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Leveraging OPM

No, not opium. But OPM ... as in other people’s money. This concerns a topic that I share with clients often, as it's but one method for stretching a limited marketing budget.

I was reminded of this important lesson following a recent conversation with Chris Murphy. Chris and I have never met but we connected via email many months ago and our conversations have continued ever since. Chris and his business partner, Nick Telford, came from Ireland and started a new program that introduces children to STEM topics at an early age and in a very creative environment. Their company, C2C Soccer, incorporates basic concepts in math and science into soccer lessons to youngsters. For instance they might set up a dribbling drill where students have to navigate 9 cones, from the center (Sun), to the outer ring (Pluto) and in doing so learn about our solar system.

In any case when two guys from Ireland, who like soccer and teaching young kids, reached out for some free branding advice I couldn’t say no … that was in 2016. Just a few weeks ago Chris called again to get some input on a new tagline and logo he's developing. It seems that his company name, C2C Soccer, is a bit limiting since they now use additional sports activities to convey their STEM lessons. So they are considering changing their organization’s name and logo to reflect their expanded business model (for more on this topic read Open Brands: Evolving Your Value Proposition). I enjoyed seeing the evolution of Chris’ thinking and in return provided some valuable feedback that will help him move his business forward. You see Chris has built a network of informal marketing advisors who provide free input on specific areas of his business. In short he’s leveraging other people’s resources to help his own company.

In a similar vein when I was just a young Account Executive at Dailey & Associates I took on a volunteer role for The Partnership For A Drug-Free America. This was back in the late 80’s and 90’s during our first war-on-drugs. In any case my job was to raise awareness for a new anti-drug campaign. You may recall one of the more memorable TV spots featuring an egg on a hot skittle with the classic line, “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.”

While the advertising being developed by the PDFA was very strong, what the organization needed most was air time. This responsibility fell to its many regional representatives, like me. Being in the ad business I made a point of speaking to some of the local Station Managers in the LA basin and learned that as part of their charters each station had to devote X amount of dollars to public service messaging every year. In other words these stations weren’t just being altruistic when donating airtime, it was actually a mandate of their business. Upon learning this I redoubled my efforts with every TV and radio station and in just one year raised more than $2M in free airtime for the PDFA.

Of course there are many ways to leverage other people’s money. Some involve getting free support; others involve partnerships with like-minded organizations; while some go to the extreme by hitchhiking on other companies’ marketing efforts, a practice known as ambush marketing. No matter the method, it’s important for companies to develop and leverage their eco-system in order to multiply their marketing resources. It's a common practice among large F1000 corporations and even more important for small to mid-sized organizations with limited funds.

So here’s what Chris has to say about our marketing exchange …

"I reached out to John, as I wanted to solve a few re-branding issues with our STEM & Soccer Program. John was obviously an expert in his field. John helped me with finalization of our new logo and our tagline. He was quick to respond and concise. Thanks for the help John!"

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