Sunday, February 24, 2013


Elliot Robia, Market Strategist from Pixel Farm of Minneapolis wanted to demonstrate how social media really should work using two dramatic examples side by side. Pixel Farm is a Minneapolis studio that creates digital experiences for major brands and ad agencies and connects them to their customers in novel and unexpected ways. Prior to joining Pixel Farm, Elliot was the Director of Business Development at visual/audio production company, Fischer Edit. He’s held marketing positions at healthcare tech company Zipnosis (where he oversaw the firm’s digital marketing and web analytics) and the education non-profit, DreamBox, Inc. Elliot is a Co-Producer of the Z-Fest Film Festival and a Programming Coordinator for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

Elliot compared social media challenges for the Film Festival with another comparable project for a start-up technology company. Both had promising starts with robust facebook audiences, muliple “likes” and positive signs of social media presence. But the film festival took more care in reaching out to their fans with a video contest, posts and activity that generated participation and conversations.

The metrics Elliot shared with those attending the AMA Remarkable Leadership Conference on 2-22-2013 was all the evidence he needed to declare. Engagement is really far more important than being obsessed with simply building numbers early in the process of a social media campaign.

Even though the film festival started with a smaller initial target, the engagement led to discussion and many more “people talking about” numbers of engaged followers. Measuring results is important but it is also important to understand the metrics of which you truly hope to watch as a barometer of success. 


Andrew Grinch, Associate AD, University of Missouri Athletic Department shared highlights of rebranding the Mizzou Tigers as they enter the Southeastern Conference last year.The Southeastern Conference (SEC) on Sunday morning November 6th announced Mizzou as its 14th member, effective in the 2012-13 season. 

"The Presidents and Chancellors of the Southeastern Conference welcomed the University of Missouri to the SEC saying the "The University of Missouri is a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions," and "The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri," offered chancellor Brady Deaton in the SEC statement, adding, "The SEC will provide our student-athletes with top flight competition and unparalleled visibility. We came to this decision after careful consideration of the long term best interests of our university. We believe the Southeastern Conference is an outstanding home for the Mizzou Tigers, and we take great pride in our association with this distinguished league."

Andrew Grinch was charged with launching a 90 day campaign to get the news out. The solution was a strategy that involved two distinct target audiences. Excite & Invite. Excite Missouri Tiger fans who already followed the team with a theme “A New Era Begins.” Invite new fans they would encounter with the move to the new conference with a gracious and respectful tone. Invite with the theme “Mizzou is proud to be SEC.”
The campaign included traditional media, like strategically placed outdoor billboards and print advertising augmented with paid internet advertising video that dramatizes the love of sport and competition of University of Missouri athletes.

The American Marketing Association approved this definition of Marketing in 2007: Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. I think Andrew and his team at Mizzou demonstrated that pretty effectively in the presentation of his SEC campaign. Remarkable Leadership in Marketing.

MERCY in Joplin

At the 52nd Annual Marketing Conference (2-22-2013) by the American Marketing Association, St. Louis chapter, Barb Meyer, Vice President Marketing and Communications and Nancy Schnoebelen, Director of Advancement Communications for Mercy Healthcare shared some details of the unique challenges of crisis communications after a catastrophe.

An EF5 tornado struck Joplin, Missouri in the late afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011. It reached a maximum width ¾ of a  mile during its path through the southern part of the city. It rapidly intensified and tracked eastward across the city, and then continued eastward across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Jasper and Newton County. More than160 people were killed  and over 1,100 were injured. It was the deadliest tornado in America since 1947.

Mercy had a hospital located in the center of this path of this devastation. Barb Meyer and Nancy Schoenbelen shared highlights of Mercy’s response, communications challenges, and remarkable acts of kindness and charitable contributions in the wake of that event. The good news is that they are looking forward to a brand new hospital opening in 2014 and Mercy workers in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma have a stronger bond as a result of working together through that crisis.

Thank you Barb and Nancy for sharing that story of remarkable leadership!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Holy Redeemer Fish Fry

My friend Dave is a very talented business owner, graphic artist, dedicated husband and devoted father. So when his parish needs a volunteer, he is eager to help out. A few years ago Dave stepped up (with his usual high level of enthusiasm) to run a fundraiser for the school. A fish fry during the Lenten season was going to be the big idea. They had a unique drive-through location where they would be able to serve fish sandwiches and French fries with commercial efficiency almost like a quick-service restaurant franchise. They had several planning meetings. Of course, the volunteers became friends. They are parents and parishioners with a lot in common.

They made trips to buy the fish, fries, tartar sauce, ketchup and soft drinks. He told me about buying paper products (plates, bags, napkins) and scheduling volunteers in shifts over the fundraising weekend. Naturally Dave designed a poster and flyers to promote the event as well. The whole production was a group effort and, all told, added up to hundreds of man hours.

Dave shared this story with me for a reason. You see the net proceeds of all this effort was about $250.00. And that was with free labor and eye-popping promotional materials. The concept made sense seasonally. The community supported the event. It’s just that contribution margin ended up being pretty modest (They were fortunate to finish in the black). Dave has no regrets but admits that had he known of this likely outcome at the onset of the rally to pull it off, he would happily just written a check for $250.00.

You see, in spite of “the best laid plans…” careful calculations and an eager army of workers, you can still fall short of your ambitions. To me, this is a cautionary tale of business in general – and marketing in particular. I’m sure the school will gladly accept the big check for $250.00 while the Holy Redeemer Fish Fry volunteers return to their daily lives of car pools, soccer practice, church and school activities.

Life goes on. Hey what about a car wash next year? A bake sale? A golf tournament?

P.S. My nephew JV shared a story from another part of the Midwest. He is in Columbus, Ohio and an active member of the Knights of Columbus at his church. He has business acumen and could not fully appreciate the Fish Fry at his parish. He sees now that the activities of a volunteer army can sometimes get in the way of enhancing profitability.  Ironic that fundraising efforts are as much about making sure fundraisers feel good about their efforts as delivering a big bottom line.