Hello. My name is Chris Sietsema. I live and work in the Phoenix-metro area. For nearly ten years, I have worked in the interactive marketing space – first at a local interactive agency called Sitewire, then for Pulte Homes and most recently at an integrated marketing firm called Off Madison Ave. About one month ago I made the decision to start a business of my own focused on teaching and guiding businesses to create digital marketing campaigns on their own (learn more about this new digital marketing consultancy).
I have experienced success in my professional career, and I attribute it all to three things:
1. A relentless work ethic
2. The desire to soak up every drop of digital marketing knowledge that time allows
3. Being lucky enough to associate with (and sometimes latch onto) some very smart people.
It’s the third item which I’d like to discuss in this post. You don’t do this by yourself, and to the following people I owe much gratitude. While I gush over them here, please consider meeting and working with each of them. You will be glad you did.
Bret Giles – Bret hired me while I was still in school as a 20-year old intern. I worked for him at Sitewire for 5 years during which time I learned how to apply the principles of customer attraction, conversion and retention to online campaigns. Bret taught me how to create a cohesive plan, how to manage accounts and how to measure for the purpose of constantly improving upon results. His long-time business partner, Margie Traylor, once referred to me as a “Bret Giles protege.” It is still the best professional compliment I have ever received. Bret is still managing partner at Sitewire and also runs another business called agencyside that trains traditional advertising and public relations agencies to become experts in the digital space.
Jason Baer – I’ve known Jason for about eight years. He hired me to join him at Mighty Interactive in 2005 shortly after the company’s merger with Off Madison Ave. While working under Jason, I learned the value of testing every element of a campaign, program, or advertisement to generate positive results efficiently. He let me in on a little secret – no one in this business really knows all the right answers, but a few know how to create plans, programs and testing protocol to find them. Jason knows that marketing is about creative, messaging and brand, but it’s also very much about math. He’s a gifted communicator, a venerated interactive marketing expert and one of the smartest guys I know. Jason lives in Flagstaff, Arizona and runs his own social media consulting business.
Maggie Young – I worked closely with Maggie while at Mighty Interactive / Off Madison Ave. She is a customer experience research analyst. Maggie helped me to understand that, ultimately, the customer is in control. The job of the marketers delivering the message should be concentrated on answering common customer questions, appealing to their wants, and fulfilling their needs. The easier we make it on the customer, the more successful we will be. Maggie helps companies improve their websites, email campaigns and garner important knowledge about customers to create relevant marketing messages. Maggie is a consistently reliable source of support, motivation and extremely witty analogies. She lives in Phoenix and owns a customer experience consultancy called Red Flag Consulting.
Mike Corak – Mike is one of my best friends in the world. We’ve worked together both at Sitewire and Off Madison Ave and I can’t think of anyone I trust more than Mike in the work environment. Mike has helped to enforce the notion that sound strategy always outweighs marketing tactics. Without a clearly detailed plan on how to tackle a marketing objective consistently across multiple mediums, tactical executions are at risk for becoming misguided or simply ineffective. Working tirelessly under this principle, Mike has achieved great success in his career. One other thing Mike has in his favor: everyone who knows him loves him. He is currently Director of Interactive at Off Madison Ave.
Eva Voorhees – Eva has been a client for the past four years. She serves as a marketing manager for several clients of her own. Eva possesses the kind of skills that any marketing manager would love to have. She is honest and direct, she listens, she is extremely organized, she is dedicated to meeting and keeping deadlines, and she is never afraid to experiment with emerging marketing tools and tactics. All these qualities combined with her level of experience make Eva the ideal marketing manager. During the time that I have known her, Eva has been tremendously encouraging and willing to offer up great advice. She owns an advertising and design company called Tiny Advertising.
Susan Baier – Some companies never really know who their customers are. Those same companies have never met Susan Baier. Susan helps organizations uncover their customers’ purchase decisions and the motivations behind them. I have known Susan for a few years and have had the pleasure of working with her directly on a number of client engagements. She has instilled in me the importance of determining past behavior to help guide a relevant dialogue with customers. She is a talented researcher and a great presenter. Susan runs Audience Audit, which provides audience segmentation research services.
Grant Wiggins – An interactive marketer by day, Grant’s real love is art. He is a self-taught modern and minimalist painter. His work has shown in several venues across the state, and he sells many of his paintings online. I’ve worked with Grant a bit in the online marketing realm, but I mostly enjoy our conversations. Grant’s taught me that life is much too short not to live out your passion every day. He’s served as a motivating factor for me to attempt to support myself and my family by doing just that. You can learn more about Grant and his painting at wiggz.com.
Liberty Tsighis – Liberty is a good friend and a trusted colleague. We worked together at Mighty Interactive / Off Madison Ave for about a year. Since that time she has gone on to create her own business. Liberty and I have had great conversations about how to manage client relationships, the best approach for achieving success with online campaigns, and the impact specific disciplines, tools, and methodologies will have on our industry. I always end up learning something from her and am thankful for her friendship. She operates a search marketing firm appropriately named Liberty Interactive.
David Anderson and Roger Hurni – David and Roger founded Off Madison Ave over 11 years ago. For more than a decade they have built an award-winning agency from the ground up. Today, Off Madison Ave is one of the finest integrated marketing firms in the Southwest. When you talk with David and Roger about their agency’s stature and success, they give all the credit to their dedicated employees and staff. Most people who tell their bosses they are leaving to go it alone would probably expect negative feedback, the silent treatment or maybe even the cold shoulder. That’s not the case here. Since I have conveyed my plans to David and Roger they have been unbelievably supportive, helpful, and they have given me some great pointers over the past month. I couldn’t have asked for greater professionalism, but to be honest, I expected it.