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Refocus, Recharge & Remember

I’m sure you’ve noticed over the last few years that we have seen more division, vitriol, and contempt than we care to remember, and often wish we could forget.  It seems that our 24/7 access to platforms of information has created a microscopic view of every issue while providing a voice for anyone with an […]

I’m sure you’ve noticed over the last few years that we have seen more division, vitriol, and contempt than we care to remember, and often wish we could forget.  It seems that our 24/7 access to platforms of information has created a microscopic view of every issue while providing a voice for anyone with an axe to grind. Social media seems to bloom with opinion mobs discrediting, discriminating and dissecting every nuance of person, culture or existence.

I’ve personally tried to clean up my feeds by unfollowing, blocking or deleting things that add stress, anxiety, or anger to my day. It’s nearly impossible. And yet, I want to know what’s going on in the world and ‘fight the good fights’ pertaining to life today.  It’s difficult to navigate around or through the constant battles of this group vs. that group, on issue after issue. Tell me you feel the same. It’s exhausting. Part of the problems exists because we’re too focused on our differences and forget how much we need each other.

I think its time for a reset. This piece is about remembering perspective, focusing on possibility and expressing genuine gratitude as we turn the corner into 2019. No, not some half-hearted resolutions that fade away by mid-February, but a purposeful state of being on how we can be our best self and in turn, help others. When we do that, everyone benefits.  Our relationships flourish with our significant others, our kids, friends, colleagues, bosses and our customers. Our ‘best self’ literally sends positive vibrations into the air with an infectious nature.

It’s important for us to remember that we can’t fixate on THINGS while forgetting about PEOPLE. All of the collective work that is done here in the Lehigh Valley centers on the people and the relationships we build.  Nothing else matters. And there is some great work being done by so many people who are committed to great causes.

Perspective is a powerful thing. Sometimes we need to see the world from a different view to appreciate what we have, be it the little things or major life circumstances.  Valley Youth House is a perfect example. They have a great mission – to be the catalyst for youth to achieve their desired future through genuine relationships that support families, ensure safe places and build community connections. Until recently, I was personally unaware of how many kids spend their holidays in a shelter due to homelessness or some kind of living complication.  This year alone, with the help from donors, over 1,200 youth will receive a holiday present through the annual Holiday Gift program.  Christina Schoemaker, Senior VP of Development & Marketing, shares, “We are so thankful for the members of our community who help Valley Youth House fulfill our mission…the selfless generosity and heartfelt kindness displayed will help make the holidays brighter for the neediest of youth and families served by our community.”

When it comes to possibility, PBS39 is throwing its support behind a program debuting in the coming months.  Jim Macdonald, Director of Marketing, explains, “We are working with The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley to launch ‘Lehigh Valley Reads’…designed with the goal of having every student in the Lehigh Valley reading at grade level by grade 3. This is an important goal because up to grade 3; students are learning to read. After grade 3, they are reading to learn – and learning opens up a world of possibilities for each one of them.”

I believe the best form of gratitude can be expressed by helping others in need. We know from studies done by the National Institute of Health, among many others, that acts of kindness and feelings of gratitude flood the brain with dopamine.  This natural high often motivates you to do even more good. At the same time, we’re all busier than we should be, distracted more than we even recognize and often too tired to add another “to do” on our list.  It takes a committed approach for each of us to go beyond ourselves and offer something to others.

These are just some thoughts I’ve had throughout the year, and I hope we can all work on developing our best selves, whatever that may be for each of you. Make 2019 a year with inspired purpose, and I promise you’ll be better for it…others will too.

As a parting thought:

“Givers advance the world. Takers advance themselves and hold the world back.”

-Simon Sinek.

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Inovatin Doesn’t Need Permission

The average American spends approximately 43 years of his or her life working before retirement. So why would you go to work and do something without having the passion for it?  It’s important to find a way to spend your life doing something that matters to you. That’s where Mary Lengle comes in. Lengle grew […]

The average American spends approximately 43 years of his or her life working before retirement. So why would you go to work and do something without having the passion for it?  It’s important to find a way to spend your life doing something that matters to you.

That’s where Mary Lengle comes in. Lengle grew up in Bethlehem learning about the game of golf through a grandfather who instilled in her that golf is a game that brings people together. Lengle didn’t realize at the time what the impact of those talks would mean to her until many years later.

Early in her career, she worked at Rodale Inc. in the book division, working with the likes of Denise Austin, LL Cool J, and Morgan Freeman, helping them to promote their books. While she enjoyed the work, she knew deep down that if she were ever to find real satisfaction in her career, she would need to find a way to combine her love of golf and her storytelling ability.

