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Interactive marketing firm idfive relocates to larger office in Hampden

Interactive marketing and design agency idfive LLC moved its office from downtown to Hampden’s Meadowmill complex this year to accommodate its growing staff.
The company will hire four people by the end of the year, in sales, business development and design, and hired three shortly after the move. The company currently employs 16.
Andres Zapata, executive vice president of strategy, says idfive left a 3,200-square-foot office on East Redwood Street for a 3,700-square foot office at 3600 Clipper Mill Road. The company has use of a common conference room and facilities.
“We were out of space” downtown, he says. “It doesn’t sound like that much difference in square feet but the way the [Meadowmill] office is configured, we have more work space.”
The location offers free parking and is close to the Woodberry Light Rail, Zapata says. Zapata says idfive is making the office more eco-friendly by installing two large skylights in the roof. The skylights will bring in more natural light and reduce energy consumption.
Founded in 2005, idfive provides web design, social media and traditional advertising with a focus on higher educational institutions and nonprofits. Revenue was in the $5 million to $10 million range last year.
Last month, idfive published a book on higher education marketing. The book can be downloaded free through May. “University X: How to Rescue a College Brand from Bland” was written by Zapata, chief creative officer Sean Carton and marketing director Peter Meacham, and edited by creative director Matt McDermott.
After May, the book will be sold via Amazon and Google Play, with paperbacks and an iBook coming out as well. The paperback will be priced at $14.95; the digital versions, $6.99.
Source: Andres Zapata, idfive LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

New Hampden marketing company seeking education industry clients

Recently formed marketing company Kalix Communications LLC is going after independent schools, education and corporate clients.
The company has already landed two clients in the educational field. One is Notre Dame Preparatory School, a Catholic middle-high school in Towson, for which Kalix created a social media marketing campaign. It also bought radio ads and conducted market research on behalf of the school.
Kalix is also working with two divisions at Towson University. It conducted social media training for Towson’s Center for Professional Study’s clients, and formulated a social media strategy for Towson’s Division of Innovation and Applied Research.
Kalix partner and president Jonathan Oleisky formerly headed Media 924, a social media consulting firm. Ruth Eve, Kalix partner and executive vice president, was formerly vice president at Green and Associates, a media buying agency.
“Baltimore has many strong marketing agencies. Our challenge is how we differentiate ourselves,” says Oleisky.
He says Kalix has chosen to do so by subcontracting with 12 “strategic partners,” senior-level executives who are assigned to teams depending on clients’ requests, and by having a flexible fee structure, from retainer to project-based.
Oleisky says Kalix focuses on brand development, creative direction, social media strategy and implementation, media buying and planning and public relations. Besides the two educational institutions, Kalix’s clients include Consolidated Insurance Center, Prezmed and My Directive.
The privately financed Kalix launched its website this week. Oleisky projects first year sales of $500,000 to $750,000 and, based on that projection, expects to hire two to three staffers in project management and account services later this year.
Source: Jonathan Oleisky, Kalix Communications LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Entertainment startup Kithly marketing to event promoters

Kithly LLC, a startup entertainment website, is kicking off a new business strategy to make money. 

