Posts Tagged ‘James Wong’


Commencement Speech at ITT-Tech

On June 28, 2012, students from ITT-Technical Institute (Cary, NC) graduated their respective schools in front of over 175 proud parents, family members, friends and professors.

It was an evening filled with laughs, memories, tears and well-wishes, as these graduates embarked on their next phase in their lives — a new journey into the unknown, but with the knowledge and tools they will need to succeed.

I was invited by ITT Technical Institute to deliver the commencement speech at this, one of four graduations each year at the institute. This was a great honor, and I wanted to inspire this group of graduates to find success in their new careers, regardless of the obstacles they will face in the near future.


Empowered Ideas Featured on UNC TV

Excerpt originally posted on May 28, 2012 via Empowered Ideas’ Marketing & Communications Blog

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 (Raleigh, NC) — Empowered Ideas Co-Founder & Managing Partner, James C. Wong, had the honor of being invited as a guest speaker on the topic of Social Media for UNC TV’s Black Issues Forum.

James Wong has been a life-long supporter of diversity in leadership and knowledge in North Carolina, even accepting his now second term position as the Marketing Chair for the Triangle Association of Black Journalists (TABJ).


How Pinterest Helps Businesses & Product Marketing

Article originally submitted to the iContact Blog on February 15, 2012  | How Pinterest Helps Businesses & Product Marketing


Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized they way and frequency of shared content on the internet. These two social channels account for the majority of user generated content on the web — until now.

Fairly “new” to the social sharing arena is an online community called Pinterest, which allows users to create virtual pin boards where they can “pin” digital content they find interesting, but in an organized and sleek way. This allows their followers to follow not just all of their pins, but the ability to subscribe just the boards most interesting to them.


Digital Healthcare Marketing

Article originally submitted to the iContact Blog on February 8th, 2012
By James C. Wong, iContact Marketing Manager

As both the current President of the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association (TIMA), and the Marketing Communications Manager at iContact, interesting topics and emerging industry trends are always on my radar in terms of interactive. TIMA has always been an organization focusing heavily on changes in the interactive space, and while healthcare has been a hot topic of discussion for quite a while, what isn’t being talked about is the surprising lack of resources allocated by pharmaceutical (“pharma”) and healthcare providers towards digital marketing initiatives. In fact, only about 5% of marketing dollars in pharma are being utilized to support consumer marketing via digital. In 2012, analysts are predicting that consumers will continue transitioning from TV and radio, to online sources as their preferred method of research and news.  Not surprisingly, medical doctors and other industry professionals are also following suit, with a reported 70% of M.D.’s preferring online courses over classroom continuing education.

TIMA President, James Wong; Executive Director of WebMD, Richard Schwartz; and TIMA Director of Strategic Partnerships, Janet Kennedy.

On Wednesday, February 8th, TIMA hosted a lunch and learn discussion panel in downtown Raleigh, NC called “Healthcare Marketing: The Interactive Impact, ” moderated by Richard Schwartz, the Executive Director of WebMD, and accompanied by Jeff Hill, Director of Digital Strategy and Technology for MedThink Communications; Dave Harrell, Owner of Dave Harrell Advertising; and Andre Blackman, Director of Digital Communications and New Media for the American Heart Association. The primary focus during the discussion revolved around the fact that given the move to more digital media, how can healthcare marketers effectively engage consumers, while balancing tight budgets, industry skepticism and the over looming topic of patient privacy?

Richard Schwartz of WebMD opened the session with an interesting point:

“eMarketer estimates ‘US online ad spending will reach nearly 40 billion in 2012… pushing it ahead of total spending on print newspapers and magazines,’ but only 5% of marketing dollars are spent on digital consumer marketing, with another 2% targeting medical professionals.”

This simple yet terrifying fact highlights the single most important aspect of healthcare marketing today — while more and more consumers are adopting digital media, healthcare organizations are cutting back or maintaining the status quo on overall marketing budgets, while allocating unrealistic budgets to digital initiatives.

What healthcare marketers are beginning to realize, is that usage trends are changing. It’s reported that three quarters of the US population has performed online research related to their own personal health, while 82% of doctors refer to the internet as essential. has seen traffic trends in the past that showed usage trends starting high in the mornings, then dip rather low in the mid-afternoon and back up after work hours, as dinner and family obligations lessen.  According to today’s internet usage statistics on WebMD, they are now seeing a steady amount of traffic across the entire day, as more and more patients and doctors log onto the website for reference data and research both at work and at home. The panelists all agreed that there are potential opportunities to being able to serve customized messaging and products/services in a manner that preserves the anonymity of the visiting patients and doctors, especially through electronic medical records (EMR) systems, a form of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) known to industries outside of healthcare.

