Are you really playing catch or are you just throwing?

People regularly ask me if I am a full-time blogger. This always makes me laugh. I assume that would mean that I blog 24-hours a day. Which would make it really hard to shower. Or trim my fingernails. I actually have several other responsibilities. I am the Founder of the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. And when I am not blogging or foundering I spend my time husbanding and fathering.

Fathering

I got my fist job as a father in 2005. Since then I have tripled my responsibilities. My youngest son is a 7-year old viking named Magnus who inherited my love for football.  In fact we toss a football around every morning while waiting for the school bus.

Yesterday Magnus must have eaten his Wheaties (which is a reference that you’ll only understand if you were born before 1980). Because every time Magnus tossed the ball he threw it way over my head. So I jogged to pick up the ball, and tossed it back. But after several of these Wheaties-fueled throws I stopped and asked Magnus,

‘Are we playing catch, or are you just playing throw?’

 

 

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Magnus always wants me to go long.

As I asked the question I recognized that Magnus’ approach was emblematic of a common problem that occurs every day in communications. Both personal and professional.

Tossing Marketing Messages

In the most basic form, marketing communications are a simple game of catch. The game starts with a marketer throwing a message to a prospective buyer. The prospective buyer catches the message and throws his or her message back. That message could be, I’m interested, I’m not interested, I’m confused, or Tell me more. As long as you are communicating there is an opportunity to get to a mutually beneficial transaction.

But far too often marketers throw their messages the way Magnus threw the football. Hard. Fast. High. Marketers are focused on their own perspective. In their eagerness to drive results (ROI) they shout what they think is important. They don’t think enough about the person at the other end of the message. Thus, their message sails way over the head of the intended recipient. And there is no reply at all.

Before you throw your next message: 

  1. Know who you are throwing to.
  2. Understand how they like to catch.
  3. Account for the distance.
  4. Throw something catchable.
  5. Observe what happens when you throw your message, and recalibrate accordingly.
  6. Prepare to receive the message that gets tossed back to you.

Remember, communication is a two-way interaction. Account for your audience in everything you do. Make it an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. When you do you’ll be surprised how many people will happily play catch with you.

If you found anything I threw your way useful, or think I am off target, please share a comment or subsrcibe to this blog so we can keep playing catch.

 

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My little slice of Alabama’s championship season.

There are a lot of factors that go into developing The Perfect Agency. But the ultimate goal of creating such an ad agency is to create the right conditions to consistently generate great work that has a meaningful impact on the clients we serve.  Just before the college football season began this fall my team and I were working feverishly to bring a really exciting new campaign to life for UPS. The basic premise of the project was that college football has a tremendous economic impact on college football towns. So we profiled these great towns that often double in population thanks to the pilgrimages that occur on football Saturdays.

We talked to local businesses and they shared the opportunities and challenges associated with the swelling demands of game day. And I was proud to hear business owners declare that our client, UPS, played an instrumental role in enabling them to meet those demands.

Thanks to this campaign my football season started in Tuscaloosa, Alabama last August in 99 degree heat.  We spent two days covering the town, the school, the Crimson Tide football program and the local small businesses. I came away with a real affinity for the town, the beautiful campus, and the people.  I also developed an even deeper admiration for the championship caliber football program.  And since we brought a film crew with us I left with a video that summarized it all in about 60 seconds. And because my phone has a camera, I’ve included a few images from the experience below.

Congratulations to The University of Alabama on your fourth national championship in seven years.  And thanks for offering us such a great story to tell. Roll Tide. And roll the video.

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Me at the end of a very hot day. I was surprised to find they had hung my initials on the columns to welcome me.
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I beat Nick Saban in a heated game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
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Bear Bryant. The bird that tarnished his fedora was deported.
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If you’re ever in Tuscaloosa stop by Dreamland for some dreamy barbecue.
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And if the contacts start moving in your eyes football isn’t so simple.
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Let there be light. And Alabama football. And a flag. And maybe an umbrella.
It was hot. Not triple-digit hot. But close.
It was hot. Not triple-digit hot. But close.
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Turns out Alabama has had some success turning out quarterbacks. (Although doesn’t that building in Green Bay say that Don Hutson was a Center?)

 

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The Black Warrior River at sunrise. This photo may be upside down.
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You don’t want to hear me drone on about our drone.