The free website asks users to input their preferences for entertainment and then Kithly culls through its own list of activities and events that fit users' lifestyle. Kithly is now opening up its website to even promoters for a fee, giving them access to the people most likely to attend their events, says Co-founder Devin Partlow.
During the month of April, event promoters can sign up on its website to have information about their events sent to Kithly users for free. After the free offer ends, event promoters will hopefully stick around and continue to use the website, at a fee of $5 per event. 
“Everyone knows about the big shows and concerts in Baltimore. We are interested in the small and local events,” says Partlow of promoters and organizers who usually don’t have the budget to do much advertising.
“Instead of going onto a campus and hanging up posters or passing out flyers to whomever walks by, we are helping them reach their target market,” he says. “We used to recommend only things we could find for the site. Now, promoters and organizers will pay us to market to our users."
The change in business strategy is another evolution of Kithly since Partlow founded it in 2010. Originally called Hooopla, the idea was to let users of its website share information about events. It then broadened its reach to include information obtained from Facebook and Meetup groups. The company is one of four that graduated from Baltimore City's startup bootcamp Accelerate Baltimore.  
Partlow says he now has 6,000 recommendations on the website of places to go and things to do. The recommendations are constantly updated, and include events around the country. Most, though, are in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Kithly’s home base.
“We analyze our users, what kinds of events they like and run it through our algorithm. We recommend things they wouldn’t necessarily hear about,” he says of local comedy clubs and band appearances.
In the last two months, Partlow says that the number of website users and clicks to the website have grown by 70 percent each. He says there are now about 300 users.
Last year, Kithly moved into the Emerging Technology Center in Canton. Kithly received a $25,000 Accelerate Baltimore award from the Canton incubator. Partlow met his cofounder Stacy Weng and advisor Ben Lieblich through CoFoundersLab.com. 
Partlow is focusing Kithly on entertainment but may add other areas like sports events in the future. “We are starting with that niche and we’ll see how it works before expanding,” he says.
Source: Devin Partlow, Kithly LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

DoublePositive Helps Colleges Find Students

Sales and marketing firm DoublePositive is hiring as many as 20 within the next six to nine months to work in its Baltimore and Tempe, Ariz., offices.

It seeks expertise in business and marketing analysis, senior network engineering and software development to add to its 60-person staff.

The Canton online marketing firm opened a new sales leads division in August, helping online colleges and universities find new students. The division helps the institutions find students for their certificates and bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and it adheres to recently-enacted federal regulations with regard to new student recruitment. The regulations are aimed at keeping the recruitment process transparent and assuring that the programs are legitimate, according to Jodi Swartz, DoublePositive's director of corporate marketing.
The leads division follows on the heels of another new division DoublePositive opened in December. The mobile division focuses on mobile pay per call that links consumers to companies via apps. Swartz says the division has grown by more than 1,000 percent in the first three quarters of 2012, its first revenue producing year.
Founded in 2004, DoublePositive moved to its present Canton office in 2008. In January, the company relocated to a larger office in the same Canton building. The new office totals 14,000 square feet, double the size of its previous office.  The company maintains an office in Tempe, Ariz., which also recently doubled in size, to a total 7,000 square feet.
Besides the two new divisions, DoublePositive specializes in online display and telephone transfers. Its 125 clients include Comcast, The Home Depot, Rosetta Stone, 21st Century Auto, Kaplan, Sylvan and Education Management Corp. (EDMC).  The company’s mobile division is located in Tempe, home to EDMC.
Last month, DoublePositive started an internship program for college students and recent graduates who want experience in online marketing. Interns are paired with senior-level managers for real-world experience. It's accepting up to 10 interns per semester and the program is offered for college credit or for pay.
Source: Jodi Swartz, DoublePositive
Writer: Barbara Pash

Marketing Firm Planit Lands Canadian Client, Hires New Staff

Baltimore advertising and marketing firm Planit has landed a new client in residential construction and has hired two new staffers with expertise in that area. Planit is offering branding expertise and website redesign for Royal Building Products.
Royal Building Products is the market leader in Canada for siding products and the division is expanding into the U.S. market following the acquisition of an Ohio-based siding manufacturer. Planit’s Executive Creative Strategist and Co-founder Ed Callahan says the firm competed with two other national companies for the contract, which was signed last month.
Royal Building Products produces everything from raw materials to finished products for the home building industry. Planit is introducing the company's brand and product line into the American home building marketplace, a projected $10.2 billion industry by 2016, for both builders and consumers. Planit has started working on a campaign to launch its new products in the U.S. market at the Las Vegas International Builder’s Show in January 2013.
Callahan says that Planit has added six major new clients, including Royal Building Products, since January 2012. Among the new clients are record company Def Jam; AGCO, a global agricultural company; and Sun of Italy, a Baltimore-based Italian food products manufacturer. 

