Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Journey of a Fitness Technology Startup

This past Friday at Ann Arbor SPARK the CDE hosted Brian Hayden, cofounder and CEO of ShapeLog, to discuss the journey he and his team has had so far as a fitness technology startup. During the CDE's summer internship clinic, Hayden worked one-on-one with two marketing students to help them expand their digital marketing skills, while they offered Hayden and his team some fresh perspectives.

The idea of ShapeLog came about when cofounder and CTO Nolan Orfield used his engineering background and curiosity to invent a gadget that would measure what you are doing when lifting weights. Today, ShapeLog has grown into a business-to-business fitness technology company with patented strength tracking hardware and the world's first strength training data API.

Hayden explained that the team spent their first few months discovering and educating themselves about where this developed technology could take them. After narrowing their sales funnel to fitness advocates and gyms, they began to develop data on what exactly their product could measure. "Once we gathered an incredible amount of data and learned how to pitch our product, we dove right into reaching out to the top fitness companies in the world," said Hayden.

Upon reaching out to those companies, ShapeLog discovered that 15 out of the 40 said they would be interested in learning more about the product they had created.

"That was a turning point for us, and we knew we were on the right track when we had something those top companies were interested in," said Hayden.

Since then, the ShapeLog team has focused their efforts on educating fitness providers about their technology and demoing their product at multiple trade shows. Additionally, they have demonstrated their determination and perseverance to continously with some of the top gymnasium chains in the country to demo their product. Currently, ShapeLog has a pilot program of their product in place at two Anytime Fitness' located in Ann Arbor and have been very happy with the feedback they have received.

Hayden said, "It may have taken us a while, but we are finally on the right track.. Having a love and a passion for the product developed is what helped keep us going as a startup."

For more information about ShapeLog, visit their website!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Alex Merz, Rising Googler and Entrepreneur

Alex Merz is a strategy and operations manager at Google in Ann Arbor. He is also the owner and partner of three innovative cafes and breweries in Ypsilanti. He will be the session moderator for the "New Face of Retail" panel at the Digital Marketing Workshop on November 17.

Merz graduated from EMU in 2007 with a BBA in accounting and finance, then went on to obtain his MBA in finance and corporate strategy in 2013 from the University of Michigan. "I decided to go to graduate school to accelerate my career. That is when you start being able to go into management tiers and seek out large tech companies, ... that is what I did on graduating," said Merz.

In his day to day role at Google, Merz recognizes how digital marketing has revolutionized the way businesses operate. He has watched the Internet create more competition than ever before, and can testify to the importance AdWords and other digital advertising products have to a business trying to succeed in a today's market. 

"Understanding measurement and analytics is key to becoming successful in digital advertising because you have to be able to prove the value that you are delivering to your clients. Those are the most important skills that people need to be trained in today," said Merz.

Another area of focus Merz believes that those looking to succeed in digital marketing need is networking. "You really have to rely on your networking skills to accomplish what you want, and the classroom doesn't prepare you for that. Go to as many events as you can similar to the Digital Marketing Workshop," said Merz. 

Merz is excited that the Digital Marketing Workshop is bringing the community together to engage and learn with one another. "It is rare to have an opportunity  to hear from those that are so successful in the field, such as the CEO of Moosejaw. We're excited to share these stories with the community," said Merz. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Discovering Marketing Through Real World Experience

Ian Sherk, paid media director at Career Now Brands, will be speaking at the Digital Marketing Workshop on November 17 on the "Sales on Steroids," and "The Ask the Experts Lunch " panels. When asking Sherk what the most important aspects of communications that marketing students should focus on he was happy to share his thoughts.
Ian Sherk, paid media director at Career Now Brands

"Possessing writing skills, expressing yourself clearly, having a strong vocabulary, and an affinity for the analytics are important. Also, being creative will allow you to come up with fresh ideas to contribute," said Sherk. 

Sherk had taken marketing classes at EMU from 2010-2012, when digital marketing was experiencing rapid growth. While attending EMU, Sherk thought that the most valuable experience he had was having the opportunity to manage a Google Adwords account for a real client. "Being able to make adjustments to their account based on their performance was a real world experience. Those experiences make all the difference with your education," said Sherk. 

Sherk went on to explain that having real world experiences in the classroom will significantly help students down the line. "Breaking into digital marketing is tough because to get any sort of real experience you need people to trust you with money," said Sherk. In EMU's AdWords classes, students work with non-profits who possess Google AdWords grants. Within well-defined restrictions, Google effectively funds the non-profits' advertising, allowing them to test different appeals without having to dip into their own source of funds.

