35 Years Savvy: How CMA Grows Businesses
When I was a marketing executive in Corporate America, I knew there was a better way.
I was confident that I could create something that would help more than one organization—something that could help all businesses grow.
So I launched CMA in Mercer County, N.J., which is a full-service communications, marketing and association management company, helping clients worldwide reach their marketing goals. And now, our firm celebrates its 35th birthday.
For more than three decades, we have provided our clients with award-winning and proven results that have helped them grow their brands. Our expanding firm provides strategic solutions including branding, digital marketing, web and mobile app development, social media, public relations, advertising, collateral, association management, event planning, publications, and advertising sales.
Since 1987, we have created success by providing expert guidance to organizations of all sizes and industry backgrounds across the globe. CMA has developed 250 websites, created 315 brands and won 378 industry awards. From our collective work and commitment to our communities, I have been fortunate to win several accolades, including the prestigious 2021 NJBIZ Marketing Icon Award, Rider University’s Leadership Legacy Award, induction into the Hopewell Valley Hall of Fame, a finalist for the Entrepreneur of the Year award by Inc. magazine and the American Diabetes fundraising award. I was also fortunate to win the then-Princeton Chamber’s first Entrepreneur of the Year. Our company president, Christian Amato, recently brought back the honor to CMA when he was honored as the 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year by today’s Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber.
Our company’s vision is reflected in our tagline, Expect Results. There is no other marketing, public relations, digital marketing or association management firm in the country that is so confident and direct about its production.
Do you know why?
Before I started the marketing agency, I worked on the client-side with many marketing agencies. As a result, I knew what an ideal agency should embody. I also knew how to bottom-line the bottom-line. Marketing should be viewed as an investment, not an expense. Therefore, you should be looking to get a return on your marketing efforts. To ensure our clients received a return, we created a business model that grows in any economic climate, which has allowed us to innovate and upgrade through the years.
The agency is very intuitive to the economic cycles. A typical marketing agency is the first to feel the impact of a downturn or recession. It’s also the first to come out of a recession (i.e. first one in, first one out).
Conversely, the association management business is the last one to feel the effects of a recession and the last to come out of it.
This unique corporate structure has done more than make us sustainable. It has positioned us to thrive, on behalf of our clients, for more than three decades.
For example, our marketing agency has invested in a variety of subject matter experts who have built CMA’s reputation in many industries. According to NJBIZ’s 2021 Reader Rankings, CMA is the #1 public relations firm and #1 advertising agency in the state.
NJ Ad Club, which recognizes the top marketing agencies in the NJ/NYC region, awarded CMA the “Best of Show” in all its public relations and public affairs categories in 2020 with a brand awareness campaign for the New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) that returned a seven-fold increase in new revenue compared to its annual marketing spend.
In 2019, the Public Relations Society of America New Jersey recognized CMA as producing the best B2B marketing campaign in the state. The campaign, which increased revenue for N.J.-based LED-manufacturer Amerlux, featured many CMA’s marketing services, ranging from digital marketing, advertising, social media, content marketing and public relations.
Association Now magazine, which recognizes the top marketing campaigns for associations, praised CMA for producing the best social media campaign of the year (2017) for the International Card Manufacturers Association and for developing the best digital weekly communications (2018) in the nation for NJSNA.
CMA’s client-based/solutions-based approach also allowed us to invest in the future so we could bring digital marketing to our clients, who we regard as our business partners.
Social Media Marketing
In 2012, we began the transformation as we brought social media marketing in-house to provide a cost-effective solution on such social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Social media marketing is a smart way for organizations to cross borders and time zones to amplify their message.
For example, the American Pediatric Surgical Nurses Association needed to quickly share critical COVID-19 developments to its membership during a nationwide state of emergency. CMA identified the Facebook Live feature as the ideal way to reach their largest audience on a national scope and promoted the event on APSNA’s social media channels.
APSNA’s one-day virtual event helped deepen engagement with members by providing a forum for them to connect in a genuine way—sharing regional updates about the pandemic and getting answers to questions in real-time. The social media event generated increases in reach (4,000), post clicks (232), reactions (87) and live comments (20).
