My guest on the show today is Charma Parker. Charma is the Senior Manager of Marketing Innovations for the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena. For the past three years, she has led the team responsible for all direct marketing channels for both the sports and entertainment sides to the business, but truly spends most of her days with her first love: email. She received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Georgia State University.
Adam: [00:08] Hi, and welcome to the Good People, Good Marketing Podcast, a podcast about digital marketing and how to make it better so the good people and good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways8, a digital marketing agency and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.
[00:28] My guest on the show today is Charma Parker. Charma is the Senior Manager of Marketing Innovations for the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena. For the past three years, she has led the team responsible for all direct marketing channels for both the sports and entertainment sides to the business, but truly spends most of her days with her first love: email. She received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Georgia State University and currently resides in the Atlanta area with her husband and two young sons. Charma, welcome to the show.
Charma: [00:58] Yeah. Thank you so much, Adam. It’s truly a pleasure to be here with you today. I really do enjoy this podcast and everything that you’re doing in the digital marketing space, so I’m excited to be a part of it today.
Adam: [01:10] Well, I’m excited too, especially with someone whose first love is email. I’m sure that is going to be a thread we can pull on throughout the discussion. I’ll really look forward to it because I think email is severely undervalued, and as marketers we can really leverage that to get in front of audiences in an unexpected and interesting way. And I assume you agree since that’s your first love; would you agree with that?
Charma: [01:34] Yes, absolutely.
Adam: [01:35] Fantastic. Well let’s, roll into the discussion questions. I’m sure that’s going to pop up. I look forward to talking about it. So question number one: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has worked well for you?
Charma: [01:46] All right. You know, because that’s a really funny question because of course everyone would start and say everything has worked for us. No.
Adam: [01:53] All right.
Charma: [01:53] I think I need to be completely honest. So when I started with the company about three years ago, our marketing was done very much in silos, which I know a lot of companies do experience that as well. You know, advertising is doing one thing, email is doing another thing, and we just realized like there’s so many things that we’re doing on a day-to-day basis because we support all forty-one home games of the team. We support all hundreds of the shows that come to the arena. We realized we couldn’t just continue going on that path of doing all of that marketing in silos.
[02:27] So we decided as a team to just come together and take a holistic view at all of those different events and just be on the same page because that helps when a game is struggling or a show is struggling. We know what levers we can pull. Because from the show standpoint, you have promoters that are probably like, “Oh, we need one more email or we need one more social post.” But now we’re getting to the point where we can see what’s actually working to be like, “That might not be the channel that we need to pull; we might need to go with this one to help the show out, to get the people in there, you know, to get the visibility that we need for those events.”
Adam: [03:04] Right, right. I love that. So you’re being more collaborative in your marketing approach. I mean, essentially what you’re getting at: no silos, more collaboration. And does that mean that you’re also kind of looking at things, almost creating like a marketing plan calendar sort of thing, like that sort of approach?
Charma: [03:21] Absolutely. I wish I could show you this, but we have this huge calendar of all of our games that kind of span across our wall that takes up like three sections of our wall. So we can literally see which partner is on each game, which promotion that we’re doing on an upcoming game. It’s very helpful, like when you’re in the weeds and you can just turn around and you just look and say, “Oh, okay, got it. That’s supposed to happen on that night.” to make sure that you’re all buttoned up with your marketing for it.
[03:53] And one of the great examples that we’ve done to show how collaborative we’ve been is our Black Friday promotion that we recently did. This was the first time that we have been in lockstep with our sales team. We were all on Slack. The promotion was like on Thursday night, Thanksgiving night, and then Friday morning. So all of us were up at the same time on Slack and it was just great to be able to say, “Okay, the email has already sent,” you know, “Social is doing this.” Like, we were able to answer questions on social, sales was there to just tell us where we were on the pricing. It was great and it was a huge success for the business and just a huge win for us from the marketing and the sales side.
Adam: [04:38] It’s great, the more collaborative we can be as teams, the more effective we’re going to be. I was talking about somebody that owns an agency yesterday and the more diversified our teams are—and that word means a lot of things, but I think in this particular case it means the more departments that are working together to see things from different angles—the better our marketing is, and I think that’s really fantastic. I love that. I love that. Okay, so question number two: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has not worked well that we can learn from?
Charma: [05:07] Well, I know like for us, the interesting challenge that we have is, like I mentioned before, we support all of these games, all of these events, we have four overall business units that we support. So you have the arena, the Hawks and then we’re bringing on our 2K team and they were going to bring on our G League team. So we have all of these different business units. Those are different customer segmentations you got to worry about, because of course there could be overlap. Our G League team is going to be right in College Park. So there could be people that are interested in Hawks, but then they are also interested in our G League team, and you have to be really cognizant of that because you don’t want to hit all of those people way too many times. So that’s one of the things that we’re trying to get to that point with our analytics team and this goes back to collaboration across the organization. Just understanding what those different segments look like, what those different segments are interested in getting. Are they interested in emails? Do they engage more on social? Just better understanding that. So we’re trying to figure out a way to do it in a more dynamic way. We’re not there yet; we’re trying to get there, but we’re not there yet, but it is something that I am so excited about working towards and just having that relationship with analytics.
