Gateway ‘17 – Global Ecommerce: What’s Your Market?

Gateway ‘17 – Global Ecommerce: What’s Your Market?

At the recent inaugural Gateway Conference, hosted by internet shopping giant Alibaba, in Detroit, the vastness of our world was shrunk down to the distance of a couple taps on a smartphone.

A bevy of heavy hitters graced the stage with pearls of welcome and wisdom. Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Quicken Loans, Rock Ventures and a majority of the buildings in downtown Detroit, exhorted the audience to “fear the status quo.” Marcus Lemonis, CNBC’s The Profit, insisted that you “can’t be intimidated” and be successful.

Anatomy of the Marketplace

Daily discussion centered around the concept of “stepping out” to expand your reach and take advantage of the vast possibilities represented by the global marketplace in general, and China in particular, which is transitioning from the role of a major exporter to that of a major importer. And what is being imported is largely American, in order to satisfy an appetite for high-quality, foreign goods.

If you sell products online, the likelihood of simply stumbling into the multi-billion dollar Chinese market is possible, but not likely. The middle-class in China – larger than the entire population of the U.S. – know what they want and how they want to be reached.

They want the best. They want American goods and they want to buy through apps on their smartphones. Plain and simple. Anything and everything is available through an app, so if you want to play in that sandbox, you have to be in the game.

The Queen of MarketingMartha and Whoopi

Martha Stewart is selling everything online. Besides her home goods lines, she now has an online wine shop and Marley Spoon, which sells meal kits for about $9 per person and boasts the benefits of being a time-saver as well as a waste management tool, as everything you need is in the kit and excess food doesn’t go to waste if not used immediately.

Gerber Baby Example

Gerber, a 90-year old Michigan company, found an instant market in China, where till recently, families were limited to one child so only the best would do. Regulations are much more stringent in the U.S., so Chinese families import Gerber products to make sure their children are eating safely.

American-made goods are considered to be of premium quality and are imported through an immense global marketplace that promises 72-hour turnaround from time of order to delivery.    

Large companies like Martha Stewart and Gerber certainly satisfy the Chinese people’s craving for aspirational brand purchases, but the scrappier side of the buying public wants something unique and these cravings are satisfied by entrepreneurs and small-business enterprises.

CEO Jack Ma’s Vision

This is the philosophy behind Alibaba. CEO Jack Ma’s vision and mission was to harness the power of the internet for those small-business owners who might not otherwise be able to afford access to this enormous marketplace. Ma considers himself to be a “Chief Education Officer,” teaching entrepreneurs about the intricacies of online marketing.

His philosophy is so simple, so obvious. Put the customer first. Stay focused. Embrace change. Put your employees before your stockholders and stick to your guns on this point in particular. Apparently, it works. Alibaba sold $550 billion in merchandise in the 2016 fiscal year and expects to sell $1 trillion by 2020.

Build your Brandgateway 17

For those who wish to put their toe in the water and test the global marketplace, Ma says, “build your brand.” Global buyers want to know your story, and they appreciate the humble beginnings that often accompany an entrepreneurial endeavor. Tell your story with honesty and integrity.

The man who couldn’t even get a job at KFC, Ma tells his hard-luck story but doesn’t expect sympathy. He expects you to learn from his mistakes, joking that when he retires, he’ll write a book called “The 1,001 Alibaba Mistakes.” He says “today is hard; tomorrow is harder, but the day after tomorrow is beautiful.”

The internet is ubiquitous and the marketplace is the planet. With the right product or service, coupled with the right branding and a solid strategy, you can reap the massive rewards represented by a truly global market.

From the opening event, with flying drummers (yes – flying) to the last of the break-out sessions, the message was loud and clear. Attitude and fortitude can make small businesses as mighty as the big guys and I was struck by the fact that this is what we offer our clients every day. The ability to market like the big guys, on a global stage. 


It was truly significant that Alibaba held its inaugural conference in Detroit, matching a tenacious CEO and his scrappy company with a city of risk-takers who appreciate hard work and entrepreneurial endeavor. It was hard to resist getting caught up in the wave of excitement.

SS Digital Media Wins CORP! Magazine Economic Bright Spot Award

SS Digital Media Wins CORP! Magazine Economic Bright Spot Award

We were recently recognized as one of Michigan’s Economic Bright Spots by Corp! Magazine. The award was presented at the magazine’s annual luncheon on Wednesday, June 8 at the International Banquet Center in Detroit.

For the last nine years, the award has celebrated companies that realize continual growth and expansion and hire Michigan’s brightest talent. The winners will also be featured in the July/August 2017 print issue of Corp! Magazine.

We are very excited to be recognized for this award. When you’re in the marketing business, you typically get awards for creative success, but this celebrates our sustainability, which allows us to hire wonderful, talented people and to continue to grow.

Over the years, our clients have come to realize our value to them as a strong partner for their marketing and advertising teams and we are grateful for that trust in our knowledge and expertise. It was becoming readily apparent that online marketing success would require the help of experts with the ability to strategically navigate the web. At the same time, social marketing was emerging as an important factor and we realized we had found our niche.

We now have 13 full-time employees and a couple of interns on staff as well. We are one of only five Google Partner companies in the area. We’re excited to enter for more awards!

E-Commerce: The Difference Between Driving Traffic and Driving Conversions

Have you ever wondered why your advertising tactics haven’t been driving the expected number of conversions? The answer is, you may be choosing the wrong ad types. Learn the difference between advertising for traffic and advertising for conversions in this Forbes article by SS Digital Media’s Founder, Nick Skislak!

“Companies often mistakenly set goals of getting more conversions but take actions to drive more traffic. While there is a relationship, it’s not as close as you think.”

Read Nick’s full article here or watch his video discussing the topic!

SS Digital Media Welcomes Laura and Marc!

We are excited to announce that we have added a new business development team to SS Digital Media. Leading the new team, we welcome VPs of Business Development, and Laura Oliveto and Marc Williams!

laura-oliveto       Marc-Williams

Laura Oliveto (left) has been in the communications services business for her entire career. Starting in the traffic department at Y&R, she then spent two decades in the presentation services arena, managing clients like Ford, TRW, Bosch and GE. Next came nearly a decade in public relations, with clients like TI Automotive, GKN and Hella, followed by her first foray into the world of digital marketing, including website design and online marketing, for clients like Aisin, Huron-Clinton Metroparks and the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Laura is most proud of her decades of work with Stagecrafters, directing, producing and acting, culminating in the restoration of the Baldwin Theater in downtown Royal Oak while she was president. In her current role as Vice President for Business Development at SSDM, she is looking forward to significantly contributing to the continued growth of the company and realization of management goals.

Marc Williams (right) has 10 years of experience as Director of Sales and Marketing with advanced experience in growing sales, creating new sales processes and building an alpha level sales team with a daily sense of urgency. He has a proven track record of generating and closing new opportunities through strategic negotiations while cultivating new relationships with key decision makers. Marc also has extensive experience in solution selling, solid business acumen and strategic sales planning, competitive sales analysis, and developing regional and national marketing plans.

He joins us as our Vice President of Business Development. Marc is a self-described technology nerd and loves finding new ways to automate sales and operational processes. Marc is an avid golfer, a watch collector (much to the dismay of his wife), and all things Meeeeechigan Football as he attends every game.

We are so happy to have you both on our team, Laura and Marc!

Tracy’s Time at SSDM

Tracy’s Time at SSDM

After five months of writing, coding and learning, my time at SS Digital Media is coming to a close. Coming in, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t anticipate liking my internship this much. Here is what I’ve been up to this past semester.

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