Throughout his career, Sherk has noted that that the field of digital marketing experiences significant changes every few years. These changes include the creation of new popular social media platforms, which, Sherk said, can be a challenge to keep up with at times. 

"The hardest part is learning new platforms because it is important to not only understand how it works, but also to understand what sort of audience and context is on that platform. Learning the mechanics of how to target users at the right time with the right ad is difficult at times," said Sherk. 

Sherk is happy to come back to EMU for the Digital Marketing Workshop. He said he is, "...excited to talk to new people and hear about new ideas and strategies." 








Thursday, November 2, 2017

"EMU Today" Discusses the Tomorrow of the Center for Digital Engagement

Join "EMU Today" and Director of the Center for Digital Engagement, Bud Gibson to learn more about how the CDE is preparing students for the future of digital while engaging alumni and the community through programs such as the Digital Summer Clinic and the Digital Marketing Workshop!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Where Are The Interns Now: Three Months After Clinic End

The Digital Summer Clinic ended in mid August, but our former interns haven’t stopped exploring the world of digital marketing! Throughout the Summer Clinic, students learned and implemented several aspects of digital marketing through the startup company they worked for as well as their own personal blogs and LinkedIn profiles.

Putting digital marketing into practice helped students better understand the world of digital marketing and led students into great opportunities to grow in their field. Of the 23 summer clinic interns, 15 are working part or full-time jobs in Southeast Michigan’s high tech economy. Seven are continuing their education as students and are focused on coursework to further the careers they explored this summer, and one is actively job seeking. Here are a few students who went through the clinic and landed themselves in a great position for their future!

Miguel Castillo-Clark was an intern with Mi Padrino during the Summer Clinic and played a major role in developing the marketing plan for their new website. He also participated in developing the website and designed email templates to be used for marketing campaigns. At the end of the eight weeks, Miguel was offered a position at Mi Padrino and continues to work there as a Digital Marketing Specialist.





Ryan Kellman interned for Ascape Audio this summer where he created and managed their Google Adwords and Shopping accounts, used data to create advertising campaigns and keyword searches, and created content for web based platforms. As the internship was coming to an end, Ascape Audio decided Ryan’s skills and abilities were far too impressive and they hired him as their Digital Media Specialist.


Dasha Jones interned with ShapeLog over the summer and helped the company by creating and delivering media campaigns, content, digital projects, web and social media presence, and general awareness of the ShapeLog brand. Upon completion of the internship, ShapeLog offered Dasha the chance to stay and she is now their Digital Marketing Specialist and Photographer.





Shuting Cui interned with IndustryStar where she utilized Google Analytics to optimize the website in terms of design and user accessibility. Shuting also created an email marketing campaign using MailChimp where she managed the subscriber lists and analyzed newsletter analytics. After the internship, Shuting started working on her Masters of Science in Computer Information Technology Administration and Management at Eastern Michigan University and landed a job as a Data Analyst at Motovicity Distribution.


The next eight-week clinic will run from June to August 2018 with a possible expansion of the clinic to two offerings per year taking place in Winter 2019. For more information please visit www.centerfordigitalengagement.com


Monday, October 30, 2017

The Tale of Marketing and PR Integration

Jamie Ward, a public relations professor at EMU, will be bringing her unique perspective of the evolving field of public relations as she speaks on a "Developing a Local Brand" panel at the Digital Marketing Workshop on November 17.

When Ward first entered the field of public relations over a decade ago she says that marketing and public relations were distinct from each other and typically stuck to their own area of study. Today, Ward says that there is so much integration between the two that is crucial for students of both fields to understand each other. She works to bridge the gap between public relations and marketing for her students.

"From a public relations stand point, the universities I have taught at are emphasizing strategic communication and the importance of maintaining social media much more," says Ward.

One example of how the teaching of public relations has changed in the classroom is the way students are taught the PESO model (an acronym for paid, earned, shared, and owned). Ward says it has been altered since the rise of digital marketing. "Before paid was predominantly the focus of this model, but now shared is the most important and is looked at first," says Ward.

She attributes this focus shirt of the PESO model to how influential and powerful sharing information on social media outlets has become. In fact, following social media accounts and blogs that are related to her field of study is one of the ways Ward stays current on trending topics. Additionally, she continuously attends innovative conferences, reads publications, and conducts research.

"This idea of understanding each other will only help students and build relationships. Public relations and marketing students are now working alongside each other, not independently," says Ward.

Those who work in marketing and public relations have watched their fields begin to blend together over recent years. Professors who teach these fields of study have had to reevaluate and adjust their coursework to accommodate for the integration among fields that is happening.

To hear Ward further discuss this topic, be sure to get your tickets to the Digital Marketing Workshop on November 17 today!