September 11, 2012
2012 min IMA Awards
New York City, Marriott Marquis

Last week I attended an award ceremony for magazine publishers and advertising agencies, where I was up for two awards; Marketer of the Year and Lead Generation Initiative.  The award ceremony is run by an organization called “min”, which publishes research, news and reports that all of the major print media companies read and study.

Being my first time at the award ceremony, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  So I arrived a few minutes early, grabbed a cup of coffee and tried to sit as close as possible. Being early would have been an advantage, but unfortunately the front two-thirds of the room were reserved tables with flags showing big names such as Time, Hearst Digital, Hearst Integrated Media, Condé Nast, GQ Magazine and global advertising agencies, like GroupM, Universal McCann, Mullen and MEC.  At $4,000 a table, I guess they deserved to sit near the front.

So I had to make my way to the back of the room trying to find an “unreserved” table for the common folk.  So I find the closest table (which was near the back) and ended up sitting next to, Sean Flanagan, the publisher of Maxim Magazine, who is later joined by the president of Maxim and their top creative staff. They were up for multiple awards, the biggest being “Total Integrated Program” which promoted Jim Beam’s new Devil’s Cut bourbon and some fancy promotion for Mardi Gras.

The other two at the table were from a magazine called “The Week” and they were up for the same award in the B2B category as Maxim. Their promotion was for a special campaign they created for Dell computers.

Needless to say, I was on edge about the thought of speaking in front of this group should I win. Just being nominated among household-name magazines, publishers and top-ranked advertising agencies is a huge accomplishment. It was something that really had to sink in; our niche publication was nominated alongside these powerhouse companies.

The ceremony finally began with 150 to 200 people in attendance. Winners were chosen and my turn came up for the first award, “Lead Gen Initiative” and I’m competing against Epsilon. In case you don’t know who they are, they are literally “the world’s largest permission-based email marketer.” Being about 1% of their company’s size, I was surprised when I heard – we won!

Standing in front of the who’s who in the New York media and advertising scene, I was very nervous.  Luckily, I pulled off a great “thank you” that gave the audience a big laugh. (Up to that point, it had been pretty dry)

Sitting back in my seat, I watched as amazing campaigns and companies won their awards and shared how they did it. Sports Illustrated won an award for Social Media where fans chose the cover of their magazine. Maxim took home two awards, the one I spoke about earlier and the “Print/Web Bundle” award for their special coverage on the military and soldiers in the field. These campaigns and the teams winning them were incredibly inspiring.

When it came time for the announcement of Marketer of the Year, my heart pounded and then dropped when the Executive Director of Marketing at Hearst Digital was announced the winner. Her speech was great, and I knew I was grossly outgunned. After all, she manages more than 28 brands digitally for Hearst Publications. She oversees magazine brands like, Cosmo, Good Housekeeping, Popular Mechanics, Car and Driver, Road and Track and Esquire, to just name a few.

Being runner-up isn’t bad though. I was one of only two people nominated out of the entire magazine publishing industry.  I came in second for “Marketer of Year” to someone with the resources of a global media empire. Not bad for the little publisher in the insurance industry.



To see the award winning Lead Generation campaign, go to

My finalist video for Marketer of the Year award is here.