Stephen, or Steven "Steve" Theodore Bennett
Demographics: I am a white male over the age of 18 who currently resides in Central Point, Oregon. I was born and raised in Oregon and have the proper paperwork to work in the United States. I speak English.
Objective: The main objective for me is to find a position with a company where I am happy, and they are happy with me. I have a unique set of skills and lots of mileage. I am also educated. I have two Bachelor's degrees (Communications and Multimedia Marketing), and I am in the process of completing a Graduate degree (MBA). Ideally, I prefer working behind the scenes. I am a shy, introverted person who does not do well in front of crowds or trying to sell a product. I am the person who can create the material that will help the salesperson pitch the product. I am a person who enjoys crunching data and analytics to help target segments.
Education: I attended Southern Oregon University (SOU) right out of high school. My objective was to become a sports writer. So I immediately declared my major (Communications, emphasis on Journalism). I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1999. My GPA in my major was 3.5.
In 2004, I decided to change my career and pursue multimedia marketing. At the time, multimedia marketing was just starting to gain some steam. I went back to school and attended Westwood College. This was an online school based in Denver. I tested out of many of the classes and fast-tracked to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Multimedia Marketing in 2006 with a 3.7 GPA.
In 2020, I enrolled once again at SOU and became a candidate for the Masters of Business Administration with a concentration on Marketing. As of this writing, I am three courses from completing the program. I currently have a 3.85 GPA.
I was hired for a new multimedia marketing position at ECS Composites in October 2005. I was laid off as part of a company-wide purge during the early onset of COVID 19 in April 2020. ECS Composites is a 65-year-old, family-owned business that creates reusable containers. The company's primary objective is as a sub-contracting or supplier for larger entities or primes. For example, if Raytheon, a major defense contractor based out of Massachusetts, is awarded a multi-billion dollar contract, our sales team would reach out to the program director to find out how the company is transporting the highly-sensitive, very expensive equipment. ECS invented the 19-inch Rackmount system in 1969, changing the way communication equipment was stored and transported. The value proposition is ECS products and materials adhered to stringent MIL-STD requirements where many competitors' containers cannot. Part of my role was assisting with marketing material as part of the company's integrated marketing communications. As a marketing team, we performed an annual SWOT analysis at the start of the first quarter to help the company identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats while also discussing a competitive advantage. ECS products are more focused on designing around components and material for their target market, which is why the containers are priced higher and have a longer lead time. The military contracts for many of ECS’s customers; because of the need for interoperability of logistics equipment, ECS's defense standardization mostly works with is MIL-STD. More specifically, MIL-STD-810. This is a test method standard that defines the environmental test procedures and engineering considerations for designing a product. The MIL-STD provides 29 test methods covering a wide range of conditions that a product might be exposed to during its use. Standard test methods include Temperature (Methods 501.6 and 502.6) and Vibration (Method 514.7). More application-specific test methods include the Explosive Atmosphere (Method 511.6) and Pyroshock (Method 517.2). What ECS sells is a solution that requires consistent and repetitive brand recognition. Or as my VP of Sales used to say, the drip process, dripping little bits of information each month to stay relevant in our market.
E-Commerce and Optimization: My initial job was to create an e-commerce website as the company attempted to venture into the commercial market. A lot of ECS' competitors were selling products online at the time, and the shareholders felt ECS lacked in brand marketing. I created the e-commerce site and helped update the company's main website. This included creating a Google Adwords Campaign for direct traffic, checking analytics, and optimizing to improve organic traffic. The E-commerce site generated between $60,000-$80,000 a year in sales
Photography and Video: In an effort to enhance the look of the product and material, I suggested updating product photos. The company was using low-resolution images in sales material and on the website. With assistance from the IT department, I was able to purchase camera equipment and help set up a photo studio to create high-resolution photos. In 2007, we also purchased video equipment and software to create product videos. I created a storyboard and script to help educate potential customers on the processes, materials, and intended uses.
Sales Tools: The sales team, when producing quotes, used a very antiquated system: they wrote done the requirements on a sheet of paper. The quoting process often took several weeks because of errors and because the quote had to be checked by several departments. This was just for a quote. Working with Product Management, I created an online configurator that both eliminated the errors and streamlined the quoting process. The regional sales managers also requested sales collateral when they were performing customer visits or attending tradeshows, I wrote, designed, and worked with a professional print shop to produce high-quality sell sheets and catalogs.
Email Marketing: In the fall of 2018, I suggested to the VP of sales that we do a monthly email marketing campaign. We had a large database of customers and potential customers that were collecting dust in Salesforce. We also paid a monthly subscription to an email marketing platform. I created a template and after some tweaking, we sent out the first email blast to nearly 30,000 folks in the middle of January 2019. The way the template was set up, we created what we called pods for a select target segment. One pod was designed for engineers, one was for program managers and one was for potential buyers. In each pod, I either linked back to the website or create infographics, or wrote a detailed press release. Based on the opens and clicks, I could create detailed reports that I would send to the sales manager to analyze.
