Mid-Atlantic Group Launches With Networking Happy Hour

On behalf of the Internet Marketing Association (IMA), the industry’s fastest growing organization with more than 1,000,000 professional members worldwide, your presence is requested at the upcoming Networking Happy Hour in Baltimore on March 24. It’s Open Bar and a fun opportunity to network and socialize with other professionals from across the Mid-Atlantic. You could also be the lucky attendee who walks away with a Samsung Gear VR

The IMA Mid-Atlantic Chapter is a forum through which like-minded professionals can explore new business opportunities and further their careers. In addition to hosting executive summits, networking receptions, conferences and other events, the IMA brings education, skills training, and myriad channels for business development such as webinars, whitepapers, podcasts, speaking opportunities, contributed content, newsletter and event sponsorships. (In case you missed it, here’s an article from Technically Baltimore announcing the launch: http://technical.ly/baltimore/2016/02/11/internet-marketing-association-launches-mid-atlantic-chapter/)

Joining the IMA – and coming to the Networking Happy Hour – is free and there are no obligations whatsoever. I hope you’ll consider joining us on March 24 as well as the one million+ members around the world.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly with questions on IMA Mid-Atlantic Chapter, or the networking Happy Hour at 202-904-2048 / IMA@JMRConnect.net).

  • WHERE: Abbey Burger Bistro (FELLS POINT, 811 S. Broadway)
  • WHEN:
  • MARCH 24, 2016 (5:30 PM – 7:30 PM)




Internet Marketing Association Launches Mid-Atlantic Chapter

Global Association Brings Economic Development, Education, Skills Training, Engagement, and Digital Marketing Best Practices


“The IMA was founded on four key values as a foundation for success in today’s highly competitive business environment: integrity, communication, professionalism and education,” said IMA Chairman and Founder, Sinan Kanatsiz. “We take pride in developing relationships with our members and providing them with the resources necessary for success. The members of IMA are dedicated to building a voice and creating standards for Internet marketing on a global basis.”

The IMA Mid-Atlantic Group will serve as an open platform for business and economic development; education and skills training; and as an interactive forum through which to network, share best practices and collaborate. In addition to hosting numerous executive summits, networking receptions and other events, the IMA offers marketing opportunities for businesses via webinars, whitepapers, sponsorships and more.

Of note, is that through its IMA Certified Internet Marketer (CIM) professional certification program, the Internet Marketing Association provides individuals with the foundational Internet marketing education needed to succeed in today’s fast-changing online business environment.

“The Mid-Atlantic region has established itself as a center of marketing excellence and innovation; areas like Baltimore and Washington corridor have created a vibrant, exciting environment that fosters growth and exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of this industry,” said Mostafa Razzak. “I am honored to be working with such an esteemed group and look forward to engaging with like-mind people who will support a community built on education, idea sharing and collaboration.”

A tenured industry professional who has been involved in communications, marketing, public affairs, and political consulting for twenty years, Mostafa Razzak brings a proven track record servicing organizations in the technology, financial services, healthcare, marketing, and energy sectors. He is recognized for leading creative, successful campaigns that combine strategic programming with precision tactical execution.

“Skyrocketing adoption of content marketing, social engagement and other innovative practices have created a true paradigm shift that has blurred the lines between advertising, marketing and public relations,” said Mostafa Razzak.

“To survive and thrive in today’s market,” he continued, “practitioners need to embrace new ideas that help their clients achieve tangible results and sustainable, elevated brand awareness. If one can’t quantify the value of their efforts, they’ll soon find that their services are no longer needed.”

Membership is free. To join the IMA, please visit https://imanetwork.org/mid-atlantic-ima/.

The IMA Mid-Atlantic Launch Networking Reception will be held Thursday March 24, 2016 at the Abbey Burger Bistro in Fells Point. Additional details to follow.

To RSVP, or for additional information on events, sponsorship, whitepaper, blogs, podcasts and other opportunities, please contact IMA@jmrconnect.net.


Follow the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Internet Marketing Association on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IMAMidAtlantic/

3 Ways Gamification Can Engage Employees

By Mostafa Razzak,Principal, JMR Connect, Chairman, IMA Mid-Atlantic Group


Gamification can have far more serious results for businesses than just fun and games. By leveraging the competitive dynamics of games that make playing so addictive, companies can actively engage customers and employees to encourage loyalty, ignite brand advocates, and reward behaviors that sustain – and grow – the business.

