Skip to main content

Knowing Your Brand Means Knowing Yourself

Sonia gave a presentation this morning at Wichita State University as part of its Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series. She spoke about lessons learned over our 20-year history, showed short videos of our work and team, and walked the audience through current plans for Mid-Continent Airport’s new terminal – branded to reflect Wichita’s heritage as Air Capital of the World.

Throughout her presentation Sonia wove in branding tips and the importance of standing out. WSU President Don Beggs told her only today that he’d never forgotten the top hat she’d worn to deliver a commencement speech years ago. “He didn’t remember the speech, but he remembers the hat!” she said to laughter.

She told the group how, early in her career, she left a good-paying job at Boeing to follow her inner muse. A colleague there wished her well saying, “She was fuchsia silk in a gray-flannel world.”

During the Q&A, realtor extraordinaire Cindy Carnahan asked: “How old were you when you figured out there was no box for you?” “Oh about 7,” Sonia replied.

Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Numerous anecdotes reinforced Sonia’s point that you need to differentiate yourself from the competition to grow and thrive. That means getting outside of your comfort zone. Shaking things up with compelling messaging and creative. Choosing brand engagement channels that foster dialogue and relationships.

One attendee questioned how social media has any application to marketing. Lon Smith, director of the Kansas Aviation Museum, quickly jumped in with feedback about the new digital tools Greteman Group helped him launch. He said the museum realized a 200% increase in attendance this past month as a direct result and was recently contacted via Twitter by a potential funder from Southeast Asia. “If you think social networking tools don’t work,” he said (nicely of course), “you’re wrong.”

Thank You For Being You

Sonia received many kudos after the event for her wisdom, enthusiasm, inspiration and chutzpa. While public speaking isn’t high on her fun list, she’s good at it. Because she keeps it real.

Click here to check out more photos from the presentation.

When Sales Go Sour

I recently received an invitation for inclusion into a Who’s Who registry. I debated its merits for a nanosecond, looked again at the reassurance “…is pleased to inform you that there are no fees or dues to be included in the publication,” then figured, what the heck. It would be good ink for the agency, right?

I filled out and submitted the requested information, then received a call a few days later. After answering more questions than I would have liked, the representative excitedly confirmed that, yes indeed, I was Who’s Who material.

And, of course, here came the sales pitch. Would I like to purchase the four-figure option most people go for or the lesser, three-figure package? When I told her neither, the sputtering began. She was incredulous. Did I not know the value of this prestigious listing? How could I possibly say no? I said, “Well, I’m simply taking you up on your original offer to be included at no cost in this listing. That’s all I’m interested in.”

I heard a click followed by a dial tone.

Who did she think she was hanging up on a Who’s Who? Hmmm. Maybe the designation isn’t so special after all.

WAMA Twitter Presentation

GG digital brand manager Todd Ramsey recently provided a “Twitter 101” to a crowd of area marketing professionals. Todd – known as @toddblog to his fellow Tweeps – focused on the business aspects of this microblogging tool. He highlighted five practical ways for personal and corporate brands to take advantage of Twitter: promotion, information, feedback, support and connection. J

en Gore (@jennyjuniper) and I (@crashley)provided a tweet-by-tweet of the event. You can photos of the event here.

If you’re part of a group or organization looking to learn more about Twitter or just social media in general, Todd and Jen would love to share their knowledge. Just click here for information about their presentation.

Aviation Wears the White Hat

When members of Congress assailed Detroit’s Big Three CEOs for having the audacity to fly to Washington for bailout hearings, they hemmed and hawed. And fumbled. Hats in hand, outstretched for public dollars, the intelligence, judgment and decisiveness that propelled them to the pinnacle of American industry utterly failed them. They’ve been characterized as deer in headlights and, clichéd though that is, it’s apt.

Unfortunately, the entire private aviation industry froze in the middle of the road, too, while an 18-wheeler of public resentment over the greed-stoked crumpling economy flattened it. There’s nothing much rational about this tailspin, and there’s no point lamenting the inaction and missed opportunities that sucked aviation into the vortex. Except for this: understanding the damage done when the industry reacted slowly and tepidly to the juggernaut of criticism can help propel a stronger response now.

The Facts Are on Our Side

Across the board, manufacturers, industry associations and other aviation supporters are now working to get the message out. General aviation is, first and most important, an essential tool of American productivity and economic power and, second, one of the very few bright spots in American manufacturing innovation and accomplishment. Those facts haven’t changed and won’t unless the Luddites win out.

Powering Small Business and Communities Nationwide

Dave Higdon, writing in the newsletter World Aircraft Sales, notes that the great majority of business aircraft fly for small businesses. While only a small percentage serve Fortune 500 companies, perhaps as many as 40 percent are small, 4-6 seat aircraft powered by a single piston engine.

Moreover, while commercial aircraft serve just 500 mostly urban airports, business aircraft fly in to 5,000 small airports. They are the lifeblood of rural America. Without them, thousands of companies would be forced to relocate, ensuring the collapse of small and medium-sized cities and their economies.

Add Your Voice

Businesses from small mom-and-pop operations to the largest corporations have all made hard, calculated decisions that aircraft benefit their efficiency, productivity and, ultimately, their bottom lines. As Pete Bunce, CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, told a Wichita audience this week, it’s astonishing that private aviation should even have to defend itself.

But defend it we must. And we’re gratified to see a growing groundswell of efforts to do just that. We’d simply say: if you’re part of the great majority of Americans who depend on or benefit from private aviation, and you’re not jumping into the fray, it’s time you did. Be smart about it, but don’t mince words. We’re on the right side of this debate. Regional economies, and American productivity, hang in the balance. Not to mention thousands of jobs.

We’re also starting to see the first tiny glimmers of hope that there’s an end to this economic eclipse. It would be a great shame if aviation, and the economy as a whole, suffers permanent damage because we didn’t speak out forcefully enough.

Trust Yourself

I’ve been encouraging all my colleagues to watch TNT’s Trust Me series, Tuesdays at 10/9C. No, it’s not a totally faithful depiction of what we go through every day in our agency. But it hits home far more than it misses.

Like last night. When Mason and Conner pitched a new account, they shed the typical dog-and-pony routine and instead focused on the potential new client. They spent their allotted time not showing reels or slicks, but talking about the challenge and proposed solution.

It was a risky move. And at first they weren’t sure it would prove successful. They followed an agency pitch that pulled out all the stops. The bar was high.

Dare to be Different

Mason and Conner didn’t even try to jump it. They believed in their idea. And, in the end, their prospective client believed, too. He gave them more than his business. He thanked them for not wasting his time and for giving him exactly what he wanted: a simple concept that surprised him.

Bingo. It’s what good communication does. Distilling complicated arguments or product benefits down to their essence. Presenting a singular concept in an arresting, attention-getting, unanticipated way.

Today, we won a new account for very much the same reason. We’d recently responded to an RFP, and when defending our approach in person, we didn’t drag out all our best work or brag about all the Lucite back at the office. We talked about the client. Goals. Strategy.

You Think You Have a Plan…

Photo courtesy of Jim Meyer Photography

Forget “location, location, location.” The three most important words for success are “people, people, people.” That was the resounding theme of a recent panel I participated in as part of Business Week at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University.

I was struck by the common experiences of my varied fellow panelists (pictured above, left to right): Andy Schlapp, WSU director of government relations; Jarrod Bartlett, Boeing Company media relations manager; Susan Addington, Koch Industries manager of community relations; Phil Anderson, Spirit AeroSystems corporate treasurer and vice president of investor relations; and moderator Doug Hensler, Barton School dean. The career paths that took unexpected turns. The odd jobs that gave way to undreamed of opportunities. The people who kept turning up. Again and again. And how absolutely critical they were in getting you to your current career.

Andy Schlapp proves it pays to keep a sense of humor and humility. He’s worked in DC, been the big man, yet defuses any sense of self-importance. When serving as project manager for Sedgwick County’s solid waste management plan, his badge read “Andy Schlapp – Solid Waste.” He deadpanned that he’d have felt better had it at least said “Partial Waste” or “Kind of Waste.”

Hearing these professionals’ stories and thinking back on my own journey, I’m struck how key individuals create and/or guide us through life-changing turning points. They suggest a job you never would have thought of. They believe in you in a way you maybe never believed in yourself. They hold the door so you can step through.

And when you find you’ve walked down a path that’s taken you to a dead end or a place you no longer want to be, it’s often those same people who are waving you over, pointing out a blue highway with the most beautiful scenery or a multilane interstate that lets you zip away.

Sonia Inducted into BMPW Hall of Fame

Sonia’s first words when told she was being inducted into the Broadcast and Media Professionals of Wichita (BMPW) Hall of Fame were, “I’m what???”

Once we filled her in on the details of the award – that it’s given to someone who’s really pushed the field of media forward and not that she’s spent a lifetime in front of a camera or microphone – she was better about it. Kind of. It’s difficult when you’re working away, giving it your best – and then to have someone give you a lifetime achievement award. It makes you think, “Am I an old timer?”

In Sonia’s case, I think we all know the answer to that question.

Sonia has no intention of slowing down or pulling up a rocker. She’s jazzed as never before by the possibilities of new media and the convergence of TV, radio, print, computer, phone, PDA. She’s up to the challenges and plans to seize the opportunities. Wednesday night, as she accepted this prestigious award from a room filled with so many dedicated broadcast and media professionals, Sonia said she was truly humbled. You should have seen it.

Sound Bites From the Evening*

*attributed to the best of my ability – I’m not a paid journalist after all

You can’t be in a room with warm, witty on-air types and not end up laughing most of the night. Or feeling you just heard some might wise words. I wanted to share a few:

“She’s looking for more people to do.” –Don Hall, KZSN Radio DJ about Sierra Scott’s TV show, “It’s All Good.”

“She looks little and petite and smiles and all, but…” –Marcus Wilkerson about his boss, “Mama Bear” Joan Barret, KWCH TV 12 news director/general manager

“You meet some real characters, and you meet some people with real character.” –Pat Moyer, Clear Channel news director

“At the end of the day, you just go home and make your voodoo doll.” –Ken Whitney, KSAS/KMTW production

“God, I hope size doesn’t matter.” –Trace Taul, BOB FM veteran voice talent (upon getting a Lucite award considerably smaller than the predecessor’s)

“Let me give you a great piece of advice, ‘Hire worriers.’” –Al Buch, general manager, KSNW TV 3, given to him by his mom

“I don’t watch that crap. I’m not in that demo.” –Dan Wall, KAKE TV 10, general sales manager

“Unlike a general manager or an on-air person, this person actually works for a living.” –Ron Blue, Clear Channel Outdoor president