Other duties: I was part of the activity committee that helped arrange events. I organized the annual company benefit run in 2019. I created T-shirts for promotional purposes. I designed both print and digital ads that ran in various magazines. I processed all orders that were generated online. I produced a three-minute stop-motion video of a build of the large container system. I produced the monthly internal company newsletter that was sent to employees. Managed social media accounts.
Newspapers went through a transitionary phase from the 1990s into the 2000s. The digital era had finally found its way into newsrooms across the country. Typewriters and paste were replaced by computers and pagination processes. When I graduated from SOU in 1999, the concept of pasting stories onto a board and sending them into a room to be blasted onto a negative was foreign to me. I learned how to design a page on a computer. While those who predated me in a newsroom struggled with the concept of designing a news page on a computer screen, I had no problems. This made me pretty valuable as I started my newspaper career. The Mail Tribune was late to the digital world when I arrived in the fall of 2000 and they used a system called NewsEdit. For those not familiar with QuarkXPress, NewsEdit took the hassle out of design. I hated it. NewsEdit acted like a frontend for Quark. So a designer could design the page in NewsEdit, and tweak it in Quark. I did the opposite. I designed my pages in Quark and tried in vain to bypass NewsEdit. I was successful, but sometimes NewsEdit would act up and I would lose a page, often right around the deadline. NewsEdit simplified the pagination process also, which is why for five years, I had to deal with it. I was hired for one specific reason in September 2000, the sports department wanted a full-time desk person. This would free up reporters who had to perform desk duties. For five years, five nights a week, I designed the sports section. I was part of a design committee that redesigned the entire look of the paper. Along the way, I brought ideas to the department that included a Pick-It line during the football season, a "Prep Focus" page that ran every Thursday that focused on local prep sports. I also designed the annual Football Tab and any special sections the department produced. I managed several interns and won several awards for design. The sports staff was fantastic and many reporters had been there for several decades. It was a well-oiled machine and I was proud to be a part of it.
Software and tools: Quark, NewsEdit, Photoshop. I was also very familiar with the pagination process of that era, which included sending colored pages as CYMK. RGB are three very bad letters for page designers.
San Angelo Standard-Times
This is a funny story about a fish (me) out of water. Huh? I was born and raised in the green, mountainous state of Oregon. I grew up with rain, sun, and snow. I could stare out my window and see mountains all around me. I dreamed of turning lush green acres of pastures into baseball fields. So imagine my shock and dismay when I landed in San Angelo, Texas, the heart of West Texas? When I stepped off the plane and saw flat and brown and oil rigs, and ants the size of small rodents that could bite through you, I thought, "no way." Heck, when I went to my hotel that afternoon and took a sip of the water, I was convinced that this was a mistake. A funny thing happened along the way though. I met my future boss and the sports staff at the Standard-Times and thought, this would be a great team to be a part of. The sports editor (boss) was a very talented page designer who had mastered Quark to the point he produced Rembrant-Esque sports pages each night. The section was an annual winner for design in its category. The reporters were also young, ambitious, and very good writers who had a passion for West Texas sports. So, for a while anyway, I could put up with brown, dry flatness and drinking water that tasted like sewage while I gleaned off these guys. The Standard-Times has a large circulation. For those who are familiar with Texas, the ST went as far west as El Paso and as far east as Austin. What that meant was, there were two runs: an early edition, which had to be on press no later than 8 p.m., and a late edition, which was a midnight deadline. Yes, that means we page designers had to design two sections each night. The early edition was rushed and thrown together often to make the tight deadline, so those readers in El Paso, five hours away, would get the worst of the ST and news that was often very old. West Texas is very much about high school football and all classifications were treated like gold. Friday nights were a bustle of phone calls and the sections were large. It was pure chaos for the staff of 10. My time in San Angelo was just nine months, but I learned so much in such a short time. Not just in the newsroom either. I learned that rain in San Angelo is a cherished event. If there was a rare chance of rain in the forecast, the paper would run a large red rooster on the front. General Rains. If people saw General Rains, they were happy. When it actually rained people went outside in droves. Think Tim Robbins in "Shawshank Redemption" when he escapes the prison. Yes, people stood outside and let the rain drench them. For an Oregon boy who sees rain 100s of times a year, I was astonished. Occasionally, I see a reference to West Texas and think about my time there in 2000.
Software and tools: Quark and Photoshop.
