Case Study: Virginia Council of CEOs Embraces Marketing Automation to Grow Beyond Richmond Base


Virginia Council of CEOs

The Situation:

The Virginia Council of CEOs has more than 200 members, mostly from the Richmond area. When the Council’s Board of Directors decided to expand its membership to the Charlottesville area, the organization’s Executive Director turned to Pinch Hit Partners.

The Challenge:

The Council’s brand awareness was limited to the Richmond area. They needed an efficient way to connect with busy executives in a new market. The Council’s Executive Director also doubles as their primary salesperson, so frequent travel to another city would be limited. The Council also relied on three separate programs to manage membership, sales and communications. These programs lacked new capabilities like marketing automation and demanded abundant staff time to manage.

“Pinch Hit Partners has transformed the way we market our organization.”   

                                 – Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, Virginia Council of CEOs

The Solution:

Pinch Hit Partners consultant Mark Cipolletti implemented a LinkedIn campaign targeted at Charlottesville CEOs and business owners. Sponsored posts would only be seen by the target audience in the target market – no waste, no extra cost. The campaign’s call-to-action was an invitation to a series of informational lunches and cocktail parties. These group sessions allowed the Executive Director to consolidate his time in the new market and to demonstrate the Council’s skill for hosting excellent programming.

Cipolletti also identified a single marketing technology, Hatchbuck, to replace the Council’s three legacy tools. Hatchbuck collects online leads and automates emails, campaigns and sales tasks that would have been done manually in the past. These efficiencies will become even more important as the organization expands to additional markets in the future.

Virginia Council of CEOs LinkedIn post

The Result:

As a result of Pinch Hit Partners’ work, the Virginia Council of CEOs has successfully gained about two-dozen new members from the Charlottesville area. The tools and processes that were developed for this market expansion are now being considered as the organization looks at additional Virginia cities for membership growth.

The Reaction:

“Pinch Hit Partners has transformed the way we market our organization. Now our sales, marketing and communications are nicely integrated and we have a single platform like Hatchbuck to manage everything. We’re so glad we followed Mark’s recommendations. It’s been a game-changer for the Virginia Council of CEOs.”   – Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, Virginia Council of CEOs


About Pinch Hit Partners

Pinch Hit Partners is a Richmond, VA-based company that’s disrupting how marketing gets done for small and medium-sized companies by providing them with a cost-effective alternative to hiring their own marketing team or contracting with an expensive full-service creative agency. Learn more at Contact Mark Cipolletti at

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CEO Playbook: 18 Resources for Getting up to Speed on Marketing, Fast

It would be a huge understatement to say that marketing is changing at a rapid pace. Keeping up with all of the trends and technologies can seem like a full time job. Just when you’ve figured out that SEO and SEM aren’t the same thing, something new comes along leaving you scratching your head.

If you are a CEO or business owner who does double-duty as your company’s primary marketer, you may not know where to turn for useful marketing information. Fortunately, there’s a ton of marketing content just a mouse click away. To save you valuable time finding the best resources, I’ve compiled some of my favorites. Most are free (but not all) so this may be the most economical degree in marketing that you can get. You can thank me later.

Websites are my #1 source for marketing information. These website are some of my favorites and also a good place for you to get started. And don’t forget to sign-up to receive their emails. That way you’ll receive their content without having to remember to visit on a daily or weekly basis.

  1. MarketingProfs
  3. Content Marketing Institute
  4. OpenView Partners
  5. Inc.
  6. Entrepreneur

Many of the biggest brands spend millions with consulting firms like Gartner and McKinsey, but did you know that these high-power firms also give away a ton of free research on their websites? Now you do.

  1. Gartner
  2. McKinsey

I’m a huge fan of Flipboard. The Flipboard website and mobile app can be customized to display “magazines” on very specific topics such as customer experience and content marketing. The content is curated by other users who take the time to select the best articles.

  1. Flipboard

You may have already signed up to receive Google Alerts to find out when you or your company have been mentioned in the news or on a website, but why not set-up alerts for marketing topics that you’d like to learn about. Tweak the settings to tell Google how frequently you want to receive your Alerts email.

  1. Google Alerts

There has been an explosion of marketing technologies in the last few years. According to’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic 2015 (and it is super) there are 1,876 marketing technologies in 43 categories (think social media, marketing automation, etc.) – that’s double the number of technologies found in 2014. Here are four marketing technology resources I turn to when I want to get my geek on.

  1. ClickZ
  2. Hubspot blog
  3. ChiefMarTec
  4. Venture Beat

Your local university is always an option for continuing education but with online options available through providers like Coursera you can take classes from Wharton, University of Virginia, Northwestern and other top schools right at your desk. LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of is another online resource to consider with over 100 marketing classes available.

  1. Coursera

Most mid-sized and large cities have a chapter of the American Marketing Association that you should considering joining. While each chapter is different, almost all provide educational programs to help marketers like you. Memberships to AMA will run you about $300 (dues vary by chapter) but you can also participate in most programs at a non-member price. My local chapter in Richmond, Virginia, also offers smaller special interest groups for members interested in marketing strategy, content marketing and social media.