The agency has also added 20 new staffers since January, including two new employees with expertise in the building product industry, for a total of 55 employees. Planit still has seven positions open, in social media, web application, interactive design and account managment.
Source: Ed Callahan, Planit
Writer: Barbara Pash; [email protected]

Web Ad.vantage Adds New Clients, New Staff

Web Ad.vantage is growing, adding new clients and new staff. The digital marketing and online advertising agency also saw the return of a former client.
New clients are Oriel Stat A Matrix, a New Jersey-based global leader in consulting and training for performance improvement and regulatory compliance; HR Acuity, a New Jersey-based human resources, employee relations and workplace investigation solutions firm; and Marianna Goldenberg, a certified divorce and financial analyst in Pennsylvania who specializes in divorce settlements. The returning client was Connecticut Plastics, a precision plastics fabricator.
Hollis Thomases, president and CEO, says Web Ad.vantage also recently filled positions at the 13-person firm. Founded in 1998, the privately-held, women-owned, Minority Business Enterprise-certified firm is located in Havre de Grace.
Thomases says the market for strategic digital services is growing because the business space for web and social media is so complex, companies don’t know how or where to begin.
Web Ad.vantage starts with a strategic approach, and then uses anything connected -- search, email, social media, mobile and video – to provide practical services, personalized for each client.
“We really help [clients] life-cycle through this process of analysis and planning, so companies can make better decisions how to use their money,” says Thomases, who was recently named to the board of directors of tech industry group GBTC.
Source: Hollis Thomases, Web Ad.vantage
Writer: Barbara Pash

Mindgrub Adding Second Catonsville Office

Mindgrub Technologies  is adding new clients, hiring more staff and adding a second office to handle the growth.

The company is in the midst of renovating a second office across the street from its new office in the historic First National Bank building in Catonsville. The 45-person firm will relocate the management team there, Mindgrub CEO Todd Marks says. The firm expects to move into the renovated 1,400-square-foot office next month.

Mindgrub is hiring 10 -- programmers, game designers, web and gaming developers, iPhone and android developers, information architects and technical production managers. It is particularly seeking people with expertise in Drupal, an open source web development platform. 

One of the new clients is the B&O Railroad Museum, a popular Baltimore City destination for tourists and student groups, for which Mindgrub is developing an "augmented reality"  tour. Mindgrub CEO Todd Marks describes augmented reality as taking digital content and superimposing it over the real physical world.

The tour will spotlight the historic railroad engines in the museum’s roundhouse. If you hold up an iPhone in front of an engine, Marks says, an animated cartoon character will pop up and talk about its history.
Marks says that besides the B&O Railroad Museum, other new clients it has added this year are Yamaha Motors, for which Mindgrub is developing a downloadable app with service information, and the University of Las Vegas, with an app for its alumni with deals and discounts in Las Vegas hotels and restaurants.
Marks founded the company in 2002 and was its sole employee until 2007. Mindgrub provides mobile and web application development and creative services. It has founded a spinoff product company called viaPlace.  
Source: Todd Marks, Mindgrub
Writer: Barbara Pash

New iPad Magazine Celebrates Small Spaces

Imagine a German architect colliding with Charm City’s design sensibilities.  
That’s exactly what Daryl Landy did when naming his new iPad magazine Rohous.
Yes, the name is a take on Baltimore’s ubiquitous rowhouses. Now you see what we mean? There's even a bar over the first O. 
Though the magazine launched this month, it’s been at least 10 years in the making – obviously long before the launch of the iPad, Landy says.
The former director of Pigtown Main Street Street, who holds a masters degree in industrial design, says he has always been interested in home furnishings and architecture and living well in small spaces. Rohous highlights homes and businesses that contain less than 1,200 square feet.
“I never understood why people had to have 5,000 square feet and they use just two rooms,” Landy says. “I just thought it was a lot of waste.”
Landy himself renovated his 1,100-square-foot Pigtown rowhouse.
The magazine will feature small spaces around the world, not just in Smalltimore. The debut issue highlights homes in Paris, Amsterdam, Marrakech and Barcelona. Rohous takes a look at smaller restaurants as well.
A 12-month subscription costs $9.99 for the first 1,000 subscribers. Thereafter, it costs $12.00. It’s available on the iPad and soon, on other tablets. You can read it on your desktop and laptop as well.
“It seems like the timing is perfect,” Landy says of the new magazine. “We’ve been seeing a lot of things about people who are forced to downsize.”
Writer: Julekha Dash; [email protected]
Source: Daryl Landy, Rohous

