Official Site of Chris Zona

Marketing, Branding, Communications, and PR Professional

...And Part Time Marathoner

Disclaimer

Let’s get this one out of the way early…I am not a web developer.  I don’t pretend to be a web developer.  This is a WordPress site and without the magic that is WordPress, I wouldn’t even have a website to call my own.  I have worked with, and continue to work with, many talented web developers, interactive strategists, visual artists and the occasional individual who sits in front of a bank of HD screens with headphones on all day clicking on their keyboard and mouse in a flurry of activity while not actually speaking to anyone.  I am not any of those people, nor do I have their talent and it is with that lack of talent that I have created ChrisZona.com.

So, that is my disclaimer and this is my website.  You will find formatting errors.  You will stumble upon a dead link now and again.  That is not intentional. I am a perfectionist.  But like I said, I am not a web developer and if I couldn’t figure out how to do it in WordPress’ very pleasant user interface and content management system, then it didn’t get fixed and probably won’t get fixed.

With that said, thanks for clicking, reading and hopefully enjoying the site.

About Me

What I thought I would hear from those who know me best.

What I thought I would hear from those who know me best.

Long ago I texted a number of friends, colleagues and associates and asked for one word that best describes me. I had visions of kicking off this ABOUT ME section with a word cloud of their responses that would look something like the image you see to the right.

Instead, after what would prove to be no shortage of replies to my “tell me about me” query, what came back in those texts, emails and phone calls was something completely different.  That exercise in improved self-awareness was just over three years ago and helped to provide the impetus for continued introspection.  Since that time I would like to think that I have continued to change – both privately and professionally.

Not that the original responses were negative (in the interest of transparency, they weren’t 100% positive – but more good than bad, for sure), but there is always room for improvement.  So, three years later I repeated that same exercise, hoping again for a word cloud that mirrored what you see above and to the right.

However, not to my surprise, my “about me” word cloud came back to look more like what you see in the image below left:

What I really heard from those who know me best.

What I really heard from those who know me best.

Even my best friend Billy [see photo below right] cursed at me when I asked him for his response. Well, okay, he just sat there staring at me while begging for a treat, but still, the message was clear.

Honestly though, dogs may tell us more about management and leadership than we give them credit for. But that’s a story for another time.

My best friend Billy. Or as I like to call him, Sir William.

My best friend Billy. Or as I like to call him, Sir William.  He has put up with me for more than five years.

So, to provide a bit more clarification into who I am and what I am about, it seems that it’s up to me to tell you about myself. Here’s what I know. I am a transplanted NY’er of Italian heritage who is an avid marathoner (31 down and counting – so that’s probably where the “crazy” part in the word cloud comes in), wannabe cyclist and former two-sport college varsity athlete who played both Division I lacrosse and soccer. I’m a fierce competitor but the truth is that I really do it because I also look damn sexy in spandex (and no such luck on that coming up in the word cloud).

I joined the insightful research-based marketing firm thesalesfactory in 2010 after spending eight years focused on the public relations, marketing and branding for Winston-Salem State University.  Three years at the Sales Factory (now SFW after the acquisition of another company) prepared me for being offered a fantastic opportunity with Mack Trucks – a member of the Volvo Group – in global brand management.

I would like to think that I have a unique skill set that combines marketing, strategic communications and relationship management.

I push hard but the truth is I expect greatness of myself and greatness of others. As a self-proclaimed developer of talent (I have heard it from other people too), there are few things more satisfying than identifying the strengths of others and putting them in positions to succeed.

I received my undergraduate degree in political science from Niagara University and earned dual master’s degrees from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. And yes, I miss New York.

Finally, while I am an excellent griller (I still call it – erroneously according to my Southern friends – BBQ) and baker (my cream cheese brownies are killer) and enjoy fine foods and wine, on a daily basis I have the dietary habits of a 12-year-old as I subsist on macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers and pizza.  If you can cover it in Texas Pete hot sauce, then it’s on the menu.

But enough about me.  If you really want to learn more, please visit my Professional Profile page.

