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Thursday | 03 September, 2009 | 2:14 am

Meeting of the minds

By Lisa Rummler

September 2009 - On the surface, the following industries seem rather disparate: distribution, banking, health care and metals.

Each business area, however, is among those represented in a marketing think tank created earlier this year by Scott Fasse, vice president of marketing and business development at United Performance Metals, Hamilton, Ohio, and Julie Hopkins, owner of Hopkins Marketing, Mason, Ohio.

"The goals of the think tank are to provide a forum where marketing ideas can be discussed and best practices shared," says Fasse. "The [ultimate] goal of the think tank is to leverage the diversity of marketing approaches across individuals, companies and industries to position each member of the group as a more effective marketer for their organization."

There were six to eight individuals at the first two meetings, and they represented four or five industries. Currently, 13 companies from six industries are represented in the group.

Striking a balance
Fasse says his background in the consumer electronics and software industries provided him with the experience that helped shape the marketing work he does with United Performance Metals today.

"Each [industry] had different approaches to marketing, with some remaining very traditional in their approach and others being closer to the cutting edge," he says. "My belief is that there's definitely something to be garnered from both camps."

Accordingly, the marketing think tank allows professionals from various industries to interact with one another and determine the best balance of classic and modern marketing approaches for each company.

"The Internet seems to be constantly redefining its use as a marketing tool," says Fasse. "This is happening so quickly that in many cases, it's nearly impossible to keep yourself reasonably informed. On the flip side, there are a host of more traditional means of marketing that we often forget about because we become so wrapped up in the electronic hype."

Making an impact
United Performance Metals has changed its approach to marketing in a few key areas because of think tank discussions, according to Fasse.

Additionally, he says the think tank has injected a fresh level of energy into the company's marketing department.

"As a manager, I have watched the employees that have had the opportunity to participate in the first few think tank sessions become excited about marketing once again--the think tank provides a break from the routine and a chance to discover new areas of interest," says Fasse. "One employee has developed a true passion for inbound marketing and is devouring all of the information she can get on the subject. We're currently working together to formulate a strategy that will allow us to utilize several of these new low-cost marketing tools."

Looking ahead
The first think tank meeting was an open forum. Fasse says all the members were asked to bring two ideas that had produced the best results for them in the past year.

"From there, the group has decided on which topics were of most interest," he says. "In our first session, we covered the use of video on the Internet. An instructor from a local technical school was a guest speaker and walked the group through all of the requirements and considerations for putting together a video for the Web."

Future topics include database marketing, social media and search engine optimization, among others, according to Fasse.

And in addition to the companywide, trickle-down benefits that come with taking part in the marketing think tank, Fasse says it offers advantages for each participant on a more personal level.

"The benefit of the think tank is to broaden one's understanding of marketing tools and concepts to become a more effective marketer for one's company and to also foster professional development for the individual," he says. MM

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