PRINT 13 Attendees Profit from Stories Inspiring a Market-based Mindset

It’s not easy these days to differentiate your brand, especially when vying against the big boys. A couple of organizations that have succeeded at that daunting task for quite a while include Goose Island Beer Company and the Arena Football League (AFL).

A mid-day Monday conference called “Stories That Inspire a Market-Based Mindset,” brought the success secrets behind those organizations to a large PRINT 13 audience.

Hosted by CANVAS Magazine publisher Mark Potter, and sponsored by Mohawk (Both 663), the presentation introduced attendees to Mark Hegedus, Director of Marketing for Goose Island Beer Company, and B.J. Pickard, Director of Communications for the American Football League.

Hegedus is a long-time marketing and sales executive with expertise in beverage and consumer product sales, and has been involved in brand and company launches, brand management, new product development, and consumer research execution. Pickard, in his third season with the AFL, admitted “wearing a lot of hats.” He handles day-to-day league media efforts, serves as the AFL’s primary media liaison, provides daily Web content for, and even serves as league in-house graphics designer.

A number of the presentation’s most inspiring stories were offered by Pickard, who faced an uphill climb when he joined the league in 2010.

The AFL had been plagued by mismanagement and overspending, and ceased operations after the 2009 season. When it was revived in 2010, all the momentum it had built from its launch in the 1980s through 2009 was gone, Pickard says.

Pickard and colleagues got to work rebuilding interest in the league. Since, affiliations with the NFL Fan Network and more recently CBS Sports Network have put more eyeballs on the product. And the expansion of the league into Los Angeles with the launch of the Los Angeles Kiss expansion team, owned by members of the legendary rock band Kiss, will be a great attention getter for the league, Pickard says.

In building excitement behind the brand, “the game itself really does a lot of the work for us,” Pickard said. “But going beyond the game, there’s always a giveaway or a theme night. The fans always have a lot of fun with it. Fans can even go on the field and interact with the players after the games. No other league does that.”

Asked to offer a lesson printers can take away from his experience, Pickard didn’t hesitate. “Find your identity, embrace your identity, and don’t be afraid to be different.”