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Celebrating New Members and Anniversaries for November 2014

November 24, 2014

Every month, Outlook gives a shoutout to all the new members of SMPS Boston, as well as those members celebrating their anniversaries of joining the organization. The brilliant Bianca Girazian of Acentech fearlessly mines our membership database to bring you this list of honor every month.

Welcome to oNew Memberur newest SMPS Boston members:

  • Samantha Godin, Electrical Engineer, BVH
  • Jennifer Kaplan, Marketing Coordinator, Sasaki Associates
  • Kristin Armitage, Senior Marketing Coordinator, Arrowstreet
  • Lisa Quackenbush, Owner and President, cuePR

Happy Anniversary to the following members!

 1 year:

  • Jael Ballard, Administrative Coordinator, Lavallee Brensinger
  • Florence Di Johnson, Director of Marketing, JACA Architects


3 years:

  • Vanessa Gulati, Marketing Specialist, CDM Smith

5 years:

  • A. Krista Sykes, Competitive Analyst and Researcher, Architecture in Context
  • Frances Harrison, CMO, SMRT

7 years:

  • Leann Fisher, Marketing Coordinator, SMRT
  • Christopher Capullo, Marketing Coordinator, Nobis Engineering
  • Tom Palanger, Director of Marketing, J.C. Cannistraro

10 years:

  • Kara McLellan, Director of Marketing & Communications, Utile
  • Kerri Keane, Marketing Manager, Bowdoin Construction

11 years:

  • Jennifer Hegarty, Marketing Manager, Payette

12 years:

  • Danna Day, Director of Marketing, Copley Wolff Design Group

14 years:

  • Rebecca Bozadjian, Director of Marketing, VHB
  • Matthew Hawk, Deputy Marketing Manager, Fay Spofford & Thorndike

15 years:

  • Ted Gentry, Principal, Ted Gentry Associates

18 years:

  • Charles Crevo, Retired, Emeritus Member

Interested in joining SMPS Boston? The benefits go way beyond a blog post shoutout. Learn more here.


A CPSM Story: How Failing Led to Success (Part II)

November 21, 2014

This two-part chronicle comes to us from Barbara Hicks, CPSM, the Director of Marketing and Media for Margulies Perruzzi Architects. Barbara has spent the past decade applying her talents in marketing, graphic design, social media and branding to drive MPA’s fast-paced, award-winning efforts. 

As you read in Monday’s blog post, I took the CPSM exam and failed. I wrote off CPSM forever…for about three days; that’s how long it took for me to remember why I started down this road in the first place.

When my second study group got together, I was ready. I read every single word (many of them for a second time) and actively participated in each session. I took notes until my hand almost fell off, and then studied those notes until I was blue in the face. When I didn’t understand something, I asked the group questions. When I didn’t like their answers, I pushed harder. This time, I got way more out of the experience than I expected. I really learned about the six domains of professional services marketing. The reading inspired new ideas for my career and for my firm. When discussing strategy and implementation, I’m better able to think holistically about how each task affects other initiatives, people, and my company.

Passing the test became less important than what I was getting out of the material. Bonus: I passed anyway.

Here are some tips, tricks, and personal stories for how I got through reading the material and taking the exam…twice.

Tips for surviving until the exam

  • Make yourself accountable to someone. In my case, I felt like I owed it to my boss, my Mom, and especially Jennifer Shelby, CPSM.
  • Participate actively in the study groups. These people are going through the same thing and have varying points of view, ways of learning, and ideas that you haven’t thought of.
  • Read the material. Sounds obvious, but even if you know every single tiny thing there is to know about the proposal process, the material will still do one of two things:
    • Teach you something you didn’t already know
    • Validate the way you are already doing things
  • Take thoughtful notes. No need to write down the things you already inherently know, just focus on the things you don’t. Once you are finished reading, study just your notes until the exam.
  • Understand your weaknesses. Take the practice exams and really do the research into why you got a particular question wrong.

