Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Play the Advertising Home Game

It has been said that the average American is bombarded by more than 2,000 advertising messages each day. Television advertising, in particular, struggles to break-through the clutter.The Super Bowl has become an annual showcase of advertising. Today’s media-savvy consumers pay attention to advertising that is interesting and relevant to them. As a marketing manager, you might enjoy playing The Advertising Home Game. The game is played with any number of viewers. It requires only an audience willing to forego trips to fridge during commercial breaks.

Here’s how it works. Kick back in front of the tube. Schedule viewing of your favorite TV show, sporting event, the evening news or favorite soap opera. As each commercial is shown evaluate, quickly: What it’s about? Is it relevant? Is it persuasive? Is it interesting? What was the brand? What was the message or key point? (No fair paying it back. In this game, the rules require you see the spots as they appear in progaming.) You may find this a difficult task. Just as you are studying a :30 spot, another comes on to entertain and inform you about yet a different product. If you are playing this game with others you may be drawn into conversations that cause you to miss the next commercial. Save your comments. Takes notes if you wish. Don’t allow yourself the cop-out of, “This commercial is not for me because I’m not the target.” Maybe you’re right, but by virtue of your program selection, you are in the audience and among the viewers. In this environment, you begin to appreciate how difficult it truly is to communicate. By forcing yourself to sit through the advertising and try to understand its mission, you suddenly become keenly aware of the challenges you and your advertising agency face when you set out to develop television advertising, or any advertising. It’s just a game. But in real life you need to be considerate of your prospective consumers. Remind yourself to deliver relevant, interesting, engaging, memorable, messages. The kinds of messages that outscore others in your home game contain clues to ways that you can be more effective at communicating with your intended viewers and readers.

The Advertising Home Game advanced version takes this process one or two steps further with additional questions. Why in the world did the client agree to that advertising? What was the creative strategy? Did the client get what the agency presented in concept form? Is this campaign going to accomplish its goals?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Make my Day.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the San Francisco police detective character played by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies. Harry Callahan is someone who does not hesitate to cross boundaries in pursuit of justice, especially when it is clear that justice is poorly served by the law and a flawed system. It’s fantastic to see Harry get the bad guys in spite of inept bureaucracies, corruption in city government, punitive suspensions from duty and all kinds of collateral damage to property – all with little or no harm to countless innocent bystanders between episodic gunfire and car chases.

Movies are made as a form of escapism. We all know we can’t take the law into our own hands and single-handedly and swiftly get retribution. We can’t right all the wrongs that happen in the course of our lives or even fully mitigate the threats of our potential enemies. We love Harry because he represents a hero who can make snap judgments and correctly comprehend the magnitude of evil and with his powerful weapon and extreme precision make things right.

In real life, so much depends on each and every one of us to do a part in making the world a better, fairer and safer place. The real heroes in life never get to confront the bad guy at a moment of truth and say something like: Go ahead, make my day.

I will always be a fan of the iconoclastic rogue police detective in movie fiction. It’s entertaining to see resolution inside the context of a two-hour motion picture. But for me, outside that format I am always inspired by the collective courage people show every single day with kindness, compassion, caring and love for humanity. You are the real heroes. You add up to a better world. You are important.
I hope you know – you make my day.
- Optimist contributor Wes Morgan: originally posted October 3, 2011

Bluebird of Happiness.

“And so remember this, life is no abyss, somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness.”
The bluebird of happiness has a history that goes back maybe thousands of years. Cultures around the world hold on to the myths and beliefs about the bluebird. It is a symbol of cheerfulness, happiness, prosperity, good health and the renewal of springtime.

If retail sales are any indication, perhaps the most popular bluebird of happiness in this country was created by Leo Ward at Terra Studios located near Fayetteville, Arkansas. Introduced in 1982, this Arkansas Bluebird of Happiness is made of blown glass with black copper oxide added to create its blue color. This Bluebird of Happiness is a registered trademark and is sold at thousands of hospital, airport and specialty gift shops nationwide. This little glass bird has fueled the creativity of many artists in northwest Arkansas. But larger still is the impact of the goodwill it has generated. Over nine million of these bluebirds have been sold!

