At 32, he is co-owner of Magneti Marketing, an online and digital marketing company, and has been behind some high-profile events in recent months using social media — from rocking the under-40 vote in local elections to raising hundreds of thousands for wildfire relief.
Wannamaker says he is part of a young professional team effort in the Springs that is interested in making change. And it can happen, he says.
He helped organize the first Young Professional Mayoral Forum using social networks to energize the vote for the under-40 crowd. He helped launch “Rebrand the Springs” with a Facebook page that triggered the reconsideration of a new city logo and slogan, which had been rolled out with big fanfare and met with criticism.
Most recently, Magneti Marketing was the social media marketing machine behind Wild Fire Tees, an effort by local designers to sell graphic T-shirts to raise money for wildfire relief.
When did you and Marcus Haggard launch Magneti Marketing? How did the idea for this business come about?
Marcus and I had talked quite a few times about starting a company together. We grew up together, were in marketing for different companies and were really just waiting for the right opportunity to come along. We saw then (and continue to see) a tremendous amount of opportunity for marketers and entrepreneurs to thrive in Colorado Springs, so it was just a matter of finding the right direction and the right timing.
One of my business mentors referred a client to me and it was a great opportunity to launch the business Marcus and I had been planning. As we talked more about it, we decided that it was do-or-die, and we went after the client — and landed it! Magneti Marketing was newly minted with that first client — in fact, we had to open a business bank account just so we could deposit our first check. We’ve come a long way since then and continue to work with an array of fantastic clients on their marketing while being profitable every single month since we started.
Attracting and retaining young professionals is the talk of the town. You put together the first Young Professional Mayoral Forum using social networks to get out the vote among the under-40 crowd. Why was that important to you? What was the response?
It was important to the whole team involved (myself, Marcus Haggard, Etienne Hardre and Ashlee Springer) because we felt the need to connect people like us to important elections like the mayoral race, and because we were frankly discontent with the way all of the other debates had gone.
We wanted to try a different approach — a way that leveraged the mediums (social media channels) we’re used to using, a way to get anyone who had an Internet connection able to engage with the process, and a way to get some one-on-one, forum-style time with both Richard Skorman and Steve Bach.
The response was fantastic. Both candidates greatly appreciated the different approach and thought the experience was quite enjoyable. We had many people come up to us in person and online after the event telling us the forum really raised the bar for future debates in our city.
Also — it was seriously a lot of fun to do!
Last November, the city’s branding taskforce unveiled its new city slogan and logo. You and Marcus put up a Facebook page calling for the taskforce to reconsider the logo — which got huge community response — and the taskforce did reconsider. Were you surprised? How did you feel to start that movement? How did you feel when the new logo was released?
We really had no idea what to expect when we started the whole thing, and particularly weren’t sure how the branding taskforce would respond. We knew we were unhappy with the new logo, but it’s not enough to just be unhappy with something — you need to know what you want instead and take action to get there.
After talking it over with each other and a few trusted friends, we decided to take action by launching the Facebook page, Rebrand the Springs.
Here’s what we knew at the time: 1) we wanted to have branding for our city that we (as young marketing professionals) could be proud of, 2) we wanted to help channel the vocal negative sentiment toward the logo (ours included) toward something positive, and 3) not throw anyone under the bus in the process.
We partnered with a few local (and awesome) designers we work with to help us with the process we instigated, and ultimately ended up with a great direction for the branding. We could not have been happier with the process that happened and with how the branding taskforce responded.
I think it was a real win for the community to have two seemingly opposing forces ultimately join forces and come out with something we’re all proud of.
How would you describe the young professional culture in Colorado Springs? What could the city and business leaders do to attract and retain more young professionals?
You know, it’s a real fascinating culture we have here. On one hand, many people think our young professional culture is struggling, but on the other (in my opinion, more accurate) hand, it is the best place to be a young professional. There is actually a lot of opportunity here, it is just not on the surface and it is not all short-term. If people truly dig in, connect and have a more long-term view of the situation, I think they’d see that the opportunities that abound.
We’re a big city with lots of resources that is still trying to figure out its personality. What better place could young professionals be than right here, right now, helping to lead it in the direction of greatness!
As for the (non-young professional) city and business leaders, the biggest thing they can do to attract and retain young professionals is to proactively invest in them — through mentoring us personally as well as professionally; through providing capital to our ideas with the investment of relationships and/or funds; through listening to what we have to say and believing in who it is that we are.
Magneti Marketing was the machine behind the social media campaign that made the Wild Fire Tees a success. How did you do it?
It’s important to note that Magneti was merely one part of the amazing success of Wild Fire Tees. It was successful for so many reasons — the tragic events that unfolded right before our eyes with the community really banding together to support the cause — but I truly believe that our successful response to the tragedy was forged from the months and years this group of people had already put into building the skills we have and the relationships with each other and the community.
Every part of our small group worked amazingly well — without our designers on our crew and eventually from the community, we wouldn’t have had such a solid product to sell that people responded to so strongly. Without our web developer, we wouldn’t have had such a solid website to handle the traffic and sales without crashing once. Without our copywriter, we wouldn’t have had the right words to convince people that we were legitimate (especially at the beginning). Without these same people doing customer service, our fulfillment partners and volunteers, we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with all of the inquiries that came and continue to come in — while keeping our day jobs, too.
My point is that although Magneti Marketing focused and continues to focus on the social media and overall marketing and strategy of Wild Fire Tees, it took the team to succeed beyond our wildest expectations.
That’s the common thread.
How do I do what I do well? One answer: the team. I work with some amazing people here at Magneti and in this city, and because of that we’re able to execute something great like Wild Fire Tees.
When Wild Fire Tees cut the first round of checks to Care and Share and the American Red Cross, there was a buzz in the crowd and you all were referred to as “rock stars” — describe how you felt being part of a group of professionals able to hand over thousands of dollars for the fire relief efforts, not to mention outfit the town is some very cool T-shirts.
Well, I’ll tell you one thing — it’s probably the only time I’ll ever be called a rock star.
But seriously, it is truly one of the most amazing honors to be able to represent people from all over the state, nation and world who gave money to benefit Colorado wildfire relief efforts and who donated tees to firefighters. To give back to these heroes, to give such a significant donation to people who really needed it, to be there in that moment only reinforced to me my belief in the power of a team to come together and make something great happen.