On NASCAR Initiation: A Semi-humorous Account

Our NASCAR tickets were hot in our hands as my 10-year-old son and I headed out to our first ever race at the Texas Motor Speedway, also known as the Redneck Roohaha. I had tried to get myself psyched up for the vast amounts of backwoods culture we might encounter but no amount preparation could have prepared me for the onslaught.

NASCAR is basically Wrestlemania on steroids.  The warriors weren’t the Von Ericks or the Great Kabuki, but sheet-metaled steeds. And the crowd was definitely the same, except there were 100,000 packed into the bleachers each carrying a wheeled chest of highly coveted cargo, Coors Light. As race-time neared, Foreigner took the stage. The creaking rockers belted out Hot Blooded as a  co-worker was posting up Facebook pics of herself and a friend on the infield, imbibing Four Loko’s, what I hear is the most God-forsaken drink ever invented.

My son and I flipped on the driver scanner we had rented, but being novices, we had no sound of the sweet serenade of pit chiefs checking their connections with their drivers. I toyed with the radio only to realize I was a victim of my own race ignorance. This was the Sprint Cup series not the Nationwide. The tweak of a button set the scanner crackling to life, as the driver’s introductions began.

I was not aware that there was a universal NASCAR villain, but that became quickly apparent as the name Jeff Gordon echoed over the P.A.  A chorus of boos and hisses erupted from all the sleeveless shirted, jort cladded men and women sitting around us. You would have thought this man had intentions to bring down another large American skyscraper, but it turned out to be even worse—he was Californian.

My son was growing impatient for the start. A rousing National Anthem ensued, whereby I realized EVERYONE here was from a Red State as they sang passionately with various food-products-on-a-stick held gingerly over their hearts.  After the invocation, my son leaned over and said, “So this is a Christian event, huh?” Please God, I know you love these people dearly, but please don’t leave Christendom solely in their hands.

“Gentlemen–no Danica in this race, START YOUR ENGINES!” Upon this command the rubber pawed beasts roared to life with a noise like that I have never heard before.  They eased around the track following the pace car. You could sense each longed for speed as fans stood to their feet. And then it came, the drop of the flag. We sat on curve #1 and as the cars came by a shockwave of sound and wind rumbled over me. My son clutched his earphones tightly to his head, fearful of the exaggerated reports he had heard of instantaneous deafness if his aural precaution were to lapse for even a millisecond.

We watched the race continue with little event. About lap 50 my son said, “All they do is go in circles? Let’s go.” I wanted to get a bit more of my money’s worth so I bribed him with food. “How about a Fletcher’s corn dog, just like the state fair?” Okay he nodded back. I didn’t know if he really heard what I said. We got the golden fried corndog. He slathered it with mustard and ketchup and we headed back to the stands.

And Then It Happened.

Corbin had set down his corndog on the aluminum benches next to him. Behind us sat the king of all things hillbilly, appearing unshaven and unshowered. He had a pot belly, which he filled by drankin’ whiskey straight from a Mason jar. He was definitely feeling like this was his house and his people as he belted out a “Woooooohoooooo.” And then it happened. I had noticed he was shoeless.Probably left them back in the Airstream, no doubt.  Soon his shoeless, fungaled feet slipped on the back of our aluminum bleacher. But they didn’t stop quite there. His yellow-nailed big toe wrapped around Corbin’s corndog and just rested there, caressing golden cylinder of processed meat with slow massaging motions as the coolness of the mustard and ketchup oozed between his toes. He just made a face that said, “Man that feels goooood.”  Corbin sat wide-eyed in disbelief as I threw up in my mouth a bit. Through the roar, Corbin gave me a look that said, “Dad, please, please, Dad!” Needless to say, the corndog went uneaten and we hightailed it back to the car, having had a thorough enough NASCAR experience to call it a night without fear we had missed something. We have been fully initiated!

Poor Kazahkstan. Another Public Relations Blunder.

At a recent medal ceremony,  the host country, Kuwait,  played the national anthem of Kazakhstan. Except, oops, it wasn’t the true national anthem it was one done by actor Sasha Cohen as his character Borat.

Here is the real Kazakhstan National Anthem

The Borat anthem was accidentally played by organizers at a medal ceremony at the Arab Shooting Championships. Gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko stood on the podium looking bemused at the mix-up, which was described as a “scandal” by Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov.

The false anthem – which extols Kazakhstan’s potassium and prostitutes and memorably contains the line “Kazakhstan – greatest country in the world, all other countries are run by little girls” – was played in the 2006 movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Quote from The Atlantic.

Former Soviet Kazakhstan is Central Asia’s largest economy and hopes to become one of the world’s top energy exporters by 2020.

 

Reason Rally. Poor Reason in The Decision to Invite Westboro Church.

The Reason Rally has been self-billed as “the largest secular event in world history.” Atheists gathered yesterday in Washington D.C. to rally in support of  secularism.  I am all for their freedom to do this and even encourage it. I am always for someone bringing their “beliefs” into the light of day for those beliefs to be examined.  (I say “beliefs” because several of my atheist friends would rail against it this term, though it holds).

However, I cannot respect the Reason Rally’s proactive invitation of Westboro Baptist Church to be the face of Christianity. The decision to invite Westboro Baptist Church was not done in ignorance, but utterly disingenuous. It is akin to doing a multi-faith conference and saying, “We need someone to represent Islam, but who could we call to we make sure it is not seriously considered? Let’s call Al Qaeda.”

The decision to invite Westboro reveals a degree of fear or a lack of commitment to reason. Are the Reason Rally not confident their belief system will stand up to the best philosophical thinkers within Christianity? Why wasn’t William Layne Craig, Alistair McGrath, or other faith “heavyweights” invited? Anthony Flew would have been delicious had he still been living. I have lots of atheist friends and others with whom I interact. When dialoging with them, I want them to put forward their best thinkers, even if those thinkers responsibly assail my belief system full force. The Westboro crowd neither thinks nor acts responsibly.

The invitation was admittedly done as a publicity stunt. It is unfortunate that the conversation between those of faith who utilize rational philosophical argument and those rationalists who claim to eschew any need of faith was not better fostered. Maybe the Reason Rally was not the best public square in which to have this conversation, but inviting Westboro Baptist ensured it would be even less so. If the atheists want to change their image, they should engage the best Christian thinkers, not the worst.

So, my atheist friends, let us have the best possible dialog possible in the the arena of the civil public square. Please feel to comment.

Creative Cover Letter Gets Results

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The job market is still tough. You must do something to break through the drudgery a hiring manager is experiencing as he goes through cover letter after bland cover letter. (Trust me, I just read through 80 resumes for a position we needed filled).

My recent job landing came through unique efforts and opportunities. It all started with my creative cover letter.

I was determined to have a unique, humorous approach to my job search. I started a temporary Facebook account in which I loaded in the content I wanted, did a screen capture. I then edited the screen capture with Photoshop mock-up of a Facebook wall and used humorous status updates that reflected the true value I could bring as employee. After converting this to a pdf, I then attached this creative cover letter to my traditional cover letter, and my resume and began launching it out. I made sure the title on the pdf file of the creative cover letter had a catchy title. I experimented with different titles including Whacky Cover Letter, Unorthodox Cover Letter, Funny Cover Letter, Facebook Cover Letter,etc. on different launches.

The Results

I had for some time sent out a serious cover letter and resume into the black hole of monster.com. Five days after creating the cover letter, I, on a whim, decided to check craigslist for some freelance copywriting opportunities. I came across the opportunity for a social media manager position at a mid-cities public relations agency. I shot my creative cover letter out on a Saturday  morning and within 15 minutes had a call back from the company COO. He asked if I could come into their boutique public relations firm for an interview for their social media manager position. During the interview, it didn’t take long for me and the COO to realize I was a “wee bit” overqualified for the position. As we ended our interview, the COO mentioned that he felt for some reason, I really needed to meet his wife, the company CEO. Two days later that meeting happened, and she led off the conversation saying the creativity visible in the cover letter compelled her to meet with me. Her staff had vetted me and she was impressed. I was made an offer on the spot to become Senior Account Executive.

Lessons to draw upon.

Be creative. Do something to set yourself apart. Consider an add-on to your traditional cover letter.

Be willing to use atypical channels (yes, craiglist even).

Don’t fall into the myth that you have to know someone within the company. While it does help, it isn’t always necessary. I had absolutely no connections to anyone within the public relations firm.

Keep up your hope with hope (help one person everyday while you job searching).

Take the interview even if it is a company you’d like to work with but not the exact position you desire. On the other hand, if it is the exact position you want but in a company you’d never want to work for, skip it, unless you merely want to practice interviewing. Get in the door of your preferred companies or businesses, shine in the interview, and trust God with the details.

Marketing Math–Are You Using It?

(or How To Stop Believing Marketing Gibberish)

Use this  Marketing Math Made Simple chart to improve your marketing efforts by bringing them into the real, harsh world of P&L, expenses, and cashflow. The mere mention of these terms gives marketers the willies, yet this is what keeps business owners up at night.

Here is Marketing Math Made Simple:

Profits, Revenue and Expenses

The goal of business is to make a difference in the world while earning maximum profit. I know some forgo the “make a difference world” piece; they shouldn’t. The only way to increase profit is 1) increase revenue or 2) decrease expenses.

Marketing is not an investment.

While many marketers will use the term return on investment when referring to marketing, in its truest sense, this is incorrect. In an investment, you place principal into things–stocks, businesses, oil wells–that return dividends on the leverage of your principal. At the end of the investment, you earn back your principal plus dividends (unless it all went south, of course).  The object invested in can be sold if necessary to get a return of principal–house, oil well, stocks. This is not how marketing works.

Marketing is an expense.

When you buy a print ad, radio spot, or Facebook ad, your “principal” is forever gone. You cannot resale the ad or spot. Good business owners realize marketing is a necessary expense of doing business–like a computer, or staff, or stationery. It is tempting for marketing people to try to sell their services as an investment. “Would you like to invest in your business?” sounds like a much better selling point than, “Would you like to incur some new expenses?”But better-pitch-point does not equal true.

Some expenses are good expenses.

Buying  new computers when your old ones won’t compute the task at hand without smoking, sputtering and wasting time, good expense. Spending money on new staff when your current staff is overloaded and you’ve tried less expensive efficiency tools (project management software, shock collars, etc.), good expense. Staying in a five-star hotel on business trips, bad expense. Good expenses open up the funnel of potential business growth and reduce the bottleneck of inefficiency. Bad expenses are silly.

Profit is the true measure.

The crux of Marketing Math Made Simple is that profit should increase at a greater rate than the associated marketing expenses. Granted it will take time for marketing to have affect. Some marketers and business owners will allow marketing expenses to accumulate ad infinitum without ever seeing a increase in profit. If so, marketing becomes a bad expense.

How We Use Marketing Math in Our Approach at Jordan P. Fowler Consulting

If you spend any time around us, you will quickly pick up on our evidenced based business development and marketing approach. While we may use the terms “brand awareness,” “increased followers” and other marketing speak, we realize they are never the end game.

The only measure of successful marketing is INCREASED PROFITS resulting from a growth of revenue that outpaces marketing expenses incurred. 

1. We conduct a BeFogFree exercise.

This provide incredible clarity of your unique core values and make key business model adjustments before amplifying your core uniqueness through marketing. (Read more on BeFogFree).

2. We establish a clear “You are Here” profit metric.

We determine your present metric of profit, revenue, and expenses. If this is not known, progress cannot be measured.

3. We conduct an efficiency study to reduce expenses and eliminate headaches.

We assess your current business systems and processes, making efficiency recommendations to reduce operating expenses and ready you for increased growth as a result of your marketing. This helps eliminates those nagging business headaches.

4.We set marketing budgets together.

We sit down with you to determine what market expenses you can incur that make good sense based upon our marketing research (consumer, competitor, etc.) allowing us to finance the best marketing strategies possible.

5. We share your comprehensive strategic report.

The results of 1-5 are presented to you in our Comprehensive Strategic Report including our BeFogFree findings, Headache Eliminators, and Value Amplifying marketing strategy. At this time we set an official date for a formal progress review to see if your Marketing Success Ratio has increased and by what degree. Rest assured that we are monitoring this throughout the process

6. We execute the marketing strategies, amplifying your value.

Upon your approval we create the need marketing products (ads, website, social media sites, etc) measuring and tracking results in partnership with you and your staff. We take your unique, distinct value and crank it to 11 for the world to hear.

