Is Your Social Media Program Riding with the Peloton or Out There Pedaling All by Itself?

Cycling Peloton

Anyone familiar with cycling understands the benefits of riding in a peloton or group of riders. Not unlike a flock of birds flying in formation, riders in a peloton save energy by riding just a few inches behind the rider in front of them, taking full advantage of the phenomenon known as drafting or slipstreaming. The reduction in drag is dramatic; a rider in the middle of a well-developed group can gain as much as a 40% advantage compared to being out there riding on their own. In other words, the riders in front are literally pulling along the riders behind. As a cyclist myself, I have enjoyed many times the benefits of catching a free ride by hugging the rear wheel of the guy in front me.

Recently, I had a similar experience where I caught a free ride, not on a bike however but part of another company’s national advertising and social media program. And as much as I’d like to claim credit for this accomplishment, the truth of the matter is it was purely dumb luck. Now be this as it may, the result for both companies, Pacific Life and Jeanneau has been beneficial for sure.

This terrific video of a retired couple sailing to a beautiful tropical island on a new Jeanneau 409 is the latest commercial from Pacific Life promoting their retirement services. It has been running regularly during 60 minutes and many nationally televised sporting events.

The idea of cross-branding is nothing new, Eddie Bauer has successfully done this with both Ford and one of my favorite companies Airstream Trailers for years. However, cross-branding on a formal scale is a big deal and usually reserved for big companies. What I am finding however is that cross-branding using social media can be easy, informal and fun.

I have always believed that many hands make light work and this idea of using social media to help give my brand a lift, has a good ring to it. So in the future, I’ll be looking to join a strong peloton going in the direction I want to go. And in the words of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.

On we go…

 

Why I Changed My Mind About Social Media

Social Media

One of the many things that come with growing older is the inability to accept new ideas and new ways of doing things. I never really saw myself as falling into this trap but nevertheless, a few years back I viewed the entire concept of “social media” as nothing more than one big gimmick, just a passing fad that would be gone faster than you could say bell-bottom trousers. So what if Facebook has 1.1 billion users, give it a couple of years and it will be out of here like a wet watermelon pit squeezed between two fingers.

Of course social media hasn’t gone away, in fact it’s only gotten stronger. And so I eventually caved in and took the “if you can’t beat them join them” approach. And interestingly enough, I’m glad I did; not only have I found the world of social media rather enjoyable but also a useful and powerful marketing tool. What I really like about it is, it allows people to see our company’s true personality; an ongoing view into our company’s culture and the people who make it up.

I also like it because for the most part, it’s hard to fake what you put on YouTube; what you see is what you get. I think it’s a lot like running a personal ad. If you’re not straightforward and honest with what you’re putting out there, don’t be surprised when the wrong people come knocking on your door.

One of my favorite videos of a sail across the Gulf Stream for a photo shoot in the Bahamas. A fun, casual look at what goes on behind the scenes with the Jeanneau team.

In this global world of ours with increased competition and similar product offerings, I really see social media as being the vehicle to set ourselves apart from everyone else. Our only challenge is to be bold enough to hang ourselves out there and let our charming personality shine through.

On we go….

Rush Towards the Ball, Rush Towards Life

DSC01068So last night, my son Will had a baseball game, he turns 11 next Monday, April 29th. This year he moved up from the Minors to the Majors and is now playing with 11 and 12 year olds. Most, if not all of these kids, have been playing baseball for several years and at this point are pretty good. In fact, I was surprised at just how much more intense the level of play was with this older group compared to last year’s younger group. Gone are the days of teaching the kids how to throw, catch and bat and teaching them the love of the game. Now it’s all about how to play well and win games. If a kid isn’t qualified to play first base then he plays some other position, like left field or maybe third base. Will is not a first basemen but he has a decent arm and is fairly good at getting his glove on the ball so he often plays second or third base or sometimes shortstop, occasionally he’ll also play in the outfield.

Will is also a decent batter. He doesn’t have a lot of power but his accuracy is pretty good and when he connects, he usually manages to get the ball over the heads of the infielders and out to the outfield. His real talent however is as a base-runner. Will is fast and willing to take risks which makes him the ideal player when it comes to stealing bases. And, since Will loves to be on stage and the center of attention, stealing bases to great applause is right down his alley!

DSC01064A team is only as good as the coach and this year the coach is especially good. For one thing, he’s especially good at being in charge and giving the boys clear direction of how to do things or how to do things better the next time around. He has a knack for using just the right amount of sarcasm to make his point without going so far as to embarrass the kids. For example, “Billy, don’t you think you would have a better chance of stopping that ground ball if you put your glove down?” “Yea” says Billy in a not-so-sure voice. “Well get it down then, glove in the dirt, glove in the dirt” he’ll shout. Or, “You know, we’d have a much better chance of winning if you guys would actually catch the ball instead of letting it hit the ground!” My favorite however was directed at Will on the first day of practice when he said, “Hey Will, is that a batting stance you have there or are you planning to take a dump on home plate?” All of us parents standing along the baselines that day got a real kick out of that one, especially me!

So the game is underway and our team, the Philly’s, are playing pretty well. Will’s first time to bat results in a walk,  From there he goes on to steal second and third base and then steals home. As I said, Will loves to be the center of attention and there simply is no better way to do this in baseball than hitting a home run or stealing home plate so Will is now in his glory with lots of yelling and screaming and back slapping from his teammates.

Sometime in the 5th inning, a kid from the opposing team knocked the ball out of the infield but well in front of the guys playing in the outfield. The coach was immediately on his feet shouting “don’t just stand there, rush towards the ball, rush towards the ball.” I started thinking about this statement, which was really more of a command, and it struck a chord with me. “Rush towards the ball” I repeated to myself “rush towards the ball.” 

As a marketing guy trying to push high-priced yachts in a tough economy, this concept of rushing towards the ball or in my world, rushing towards the customer or the market, makes complete sense. In a tough market such as we have had for the past few years, the only effective way I could see to possibly win the game was to tune up my advertising, marketing and sales program and run full steam ahead towards the market with the enthusiasm and the attitude that screams, “we’re your guys, buy from us.”

Rushing towards the market, especially a slow one, is not always easy or instinctive. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. One reason for this is that it’s not always clear how to reach the market or more difficult still, what it will take to capture the market. Another reason is that to capture the market and catch the customer, means spending precious resources which you either don’t have in the first place or are unwilling to spend in the second place, especially when there’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful. And lastly, it’s always easier and safer to stay put and let the market come back to you rather than for you to venture out into the field to get it. Unfortunately, the problem with playing it safe is that by doing nothing, you run the risk that your competition might be going with a more aggressive game plan and taking your customers and the market.

It’s not always clear what course to take but history has shown time and time again that those companies that turn up the heat during slow times always come out ahead when better times return. In other words, those companies that rush towards the ball do better than those companies that don’t. For me, the time to rush forward and discover what lies ahead is now.

By the way, during the last inning of the game, Will managed to get a solid hit that was good enough for a stand-up double. One of his teammates got on base with a single and while he was doing that, Will stole third. Another teammate hit a nice fly ball that went deep into center field but unfortunately was picked off by a tall lanky kid on the opposing team. The kid knew what he was doing and immediately threw the ball to the second baseman who managed to tag out the runner coming from first. While the opposing team was busy dealing with the runner at second, Will, who had been leading off third, ran back, tagged the bag and made a beeline for home. All of a sudden there were lots of cries of “he’s going, he’s going, throw it home!” Will dug hard as the second baseman wound up and fired the ball towards home plate. “Slide” the coach yelled, “slide!!” Will did slide, in fact it was pure textbook. That catcher did a fine job and he almost got him but just as the ball was about to hit his glove, Will slid neatly under the catchers arm and got his toe on home plate. “SAFE” the umpire said as he waved his arms over the plate. Again there was lots of screaming and back slapping and “way-to-go” being yelled. The coach just smiled and shook his head. It was a fun moment for sure.

SliderAfter the game, one of the other fathers came up to me with a big smile on his face and said, “Wow, Will sure does like to take risks.”  “Yes he does” I replied; then added, “He always has and I hope he always will.” “Rush towards the ball,” I thought. “Rush towards life.”

On we go…