Email Marketing Isn’t Going Anywhere – How to Use It Well

posted by: MICHAEL TORRES, Graham Media Partners

Email marketing has been used for so many years that you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it’s on its way to irrelevancy. The truth is, email marketing is not only still around, but remains a powerful marketing tool that is actually increasing in popularity.

In fact, according to Salesforce, it was the second-fastest growing B2C marketing tool from 2015 to 2017 (video claimed the top spot). That may seem surprising, but the stats from Salesforce’s survey show that email consistently outperforms other digital platforms in return on investment and cost-effectiveness.

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Staying Productive – Your Way

posted by: MICHAEL TORRES, Graham Media Partners

How many articles have you read on productivity yet you still seem to procrastinate the day away? That’s probably because the research on one site and must-dos on another aren’t what will keep your unique mind on task.

If you walked into the GMP office, you’d see a group of people busily working away. But upon closer observation, you’d find that we each have distinctive, and sometimes odd, ways of sustaining that diligence. Because we are such a nice and helpful group of people, we decided to share a few of those personal tactics with you.

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The Key to Hiring a Truly Impressive Executive

Contributed by Andy Farrell, Principal, Howard Fischer Associates. 

In my work across the sphere of high-tech executive recruiting, I’ve had the privilege to meet a diverse population of leaders. Some I’ve met on the conference and speaking circuits, some have been clients, and others have been cherished coworkers. Most have been charismatic, intelligent, and passionate individuals, with a genuine sense of concern for the wellbeing of the people under their command and a vision for the future of their organizations. While many people in executive positions would likely earn a similar description, a much smaller portion of executives can be described as “truly impressive.” So what makes the distinction?

In my experience, and based on anecdotal evidence, the difference between a successful leader and those that fail usually has something to do with their ability to rally the rightpeople around an initiative and keep them engaged. Isolating and identifying that quality in an executive, however, is often not a priority during the hiring process. Companies face a tremendous amount of pressure when filling an open executive slot. The focus on hiring someone with the right industry experience, proven success rate, and educational pedigree can sometimes feel so aggressive that it becomes easy to forget that an executive’s job isn’t about “doing the work” – it’s about building and managing the team of people that “do the work.”

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Helping Marketing Hit the Market

Founder of CBM Group, Colleen Burns, moderated a discussion on how people on the marketing side can assist in the success of sales

What can marketing professionals do to really move the needle and be a true business partner? What contributions and actions create an environment of mutual respect? How can marketing communicate the research, rigor and reasons behind how decisions are made, so sales professionals can maximize the strategies, tools, programs and tactics that are created to ensure their success?

CBM Group recently hosted a panel with four leaders who have seen the territory from both sides and offer their insights and best practices on optimizing the collaboration between sales and marketing.

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Assessing Cultural Fit – Key to Successful Hiring

Contributed by Howard Fischer Associates

When filling a vacant role, many companies are inclined to promote a current executive. This is not surprising given the number of benefits that make this approach attractive:

  • An internal candidate has established credibility as well as institutional knowledge about key stakeholders, company processes, and the industry in which they function;
  • Promoting an internal candidate can be a relatively quick and cost-efficient process;
  • Promoting from within shows goodwill. Employees appreciate company loyalty. Knowing that internal succession is possible will decrease turnover at all levels of your company;
  • Most importantly, an internal candidate understands your company culture and most likely already fits well within that culture.

External candidates are unknown, so many companies assume that they are making the right choice by promoting within. However, before you fill any role, you should always consider if an external search would be a worthwhile pursuit.

For example, if your company is in a disruptive industry, an external candidate might be the change agent and innovative thinker you need to pivot your company in a new direction. Or, if your company is currently experiencing slow growth, an external candidate may be the turnaround specialist you need to help push reset and find new footing within the marketplace.  Your company may prefer conducting an external search simply because an outsider brings a needed fresh perspective.

One of the biggest concerns (and often the biggest indicator of success) is how well an external candidate fits into a company’s existing culture. If you’ve decided to pursue an external hire, there are some steps you can take to mitigate the risk and find a cultural match.

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Start-Ups and Small Businesses Shouldn’t Overlook These R&D Tax Credits

 Written By Emmalee MacDonald, EisnerAmper

The 2015 Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (“PATH”) Act included various changes to the Research and Development credit (“R&D credit”) that are mostly beneficial for start-ups and small businesses.


PATH enables a qualified small business to elect to claim a certain amount of its R&D credit as a payroll tax credit against its employer portion of FICA liability, rather than against its income tax liability.

