Category Archives: Personal

10 Years of BlackFin Blogging

April 22nd, 2007 marks the date of the first blog post under what was then TheBlackFin.com. Now 10 years and 456 posts later the blog has morphed into what it is today.

Here is a shot from the old TheBlackFin blog. 

Starting and maintaining a blog has proven to be one of the most important decisions and invaluable assets in my career development and progression over the past decade.

By the simple act of formulating perspectives on various industry topics, it served as a foundational knowledge base to capture trends and evaluate shifts tied to consumer behavior.

Over time it served as a timeline to measure and gauge key technology inflection points and the impact of disruptive and emerging technologies.

Knowing that I had to create content changed my curation behaviors tied to industry news and new technology. My focus shifted from simply consuming content to analyzing topics and looking for connections as the foundation for digital strategy.

I joined Twitter the same month I started my blog in 2007.

Now, the role of my blog has shifted to sharing thought leadership with agency clients, a reflection of industry media commentary, and speaking engagements. But regardless of how much the focus evolves over the next ten years at it’s core the blog will still be about aligning experience + perspective + prediction.

My strategic approach developed through blogging was a key component to recently being named by Advertising Age as a Marketing Technology Trailblazer. 

Beyond blogging, here is additional advice for those just starting their career.

Have a POV – Regardless of platform have a spot to capture your thoughts and focus on 2-3 territories in your industry of interest and begin commenting and creating your voice and perspective.

Build a Network – Your most valuable professional asset is your network. Be diligent in meeting movers and shakers in your industry and seek out those who are crafting a narrative in their industry and emulate their approach until you refine your own.

Mentor & Sponsor – Having an internal advocate is incredibly important when it comes to career advancement. It’s not enough to keep your head down and work hard. You need to work hard and have an internal sponsor who will champion your advancement.

You will also need a mentor, preferably someone who is not in your current organization but knows your industry to provide a bigger picture perspective and guide you through the challenges that will inevitably be a part of career advancement. I have been incredibly lucky and thankful to those who have sponsored and mentored me over the years.

Thank you to the thousands of visitors over the past 10 years. I write to openly share thoughts about the industry and to unravel the connection between emerging technology and it’s impact on human behavior.

Here’s to the next 10 years!

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Advertising Age Marketing Technology Trailblazer

Today Advertising Age announced their 2017 list of top 25 Marketing Technology Trailblazers and I am honored to be included.


Photo by Bradley Taylor, Caprock Studio 

A big thank you to the Epsilon corporate communications team, DGC and Advertising Age judges. I am truly humbled by the inclusion with such a great list of industry innovators.

I am incredibly grateful to my data design strategy and innovation teams. From research, planning, data design, digital strategy, digital experience delivery, social and innovation a huge thank you for all that you do.

I also want to thank Richard McDonald and the Epsilon agency leadership team for your continued support. Richard, it was your vision that sold me on joining Epsilon and its one of the best career decisions I have made.

Tom Edwards AdAge

Finally, a very special thank you to my amazing wife Cherlyn for supporting all the crazy hours and travel for the past 17 years.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series

TA Expert Interview Series featuring Tom Edwards of The Marketing Arm

Tom Edwards, the Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation here at The Marketing Arm, was recently invited to be a guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share his insight on the digital marketing landscape. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology verticals through conversations with industry leaders.

Edwards joined Buckner to discuss modern day digital, social, and mobile innovations, the importance of bridging technology and marketing, and the four core elements that bring a campaign to life.

Below are a few of the highlights from our conversation:

TA: Tell us about what life is like at TMA and some of the projects you work on everyday.

Tom: At The Marketing Arm, we’re really a consumer engagement agency, so that touches a wide range of project types. Everything from digital, to promotional, to talent, to production, to just a number of different types of projects that come across my desk on any given day.

I’m a part of the digital engagement division and we service about 16 core clients, everything from Exxonmobil, to GameStop, to name just a few organizations. So over the last 15 years, my role within the industry has really shifted from starting more on the technology side, and really kind of incorporated being that bridge between technology and marketing.

As digital continues to progress, we’ve seen it all: the end of the dotcom boom, massive portals, the rise of consumer social. All of these different types of trends we’ve seen definitely had a hand in touching and guiding different project types across multiple platforms and different routes of sale. It’s been a fun, interesting ride and it continues to get better.

TA:  What suggestions do you have for a team trying to compare and find the right marketing automation vendors? What should they be looking for?

Tom: Portability. So if I’m able to either leverage a tool that can aggregate content, redistribute, visualize things that can basically whether it’s a seamless flow, whether that’s your API through an SDK or whatever it may be, like that’s what I’m ultimately looking for now.

I’m looking for how can this one piece fit into the larger strategy that I’m trying to deploy and continue to add value without adding additional barriers or additional layers, that’s really the key piece. Because we’re touching so many different channels, everything from top line awareness via digital all the way down to shopper and point of sale.

So making sure that we can have programs that can work in scale. Scale is another key piece for us too and the data considerations depending upon local versus global so there are a lot of different pieces that we look at when we’re evaluating but for me, it’s how can whatever tool that you’re leveraging best provide value for everything as a whole versus just one specific piece or one specific function.