CMA has built an impressive portfolio of clients in the health care industry. A sample of clients and services include:
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Developed tradeshow booth, managed budget and all vendor orders as well as on-site setup supervisions and end-of-show budget for national exhibiting.
- Windsor Dermatology: Delivered Marketecture™ discovery session, logo design, stationary suite, newsletter, corporate brochure with pocket folder, website redesign, SEO campaign, PPC campaign and PR to boost brand awareness in the community.
- Vein Specialist Centers: Provided web design, PR, SEO, content marketing and social media.
- Bristol-Myers Squibb: Created logo and award-winning video with translations to promote their driver safety campaign across the globe.
- Denison Pharmaceuticals: Developed website copy and website design.
PR in a Digital World
In 2014, we moved toward digital PR to ensure our clients would further benefit from the online experience. As customer conversations began happening around the clock, it was important for our client to be part of those discussions.
At CMA, we offered traditional PR since we opened our doors. But transitioning to the digital realm created more opportunities. For instance, CMA helped more companies save jobs as it positioned First Bank’s CEO as a proxy spokesperson for all community banks throughout the U.S. when it came to educating the country on the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. CMA made First Bank the national media’s No. 1 go-to community banking expert for PPP commentary and local COVID relief efforts, securing more than 90 media placements and more than 700 million impressions in less than a year. First Bank’s CEO appeared in high-profile news outlets, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNBC and Yahoo! Finance.
Like First Bank, CMA’s public relations experts have been able to help many professional services companies with an array of solutions, such as:
- HBK: Provided key messaging and PR.
- CFO Consulting Partners: Delivered website, rebranding, display ads, videos, blog, PR, key messaging and social media.
- Nottingham Insurance: Elevated branding with new logo, tagline and accompanying stationary suite that places the agency as regional leaders in the marketplace.
- Szaferman Lakind: Created 40th anniversary logo along with supporting banner and print advertising and a PPC campaign that supports the firm’s longevity.
- A1 Limousine: Implemented annual integrated marketing campaigns to expand and defend market leadership that includes print advertising, PR and corporate sales literature.
In 2018, we created an in-house content marketing team to take advantage of how digital marketing has spurred growth in “owned media”, which today claims a place in every marketing budget.
Today, every organization can promote their thought leadership in addition to their products and services at a fraction of the expense by publishing on their own assets.
For instance, B2B LED lighting manufacturer Amerlux needed more sales leads for its award-winning array of interior and exterior products, while expanding its reputation among the following targeted audiences: architects, facility managers, city managers, lighting designers, manufacturer’s reps, design-build firms, electrical contractors and energy-saving companies.
CMA’s content marketing team developed a content marketing strategy with a 90-piece “owned” media campaign over a 12-month period in 2018 that drove prospects down the sales funnel, increased marketing qualified leads (MQL) and generated traffic to Amerlux’s website. The lead-generation strategy—which included dozens of 600-to-800-word blog posts and 1,000-plus-word whitepapers and case studies—framed portions of the content in a manner that mimicked the buyer’s journey, awareness, consideration and decision included.
CMA’s 12-month, multifaceted content marketing campaign illuminated Amerlux’s industry-leading technologies and capabilities and nurtured its targeted prospects. It drove 14,508 unique visitors to its website, motivated 348 individuals to submit their email addresses as part of the lead generation campaign. In addition, the campaign sent 9,838 individuals to the “Locate Your Sales Rep” page on its site, increasing traffic to that high-value page by 83%.
Over the years, CMA has leveraged its myriad of marketing solutions to help manufacturers grow. The short list of manufacturers and services include:
- Homasote: Created new brand identity starting with CMA’s Marketecture session to develop marketing strategy, as well as designed logo and print advertising, tradeshow booth, corporate capabilities brochure, case studies, product sell sheets, bi-monthly e-newsletter and a PR campaign.
- Voxware: Executed a press conference at a major industry tradeshow with accompanying case study video, guest speakers, press kit and media alerts, including pre-show, on-site and post-show media relations, along with direct mail campaign and a sales brochure.
