AMA Cincinnati, 2017-2018: Blazing New Trails

By: Travis Nipper, AMA Cincinnati President, 2017-2018

As we settle into the 2017-2018 chapter year, the fire is roaring, fueled by our biggest endeavor in recent memory. Lead by Immediate Past-President and Conference Chair, Gina Bonar, our Ignite! Regional Conference was a one-of-its-kind event. It was a fantastic inaugural conference concentrating on the heart of the marketing matter: Customer Experience. It was only the beginning, though. What can the marketing community expect from Cincinnati’s AMA in the coming year?


For the first time in memory, AMA Cincinnati is crafting a long-term strategic plan. With the input of the entire board and chapter, the plan sets objectives beyond our short-term operating strategies so we can shoot for the audacious goals. It represents a new iteration of our mission and vision that allows us to measure incremental growth and track our progress in a larger context. Our executive team is directing the board to create a “franchised system”. With this, we are implementing legacy systems to establish best-practices, eliminate rework, protect our assets, and ensure the continuity of the chapter and its growth as boards transition. Gina Bonar; President-Elect, Suzanne Buzek, and “Marketing Mount of Rushmore” member and board veteran, Dennis Devlin will assist me in this effort.


Rounding out our monthly hallmark events, you can continue to count on the A-list lineup and diverse knowledge topics in our monthly Signature Speaker Series as Kelly Everett brings the world’s best and brightest marketers to Cincinnati. Carolyn Dickerson and her team is refining our Shared Interest Groups (SIGs) to emphasize the “communities” they support and impact. In fact, we are rebranding this effort to “Communities”. As always, our SIG workshops and meetings are included in your AMA membership and well worth the nominal fee for guests. These meetings allow face-time with local experts in a more intimate setting. It’s access you can’t get anywhere else.


Over the past 18 months we have evolved our approach to sponsorship. The change was three-fold. First, our research continued to show that our members and guests place great value on practical takeaways. This is one test that all our major programming must pass.

Second, we determined that we needed to go beyond “sponsorship”. The old model of “slapping logos” was not enough for our supporters in the business world and was not maximizing our relationships to deliver top notch content to our members and guests. Today, those who are kind (and wise) enough to invest in us become our “partners”. What does that mean? Together we are focused on how we can co-create programming and content with our partners and how they can gain unprecedented engagement with our audiences.

Last but not least, we have a tremendous leader of these efforts in Mitch Tidman. His vision, energy, and creativity have been, and will be, key in the success of this strategy. This model is serving to make 2017-2018 one of our best years ever for programming.


Under the leadership of Sanjiv Karani, our Technology and Innovation efforts will gain serious traction in 2017-2018 as we begin to implement initiatives that, as our ranks have grown, have become critical. We’ve been focused on delivering thought-leadership and best practices to the marketing community and this year we will grow even more intentional about “practicing what we preach.” Because our volunteer “bench” has grown so deep with major league talent, we are now embarking on true relationship management utilizing journey mapping and experience design. We are implementing systems and technology that will allow us to reach a broader audience with focused messaging and ensure member and volunteer experiences.


Our Marketing Communication and our Content &  Engagement teams, led by the uber-talented duo of Justine Daley and Megan Smale respectively, are working hand-in-hand with our Technology and Partnerships teams on executing improved strategies to maximize public relations, partner support, and our ability to engage personally. Megan is working hard developing custom content so we can deliver practical takeaways for our audiences.


Cincinnati plays above its station in the research space; outpacing our larger coastal peer cities in both the number and quality of firms. Not surprisingly, under the guidance of veteran board member Andy Noller, our leadership in this area is unmatched in our region and beyond. Our Marketing Research Professionals team is working hand-in-hand with our Technology and Innovation teams to both serve the internal needs of the chapter as well as our external partners in staying on  the leading edge of research trends.


The coming year will also feature elevated versions of successful Special Initiatives we’ve offered in the past and a focus on giving back as Melissa Askren leads these efforts as well as our Pinnacle Awards. Our Holiday Event will again benefit a worthy local charity. Next spring will feature an opportunity to learn and serve as we partner with a national charity to learn about non-profit marketing while building our neighborhoods in need.


The 2017 Pinnacle Awards reaffirmed itself as the premier celebration of marketing excellence in our region. In 2018, we will welcome our second annual class of Cincinnati Marketing Legends and feature exciting new recognition categories in addition to the traditional awards of years past. The event will again be hosted in one of Cincinnati’s vibrant venues. Competition will be fierce but friendly as we lift each other up and pay tribute to outstanding talent and work.


Seasoned marketers beware! Young Professionals are on the scene and ready disrupt. Led by Claire Motz, our YP and Collegiate chapter partners are ready with fresh new twists on our wildly successful recruiter panels, resume reviews, and speed networking. Add in increased involvement from our luminary collegiate partner Xavier University and you can see why the next generation of Cincinnati marketers promises to build on the legacy.


Our membership committee, led by Gabrielle Walter will build on personal outreach efforts initiated in recent years to customize and improve experience: expand group membership development with local and national organizations; serve as pilot Chapter for new national pricing and value delivery initiatives to support the essential community for marketers in and around Cincinnati.


Other exciting young marketing leaders lead by Afton Palmer in our Talent and Engagement areas are sharing the good news of the many opportunities to get involved by volunteering and have some fun. Looking for a paying gig? We’all also be launching our own job board for local marketing roles. In Cincinnati, there’s no better way to expand your network, gain experience, make an impression, and create an impact than joining and volunteering.


As noted earlier, Dennis Devlin is continuing his critical role in the chapter by aligning our efforts with our international organization. AMA headquarters offer valuable global resources and amazing thought leadership. Dennis is also still leading the CMO Roundtable. AMA Cincinnati partners with the Greater Cincinnati Regional Chamber to provide an opportunity for those with high-level marketing leadership responsibilities to participate in candid and confidential discussions with others who understand and share the unique challenges of leading and developing successful marketing strategies and teams for businesses and nonprofits.


I look forward to deepening my relationships with those on our board this year and you…our vibrant Cincinnati marketing community. But before we get too far into this new year, I’d like to thank a few key individuals for their support of the chapter and personal mentorship thus far. Immediate Past-President Gina Bonar has been an inspiration for her dedication, vision, and trust. Dennis Devlin, for being a colleague, confidant, and friend. Pat Frew, for being the example of what connectedness and giving should look like. President-Elect, Suzanne Buzek for inspiring me with your ambition, courage, selflessness. Other Past-Presidents who are shining stars in my world, namely Simcha Kackley, Ric Sweeney, and Will Krieger. Last and definitely least (LOL), my partner in crime, Andy Noller, for always making it fun.

The spirit of these leaders along with the leaders on our current board can be summed up in a quote:

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill