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Babe Ruth
by Andy
May 15, 2014

My grandmother, Maxine, grew up in Colorado riding horses, shooting guns and generally developing a fearless spirit of everything.  She graduated from Colorado College, a rarity for girls back then, and eventually moved to NYC where she met and married my grandfather.  Grandma’s fearless upbringing meant she took to NYC pretty easily and would tell me about it.  She would tell me stories of Speak Easies, prohibition, gangsters, music (she saw the Beatles and thought Paul was the best musician of the four), and the Yankees.

I don’t remember all the stories, but one stuck.  It was toward the end of her life and about Babe Ruth.  I love baseball and she actually got to see him play.  How cool is that?!  For Grandma, what made Babe unique was not the homeruns, but the sound the ball made when it came off his bat.  It was different.  It was deeper and seemingly more purposeful.  You knew it was him from the sound of the bat, whether you were watching or not.  Whether that was a function of the bat he swung (typically in excess of 50 ounces vs. the 30-33 ounce variety used today) or the physics of his swing, the sound it made was what she remembered most.

It was sound that stood apart.

Corporate communications can be viewed the same way.  For established companies that have become competent players within their category, they have an opportunity to create even more separation via communications.  Effective communications allows you to position and market your product or service at a higher, more powerful plane than what attributes alone can do.  When done well, it elevates your brand to heights that competitors cannot effectively achieve.  However, it requires  firms to take a powerful swing in order to make a different noise.

Therein lies the problem.  Most firms are afraid to do so or don’t realize they are spinning expected platitudes.  Generally, most prefer to blather on about what they know best – themselves.  They talk about their new products, their pipeline, their sales projections.  Or their corporate communications are a direct extension of their sales efforts – all product benefits.

Those who make a different noise, take a different approach, and otherwise provide excitement and intrigue garner more attention and goodwill.  They are the companies that clear the fence.  Rather than talk about your solution, I recommend leaders spend more time talking about the problem and the depth of its complexity.  Talk about the future.  Talk about your vision.  Listeners can visit your booth or website to learn about your solutions, but it’s the depth of the problem that interests most.

Babe Ruth did not swing for the fences every time.  Rather, he swung hard and the connection he made stood out.  Smart corporate leaders are advised to do the same when swinging their communications bat.

3 Responses to “Babe Ruth”

  1. I’ve always thought that swinging helped my career.

  2. Thanks, Andy. Good story and spot-on analogy.

    I know I love hearing corporate platitudes. What, you don’t? Clear ideas, simple language and good stories – there’s a great place to start.

  3. Bravo brother.

    I’m up at the Family Cottage in Canada right now and will stop by Maxine’s gravesite to tell her of your blog. She’ll smile down from above.

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