 

Professional Profile

CHRISTOPHER ZONA

101 East 6th Street, Suite 514 • Winston-Salem, NC 27101 • +1.336.501.8445 • chriszona@me.com

BRAND MANAGEMENT • MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS • PUBLIC RELATIONS       CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE • BRAND ENGAGEMENT

Promoting Brand Excellence…

  • Brand management strategist adept at shaping customer perception and leveraging emotional consumer behaviour triggers.
  • High-performance and resourceful marketing and brand development leader successful in executing go-to-market strategy from concept to sale across entire product and customer journey lifecycle.
  • Expert communicator, utilizing both internal and external channels serving to create not only interest but engagement from local, state and national media, the public and key stakeholders.
  • Create profitable marketing campaigns by capturing and closing exclusive deals, creating and implementing unique brand and sales strategies and managing complex business relationships.
  • Pioneer in the delivery of innovative marketing and communications concepts for B2B and B2C products and services.
  • Superior performance in customer insight and strategic planning as well as devising programs and opportunities that have consistently outperformed the competition and dominated key sectors.
  • Energetic and innovative – an overachiever with a gift for transferring skills to any facet of the marketing landscape.
  • Recognized by colleagues, clients and stakeholders for constant dedication, versatility, passion for creativity and relentless pursuit of program objectives to deliver brand value.
  • Outstanding performance in brand development, expanding client relationship channels and marketing to build sales volume with comprehensive expertise on consumer research and analysis, budget management and communications.

KEY QUALIFICATIONS

Brand Architecture, Marketing & Engagement • Market Research & Analysis • Strategic Communications • Public Relations • Project Management • Product Lifecycle Management • Go-To-Market Strategy • Brand Management & Development •  Customer Experience •  Change Leadership • Financial & Budget Control • Emerging, Digital & Social Media Marketing

PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY

MACK TRUCKS, INC. (A Volvo Group Company) – Greensboro, NC

Mack Trucks is one of the largest manufacturers of heavy-duty Class Eight trucks, engines and transmissions. Founded in 1900, Mack trucks are sold and serviced in more than 45 countries worldwide. Mack is part of the Volvo Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment, marine and industrial engines with over 95,000 global employees, production facilities in 19 countries and sales of products in more than 190 markets.

Manager, Retail Experience & Brand Engagement     (Aug. 2016 – Present)

Responsible for enhancing the end-to-end Mack customer journey through utilization of the voice of customer (VOC) in an effort to identify the needs of the customer and develop customized solutions to transform the customer experience (CX).  Charged with enriching the Mack brand experience by executing a total lifecycle communications and engagement strategy with the goal of improving market share, profitability and brand equity.

Key Achievements

  • Transform the Mack brand experience at retail and drive customer and employee engagement.
  • Develop and implement strategies to enhance the end-to-end customer journey from pre-purchase, purchase, post-purchase and re-purchase.
  • Utilize consumer insights to develop customer segmentation and personas and lead the development of strategies to improve customer experience and brand engagement.
  • Lead, communicate, monitor and continually improve cross-channel integrated global brand experiences.
  • Utilize Voice of Customer to proactively anticipate customer needs and exceed expectations driving improvements in customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
  • Develop, launch and maintain a new product handover strategy, including—but not limited to—process development, implementation and enforcement in an effort to shape the customer experience and drive consumer loyalty
  • Direct all internal/external brand engagement and launch communications efforts for the launch of Mack Trucks’ next-generation highway truck—the Anthem—marking the first new highway product for the brand in nearly three decades.
  • Lead a high-performing team focused on sales enablement and training of dealer sales professionals surrounding the total product offer while driving culture change at the customer level.

Manager, Global Brand Management     (Jan. 2014 – Aug. 2016)

The global brand management and marketing group seeks to maximize the Mack Brand by ensuring effective and consistent communication and delivery of the Mack brand promise. Guidelines and strategy set forth by the Mack Global Brand Team helps to establish brand synergies across regions and communicate the Mack brand framework across all business units including – but not limited to – internal constituents, dealers and customers.

Responsible for developing the Mack brand strategy and ensuring consistency in the brand customer experience in all global markets. Works closely with global marketing and communications teams to ensure that product offerings as well as marketing and communications represent Mack’s core values and brand promise.

