Gotta Get Gutenberg?

PROSAR Blog - WordPress 5_image of computer, smartphone and sketch of web page

Just as Johannes Gutenberg revolutionized printing with the invention of an effective mechanized printing press, WordPress believes it is releasing the next evolution in website development. In truth, it is trying to catch up to the current Page Builder themes that third-party organizations have created for WordPress. WordPress 5.0, also called Gutenberg, is being hyped by many — but just as many experienced designers and developers are dreading the release. It offers drag and drop and simpler building tools to create websites. (If you’re one of our SharpSpring clients, Gutenberg shares the same block and element structure as SharpSpring’s email and landing page editors.) This ease of use will make website creation more accessible to the greater population, but it comes with significant restrictions for those wanting to create unique and creatively branded websites.

The consensus among developers and designers that we’ve spoken to is that WordPress 5.0/Gutenberg is far more limited than most of the Page Builder themes developed for the Classic WordPress.

Unfortunately, WordPress 5.0 won’t play nice with Page Builder themes (which includes many of the newer, more sophisticated themes). Websites built with these themes, and updated to WordPress 5.0 will need significant work to maintain design and functionality (and some features and design may be lost). If you are planning to update to WordPress 5.0, budget the time and cost for that design and development work.

As with any new software release, there will be bugs and glitches. This is what most scares the programmers we deal with. We recommend not switching to WordPress 5.0 for six months at least. Let them go through several patches, fixes and upgrades of the beta release with other websites before you make the jump.

WordPress has already proven itself to be a dominant force and a leader in website creation. Gutenberg may be a harbinger of the future in WordPress website creation, certainly as they add features and upgrade it. The digital world continues to progress in a constant state of flux and we will likely embrace the evolution of WordPress down the road. For now, we recommend maintaining what you have, sit back and watch the parade for a bit until it has truly found its way and is moving along smoothly.

Get Personal With Dynamic Emails

sending dynamic emails

Custom messaging, or dynamic messaging, is content that changes and is served on your website based on a visitor’s characteristics. Imagine going to a website and having only the product or service pages that most interest you being highlighted on its web pages. Or sending out an email that has three different versions with customized headlines, images, text and offers for each of your key personas. When you speak directly to your market segment you can better connect and nurture an ongoing relationship.


A lead visits your site for the first time? Provide them a whitepaper or an educational document about your products of services.  A visitor’s site visit history indicates they are ready to buy? Offer a quote or testimonial to close the deal.


Custom (dynamic) messaging is all about providing content that is personalized to a visitor, helping to increase online conversions.


This is a quick introduction to SharpSpring’s Dynamic Email capability.


Dynamic Emails help to significantly increase conversion rates as we are delivering messages that are tailored to the recipient.


Dynamic Emails are single emails with contain content that changes based on information that we have on a lead. As an example, let’s use a lead who is interested in services that a Marketing Agency provides. These services could be Branding, Website Design & Development, Digital Marketing or Creative Services. When a lead shows an expressed interest in one of those services we can change the content in your email to be specific to that interest.


When the lead fills out a form on your site for more information on the service in which they are interested that triggers an automatic email to be sent from your automated marketing platform, such as SharpSpring. Using a Dynamic Email, we only need to create one email that sends to all leads who fill out the form – however the content within that email will be specific to the interest of that lead.
Not sure where to start with Dynamic Emails? Here are some ideas:


  • Use the contact field “Has an Opportunity”, and then create Dynamic Emails with variable content based whether or not the lead has an opportunity associated to them.
  • Lead Status – If a lead is a customer, email may point to our support forum or provide an email address for support or “Manage Your Account”. If the lead is not a customer, include an email segment that directs them to Sales.
  • Create a custom contact field called “Has Provided Review”. If a Customer has provided a review, then we show an email segment that points them to a “refer a friend” page. If the customer has not provided a review, we include an email segment pointing them to a review forum.


CTA graphic with link to download the Ultimate Guide to Marketing Automation Terminology PDF

Caring is Always Smart Marketing



This time of year brings much warmth with the colder temperatures and biting December wind (ok, not so biting this year). And marketers, clad in their ugly Christmas sweaters and spiked hot cocoa in hand, are quick to turn this good feeling into a branding opportunity. The best branding forms an emotional connection, so how could you do better than attaching the benefits of peace, love and happiness to your organization?

We’re used to seeing the crafted vignettes as the art of story-telling is professionally pushed close to its limits with grateful grandparents, caring parents and hopeful kids learning life lessons in a loving scene. We know they are contrived, but most of them still hit home, after all, t’is the season to care.

I don’t begrudge them their opportunity to gain what they can. They’re doing their best to stay in business and meet customers needs, and Christmas is when Canadians get very serious about shopping. Most retailers and charities rely heavily on the Christmas period to generate much needed revenue. Their holiday strategy starts in October and they often try to stretch it well into January; although by then most of us are too stretched financially.

But anytime is a good time to care, and corporations have long found that it can be both gratifying and rewarding — consumers appreciate a brand that includes kindness and caring. Many organizations put this front and centre with their mission or vision statement. Some use it as a rallying force (even recruitment perc) for staff. Others take advantage of their social media accounts to share their activities, and even include consumers in charity initiatives. Many others do so privately, simply because they feel it is the right thing to do.

However it is done, genuine caring acts by organizations are appreciated. They have the great benefit of doing the initial good, making staff feel good, reflecting well on your brand… and each of these can cause ensuing good deeds and sentiment. Spreading the warmth and goodness round seems to manifest at this time of year, but many organizations make it a year-round priority.

Despite the Christmas-centric marketing that we are bombarded with, each faith has its holidays of festivity and celebration, and a common message of “be good to one another.” Caring for each other is a human condition, and one that we can each continue to embrace year-round.

Happy holidays to you all.

Photo Credit: Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

Ladies Who Lead: Inspiring Stories of Successful Women in Marketing

[Part 3 in a 3-part series on women in marketing]

There’s a lot to love about the award-winning show Mad Men – especially if you’re in the marketing, communication or advertising industries yourself. However, if you’re a woman and a believer in equal rights, much of the show can be hard to swallow. This is what makes Peggy Olson, as a character, so fascinating.

Peggy comes a long, long way from her humble beginnings as Don Draper’s nervous young secretary in the first season – eventually climbing her way to the highest ranks at her New York advertising company as a head copywriter. The industry is dominated entirely by men of course as the show is set in the late 1960s before the second or third waves of feminism hit corporate America. Peggy faces incredible sexism and discrimination, making her journey to the top as a young woman especially compelling.

While the sexism never completely disappears, Peggy’s skin thickens as the series progresses. In the final episode ofMad Men, she’s a whole new woman it seems – negotiating huge client deals, spearheading million dollar campaigns, and fearlessly drinking and smoking among the ‘old boys club’ after hours.

Peggy may have been a fictional character, but her struggle resonates being that workplace sexism is an unfortunate reality for countless women in marketing since the industry’s inception. As we’ve explored in the previous two blogs in this series, discrimination is still prevalent for many women in our field and still has a stubborn tendency to hinder our success.

That being said, there are an increasing number of women stepping up, breaking this infamous ‘glass ceiling’ and carving new paths for the women that follow. As women in marketing, we can certainly take solace in the great strides we’ve made since the era Mad Men took place in.

Today, more and more women are making their mark on the industry, we should both celebrate and expect that. Here are a few Canadian examples of marketing leadership:

Image credit: ismagilov/iStock

Sharon MacLeod – @SharonMacLeod

Vice-President of Marketing at Unilever Canada

When it comes to Canadian corporate marketing, Sharon MacLeod is a woman who stands out for more reasons than one. She’s tough, and refuses to stand for inequality.

Growing up on a farm with three older brothers, Sharon MacLeod was expected to “do everything the boys did.” There were no boys’ tasks or girls’ tasks, just work that needed to be done. Having been raised with these values, it was eye-opening when she walked into her first meeting as a director at Unilever to discover she was the only woman in the room. She recalls this moment as a defining one which motivated her to become a champion for women’s advancement at Unilever and beyond. Ms. MacLeod has been credited by many with being an “engine for change,” vigorously supporting the growth and promoting the importance of a diverse and inclusive workplace.

As a member of the Unilever Canada leadership team, Sharon MacLeod has been a big part of programs such as the Dove Self-Esteem project, Becel’s healthy heart initiative and Hellmann’s Real Food Movement, as well as the opening of the first-ever Pleasure pop-up store with Magnum ice cream. Her marketing work with Unilever has been recognized by consumers and industry peers alike. Among her many accolades are two Grand Prix awards at the Cannes Advertising Awards and Brand of the Decade for Dove by Strategy. MacLeod is a founder of the renowned women’s leadership program, Chocolate Villa. She is a global diversity champion at Unilever and a great supporter of the company’s sustainable living plan.


Marie-Josée Lamothe – @MJLamothe

Managing Director of Branding and Director for Quebec at Google Canada

Marie-Josée Lamothe has the kind of skills and talent that get noticed – which is probably why she’s working in marketing for the one of the leading digital companies in the world.

A 20-year veteran of the beauty and luxury marketing worlds, Marie-Josée Lamothe has experienced numerous successes on an international level. In spearheading many innovative and award-winning projects, she has helped L’Oréal Canada become the country’s top digital beauty marketer. Lamothe has recognized as Strategy Canada’s Marketer of the Year and, under her direction, L’Oréal Canada earned a spot on the list of Top Marketing Companies by Marketing.

Lamothe sits on various industry boards, and she is an advocate of education. In 2014, Lamothe moved to Google Canada where she now sells marketers on how Google can play a bigger role in their communication with customers.



Michele McKenzie

Interim CEO of Tourism Nova Scotia Corporation

Michele McKenzie’s award-winning career has taken her across the country and back. When it comes to women in marketing, she is certainly worth paying attention to.

With some 30 years of experience working in Canada’s tourism sector, Michele McKenzie has become an internationally recognized expert in hospitality, tourism and marketing. Since being appointed to her current role with the Canadian Tourism Commission in 2004, she has helped it evolve into a respected and competitive brand marketing organization.

Under her leadership, the CTC earned the Marketer of the Year title from Marketing in 2009 and contributed to Canada’s No. 1 position on FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index. The recipient of several awards for management excellence, McKenzie recently accepted the 2013 Leading Management Change Award from Canadian Government Executive. Before joining the CTC, McKenzie was Nova Scotia’s deputy minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. She holds a designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors and an honorary degree from Humber College in Toronto.

Since stepping down as CEO of the CTC, McKenzie has moved into a temporary role as interim CEO of Tourism Nova Scotia Corporation.


More Women Equals Better Business

[Part 2 of a 3-part series on women in marketing. You can read the previous instalment in this series here]

Research proves that equal gender representation translates to a more lucrative and robust discourse in politics, government, media, and private sector business – including marketing. As UN Women indicates, empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieving internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improving the quality of life for women, men, families and communities.

Despite this reality, women are still severely underrepresented. I would argue against any assumption that women aren’t trying to find work. By and large, women are better qualified, harder working, and inject a highly positive influence and alternative perspective in business. Of course, we go after the jobs we want (I know I do).

So why aren’t we getting hired? And just as importantly, why are so few of us being retained for longer periods in business?

Former Director of Policy Planning in the White House and Dean at Princeton, Anne-Marie Slaughter is a force to be reckoned with. Unlike some women, she’s managed to raise a family and foster an incredibly successful career as well. Most recently, she has also spoken out against the Western business culture that does not favour women’s success.

In Slaughter’s provocative 2012 piece for the Atlantic, which became the magazine’s most-read article ever, she dismantled the popular notion that women who fail to ‘have it all’ lack the ambition to do so. Instead, she argues that women are up against a very different, very complex array of systemic barriers that work against us.

Slaughter notes that she still strongly believes women can in fact have it all, but not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. Of her most poignant arguments is her conclusion: “If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too.”

Clearly, motherhood can feel like a burden on any woman’s career (and vice versa) – particularly when women are far more statistically inclined to find themselves saddled with the majority of housework and childcare.

Then again, family life does not account for the discrepancy of dynamic, capable young women in the infancy of their careers, who’ve yet to start a family, or are perhaps are not planning to have one at all. Why are they still left out to dry in marketing industries and elsewhere?

As all women are different, and circumstances vary, there is no one answer to this question. It is reassuring to see a myriad of events and organizations working tirelessly to close the gap and foster a richer, more gender-inclusive business culture in Canada and beyond.

Here’s just a sample of some great organizations in the Ottawa region working to celebrate, mentor and support more women in marketing and business:

It’s Time to Close the Marketing Industry Gender Gap

[Part 1 of a 3-part series on women in marketing]

Professional women are often told that if there’s a will, there’s a way. If we seek to climb the corporate ladder, all that’s required of us is to “lean in,” as Sheryl Sandberg says.

Assuredly, there are many women seizing high-powered positions in marketing across government and industry sectors – which is fantastic. But as an increasing amount of evidence indicates, there is still a serious gender imbalance holding us back from an equal division of leadership in the field.

Unfortunately, there are no signs of improvement on the horizon.

Women make up over 80% of all household purchasing decisions, thusly holding the vast majority of purchasing power in the Western world. As a result, we make up the largest primary target audience for the world’s largest marketing campaigns.

Ironically, 91% of women say that they feel misunderstood by marketers. Seems rather counterintuitive then, that the gender pay gap in this industry is still widening rather than narrowing, when women are the ones this industry aims to speak loudest to.

Gender pay gap persistence

Here in Canada, the gender pay gap is still more than twice the global average.

Canadian working women are making about $8,000 less a year than their male counterparts in identical industries. Reportedly, the marketing industry is no exception to this widening gap.

Earlier this summer, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released their second annual report on The Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada 2015, which provides a snapshot of gender inequality in a range of areas throughout Canada’s twenty largest metropolitan areas – one area being economic security including gender gaps in employment and pay.

Interestingly, the worst ranked region in the country was Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo; an area that has seen a remarkable economic tech boom for start-ups since the advent of Blackberry Inc.

According to the CCPA report (mentioned and linked above), Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge has one of the biggest wage gaps in the country. On average, women in the region earn $14,400 less than men, and it has one of the worst records for promoting women to senior management positions – with just 26% of these positions held by women.

A brick wall or a glass house

It’s been suggested that women marketing managers may experience a phenomenon even worse than the illusive “glass ceiling” in this industry. They actually experience more of a “glasshouse,” meaning that their hindrance to progress within an organization is horizontal and all-encompassing. Not a pretty picture.

It doesn’t help that according to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report (2014), Canada ranks 19th out of 142 countries for gender equality.

Just this past week, an internal report emerged from Status of Women Canada indicating that when it comes to the salary gap between the sexes, women have “hit a brick wall.” Evidently, though we are entering the work force (including the marketing industry) better educated and in greater numbers, men are still paid 20 percent more.

All that said, despite what we can certainly agree to identify as a lost list of hurdles, there is no denying that women have made tremendous strides over time in marketing.

An encouraging study of women in marketing by Brandweek in 2009 found that women are experiencing more success in the field than ever before. According to Brand Innovators, even in some of the most traditionally male-dominated services franchise like automotive advertising, there are more women than ever working in brand marketing.

Surely, we can solve this

Moreover, there is a definite appetite for change. An increasing number of corporations are sponsoring annual events to celebrate women in marketing and encourage their participation. Many profiles are also being conducted of high-powered women in the industry to showcase their success story and learn what broke them to where they are today.

A growing number of activists are speaking out about the need to mentor young women, form groups and partnerships, and find more concrete real-world solutions to this gender disparity.

As half of the world’s population and 51% of the Canadian population, it is indisputable that women deserve a seat at the marketing table. As the holders of the majority of purchasing power in a competitive globalized economy, it only makes sense to ensure women have an equal say in corporate decision making — including major marketing campaigns and strategies.

Women are the most sought after target for marketing – they should be leading the conversation. Just consider what a more robust industry we could build if this sector were proportionally representative of the diverse population we market to.

For an industry that has been credited with such innovation over the years, surely, we can solve this. What are your thoughts?

How A Mission Statement Improves Your SEO

me treeRecently I made a presentation to the Ottawa Chapter of SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization). My talk was focused on developing your organization’s online presence — much lighter fare
than the other presentation that evening: a technical and data-driven presentation by Bing with their PPC Case Studies! (pretty cool stuff, btw)

One of the online mastery tips stressed the importance of remaining true to your brand and consistent in your core messaging. Some people picked up on this point and we discussed some of the challenges in maintaining an organization’s online brand. I’ve thought a little further about this, and below I’ve outlined some of the issues and how a mission statement can mitigate them.

In our digital world, branding at a corporate level is supported by many groups: management, staff, industry watchers, customers, and even the public-at-large. That allows it to leverage the online contributions of all these different groups of people, which can be a double-edged sword. On the positive side there are many people to carry the burden of monitoring, researching, blogging, posting, liking, pinning, tweeting, and so on, and so on…. However, on there are inherent risks as well, such as:

Many Individual Voices: Who wouldn’t want more people talking positively about their company and supporting the corporate brand? Harnessing the exponential networking power of the Internet is exciting and rewarding, but it also opens a vulnerability. All those voices are individuals, each with their own perspective and bias. Your organization may have little influence on what they say; how do you get all those voices singing from the same hymnal?

Varying Tones of Different Social Media: Not all social media “sounds” the same. Not only do some online social vehicles cater to different demographics, but people even communicate differently. With a short message, such as Twitter and many online posts and comments, the message can appear terse or flippant and easily be misinterpreted. So how does an organization ensure that the message is being communicated properly?

Focus of the Message: When corporate markets generate online content, they do so strategically. The topics are specific to the corporation’s product, service or industry, the tone is metered to resonate with the targeted reader, the messaging is supportive of the organizational brand, the language includes keywords to help organic search. An array of tactical decisions focus the message. How can management edit the myriad of messages being sent out by staff and the public?

The short answer to these scenarios is “you can’t.” And, you shouldn’t. The nature of the Internet is transparency and communication without boundaries. Corporations that try to micro-manage this are fooling themselves and endangering their relationships with employees and other stakeholders. Most corporations monitor and vet much of the social media and blogging activity. On their own corporate accounts they can delete or edit serious transgressions (but shouldn’t be altering posts simply because they don’t agree with them).

I’m sure there are other potential negative consequences as well (feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below), but I believe the point has been made: along with the upside of people supporting your organization brand online, there are several potential negative repercussions.

This is where your mission statement comes in. First. let me be clear that this is not a panacea. The most wonderfully worded mission statement will not insulate your organization from the potential harm listed above. However, here are some ways on which it can help:

Reflects Your Brand: Your mission statement is a reflection, perhaps even summary, of your brand. (If it isn’t, call me. Soon!) The statement should give the reader an idea of what your company stands for and why it exists. As such it sets the tone and provides context for online content written by others.

Philosophical Guidance: Understanding where an organization is coming from can better inform writers (and readers) and effectively guide blogs and comments.

Talking Points and Keywords: Strategically written missions include specific words and phrasing that effectively convey the desired message. They can therefore provide some actual wording and keywords for writers.

In order to have some influence, people need to know it. so it should be used whenever appropriate and easily found on your website. (Don’t bother checking our website, I know it’s not there. Our website has many serious faults and will soon be replaced.) In addition to promoting your mission statement, it would be wise to guide your corporate writers in how to produce good, readable content.

Organizations are now faced with the struggle of leveraging stakeholders to talk (blog, tweet, post) and promote the organization online versus the vulnerability of less control over their messaging. A well-worded mission statement that is effectively communicated can help provide context and guide the digital dialogue.

What is your take on the issue; are there aspects not considered here?