Wag a Little. Why We Love Dogs in the Office.

benefits of dogs in the office

Supes adorbs photo courtesy of Devin Edwards.

It seems that Lake Tahoe probably has a larger pet population than people population. We love our dogs and cats in Tahoe and the SJ Marketing team is no exception. As a matter of fact, we love our pets so much, we added them to our website. Just mouse over our photos and find our furry counterparts. http://www.sjmarketing.com Continue reading…

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How to Get Organized Part 1: To-Do Lists

how to get organized messy desk

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at work or in life. One way to calm these stressful feelings is to get more organized. But the big question is: how to get organized. As author Gretchen Rubin says, “Outer order contributes to inner calm.” The fact is when we are organized, suddenly staying focused and meeting deadlines becomes much easier. And getting organized (and feeling less stressed) kind of generates a snowball effect, because it also allows us to be more productive and efficient — and who doesn’t aim to get just a few more things done each day? Continue reading…

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The Marketing Dream Team

older man wearing a lakers jersey, holding a basketball

Epic Grandpa photo courtesy of Andre Hunter.

What takes 8 research sessions, 18 site visits, and 6 clicks in a span of 17 days?  According to Google Research, that is the path a consumer takes to make a hotel booking.  Keep in mind that 55% of website users spend less than 15 seconds on a website.  So how do you make a memorable impact? How do you become a “marketing dream team?” Continue reading…

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Straight Up Marketing Results w/a Twist (& Shout)

marketing results with a twist

Photo courtesy of Filip Mroz.

Our clients had marketing results worth making noise about in 2016.
Here’s a sample of what they achieved with the help of SJ Marketing strategies and execution: Continue reading…

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Team Building: Blending the Seasoned and the Green and Somewhere in Between


We work in marketing. It’s an exciting and rewarding industry, most of the time, but we’re often called upon to solve a problem for our clients. How can we increase our group business? How can we make the most of our marketing budget? How can we get more people to join our email database? How do we get the top spot in a Google search?

Because we’re so intent on developing solutions for our dear clients, we rarely look at ourselves as an organization, as an agency, and ask ourselves, what are our challenges? What problems do we need to solve for ourselves?

“In an agency environment where we always focus on the client, it’s easy to forget about the company’s greatest asset—its employees,” said Kelly Houston, President.

And when you’ve been around for 30 years, you find yourself with a diverse team—in longevity, age, experience, ideas, and knowledge. Then add to that mix our remote workers, whom we rarely see beyond an email or video call. So, how do you create a cohesive, productive (and fun) culture with such a diverse and geographically dispersed crew?

Two words: Team-building events.

In other words, you make everyone hike two miles straight up a mountain on a sunny 80-degree afternoon. But don’t worry, we’ll have cheese and crackers with some wine (because we’re classy) waiting for you at the top.

With that said, on Wednesday, September 28, “Elevate SJ” kicked off with a group hike to Snowflake Lodge at Diamond Peak Ski Resort, where we took in panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, munched on appetizers and sipped on a few adult libations, while our resident canine companions canvassed the area.

“Nacho found a deer’s leg, or something. And then got sick,” said Jesse Plate, Digital Services Manager and pet owner.

Aside from that obvious excitement, the SJ team participated in a fun and uplifting activity at 7,440 feet, where we had an opportunity to build each other up by sharing positive traits of each of our teammates.

“It was a nice reinforcement to read positive, uplifting comments from your coworkers,” said Darolyn Skelton, Business Development/Account Executive http://enligneviagr... Others, like Lynn Finnigan, Copywriter, commented that the group activity made them feel appreciated.

After hearing from others, we each shared a few words of what makes us proud as individuals.  Several agreed that getting to work for a marketing agency in Tahoe was very near the top of their list.

“I felt positive and energized,” said Skelton, who also helped organize the event. “I feel it was a success and it seemed like everyone had a good time.”

It is clear that the event and activities generated positive, and constructive takeaways while creating an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other on a more personal, honest level through socializing outside of the office.

“Getting out of the work environment and seeing everyone as a real person improves trust and helps communication,” said Houston. “That’s worth more than most anything in my book.”


