E-Commerce with an emphasis on Social Technologies
As you’ll hear in this most recent podcast, at the 2011 PIMA Annual Meeting, I thought it might be interesting to get a few comments at the closing reception from attendees. The theme of the conference was “Innovation”. Perhaps like no other time in the history of the association, Innovation is critically needed. In general, “tried and true” best practices for insurance direct marketing through associations and affinity have been showing declining results over the past 5 years. Marketing strategies are shifting even further to “Multi-channel”. Social Media Marketing has emerged as a legit channel, but few are using it. Mobile, QR Codes, video, and other technology-based marketing tactics seem to be ‘the future’.
But there are barriers. Listen in to the comments. What patterns to you hear. Any surprises? This was by no means a scientific and thorough survey – more of a conversation with a few people I happened to see immediately and in a short period of time. What barriers would you add to the list? Were you there? What take-aways to you leave with? It’s been 6 months now. Have you implemented any of them? Care to share a story? Comment here on this blog or back in the Linkedin Group for PIMA. We MUST all learn from each other to keep our industry strong and adapting well to the new technologies and cultures ahead of us.
Thanks in advance. No Lurking, please. Leave a note for other readers to consider as well. Thanks again.
Btw, here’s a direct link to the pictures I shot at the conference.. I’ll be adding more next week at the MidYear Meeting & Trade Show. Greatly looking forward to it. Tell you what, I’m hosting a Cabana Social Hour by the pool at the Broadmoor on Saturday afternoon from 3-4pm. Anyone that Comments on this post and then comes by the Cabana, while supplies last, will get a free 1G USB Drive with a bunch of useful Social Media Marketing stuff. Sound good? Please Comment below. Thanks again.
Our spirits were high as we piled into our Gold 1970 Ford Van and left Jaffrey, NH on our way to the 1972 All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio. Two weeks later, we were in France. So much had happened.
For a couple summers before, my Dad, Dick Wise (1933-1988), and I had built cars to race in the Cub Scout Cubmobile Derby in Jaffrey. The Cubmobile Derby was a local race with a bunch of buddies all about 9 or 10, driving poorly built, hastily made cars down a really steep hill, most of which ended in frightening (but relatively harmless) crashes into bushes and hay bales. [Of course this was in the days before injury lawyers dominated the landscape and took the adventure out of most everything like this.]
So in the fall of 71/72, Dad and I decided to take it up a notch and build a real Soap Box Derby car. Dad, who was 6’9” and an NBA-drafted college basketball player – so… VERY big – “hired” a couple roustabouts from the town who he caught sitting on his car outside his office, and built a really nice basement workshop. He then bought the official Soap Box Derby car blueprint and we started in on building the car.
The key ingredient with the Soap Box Derby construction is that the boy has to physically “do” all the work. So with Dad’s guidance, several nights a week through the winter and spring, down to the basement we would go. First we crafted the wood skeleton – floor and ribs. Then came the mechanical parts – axles, steering, and brakes. (This is where the 1973 and quite likely the 1972 race winners inserted their electro-magnets to cheat their way to victory – see the story in wikipedia.) Lastly was the fiberglass and epoxy. That’s a smell I will NEVER forget – yuck.
By the beginning of summer we had the car ready for sanding and painting. A local body shop in Jaffrey helped with the compound I spread over the fiberglass and taught me how to hand-sand it smooth. Dad made it very clear that the car needed to be super-smooth. Any defects could cost us the race. That was a lot of work, lemme tell ya. Finally the car was ready for painting at Walt’s Signs in Jaffrey.
Race day was in June in Claremont, NH. We showed up with this fantastic car. A quick scan around the rest of the field showed our car was best-in-class to the eye. The race organizers really wanted a local boy to win, so believe it or not, they made us change the wheels on the car. Now mind you, during the winter, Dad had searched nationwide for the best wheels he could find. The wheels were absolutely critical. And we had worked on two sets of wheels to make them as fast as possible. Good thing because the wheels the race organizers forced us to take had been literally hit with a blunt object and damaged.
Dad, with tremendous foresight, had the extra set of wheels in the back of the van. So he took the damaged wheels, with great ferocity (feigned), and while the race official turned his back for a moment, switched them with our back-up wheels. Yep, I witnessed my Dad ‘cheat’… but we were ‘cheated’ on first. To this day, I still don’t quite know how to process those 60 seconds.
Meanwhile, at the same time, Mom and Dad had announced to the family that we would be moving to France in the fall of 1972. FRANCE! Why? Just for the adventure, the culture, and to learn French! So the plan was to sell the Slade House and take the proceeds and move to Tours, France for three years. Dad had a job lined up, so… Cool! We’re going to France! In fact, the entire month of July was spent at the School for International Training in Putney, VT. Everyday, all day, we took French class. We stayed in this fantastic Swiss Chalet dorm for families. I learned how to play really good ping-pong with Asian and Arab guys. Dad was horrible with pronunciation causing the rest of us to laugh until we cried. And my brother, Richard, and I had a great four weeks bunking up in the attic, complete with a fantastic porch overlooking the Connecticut River – and bats!
