Marketing Lessons from Dad

I’ve always been a Daddy’s Girl.

Baseball games, hikes, take-your-daughter-to-work days… I have so many wonderful memories of fun times with my Dad. Even though my Dad is a jokester who lives to make people laugh, he sprinkled many lessons into our talks.

Some lessons were the ones you might expect:

  • Don’t be afraid to speak your mind
  • Don’t allow others treat you like a doormat
  • Be careful with credit card debt, it is a slippery slope
  • Stay away from drugs, they’ll suck the life out of you
  • Strive for greatness in everything you do

But, some of the most profound lessons from my Dad have been marketing related. And he taught me in the strangest ways.

Know Your Customer

Marketing cannot exist (for long) without a laser focus on customer needs. I’m constantly impressed by my Dad’s uncanny ability to adapt his message and tone to a variety of situations and personality types.

He is a master salesman & marketer, but doesn’t wear that title publicly… he’s too humble cool for that. His trick, as I’ve learned from years of keen observation, is to make other people feel comfortable. He does this by understanding where they’re coming from.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been with my Dad in public and he’s been approached by a customer/colleague/friend/acquaintance/fan/super-fan, etc. Everyone loves my Dad. And when you like someone… really like them and trust them, you’re more likely to do business with them and send great opportunities their way. Marketers need to get this concept or risk being complete noise to everyone around them.

So how does my Dad do it? How does he so easily adapt to different people and personalities? Not focus groups. Not surveys. Not data.


As a teenager I was a bit, um, hard to get along with at times. You know what that means. But my Dad was not deterred. He led multiple undercover operations to understand the inner-workings of my neurotic teenage mind. My Dad carelessly left the following evidence on my camera. No, not a smart phone, an old-school camera that I let sit for months before I developed the film…only to find THIS:

I stewed in teenage rage over the violation of my personal space… well, not really rage, the picture was hilarious, but you have to keep appearances as a teen. Suddenly, I realized that this recon work by Dad had been going on for years!

He even tested my mental state by conducting horrible experiments like this one: telling his daughter that the we would attend the Art & Wine Festival while he was dressed like THIS:


Marketing Should Be Fun

What I ultimately learned from Dad is that marketing should be fun. Business should be fun. Sales should be fun. Work hard, play hard.

There are so many businesses scrambling for our attention. In fact, a 2014 SJ Insights report tells an intimidating story for smaller/newer brands seeking to gain footholds in pivotal markets.

“Each of us is subjected to, on average, more than 5,000 advertisement and brand exposures per day.”

SJ Insights 2014

If a brand wants to stand out in this crowded space, it has to have a story to tell. A compelling story. Tell a boring story, and you might as well throw your marketing and advertising dollars in the toilet and flush. Branding should be fun, or at least really damn interesting. Why should someone listen to your message amidst the other 5,000 fighting for attention today? This is where my Dad comes in.

Not only is Dad a talented writer, he is a mesmerizing story-teller. Campfire/couch story time with him leaves everyone in stitches with uncontrollable laughter. Don’t try telling those stories later, you’ll never be able to do them justice.

So how did my Dad launch a new brand into a busy market?

With a great story.

Ever the rustic food connoisseur, Dad developed a love for fried pickles while visiting family on the East Coast.  After much tweaking to his take on the fried pickle, my Dad had an AH-HA moment. Those Fabulous Frickle Brothers were born: Happy Pickles, Flawlessly Fried.

He started with a delicious product. Then he applied an honest, fun story to bring the brand to life. Then he cultivated a fan base… with a food truck. And this isn’t your run of the mill food truck. It has soul, just see for yourself:

Develop the Brand of You

Branding isn’t just for your product or service. It’s for you and your career. In the professional world this means maintaining an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, writing a blog on topics in your field, and cultivating a vibrant network of peers, prospects, and mentors.

Now that you’re promoting the brand of YOU, what is your compelling story? Why should people connect with you? What do you bring to the table? What is your value proposition? Your need a persona, otherwise one may be created for you…

I Yam What I Yam

My Dad’s been calling me “Stick” since I was ten years old. He liked calling me Stinky Magee, and if you’ve ever been a touchy ten-year old girl you know that nicknames referring to odor aren’t well received.

One day he was torturing me with Stinky Magee jokes and somehow turned Stinky into Sticky. Sticky was shortened into Stick. Then we arrived at Stick E. Magee. This was a nickname I could get behind. Even though it started as a joke, the name Stick stuck and here I am 27 years later still signing cards “Love, Stick.” It’s who I am. Good thing I like the nickname.


Be a Marketing Bad Ass

Part of being a bad ass is being able to turn adversity into opportunity.

Competitor eating into your market? Don’t whine about it. Do you recon work. Put your thinking cap on and get creative. Amazing leaps in strategy can occur as a result of challenging situations. My Dad taught me to apply this bad ass mindset to every aspect of my life.

My Dad and I train in martial arts and had the good luck to compete in a tournament together. We competed in separate sparring divisions and both came home with trophies. But the coolest thing was how my Dad overcame adversity and fired up an entire crowd of people watching him fight.

First of all, you must know that he chose to compete in a younger division. We arrived at the ring to find young men warming up. Many in their late 20s, early 30s. Some warmed up like they were in a Rocky movie. Some were way too serious. I had a twinge of fear for my Dad. Should he really do this?

Second of all, my Dad wears glasses. Sparring without proper vision can be nerve-wracking. My Dad didn’t want to damage his glasses, so he intended to fight these young guys while wearing no glasses… gulp.

By my Dad’s third fight he just about had the entire audience on his side. He was fast, he was like a cat avoiding strikes with lightning precision. His inner boxer came out and he gave a bit of a show. Everyone cheered when Dad walked away with a trophy. Glasses weren’t an issue. Age wasn’t an issue. Why? My Dad’s a bad ass.

Further proof of my Dad’s bad assery can be found here:


In Conclusion

This post only scratches the surface. My Dad’s advertising, economics, and life advice is also top-notch. Thanks Dad for being you and for being such as incredible Bad Ass.

Happy Father’s Day!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s