–Brianna Sheck, Studio Manager, SJ Marketing

An MS in Integrated Marketing Communications and a BS in Technical Communication with a minor in Journalism were the beginning of Brianna’s career in digital and traditional marketing nearly 15 years ago. Today, she enjoys “wearing many hats,” combining strategic support with creative concepting, from project management to media planning to graphic design.

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What is Rebranding? Well, Let Us Tell You about Ours

begin rebranding

Rebranding is all about making changes. And when it comes to change, it’s all about rolling up your sleeves and getting started. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Macinnes)

What is Rebranding and Why Did We Do It?

Did you know Smith + Jones has been around for more than 30 years? That’s certainly something we’re very proud of, especially in an area where businesses come and go as easily as the snow melts—and in an in an industry that changes faster than your last Instagram photo. Continue reading…

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Impact Your Local Community with Corporate Social Responsibility



In today’s business world, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an important element in business strategy and helps companies rise to the top as leaders. CSR also influences employees, customers and stakeholders’ loyalty to an organization or company.

At SJ Marketing, a part of our CSR is giving back to our Tahoe community. Over the years, we have helped numerous non-profits with their marketing needs, including Boys and Girls Club, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, Parasol Foundation, Sage Ridge School, Tahoe Safe Alliance, and Summerfest. We are very excited about the upcoming year of giving.

For 2016, the SJ team voted to support Kids & Horses located in Minden, Nevada. Kids & Horses is one of only two premier PATH-certified therapeutic riding centers in Nevada and is not only helping kids, but also adults and veterans. The center works with individuals of all ages facing a broad range of challenges, including paralysis, multiple sclerosis, autism, muscular dystrophy, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, learning disabilities, and stroke.

Although the ranch is in Minden, their history started in our local community of Incline Village, Nevada. Sam and his wife Lorri Waldman came to Incline Village in 1996. Sam was a local business owner, and despite his busy work life, he found the time for charitable deeds. In 1999, Kids & Horses was born.

This year, the center is adding new therapists and hippo therapy to its offerings. Hippo therapy differs from therapeutic riding in that it uses the horse as a movement assistant for functional outcomes. The rolling gait of the horse effectively exercises human core muscles and provides sensory input. The therapist can address disabilities through modifying the horse’s rhythm, tempo and cadence. The client experiences direct, hands-on contact by the therapist during the entire session. Kids & Horses is the only riding center offering hippo therapy in northern Nevada.

April is National Autism Awareness month and this Friday, April 15, the ranch is hosting an open house to showcase the improvements they have made and introduce you to their staff and volunteers. Appetizers and drinks will be served, so please RSVP before April 13: kidsandhorses.org/openhouse or call Joanna at 775-772-6112.

For additional information or to set up a tour of the ranch, to donate, to volunteer, or to become a client, email info@kidsandhorses.org or call (775) 267-1775. Also, visit Kids & Horses on Facebook to stay up to date on the organization and goings on at the ranch.

–Darolyn Skelton, Business Development, SJ Marketing


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SJ Marketing is Proud to Support Kids & Horses


March 7, 2015 (MINDEN, Nev.) Kids & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center is adding new therapists and hippotherapy to its offerings. The center works with individuals, of all ages, facing a broad range of challenges including paralysis, multiple sclerosis, autism, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, learning disabilities, and stroke. It is the only riding center offering hippotherapy in northern Nevada.


Left to Right: Kids & Horses Physical Therapist Erin Vaillancourt and Occupational Therapist Amy Schelert.

Left to Right: Kids & Horses Physical Therapist Erin Vaillancourt and Occupational Therapist Amy Schelert.

Joining the Kids & Horses staff are Physical Therapist Erin Vaillancourt and Occupational Therapist Amy Schelert.

Hippotherapy differs from therapeutic riding in that it uses the horse as a movement assistant for functional outcomes. The rolling gait of the horse effectively exercises human core muscles and provides sensory input, Vaillancourt explained. The therapist can address disabilities through modifying the horse’s rhythm, tempo and cadence. The client experiences direct hands-on contact by the therapist during the entire session, and most medical insurance policies recognize it as a coverable physical therapy.