Key Achievements

  • Member of a high-performing global team responsible for the evolution and re-launch of the Mack Brand, including the introduction of a new global brand strategy, identity, framework and positioning.
  • Responsible for global governance and guidance of the Mack Brand in all facets of communications ensuring adherence to Mack Trucks/Volvo Group processes and best practices.
  • Development of Mack Trucks’ Global Brand Ambassador (Champion) Program as part of management of Mack’s global brand engagement strategy.
  • Produced resource documents for brand identity, communications, tradeshow/event, merchandise, licensing, sponsorship, social media, website design and mobile application design as well as assisting with aftermarket, product branding and dealer identity standards.
  • Production and launch of Mack Brand Identity five-module electronic learning course published on Volvo learning management system (LMS).
  • Project management of MackTrucks.com redesign and the launch of 12 global websites.
  • Creation of Mack Licensing policy, process and handbook in alignment with Volvo Group policies and Volvo Merchandise Corporation.
  • Establish Mack Sponsorship Policy and handbook in alignment with Volvo Group policies.
  • Development of Global Communications Guidelines and serve as primary point of contact for all Mack communications.
  • Creation and maintenance of Mack brand global electronic resources on Volvo Group Intranet (Violin), Trucks Dealer Portal (TDP) and externally at MackTrucksBrand.com.
  • Establish collaborative relationships with global marketing communicators, corporate communications, all global truck entities (trucks technology, trucks operations, financial services, aftermarket) and assist in best practice sharing.
  • Lead Mack Truck’s Global Brand Network and serve as liaison to Brand Management Committee/Volvo Group Brand Management Council.
  • Production of Mack “Living the Brand” Video Series and all Mack Brand collateral materials including – but not limited to – brand book, brand video and brand presentation.
  • Development of all Mack brand advertising campaign assets in electronic, print and emerging media.

SFW (formerly THE SALES FACTORY, INC.) – Greensboro, NC

A full service marketing, advertising and public relations agency featuring a staff of nearly 60 professionals, The Sales Factory, Inc. boasts a client list of more than 30 nationally recognized brands with annual deliverable billings in excess of $5.2 million and budgetary oversight of nearly $20 million.

Senior Marketing Manager & Media Buyer (2012 – 2014)

Promoted to lead a team of marketing and communications professionals across multiple verticals in three unique industries.  Directed all facets of B2Band B2C brand architecture and marketing strategy, creative execution, awareness delivery (TV, print, online, OOH, social and emerging media, digital/electronic, targeted direct mail) and public relations for key accounts representing nearly 50% of The Sales Factory’s revenue.  Earned product lifecycle and new product development responsibility for national hand tool manufacturer with annual sales of nearly $100 million.

Key Achievements

  • Promoted to a senior marketing role with The Sales Factory’s largest account to execute product line review and line extension strategies with United State’s sixth largest retailer.
  • Directed new product development and go-to-market strategy for national hardware brand and brought four key new products to market in the first seven months.
  • Led key accounts in the hardware and hand tools, higher education and consumer packaged goods industries that accounted for nearly half of company revenue.
  • Directed digital marketing (SEO, SEM & PPC) and traditional awareness initiatives that generated $10.7 million in 11 months, a 67% increase in year-over-year metrics.
  • Implemented new internal and external communications initiatives for national hardware account that directly led to nearly $1 million in incremental business.
  • Expanded revenue of current accounts by nearly $1MM to help lead The Sales Factory’s year-over-year growth of 48%.
  • Oversaw a team honored with a 2013 ADDY Award for effectiveness in targeted direct mail advertising (76% yield rate).

Manager of Media Strategy & Media Relations (2011 – 2012)

Direct agency-wide media strategy for The Sales Factory’s entire client portfolio through strategy ideation, planning, negotiation, scheduling and procurement of all media including – but not limited to – traditional, digital and social media. Responsible for the management of a total media-purchasing budget in excess of $18 million. Ensure all media strategy exceeds company and client benchmarks while executing profitable campaigns. Manage future-focused media relations strategy for TSF’s clients through the development and maintenance of collaborative relationships with working media and publicity community across a wide array of product and professional service categories.

Key Achievements

  • Expanded from a marketing role to a media strategy and media relations role focused on leading company revenue growth through expanded service offerings.
  • Led agency-wide media buying with oversight and management of domestic and international print, online, social and emerging media markets.
  • Implemented a strategic communications and targeted public relations campaign that led clients to category-leading share of voice and more than tripled domestic and international media coverage.
  • Secured nearly $1 million in new business that led the way for the Sales Factory’s year-over-year growth of 52%.

Account Executive & Media Relations Liaison (2010 – 2011)

Responsible for the oversight of key accounts representing over 50% of total company revenue.  Management included the development of national consumer-facing branding for clients including the creation and coordination of advertising and marketing campaigns, brand management and development, interactive and creative development, direct marketing, social and emerging media marketing, media buying, strategic consulting, public relations management and sales strategy implementation with oversight of a total advertising budget in excess of $4.5 million.