A qualified small business for this purpose is defined as a corporation, partnership, LLC or individual that, with respect to any taxable year:

  • Has gross receipts of less than $5M.
  • Did not have gross receipts for any taxable year preceding the 5-tax-year period ending with the tax year.

In other words, in order for a company to qualify to utilize the payroll tax offset in 2017, the company must not have more than $5M of gross receipts in 2016.  It must also not have had any gross receipts in tax years prior to 2012. The definition of gross receipts is not clearly defined within the section, but many interpretations point to the following guidance: Gross receipts include all sales (net of returns and allowances), service income, interest, dividends, rents and royalties, and any income from incidental or outside sources.

The amount of the credit is limited to the lesser of $250,000 per year or the amount of the R&D credit computed on the taxpayer’s income tax return.  Any credit that exceeds the amount of the taxpayers FICA tax liability in a given quarter may be carried forward to future quarters.

Process for Claiming the Payroll Tax Offset

  • Compute the R&D credit on the 2016 or subsequent income tax return on Form 6765.
  • Complete Form 8974, which is a new form, to report the credits elected to offset FICA tax.
  • File payroll Form 941 with Form 8974 attached for each quarter that there is an offset.

A taxpayer may only claim the election for 5 years for a maximum credit of $1.25 million. Any election to apply the R&D credit to offset payroll tax cannot be revoked without the consent of the IRS.

These changes afford small businesses and start-ups an excellent opportunity to realize the tax benefit of their R&D credits, whereas in the past they may have had to wait years to reach profitability or even been precluded from using their credits due to various limitations.

During the current tax filing season, consideration should be given to the preparation of elections, calculation of the R&D credit and timely filing of the returns in order to enable taxpayers to obtain the largest possible benefit from the new PATH Act rules.


In the past, the R&D credit could not be used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax (“AMT”), with limited exception. The PATH Act provides the ability for certain taxpayers to utilize the credits to offset both regular or AMT for tax credits generated during tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2016. Credits generated in prior years typically will not be eligible to offset AMT, but can continue to be carried forward to offset future regular tax in accordance with previous tax law.

The AMT offset is available only to eligible small businesses. Eligible small businesses are those that are a:

  • Corporation, the stock of which is not publicly traded
  • Partnership
  • Sole proprietorship

In addition, the average annual gross receipts of such corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship for the 3-taxable-year period preceding the taxable year must not exceed $50 million. For example, if the business wishes to utilize the credit to offset AMT in 2016, its average annual gross receipts for tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015 must not exceed $50 million. Any partner or S corporation shareholder claiming a pass-through credit must also meet the gross receipts test for its pass-through credit to be eligible to offset AMT.

Emmalee MacDonald is a senior tax manager at EisnerAmper. She focuses on the technology and life science sectors. Contact her at 732-243-7466 or

The Future Of Work Is Already Here


Written by James Calder

I have spent a lot of time thinking and writing about what it means to be one of the best companies in Philadelphia, America and the world. I am lucky enough to say that I work for one. I believe it all starts with respect. The future of work will be companies that stay in bubbles of mutual respect. The respect flows in all directions starting from the founders and leaders down to every single position including interns and co-ops. In return, all employees greatly respect the leaders, but most importantly respect must flow from coworker to coworker. Once that foundation is created it is only natural that we respect our partners, customers, and end-users. The gatekeepers of the culture must ensure that no one messes with this structure of respect and if you can’t operate in this simple way, then you are not a fit for our company. Simply put, it is Business without the Bullshit.

This is not just the philosophy and execution of the people I have respected most in business, but also in life. And the hard work has paid off. At the end of 2016 we were named on the Entrepreneur 360 Best Companies list and a lot more.

Our leaders are simultaneously running two companies, BuLogics and StratIS, with shared resources out of the same unique office space. Our office is located in the City of Philadelphia, in a building that once housed one of the nation’s first Talkie Theaters. Our Founder and CTO Ryan is a minimalist, and has created an apartment where he lives in the old projection booth of the building. Ryan and our CEO and Founder Felicite, literally eat, breath, and sleep the Internet of Things and Smart Cities. Our CEO lives across the street and has gone beyond the stereotypical dog-friendly office, making the office family-friendly. A dedicated entrepreneur raising three children, she knows what it takes to do both. On any given day, her charming eight-year-old daughter can be seen (quietly and well-behaved) practicing cartwheels in the middle of our “fishbowl,” the large open space that used to be the majority of seating for the theatre. She’s not the only regular in the space. Kids fit in here. They help out. They are embraced as part of our integral and whole lives.