Although the minimum age for therapeutic riding is 5, Vaillancourt said hippotherapy can be a treatment strategy for children as young as 2 years old, and those with severe limitations that preclude their participation in therapeutic riding are likely to be able to participate in hippotherapy.

Schelert’s experience includes pediatric clinic and elementary school occupational therapy as well as an internship with the National Center of Equine Facilitated Therapy. She is a certified instructor with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) and has taught therapeutic riding. Schelert will be using the horse to improve motor control, coordination, balance, attention and performance in daily tasks.

“This therapy helps develop more independence in life whether it is at work, school or for a functional activity of living,” Schelert said.

Schelert said one of her clients, who could not concentrate at school, improved his attention skills after therapy and was reassigned to a general population school class from a special needs class.

“Our vision for Kids & Horses is to be a leader in effective therapy for northern Nevada’s special needs children, adults and veterans at a top-quality facility,” said Doug Brimm, Kids & Horses CEO tadalafil female. “By adding hippotherapy, we are taking a major step forward in expanding our service to the community.”

Speech and language pathology can also be effectively combined with the use of a therapy horse. Kids & Horses is currently searching for a qualified speech therapist.

Kids & Horses is a non-profit organization. All services are provided at no or only partial cost to the students. People wishing to support therapeutic riding for local special needs children and adults can donate through the website http://www.kidsandhorses.org/donate/, to either the general operations, scholarship, or capital campaign funds.

Kids & Horses is located south of Carson City on Esaw Street and Stephanie Way in Minden, Nev. The therapeutic riding program began in 1999.  Kids & Horses, Inc. purchased the ranch in 2013. The ranch property houses the therapy program horses as well as boarding for privately owned horses. Kids & Horses is the only PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) Premier Accredited Center in northern Nevada. 

For additional information, a tour of the ranch or to become a client, contact us at info@kidsandhorses.org or (775) 267-1775.  Visit us on facebook or at www.kidsandhorses.org.   Mail at 2869 Esaw Street, Minden, NV 89423. Kids & Horses, Inc. is a 501(c)(3)company.

For information:  Doug Brimm        dougbrimm@yahoo.com   775-745-3511

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It’s a SJ Thing

It’s a size thing

You have a marketing budget that you think is decent and it deserves some big attention, right?

So you think, “Well, I will call the big agencies in the big city and see what big ideas they have.”

Seems like a good idea until you realize that the big agencies can charge big dollars to cover

their big expenses that may leave your big marketing budget not-so-big in the end. Maybe it’s

time to reconsider the marketing agency approach and take a look at a smaller agency. Besides

costs, here’s a few other reasons why:

It’s a gut thing

Smaller agencies have access to marketing stats and research, but probably not as much as the

larger agencies that pay a lot of money to be able to access the information. Does that really

make a difference to you? It depends on your business, your marketing, and your goals. In

general, small agencies become unbelievably experienced in their areas of focus, which makes

them much better on intuitive marketing. Small agencies know instinctively what works and what

does not because they are entrenched in it daily. They don’t need a pile of research to

understand if a message is going to resonate with an audience because they are intimately

familiar with the market and with what works and what doesn’t.

Most times, small agencies do the research themselves so they can see trends, take advantage

of new advertising opportunities, and understand emerging markets. When you do your own

research, it’s easier to understand the cause and effect. With greater understanding comes

greater effectiveness in application. Intuition plays a large role in successful business decisions

and marketing is included. Smaller agencies use knowledge to trust their intuition, which can be a

very successful combination.

It’s a fish thing

This is the basic big fish, small pond concept. When you have a decent sized marketing budget

and you use a small agency, you become one of their top accounts. And what do we do with our

top clients? We give them the best service possible, personalized attention, and an all-hands-on-

deck approach. That’s what you will get with a small agency.

In addition, in a small agency, account executives wear multiple hats and get involved in most

every aspect of marketing. That means the right hand always knows what the left hand is doing

and the overall knowledge of your marketing & messaging is consistent throughout your

campaigns. The chances of miscommunication from one department to the next is minimized

when your account team is personally involved in your product and/or your business.

Finally, a small agency often times considers themselves an extension of your marketing

department. In essence, they feel like they work for you, not just for the agency. Their approach

and your success becomes much more personal.

It’s a box thing

Small agencies have a very strong sense of what a dollar is worth. Every account they earn is

important to them and they work hard to ensure every dollar you spend is worth it to you. So they

can get very “out-of-the-box” creative with advertising mediums and marketing concepts that give

strong ROI. And because you are a big account to them, they spend a lot of time making sure

that they are tweaking creative and messaging to get the biggest bang for your buck. There’s no

sure thing in marketing and advertising, but when you have a dedicated team watching every

dollar you spend because, let’s face it, that dollar means a lot to a small agency, then you have a

much higher chance of success.

It’s a local thing

In general, you can find good small agencies wherever your business resides. Using a local

agency is good business for you. Why? Because an investment in your community sends a

strong message that you care about the people in your town and the health of your economy. And

the agency will work hard to make sure that a local company that is invested in them is going to

succeed, especially as it means more business to the area they live & work. It’s a win/win.

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Hitting the bull’s eye with data.

Remember the days when advertisers were shouting from breaks during the most watched TV shows and spreading their media spend across newspapers with the highest circulations? Today, that shout has splintered into billions of target-specific whispers. The right data mix, delivered across programmatic exchanges, creates a phenomenon like telepathy.

Chances are, forward-thinking marketers have an accurate prediction of what you’re going to do when you open your computer, even when you don’t know. Look at the ad units on your browser. Your favorite brands (and their competitors) are probably popping up constantly on Facebook. That dress you were browsing reappears across a variety of websites for a few days then disappears and that film whose trailer you watched starts following you.

The world of programmatic media placement and predictive modeling has gone beyond the questions of “what is the best environment for my ad?” or “who is the appropriate audience for my product?” and now extends to the entire online map of what leads a particular individual to a purchase at a certain time.

Advertisers, the savvy ones, are lifting campaign performance via data integration. These campaigns are nimble: making improvements in real time, tying in page context and media use insights, past user behavior as well as demographics, and enterprise wide (not just online) data collection sources. The people who manage these campaigns, like myself, are constantly testing ideas, new data partnerships, and conversion page optimizations to keep pushing performance.

Data is only as good as the system it lives in. How do your web insights help you communicate with your customers? How long does it take for seasonal browsing habits to become a trend? A microtrend? How long before you respond and change the page flow for your users? How do you adapt user experience options for anyone who doesn’t fit this trend? How do you answer these questions?

Most companies, according to a study by Lynchpin and Econsultancy, are held back by an analytics skills gap. Data is captured but never utilized. It’s imperative to pull multiple data points into a main, actionable insight. The integration of data is at least as important as the data itself.

What data’s out there?

– First party: web analytics and retargeting, FB follower segmentation, email capture and CRM strategy.

– Second party: partnerships with someone who can strategically leverage your first party data in exchange for theirs.

– Third party: provided (for a fee) by data aggregation companies. The baseline for industry standard audience targeting.

First party is the big opportunity: I’ve managed campaigns where first party data integration lead to an 18:1 ROI (as a baseline, the same creative/landing page configuration elsewhere yielded 4:1.) As a growing trend, the implementation of first party data leads to an increase in lifetime value of a customer. (Source: Signal)

A case study in support of data: Kraft Foods, embarked on test to leverage small segments of its data from more than 100 million monthly unique visits to its digital properties.

From customer interactions, Kraft gathers 22,000 individual attributes, including flavor preferences, and uses them to design personalized ads to specific customer segments such as Easter celebrating people with a sweet tooth. To drive sales around the holiday, Kraft pushed a popular dessert recipe to this audience. The result: a 23% sales increase for four Kraft products used in the recipe and a 4x return on their ad spend. Read more about this campaign here.

How are you systematically tracking and gathering data so you can learn from campaign results? If you aren’t sure, reach out to me at smith + jones to see how we can help make sense out of your data and drive record results.

– Jesse Plate | email: jplate@sjmarketing.com | phone: 775.831.6262 x207

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