Tips for staying motivated

  • Treat yourself to some serious study breaks. When you are tired and want to throw the book across the room, do it! I fell into an interesting pattern in wanting to save all the reading for the weekends to keep my weeknights free. I would read two sections, then watch an episode of “Breaking Bad.” Read two more sections, watch another episode. Walter White became my reading reward every Saturday.
  • Take action in your job. As you read, you will naturally want to flag concepts and ideas in the book that are applicable at your company. Make those things a reality and benefit from both outcomes: using this newfound knowledge in your job makes you feel more confident, and you look like a rock star at work implementing new initiatives.
  • Remember, it’s not just you. Some of the questions are weird. Some of the right answers seem wrong. Some of the questions make it seem like every answer is right. We are all in the same boat. You aren’t the only one questioning practice exams or the reading itself. This is really where your study group comes in handy, they are by your side when you need to understand a complex idea, vent, or even have a stiff drink after a session.
  • Remember your goals. You aren’t walking into a CPSM study session with blinders on. You have a reason for being interested and wanting to pass the exam. Remember those reasons when you start to doubt if it’s worth it (you WILL doubt it, but it IS worth it).

If I can do it, you can do it. If you fail, try again. Your mother didn’t raise a quitter. My mom didn’t!

For more posts from our CPSMs, click here.

A CPSM Story: How Failing Led to Success (Part I)

November 17, 2014

This two-part chronicle comes to us from Barbara Hicks, CPSM, the Director of Marketing and Media for Margulies Perruzzi Architects. Barbara has spent the past decade applying her talents in marketing, graphic design, social media and branding to drive MPA’s fast-paced, award-winning efforts. 

My name is Barbara Hicks and I’m proud to say that I can now write “CPSM” after my name. I read the material, I followed along with the study group, I studied hard on my own, and I failed. And then, I repeated the process, and passed. This is a story about my CPSM journey: why I wanted it, how hard I worked for it, and why you should follow in my footsteps (well, some of them anyway).

“CPSM – What the heck is that?!” my friends ask. Being a Certified Professional Services Marketer does sound a little strange and even geeky to folks outside of our industry, but those of us in the know understand its significance. I first heard about it from my good friend and colleague, Jennifer Shelby, CPSM of Rhino PR, who was starting SMPS Boston’s first CPSM committee and study group. I had seen the designation before but had no idea what it was. After discussions with her, I thought about all the good having that designation could do for me: maybe it could advance my career, or even get me a raise. As hollow as those goals may sound, I was shocked at how much more I gained from the entire experience, not just having the designation after my name, but all that I would learn and do through the entire process.

Getting certified takes a tremendous amount of time and energy, and I thought I was ready for it. I went to the CPSM Info Night to learn what lay ahead. First, I had to apply to even be able to sit for the exam, requiring transcripts, letters of reference, etc. Once accepted came the hard part: the reading. It seemed endless. The recommended reading list contains nine books, the most important of which has over 600 pages. Six. Hundred. Pages. About marketing. Flipping through that book you’ll find single-spaced Times New Roman type, small margins, and almost no graphics. Sounds like fun right? Breaking up this amount of reading over 6 study group sessions seemed manageable, and so I began.

I stayed on track, at first. I took notes and made flash cards like I was in college again. The further I got in the reading, my goals seemed to change. I was really learning valuable information that I use day to day in my job! What’s better is that I was learning about industry best practices. But as each study session grew near, I found myself getting lazier with finishing each chapter. In this industry for 12 years, and being a Senior Associate and Director of Marketing and Media with MPA, I admit, I got a little cocky. I have plenty of experience. I do this every day. I don’t need to read every single word. I’ll be fine. I was totally wrong. I thought I had worked hard, I thought I had studied more than enough. I took the test with the rest of my study group and missed a passing grade by two points. I thought, “Well, see ya never CPSM. I’m done.”

It took me a few days to rebound. I was embarrassed and just wanted to forget the whole thing. But, I forged relationships in that study group. I told my boss I was trying for it. Friends and colleagues in the industry wrote reference letters as part of my application process. I felt that in failing the exam, I was failing them too. So I got over myself and tried again, this time with a completely different attitude.

Stay tuned for what the next “chapter” was like for me (pun intended), including some tips and tricks for sticking with it and staying motivated.

For more posts from our CPSMs, click here.