The concept of gamification has been visible in businesses for decades, but recent advances in real-time technology and social networking have literally “changed the games”. These trends pave the way for gamification growth; Gartner predicted that by 2014, more than 70 percent of Forbes Global 2000 organizations will have at least one game-based application. And, that by 2015, half of all companies with innovation processes will gamify them – making the gamification industry worth $112 billion and as important to marketing and retention as Facebook.

Looks like Gartner was right.

But successful gamification isn’t just about slapping leaderboards and achievement badges on your company’s website. Because of poor design, strategy and deployment, Gartner is less optimistic about gamification’s short-term outlook, predicting that 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail.

Gamification holds huge potential, as long as your company takes a smart, strategic approach to drive business objectives – not to just play games. Apply some of these best practices in gamification to maximize your results and turn games into serious business.

Begin with business goals.

The goal is not to get lots people to play your game; the goal is to achieve meaningful business objectives through gamification. Before jumping on the hype-wagon and building a game with no relevance, begin by clearly identifying your business objectives and critically analyzing how gamification can achieve those goals. Whether you want to engage clients in communication, encourage employee productivity, or promote a sense of community, different priorities require different strategies. The clearer your objectives upfront, the more successful deployment will be – and the less likely you’ll be to confuse activity with progress.

Focus on the players.

Employee engagement: your game can’t exist without engaged players, and you should know by now that consumers won’t readily do your brand’s bidding just because you dangled a gift card in front of them. As you’re defining business objectives, also consider player objectives: What do participants need to do in order for this game to achieve your business goals, and why would they? Make it not only fun but meaningful by engaging your target audience with relevant, personalized incentives and rewards. The more closely you overlap your purpose with players’ personal motivations, the more engaged they’ll be. Look at gamification leader Nike, whose Nike+ app community is built around users’ personal fitness goals.

Keep it simple.

The best games are intuitive in their design, effectively leveraging tools like leaderboards and social sharing to make competition interactive. Effort should be clearly linked to reward. Remember that in this mobile age, consumers are busy, bombarded, and likely playing from somewhere other than a desktop. So sleek, simple functionality is key. Consider how your target audience communicates and behaves – your game shouldn’t disrupt routines by asking them to go out of their way, but should come naturally, leveraging their existing habits (like posting on Facebook) to maximize your reach.

Effective gamification can leverage the engaging, interactive potential of online gaming to tap into consumers’ natural drives for competition and recognition, creating brand advocates and driving social word-of-mouth about your organization. But most important to note, is that games must engage your communities in ways that match your business goals to have any measurable impact on your bottom line.


Mostafa Razzak is JMRConnect Principal and Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Group for the Internet Marketing Association. This article originally appeared in Shaping Influence.

Breaking News with Social Media

By Mostafa Razzak, Principal, JMRConnect, Chairman, IMA Mid-Atlantic Group

Presidential race scandals, terrorist attacks, political unrest, and groundbreaking Congressional procedures: News stories like these are breaking on social media, in nearly real-time, long before newspaper editors or TV news anchors can get the full scoop.

While traditional outlets still play a viable role in telling the whole story, social media is clearly changing the way breaking news is consumed, distributed and shared. In fact, about half of the population has seen a breaking news story on social media before it’s published by an official news source, according to research published by Mashable.

The same research also revealed that nearly 65 percent of people get their news online, compared to 28.7 percent who still read it in newspapers. While print readership drops, social media news consumption is on the rise at 27.7 percent – and growing. Since 2009, the traffic to news sites generated by social media has increased 57 percent.

The immediacy, ease of access, and widespread use of social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter make these digital platforms a hot-bed for breaking news. This shifts the once-limited power of the newsroom into the hands of every company, every PR professional, and every consumer – as anyone can become a reporter if equipped with simple publication tools like a cell phone and a Twitter account.

Traditionally, you only had to appeal to the reporters you were pitching. Now, you have to rethink your target audience and consider that your potential customers are picking up the same news as the media. In research conducted with Forrester, PRNewswire revealed that 15 percent of its website traffic is comprised of potential buyers, as average consumers join the ranks of journalists to consume and curate news.

While this shift gives companies the power to report their own news, it also puts the pressure on them to do so effectively.