- Truecraft Tools: Created print advertising, direct mail package for qualified leads including a catalog and spec sheet.
- Allentown Caging: Delivered international advertising campaign, digital banner ads for the website, tradeshow booth design and collateral and transformed newsletter into a magazine.
- Crescent Lighting: Produced 3-D direct mail package, trade advertising, point-of-sale materials, catalogs and a PR campaign to continue to enhance product visibility.
Web Development/Web Design
In 2019, we acquired a website company that allowed us to shorten time-to-market, as well as improve quality with additional oversight throughout the entire process. We had developed websites since their inception, but the acquisition expanded our in-house capabilities. And that’s an important note because an organization’s website is the center of the universe, since all other marketing tactics revolve around it. When your prospects read social media posts, blogs and press releases, where do they go? They go to your website. That’s where the sales happen.
In 2020, CMA’s web developers helped a subset of the Trenton Social Impact Group (TSIG), which is a consortium of 25 Mercer County-based nonprofits, fight hunger and homelessness. The COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated a present and persistent problem where a growing number of neighbors exist without food and shelter.
CMA’s integrated marketing solutions campaign created awareness among large, regional corporations, small businesses and the general public. CMA’s campaign featured key messaging, a new website dedicated to the cause and social media.
The new website allowed visitors to quickly find help for food assistance, housing, education, employment, counseling and empowerment.
Over the years, CMA has built an impressive list of clients in the nonprofit sector:
- American Diabetes Association: Promoted major annual fundraising event through management, invitations, programs and PR.
- Habitat for Humanity: Developed print and e-newsletter along with management of their 25th anniversary event through promotional activity and on-site management.
- Special Olympics: Created more than 12 years of logos for the nonprofit’s local events.
- Susan G. Komen of Central and South Jersey: Delivered key messaging, content marketing and media relations as part of a PR campaign that promoted their annual fundraising event.
- Community Blood Council of NJ: Developed trifold brochure including copyediting and design to highlight the new program.
Mobile Apps Marketing
As part of the web-company acquisition, we also added mobile app design to our in-house offerings. In terms of engagement and conversions, mobile apps are the quickest way to extend the value of your website to your various audiences.
When Rogers High Fidelity, a manufacturer of high-end audio amplifiers, needed a suite of iPhone/iPad compatible apps for its Bluetooth-enabled line of amps, they called CMA.
CMA’s mobile app developers built a suite of four apps to deliver a unique set of controllable values to Rogers’ product line of amplifiers, which was a value-added benefit for customers—one that the competition was lacking. CMA used a Bluetooth hardware developer kit to mimic the software running on the amplifiers.
Since users of Rogers’ apps would likely be accessing multiple apps while running one of Rogers’ apps, they were carefully tested for several months to ensure a seamless user experience—one that could fully support multitasking on iOS/iPadOS. The intricate UI design process ensured that the apps could scale to various screen sizes, as well as be rotated in any direction.
The apps created a unique selling point for Rogers, tapping into what customers wanted while giving the company a unique lead in the industry. CMA received the 2019 Silver ASTRA Award from The New Jersey Communications Advertising and Marketing Association for the design of the iPhone/iPad controller app for the High Fidelity KWM-88 CORONA integrated amp.
CMA has helped many technology companies in the last 35 years. A short list of technology clients and services include:
- Loral Skynet Satellite Services: Produced a new logo, corporate literature, sales materials and a global branding campaign to broaden the company’s position in the industry.
- ALK Technologies: Launched the company’s new software through cohesive print advertising, animated digital banner ad, direct mail campaign, new tagline and production of a promotional video.
- Lawyer Links LLC: Designed a trade show booth to promote the start-up at industry shows, as well as post-show direct mail, advertising in industry trade magazines and a PR campaign.
- AC Nielsen HCI: Delivered branding campaign that included a new website, sales materials, monthly e-newsletter, print advertising and 3-D direct mail package.
- Thomson Scientific: Provided Marketecture™ process to align C-Suite and developed trade show booth, annual customer calendar with company capabilities and products to enhance brand awareness.