Marketing in the A/E/C Industry is Some Type of Witchcraft!

November 10, 2014


Editor’s note: Interestingly enough, we have just learned that the renowned SMPS Boston Awards Committee is not actually a group of people, but a single sentient being that’s recently discovered a passion for blogging. Hereby, then, we present our newest column: Thoughts from A.C.

Hi there,

My name is Awards Committee, A.C. for short. Each year, I have the pleasure of putting together the annual end-of-year SMPS Boston awards celebration. For the 20 gazillion years (at least it feels that way) that I’ve been putting together this event, I’ve seen it all…from the very first website to innovative social media campaigns. I honestly don’t know how you guys come up with this stuff! It must be witchcraft.

I mean, how else but by wizardry do you make a field book look cool, like Reed Hilderbrand did to promote their company at the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Annual Meeting, an effort which won First Place in the Event Marketing Category at the 2014 Awards Gala? Or how do you explain the enchanting spell used in last year’s Holiday Piece First Place winner, Margulies Perruzzi Architects, that somehow got a principal at the company to play with toy trucks on video?

You guys think beyond the CAD drawings and are good — really good. So as I embark on the plans for the 2015 Awards Gala, I’ll keep in mind that I need to keep up with you all, perhaps by taking some classes in spells and potions to make next year’s gala truly special.

Talk to you soon,

A.C. (Awards Committee)

Member Spotlight: Elena Lelchuk

November 7, 2014

Outlook’s outstanding member profiler, Jennifer Cheek of Arup, will introduces us to a star of SMPS Boston each month. The first in the series is one of our top blog writers, Elena Lelchuk of Commodore Builders.

To read the entire interview, and to read past Member Spotlights, check out the SMPS Boston website!

Beginning her career in the world of Marketing and Public Relations for lifestyle and hospitality brands, Elena transitioned into the build environment almost five years ago. “I enjoy the excitement and fast pace of the real estate/construction industry and I love being a part of the development and progress of the city I live in.” Elena joined Commodore Builders in May 2013 and was immediately encouraged to join SMPS Boston by her co-worker, Sarah Hotchkiss, currently the Director of Membership for SMPS Boston. Elena now serves as the Chair of the Communications Committee and is a regular contributor to SMPS Boston’s blog, most notably with her popular “Favorite Five” column.

How do you handle being a non-technical person in a very technical industry?
Although I may not know every detail about the technicalities of a project, I understand the overall vision and goal. I take the time to research and understand the client so that my marketing materials are relevant, never generic and most importantly, “speak their language”. It’s important to know your audience and communicate in a way that translates most effectively.

What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
I moved to Boston and co-founded a PR agency. A new city and a new business at the same time was quite the challenge to take on! In retrospect, it was one of the most rewarding and insightful times of my life. Every success, no matter how big or small, felt like a huge accomplishment.

To hear more from Jennifer’s interview with Elena — including her #1 autumnal addiction — check out the entire interview on the SMPS Boston website! For more from Elena, check out her Favorite Five columns.

Award Winners: Margulies Perruzzi’s Hilarious Holiday Video

November 5, 2014

MEMBER NEWS_smallThroughout the year, we’ll be celebrating the masterpieces of marketing that brought home the honors at the 2014 SMPS Boston ROC Awards gala. May you find creative inspiration from these outstanding communications!

When it came time to produce a 2013 holiday message to clients and friends, Margulies Perruzzi Architects (MPA) wanted to send something distinctive and unique. A boring paper card with a snowflake on it just wouldn’t do for this creative, adventurous, green-focused firm. So a team of MPA staff got together to start brainstorming ideas for a holiday piece that would wow past, present and potential clients. Discussion soon turned to the group’s favorite TV ads of the moment: AT&T’s “It’s not complicated” campaign, in which comedian Beck Bennett asks kids questions with amusingly unpredictable results. Soon, the group had the idea to create a video with the theme “We are all kids at heart.”