Political Software Company Prepares for Election Season

The Republican Party primaries kicked off the 2012 election season. State and local campaigns will soon follow and when they do, CampaignOn is ready. Officially launching next month, the campaign management company offers a software package and professional services to candidates who are running for office and incumbents who are seeking re-election.
Company President Herbert Sweren says four candidates – in state, county and legislative races – have already committed to CampaignOn, although he declines to name them until they formally declare for office.
CampaignOn is a joint venture with Weiss PR Associates. In addition to Sweren, the company’s team includes Barry Silverman, Weiss PR managing partner; Dennis Rasmussen, former Maryland State Senator and Delegate and former Baltimore County Executive; and Robert Infussi, Jr. All have extensive experience in political campaigns.
The company’s software package is tailored to the candidate and his or her voting district. Professional services range from marketing and public relations to brand creation and donor/volunteer letters. The company works with candidates of all parties.
“Campaigns find it challenging to know where to go to get these services and then pay for each separately. We have it all in one package,” says Sweren.
CampaignOn’s pricing varies. “A gubernatorial race will be more expensive than a county council race. There’s more work state-wide versus local,” says Sweren, adding, though, that the aim is to make the pricing within the means of the campaigns’ fund-raising.
CampaignOn currently has two interns from Towson University. More may be added as the election season progresses.
Source: Herbert Sweren, CampaignOn
Writer: Barbara Pash

Clapp Communications Expanding Office

Clapp Communications is having a busy spring. The Lutherville marketing agency is moving to a larger office, adding new clients and employees. 

The company has added several new clients to its roster, including the Milton Inn. The agency will handle branding, social media and graphic design for the historic Sparks restaurant. To keep up with the influx of new work, Clapp Communications added two employees in February and will add more staff in early March.

Formerly known as Barb Clapp Advertising & Marketing, the company decided on a name change in November as it celebrated its 10th anniversary. The name change was intended to better reflect the firm's current purpose. Along with the name change has come expansion for the company, both here in Greater Baltimore and in a new market. The firm is expanding its Lutherville office next month. In November, it added a second office in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source Colleen Riopko, Barb Clapp; Clapp Communications 

Render Perfect Changes Focus

Render Perfect Productions Inc. is changing its focus from straight video production for businesses and individuals to full service media and website production. The Towson based will now offer media production, web design and web marketing services instead of just video production.

“We have shifted our services from video production to value-added video production,” says Nikc Miller, director of post production at Render Perfect Productions. “This means that instead of simply doing video for those groups that need it, we pay attention to our clients goals and create a strategy for their video so they can get more sales. This involves getting their video more exposure via landing pages, social media, Google ad buys, whatever.”

Render Perfect is still offering video production services, but has added several services to its menu. The company is promoting video landing pages for websites, Facebook pages and other online use. The web design team has the capacity to do website coding in HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, Flash, JavaScript, jQuery, and more. The website marketing arm offers branding, search engine optimization and social media management. The company has been ramping up its service offerings for the last 12 months to complete a transformation from strict video production to a media and marketing shop.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Nikc Miller, Render Perfect Productions Inc.

Incite Creative Adds New Clients, Staff

Incite Creative Inc. has added new clients, expanded services and hired new staff as the company celebrates 12 years in business this year.

“We are reaching back out to those [clients] that are less active to evaluate what was done, what needs to be revisited or enhanced," says Dina Wasmer, president of Incite Creative. "We're also continuing to provide mentoring services to a variety of organizations and support entrepreneurs."

Incite Creative recently formed a new relationship with Baltimore artist Stephanie Levine and her company, PaintPrints by Stephanie. The organization's branding, logo design, marketing materials, social media and public relations are being handled by Incite Creative. Stephanie Levine was recently honored for her work as an artist and a person with disabilities at the Hadassah Medical Center’s 6th annual CELL-A-BRATE event.