SEO User Experience
We also invested in in-house SEO services in 2019. This new service helps our clients be found as we are able to move them up organic search-engine results in Google and other search engines.
IM Supply, which provides electrical and lighting maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) solutions for multi-site industrial customers across North America, tasked CMA with giving it a bold, new look-at-me digital platform that showcased its breadth and credibility across its industry that improved lead generation and its thought leadership.
SEO played an important role throughout this campaign.
CMA’s integrated web and content team developed a cohesive, multifaceted brand awareness campaign that included the creation and evolution of key personas and messaging as well as a new website that included FAQs, SEO best practices, new imagery and updated, easier-to-understand content.
The new website built a foundation that IM Supply proudly calls “home” and gave the sales team the online tools they needed to go out to market and better support its selling process. The website also created remarkable increases in the following analytics categories: 1) 13,046 users between January and May 2020, a 387.7% increase compared to the same time a year prior and 2) 28,571 pageviews, a 440.2% increase compared to the same time a year prior.
IM Supply is part of The IMARK Group, which is a buyer’s group for several B2B spaces including electrical and lighting distributors.
Shortly after our inception, we also helped the United States Environmental Protection Agency, launching a “Green Lights” campaign that was a national effort directed at Corporate America. The program was a voluntary government program, encouraging companies to use energy-saving products in the marketplace. The EPA green lights program was the precursor to today’s well-known energy-star programs. The campaign placed us at the center of the electrical and lighting industry, where we remain today.
Over the years, CMA has built an impressive list of clients in the lighting sector:
- Philips Lighting: Provided “Target Market Tool Kits” campaign for end-user market segment training.
- Griffith Electric Supply: Launched Powered by America initiative with dedicated website PR and promotional materials.
- Panasonic Lighting: Introduced low-profile CFL technology as the replacement for 60-, 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
- Sylvania/Ledvance: Created, launched and managed a customer incentive program for the ESCO market.
- Granite City Electric: Rolled out a new distributor corporate identity across multiple marketing vehicles.
- 3M Lighting: Launched the new lighting division and family of remote-source Light Pipe products.
In 2019, we also brought PPC/pay-per-click and display advertising in-house to help our clients amplify their messaging faster. Targeted advertising can dramatically reduce the buyer’s journey for your sales team.
When RSN, a North American network of premier AV and event production companies, wanted to jumpstart business for their members, the association turned to CMA.
CMA’s marketing experts developed a special hybrid event guide that shared real-world, successful AV tactics at hybrid events with prospects. The guide covered main pain points, such as how to increase engagement from attendees and how to integrate the in-person crowd with the online audience.
To ramp up results, we launched a 30-day PPC campaign to generate quick results. The digital ad campaign brought 811 clicks and increased web traffic (7.09%). Prospects downloaded the guide 83 times.
Overall, the campaign generated 1,005,629 impressions from display ads and retargeting ads.
CMA has developed an impressive list of trade associations since 1987. A short list of association clients and services include:
- International Card Manufacturers Association: CMA created and branded ICMA from an idea that identified a need for a manufacturing organization in what was typically a financially based industry. Over the course of 30 years, we’ve transformed the association to become the recognized global leader in the card manufacturing industry through an integrated communications campaign that includes web design, SEO, PR, social media, content marketing, direct mailers, on-site brochures, signage, premiums and management of exhibitors and sponsorships.
- Rental & Staging Network: Delivered key messaging, content marketing, PR and event management services.
- Event Service Professional Association: Generated PR, content marketing, email marketing and event management services.
- North American Association of Commencement Officers: Rebranded with a new name, and redesigned quarterly print publication into a weekly e-publication
- Convention Sales Professionals International: Built the brand with print advertising, email marketing, promotional emails, as well as social media, PR and event management services.
It’s been 35 years and many recessions, but our mission hasn’t changed. Our marketing team and association management team continues to invest in the best tools, strategy and tactics to ensure that businesses have what they need to succeed. If your organization needs help building its brand, contact us today.