  1. American Marketing Association
  2. LinkedIn Groups

So there you have it, my not-so-secret list of 18 indispensable resources for getting up to speed on marketing, fast. I’m sure that, as you explore my favorites, you’ll discover some of your own. I hope that you’ll report back when you identify your top picks.

Pinch Hit Partners

Need the experience of a Chief Marketing Officer but can only afford a minor-leaguer? Call in a Pinch Hitter. Our flexible and affordable solutions provide your business with an experienced executive to oversee existing programs, vendors and employees. Turn to Pinch Hit Partners to grow your company through customer experience management, digital marketing, social media and sales lead development. For more information, visit  and follow us on Twitter @pinchhitCX.

What marketing challenges are keeping RVA execs up at night?

Top Marketing Challenges

Richmond is filled with successful companies. River City has everything from blue-chip, multinational behemoths in gleaming skyscrapers to cutting-edge internet start-ups with rented desks at Gather. I was a little surprised to find out that, despite their diversity, RVA’s top brands face many of the same marketing challenges. I recently asked several executives to share their top marketing challenge for 2016 and here’s what they said:

Scot McRoberts, VA Council of CEOs

Everyone is fully on the content bandwagon. That just means there is more noise than ever! Our challenge is to create content for our members and potential members that will stand out amidst the cacophony. We have to create content that draws them to the VA Council of CEOs and creates an affinity or a desire to connect. I want them to respond “Hey, those are my kind of people!” or “I want to be more like that.”

Our first strategy is to increase frequency and volume — more blogs, more emails, more videos. Our people just don’t see it unless we run it by them several times. And, secondly, we will focus on stories about our members — CEOs of small companies — and the things they care about the most.

Mark A. Smith, Midas of Central Virginia

Creating messages and content that are compelling enough to put Midas of Richmond into a choice set they weren’t previously a part of.  For any of us, acquisition is the most expensive, and the most difficult, growth hurdle, yet it is critically important.

As to what I am going to do about it…religiously track the metrics around it. We track total traffic, acquisition traffic and retention traffic – have for years – when both raw acquisition numbers AND retention numbers are growing, the mojo is good!

Oliver Way, Fulton Bank

We have a unique challenge building a brand across Virginia without the awareness created by a traditional branch network or a significant advertising investment. We plan to reach our target customers through strategic sponsorships including educational sessions.

Brandon Anderson, Tenant Turner

My #1 marketing challenge for this year is to figure out how to best leverage new channel partnerships to fill the top end of our sales funnel and help us grow monthly revenue to meet our aggressive goals.

Mark Pounders, WINN Transportation

Our #1 marketing challenge in 2016 is going to be staying on top of social media and using it to its full potential. The way we plan to address it is to hire someone part-time to do nothing but social media. Since it is not something that consumes an entire day’s worth of work, we have found that there are folks out there who only want to work and hour or two a day doing something that they can easily do from home. Since we can’t pay someone to do it full-time, this is a “Winn”-win situation. Things are moving so rapidly that it is hard for us to keep up with all of the changes and advantages that social media brings. If we have someone who thinks about nothing but social media, our time can be devoted to what we have always done best…customer service!

Shawn Ryan, SNL Knowledge Center

I believe the number one issue for my team is having our marketing efforts stand out – to rise above the noise. With email as our number one driver of sales, we must continuously fight to be seen and heard. We do this through better prospect targeting and greater use of content marketing, in addition to creative. In addition, we must expand our marketing channels – improve our SEO rank, stay current and relevant in social channels, and make effective use of online advertising. Add working toward a fully, mobile responsive website and you have the major components of our strategy to help our marketing stand out in a competitive market.

Troy M. Bell, Capital Region Airport Commission

Creating awareness for new service offerings like routes to Denver, Jacksonville and Orlando. Their success will provide a big lift for the airlines, the airport and the community.

Peter Larsen, Cobb Technologies

Our #1 marketing challenge is brand awareness.  We are known for our creative radio ads and as a great place to lease a copier but we need to get the word out about all of the services that Cobb provides.  Recently, we’ve been emphasizing our IT Services division on the radio ads.  We plan to increase the promotion of our other services to increase awareness of our “complete offering.”  We are utilizing social media and our website to promote Cobb Technologies as the Richmond-based and family-owned Office Technology Integrator – everything from the office equipment, to document management software solutions, to content management software solutions, to managed IT Services.

What is your biggest marketing challenge this year? Leave a comment and become a part of our marketing community. And don’t forget to follow our blog and interact with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Pinch Hit Partners

Need the experience of a Chief Marketing Officer but can only afford a minor-leaguer? Call in a Pinch Hitter. Our flexible and affordable solutions provide your business with an experienced executive to oversee existing programs, vendors and employees. Turn to Pinch Hit Partners to grow your company through customer experience management, digital marketing, social media and sales lead development. For more information, visit  and follow us on Twitter @pinchhitCX.