Key Achievements

  • Pioneered consumer-facing branding for clients that garnered a nearly 30% increase in sales in a competitive hardware market during the 2010 fiscal year.
  • Managed a successful social media campaign that expanded clients’ online community by nearly 30,000 members and saw a sentiment balance increase of 14%.
  • Introduced and supported two new product lines in less than six months for national hardware client that saw a reinvigoration of a stagnant category and increased sales 24% nationally.
  • Earned a 2011 ADDY Award for direct mail media and three 2011 North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) Packaging and Merchandising Awards for innovation in packaging design.

WINSTON-SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY – Winston-Salem, NC

Department of Athletics, with 75 employees and 300+ student-athletes across 15 intercollegiate sports, is under the University of North Carolina system and functions as an independent entity. A fully, self-supported “company” with an annual budget of $13 million. The university has over 1,000 employees with an enrollment of more than 6,400 students.

Director of Marketing & Communications/Assistant Athletic Director (2005 – 2010)

Appointed to role for expertise in crisis communications and public relations policy-crafting during a time of successive, politically sensitive transition and change at university leadership level. Complemented primary accountability for media relations and communications with increased responsibility for departmental budgeting and personnel management.

Full ownership of department marketing, internal and external communications, PR, website, all publications, media buying, event management and advertising while controlling a $250K+ annual marketing budget. Spearhead all aspects of creative, media, advertising, branding and sponsorship for the University.

Key Achievements

  • Streamlined forecasting, purchasing and financial control and outsourced services via RFP tactics to raise athletic media relations budget by 150% and facilitated considerable cost-savings.
  • Spearheaded a fully-integrated, cost-saving “green” digital marketing/communications plan in place of print, resulting in 30% reduction in spend and an approximate cutback of 25% in resource wastage.
  • Navigated a prominent increase in media coverage for the athletics department by over 40% internally and 60% externally.
  • Innovated and deployed a strategic publication campaign for external recruitment, resulting in annual enrollment rate increases of 13 percentage points (from 4% to 17%) over a 2-year period.
  • Pioneered a talent development program for university students on the media/PR track and negotiated valuable full-time placement for 5 program participants.

Director of Athletic Media Relations (2002 – 2005)

Obtained a unique position, leading design and delivery of targeted internal and external media campaigns, collateral, marketing materials and launch of the WSSURams.com website to increase visibility and brand awareness.

Key Achievements

  • Won Media Relations Director of the Year Award for 2003-2004 for CIAA conference.
  • Nominated for and won a CoSIDA “Top-10 in the Nation” publication award for the conceptualization and compilation of men’s football publications that reached over 250 media markets.
  • Spearheaded total redesign and successful launch of new University athletics website, generating 302% increase in website traffic within first 12 months of installation.
  • Repositioned an underperforming and hemorrhaging department to positive recognition through continual use of best practice cost-savings procedures.
  • Served integral role on University research committee on the implementation of a comprehensive branding campaign; drove brand value and overall advertising uniformity through personal authorship of the official style guide and introduction of innovative marketing and branding standards.

ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • Niagara University, Assistant Director of Media Relations (2001-2002)
  • Columbus Landsharks Lacrosse Ventures, Marketing & Corporate Relations Intern (2000-2001)
  • Canisius College, Graduate Assistant Lacrosse Coach & Event Operations Associate (1999-2000)
  • Buffalo Sabres Hockey Club, Marketing & Community Relations Graduate Intern (1998-1999)

EDUCATION

Canisius College – Buffalo, NY
Master of Business Administration – Marketing

Niagara University – Niagara University, NY
Bachelor of Arts – Political Science and History (Double Major)

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Vistage (An International CEO Organization)
Member – Key Executives Group

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
North Carolina Chapter Member

International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
Charlotte Chapter Member

American Marketing Association (AMA)
Charlotte Chapter Member

SERVICE AFFILIATIONS

Action Greensboro – Greensboro, NC
Education & Leadership Committee

Piedmont Craftsmen Incorporated – Winston-Salem, NC
Board of Directors Member

Encore Society of the W-S Symphony – Winston-Salem, NC
Encore Society Member

Contact

Chris Zona

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Contact Info

+1.336.501.8445

chriszona@me.com

101 East 6th Street, Suite 514, Winston-Salem, NC 27101