Next week is the 2014 MIMA Summit. In anticipation of this event, we sat down with Derrick Shields, one of its board members, to talk to him about his involvement with organization, why he chose to get involved with MIMA, and his experiences thus far.

Why did you choose to get involved with the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association?

For anyone looking to get involved and grow their professional experience and network, there are many options in the Twin Cities to choose from: MIMA, AdFed, MN AMA, i612, MNSearch, and now Minnealytics - I'm probably even forgetting some.

I ultimately chose MIMA because:

  1. It is the oldest and most well-respected professional organization in our industry
  2. I knew some of the board members
  3. Three Deep Marketing has been supporting the organization in various ways for many years, so it seemed like a natural fit.

But most importantly, I’m at a place in my career and professional development that I felt ready to get involved and give back to the industry that has given me so much.

Describe how you chose MIMA over the other opportunities?

I have been attending MIMA Events, including the annual MIMA Summit, for the last 7 years.  In 2013, I had the opportunity to get more directly involved as a volunteer when my good friend and MIMA's (now) Treasurer, Jeff Sauer, was looking for a volunteer to help build the marketing website for the 2013 MIMA Summit.

Working directly with the board to launch the 2013 MIMA Summit website was a rewarding experience, and I jumped at the opportunity to interview and join the organization as a full-fledged board member.  Admittedly, I was a little nervous to interview for a board position, as I had never done anything in such capacity or been a part of a non-profit organization, but I'm so glad I did.

I’ve always been impressed the quality of MIMA’s programming and networking opportunities, and the annual MIMA Summit is on par with some other largest and most well-run conferences in the country. In the same light, I saw an opportunity to help modernize the organization by bringing in fresh ideas to the organization, supported by my own professional experiences and expertise.  Thus, pursuing the opportunity with MIMA was an easy choice.

What are some of the challenges you've experienced as a MIMA Board Member?

Board meetings follow a very formal process: there is a call to order, motions, votes, bylaws, all of which was completely foreign to me.  I felt like a fish out of water during the first couple of board meetings, with little to contribute and unsure of how I can best contribute.

Eventually I learned the flow and found my voice and earned the respect of my fellow board members, and while I'm still learning, I feel much more comfortable in my role and confident about the contributions I make.

Also, there are many different personalities involved with MIMA, which can lead to disagreements and be frustrating at times, but the variety of professional acumen also lends itself to a diverse set of ideas which ultimately lead to defining an organization which successfully carries out its mission and contributes positively to the community in which it serves.

What is the most surprising thing you've learned since joining the board?

It's not all glamour - It's a LOT of work - much more than I had originally anticipated.  Active participation and collaboration with other board members is vital, and is probably the most important aspect of making a real difference.

Further, Titles and Designations often mean very little; everyone must wear many hats at any given time.  Although my current role at MIMA is Director of Technology, I've spent countless hours on "non-technical" initiatives such as reconciling member records, understanding and improving user experience, writing RFP's, working on mission and vision, branding initiatives, exploring revenue models, and helping to set the path for the future of the organization.

That said, I'm not complaining; I actually love the fact that I have the opportunity to help support and grow the organization in every way I can.

How does your role at Three Deep support the work you do for MIMA?

At Three Deep, my current title is Sr. Interactive Marketing Solutions Architect, which (in addition to being a mouthful) means I need to have a good pulse on everything we do from marketing strategy to execution such as SEO, PPC and Analytics; it’s just as much a strategic as it is tactical, which translates perfectly into the type of skill set required to actively contribute to MIMA.

What advice would you have for someone looking to get involved with MIMA?

Begin by attending the events, and introducing yourself to the board - get on the radar and make yourself known. Next, start volunteering. As I said, it's a lot of work, but volunteering will give you the opportunity to work close with the board, learn more about the inner-workings of the organization, and find out if it’s a right fit for you before you choose to make a bigger commitment.

Figure out what you're passionate about and how you can employ the expertise and skills you use in your career towards your involvement with MIMA.  Whether you're a copywriter, creative, strategic, or technical, there is always a need for passionate, dedicated volunteers.

Finally, tell us about the 2014 MIMA Summit.  Why should marketers attend?

This year’s theme is "Rise of the Machines" which is a play on words to describe the big-data marketing-automation era in which we find ourselves.  In the interactive marketing industry, we continue to realize the power in leveraging access to this data and how marketing automation platforms and big data analytics can augment our roles as advertising professionals.

I read an article recently that resonated with me which had to do with the rise of the Marketing Technologist.  The reality is that in order to stay competitive, marketers need to have a thorough understanding of technology, and technology/IT professionals need to have a good understanding of marketing.

In the not-so-distant past, marketing folks were focused on things like branding, messaging and consumer reach; IT folks were focused on things like network and server configuration. Now, you've got marketers inquiring about JavaScript optimization and page-load speed (as it relates to SEO), and you see IT folks double checking website title tags as it relates to ranking strategy.

Collaboration continues to evolve across departments on endeavors such as implementing digital marketing analytics, managing marketing automation campaigns, and measuring online/offline marketing efforts.

Clearly, the lines continue to blur between technology and marketing, and those individuals and companies that can best understand both sides of the spectrum are the ones that will be best positioned to compete in the modern interactive marketing space.

For the 2014 MIMA Summit, we're flying in experts and thought-leaders from all over the country.  We'll tackle the changing interactive marketing landscape head on, providing you with key insights and understanding of how to better perform in your role as a marketer, inspire you to think outside of the box, and provide an exciting glimpse of what's to come.


For anyone interested in volunteering with MIMA, please reach out to Derrick directly at