memorable Sundance stories.
Changing a school’s athletic brand is a tricky proposition. Legions of alumni, fans and faculty are passionate about their beloved team—and loathe to see anything change. That’s why Dixie State University approached the rebrand of its athletic identity with extreme care.
First, the university hired Love Communications to spearhead the effort, which involved extensive research and a voting process that enabled all stakeholders to have a voice. Once the votes were tallied, Love Communications developed a logo concept and mascot for the top three finalists. These fully executed concepts were presented to a DSU committee made up of representatives from student government, the alumni association, the booster club, the athletic department and faculty.
Then the university orchestrated an unveiling of the chosen identity at a school assembly featuring cheerleaders, a marching band and over 1,000 attendees. There the school revealed the new identity—the Trail Blazers—to cheers and whistles from the crowd.
The months-long process has paid off in many ways for Dixie State University. In the first quarter with the new identity, royalties from merchandise sales were up 200 percent from previous best quarters. The school also experienced a record year for donations and says it has received an outpouring of support from the community.
Every brand the Harmon Brothers touch turns to gold. Their off-kilter sense of humor and willingness to take risks have led to some of the most audacious and memorable video campaigns to ever hit YouTube. From a unicorn that poops soft-serve ice cream to a paean to Poo-Pourri, the Harmon Brothers are willing to make viewers laugh while they squirm.
But it’s not all potty humor. The team is also responsible for instant classics like the Goldilocks video for the mattress brand Purple, in which Goldilocks tests hard, soft and, well, Purple mattresses by dropping raw eggs on them. That video launched one year ago and has racked up 19 million views on YouTube and close to 100 million views on Facebook. The Chatbooks video, which begins with a mother emerging fully clothed from a bubble bath, landed 1 million views in its first 24 hours.
Of course, views are well and good, but sales are where the rubber meets the road. With 66 million views of its pooping unicorn video within four months, Squatty Potty saw a 600 increase in online sales and a 400 increase in retail sales. The Goldilocks video was so successful that it overwhelmed Purple’s manufacturing capabilities for a time. That’s why brands looking to break through the online clutter are turning to the Harmon Brothers.