US Sailing Leadership Forum

Bruce McArthur Bleidner, Marketing, Sailboat, sailboat racing, Sailing, Social Media, Social Networks, US Sailing

Before sailing too far into this post, we thank all the great folks at US Sailing for a fantastic experience in San Diego. We want to specially thank Katie Ouellette, Tom Hubbell and Jack Gierhart for inviting us to present our take on social media.

Though we’d like to claim we’ve just returned from a wild, bacchanalian boondoggle, we must ‘fess up that the US Sailing Leadership Forum was a perfectly planned and executed event, and every moment was time well spent. Were there cocktails? Of course – it’s a sailing conference… but only a fool would over-indulge and risk missing even one second of the forum.

How often do you get to hang with rock star sailors like Ken Read or Dawn Riley? Or go for a demo sail with several manufacturers – in the same afternoon? Or learn the secrets of social media from two handsome, charming guys (ahem) whose company (VMG Media) delivers the industry’s highest ROI and engagement? Does it get any better than that?

We took no formal survey, but the buzz among the 600+ attendees was entirely, enthusiastically positive. Everyone had a great time. Everyone made new friends. Everyone learned something. 

Delivering our presentation to a packed (SRO) house, we hope we helped some executives and yacht club flag officers navigate the roiling waters of social media. We learned a few things as well. No matter how emphatically social media proves itself to be the most effective and efficient marketing channel in existence, some people refuse to grant it the respect it deserves. One person believed social media is a “place to let your hair down.” (We didn’t know a brand could have hair.) Another one was downright proud that his social media was riddled with profanity and misspellings. He did seem flummoxed, however, when we asked why he didn’t use the same vocabulary and grammar on his printed brochures and magazine ads.

Most folks have come to the realization that skilled management of social media is the single most important element of marketing. It’s elected a U.S. President (twice), toppled a government (Egypt) and brought a cable network (A&E/Duck Dynasty) to its knees.
What magazine, billboard, radio or TV program has ever done that?

LARRY BLEIDNER