But in light of such trends and current consumer behaviors, why are healthcare organizations still reluctant to invest in digital? The answer is more common than you think, and yet makes little sense to digital marketers.  It’s all about “status quo” and perception.  While traditional radio, TV and sales representatives are visibly seen by consumers and patients alike, the industry is used to and comfortable with the qualitative aspect of measurement over quantitative.  Meaning, that while it’s harder to measure the return-on-investment (ROI) of a TV ad, it ultimately was seen (marketers call this an “impression”). This is no different from Coke placing billboards at a sporting event or on the highway.  Coke knows you won’t turn your car around and buy a coke at that very moment, but they assume you at least saw the advertisement and may want a Coke later.

Healthcare marketing managers are tasked with building digital marketing strategies with extremely limited marketing spend, a drastic contrast to most other industries adopting digital media. Healthcare executives are less adept to invest in a medium where regulations have not kept up with the latest digital technologies.  So instead of leading the way, many healthcare organizations are playing it safe and only “testing the waters” in limited ways. The entire panel agreed in consensus that while there aren’t any more regulations governing the healthcare industry via digital media, the fact that digital involves a two-way channel rather than a traditional “push and forget” channel — horrifies most healthcare executives.

So what do the panelists suggest?  It’s quite simple actually.  As a healthcare marketer, it’s critical to understand that the patient is now in charge, and that organizations should strive to always be relevant, simple and transparent. Through the use of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online communities and email marketing, healthcare marketers can educate, engage and evangelize supporters through much more cost effective and measurable methods via digital. It was stated best, when a panelist mentioned that “everything in digital is measureable, but why would you want to measure it if it’s not relevant?”

In regards to negative feedback, brand managers and digital marketers shouldn’t be afraid of such feedback either, as they should use the feedback as cost-effective channels for case studies to further improve their products and services. In fact, one of my most popular tweets during the session summarized this point best in that, “[online] brand reputation is about engagement, not rainbows.”

Obviously, the discussion could have gone for hours, days and even weeks since healthcare is such a broad and all encompassing topic. We were fortunate to have such a top notch panel of experts at the session, and we look forward to the future as digital media continues to evolve every industry and field. After spending several hours with Richard, Jeff, Dave and Andre for dinner the night before, and an hour glued to their discussions, I’ve gained some valuable insights into how other industries handle their marketing strategies, and so leave you with these simple questions to ponder about your own strategies:

  • Regardless of your industry, are you providing relevant value to your target audience?
  • According to your strategy, who’s actually in control — you or the consumers?
  • Are you educating, engaging and empowering your audience? Or just pushing content to them?
  • Is your digital strategy robust and holistic enough to navigate your organization through the digital landscape?

Outside of my responsibilities at iContact and TIMA, I volunteer heavily in the field of alcohol and drug abuse prevention. The nonprofits, communities and coalitions that I work with are in fact specific forms of healthcare providers, and the state of North Carolina is at the forefront of the digital marketing evolution within the field. Through their use of email marketing, optimized website design and social media integration, many of our state’s top prevention and treatment agencies are leading the way in digital marketing, while maintaining a very simple set of goals for success: provide relevant information, educate the public and engage their patients and advocates. It is my sincerest hope that more and more healthcare providers begin to loosen their reigns, increase their budgets for, and begin to engage through social media channels, because in the end, we all win.



Presentation for the NCSU Student MBA Association

February 7, 2012 | Raleigh, North Carolina — It’s always a pleasure speaking to students eager to learn from experienced marketing professionals, but it’s especially nice to assist faculty at NC State and North Carolina Central University — both of which I have attended.

I was invited to speak to the NCSU Student MBA Association Monday afternoon on behalf of iContact.  The requested topic was on how digital marketing, trends and technologies have changed the marketing landscape as a whole — a topic I am quite passionate about, and truly enjoy discussing.

While I assumed it would be the typical intimate crowd for events such as this, I was pleasantly surprised to walk into a packed room at Nelson Hall. In fact, the organizers of the event stated afterward that it was their most attended presentation to date. More importantly, the students all left energized and enlightened by both the iContact story, and the digital marketing tools and services we provide our clients with.

Topics Discussed During the “Town Hall” Style Session:

  • Experiences of an Online Community Manager
  • The “iContact Story” — My Experiences and Lessons Learned in a Technology Startup
  • Agile-based Development
  • Structure of an Integrated Marketing Organization
  • Marketing Considerations for Nonprofits

In addition, we spent a little time chatting about the personal sacrifices of working in the digital marketing industry, specifically about social media engagement.  True community managers and  engagement specialists are on duty 24/7. It’s a delicate task managing your work-life balance, but it’s critical to becoming a successful online marketing manager.  Many practitioners fall victim to burn-out and lose performance or their creative edge when the balance is lost.  Situations involving crisis communications are often the truest test of the longevity of an online marketing manager.

While the town hall discussion was relatively short (compared to the 3.5 hour workshops I’ve grown accustomed to), the MBA students in attendance all seemed to really enjoy the candid and relaxed conversation, and the steady inquiries and discussion benefited all in attendance. Overall, it was a great experience to kickoff my 2012 presentation season.

Special thanks to Jillanne Kirby of NCSU’s Jenkins School of Management, for inviting me to speak to their students, and I look forward to working with NCSU again in the near future.