“We spend so much of our lives waiting for permission. In school, you need permission from teachers, in the workplace you need permission from a boss before trying out a new idea, you just reach a point where you realize that you don’t need anyone’s permission anymore because it stifles your creativity and opportunities,” said Lengle, of New Tripoli.

In 2016, she was done asking for permission.

She knew it was time to finally combine those passions by teaming up with PGA professional and Lehigh Valley golf instructor Eric Cogorno to build his business beyond just individual coaching. “As I worked with Eric on my golf game, I was seeing how he collaborated with other students and what I saw was unique and special — especially his instruction with the junior golfers – “a level of expertise and passion on par with other talent and brands I’ve worked with in my PR and production career,” Lengle observed.

Lengle is working to become an ambassador for the game of golf by producing content that she hopes golfers of any age will find compelling and useful. It’s a simple premise, but it’s one that, for her, provides meaning and impact in her life. They don’t have a roadmap on how they’re going to get there, and they’re both OK with that.

“Eric and I believe in what we are doing, and we know that our initial concept may evolve, and that’s OK because that’s how you set the conditions to allow innovation to happen,” Lengle added.

Lengle and Cogorno are at that uncomfortable phase of their plan where you see most business leaders starting to get nervous because they want to see that quick return on the investment. Lengle is comfortable with being uncomfortable, and golf provides all the motivation she needs.

“Golf is a game where you must learn to detach from the outcome. You can’t focus on the past; you must stay present in the moment, and deal with the constantly changing variables that exist every time you step up to the tee,” Lengle said.

Not only is that great advice for golf, but it’s an excellent way to approach your life. Lengle can accept that not everyone will understand her and Eric’s mission. But what she does know is that when it comes to your business or personal life, if you’re going to take a risk where failure is possible, then you better be doing something you love, because that’s how you’ll ultimately succeed. ­

Mary and Eric have been using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram & YouTube to film and upload content at a dizzying pace. They have seen their followers increase with constant growth in comments and interactions from golf enthusiasts across the globe.

Their work can be found at Eric Cogorno Golf.

 

Jason Wilson of Tri Outdoor, Inc.

& William Childs, Advertising & Marketing Consultant

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Collaboration

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago for some pain in my lower back. After explaining my situation and answering all his questions, he recommended some blood work and possibly an ultrasound to check for kidney stones. I told him that after 43 years, I think I know what’s wrong. After all, it […]

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago for some pain in my lower back. After explaining my situation and answering all his questions, he recommended some blood work and possibly an ultrasound to check for kidney stones. I told him that after 43 years, I think I know what’s wrong. After all, it is my body, and I’ve had this discomfort before. He went on to explain why the tests were important so we can effectively diagnose the issue and make sure the treatment is the right one. I’m not a fan of medical testing, so I decided against it and left.

This past weekend, I ate out for dinner at a local restaurant. After ordering my steak, I wandered back into the kitchen to supervise the chef. I told him when to turn it over on the grill, what seasoning to add and when it was done. I knew all of this from a YouTube video I watched on how to cook the best steak.

Then most recently, I took my car in for service. There was a banging noise coming from the left front and a subtle shudder in the wheels. I knew something wasn’t right. The service tech looked at it and told me I have one tire that’s really worn and needs replacing, but suggested I get at least get two tires so he can rotate and balance all four wheels for me. I wasn’t sure I really needed a second tire. He told me the banging noise under the hood was actually incorrect spark plugs. “It happens,” he said. “You can have deposit buildup in the chamber is causing the knock you hear.” After some thought, I decided on one tire and handled the noise by using higher octane gas. I’m sure that will fix it. It’s my car, after all.

All three of these scenarios should sound ridiculous to you. Why on earth would I not follow the advice of a medical professional, an experienced chef or a certified mechanic? Considering the fact that I am not an expert in medicine, culinary arts or automotive engineering, it would be silly for me to ignore them and do it my own way.

Yet this consistently happens in marketing and advertising.  I experience it, I’ve witnessed it, and I’ve heard about this very thing from countless colleagues in the field.  We often feel handcuffed in the process by personal preferences, decision-by-committee, and uneducated perspectives. The struggle is real.  There are too many conversations that are just about the rate, often with apples-to-oranges comparisons.  Price doesn’t always equal value.

What’s missing?

Collaboration. Brilliant brand stories can easily get lost in the shuffle, miss the mark and fade into the background, drowned out by today’s noisy and cluttered media marketplace.  Instead, try letting an expert in media or marketing help you, the expert in your business, tell a unique brand story.  Each party brings craft and strategy to the table.  Craft is the collection of knowledge, experience, and talent. It can’t be a one-sided relationship. They never last… just like real life.

