What is the future of Marketing in Massachusetts?

Posted on September 28, 2011


marketing in massachusetts



The first FutureM session that I attended was, “Massachusetts: The Future of Marketing is Here.” As a long-time Massachusetss resident, I was especially interested in this session. Even though this talk was about Massachusetts, we can all learn from the thoughts expressed by the panel.

On the panel were:

Karen Spilka – Massachusetts State Senator
Eric Pauley – Managing Partner, Founder Collective
Jennifer Fremont-Smith – Co-Founder and CEO, Smarterer
Brian Shin – Founder and CEO, Visible Measures
Paul McNulty – Director of Marketing, IBM Enterprise Marketing.

Pat Larkin, Director of MTC’s John Adams Institue was the moderator.

1. What are the challenges you have faced? How do you creat an awareness of your company?

Brian (Visible Measures) – Our biggest challenge has been communication with the outside world, meaning our customers and even our competitors.

Paul (IBM) – We struggle with the best way to use the digital channels. The definition of digital is getting broader. How do you keep up with everything?

2. What is your definition of digital marketing?

Karen (State Senator) – Digital marketing to me is all about technology. And technology is the second biggest sector in Massachusetts. Digital marketing is a way to reach people.

Eric (Founder Collective) – Successful digital marketing is all about having a very good publishing system. You must have good content. We’ve been good at developing and using tools, but not so good at developing good content.

Jennifer (Smarterer) – Digital marketing is the art and science of moving people. It goes way beyond emails. Think gaming and location based applications.

3. Do you feel a part of a digital marketing community here in Massachusetts?

Eric (Founder Collective) – For me, it’s not so much the socializing with the community, but being able to tap into the tremendous talents of the community.

Jennifer (Smarterer) – I feel very much a part of a community. It’s not so much a digital marketing community, but a community of early stage start-up companies.

Paul (IBM) – For me, it’s not so much a community, but a being part of a large market. Of course, my focus is large company and not start-ups where the other other panelists have experience.

4. What are your thoughts on creating a start-up virtually? With all the latest technologies, you don’t have to be in the same room to collaborate?

Jennifer (Smarterer) – Virtual doesn’t work for start-up mode, I definitely see the need for actual face-to-face collaboration.

Eric (Founder Collective) – I agree with Jennifer about having face-to-face meetings. More ideas get exchanged this way.

Brian (Visible Measures) – We took a different tactic than Jennifer and Eric. Our sales offices are all over the country, so we do a lot of virtual collaboration. I also know every team member very well. I’ve worked with them all before so I know how they work and what they can do. As we grow, we are looking to centralize more, but we’ll always have some virtual collaboration.

5. Why did you start your business in Massachusetts? What keeps you here?

Jennifer (Smarterer) – Companies tend to start where people live. My business partners and I live in Massachusetts. We love it here and have no plans to move elsewhere. I’ve always been an entrepreneur and Massachusetts is a great place to be an entrepreneur.

Brian (Visible Measures) – We did consider starting our company on the West Coast. However, the Venture Capital firm we chose was one we liked and trusted. They were located here in Cambridge. We also see the employees in Massachusetts as passionate and dedicated. On the West Coast, people tend to move around a lot.

6. What is Massachusetts doing to make itself more attractive for companies to do business here?

Karen (State Senator) – We are still Number One in Education. We are also Number One in innovation and knowledge. We are ranked Number Two in Venture Capital investments (California is Number One. They are also a lot bigger than we are.)   We have regional economic development organizations, to help companies navigate the landscape.

What we need to do better:

–Simplify the systems
–Increase coordination between all the state departments.

7. What recommendations do you have for funding companies?

Jennifer (Smarterer) – Our initial funding came from one of our founders. We also had angel investors. It was all about the relationships we had built.

Eric (Founder Collective) – Build an ecosystem around your company. You need mentors. A lot of businesses aren’t obvious so you must sell people on your vision.

So what do you think? Is your state ready to take on digital marketing?