Get the most from your digital marketing agency with Amy Kramer

In our inaugural episode, Counterintuity creative director and co-founder Amy Kramer shares tips on how nonprofits and public agencies can get the most out of their relationship with a digital marketing agency. Amy explains why having a good design eye makes a difference in your success, why the rock star Sting continues to motivate her — plus more!

Jaclyn Uloth: Welcome to That’s What C! Said, the Counterintuity podcast. We feature interviews with leaders and doers who have made their communities or aspects of the world better through marketing communications and embracing change. Here’s Lee Wochner.

Lee Wochner:

Our guest today is Amy Kramer, the creative director and president of Counterintuity. She is our design visionary and has helped propel Counterintuity to forty-five major marketing awards across various industries. Amy’s experience as a Save account director and master motivator includes managing projects and teams for organizations such as P. B. S. SoCal, Los Angeles County Arboretum, the University of Southern California, Hollywood Burbank Airport, the San Mateo County Silicon Valley Convention Visitors, Center Theater Group, and the cities of Los Angeles, Burbank, and Santa Monica. Before co-founding Counterintuity, Amy was the owner and principal at Clever Pup Web Design, a full-service web design and development company. Her marketing and design expertise also extends to her work with Direct Response company Completely Direct LLC, where she designed and executed a two hundred million dollar marketing campaign, including sales forecasting, break-even analysis, and performance reporting. Amy holds a B. S. in journalism and advertising with a minor in marketing from the University of Maryland College Park. She is certified as an email marketer and holds digital marketing certifications from Google. She’s also my business partner. Welcome to That’s What C! Said, Amy.

Amy Kramer: Hi, glad to be here.

Lee Wochner: Glad to have you here, Amy. I haven’t seen you in hours. What have you been up to?

Amy Kramer: Well, you know, a little of this and a little of that. I’ve been helping team members and clients as usual.

Lee Wochner: The usual? So I saw you just last night at City Hall in Burbank, California. What were we doing there? What led us to City Hall last night?

Amy Kramer: We were presenting an award. We won a platinum award for the Chow Down Burbank campaign that we helped develop from the name to the logo and the entire execution. The purpose was to encourage more people to support restaurants in Burbank during the pandemic. Once we heard that restaurants were struggling, the Chamber of Commerce from Burbank, the city, and we worked together to create Chow Down. It successfully spread the word and boosted restaurant sales in Burbank.

Lee Wochner: I recall there are around four hundred restaurants in Burbank. So there must have been a lot of coordination involved. You were the account manager. How did this work?

Amy Kramer: Yeah, well, like all our projects, we start with the strategy. We do a discovery and create the plan upfront. We developed that through conversations and meetings with the chamber and the city. We also had sessions with restaurant owners to ensure that our efforts would benefit them. We needed their input. What do you need? What’s currently working or not working for you? From there, we developed the campaign, starting with the name and logo. We also determined the overall look of the campaign. Our first goal was to involve more restaurants. We needed to reach as many restaurants in Burbank as possible. We coordinated this approach through email, flyers, and personal deliveries. The chamber had staff who went on foot and by car to distribute flyers and encourage restaurants to join our directory. We also created a website to showcase the restaurant information, including links, names, and descriptions. This allowed users to search for delivery and takeout options. Working closely with Jamie Keyser from the Burbank Chamber was incredibly helpful. Jamie played a key role in the campaign’s success. We worked together on a weekly, sometimes daily, hourly basis to ensure all the pieces were in place.

Lee Wochner: So it was a true partnership between Counterintuity, the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, restaurants, and ultimately the people who wanted to order takeout. As a long-time Burbank resident, I personally used the campaign because all the restaurants were closed. I found myself ordering from the same three restaurants repeatedly. Through the campaign, I discovered other restaurants in Burbank.

Amy Kramer: Great to hear that we succeeded with you.

Lee Wochner: Indeed, and with many others.

Amy Kramer: It was a real collaboration, as we strive for with all our clients. We work closely with them to ensure we’re on track and working towards the project’s goals and the company’s objectives.

Lee Wochner: Absolutely. Now, how did we inform people in Burbank, whether residents or workers, about the campaign and where they could find other restaurants?

Amy Kramer: We took a multi-pronged approach, as is necessary these days. We conducted email outreach, both from the city and us, using designed and created email templates. We also had a strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Additionally, we ran targeted social ads to reach not only those who liked our page, but also people in the vicinity of Burbank, whether they were residents or employees.

Lee Wochner: We managed to get a couple of celebrity endorsers to participate, like Video Guy Fiery, and…

Amy Kramer: Yeah.

Lee Wochner: Oh, heaven help me, the fun guy Barry from Storage Wars. He was great.

