Tim Baltes

Drum. Mix. Deliver.

Folks at Zildjian Company,

My name is Tim Baltes and I am writing in regards to the open Vic Firth Social Media Manager position. My background and skill set have me tailor-made for this job. I have

  • A decade and a half in drums, both supporting local drummers while working in music retail operations and as an artist recording for Disney, 21st Century Fox and FarmVille-creators Zynga.

  • Over five combined years managing drum-centric social media channels, spanning both the influencer and brand sides. I’ve produced video content with pro-level audio from the ground up. Vic Firth has reposted some of my content, and I’ve even worked with Zildjian Social Media Manager Emily Smith to create custom videos for Zildjian. Additionally, I’ve consulted with Pearl Drums, working with the Marketing Manager of Integrated Media and Product Managers to explore emerging social media strategies and their deployment.

  • Five plus years in a corporate marketing environment, writing copy, managing projects, and supporting my team through organizational activity preparation and additional administrative duties.

These experiences have taught me a lot about what I want in a career, and one of those things is to help create and curate content for the online drumming community. This is a huge joy I found while developing my personal Instagram feed, and it’s something I continue to do via management of the Visionary Drum and Stoic Drummer Instagram pages.

Through platforms like Instagram, I’ve developed an audience for myself and several drum industry brands. With Visionary Drum specifically, I’ve become a subject matter expert for the brand’s products, which allows me to quickly answer any questions or concerns that come in via comment or DM. With the Stoic Drummer Instagram page, I use posts as supplementary material for the main Revival Drum Shop Instagram page. By posting to the Stoic Drummer-specific page, then sharing the post via Revival Drum Shop’s story, and tagging the shop in the original Stoic Drummer post so that the photo is in their tagged section, I create visibility for the Stoic Drummer book, while not completely cluttering the Revival Drum Shop feed. I tailor the preferences of the client to their social media pages. Through innovative and non-traditional techniques, I’ve been able to drive visibility, sales, and ultimately longterm customer loyalty. I know I can bring bench strength, new perspectives, and a Midwestern work ethic to the team at Zildjian/Vic Firth and use these assets to further the team’s mission and fuel the company’s success.

Thank you for considering my application for the Vic Firth Social Media Manager position at Zildjian Company. I would love the opportunity to put my skills and my passions to work with your team. Though I know your organization generally prefers a local candidate, please know that I am willing to fly myself to the Boston area to speak with you further about this opportunity; and if a job offer were made, I would cover relocation expenses. Please see my resume and work samples below; and if you have any additional questions or concerns, please reach out via phone at (262) 909-6585 or via email at tim.baltes@gmail.com.

I appreciate your time and consideration,

Tim Baltes


Resume

To view my formal resume, please click here.

work samples

Social media strategy

I’ve always taken an interest in social media, from the inception of Myspace into Facebook and now to prime platforms like YouTube and Instagram. It’s fun to post on these websites and apps, but the older I get, the more interest I’ve taken in optimizing the use of these platforms (both on the influencer side and on the brand side) to better reach the audience and community that I want to target.

I took over the Visionary Drum Instagram page in mid-April 2019. In the first six months of my work, I grew the follower count by 70%. I did this by optimizing several factors, including hashtag usage, post tags, geo tags, and a technique I call micro-engagement efforts. The following explains my strategy behind Visionary Drum’s post from September 16, 2019. Here is a view of the original post:

VisionaryDrum_Horizontal Shot.jpg

The image and copy are informed by the brand’s tenet of light, comical and sometimes far out content. The image captures the absurdity of a snare drum muted with cheese and the Visionary Drum pizza design skin (an adhesive-backed cloth that adheres to the drum head like a sticker) applied underneath. Due to the the humor of the design and the general love of pizza by all, this skin is one of Visionary’s best selling stock designs. It’s an obvious fit for content that we hope to go viral, and many factors helped this post achieve that status. In 24 hours, the post compiled over 1,400 likes, which is three times the average engagement. In a week, it achieved over 2,500 likes and many more comments than Visionary’s posts have historically achieved. This success was also due to my use of various tags.

When I discuss tagging, I refer to hashtags, post tags, and geo tags. When combined, they can be a potent force to gain visibility. In the post above, I am careful to vary my hashtags, employing those related to brands, general drumming, and drum-related reposting accounts. When tagging brands and other pages in the post (via post tagging, not copy tagging), I tagged many of the manufacturers, but I also did some tagging outside of the box and included Chicago-area pizza restaurants and the manufacturer of the cheese featured in the post. While it wasn’t likely to hit many (if any) drummers, I think it still helps garner visibility from unique avenues. I continued the Chicago/Midwest-centric theme of the tagging by geo tagging the Chicago Drum Exchange. I’ve tested tagging drum shops as the location. I think it will yield Instagram users finding popular posts by geo tag. If they click on the Chicago Drum Exchange geo tag, they might find this Visionary Drum post, and that may lead to a new follower and possibly a new customer.

Part of my tagging strategy is also calculating what content may be reposted, who it would be reposted by, and how that might be received. I specifically tagged Drumtacs, as they have an audience of 95,000+ followers. They also tend to repost a lot of content they’re featured in. Sure enough, they reposted my photo. This resulted in getting the Visionary brand in front of countless new faces and garnered an additional 1,100+ likes. Smaller pages, like @christianeichlingerdrums and @sa.drummer also reposted the photo. I’m particularly fond of pages like @sa.drummer , as they bring Visionary Drum’s American products to South African consumers. Visionary almost exclusively sells direct to consumer and ships worldwide, so any visibility could result in new sales, as there is no limitation on where they ship.

Beyond these traditional optimization techniques, I have developed something I call “micro-engagements.” As related to this post, here is one method I use. Since I received many more likes than the median engagement numbers, I was garnering attention from a lot of people who did not follow Visionary’s Instagram. I wanted to engage this audience to further reach, encourage following the page, and ultimately boost sales. To do this, I went through the list of people who liked the post, clicked over to their Instagram page, and liked 8-10 of their drumming related posts. If I found someone seemed to be a influencer, having an “optimum” follower-to-following ratio and solid engagement numbers on their page, I might like 10-15 of their drumming posts and send them a message to start a dialog. This is a bit time intensive, but it tends to have big results, both for engagement and sales. I use a canned message where I add in their name and (typically) a small personal bit about their feed. For example, I might send, “Hey Vic. Thanks for the likes and support. I really love your vintage Ludwig Vistalite drums. They look great! If you ever have any questions about our products or drumming stuff, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always here to help. Feel free to DM us any time. We appreciate you! – Tim”. While this technique is impractical for something as large as Vic Firth’s page, I think the sentiment of this technique can be employed in some sort of new way that would improve the company’s understanding of its consumers and boost engagement with those customers.

The beauty of social media strategy and management is that it can be very driven by creativity, but posts, comments, and DMs with the community surrounding a brand or influencer result in quantitative and qualitative data that may inform everything from how to improve content to how to drive sales. By taking a creative focus to the front end of things and a scientific eye to the back end, you’re able to reach more customers at a lower cost than ever before. Through continuing to build that online community around Vic Firth, I think I could instill as much passion in every consumer about the brand as I have for the brand myself.

video and audio production

I was a goofy kid growing up and I continue to bring smiles and laughter into my professional work. I've used my sense of humor to entertain thousands of people, while harnessing attention on social media platforms. This has yielded a great amount of visibility for my unique drumming and audio production skill set. My visibility on Instagram helped connect me with Moonwalk Audio, a music and sound design production team in Los Angeles. Through this organization, I've played drums on music for Disney, Fox, and Zynga.

My social media efforts have also connected me with leading percussion companies, like Pearl Drums and even you folks. I’ve had plenty of videos reposted by Vic Firth, and the example below is a video I produced for Zildjian's Instagram page:

challenge

In 2017, Zildjian launched a new Instagram-based campaign for the hashtag #NewBeatTuesday. The concept is to post multiple videos every Tuesday that are focused on a single theme. As detailed in the original post, the theme for my video was combining drums and comedy. Emily Smith at Zildjian challenged me to make this video, giving me only the theme to work with and a week to provide the final product.

solution

A successful Instagram video needs to hook the viewer immediately, so I decided to film a segment that started off with fairly complicated, flashy drumming. I kept the viewers hooked with continued flashy fills throughout the segment. Following the drumming, I used silly music to cue the comic relief, which is me ultimately getting soaked at the end of the video.

results

Emily at Zildjian enjoyed the final product, as it’s very humorous, but it remains in good taste for all audiences. This is of the utmost importance, as Zildjian has over 700,000 followers that span all ages, backgrounds and locales. The original Instagram video reached over 30,000 views in 24 hours. In addition, this visibility added nearly 150 followers to my account during this time. Overall, the post was a success for both parties!

networking and drum nerdery

I’m a huge vintage drum gear nerd. Through platforms like Instagram and Facebook groups, I’ve been able to build a powerful network of drummer and percussionist colleagues. I’ve got great relationships with drummers at every level and in every corner of the musical world, including Zildjian artist Bob Hall (of Catfish and the Bottlemen).

ln 2016, I connected with Bob’s drum tech, Joe Cox, on Instagram. Shortly thereafter, Joe contacted me and wanted to get together in Chicago. Bob, Joe, and I hopped in my car and drove around to the regular Chicago stops, including the Chicago Music Exchange and Rock N Roll Vintage. Shortly after, we came up to my house and filmed this quick conversation.

Now, every time Bob and Joe are in town, I come out and we get together to catch up, talk gear, and swap tips and tricks.

The beautiful thing about drummers is that our community seems to have raised the bar on camaraderie over other groups of musicians. This has created so many relationships that I’m grateful for. Bob and Joe are now two very dear friends.

I’ve also become a regular in the Chicago vintage drum scene, which has its perks – Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos helped me park my car at a private pre-party for the Chicago Drum Show in 2018. And in years past, him and I have discussed our love for the elusive 22x12” Ludwig New Yorker kick drum. Even Joey Castillo (formerly of Queens of the Stone Age) texted me a while back to ask about the value of some old drums he had; and then, he proceeded to shower praise on my silly karaoke videos that his wife loves very much.

I really care about the drum community. I love the gear, I love the craft, and I love the people. I’ve been able to put these passions to work previously in drum retail and more recently as a friend and colleague to drummers and drum-related MI professionals alike, but I would love to get back into the professional realm and put my network, passion, and skill set to use with Vic Firth and the Zildjian Company.

the copywriting connection

I was a copywriter for three and a half years at Uline, and that work has a few similarities with content marketing work. While copywriting, I set aside my personal voice, understand the client’s point of view, and craft a powerful message that purveys everything the client intends and nothing they don’t. I leave my own biases behind and get into the mindset of the clients I’m serving. Within that mindset, both the copywriter and the social media manager use any data at their fingertips to help better the experience of the client, and they ultimately help better the experience of every consumer. By crafting a good piece of a copy, both of these professionals can create profound, positive change for their clients and their industries at large.

Please view the writing example here and read the following explanation. This reviews the process behind an article authored by me for Uline President Liz Uihlein.

challenge

In the back of every Uline catalog, Liz Uihlein places a Liz Letter, a succinct article aiming to give Liz's political views a voice. Each of Uline's several copywriters craft up to five letters on different topics, of which Liz chooses her favorite for publication. The writer must get into the mindset of an extremely successful 73-year old business executive and craft a compelling message that engages all customers.

solution

When deciding on the article topic, highly debated subjects to consider were the U.S. president's current activity and gun ownership laws. Choosing to write on these topics could be detrimental to Uline, so I chose to write on something else entirely – China's economy. Why? By choosing a topic that Liz would view as less controversial, but still highly relevant, I could craft an article that felt compelling to Liz, while having zero detriment to sales.

results

After the letter was presented to Liz, she immediately picked it for publication in 90 million catalogs. Following her approval, I was called into her conference room, where she offered her sincere gratitude for my work. She even pointed out how my writing was incredibly close to her own voice. My department VP and the leading directors also expressed their appreciation.


Thank you again for viewing all of this content. I truly appreciate your time and consideration and look forward to speaking with you soon. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out via phone at (262) 909-6585 or via email at tim.baltes@gmail.com . Be well!