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Marketing Maven and Dedicated Dad Encourages Social Media for Nonprofits
Scott Wentzell, marketing manager at Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers in Auburn, Maine, is today’s Maine Maven. While Scott was born in Massachusetts, he proudly maintains a well-established Maine connection. His mother grew up in Farmington, as did her parents and their parents before that. Scott spent most summers growing up at the family “camp” on Wilson Lake in Wilton, which was built by his great-grandfather in the 1930s, and countless winter days on the slopes of Saddleback and Sugarloaf.
After graduating from Colby College in 1989, Scott moved back to Massachusetts to start his marketing career at Digital Equipment Corporation.
At the time, Digital was the world’s second largest computer company after IBM, and Scott joined their Marketing Development Program, which was a two-year intensive for young marketing pros that included four six-month job rotations in different marketing groups and related coursework.
In the early 90’s Scott and his wife Lisa had the opportunity to pursue his “dream job” and joined the sales and marketing team at Sugarloaf. It was a period of continuous and rapid change, not only in the resort industry but for marketers in general as the internet grew from a curiosity to a potent marketing tool.
When Scott and Lisa had their son Scotty, they made the difficult decision to leave Sugarloaf and move closer to the Portland area to have access to more of the services that Scotty needed. Since 2001, Scott has been the marketing manager with Thos. Moser in Auburn where he continues to learn and grow every day.
In 2010, Scott, Lisa, and Scotty had their DNA mapped through a process called whole genome sequencing. They are part of a research study by the National Institute of Health to try to determine the genetic cause of rare genetic disorders, including Scotty’s diagnoses of Dubowitz Syndrome. The family was told that Lisa was just the second woman in the world to have her genome sequenced…the first was actress Glenn Close, who also happens to live (at least part of the year) in Maine!
1. Scott, you have done marketing in Maine for some major Maine brands as well as your personal causes. What technique(s) have you found to be the most effective to rally new customers, followers, or ambassadors?
It is critically important to understand what connects people to a brand, organization, or cause, and then figure out how to facilitate that connection. While this isn’t a new concept for marketers, it always amazes me how often the basics can get overlooked.
I think this is due at least in part to how complex the world around us seems to have become in the 21st century; it is coming to be defined by immediate access to all kinds of information, and what some refer to as media oversaturation. First it was cable television that brought dozens of television stations into our living rooms, then the internet brought countless websites to our desktops, and now a myriad of social media platforms and hundreds if not thousands of media outlets are available 24-hours a day, right in the palms of our hands on smart phones and other portable devices.
While all this innovation is very exciting for consumers and marketers alike, one side effect is how easy it has become to overlook the fundamental tenets of marketing, which are to learn as much as you can about your customer or target market and then communicate with them in a relevant, meaningful way.
In my experience, there is no substitute for the basics when it comes to cutting through all the noise that dominates today’s marketplace.
2. You work for a venerable Maine brand, Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers. Do you feel it is a weighty responsibility to maintain the brand following and to continue to imbue the brand with new meaning? How do you manage that process?
It is a big responsibility for sure, but thankfully it isn’t one that I bear alone by any means. Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and it is really amazing to reflect on how much the company has evolved over four decades. It’s done so while maintaining its core mission of being true to the material, craft and philosophy that Tom Moser had in mind in 1972 when he left a tenured professorship at Bates College to pursue what seemed to some at the time like an overly-idealistic vision.
To this day there is nothing fabricated about the Thos. Moser brand, from top-to-bottom it is as genuine as any I have ever come across. Without the cabinetmakers who build Thos. Moser furniture and all the people that support their efforts, there would be no Thos. Moser brand.
That’s not to say we have it all figured out by any means, and as with anything there is always more to learn and plenty of room for improvement. But having such a solid foundation to build upon every day makes my job much easier.
3. Your son, Scotty Wentzell, is very important to you. Tell us about him and how you have used social media to raise money for the causes that are important to you and Scotty?
Scotty was born in November of 2000 on the day before Sugarloaf was to open for its 50th anniversary season. I was Sugarloaf’s marketing director and my wife was running the accounting department, so to say it was a hectic time would be an understatement. But when we were told almost immediately that he had been born with a serious congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot and would require several open heart surgeries, our perspective on what’s most important in life changed overnight.
Scotty’s care was superb and the heart surgeries were successful, but shortly thereafter we learned he had a rare genetic disorder called Dubowitz Syndrome, which impacts motor and cognitive development. He’s taken us on the most amazing and unpredictable journey ever since.
Even though Scotty has always been non-verbal, he is without a doubt the happiest kid I know. He is very social and outgoing, and he loves to interact with people and the world around him.
He’s also given us the opportunity to interact with and benefit from several incredible organizations that are dedicated to helping people with disabilities to reach their full potential.
Social media is, in many ways, the perfect way to spread the word about what they do and to help raise money to support these important programs. In the past, these organizations had to rely on mainly traditional direct mail and paid advertising, which can be expensive and divert funding away from programming, along with putting out press releases in hopes that the mainstream media would tell their stories for them.
Now with cost-effective tools like email and content-rich social media at their fingertips, these organizations can take their message directly to people that share their values and demonstrate what they do through pictures and videos, many of which are not even generated by the organizations themselves.
It is kind of like word-of-mouth on steroids, and this direct connection to and interaction with the marketplace has proven to be a very effective tool for non-profits of all types for building awareness and fundraising.
4. Please tell us about the causes that are important to your family so we can share these causes with the readers of www.maineprmaven.com.
As the risk of leaving any out, there are several organizations that we have benefited from, starting with the Ronald McDonald House in Portland where we stayed for several weeks when Scotty was born and again when he had heart surgery.
The Morrison Center, formerly located in Portland and now has a state-of-the-art building in Scarborough to call home, is where Scotty attended development preschool with great success. Morrison Center is one of the most under-recognized organizations in the Portland area, with a broad range of programs for children and adults of virtually all ages with developmental disabilities.
Scotty has also benefitted from the healing power of horses through Riding to the Top therapeutic riding center in Windham since he was three years old, where he continues to ride every week.
Scotty has also learned how to swim and has a weekly swim lesson with the Center for Therapeutic Recreation, which is an Easter Seals program.
Finally, as a ski industry veteran, I am particularly proud that Scotty has become an accomplished skier with the help and support of Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation, which also offers many summer programs including biking, kayaking and golf. All of the programming offered by Maine Adaptive is free of charge for the participants, thanks to many sponsors from Maine’s generous business community, as well as individual donors and countless volunteers.