Amy Kramer: Yeah, that was really great.

Lee Wochner: Yeah, you know, it actually reminds me of a campaign we did some years ago for the City of Santa Monica. Do you remember that one? It was a similar coordination with the city and several nonprofits. Can you talk about how that project worked?

Amy Kramer: Yeah, that was Santa Monica Connect. We implemented a door hanger campaign to drive people to a website. It was a successful approach we’ve used before and since. The main focus of that campaign was to inform residents of Santa Monica about the available services and programs offered by the city.

Lee Wochner: I remember the thinking behind it. When residents returned home from work, the library, or the supermarket, and saw a bright yellow door hanger from the city on their doorknob, they would read it. The door hanger alerted them to the city services they were already paying for, including access to various nonprofits for recreational, artistic, or social service activities. It generated a lot of traffic, transitioning from door hangers to digital platforms, which was counterintuitive but fun.

Amy Kramer: We could measure the impact in various ways. One method was tracking the URLs visited to determine if they came from the door hanger or a search result.

Lee Wochner: Your analytical skills really shine in measuring those outcomes. I’m grateful for that.

Amy Kramer: Thank you.

Lee Wochner: One of the most heartfelt moments was during a strategy session with thirty-six different nonprofits. We initially expected only eight to attend, but when thirty-six showed up, my heart skipped a beat. We managed to handle the situation, and another memorable part was hiring high school kids, teaching them writing and blogging. They reported on the nonprofits, and one of them, a high school girl, was eventually hired by the nonprofit she had written for. It was an exciting moment.

Amy Kramer:

Indeed, it was rewarding to have that kind of impact. We not only helped the city but also individuals we trained in writing. The pieces they produced, especially considering they were high school students, were remarkable.

Lee Wochner:

Absolutely. Now, as our creative director, you work with our designers and act as a liaison between them and the clients. As an account manager, can you explain the role of a creative director and what factors you consider when assessing design effectiveness and attractiveness?

Amy Kramer:

As a creative director, it’s not just about making designs look good, especially in marketing. They need to have an impact and be able to drive the desired action. For example, when creating a website’s homepage, it’s crucial to ensure that the viewer’s attention is directed to the most important elements first. What is the client’s goal for that design? As a creative director, my role is to be creative while also understanding the primary objective. I coordinate with the client to understand their brand aesthetics and effectively communicate it to our in-house designer. It’s about understanding the hierarchy and being able to convey the intended message. When I receive a design draft, I assess where the viewer’s eye is drawn first. Is it the big orange button, the headline, or the image with a person holding a balloon? Is that the initial message we want to convey?

Lee Wochner:

That makes sense. So, would you say that marketing design is functional art?

Amy Kramer:

Absolutely. Design is not just art; it’s a combination of form and function. There needs to be

a marriage between aesthetics and usability.

Lee Wochner:

So, when we talk about eye tracking, it refers to monitoring where the viewer’s eye goes on a page. Based on what you’re saying, the ideal scenario is for the eye to be directed towards the calls to action, guiding the visitor to take the desired actions. Is that what you mean?


Amy Kramer: That’s part of it. It’s about the desired action and the information order.

Lee Wochner: So, what I’m hearing is scanability, where people quickly form an impression in a few seconds. We need to situate things for maximum action due to limited time. Is that what you mean?

Amy Kramer: Yes, it’s important to avoid large blocks of text without headlines, bullet points, or pull quotes. Those elements guide readers down the page. For example, I reviewed a design earlier today and realized we needed subheads for each section to improve clarity. I’ll check with the client since they provided the text.

Lee Wochner: Your career has been diverse. What led you to this path where you do it all?

Amy Kramer: It has been a winding road. After college, I pursued acting before working as an assistant at an infomercial company. I gradually took on more responsibilities, updating websites, sending emails, and starting an affiliate program. Eventually, I started my own business serving small and micro businesses. Later, I merged with Counterintuity.

Lee Wochner: Interesting. Let’s take a short break and continue discussing mistakes made and lessons learned. We’ll be right back.

Jaclyn Uloth: Hi, this is Jaclyn with Counterintuity. If you’re wondering if email marketing is still worth your time and effort — you can stop. It IS. Despite the rise of social media and other digital marketing channels, email remains a highly effective way to reach your audience. With email, you can deliver personalized, targeted messages directly to your subscribers, boosting engagement, donations, and awareness. And with email automation, you can save time and streamline your marketing efforts. It’s a great way to stay connected with your constituents, learn more about them, and grow your organization, so: say YES to the power of email marketing. If you’re wondering how to get started or up your email game, give us a call. We’re always happy to help.

Lee Wochner: Welcome back. We’re here with Amy Kramer, President and Creative Director of Counterintuity. Amy, what excites you about your current projects and work at Counterintuity?

Amy Kramer: One exciting project involves helping a non-profit address the homelessness problem in Los Angeles. It’s a fulfilling experience to contribute to finding homes and providing necessary services. Additionally, I find joy in helping the team grow and achieve their personal and professional goals. One of our team members learned so much about marketing and social media that they pursued a successful career in that field, which is incredibly rewarding.

Lee Wochner: We have all made mistakes in our work. Are there any mistakes you or Counterintuity have made that others can learn from?

Amy Kramer: When it comes to mistakes, taking responsibility is crucial. Brushing it off won’t solve the problem. It’s important to apologize, make amends, and create a plan for improvement. Checking with the affected party and asking for their input on the resolution is essential. Accountability and responsibility are key. Balancing client desires with professional expertise can be challenging, but it’s important to make clients feel heard while guiding them towards the best strategies. We’re experts in marketing, not in managing cities or widgets.

Lee Wochner: That makes sense. Speaking of clients, why does Counterintuity focus on non-profits and government organizations?

Amy Kramer: Non-profits and government entities have unique needs and often work towards important social causes. We believe in supporting these organizations and helping them achieve their goals through effective marketing strategies.

Amy Kramer: So throughout the history of Counterintuity, we found that the clients we enjoy working with and have the biggest impact are in certain sectors. At our core, we have our core values and mission statement. We want to make a difference and create change. Working with nonprofits and public agencies is the best way to do that. I’ve been on boards and run nonprofits. We have a lot of history in these sectors, and it makes my heart full to work this way because nonprofits help people.

Lee Wochner: You mentioned a nonprofit working on homelessness, but there’s another one working in a slightly different way. They provide various services like housing and business support for the community. They help people who need assistance, not just those without homes.

Amy Kramer: Yes, they approach it from different angles, focusing on education, training, and housing. It’s not limited to homeless individuals; it’s about helping people take the next step.

Lee Wochner: They also have an impressive director of marketing. What qualities should someone have to work with your team? Do they need to be as experienced as the director of marketing?

Amy Kramer: No, they don’t need to have extensive marketing background. That’s what we do. It’s helpful if they have marketing knowledge and ideas, but we can provide those as well. The most important thing is for them to know what they want to achieve, their goals and objectives.

Lee Wochner: I see. What about nonprofits and government agencies needing design and marketing? Shouldn’t they focus on their core work without marketing and design?

Amy Kramer: Nonprofits and government agencies have goals and stakeholders to reach. Sometimes they have resources and services but lack the means to communicate and provide them to the right people. Marketing helps share their offerings and attract more individuals. It’s crucial to tell their story, especially through social media and advertising, to increase awareness and donations. Marketing helps get the word out to the relevant audience.

Lee Wochner: I remember a social service nonprofit in Los Angeles that impressed me. The executive director had a challenging past but turned her life around. We helped them with a billboard near a government office, and it increased their visibility and led to more funding. Marketing and design are necessary to create awareness and support their impactful work.

Amy Kramer: Exactly, that’s why marketing and design are essential.

Lee Wochner: Okay, we have a couple of minutes left. I have a couple more questions for you. Is there anything else we should cover that I may have missed? People often overlook the importance of marketing for governments and nonprofits. Anything else we should talk about?

Amy Kramer: One thing that comes to mind is the rapidly changing marketing landscape. It’s challenging for non-marketers to keep up with new social platforms and their functionalities. We stay up-to-date and can offer recommendations and strategies to navigate these changes. I make an effort to stay informed about cultural and social trends, even though my kids find it amusing.

Lee Wochner: That’s interesting. Now, let me ask you a fun question since I know you’re a big arts consumer. Who is your favorite musical artist or act?

Amy Kramer: That’s a tough one. It varies, but if I consider all the different artists I’ve seen over the years, my favorite would probably be Sting.

Lee Wochner: Really? I’m shocked.

Amy Kramer: I’ve seen him and The Police numerous times throughout the years, so they hold a special place for me.

Lee Wochner: So why Sting and The Police? What is it about them that resonates with you?

Amy Kramer: The Police were my favorite band in high school and college. With Sting, I’ve always enjoyed how his music constantly evolves. He explores new styles and collaborations, from Celtic music to hip-hop. His wide range of music and his constant pursuit of something new is what I find appealing.

Lee Wochner: That’s interesting because it aligns with your perspective on marketing and design—being adventurous and adaptive. It’s been a pleasure talking with you, Amy Kramer. We’ll include your contact information in the show notes. Thank you so much.

Amy Kramer: Thank you, and I’ll see you soon.

Lee Wochner: I hope to see you soon. Thank you.

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