January 1, 2013

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The SAMY Awards

Sales and marketing are vital to keeping a company out of the red. In our ...Read More

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Article

The SAMY Awards

Utah’s Top Sales and Marketing Professionals

Utah Business Editors

January 1, 2013


Sales and marketing are vital to keeping a company out of the red. In our second-annual SAMY awards program, we tip our hats to the some of the state’s top sales and marketing pros who have had a direct and measurable impact on their company’s bottom line. Whether launching an innovative YouTube campaign or closing a million-dollar deal, these professionals keep their companies moving forward.

BEN CRANER
Chief Marketing Officer
Cafe Rio Mexican Grill
Ben Craner’s career path started in art and illustration. He founded BTC Illustration Group, which garnered clients like Warner Brothers, Microsoft and the Discovery Channel. Another client—Cafe Rio—was so taken with Craner’s abilities that it brought him onboard as marketing manager.

He quickly progressed to the role of CMO, and it’s easy to see why: Craner harnessed Cafe Rio’s loyal customers, creating a Facebook page with more than 70,000 fans.

“Consumers are smart. Creating a marketing message that doesn’t sound like a ‘marketing message’ is getting to be more and more difficult,” says Craner. “It’s even better when consumers become a brand advocate and do all of the marketing themselves, and they don’t even know it. Brilliant!”

The tangible result of this online marketing? Under his direction, the company’s holiday gift card sales grew from $55,000 to $1 million in 2011, and the catering business grew astronomically as well. Furthermore, the company has successfully launched 40 new stores in 10 states during his tenure.

Favorite book:
Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan.

Outside-of-work passion:
Riding and racing mountain bikes down rough, tall, steep things that no human should ever touch foot on, is a personal favorite.

Favorite Utah diversion:
Moab while listening to the Mo-Tab.

JEFFREY HARMON
Chief Marketing Officer
Orabrush, Inc.
As a college student, Jeffrey Harmon helped inventor Dr. Robert Wagstaff launch Orabrush, a company that makes tongue-cleaning products. To quickly and inexpensively get the word out about the quirky product, Harmon developed a massively successful YouTube campaign.

Orabrush now ranks among the top subscribed sponsor channels on YouTube, alongside brands like Old Spice and Apple. More than 100 videos have generated nearly 50 million views for the channel. And all those views created such demand for the product that it’s now on the shelves of major retailers in 15 countries, for a total of 30,000 stores.

Harmon advises marketers to, “Find a way to relate with and become the demographic you are aiming to gain the attention of. Immerse yourself in the medium you are an expert at marketing in. If you are using YouTube, give up TV and start watching YouTube. If you are marketing on the iPhone, buy an iPhone and become a junkie.” 

Favorite TV program:
I actually don’t have TV at home. I’m too busy watching YouTube videos.

How you unwind:
I talk to my wife, play with my 9-month-old girl or play live chess on chess.com.

Favorite Utah diversion:
Snow skiing. 

CALVIN SCHARFFS
Vice President of Marketing and Product Development
Lingotek
Calvin Scharffs realized he had a special knack for marketing after winning a college marketing contest for Visa. “Pieces of our campaign were actually used by Visa in a national campaign,” he says. “It was really neat to see your work published on a national level. I was hooked.”

Scharffs has since managed marketing and sales campaigns for a variety of organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to startups. He says it’s staying on top of the industry’s ever-changing landscape that keeps him motivated day after day. “Marketing is constantly evolving. It is this evolution that makes marketing so interesting to me. I thrive on the constant change and new innovations that help get a company marketed and products sold,” he says.

Lingotek CEO Rob Vandenberg describes Scharffs’ accomplishments as “tremendous… Over the past year with the help of Calvin and his marketing abilities, we doubled our revenue in the first six months of this year and we are projected to quadruple by the end of the year,” says Vandenberg.

Favorite book:
Good to Great by Jim Collins.

Outside-of-work passion:
Snow skiing and mountain biking.

Favorite Utah diversion:
Camping.

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