To learn more about The Marketing Arm, visit www.themarketingarm.com. Connect with Tom on Twitter @BlackFin360 and follow his blog at BlackFin360.com/blog. Be sure also follow @TheMarketingArm.

BlackFin360

Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes.

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This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.

Agency Of The Year

Chief Marketer recently named my agency, The Marketing Arm, promo agency of the year for 2012. In this month’s issue of Chief Marketers Promo Magazine, they break down the top 100 promo agencies in the US as well as a two page article about TMA and why we were chosen as this years recipient. The article also includes a key reference to our upcoming Flockstar beta launch. Here is a link to the full article.

Flockstar is the first of our new crowdsourcing service offerings that I have worked intensely on over the past 6 months.  More news to come as we get closer to the public launch but if you are a creative, strategist, planner, etc… then there is still time to join the private beta at http://www.flockstar.co

Hmm.. the gentlemen to the far right looks oddly familiar…

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

BlackFin360

Goals

aunlockedI don’t know about you but I am driven by achievements. Yes I hear the laughter now and see the nodding of heads. I like to set an achievable goal and reach the objective. Maybe it is my military past or growing up in a military household but I like to have a clear objective that I can then pursue.  Be it professional or personal I really enjoy a good challenge! This is what drives me professionally as it is a constant push to achieve x amount of revenue and margin.

At the beginning of this year I set a few arbitrary personal goals… outside of being the best father and husband that I can be:

1) 100 miles with Nike+ – Since I am a dad first, meaning most of my activities are home centric, running is one of the ways I workout. Setting a goal definitely adds to my motivation.

I am happy to share that I have now officially achieved these goals! I know it is arbitrary, what value does Gamerscore have? Outside of the ~10 cents per point that I have spent in $$$ not much other than to my friends who play as well. Airline miles??? Yes now I have the ability to sit on the plane a little bit longer. The only one that has any value is the running goal at least from an overall health perspective. But from my perspective these were primary personal objectives that I wanted to complete.

For me I find motivation in having a very clear set of objectives and working hard to achieve the goal. What motivates you? Do you set specific goals and work towards them? Do you wait for things to come to you? I am really interested in understanding how you find motivation to do what you do.

Nike 100 miles

9 Years

I wanted to take a moment and thank my wife for the best 9 years of my life so far.

We were married in October of 1999 on this day and I consider myself the luckiest man in the world to have found a woman I love so deeply. Now after 9 years and 3 kiddos I still feel the same as I did 9 years ago.

Thank you Cherlyn for all that you do!

Happy Anniversary  

Cherlyn_Web

Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

DetroitGPThanks again to our friends at the Microsoft Automotive team. I had the privilege to join them for this past weekends Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

I have never attended an IRL, Le Mans Series or an SCCA SPEED World event so I got to experience all three at one location.

And I have to say it was a great event! Being a guest of Microsoft meant that I got to experience the same amenities as they do. This included their trackside chalet to watch the races as well as paddock access to view the cars, drivers and crews up close and personal.

It was great to see the likes of Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, and Danica Patrick hit the track… or actually road since this is a road course vs. the standard oval.

The event was the brainchild of Roger Penske with all net proceeds from the event going to the funding of the preservation of Belle Isle.

It was a great event and I want to thank our friends at the Microsoft Automotive team for being excellent hosts!

Below is me with one of the race cars…. Does it come in Black????

DSC05044

More pictures from the event are available in the Photo Gallery under Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

O Canada

canadaLast week I traveled to Vancouver on business and as usual there is an interesting story from the trip.

We initially flew into Vancouver to meet with Electronic Arts and various clients but we had also scheduled a meeting in Seattle (Roughly 2 hours away) so we jumped into the rental and drove towards the border.

We arrive at the border crossing and did not realize that we were in the “Nexis” lane which is equivalent to a FastPass into the US. So the line was roughly 40 minutes long and we did not realize we were in the wrong lane. We found out soon enough.

Once we realized our mistake it was too late. We tried to move over to the middle lane and it took a good 5-10 minutes to pull over. Once we made it into the proper lane we heard obscenities directed at us that would make a sailor blush. This coming from the most unassuming people you could imagine. Think of grandmothers and grandfathers in their late 70’s early 80’s.

So we have our meeting with Sony and head back to the border that same day. It is about 10:30 PM at night and there were no lines going back into Canada.

The guard at the initial post reviews our documents… smiles and asks us to pull over into one of the stalls and exit the vehicle, enter the building and get in line “a”.

We pull in just to see the contents of the car next to us completely removed from the vehicle. So this already looks like it is going to be a lot of fun.

Once inside we are interviewed separately… What are you doing here, where are you going, what states have you lived in since you were 18.

Once they interviewed both of us we were asked to remain seated while they ran full background checks on us.

In the meantime an individual was in our same waiting area and he was called up. Once he was at the counter he was told that he can never enter Canada and he was not welcome based on information that came up during his background check.

Needless to say I was not worried as I have no record to speak of but still being in that position and the demeanor of the border patrol it made me uneasy for a moment.

After a few more minutes we were handed our passports and sent on our way.

The morale of the story is to just fly to Canada and stay in the same country for the duration of the trip.