Right before I finished college in 1998, I received a phone call from the editor of the Triplicate in Crescent City, California. John Pritchett was looking for a sports editor and had received my resume from the sister paper in Bend, Oregon, where I had applied days before. Crescent City? Ugh. I lived 80 miles away and generally avoided Crescent City when I took trips to the coast. It is a dark, dreary place and I did not want to live there. But I really needed a job. I was 23 at the time, with a son who had just turned 1. While my hopes were to start my career at a larger daily, the smaller Triplicate would probably be better suited for my very green skills. I agreed, and within a week, took a trip to the coast for the initial interview. I put on my suit, walked into the newsroom, and was immediately impressed by the staff. Everyone was young, including John. As John told me during the interview, this would be a pitstop to bigger and better things and you can collect experience and clips, which is invaluable as I make my way through my career. After sharing my own experience, which was an internship at the Mail Tribune and the college paper, I went to lunch with the rest of the folks. I was sold. When John called me the next week with a job offer, I happily accepted. Working for a small newspaper is both exciting and rewarding. Crescent City is a small town, so everything I did was under a microscope. I covered one high school and wrote features on folks who accomplished athletic achievements. I also designed the sports page each night. I felt like I was part of something very special, and I was. Many of the staffers did move on to bigger and better, including me. John was right, I collected clips and experiences that I still have and still utilize. If only all jobs could be as pure and exciting as that one.
Software and tools: Quark.
After 23 years, and four different stops, I have learned a lot. Some skills are almost second nature now. Ask me to design a page in Indesign, for example, and I would know shortcuts, hotkeys, and layers. I could edit a picture in Photoshop in less than 30 minutes, depending on the requirements. I can code a webpage fairly quickly. On my resume, I list my skills in accordance with my knowledge. I am either an expert, which means I used or use the program daily for a job or personally; proficient, meaning I understand it; and familiar, meaning I know it but may not pass an exam.
Adobe Suite. I used the Adobe Suite (primarily Indesign (similar to Quark), Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro) for my job daily for the 14 years I was employed at ECS. My photoshop skills, which include being certified in 2003, go back to 1999. I consider myself an expert not just because I used the software from the Suite every day, but because I understand the facets of the software. Masking, layers, guides, clipping, rules, are all vernacular I understand. I am pretty confident that if someone gave me a project to do using the Adobe Suite, I would get it done to their specs.
Integrated Marketing Communications. Alright, this encompasses a lot of different ways to send messaging of a brand to stakeholders, but understanding the target segments is really where it starts. Some marketers I worked with preferred the shotgun approach (blasting off a message to customers and seeing who replies). I prefer a more holistic approach. If you understand your customer base, you can execute your strategies more efficiently. I know that is Marketing 101, but if you don't understand what you are marketing and who you are marketing to, it's like trying to find the needle in the haystack. Right? So it starts with research and creative communication. That's what I love. I love deep-diving and figuring out a stakeholder's movement. It does require patience and digging.
Print Media. I spent eight years in the newsroom, and many of those years were working with the press. While it has been 15 years, I can still see the press crew clipping my pages to the wheels of the press and then watching sheets of paper scramble through those wheels. I know that doesn't make me an expert, but when I was in the marketing department creating collateral, setting up documents to be print-ready was something I was very knowledgeable about. I took a tour of several print shops and could probably hold my own pretty well with printers, but the process to get a document print-ready is something I know very well. This includes Vector and large banners. I love print and I love the passion that printers have when they combine CYMK to create a picture. These guys are masters.
CMS. Content Management System. Each one I have used is different from the next. I have used Wordpress, Drupal, Concrete5, ModX, and Monstercommerce.
Email Marketing. This is really an invaluable tool for content marketing. Not only is it brand awareness, but you can also pull analytics from it.
CRM. Customer Relationship Management. When my VP of sales used to say "the objective is to turn Marketing Qualified Leads into Sales Qualified Leads" he was referring to retaining customers and driving sales. I have used Salesforce to help with CRM, but I am by no means an expert. I am knowledgeable enough to understand how to navigate. Before I was laid off in April 2020, I was on the cusp of understanding just how important CRM is to marketing and sales.
Video editing. I have created 100s of product videos over the years. They were used as sales and educational tools. While they will never win any awards, they served a purpose. I never took a formal class on video editing, (I am self-taught) I do have a copy of Premiere Pro on my computer and I could edit a video.
Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. If there was a line between Expert and Proficient, this skill would fall under that. I am very comfortable with Word. I have gained a better appreciation of Excel after taking a Finance class for my MBA program and I am good with Powerpoint. Why am I proficient? My Excel skills need some work.
Copywriting. How can a journalism major only be proficient in writing? Here's the drill, I love to write. If you have navigated this far into my site, you know I love to write. I do love to write. I think I am pretty good at all facets of writing too. But writing is like painting, all of us can paint, but some are better than others. I would say that is the case for writing, all of us can write, some are better. Don't get me wrong, I have written everything from press releases, to technical bulletins, to social media posts, to newspaper articles, to 40-page graduate papers. I CAN write, and I feel I can write pretty well. Would I be so bold as to suggest I am an expert at writing? Well, it depends on the subject matter and how much time I have. I can certainly hold my own.
Pricing Strategies. I worked for a company where I was involved in the pricing strategy, so I get it to some degree.
Marketing channels. Distribution channels are pretty basic. My company was a producer/manufacturer - we had agents - and then customers. This is still pretty complicated to me, but I am learning how the transfer of goods gets to the end user.
I played three years of football in college.
I have completed three marathons and six half marathons.
I am currently writing a book that I hope to have published in the next five years.
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