EXTENDING YOUR BRAND’S REACH – Sunrise Scrambler Recap

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Presented at Wichita Metro Chamber Sunrise Scrambler
November 20, 2013

Jennifer Szambecki, Brand Manager for the Kansas Turnpike Authority, was on a mission during her presentation at this week’s Sunrise Scrambler —  to help all of us extend the reach of our organizations’ brands. Jennifer accomplished that mission and as an enthusiastic attendee tweeted prior to the event, she dropped “brand reach knowledge bombs all over the room.” (Thanks, Emily @EATSylvester!)

The Kansas Turnpike Authority is the third lowest-cost toll road in the country, but it doesn’t just rely on a reasonable price point to attract travelers. Jennifer knows that the Turnpike’s brand is ultimately defined by her customers, so managing the brand experience on 236 miles of roadways and bridges requires understanding and improving operations, technology, and customer service. She relies on consumer research to make sure that her digital and traditional marketing tactics are working and that turnpike users are satisfied with their experience. Check out recent survey results on the Turnpike Times blog.

She’s also been building Turnpike brand ambassadors through a new program that engages K-TAG users to share why they love their K-TAG on social media. Posters are eligible to win K-TAG account credit. The email campaign announcing the program had a 50% open rate and nearly 8,000 people have participated since the program started. (You still have time to enter here before November 30.)

Jennifer didn’t just preach to the choir. She posed some thought-provoking questions and then asked those attending to volunteer and share their experiences. Here’s a short summary of some of our favorite parts of the program.

A brand is built on consistent experience
Branding is so much more than your marketing and communication materials. Technology and operations are an essential part of branding because they determine the brand experience.  Your technology and systems must consistently deliver what you are promising. Participant Jay Dill from The Travel Junkie shared with the group that his agency strives to make sure that a customer can always book travel online or with assistance from a “live” agent. They even offer a mobile service for clients who prefer to have a personal visit from an agent when making reservations.

Sales and customer service training builds your brand
Do your employees understand the benefits your organization delivers or sells?  Can they articulate them and deliver on them? Training is an essential part of branding.

Digital and traditional advertising must be up-to-date and measurable
Your website must be accurate. Think about incorporating new technology into your website. Your social media, direct mail and traditional advertising should have a strong call to action. You should track and measure results from various campaigns so that you understand your customers and the tools that are most effective with your different audiences. Jill Skaggs of Paul Davis Emergency Services of Wichita shared how a recent improvement to her website has proven to be very helpful to customers who need immediate assistance.

Logos and identity are important
Jennifer shared a slide that displayed the logos for Target and Wal-Mart using the other brand’s palettes.   Even when these logos are displayed in different colors and formats, you still recognize them and relate them to your personal experiences. Sponsor Jose Gutierrez of Farmers Insurance shared information about the rollout of his company’s new logo. The updated logo is sleek and contemporary but still utilizes elements from the traditional mark that has been familiar to consumers for 85 years.

Brand ambassadors help extend your credibility
Consider developing loyalty programs and utilizing endorsements from satisfied customers. Don’t miss an opportunity to retain a customer by fixing mistakes quickly.  Kim Madison of Best Western Wichita North Hotel and Suites shared how powerful it has been for them to “make a wrong right” and turn an unhappy customer into a brand ambassador.

You must know your customers and understand how/where they experience your brand
Jennifer is well aware of the many different target audiences who are utilizing Turnpike service areas, roadways, and bridges. Truckers, business travelers, and families expect different types of services from the Turnpike. Other participants shared how they segmented their audiences to learn from them and tailor programs to fit their needs.

Ann Fox from Habitat for Humanity said that visiting with employers of Habitat’s new home owners has produced a wealth of information about how their clients perform differently on the job once they move in to a home they own. Work attendance and company loyalty are positively impacted.

Larry Bennett from Wichita State University’s KMUW noted that the radio station just completed their most successful funding drive to date. They’ve discovered that while baby boomers historically donate larger financial gifts, students are also very generous. They’ve improved student engagement and donations with the development of the Stubblefield Society. The Society is affordable for students at a cost to join of just 89 cents.

Tammy Taylor-Lindholm of Meritrust Credit Union also shared how they are using educational opportunities to reach younger customers who haven’t yet experienced savings and loan services. And Susan Fairchild from Concergent IT, LLC discussed how they specifically tailor educational customer events for their different audiences:  technical staff, middle managers, and the C-Suite.

Your customers define your brand
That’s really it in a nutshell. Your clients/customers care most about their experiences. Your marketing and communication materials are important, but a customer’s actual experience is what counts.

Our thanks to Jennifer for leading some great conversation about this topic. Special thanks to all the participants who shared their brand-building experiences. We all benefited from hearing about your unique experiences.

Visit our Facebook page to see photos of the Scrambler.

What Made the KC-46A Tanker Hearing a Success

Tanker Publid Hearing - November 039_cropWe had a successful Public Hearing for the KC-46A Tanker program this week.  More than 150 people actually signed in with the Air Force and we counted 200+ attendees. It was impressive to see so many business leaders, elected officials, and area residents dedicate their evening to supporting McConnell Air Force Base.