And so, MPA staff and their many rambunctious, entertaining children gathered at the office on a Saturday morning to film the holiday video. The “crew” made sure to have lots of pizza at the ready. While a storyboard and script had been created to guide the adults, the team basically let the kids be kids, and hilarity ensued. (And on the serious side, the video’s cost was only $3,234 — way under the firm’s normal holiday card spend of $5,000.) It’s tough to pick a favorite among the resulting cavalcade of great scenes, but firm principal Dan Perruzzi playing with toy construction equipment was a moment that everyone on the team loved.

But even after creating this memorable video, the MPA team continued to work hard to make sure it was effectively delivered. A well-thought-out distribution campaign began, in which staff connections with each client on the mailing list were identified in advance, so that, whenever possible, a client would receive an email from someone they knew personally. The team then created a variety of sample email texts, so that each email could be tailored, instead of having to be written from scratch. This careful advance work allowed the firm to deliver thoughtful custom messaging with a highly efficient process: in just over one hour, 43 MPA staffers sent personal emails to 1,629 people!

The results were instant and spectacular. MPA’s clients LOVED the video. They clicked through at a staggering 40.5% rate and flooded the MPA inboxes with praise. Here’s a sampling of their comments:

  • “This is the best holiday anything I’ve ever seen. Hysterical. Can I come work there? Seriously, Happy Holidays, and let’s grab lunch in the New Year.”
  • “Thanks! It’s very funny. A crowd gathered around me here while I was watching it. It’s been a pleasure working with you guys. Much more fun to come in 2014!”
  • “I have been in this industry since 1978 and I have never seen anything more creative or entertaining! You guys are terrific! Thank you for brightening my day.”

Not only was the video a comedy hit, but MPA principals credited the leads generated by the “Kids at Heart” video with assisting in four major project wins in the subsequent months. This video got laughs AND results!

 The SMPS judging panel echoed MPA’s clients in praising the holiday video:

  • “The playful effect really comes through, and it’s very warm and fun.”
  • “This shows a fun firm that I’d be excited to work with. It makes a personal connection.”
  • “I’m left with a long-lasting good impression of the firm.”

“Kids at Heart” was a runaway winner in the Holiday Piece category, and it was also named the People’s Choice at the 2014 ROC Awards gala. Margulies Perruzzi Architects set an awfully high bar for our entire industry — and we’re all dying to see what they come up with for 2014! 

Favorite Five: Marketing Tips from Amy Poehler and Louis C.K.

November 3, 2014

Headshot_ElenaLelchukElena Lelchuk is a Marketing & Public Relations Manager at Commodore Builders and the Chair of the SMPS Boston Communications Committee.

Every month, she compiles her favorite five links from the last 30 days in a series we call, very creatively, Favorite Five! 

You can connect with Elena through Twitter (@ell923) or LinkedIn.

This month, my Favorite Five includes some marketing insights from two of the funniest people ever to hail from the Boston area — Amy Poehler and Louis C.K.

#1. “How to Command the Room as the Keynote Speaker” by Joyce Newman

Coming off the Architecture Boston Expo last week, I’m sure everyone saw countless presentations and heard multiple speakers…some great, some not so much. In this post, Joyce Newman discusses subtle techniques that will make a significant difference the next time YOU have to present.

#2. “10 Positive Affirmations to Improve Any Week” by Kevin Daum

I’m writing this post on a Monday — no better time to set your attitude for the week than the very beginning!

#3. “Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling” by Paul J. Zak

“When you want to motivate, persuade, or be remembered, start with a story of human struggle and eventual triumph. It will capture people’s hearts – by first attracting their brains.” In presentations or on paper, I believe being authentic and relatable always wins. And what better way is there to connect than through a compelling story?

#4. ‘Yes Please’ to career advice from Amy Poehler by Jade Nunes

A different perspective on career success from Amy Poehler: “Your career and your passion don’t always match up.” Ms. Poehler advises that wanting to be a boss for the sake of being a boss should not be your sole intention. Success should depend on other measurements as well, such as really loving what you do.

#5. The Louis C.K. Guide to Online Marketing by Jack Marshall

Louis C.K., the comedian, is apparently a marketing genius as well. This article distills the lessons we can learn from his unique approach to marketing his own theater tour. Emulate Louis by respecting your customers, taking risks and keeping it real.