Back to the Soap Box Derby. As I said, probably 10 of us piled into the Van and drove to Akron, Ohio. So exciting, so nervous. The car was shipped separately under a very controlled process to prevent cheating. When we got there, the car was issued new, gold, “Championship” wheels. Everyone got the exact same wheels, brand new, so luck of the draw whose wheels would prove to be the “fastest”. All the cars were in a building at the top of the hill up on saw-horses. 250 cars filled the room from all over the world, including Puerto Rico, Guam, even a car from Germany as the race was trying to expand internationally, I think.
The pre-race festivities included a couple days at a local camp for the racers – really fun. There were TV stars present including Thurston Howell (Jim Backus from Cleveland) and Mike Brady (Robert Reed), some pro basketball players doing a clinic, and lots of kids’ games – great fun. But I just wanted to race.
Unfortunately, the night before the race, doing our final check on the cars, I decided to climb in the car to visualize the race. Dad had taught me the importance of visualization. So while the car was still on the saw-horses, I climbed in.
What happened next is one of my life’s greatest regrets. It took me several months of thinking about the sequence of events before I figured out the mechanics of the incident and what happened. To net it out, in trying to ‘steer’ the car in my visualization, the steering wheel wouldn’t move. So I pulled on it really hard. I heard a noise like a door creak, but the wheel moved. Satisfied that all was well, I climbed out and waited for the race.
The problem immediately surfaced during the hustle and bustle of race day. The car refused to roll straight. All the way down the hill, as I walked along side heading to the starting ramps and a volunteer held the car from behind with a long, metal handle, each time we stopped for a new heat to load and launch, I continuously had to pick up the nose of the car and move it back to center. I knew something was wrong, but I was in panic shock and didn’t know what to do.
Inevitably it was my turn. The men lifted the car onto the starting block. I climbed in hoping for something to change with the steering. The gate went down. Sure enough, I went hard left. I slammed on the brake before hitting my competitor as he went on by. I climbed out of the car a few feet from the ramp.
What happened from there was kind of a blur – it happened fast and was packed with emotion. I remember speaking with my Dad at the race fence, trying to explain what happened. The race officials joined us, asked a few questions, and debated briefly if I could fix the car and re-do the heat. But when asked, I wasn’t sure what exactly the problem was. So they just said, “No, sorry kid. It would be too much to redo one heat.” I was done. Ughhh – an extremely bitter blend of frustration, shame, loss, anguish, regret, sorry for my dad, sorry for my Grampa, returning home in defeat – just an awful feeling. The “Dream” had become a nightmare.
But the good news was, the very next week, we were off to France. The Soap Box Derby episode was over and a new, even greater adventure lay ahead. And what an incredible 8 or 9 months is would be, starting with the newspapers guys yelling in the street below our hotel room the very first morning in Tours, “ATTENCION! ATTENCION! ATTENCION!” as the news broke of the Munich Olympics Israeli/Palestinian hostage and murder crisis.
So why am I writing all this? Tonight is the Akron, OH World Premier of the movie “25 Hill“, a movie by Corben Bernsen about the Soap Box Derby. The hope is to raise money for the race. So I thought I’d buy tickets, go and reminisce a bit. Definitely will be a bitter sweet moment when I will think about my Dad a lot. But that’s life, right?
Interested in your thoughts after reading the story. Thanks for sharing.
Really great movie on several levels. Won’t spoil it for you – just go see it. Or buy/watch it in future years. Will be interested to know what you think. Notice what the key was to raising the funds to save the Derby. Btw, Kelle and I got interviewed after the movie (see it here). Kelle’s wearing my City Champion jacket! Knew it would come in handy some day! Many thanks to Corbin Bernsen for seeing this through. Great work!!! Oh, and yeah, my eyes are indeed red. I’ll admit it – the film had me weeping in the first 5 minutes… and took me deep into the above story several times. Yep. Bitter sweet for sure.
A couple weeks ago, I had a terrific opportunity to attend Scott Klososky’s Enterprise Social Tech Bootcamp in Chicago. Great to catch up with Scott once again. Readers will remember some work I’ve done with Scott in the past, including writing the Chapter on Sales for Scott’s Crowdsourced book, Enterprise Social Technology, a phenomenal book on why Social is more than Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.
As a special extra, I was able to travel with a rising star on the Social Tech scene, Shane Fraser. Shane won a $5,000 bounty Scott put out for promoting the book via crowdsourcing. Check it out – very, very cool. See Shane’s new Blog as well.
[Shameless plug: If you need a deep dive in this stuff for your team, I've got Scott's endorsement, all the original Enterprise Social Technology content, and can do any kind of preso or consulting best suited for your situation. Contact me here.]
A few of the podcast highlights to listen for:
Next EST Bootcamp: Dallas, October 2011. Stay tuned.
A few action pics from the Bootcamp: