Past Presidents: Where Are They Now? Featuring Ali Schwanke

Where do you currently work and in what position?

1
Ali Schwanke, Simple Strat

I’m a marketing strategist at Simple Strat. Simple Strat is a marketing agency with a focus on strategy first. We’re fairly new to the Lincoln market, but have been growing over the last 12 months.

How do you think your involvement with AMA led you to that position?

The benefits you get from the AMA are amazing – but you have to be willing to put the time and energy into it. It’s that way with any professional organization. That being said, I’ve met some of my best friends in the AMA!

2It’s weird to say this, but as a result of the AMA, I now have a “phone-a-marketer” type of relationship with many marketing professionals both local and across the nation who can provide feedback and insight into any challenges I might have. I’ve been introduced to new and progressive concepts from speakers and fellow AMA members; plus the AMA has given me an opportunity to serve in a leadership position that led to increased visibility, authority, and experience for my personal brand, as well as the companies that I’ve worked for.

What is your best memory or takeaway from being involved in AMA?

3

There are so many! The annual chapter leadership summits in Chicago hold a special place in my heart. These annual summits allowed a small group of board members to really connect and drink the AMA Kool-Aid to align our goals for the chapter, as well as marketing in general.

Plus you got to have a good dose of fun exploring the city on the second to last day of the summit. We all looked forward to the “night on the town” each year.

A few others that come to mind include:4

Baby Board Member: When I stepped into the role as board president, I was 9 months pregnant with my 2nd child. He was born on a Friday, and I had to finalize the board budget and chapter plan by Sunday evening (it was sent in at 11:50pm that night!). My son was a week old when he joined us for the August board meeting! We’re introducing him to marketing at an early age. It’s funny because he does LOVE commercials now that he’s 4 years old – telling me that he “wants that for Christmas” after almost every kids commercial on Nick Jr. Maybe that’s a junior marketer – or just a classic 4-year-old kid captivated by TV. We’re not sure.

5

Board Recruitment: I was a member of the AMA early on, but it didn’t dawn on me right away that I could get involved at a higher level. It just so happened that Katherine Brockman invited me to lead a SIG (one time) which then grew into a regular SIG (BrandMe) and then a board position (Prisms), and then another (Membership), and then viola! – President! It was just a natural progression of leadership that all started with a personal ask.

Pixar Inspiration: One of my favorite luncheons we’ve had in the last couple of years was Pixar. Seeing the movie “Up” in its drawn form, and learning how everything comes together in a creative environment like Pixar was very rewarding and even challenging for my own creative process. I took voracious notes and still refer to them periodically for inspiration.

What has been your biggest marketing or career accomplishment?

6Your “biggest accomplishment” has a way of changing over the years. Early in my career, winning my first prism award as a young marketer was a big deal. Then came the marketer of the year award, plus other local recognition, and ultimately the launching of my own company. My family had to take a photo when I got my first office as I’m the first female in my family to own a business!

Along the way, the accomplishments within the AMA in each role from Prisms to President was very satisfying knowing that I was part of a team who was making such a significant impact.

What advice do you have for entry- and mid- level marketers?

7Hustle and be willing to try new things. The rate in which our world is changing means that we have to be proactive in developing our skills. Yes, the AMA is here to help, but if you don’t apply the tips provided in the SIGs, or dig into the AMA’s marketing toolkit, or seek out the speakers for additional insight, you may be missing the biggest benefits of your membership. I also can’t stress enough the power of networking within the marketing community. Connecting to other experienced marketers is like having your own super powerful “google search” of knowledge.

What hobbies do you have outside of your love for marketing?

8I have a ton of interests as I can’t sit still (my family is just like me too, which makes for a chaotic household!). I love running, playing the piano, gardening, reading, tinkering with new technology and spending time with my husband and two boys.

We recently bought kayaks and we love to fish the local lakes – at a sporting event or enjoying the outdoors is most likely where you’ll find us!

What is your favorite marketing campaign?

9I don’t have a favorite of all time necessarily, but I do have a special love for the Oreo tweet that catapulted real-time social media into the spotlight during the super bowl in 2014 (when the lights when out in the stadium). While millions of dollars were spent by other advertisers, Oreo was able to cleverly steal the spotlight (in the dark!) and divert the attention to a clever post at the right time.

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