Incite has also expanded in two areas. Incite is now offering extended services in social media management and search engine optimization. Incite has added services in both areas to more accurately measure the effectiveness and consistency of clients' search engine rankings and social media outreach.

“Many companies and organizations are latching onto social media as a marketing tool but find that after they create their pages, they can't keep up with the posts," Wasmer says. "Consistency is king along with acquiring and engaging a following in order to establish and maintain a thought leadership positioning."

Incite Creative recently added three staff members, and is currently hiring freelance graphic designers and copywriters.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Dina Wasmer, Incite Creative Inc.

Bootcamp Lights Takes Digital Media to the Sky

Advertising banners flying from the back of a plane are a classic sight at the beach, but don't work so well in a crowded metropolitan area. Enter Columbia's Bootcamp Lights. The Columbia start up is taking that concept to a new level with digital banner advertising from a custom-built helicopter that is flown over urban events.

“We take a message, the foundation of any campaign, and we display that message directly above prime locations,” says Bootcamp co-founder Kyle Benham. “We are capable of reaching areas unattainable by other forms of media.”

The company has flown messages for a variety of area businesses specially tailored to their needs. Using a helicopter allows for more precise message locations, as it did with last year's advertising campaign for Scores flown over the U2 concert at M&T Bank Stadium.

Bootcamp Lights celebrated their new social media tool, currently in beta testing, at this year's New Year's Eve fireworks display in downtown Baltimore. Users were able to send their New Year’s greetings to the world using the online tool, Facebook and Twitter. Bootcamp Lights plans to continue developing their social media platform in 2012. The application allows customers to connect with a company and livestream chat on the company's site.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Kyle Benham, Bootcamp Lights

Credit Unions Aim to Capitalize on Bank Discontent

As the financial crisis deepens and consumer outrage grows over new fees, credit unions are seizing an opportunity to bring more members into their organizations.

The Maryland & DC Credit Union Association is launching a new ad campaign to highlight the features that credit unions have to offer potential new members.

The Maryland & DC Credit Union Association has launched a website to inform consumers about the potential advantages that they could receive from joining a credit union. At whatsinitforme.org, people thinking about making the switch to a credit union can find out the basics of what credit unions are all about and read a blog about the programs and policies of credit unions.

The association has also launched advertising spots on Baltimore radio stations, outdoor banner ads and online ads promoting credit union membership and the benefits of credit unions. The spots focus on the potential money savings for consumers who choose credit unions over traditional banks.

Source: Maryland & DC Credit Union Association
Writer: Amy McNeal

Incite Creative Adds 3 Positions, Continues to Grow

Incite Creative, a marketing and graphic design firm, has added three new staff members. The Baltimore-based company was established by Dina Wasmer and Carl Cox in 2003. The growing firm has expanded its creative and marketing senior staff, and is searching for additional talent.

The three new hires are expected to increase opportunity for Incite Creative in several areas and foster cultural diversity. The firm is looking to expand its hotel and hospitality portfolio with the addition of Nadine Afiouni, a former team member at McCann Erickson Advertising, and a graduate of American University of Beirut, as a new Associate Creative Director. Ms. Afiouni has worked at building several brands in the Saudi market, including Hilton Hotels, The Body Shop, and Fairmont Hotels.

Maria Fuster joins Incite Creative as a new Marketing Strategist. The Notre Dame of Maryland graduate has launched several businesses in real estate and marketing, with specific focus on connecting with the Latino market.

Graphic designer and illustrator Joe Parisi is also joining the team at Incite as an Associate Creative Director. Mr. Parisi's art and design work has been featured in campaigns by The National Aquarium, ESPN, FILA, and the American Red Cross.

Incite Creative is continuing to expand staff as the economy improves. The company is currently looking to add experienced freelance graphic designers and freelance copywriters to its roster. Incite Creative is also accepting reservations for its signature Positioning Workshops, including the Full Bodied and Positioning Lite marketing workshops.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Dina Wasmer, Incite Creative
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