Age is not an issue (on either side of the spectrum) at this company like I have seen at others. We have support people who delayed college because they loved working here so much, and young teenagers, especially young women, often participate in practicums to learn the tech industry early. Our COO is a twenty-seven-year-old Founder in her own right, contrasted by our CEO and CTO who have decades of combined IoT and tech experience.

Mentoring is commonplace and somewhat a requirement. Another key aspect that makes us very unique compared to everywhere I have worked, is that we truly value and are positively and actively shaped by millennials. Felicite is the first to defend and respect millennials. Her millennials are among the brightest, talented, and most valuable members of our company.

A few weeks ago, Felicite gave a speech to our team about how and why our office is a safe place. It was one of the most honest and authentic talks I have ever witnessed. She explained why failure in life and in her own life has been important, and why we can go to her with any problem both personal and professional. Here is the kicker though, she actually means it. In most other companies, employees fear even going to HR, because what you say is almost always used against you.

This isn’t all rainbows, snowflakes and unicorns, though … ok, maybe a couple of really rare unicorns.

In nine months of employment, I have never been asked to change. Not change my attitude, not my beliefs, not my workflow or how I create. There is no micromanaging here because Felicite and Ryan hire adults who have a need to do great work. This may be the secret sauce to the future of work in the world. Our Founder and CTO Ryan once told me that our combined grit and unique world experiences is what makes us so rare and unique. Our companies hire great people and adjust their roles based on their passions, skill set, and performance.

In some ways, one might think that this is the most innovative thing about this company, but it’s not even close.

Our technology is leading the MultiFamily industry into the future of technology integration. We created a disruptive way to provide access, energy, and automation to MultiFamily properties. Our SaaS platform is approaching 150,000 units installed across the U.S, and that number is going to continue to grow in 2017. We have the potential to become a billion dollar company and that is very motivating. We don’t settle for anything mediocre, from hiring engineers, to work ethic, to our customer service and marketing.

Our diversity is unmatched. All races, genders, orientations, and religions are present and welcome. People generally seem to like each other and want to spend time together outside of work hours. Some ego is good. Bad ego is squashed at the door.

We enjoy unlimited vacation time, which I recently learned only 1 percent of companies currently offer their employees. Our office has all of the benefits of the top silicon valley tech firms including, a keg on tap, a nap room, hammocks, open space (and closed space), ping pong, foosball, work from home days, a snack bar, a coffee bar, game and movie nights, yoga mornings, and so much more.

We have some of the most talented employees in the world, including former Googlers, Unisys Stars, Founders, and Entrepreneurs. Our company goal at StratIS is to change the world. As cliche as this must sound, we are empowered enough to believe it and do it. But to change the world you must start at home. Our Founders are very active in the local community and run projects and a community organization they created called East Falls Forward, from the office.

This article just starts to peel the layers of the onion that is our growing team and our unique approach to business. For more information reach out to me at
James Calder is the Marketing Director for two companies in the IoT tech space, BuLogics and StratIS. He was named Top Voices on LinkedIn in 2015, and the number two voice in healthcare from more than 2 million bloggers on the platform. He was the creator of the Seinfeld Birthday Project, which went internationally viral, received more than 1 million YouTube views, and was featured in hundreds of newspapers, blogs, TV shows and radio programs.

7 Songs to Get You Moving in 2017

We all need a way to get things moving and shaking, especially during these cold winter days after the holidays. The PACT Team assembled a playlist of personal favorites to get you up and motivated in the new year! Thank you to our Friends at Edison Partners for the creative idea.

Here are 7 PACT Favorites to start your year off right and add to your playlist:


1. Dean Miller’s Favorite

Chance the Rapper’s “All We Got”

Why: “This song gets me fired up any time I listen to it – in a workout, in the car or just starting the day.”

2. Diane Strunk’s Favorite

Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up”

Why: “Weight room inspiration – along with a little chalk and a tight belt to push through squats.”

3. Jennifer Cohen’s Favorite

Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”

Why: “My boys and I absolutely love this song! We jam out to it in the car.”

4. Cheryl Jarvis Johnson’s Favorite

Mandisa’s “What If We Were Real ”

Why: “It’s time to be real.”

5. Kim Tuski’s Favorite

Disturbed’s “The Sound of Silence”

Why: “When I hear this song it motivates me to get moving regardless of the time of day.”

6. Danielle Pinto’s Favorite

Blondie’s “Denis”

Why: “Impossible not to dance and sing along to this song – even though I flub the (French) lyrics every time.”

7. Amanda Nardi’s Favorite

Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Why: “Once I get going, I can’t be stopped.”