We are especially appreciative of those who offered public comments.  Our speakers included:

Susan Erlenwein        Sedgwick County Environmental Resources
Claudio Ferraro          Via Christi Health
Ryan Flickner             Office of Senator Pat Roberts
Debbie Gann              Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce
Jim Howell                  Kansas House of Representatives
Toni Porter                  Office of Congressman Mike Pompeo
Jack Pulley                 Friends of McConnell
Wayne Roberts          WMC Tanker Task Force
John Schlegel            City of Wichita Planning Department
Kathy Sexton             City of Derby
Jim Skelton                Sedgwick County Commission
Victor White               Wichita Airport Authority
Tim Witsman             Wichita Independent Business Association
Mike Zamrzla             Office of Senator Jerry Moran

All of the public comments were on target and very positive.  As expected, we didn’t hear a single negative comment. At the end of the evening, all three members of the Air Force panel complimented us on a good turnout and well-prepared speakers.  

Many people in the community put forth a lot of effort to ensure that the hearing went smoothly. I owe a great debt of gratitude to our Congressional offices and the responsiveness of their teams. Some of our elected officials who couldn’t attend the hearing took the time to videotape supportive messages. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer spent time discussing the issue with local media and submitted an impressive editorial to the Wichita Eagle. Our Derby partners, Kathy Sexton and Allison Moeding, also participated in media interviews. The Chamber and the Wichita Independent Business Association made sure that all of their members were well-informed about the importance of attending the event. And of course, our tireless Tanker Task Force Chairman, Wayne Roberts, and Friends of McConnell President, Jack Pulley, were great spokespersons when interviewed by various print and electronic media outlets.

We’re also appreciative of the many media outlets that assisted us in providing information to the public about the event. Special thanks to:  99.7 Light FM, KNSS Radio, 104.5 The Fox, KAKE-TV, KSN-TV, KWCH-TV, the Wichita Business Journal and The Wichita Eagle.

You can view the editorial, videotaped messages, articles, and interviews on the Friends of McConnell Facebook page. Photos from the event are also available at this site.  The Air Force will continue to accept public comments until December 9, 2013. You may access a comment form at this site: http://www.kc46abeddown.com/common/authenticate.aspx?rtype=1

We expect a final decision on this important program in late Spring of 2014. We anticipate sharing positive news with you at that time.

Pat Gallagher
Wichita Metro Chamber
Military Liaison

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Why the Tanker Public Hearing is crucial to success

Earlier this year more than 300 people attended a Public Scoping meeting at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex.  Their presence sent a strong statement to the Air Force that south central Kansans were serious about their support of McConnell AFB.  In May the Air Force announced that McConnell AFB had been selected as the “preferred alternative” for the first Main Operating Base for the new KC-46A refueling tanker.  Phase II of the decision-making process is now coming to an end.

A Public Hearing next Tuesday, November 12, is being hosted by the U.S. Air Force regarding the recently published Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  Once again, numbers count.  A good showing of businesses and citizens will underscore our community’s support of McConnell as the home of the first Main Operating Base for the new tankers.

Attendees at Tuesday’s hearing will have the opportunity to make a verbal statement, submit written testimony, or just sign-in to show quiet support.  Several people have already stepped forward to make verbal statements.  We encourage you to join that list.

New tankers for McConnell Air Force Base mean good things for our region and for the state.  Please mark your calendar and stop by the Hughes MetroPlex on Tuesday to give a few minutes of your time to this important community effort.

McConnell Air Force Base currently has an annual economic impact of more than $619 million within a 50-mile radius of the base.  Transitioning from the KC-135 to the KC-46A is slated to include $220+ million in new construction projects and an increase of 200 jobs.

Tuesday is all about showing up!  I hope we can count on you.

Tuesday, November 12
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Doors open at 5 p.m.)
WSU Hughes Metropolitan Complex
5015 E. 29th Street North, Room 180

Here are some links to learn more:

Pat Gallagher
Military Liaison
Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Tanker 095Sedwick County Chairman Jim Skelton and Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton
were among 300 people who attended the public information event
hosted by U.S. Air Force staff on April 11, 2013.



This is My Town

Last night nearly 1,000 area business leaders had the opportunity to hear the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, Jim Clifton, share his thoughts about how to stimulate job growth.  Mr. Clifton’s presentation was part of the Chamber’s Annual Meeting program.

We’ve covered many of Clifton’s ideas in previous posts.  Here are a few additional thoughts that Mr. Clifton provided for us to consider.

  • The start-up conversation is very different in communities that encourage job growth. It’s all about leadership. You need about 100 people in your city who gather together and say, “This is my town and I’d rather die than lose it.”
  • Americans are still an exceptional tribe of people. Winston Churchill said, “You can always count on Americans to get it right—after they’ve tried everything else.”
  • We have to “out-enterprise” the rest of the world if the U.S. is going to rise again.
  • The next group of leaders must have enormous talent for developing people—moving our workforce from unengaged to engaged.

You can follow these links to articles, photos and videos that provide coverage of the event.

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