Leo Ward has since retired but the bluebird business lives on and is managed by his son John. You can’t help thinking the little bluebird has come to mean so much to so many through simple acts of a thoughtful, albeit modest, gifts and accompanying wishes for happiness. After all, it’s not the gift but the thought that counts. Still the gift, as is rests on a desk or window sill or bookcase catches the light and reflects its blue color and maybe triggers happy thoughts of loved ones. Isn’t that a big reason to be happy?

The bluebird reminds us that Spring is coming too, and with it comes longer days, blossoming flowers and the special smell of optimism. Sure, things could be ‘easier’ but why not use this time of renewal as an opportunity to be in the pursuit of happiness. This Spring, take the time to find the joy in the ordinary. In other words, seek to find happiness.

Mark Twain once defined an optimist as a person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness. If that’s true, maybe a little thing like a glass bluebird is just the thing to bring a smile, a whole new outlook and hope for the future. Here’s wishing you much happiness!

- Optimist contributor Wes Morgan: originally posted March 31, 2011

Prepare to win.


I attended a seminar recently called WINNING PROPOSALS. If there is an area of business that requires optimistic thinking, this is it. A lot of focus is on avoiding elimination. People are going to be looking for losers first. If you don’t get your response in on time – you are out. If you don’t answer all the questions – you are out. If you don’t meet all the criteria – you are out. You need to be a good fit or you are out.

It is the brutal reality of a buyer’s market. You need to think about winning strategies for putting your best foot forward. The best outcome might be making the short list. You still might miss the mark. But you must keep your chin up and always know that victory is possible.

Before you put yourself, your team and your company through a process like this, you need to take the time up-front to plan your strategy. After all is said and done, your proposal needs to match what is called for and still be relevant and compelling to the readers, the ultimate decision makers.

All this being said, you have to look on the bright side. You should feel fortunate to be in a position to be considered for an opportunity. A careful response to such a proposal will help you and your organization understand the unique selling proposition you offer. Find that differentiation that makes you the best choice and reinforce it with a well crafted response and you could very well find yourself in the winners’ circle.
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” - Mark Twain
Twain reminds us that it might take extra time and effort to edit our proposals to be more concise, targeted and to the point. Winning takes confidence. Be careful with your choice of words and you will win – not every time – but more often than not.

Think like a winner. Prepare. Identy that which separates you from the crowd. Fine tune your message. Be gracious: win, lose or draw. Be happy you had a chance and proud of your best efforts. Learn something from each experience.\

Optimist contributor Wes Morgan: originally posted March 29, 2011

Baby you're the Greatest!

Ralph: I’ve got an explanation. A perfect one. I’m a dope. Not a run-of-the-mill dope, the world’s champ. For years I’ve been talking for granted the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me – you. I’ve never shown you the appreciation you deserve, Alice. You could walk outta that door right now and I wouldn’t blame you. You deserve something better than me. There are a million guys who’d give you anything if they could have a girl like you.
Alice: Ralph, I don’t want a million. There’s just one guy I want: you.
Ralph: Baby, you’re the greatest.

Not everyone is as lucky as Ralph and Alice, the central characters in the classic TV series, The Honeymooners. Ralph is always hopeful that one of his schemes will result in a big break and good fortune. But the simple exchange between this couple is so sweet you can’t help but smile. And what does this tell us?

The self-effacing Ralph and the simple expression of affection between the bus driver and his wife remind us of how often we all take loved ones for granted. Life is a struggle for most of us. We tend to get preoccupied with the trials and challenges of everyday living. We dream of something that will improve our lives. We strive to earn more money. We focus a great deal of energy on our surroundings and our possessions.

If you are lucky enough to have someone who puts up with your shortcomings and nevertheless offers true love that manifests itself in the form of a thousand acts of kindness and understanding, especially through tough times and hardships, you need to stop and thank them. But if you are at all like me (or Ralph), the words just don’t allow you to fully express how you really feel.

Nobody’s perfect, of course. And it’s the differences in people that make the beautiful tapestry that is nature of the world. Somehow we found each other and sometimes, like Ralph, I cannot believe my good fortune. We were married more than 30 years ago. At this point I really don’t want to wait a whole year to celebrate that day when we exchanged vows to love honor and obey. Lately, I think about it almost every day. How lucky and blessed we truly are.

Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary. Baby, you’re the greatest.


Optimist contributor Wes Morgan: Originlly posted March 2011

Buy a Lottery Ticket.

It’s the little things in life that you remember. Strange as it may seem, it’s the little things that can give you the greatest joy too. Case in point: If you are the sort of person who purchases a lottery ticket and just enjoys fun of it – in and of itself – even though the odds are that you will not be a big winner the experience is fun for you, win or lose. See how much difference your approach and attitude can make to your overall feelings of well being? Even if you don’t win, have fun trying. That is worth something.

Last year my wife and I took a trip to London. The planning and anticipation was a big part of the joy of it all. Even the setbacks, in retrospect, added to the experience. There is nothing like airport delays at the top of a journey to bring all sorts of anxiety and frustration. Even though the beginning of our get-away vacation had the exact opposite of the intended effect on both of us, we look back on that part of the trip and laugh. In hindsight, it was only a setback. The trip overall was a memorable one.
We eventually checked in to our London flat that mid-day in June. We soaked up a little local color and enjoyed a full week of tourism. We went to the theatre, visited museums, saw several Wimbledon Tennis Championship matches, ate strawberries and cream and we even saw the Queen of England. (It was the first visit by Queen Elizabeth II to Wimbledon in 33 years!) It was just an unexpected bonus for us to see the Queen. A little thing we will always remember.

Our accommodations at the Chelsea Cloisters studio efficiency apartment were modest. This was home-base for our week in London. Lynn and I remember the last time we spent this much time living in such close quarters was when we began our life together. We lived in a garage apartment in Miami when we were first married. It was cramped and inconvenient at the time, but we look back on that time now and recall how simple and fun it was when we really didn’t have much of anything. Looking back, again it was the little things that really meant so much.

That trip last year and our first apartment remind me of how we sometimes forget to cherish life’s simple pleasures. Like being with someone you love or the simple joy in buying a lottery ticket with all kinds of hopes and anticipation. Don’t forget where the real joy is. It’s in the little things. Smell a flower. Marvel at a display of fireworks. Smile in traffic. Buy a lottery ticket. Life is a journey, not a destination. It’s all good.

Optimist contributor Wes Morgan: originally posted February 28, 2011

Celebrate Everything!

Learn from experiences. Life, after all, is a journey.Things don’t happen in a vacuum. Everything that happens; happens for a reason. Everything that happens is relevant. There will be peaks and valleys in your life. My Uncle David is fond of saying “Don’t forget to smell the flowers.” He’s right.

I am blessed. There is so much for which I am thankful. I could write an entire book about my wife Lynn, who has been CEO of our household for nearly 30 years. I could go on for hundreds of pages about our daughter Lindsey, my first born. I have said often, and I mean it: “The world is a better place with her in it.” Lindsey has been a youth group advisor since she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2004. She has already made a difference in hundreds of lives since then.
And our son Ben is just entering the world of business. A long time ago a camp counselor described Ben as a “silent leader.” I’ve never forgotten that because it is so true about him. He quietly excels in everything he sets out to do. He is a young man but already he is a role model.

Bear in mind that you simply cannot separate your business life and your personal life, really. You may feel the urge to compartmentalize things. And sometimes that is appropriate. But don’t forget to appreciate everything and everyone. Life is short. You will be tested. I will resist the temptation to get all spiritual and philosophical here but the message is a simple one.Celebrate everything.

There are lots of smart people who have more ability than I do and can better articulate the meaning of existence. All I am saying is to recognize the little blessings while you accept challenges in your life. Find joy in bright stars, stunning sunsets and random acts of kindness. Laugh when you can and cry when you need too. Share with friends and family. Celebrate successes and learn from defeats and you will find greater fulfillment in your life. That includes your career and work life too.

Resolution suggestion for an new age

Each year millions of people make resolutions as the new year begins. Many of us fail to live up to even the best intended vows to be healthier, exercise more and improve ourselves. Still the notion should not be abandoned. We are human, sure, but we are can be part of something much more – a rebirth and a new generation of hope and promise.

Consider the Renaissance. It was a rebirth during a cultural movement that started in Italy in the fourteenth century. It encompassed a resurgence of learning and widespread educational reform. It is perhaps best known for its artistic developments of the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the term Renaissance man.

Arthur O’Shaughnessy wrote a poem simply titled ODE in the second half of the 19th century that concludes with an observation that is also a challenge:“ EACH AGE IS A DREAM THAT IS DYING, OR ONE THAT IS COMING TO BIRTH.” O’Shaughnessy’s poem makes us think about what we as individuals and as a generation might bring to the coming new age and what kind of influence we might all be on the next generation. We look at the enormous challenges the world faces and at times feel discouraged. But remember, the future depends on all of us. Together we can instigate a rebirth with some simple resolutions that can truly change the world and its prospects for the future.

Maybe if we all think a little differently. Consider being more like the Renaissance man. Approach each new day with a positive outlook and thereby influence greatness in others. Don’t forget, in spite of all the troubles in the world, we have unprecedented communication tools and fantastic research and development moving forward at a remarkable pace.

We are not all great artists and thinkers but we can all consider the hopes and dreams of future generations and apply that simple vision to become part of a better world. Hope and vision can inspire greatness. Be a patron. Encourage others. Be a mentor. Help a child learn something new. Look at how much influence you can have in a single day.

The rebirth has to start somewhere and that start could very well be you.

Optimist contributor Wes Morgan: originally posted December 30, 2010

Lunch with the company President

Lunch started on-time with smooth and graceful delivery by the president's assistant. Everyone ordered a salad. It was the sensible thing to do.

"We need communications champions." The president’s opening remarks went on to explain the background of the Lottery Lunch concept. It’s an opportunity for people talk openly about the company and spend some time with co-workers. All were invited to introduce themselves, share a little background and identify anything they would like to discuss in particular.

The president is skilled at speaking about the company in broad terms. He has charisma and an easy smile. He’s diplomatic and articulate. You have to be that way to be an effective leader. He’s also sufficiently intimidating.

A phenomenon I like to call the “chill effect” happens around him sometimes – at town hall meetings, at lunches like this one and elsewhere. It’s apparent when silence washes over a room when he pauses to invite “any questions?” Silence? Really? No issues? The president encourages open discussion but no-one is quite sure how freely they can speak. Adding to the tone of the room was the slight discomfort of the low temperature – 12 degrees outside and it felt like the heating wasn’t making it into the tiny Conference room in the corner of the office building.

Actions speak louder than words.It is simply not enough to tell people over and over again that things are going to be better. Everyone seems to be working very hard to overcome obstacles. In this meeting alone several examples were given. Sadly, too often communication is poor. Information does not “cascade” down in an organization. In fact it doesn’t trickle down. Sometimes people run for the cover of their pier groups. The silos are not intentional but they are a survival tactic. How can it change?

Maybe it's just a good idea to talk to people candidly once in a while. Thanks for the salad Chief! (And making us feel like someone is listenting.)

-Optimistic Contributor Wes Morgan: originally posted September 25, 2010

Livin' the Dream

A couple of years ago I was in Columbus, Ohio visiting my nephew, an avid golfer and member at the Ohio State University Golf Club. I recall The Columbus Dispatch being full of headlines about the mortgage crises and speculation about how people will lose their homes to foreclosure. My nephew and his wife live in a beautiful house with a pool. Susan does the landscaping and cuts the grass. It’s one of the prettiest houses in the neighborhood. They are comfortable and are proud of the fact that they are not overly leveraged. We are “Livin’ the dream,” Jim likes to say with a touch of pride. That dream now includes their newly adopted baby daughter Colleen.

“Livin’ the Dream,” is something we heard Russ say a lot on Sunday. Russ graduated from Ohio State in 1974. His pal Mark joined us on the tee box. Mark works for alumni relations. He works for two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin (1974, 1975). It’s fun to meet people this way. During a four and a half hour round you are bound to learn something about your fellow golfers. Mark is a former wrestler in college at Wisconsin. Russ’ life has been touched by tragedy. His son was in a car accident that left him brain-damaged but functional. The boy is living independently now. Today, Russ does what he can to help his son get by and make the best of things.
You have to count your blessings. Be grateful for what you do have. It’s all kind of relative. That weekend, sitting at the Corazon Spa overlooking the pool and small lake on a sunny afternoon in the middle of Ohio may not have been La Jolla, California or Palm Beach but for that moment we were “Living the Dream.” I can almost hear the live cover band playing Jim Morrison and the Doors extended version of L.A.Woman.
Well, I just got into town about an hour ago
Took a look around, see which way the wind blow
Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows
Jim Morrison died in Paris, France on July 3, 1971, in his bathtub at the age of 27. Fans and biographers have speculated that the cause of death was a drug overdose. The official report listed “heart attack” as the cause of death. Sometimes It’s hard to know the truth of things or why things happen the way they do.There are haves and have nots, families touched by economic hardship or tragic events. Still there are things to be grateful for, like music, sunshine, golf and a peaceful afternoon by a lake. Maybe it’s best to go through life one day at a time and just do the best you can.

- Optimistic Contributor, Wes Morgan: originally posted August 18, 2010

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Madison Avenue and Hollywood

Advertising has received some pretty rough treatment in movies over the years. Advertising characters in the movies have problems. They have trouble dealing with the truth. And they can’t seem to manage their family and/or personal relationships. Here’s are some movies that, I think, illustrate my point.


The Hucksters, 1947: Clark Gable is Victor Norman. In this film Vic invests $35 for a “sincere” tie to make him appear worthy of a high paying position at an advertising agency. He gets a shot at managing THE BEAUTEE SOAP account. His client vividly demonstrates how he thinks advertising works. He spits on the conference room table. “Mr. Norman, you’ve just seen me do a disgusting thing. But you will never forget it.” He further explains that advertising must “Irritate. Irritate. Irritate.” Vic must find a way to keep his integrity and keep this client happy.

The Man in a Grey Flannel Suit, 1956: Gregory Peck is a Madison Avenue Public Relations man. He is uncomfortable with the deceptions that are a routine in his work. Ultimately, he finds the truth liberates him, in his career, with his family, and dealing with his past.

Twelve Angry Men, 1957: This classic movie, staring Henry Fonda, is about jurors deliberating in a murder trial. It features, on the jury, a pretty dramatic specimen of a wishy-washy and spineless advertising man. He’s the one most willing to be swayed by popular opinion. “Run it up the flagpole, see if anyone salutes.”

North by Northwest, 1959: Gary Grant is an advertising man. When he’s about to be roped into a special assignment with the CIA he says: “Look here, I’m an advertising man not a red herring. I have a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders dependent upon me.” In another scene, he tells his secretary: “In the world of advertising there’s no such thing as a lie. There’s only expedient exaggeration.”

Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979: Dustin Hoffman is Ted Kramer, a creative director, who’s just been handed big THE MID ATLANTIC AIRLINES account. Ted’s wife, (Meryl Streep), announces that she is leaving him and their 7-year-old son. Ted loses his job while trying to be a single parent. One memorable scene shows Ted desperately interviewing for a job the Friday before Christmas with an office party as a backdrop.

Lost in America, 1985: Albert Brooks plays a man fed up with the rat race and convinces his wife to travel across country in a recreactional vehicle. This hero ultimately must return to the business he knows in order to survive.

Nothing in Common, 1986: Tom Hanks is a hot shot creative director who’s just been handed the COLONIAL AIRLINES account. He risks loosing everything to attend to his father in the hospital.

Crazy People, 1990: Dudley Moore finds himself in a mental institution where he discovers telling the truth in advertising is a big idea. His mental patient mates are recruited with a show of hands. “Who wants to be an ad man?” The show of hands is impressive until Dudley follow’s up with “Who wants to be a fire truck?” gets a similar response.

Twelve Angry Men, 1997: This movie was remade with an all-star cast. The wishy-washy ad man remains a timeless classic.
It’s enough to make you wish you sold used cars for a living.




The Power of Puffery

“Our firm offers superior service and the best deals around.” What the heck does a statement like that even mean? Well, I’ve got news for you: It doesn’t mean much. Consumers have become more media savvy and considerably more cynical about the 2,000+ commercial messages, on average, they are assaulted with every day.

Oh sure, it’s perfectly legal to use “puffery” in advertising. Why? Because the courts have determined that no reasonable person would buy a product superiority claim that is the advertising equivalent of braggadocio. It’s discounted even as it is heard. The listener/viewer of such messages have learned to process and screen for real benefits. Most don’t expect to hear or see one. So, when it happens that a product demonstrates value or a message includes a sincere offer to “make it right”? People are caught off guard.
 
Breaking through requires more. It requires better service and better value. Be an advocate for your customer. Lose the puffery. Live up to and surpass expectations. Let the magic of word-of-mouth propel you instead of hype.    

Sunday, January 15, 2012

No Business like New Business.


Business development is the lifeblood of an enterprise. There is no place where that is truer than in an advertising agency. Winning new business is a fiercely competitive game that requires significant investments in time and money. An advertising agency may begin its pursuit of new revenue with an audit and survey of traditional print media, broadcast, outdoor, point of sale, packaging and collateral material for clues to position a prospective client hopes to own in the marketplace and the competition they routinely face. Recommendations for planning and implementation can only be effective if it appropriately leverages attributes that are consistent with how a company wants to present itself to the world. The strategy needs to take into account a full understanding of the competitive environment as well.

But even that isn’t enough. You have to check all claims against perceptions of internal and external audiences, (assuming that perception is reality). Are the messages that are currently conveyed by gatekeepers in customer service and throughout the product delivery/distribution channels consistent with the position the brand owns in the mind of its best customers? Is the business delivering on its promise or falling short? Are there opportunities to reinforce competitive advantages with real and perceived differences for the brand?

Accurate assessment and analysis might be the difference between winning and losing. Of course there are also the vagaries of relationships. People generally want to work with people they know, like and trust. However, category and brand familiarity can sometimes be overriding considerations.

An illustration of the dilemma could be found in a hospital looking for an advertising agency. In this scenario, the decision-makers at the hospital may respect the track record of the agency with a long list of hospitals with whom they have worked. The danger here might be the tendency for the hospital to make a safe choice and thereby fall into a kind of conventional wisdom that leads to accepting the “status quo” instead of finding a unique and powerful competitive advantage.

Taking care of existing business is important of course. (Growing the core is a smart and conservative way to assure success.) But there is nothing quite like the excitement and energy at an agency when the team effort and dilligence produce a result that gets the order. Ring the bell. Celebrate. Now get to work.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rowdy Golf Weekend 04 Remembered

Friday, Saturday and Sunday June 11, 12, 13, 2004. I share this account again in loving tribute to our friend Bill Vann who died this past December (2010) and as a thank you to Rowdy Golfers for the memories. We will miss you Bill! (Especially when we need a favorable ruling).

The infamous Rowdy Golf weekend arrived. I arrive at The Hidden Meadow Short Course (Dave’s neighborhood) before daybreak because we have plans to start the golf junky weekend with nine at Creve Coeur. To accomplish this, we need to be first on the course - Before their first tee time of 6:00 a.m. I handed Dixie a check that covers our greens fees as she is just starting to open up the pro shop and Dave and I are off to the races.

Creve Coeur Golf Course Friday June 11, 2004 - before 6:00 a.m. It’s early and while I may have had a good shot or two. I am a long way from “fine tuned.” Dave shot a 45 and I shot a 54 for nine. But the scores don’t matter. What matters is that we got it in. News of this early nine establishes our fanaticism as we arrive at the Lake of the Ozarks – and that alone has value. 165 Miles from Creve Coeur we are ready to tee up at Beer Creek, the first course on the Rowdy Golf Weekend agenda.

Bear Creek Golf Club – Round One Friday June 11, 2004 - 11:30 a.m. Dave and I make decent time in his Suburban. Arrive in the Ozarks with have plenty of time to get accustomed to the greens at Bear Creek Valley Golf Club. The Rowdy Golf quorum is achieved when Bill Vann, Bill Hawkins, Captain Mike, Terry Cook, Tom Shaughnessy, and Rowdy Jones all arrive. We are off to the races again. Dave and I are teamed with Bill Vann and Captain Mike. Captain Mike swears like a sailor. He and Bill have been friends for a long time. They are the kind of golfers who like to chatter a lot as they play. They are the most senior golfers in the group – which may partially explain the reason for their generous interpretation of the rules. Bill Vann’s rules and scoring become a running gag throughout the weekend. The Creve Coeur round didn’t help me too much because I ended up with 112 for the round. Rating 69.2, Slope 120 – It shouldn’t have been so tough.

Bear Creek Golf Club – Round Two Friday June 11, 2004 approximately 4:00 p.m. It’s still plenty early to play more golf. Half of our group elects to head to Dogwood Hills (the course at the Best Western where we have two rental units – condo/bungalows). Dave and I agree to attack Bear Creek again. Even though we are frustrated by the course and insist that we hate the place – we want to keep playing. Tom Shaughnessy and Terry Cook join us. We start with the first hole and by the time we reach the second hole it’s raining. We all agree to press on (which turns out to be a good decision because the storm moved on through and we were in the sun for the balance of the afternoon). I shot 48 on the front nine and a sorry 61 on the back. I par #2, #6, #15 and bogey three holes. (Six okay holes for me.) 109 at least is an improvement over round one by three strokes.

Witch’s Cove at Four Seasons, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Signature Course Saturday June 12, 2004 7:30 a.m. This is a golf course! Robert Trent Jones, Sr. knows how to design a golf course – he designed something like 500 of them. This time it’s Bill Hawkins, Tom Shaugnessy, Dave Cox and me. Hawkins is clearly the best golfer of our group. Funny thing about a guy named HAWKins is his uncanny ability to find lost balls. He must have great eyes because he can see them land and go right to them. This is a righteous skill to have in your foursome. I start the round with a smack right into a house. No kidding. Fortunately the guy is a great sport - and this is not the first time his siding has been tested. I drop and make a six on the first hole. I bogey the next hole and make a snowman (8) on the next. The #4 par three is one of those magical holes where I make par after landing on the green and the rest of the foursome struggles a bit. I had a good deal of fun razzing Dave who came up short on his drive on this hole. I managed to par the next hole – a par five. I par #8 too. It almost looked like I was a player for a few holes. I score 50 on the front and 55 on the back for a 105.

Osage National Golf Club, Arnold Palmer Design, June 12, 2004 1:30 p.m..The Rowdy Golf schedule calls for us to get to our next course with enough time for a quick bite. They have 27 holes at Osage National. We played the “River” and “Mountain” Combination. They’ve had some rain here and its CART PATH ONLY. This time it’s Bill Hawkins, Terry Cook, Dave and me. I scored 52 and 52 for 104. On the “Mountain” nine I pared #2, #3, #4, #6 and made snowmen on #1, #5, #9 and two sevens. Again – plenty of encouragement for me to keep playing this stupid game.

Dogwood Hills Golf Club, June 13, 2004. We woke up to a pretty dismal outlook on the day. It must have rained most of the night and our original plan to play the Oaks at Tan Tara is nixed by the group. In part because Bill Hawkins convinces us that a cart path only round at that difficult course terrain will be exhaustive – too much stress on the Hawkins knees. Good thing too – I was not in the best form after staying out pretty late (1:30 a.m.). Bill Vann, Bill Hawkins, Dave and I are together this time. The course is pretty flat (Rating 67.3, slope 113) and should have been easy. Maybe I would have been better had I played this course on Saturday. 54 and 56 for 110.  And that’s with several breaks allowed by the Bill Vann rules committee – multiple Mulligans, a free drop or two etc. Maybe the funniest hole for me was the par three at #5. I managed a high pop up shot that veared left, hit the cart path and bounced nearly all but 20 yards back to me. My second shot found the only branch that could remotely be considered “in play” and came up short again on the third shot. Pathetic. Nevertheless, Bill Hawkins and Bill Vann and (of course) Dave took great satisfaction in my troubles.Hawkins shot a 38 and a 40 for 78. Dave shot 44 and 42 for a very respectable 86. Bill Vann claims a 90 and I shot 110.

The following is an e-mail I sent to the Rowdy Golfers after we all returned to St. Louis:

To all my fellow golfers. I had a great time at Rowdy Golf '04.
1. I am gonna practice putting so Bill Hawkins will stop laughing.
2. I am gonna stay away from polyester - it makes your balls turn yellow.
3. I am gonna buy Bill Vann's new book of rules for the game.
4. I am gonna send Tom Schaughnessy a book of Robert Frost Poems to memorize.
5. I am gonna call the PGA and have Dave Cox's driver confiscated (and those illegal lime green tees too).
6. I am gonna avoid wearing my "Rowdy Golf Shirt" around the house until I pay the electric bill.
7. I am gonna encourage everyone who goes to the lake to check out Bear Creek Valley Golf Course (I have a sinister side).
8. I am gonna go back to Sharky's and finish the back nine of Golden Tee (just got too).
9. I am gonna go back to G Q Lounge and give them Rowdy's Home Address (tell em to show up for a surprise party next Sunday).
10. Suggest "Damn, it went straight!" as an addition to the memorable lines for next year's Rowdy Golf promo piece (hat tip to T Cook).

I hope you guys had as much fun as I did. Let's do it again (but not too soon).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Core Values for Marketing Communications

Resources are limited. Here's a set of core values you can share with your marketing communications group. If everyone on the team has the same marching orders and the knowledge that if they did their job well they   do thier job well, they will add value to the company.

1. DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU WILL DO.
2. FINE TUNE ROUTINE.
3. BE DEAD SERIOUS ABOUT DEADLINES.
4. HAVE A BIAS FOR ACTION.
5. ONE COMPANY - NOT AN ISLAND, NOT A SILO.
6. BE A DRIVER OF BEST PRACTICES

DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU WILL DO.“EXCEEDING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS” BEGINS WITH DELIVERING ON PROMISES. UNDER PROMISE/OVER DELIVER. CREDIBILITY IS KEY - AND IT MUST BE EARNED EVERY DAY. SHIFT YOUR CULTURE AWAY FROM MISSED OPPORTUNITIES. STRETCH GOALS ARE OKAY - BUT RECOGNIZE THEM AS SUCH.

FINE TUNE ROUTINE. PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE A SENSE OF MISSION. LIKE A JOURNEY - HAVE A SENSE OF WHAT IT WILL TAKE EACH DAY TO ARRIVE AT OUR DESTINATION. WE NEED A SHARED VISION. WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE SURPRISES - BUT WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH THEM AS ROUTINE. EVEN DURING A FIRE ALARM - THE PRUDENT THING TO DO IS TO STAY CALM AND WALK TO THE EXIT. IT IS EASIER TO PLAN FOR PREDICABLE EVENTS. WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT TO COME TO WORK EACH DAY WITH A CLEAR IDEA ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH?HASTE MAKES WASTE. YOU WOULDN’T PLAN TO FAIL SO DON’T FAIL TO PLAN.

BE DEAD SERIOUS ABOUT DEADLINES. EVEN IN A  COMPLEX ORGANIZATION IT TAKES A LOT OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF PEOPLE TO MAKE THE WORLD GO AROUND. IF YOU CREATE AN INTERNAL CULTURE OF MEETING DEADLINES, YOU WILL GET BETTER AND DELIVER ON-TIME OR AHEAD OF TIME. WINNING TEAMS HAVE PRECISION TIMING - THE MEMBERS OF THOSE TEAMS UNDERSTAND HOW CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TIMING TRULY IS.

HAVE A BIAS FOR ACTION. LOOK AROUND THE ROOM AND ASK YOURSELF HOW MUCH THE MEETING IS COSTING THE COMPANY. YOU WERE HIRED TO DO A JOB. DO IT! SURE, IT’S IMPORTANT TO BUILD BRIDGES OF UNDERSTANDING IN CROSSFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND BOND, WITH COWORKERS BUT YOU HAVE TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR POSITION. BE A LEADER. TAKE APPROPRIATE RISKS. AVOID PUTTING THINGS OFF. WAITING COSTS A FORTUNE (WHEN COMPARED TO TIMELY AND THOUGHTFUL DECISION MAKING).

ONE COMPANY - NOT AN ISLAND, NOT A SILO. NO MAN IS AN ISLAND. GET HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT. THE SILO YOU BELONG TO EXISTS FOR A GREATER GOOD. KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON THE BIGGER PICTURE. IF WE ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BUILD A QUALITY CULTURE - THE WHOLE WILL BE SO MUCH LARGER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS. EMBRACE OUR DIFFERENCES.

BE A DRIVER OF BEST PRACTICES STUDY BEHAVIOR YOU ADMIRE. MODEL BEHAVIOR YOU HOPE OTHERS WILL ADMIRE. APPLY WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED IN OTHER ARENAS. SET THE BAR HIGHER THAN STATUS QUO. GOOD ENOUGH IS NOT ENOUGH. RUN FASTER THAN THE SLOW HERD WITH WHICH YOU ARE RUNNING. BE PASSIONATE ABOUT THE RIGHT THING - AND DO THE RIGHT THING EVERY CHANCE YOU GET