“Craft is fascinating. A Taxi driver talking about taxi driving is very, very interesting,” says James Lipton, Writer and Executive Producer of Inside the Actors Studio.  You’d be amazed at what you can learn by listening to someone talk about their craft.  That goes for both parties.

When we approach this with the idea that learning from each other is how the best results are possible, collaboration can truly flourish, better stories are told, and the results will follow.

My recommendation is to ask some questions to your marketing partners. There are many talented and capable media professionals out there who can assist you with this topic. Take the time to have some conversation with them about your business and share your craft.  Many of us are more than just media sales reps.  There are decades of experience and knowledge available to you, across multiple media platforms, and we all have a desire to help you succeed.

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storyt

Tell Me a Story

As a follow-up to last issue’s column called Adverpanicking©, I want to talk more about how important storytelling is to your brand.  Response to advertising comes in two basic forms: intellect and emotion.  The analytic position will often say something like, “Reach the right people to increase your advertising effectiveness.”  While that may be true, […]

As a follow-up to last issue’s column called Adverpanicking©, I want to talk more about how important storytelling is to your brand.  Response to advertising comes in two basic forms: intellect and emotion.  The analytic position will often say something like, “Reach the right people to increase your advertising effectiveness.”  While that may be true, to a certain extent, it’s not what ultimately creates a response.  My guess is you’ve likely been reaching the right people all along, but your message just isn’t connecting.

It’s not who you reach; it’s what you say that matters.  Make it count.

If mediocrity is your goal, by all means, blend in.

When an ad campaign fails, it’s easy to blame the radio station for “having the wrong listeners,” the newspaper for “placing it on the wrong page,” or the outdoor company for “the wrong locations.”  Don’t worry, and it’s the natural tendency.  As I’ve said before, the medium is neutral when you have the right message, coupled with great design…so Forget Reach, Think Speech.

Now before all the analysts and strategists in the media community lose their collective minds, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t do your homework.  Data is important and helpful to the process, but that’s not what consumers see.

The greatest data in the world won’t save bad messaging and poor design.

Some business owners get frustrated with advertising because they too want to make it a science.  They often judge effectiveness incorrectly and have the wrong expectations.  Scientific analysis has given the world many wonderful things, but when it comes to advertising, leave the heavy science out of it.  It’s not a scientific process, and it can’t be explained that way.  Considering that the average consumer is exposed to approximately 5,000 messages each day, I’d say there are plenty of opportunities to reach someone, so let’s focus on how to grab and keep their attention.

Businesses, ask yourself this – Why do you exist? Why should people care? How do they see themselves in your story? The answers to those questions will never be found in a spreadsheet.

Why stories, you ask? Because we’re surrounded by, and consume them in every aspect of our lives. Music, Movies, Books, Vacations, Education, Social Media…you get the idea. From early cave paintings to the latest virtual reality device, we live and experience story telling.

Why should your brand be any different? I love this quote from Seth Godin –

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Remember from last time – what do you really sell?  Why should it matter? Now go tell a story with the consumer as the main character.

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Adverpanicking

Adverpanicking©

I’m going to muddy the waters here. This will sound like a combination of whining and criticism, wrapped up in an angry rant.  It’s not.  It is, however, an “open your mouth and take this medicine” article designed to provoke thought and challenge your status quo – a sincere plea to consider something different. The […]

I’m going to muddy the waters here. This will sound like a combination of whining and criticism, wrapped up in an angry rant.  It’s not.  It is, however, an “open your mouth and take this medicine” article designed to provoke thought and challenge your status quo – a sincere plea to consider something different.

The question I want you to ask yourself is, “Who cares?”

(We’ll come back to this later)

I’m often amazed at what passes for advertising these days.  The job of advertising goes far beyond circulating information. When done well, it’s an ongoing dialog with your customers as well as an invitation to attract new ones and build relationships. Cramming ads with hours, address, years in business, directions, low-quality images, a bunch of vendor logos and other irrelevant information, is a term I call Adverpanicking©
Day after day, week after week, there it is, on full display. The ads are screaming at me from every direction to try this new service, act now, today only, come to our show, eat here because, family owned since, blah, blah, blah…boring and forgettable.
They all suffer from the same problem – they answer questions no one is asking.  Bad advertising is about the business, and good advertising is about the customer. David Ogilvy once said, “You can’t bore people into buying your product.”

I’ve heard over the years, that advertising is supposed to sell products and drive business.  This is true! However, that’s an outcome, not the basis of messaging or design.  Marketing that focuses solely on the end result is a short-term strategy. It doesn’t build loyalty or a relationship to your brand.  It will sell some product, but as soon as a better price is found or the attention of the consumer is diverted elsewhere, you’ll likely lose them.

Instead, try approaching your advertising from the consumer’s point of view.  Sell the solution to a problem or engage the audience in a story about why your business should matter to them.  Be simple in your approach – less is always more.  And don’t tell me you have no time or money to brand, that’s nonsense and if ignored, seriously detrimental to your company’s future.

“Businesses need to understand what they are selling if they hope to create ad messages that will reach the intended audience,” said William Childs, Director of Marketing & Communications at Trifecta Technologies. “Harley-Davidson does not sell motorcycles; they sell freedom. Jack Daniels does not sell whiskey; they sell tradition.  If I owned a mattress store, I wouldn’t sell mattresses. I would sell a good night’s sleep.” added Childs
There are two sides to this issue – those working in the field of marketing & advertising and the clients we partner with in this endeavor.

To my fellow colleagues in the business – fight hard for the good ideas, challenge your clients to disrupt the status quo and tell them what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear.  I know that our toughest task can often be pushing customers into the unknown and beyond their comfort zones.  When your motive is pure, and you truly care about their business, it’s worth it.

To the customers – If you’ve never taken an honest look at who you truly are or what you really sell, now is the time.  If it keeps you up at night thinking, consider it progress.  There are numerous professionals out there full of knowledge and ideas. Many of us love thinking about your business and creating stories to push your brand forward.
I ask again, “Who cares?”  That’s the question that needs to be answered.  Give your audience a reason to care.  Hell, make them angry if you have to, at least you’ll get a response.  Donny Deutsch said, “Better to have 35% of the people charged up about you and the rest hate you than to have 100% not care.”  That’s powerful stuff.  There’s more than enough mediocrity going around, and no one has ever done anything remarkable by blending in.

How do you start? Have a conversation and ask some questions.  I, for one, am always open to a cup of Joe and the sharing of ideas.

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meeting-tee-to-green

Meeting Tee-to-Green

When I first started playing golf, I never thought about the effect the game could have on my life, both personally and professionally.  As it turns out, these two aspects are intertwined and connected – I love golf.  I’ve been accused of playing too much golf (if that’s even possible!) – If you are reading […]

When I first started playing golf, I never thought about the effect the game could have on my life, both personally and professionally.  As it turns out, these two aspects are intertwined and connected –

I love golf.  I’ve been accused of playing too much golf (if that’s even possible!) – If you are reading this and know me well, you know exactly how much I love the game.  I suppose when I answer the phone, and the first thing many people ask is, “Are you working or playing golf today?” – I guess there’s no hiding it.  The truth is, once it grabs ahold of you, you’re hooked.

From a personal perspective, I believe golf to be the ultimate test of humility, patience, perseverance, integrity and sportsmanship.  It’s primarily an individual sport and requires a great deal of introspection to perform to the best of your abilities.  It’s a game that reveals a person’s character and how they handle seasons of success and periods of adversity.  I’ve been fortunate to have competed in many amateur tournaments on a local, regional and national scale.  The peaks and valleys of tournament golf definitely test your physical, mental and emotional limits…and that can only help you in your professional career as well.

Since starting my first advertising job in 1996, golf has always been a part of my work experience.  It didn’t take long for word to get out that I played the game somewhat seriously.  I quickly discovered that people also enjoy playing with good players – it challenges them to focus and play their best.  Charity outings, sponsorship tournaments, and customer recreation are fun and always play a large part in the relationship building, as it should for any company.   It’s the great game of business—bringing players of all skill levels together for some friendly competition and a break from the office (often in support of a great cause as well). Thanks to my healthy obsession, I’ve also been able to help many of my customers improve their game, something I always enjoy doing.

The interesting thing about golf is everyone is trying to get to the next level – hitting it longer, chipping it closer and lowering their scores.  We love to talk about our heroic shots and utter disasters.  We’re all rooting for each other while celebrating and commiserating over the greatest game to ever be played.  Two complete strangers can always talk golf with ease.  The number of people I’ve met and come in contact with through playing the game has been a tremendous resource for me professionally, while also developing some great friendships.

I’ve always believed that no one really buys your products; sure, that’s the output, and you have to deliver something of value, but in truth, they are buying You. They are buying who you are, what you stand for and how you represent yourself.  Golf has a way of revealing some of those traits outside of a traditional office setting or a sales call, plus the golf course can be one of the most serene and peaceful places you can find.  Everyone feels better on the links, don’t they?  So enjoy the outdoors, forget the sales pitch (for now) and be real.  People are looking for authenticity, particularly in their business relationships.
I really enjoy helping others, and love that I can do that through business and golf.  If you don’t play, I’d suggest giving it try.  You might be surprised at what you discover about yourself.

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