7. We do our formal review.

This is where the evidence that your marketing is working becomes empirically clear . We analyze your initial Marketing Success Ratio versus current Marketing Success Ratio versus our goal for improvement in the ratio.

a. If the desired improvement in the ratio is not achieved, we check to see if more leads have been generated. If they have, we work with you to close the breakdown gap on your end with customer service staff training, additional operations analysis, etc.

b. If you haven’t received more leads, we can adjust or marketing strategies or we invite you to fire us! Not many marketing agencies will give you that invitation–we do.

8. We repeat steps 3-7.

We invite you to call us at 817-889-1487 to set up a free consultation to see how our proven business development and marketing process can increase your profits and provide you more peace of mind and sanity.

Why Marketing Folks Are Often Discounted as Flakes

Read this article via fournaisegroup.com in which 73% of CEO’s think their marketing people are a bit flaky. As someone who bridges the marketing and business development gap, I concur to a large degree, preferring an evidenced outcome based assessment model versus a brand awareness model of measurement on the expense of advertising. Here are a few of their findings:

The top issues CEOs have with their Marketers are:

(1) They keep on talking about brand, brand values, brand equity and other similar parameters that their top management has great difficulties linking back to results that really matter: revenue, sales, EBIT or even market valuation (77%)

(2) They focus too much on the latest marketing trends such as social media, because they believe they represent the new marketing frontiers – but can rarely demonstrate how these trends will help them generate more business for the company (74%)

(3) When asked to increase their Marketing ROI, they tend to understand it as cost cutting through better economies of scale or negotiations with their third-party partners and agencies, instead of top-line growth generation: more revenue, more sales, more prospects, more buyers (73%)

(4) They are always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate (72%)

(5) They bombard their stakeholders with marketing data that hardly relate to or mean anything for the company’s P&L (70%)

(6) Unlike CFOs and Sales Forces, they don’t think enough like businesspeople: they focus too much on the creative, “arty” and “fluffy” side of marketing and not enough on its business science, and rely too much on their ad agencies to come up with the next big idea (67%)

The worrying part: while 73% of CEOs think Marketers lack business credibility and are not effectiveness-focused enough to generate incremental customer demand, 69% of the Marketers Fournaise talked to feel their strategies and campaigns do make an impact on the company’s business, even though they can’t precisely quantify or prove it – confirming the great CEO-Marketers disconnect.

We prefer a the CEO’s measurements and demand for outcome based results but believe in using as much creativity as possible to achieve those results. Profits are the 0x and creativity is the cart (or horse and carriage if you roll that way). The fact that the company has profits allows marketers to use a portion of those profits to fund their creativity. Oftentimes, marketers think of this in reverse order. It can become tempting to think that a product or service exists because we market it. In actuality, we can market because their is a product or service that exists to be promoted. Thus, marketers should speak and measure in these terms as well as traditional marketing terminology:

 1) Profits and sale. Profits are to be the first line of evaluation at all times (or outcomes for nonprofits). Always track company profits versus marketing efforts. Even if direct causation cannot be tracked, strong correlation should be seen.

2) Qualified leads increased and delivered to sales force. If you are not finding out the media in which captured the people calling sales, you are failing in a huge part of your marketing responsibilities.

3) Forward moving conversions (example, increase of x% of number of Facebook friends who made purchases).

4) Referrals generated resulting in new qualified leads. Are any marketing efforts resulting in making our existing customers more prone to refer.

5) Specific revenue generation vs. expense from specific mediums, even better specific campaigns and ads

6) Hard metric profit/sales increase goals. You need to be judged and critiqued like every other operating sector within the business. Theses should be specific, bound in time and number and outcome rather than output based.

Second to this are things like consumer brand awareness, social media follower counts, page visits. Three hundred new Facebook friends who never convert to purchasers do  little good in convincing your CEO that their marketing expenses are valid expenses.

So marketers, learn business-ese and you’ll find your CXO’s will view your department as less flaky and be willing to increase your budgets.