Wondering Out Loud

Politics meets NASCAR

UPDATE: A special thanks to Mike Keliher – of the one l variety – for pointing out my misspelling of Margaret Anderson Kelliher – of the two l variety. I shall not make the same mistake again.

Gubernatorial (dontcha just love that word) politics and NASCAR had a meet up on Reusse and Company on AM 1500 KSTP in the Twin Cities yesterday. I’m sure it’s happens all the time during campaign season, but Wednesday’s interview of Margaret Anderson Keliher – Speaker of the House in Minnesota and one of more than a dozen hoping to represent the DFL in November’s election – is one that made me stop what I was doing  so I could listen more closely. What struck me about the exchange came and went as fast as a lap at Daytona, but it got me thinking about how far politicians go to get all their talking points across.

If you’ve ever watched an interview with a NASCAR driver, they are magicians at working sponsor names into their answers. Jeff Gordon can’t go a sentence without mentioning his DuPont Chevrolet. Considering the mega bucks sponsors plop down for the privilege of having their logo speed along at over 100 mph, it makes sense to mention those names as often as possible. Keliher took a page from the NASCAR driver handbook and used the interview to inject all the necessary references to prove her Minnesota creds.

In no particular order she dropped in 4H, hockey, public schools, ice fishing and dairy princess in less than 30 seconds. A truly impressive performance. Now some will call me cynical for thinking Keliher was using well rehearsed talking points, but listen and you’ll hear her back track to clarify that her kids go to public school and, when asked when she last went ice fishing she deftly avoids answering the question. I am cynical, but I’m not drawing any conclusions…yet.

Here’s hoping her handlers haven’t told her she needs to sprinkle ice fishing and hockey references into every interview. If that’s the case, it will be a long campaign season.


February 4, 2010 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Public Relations | , , | 2 Comments

Beauty and the beast

I was at a youth hockey game Tuesday night – with 3 kids playing hockey I spend a lot of hours at the arena – and was fascinated by what I saw unfolding on the ice. Two players for the Falcons, the good guys, were absolutely dominating the play. Both are centers and one played every other shift because of a short bench. For the sake of clarity let’s call the boys S & J.

The kids involved in the game are 10-12 years old, and it’s not unusual to see one or two with skills that are much more advanced than their peers. What is unusual about what I witnessed is that neither S or J fall into that category. In fact, if you saw either of them at the local rink you would never pick them as being part of an A level team. Both can skate, but there are many others who are faster, smoother and more graceful. Both can handle the puck, but there are others who do it with more finesse. Both can make and receive passes, but others do so with more accuracy and softer hands. Truth is, of the 30 players in the ice that night, S & J would rank in the bottom half in terms of skills. 

What S & J have, that got them a combined 4 goals and 5 assists in a 9 -2 victory, is more drive, tenacity, aggressiveness and just plain hockey sense, than everyone else. The way they play the game is a coach’s dream – or perhaps a bosses dream?

It can be a wonderful thing to have a team filled with highly skilled individuals, but adding a couple with fewer skills who have a desire to learn, grow and achieve more than some thought possible can be the catalyst that takes a team from the pretty good to the upper ranks. And I’m no longer talking only about sports. The same is true in business. I’ve watched a lot of teams flounder because they are made up of the brightest of the bright. The problem is, when everyone is an all star, there’s no one left who’s working hard to show their stuff and move ahead. Yes, I’m generalizing here, but you get the point. Without S & J the Falcons would be an ordinary team.

With their presence, everyone’s level of play is elevated because no one wants to be seen as the weak link on the team. Especially when the ones doing  the pushing look – at first glance – like those links.

February 4, 2010 Posted by | Leadership | , , | Leave a comment

Traditional v. Social: It isn’t either/or

A couple of posts ago I discussed bringing traditional and social media tactics together in marketing campaigns. I was prompted to broach the subject for a few reasons. First, I’ve been marrying traditional and social to drive sales leads for a number of years all while being told – here’s the second reason – that social media and marketing do not mix. The third reason came as a result of several discussions I’ve had with local agencies and their concern that social business will take revenue away from traditional. They are looking at it as an either/or proposition. Big mistake.

As I’ve said before…social media is simply a toolbox filled with lots of wonderful gadgets that will help your customer communicate effectively with their market. As with traditional tactics, they are to be deployed as part of a strategy that is designed to meet a set of objectives. Nothing more, nothing less.

Rather than looking at traditional v. social as an either/or proposition, consider how social tactics will complement your marketing activities. Here’s a case in point.

In October of 2008, I executed a marketing campaign designed to drive leads from small and mid-sized food and beverage manufacturers. To drive registrations we used a combination of direct mail, email and telemarketing. For the event we streamed live video via ooVoo and bounced it through ustream.tv. A pretty good mix, if I do say so myself. I didn’t stop there, however. We took the social one step more by focusing the discussion on how SME food and beverage companies can maintain high standards of quality and keep their margins – not an easy task. We also discussed strategies SME’s can put in place to assure survival in the event of a product recall – an even more difficult task.

A traditional webcast would have focused on a couple of issues and then presented a demonstration showing how our software  overcomes such challenges. A traditional webcast would have attracted 15-20 prospects, ours resulted in 50 new sales leads.

Done properly, traditional + social is a marriage made in marketing heaven.

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , | 1 Comment


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