As the number of “news” outlets has grown exponentially from a select few to practically everyone, breaking news must be not only compelling enough to catch the attention of inundated masses, but also omni-channel in its distribution. (This article originally appeared on on Shaping Influence)


Mostafa Razzak is Founder and Principal of JMRConnect, a global PR, integrated marketing and Influencer Communications firm, as well as Chairman and Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region for the Internet Marketing Association.

Even in Non-Fiction, Authentic Storytelling Matters

Written by Dominick Sirianni

this is the participation age christoph trappe


All the buzz around the newest Star Wars release made us take a hard look at what movie production companies do right. Namely, telling terrific stories.

But you don’t have to have a 100 million dollar budget and a bunch of characters from outer space in your story to help your business grow.

The Internet Marketing Association’s Internet Marketer of the Year and author of Get Real: Telling Authentic Stories for Long-term Success Christoph Trappe (@ctrappe) proclaims sagely:

“This is the participation age.”

People want to feel connected and entertained. They want to engage with you. They want to feel heard and understood. And the best way to do this is by sharing real stories and true facts about yourself and your company.

Communicate stories about the real ‘you’ and invite a dialogue.

Look at TV shows like the Real Housewives of Orange County with “characters” – but also real people – like Heather Dubrow. Heather has gained widespread notoriety from authentically sharing her life. A life of family, success, wealth, and drama. Sure, it may be exaggerated and edited so as to enhance the elements of excitement and conflict, but the heart of the show’s success lies in that people watch, are entertained by, and feel connected to the story and the characters.

Like General Electric (GE), Heather is now also using podcasting to engage with her audience.

Heather Dubrow’s World saw immediate success in part due to her taking some advice she received from Dr. Drew Pinsky: “Don’t worry about how many guests you have on, people just want to hang out with you for an hour.”

With 140,000 downloads within the first 3 days to prove it, Heather’s success reveals that your audience wants to feel like insiders. Give them the opportunity by sharing authentic stories.

More on actionable steps to take this to the next level in Part 4. Stay tuned, IMA!

Part 3 of 6 (Part 1 and Part 2)

Top 5 Internet Marketing Trends of 2015

Top5InternetMarketingTrendsWritten by Erik Leist, IMA Internet Marketing Evangelist and Hall Roosevelt, IMA Content Manager

2015 is coming to an end and we at the Internet Marketing Association take a good look at the past in preparation for the year ahead. Internet marketing is constantly changing, growing, and moving in all directions and it is vital for marketers to be flexible, and embrace all ebbs and flows of the digital world. Trends are known to gain momentum quickly then burn out even faster, but it’s safe to say that these top Internet marketing trends of the year will certainly have a strong presence in 2016.


MOBILE   has accelerated faster than ever. Mobile is changing the delivery, message, interaction, consumption, and transaction of products, services, and information. All happening in the smallest windows of time these mobile moments take place while walking into a meeting, waiting in line, taking a break etc.. Internet marketers must capitalize these fragments of time by being instant, relevant, engaging, and quick to convert.


DIGITAL CONTENT   is everything. Consumers no longer stand to be flooded with information and sales pitches. Digital content is the culmination of text, audio, video, images and other graphics created to engage consumers and guide them through a seamless, self-guided experience. Content is key to any Internet marketing formula and when done correctly, businesses will see an increase in audience, brand loyalty, and sales. Companies like Curalate are bridging the gap between need awareness and purchase by making images interactive, products merely a click away.


IoT (Internet of Things)    You may be tired of hearing about IoT, but this is not just some buzz word. By 2020 there will be 50 billion inter-connected things, with $19 trillion in profit and cost savings. IoT is currently being used in factories, businesses, and healthcare; the next few years will see a trickling of these technologies into households and everyday use.


PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS  Putting big data to big use. Culling massive amounts of data and being able to compile key business statistics and produce predictive analytics is completely shifting the Internet marketing paradigm. This gives companies with any market size the ability to know their customers and understand how and why they buy their product. To be more personal to each individual customer yet increase the size of your market is the secret that predictive analytics can unlock.


EMAIL  is not dead. In fact email is more alive than ever. Newsletters are engaging, interactive, predictive, and personal. They effectively reach out to loyal and supporting customers, and are able to create or pick up conversation. Email should not be left out of the Internet marketing mix, as an effective campaign can bring huge ROI and overall positive customer experience.