A Look Inside Marketing United 2016

This week, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center was a community partner to Emma’s 2nd annual Marketing United Conference for three days of sessions on smarter marketing, networking and building a business while building relationships. Our team is extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a sponsor of this unique event that not only allows us to share what is happening on the entrepreneurial front in Nashville, but also allows our team to be a part of the marketing movement that Emma is leading.

Here’s what seven conference participants had to say on the conference, the future of marketing and how to build a marketing strategy that marries creativity and technology and brings customers closer to the brands they love.

John Householder of Ah So Designs:

John Householder of Ah So Designs has been working with Emma for around five years as a partner, producing a free Wordpress plug-in that allows users to send curated email content in Emma campaigns.

“Twenty-six percent of the web now runs on Wordpress. There’s probably around 50,000 Emma customers who-- before this innovation was built-- had to copy and paste all of their content from Wordpress or their website over to Emma,” Householder said. “Now you can can basically just push a button.”

Building a relationship with Emma has allowed for Ah So Designs to grow along with the company, which is now continuously looking for new partners.

To learn more, check out the plug-in at Wptoemma.com or contact John at john@ahsodesigns.com.

Nancy Van Reece of Parachute Media:

Nancy Van Reece, COO of Parachute Media, an Emma agency that focuses on data-driven, creative social media and email marketing, making sure that Emma’s range of brand-building tools is available to clients as well.

“I like to say we’re not marketers, we’re storytellers,” Van Reece said. “I think that whether or not you want to tell that story through email or through blogs or on Facebook or through Instagram, the more that you tear down those silos and make omni-channel decisions, the better you’re able to tell those stories.”

Van Reece said that Parachute’s partnership with Emma is not only founded in support for a fellow Nashville company, but also for the company culture of inclusiveness, non-profit participation and giving fostered by founder Clint Smith.

“The way that he gives back not only to Nashville but worldwide on different causes with some of the non-profits they do speaks to our culture as well, so we’re happy to do that,” Van Reece said.

Meanwhile, as a Nashville Metro councilperson of district 8 and chair of the conventions and tourism committee, Van Reece is also excited to see Emma participating in the city’s growing interest in tech and tech conferences like United Marketing.

“Being able to see the overwhelming growth of tech culture in this city, it’s exciting to see how Marketing United-- in its second year now-- is sort of the canary down the coal mine, if you will of being able to bring in more tech conferences,” Van Reece said.

Melinda Scruggs Gales with the Gales Network and Nashville American Marketing Association

Jacob Jones and Marcus Whitney lead a session at the EC about authentic engagement. 

Jacob Jones and Marcus Whitney lead a session at the EC about authentic engagement. 

For Melinda Scurggs Gales, marketing is about the heart and the mind.

Having worked in marketing for decades, the branding strategist with the Nashville American Marketing Association and the Gales Network said that the conference is a good way to discover new trends in brand and business building.

“A conference like Marketing United is excellent because they're bringing in fresh new ways of thinking. And it’s important as a marketer or as a brand strategist that you understand how to incorporate the things that are of true value and to let go of the things that maybe seem really really important right now but that might disappear,” Gales said.

One thing that doesn’t disappear in marketing, however, is the importance of building a relationship with the customer, Gales said.

Emotional connection is what drives equity and loyalty, Gales said. Today, people can have a relationship and sense of value for brands as much as with each other, and when companies get away from the discipline of maintaining those relationships, it’s discernible to the customer, especially with smaller businesses.

“Helping brands understand both the true benefits they offer as well as how to emotionally connect, those are things I’ve known in marketing for a long long time. But how you communicate that, and how often and through what channels, those are the things that change,” Gales said.

It comes down to the “house” of a brand, including the statistics, mission, beliefs and demonstrated values of the company in real-life settings and not just in words, a way to “measure both the heart and the mind,” Gales said.

For more information, visit NAMA at nashvilleama.org.


Luke Myszka of Local Search Masters

Luke Myszka is the business development executive at digital marketing agency Local Search Masters and used to work closely in marketing with country music icon Dolly Parton.

He comes to the Marketing United to connect with others in his industry that professional circles might otherwise he doesn’t usually get to see

“There’s a need in digital marketing to be urgent. Especially-- I’m passionate somewhat about reputation management and reputation marketing-- the value of having something done in real time is becoming so much more important, as everyone is wanting something so quickly,” Myszka said.

Marketing United is the “cool table” of the industry, Myszka said, and the more relaxed atmosphere plays a key part in inviting professionals.

Connect with Luke on Twitter @LukeMyszka.

Pamela Wilson of Rainmaker Digital

Pamela Wilson, the executive vice president for educational content of Rainmaker Digital, spoke at Marketing United on "A Simple Plan for Writing One Powerful Piece of Online Content Per Week."

Wilson noted the organization of the Marketing United and the helpfulness of those hosting the event, including Emma employees who might be stepping out of their behind-the-scenes positions to speak to conference-goers.

For Wilson, having the conference in Nashville is an exciting sign of the growth and expansion in a city where so much is happening, she said, honky tonks included.

“I’m local now, here to Nashville, but I’m excited to be at this conference where we’re celebrating the city as much as the information that we’re sharing,” Wilson said.  

To learn more about Wilson, find her writing on copyblogger.com/blog/ or follow her on Twitter @pamelaiwilson.


Casey Summar of the Nashville Arts and Business Council

Casey Summar is the executive director of the Arts and Business Council in Nashville, and attended the Marketing United conference as a speaker and moderator, discussing the city’s brand with Bryce McCloud of Isle of Printing, Max Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality and Katie Vance of Porter Flea.

It’s a creative atmosphere that the Nashville ABC has a big hand in, Summar said.

“The Arts and Business Council exists to cultivate Nashville’s creative community. We do that by connecting the best of the arts and business communities. So we take the creativity of artists and bring that into businesses, and then business acumen and we bring it back to the artist,” Summar said.

And the council’s partnership with Emma has been a long one; Emma COO Bo Spessard co-founded the council with Summar 10 years ago and chairs the board. He has worked closely with Nashville city government to get several programs off the ground.

Since then, Summar said, the company has been dedicated to fostering the creativity of its employees and in the community, donating email marketing accounts to Periscope’s artist entrepreneurs associated with the Arts and Business Council.

“It’s a really awesome partnership and a great way for artists to reach out to their audiences and start communicating really professionally,” Summar said.
To learn more about the Arts and Business Council and register for Periscope, visit them online at abcnashville.org.

Jamie Bradley of Emma and Marketing United

Jamie Bradley of Emma coordinated 64 speakers and each speaker’s individual content for the Marketing United team. She’s one of 16 members of the marketing team that has been working on the event for months, including Cynthia Price and Christina Brady.

“The last three days have been super intense, but it’s been such a rewarding experience. Last year was our inaugural year, and we were like ‘It feels like we’ve birthed a baby. The second year will be so easy.’ And it feels the same way, with different challenges and also different rewards,” Bradley said. “It’s been absolutely amazing.”

For Bradley, the most rewarding part of the event is being able to successfully raise the bar from the conference’s last event, from having a band to having content based on last year’s feedback. Being able to act on that feedback and putting on an event she would want to attend was important, she said.

“We’re really excited to keep evolving it and keep pushing it further and further,” Bradley said. “If this year felt bigger and better than last year, we want to continue to do that without losing the sort of core values of what it is: Is this an event we would want to attend? We want it to feel authentic, refreshing and invigorating to people.”

Thank you, Emma! We can't wait until next year! 

Special thanks to Riley Wallace, EC content intern for production support of this blog post.