Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Former FSU Head Football Coach Returns to the Swamp

“Isn’t it funny…me being here?” a voice rang out in a familiar Alabama drawl. The voice was that of former Florida State Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden who had returned to Gainesville not for football but for the annual North Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes Banquet. Throughout his talk Coach Bowden stressed the importance of such organizations in the lives of young people. Members of Morgan Auto Group and Wade Raulerson Buick GMC attended to be recognized for their recent contribution to the organization. Coach Bowden remarked that when he was growing up you might find 10 young men in a room and 1 without a father. “Now,” he said (in some places) “that might be reversed.” Coach Bowden highlighted the leadership roles that coaches fill in the community but also in students lives. He also touched on his two national championships and success as a football coach but remarked you can’t take it with you. “I get letters from my former players all the time, and you know what? They never are about football (and the team’s accomplishments).” He said the content of communication with past players was mostly about the impact that he had had in their lives and about their families. He remarked that one day his national championship trophies would “turn to dust.”

Over 500 people were in attendance at the Swamp’s “Touchdown Terrace” which included personal recognition of former dealer owner Wade Raulerson and his wife Paula and several long time Wade Raulerson Buick GMC customers. The grass roots efforts of the local FCA extends far into the University of Florida as well as area high schools. The evening included hearing from UF and local high school students on the impact of FCA. One of the most profound talks came from Brian Allen current head coach of Columbia High School in Lake City. Brian was a former player of Coach Bowden’s and remarked that he was swayed by some of the temptations that exist for college athletes. “BUT Coach Bowden was always leading us off the field too, to become better men not just great football players.” He remarked that now as a coach of his own team he was able to “pay forward,” the impact made by Coach Bowden.

To learn more about the North Florida FCA: http://www.northfloridafca.org/

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Up Close and Personal with Ford's Scott Monty

Many months ago I was in Dearborn, Michigan for a mandatory new dealers meeting with our business partner David Council. Since purchasing a Ford store (Ford of Port Richey) attendance was noted as mandatory so we made the trip expecting a standard fair of "baptism" into the Ford factory culture.

What we didn't expect was intimate meet and greets with Ford's key personnel including CEO Alan Mulally and Chairman Bill Ford Jr. In all my years in the business I had never been given such access to key people and for a meeting frankly that involved such a small segment of the dealer body. There were literally several dealers in our group that ran small, single point Ford dealerships with monthly sales in the teens. "This is how you change the way someone thinks about you," I remember thinking.

Even that week I remember texting a few friends something to the effect of "SNAP! I just met Alan Mulally the guy who's turned Ford around." Most of my friends were hopefully left impressed but one replied, "Is Scott Monty there?" I paused and opened Google on my cell phone.

"Scott Monty is the Director of Social Media and Global Multimedia Communications for Ford Motor Company." So I read up on Scott. I read how he once lead an effort to give pre-launch Ford Fiesta's to 150 influential bloggers across the interweb creating quite a buzz, he is the Oxford dictionary founder of the word "tweetup," and he also replicated the digital success of a super bowl commercial with a very well executed campaign for the revamped Ford Explorer at a set time to NOT coincide with the North American Auto Show.

I have to meet this guy. So this past Monday while I was checking my e-mails I was amazed to see that Mr. Monty was actually speaking Tuesday AM in front of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce as a part of their young profession "Emerge Tampa" program.

Yeah it was nice chatting with Scott and his talk did solidify my impression of him as a high performing piston in the new Ford Motor Company engine. However I wasn't there to rub elbows or talk about his collegiate background in classics. I was there to find what I could take away from his presentation.

I want to share those insights from Scott Monty's Social Media presentation now:

-There is an erosion of trust between average everyday people and LARGE BUSINESSES. People respond and respect the opinions of peers, or people like them.

-In today’s world people are bombarded with marketing messages. Putting a “human face” to your social media can be a positive way to cut through the clutter.

-Embrace some Woody Allen Philosophy and just be BE THERE: “90% of life is showing up!"

-Don’t be scared of multiple social pages to reach different customer segments

-Have engaging content, VISUAL CONTENT

-Speak like your audience to relate better

-Let people SPEAK OUT, Interact and don’t be afraid to JOIN THE CONVERSATION

-Use your social to PUSH people back into existing mediums LIKE YOUR WEBSITE

-Use social to raise awareness about things your WEBSITE ALREADY DOES

-Identify Peer GROUPS or INFLUENCERS who MAKE A LARGE IMPACT already in Social Media in YOUR SPECIFIC LOCATION; Create relationships!

Ok so nothing groundbreaking but Ford has become a SOCIAL MEDIA leader by living by these basic principles. Don't think it's helping? Let's see where "the new" Ford's sales are in four years.