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Ruiz McPherson

Ruiz McPherson Social media technology, web development, mobile application + web design, digital marketing and more! For more info, visit www.ruizmcpherson.com or tweet with us www.twitter.com/ruizmcpherson
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PERSONALIZED REFELECTIONS W/IRONIC TWISTWhile I've written about my Managua trip on my personal Facebook account, this l...
05/18/2018
The *Extremely Eye-Opening* International Social Media Experience of My Lifetime (So Far)

PERSONALIZED REFELECTIONS W/IRONIC TWIST
While I've written about my Managua trip on my personal Facebook account, this link to my LinkedIn article summarizes the more specific tech and #socialmedia aspects of the harrowing trip and concludes with an unexpected discovery at the end of the piece.

Enjoy + TGIF to you all! πŸ™πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈοΈ

~ Mayra

About a month ago, I had the honor of being invited by the U.S. State Department to speak and present at multiple universities and

REMEMBER: You can't have SEO without content; and you can't have content without SEO.
05/03/2018

REMEMBER: You can't have SEO without content; and you can't have content without SEO.

04/28/2018

MARKETING DOWN MEMORY LANE
(personalized, long form content)

Bet you all didn't know my marketing career first began wearing the hat of a graphic designer? That was like 1995'ish ... I never knew I'd be "a marketer" or "a strategist" or "a digital marketer" or "an interactive designer."

Nope.

I was just shy of 22 or so and happened to have a knack for design. I was untrained and had kind of a thing for drawing but it was a raw talent. A diamondi'ish kind of rough'ish thang I had going on lol

But back then, "drawing" couldn't pay the bills. However, desktop publishing could and I kind of got my foot in the marketing door starting out as a desktop publisher of sorts, improving the look of slides, newsletters, annual reports, and presentations at first but moving on up to more sophisticated branding projects, working directly with PR agencies, and then leading client projects pertaining to web design, and eventually mobile apps, and more.

Over time, I learned that the people who had the most control of my design work or output were those pesky marketers :) and so by the late 90s, I joined a marketing team and by association became "a marketer" ...

It just so happened that in addition to possessing unvarnished design skills, I also had a knack for writing, too. And so over time, I was hired or sought after for writing projects including copywriting, website content, press releases, email marketing messaging, white papers, speeches, and later social media status updates, and more.

Through it all, there was technology. Technology underpinnings support design work for interactive projects as well as content to be published and distributed across channels.

Over the course of the past two decades, I've gotten to wear many, many hats. Sometimes I've been hired to design and inevitably end up writing or working on aspects of technology. Other times, I've been hired for content talent but end up also designing or doing optimization work. There's even been times where I've been hired for consulting and strategy without implementation, but inevitably I'm asked to help implement and deploy, which often includes some sub-set of writing, technology, and designing tasks. It's all interconnected and very seldom have I found a marketing task that is unrelated to another.

Fast forward to 2015. That was a personally turbulent year for me. I was unsure of where I was going not just in my work but in life as a whole. I had been doing the marketing thing for so long. By 2015, that was 20 years of marketing, marketing, and more marketing. I felt I had conquered most marketing mountains at that point and was searching, hungry for something "new" ... something that would complement my skills but stretch me in fresh and different ways. As much as I love and had loved marketing, I realized I was tiring of it as well.

But if I wasn't a marketer, what would or could I be? Marketing had become part of my identity, both professionally and personally. It's what I knew and it's what I was, even when I didn't know that's what I'd be or pursue as a profession in life. And it's how I paid the bills so it wasn't like I could just suddenly stop doing and being something that served as the crux of my family's livelihood.

By 2016, I had begun on a personal project that required some cartooning and illustration work. I tried to outsource the design work but the designer was unresponsive and disinterested even though she had been very convincing she had wanted the project work. As I was commiserating over this outsourcing debacle to a dear friend, it was she who suggested I could perhaps draw those illustrations myself.

"Me??!!???"

#NoWay

"Yes, YOU!" she was steadfast in her response. "Mayra, you can probably do up those cartoons and drawings way better than that darned lady you hired."

Ok, so she didn't exactly say "darned" lol ... but you get the point. My friend was encouraging me to do something I had not ever considered: for me to do the illustration work for a project myself!

Well but could I draw?
Kind of.
I mean, I could doodle.
I could rough sketch.
I could storyboard.
I could design layouts.
I had experience designing print pieces.
Websites and mobile apps, too.
I loved working with typography.
And I had been already designing for delighted clients for years. And years.

So why was the idea of me doing illustration work such a stretch for me? Possibly because I had never officially done any kind of formal illustration work beyond simple doodles and silly, random sketches. And because I had never had any kind of formal art training. And because there are incredibly talented illustrators out there; who was I to think I could aspire to such artistic heights?!

Still, I began to flirt with the idea of illustration and the more I thought about that type of designing and form of art, the more intrigued by it I became.

Separately but in parallel to this tale, I had grown quite tired of using stock photos for client work and had already been asking my clients to push their aesthetic envelopes further beyond what everyone else was visually doing. Otherwise, how could they truly differentiate their brand(s) if they look like countless other brands on the market?

I started to realize that with illustration, one could create truly unique visual storytelling opportunities for brands, in support of content and other marketing messaging. And because illustration is unique, the artwork or design becomes exclusive: no one else will have that look or style. *This* -- I became convinced -- was the way to go; to help my clients better differentiate their market positions using illustration (and digital paintings) wherever possible and relevant.

Additionally, I had various self-publishing projects underway and all needed some form of illustration. And as shared earlier, I had already been looking for a new mountain to conquer ... I was already in the market to do something different than what I was or had been doing year after year.

In 2017, this all came to a hilt when I made the decision to add illustration to my marketing repertoire. The combination of everything shared above plus the culmination of many years of build up propelled me to seek out a graduate program in Illustration.

Now, I'll admit that signing up for umpteen thousand dollars of grad school student loans absolutely does suck. But the learning, the skills, and the knowledge I am amassing all the while is exciting! I am, at least I think I am, in my element. And I feel refreshed, challenged, and inspired. I'm discovering that my creative ideas are just pouring out of me. Perhaps they had been there all along, waiting to be unleashed.

At any rate, I am still writing.
I am still designing.
I am still developing integrated strategies.
I am still building sites and apps.
I am still optimizing, analyzing, and measuring.
I am still a multichannel marketer.

Yet now, I can also add "I am an illustrator" to that list of "I ams" and it just feels so great. I long to visually storytell for brands as well as for myself. I aspire to combine all I've learned over the past 22 years with my new illustration habits to tightly align narratives with compelling visuals to create more meaning and more impact. This is my new journey.

Thanks for listening ... or reading πŸ™

You can see some of my illustration and visual storytelling work via my new Instagram account:

https://www.instagram.com/studio.designare

Studio Designare is now the new visual storytelling arm of my digital strategy practice. A new website will launch at some point this year.

Stay tuned, and happy Saturday!

:)

(EXTREME) MARKETING RELEVANCEThis passport photo service sits on the corner 19th & G streets in NW, Washington, DC. Unde...
04/15/2018

(EXTREME) MARKETING RELEVANCE
This passport photo service sits on the corner 19th & G streets in NW, Washington, DC. Under any other non-marketing circumstance, this mundane fact would not impress or inspire.

But it just so happens that this little passport photo service sits two doors down from the U.S. Department of State Washington Passport Agency. From a marketing point of view, its physical location is absolutely *brilliant.*

While I was there last week picking up my passport (and previously when I was applying for passport as well), I can't tell you how many streams of people (including myself lol) were sent next door to get their passport photos.

Moreover ... as soon as you walk out of the passport agency's revolving doors, if you have a look of confusion or start kind of searching around, there's this group of guys dressed casually in streetwear standing about 10 feet away that start calling out: "Passport photos! To your left!" They're not wearing uniforms so I have no clue if they officially work for the passport photo place ?? but they are out there for hours, calling out "Passport photos! To your left!" to anyone that stumbles out looking like they need passport photos :)

So in addition to delivering incredible convenience with its close proximity to the passport agency, the passport photo service has the relevant and timely assistance of those "Passport photos to your left!" guys who help to divert traffic correctly.

This tale above is an excellent example of:

1) Offering highly-relevant convenience and service at the exact time of need

2) Driving targeted traffic towards your brand, product or service

As marketers, we try to always achieve #1 and deploy digital strategies (like #2) to achieve #1. And while there's no digital in effect in the story shared here, it's a great reminder that we need to continuously deploy supportive aids online to help drive the right traffic to our blogs, our channels, and our websites to inform, connect, and convert.

Just a fun, city-inspired marketing story of extreme relevance being achieved rather successfully!

πŸ™

~ M

MARKETING ON THE METRONo people: I do *not* have a foot or shoe fetish :) *but* I couldn't help to notice this one lady'...
04/11/2018

MARKETING ON THE METRO
No people: I do *not* have a foot or shoe fetish :) *but* I couldn't help to notice this one lady's super glossy + blood red pumps while almost everyone else was wearing dark shoes.

Does this kind of bold statement work for fashion?? I'm not the person to ask.

BUT can this type of standing out work for your brand? Almost always = YAAAASSSSSSSS!!! ✊

Believe me, the marketing (graphics, messaging, branding, content, etc.) clutter out there is quite T-H-I-C-K.

REMEMBER -- Do what you can (in a highly-relevant brand way) to stand out from the crowd of competitors, like products or services, and endless other options online and beyond.

#DoSomethingDifferent
#MakeYourMark
#WearYourRedBrandPumps

:)

~ Mayra

MANAGUA ON MY MIND.As in I'll be traveling to Managua, Nicaragua on business on behalf of the US government :) next week...
04/10/2018

MANAGUA ON MY MIND.
As in I'll be traveling to Managua, Nicaragua on business on behalf of the US government :) next week! πŸ‘

(Q1) "Mayra, what the heck do you mean when you say on behalf of the US government??"

(A1) Great question :) Specifically, the US State Dept has a program that recruits speakers to present at economic development, technology, or entrepreneurial events hosted by US embassies abroad. Usually, this program has specific language requirements as often the content must be delivered in the native language of the host country. I was recruited by this program about two years ago and had to decline a number of speaker requests due to conflicts but finally am available and heading out to support the US embassy in Managua with various programs and conferences they're hosting.

(Q2) "So why Managua of all places?"

(A2) According to the info shared with me: "Nicaragua remains one of the least connected and technologically underdeveloped countries in Latin America. In 2014, only 17 percent of Nicaraguans were internet users, and the country continues to have the lowest internet penetration in Latin America. Century-old agricultural techniques still dominate agriculture, and the country has one of the lowest productivity rates in Latin America. Now, several factors are stimulating a surging interest in a technology-driven economy. First, a young population and a decade of consistent economic growth are beginning to drive demand for technology and connectivity. In 2014, the Government of Nicaragua also identified developing the technology economy as a key priority. In accordance with the plan, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Republic of Korea are now implementing a $50 million project to dramatically expand internet access in the country. Most crucially, a new generation of Nicaraguan entrepreneurs and innovators has begun to coalesce, establishing a nascent and fragile network of tech companies, startups, and small businesses intent on innovating for the future."

(Q3) "What event(s) are you helping out with?"

(A3) The itinerary I've been sent shares the following:

April 20 Women’s Bootcamp: I am to engage with 20 young women with business plans or current businesses, providing instruction on design thinking, innovation, or educational resources.

April 21 Innovate Nicaragua 2018: I will give a keynote address to 800 young entrepreneurs at Innovate 2018 about breaking educational barriers with new technology, adapting to technological change, or empowering women in technology and innovation sectors.

(Q4) "What is the goal of these events?"

(A4) Promoting innovation is a key component of the American Embassy in Mangua. They seek to expand opportunity and prosperity for Nicaragua. As a secondary goal, they'd like me as the speaker to also engage with the private sector and regulators to address market access and efficiency issues. Another goal is to promote private sector practices that contribute to socially and environmentally responsible sustainable economic growth. (Innovate Nicaragua has already secured speakers from Facebook and Cisco for this event.) In addition to these goals, I will visit (time willing) universities in Managua and Leon to meet with students studying technology, participate in a roundtable discussions with government and private sector officials on internet penetration and proposed new Information and Communications technology (ICT) legislation. And as if that weren't enough :) I'll be participating in multiple interviews and press appearances with the local media.

(Q5) "Who is the audience for all this stuff!?"

(A5) Looks like it's going to be approximately 800 young entrepreneurs and representatives from technology-related firms and graduates at the Tech Summit on April 21. Universities in Leon and Managua will have audiences of approximately 100 each. And Roundtable discussions with the private sector and government will reach an additional 50 key stakeholders.

Whew!

This is an exciting endeavor; one I'm extremely proud to embark on and assist with in whatever capacity I can. Anytime I can give back to women in technology/business and positively contribute to entrepreneurial and/or technology-focused events is a major score and on brand for my digital strategy practice.

I will share photos and updates once abroad!

πŸ™

~ Mayra

02/24/2018

Visual content marketing.
Visual storytelling.
Infographics.
Image-based narratives.

If these aspects of communications, marketing, advertising, and content strategy appeal to you, make you curious, and/or are right up your digital marketing alley, then join my brand new Facebook group 🚩 VISUAL STORYTELLING STRATEGISTS 🚩 https://www.facebook.com/groups/visualstorytellingstrategists

In this new group, I share trends, tips, and insightful resources about visual strategy and approaches for improved pictorial communications.

I'm EXCITED about this topic and see it as a really important subject needing far more coverage and support than the generic treatment it's received as one of many umpteen thousand things you can do to enhance your content marketing.

To me, approaches for VISUAL STORYTELLING are beyond crucial to truly engage and connect with audiences. You want to move your content needle? You want to win the minds and hearts of your audience? Then you MUST further plunge into the visual aspects of your brand narratives.

If any of this gets your marketing hearts all kinds of giddy :) then yeah, you need to join the group 🚩 VISUAL STORYTELLING STRATEGISTS 🚩 https://www.facebook.com/groups/visualstorytellingstrategists

I've only just started it but I do post at least once a week and only share insightful thoughts, experiences, and ideas to make your marketing minds go πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€” hmmmmmm

See you there??

Oh and please share this link with anyone else who cares about this marketing-nerdy but highly important topic!

~ Mayra πŸ‘

Address

21781 Tottenham Hale Court
Sterling, VA
20166

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(703) 798-2619

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