[06:31] And I think another thing that is another challenge for us is our market is very emotional, so it’s completely different when we’re trying to promote an upcoming game and the team just lost by twenty points versus the team just like had a really big win. That messaging can be different. So it’s just keeping all of that in mind.
[06:54] And then another thing that people don’t really realize with us near trade deadlines and stuff, we have a player on a specific game coming up and that player gets traded. We have to be flexible in everything that we do to be able to switch that out.
Adam: [07:09] Right. I’d never thought of that. That’s fascinating. Now that you say it, of course.
Charma: [07:17] Yeah. Perfect example was when the (unclear 07:19) trade happened. He was on all of our creative on an upcoming game and the trade happened like in the middle of the night. And so the marketing team, we were up on what we needed to do to get with our creative team to get that creative updated because you don’t want to have the older player in the market because that’s just not a good look for the organization. So yeah, we have to be flexible all the time.
Adam: [07:46] Wow. You mean the marketing can’t be out of sync with what’s happening, right?
Charma: [07:49] Correct.
Adam: [07:49] I mean you’ve got to be one step ahead. You can’t be one step behind. It makes everybody look bad.
Charma: [07:53] Absolutely. Contingency plans are like our lifesavers here.
Adam: [07:57] Wow. I can only imagine. I imagine you’ve got to have several contingency plans for each different type of channel that you’re promoting on as well.
Charma: [08:05] Absolutely. Absolutely.
Adam: [08:06] Wow. That’s, that’s kind of one of those mind-blowing revelations right there. I would’ve never thought, but of course. You never would have imagined, but of course. Alright, that was great. So question number three: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something you are excited about?
Charma: [08:21] So I’m just excited in general about the direction the email is taking. You see so many articles like in the past—email is dead, email is dying. But it’s really kind of making a resurgence and it’s really exciting to see. I’m a part of a couple of different email groups, Women of Email and Email Geeks and I’m constantly in either the Slack channels or the Facebook groups for those organizations. And it’s amazing to see the new people that come in and they actually are interested in email. It’s not like they just fell into email. So it’s really exciting to see all the new things that are coming out for it, and just in an internal standpoint for our organization, we’re taking email very seriously as a channel touch point for our audience. So what we’ve done is we partnered with this company, Digital Pi, that’s helping us with our Marketo instance because we actually use Marketo as our ESP, and they’re just going through the instance and just seeing how it’s been set up and helping us find ways to set it up in a better way that can help us down a lot, to be more efficient with our time because we move lightning-fast here. So Pi has been a huge help.
[09:34] And then, that one last thing that I’m excited about is everything that we’re doing with our partner, Movable Ink. For our emails, if you’re not familiar with Movable Ink, it gives our emails a different— Like you get a different experience each time you open the email. So you as Adam, based on data points, I could send you a welcome email because you’ve signed up to be a season ticket member with us, and that email can have your seat section, your rep, your rep’s information. So you have that contact information right at hand. And then me as Charma, I get a completely different view, because I have a different rep, I have a different seat location, like all of it. I’m excited about all the things that— I’m excited about the direction the email is going and how we as an organization can tap into that direction.
Adam: [10:24] So I assume Movable Ink is like dynamic email creation based on database. Is that essentially what that is?
Charma: [10:29] Yes. So I can do a couple different things with them. So the example that I just said about you being a season ticket member and the welcome email, that was one of the emails that we did last year. I love that email; it just turned out so amazing. But
Adam: [10:42] Yeah. It makes everybody’s life easier.
Charma: [10:44] Yes, yes. And it was just set up on a trigger. So as soon as you became a member, you got that type of email. But what we’ve also done is just have it contextually relevant. Like if we have an event coming up and it’s outside, you want to know about the weather, you want it to count down to let you know when the event is starting, you want directions to where it is if you’ve never been there before. We did all of that in the confirmation email.
Adam: [11:07] Nice.
Charma: [11:08] So that was something I was really excited about and I just love working with them and the things that we’ve been able to create together.
Adam: [11:15] And you said that that platform is Movable Ink.
Charma: [11:18] Yes.
Adam: [11:19] I’ll have to check that out. I’m unfamiliar with that.
Charma: [11:21] Yeah.
Adam: [11:21] But I love it. I mean I’m doing a lot of email automation and stuff, but yeah. You said Movable Ink what now? Dot com?
Charma: [11:29] Yes. So it’s Movable Ink. M-O-V-A-B-L-E, because some people (unclear 11:35) spell “move” and then “able,” but it’s like it’s—