By Jamie Mishich
“The most memorable things for me were the once in a lifetime opportunities that I could give to other people, like bringing somebody down to the field to meet their sports hero.”
These are the words of Patrick Klinger, owner of his own sports marketing firm called Agile Marketing Partners. Formerly the Vice President of Marketing for the Minnesota Twins baseball team (1999 - 2012), Patrick was part of the effort to bring hockey back to Minnesota and the move of the Minnesota Twins to their new stadium. His efforts in building a strong marketing function for the Twins contributed to the club being named by Baseball America as Organization of the Year in both 2002 and 2004.
In running his own company, Patrick negotiated and activated partnerships with numerous professional sports teams. He also started his own networking organization called The Capital Club, based in St. Paul, that consists of more than 100 members. The club brings in speakers that give people unique perspectives on how to deal with everyday challenges and life.
Patrick described his journey into marketing as a “mistake”. From the start of college, he was set on majoring in broadcasting with the dream of having his own radio or TV show. That was until Patrick discovered he had a passion for marketing while working for the campus radio station.
Patrick’s story was similar to mine, in that he accidentally stumbled upon marketing during college. Like a lot of people starting their first year of college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Marketing gave me an output to be creative, and an opportunity to explore. Some people like to deal with just numbers or words, but marketing is based on ideas.
“Some of my favorite parts of marketing are finding new, unique ways to appeal to different people,” said Patrick. “It is very rewarding to see people become so excited about the thing you're selling. You can see directly how the emotion from the individual connects to the way the experience was marketed.”
Tips on Innovation
I was really interested to hear Patrick’s ideas and thoughts on how he comes up with new ideas. This is particularly applicable for me as my business idea is intended to create more empathy in young adults so that people are able to have civil political conversations. The idea started from trying to solve the issue of reimagining how young adults have civil political conversations. Through surveys and numerous interviews, we discovered that we can’t change how conversations are held, but we can change other people’s mindsets. Understanding other people’s backgrounds is the best way to understand and relate to their political beliefs. This is called empathy. Our goal is to try to bridge the divide that politics is causing within our country and allow young adults to vote more to represent our generation within the polls. Here are some tips from Patrick that I am particularly taking into account as I think about developing this business.
Stay on top of pop culture. Pop culture is the current trending theme within the younger community. Keeping up with the current trends allows companies to create new ideas that incorporate trendy themes that help generate new interest. An example of this is the St. Paul Saints. The Saints are a minor league baseball team that uses pop culture themes to create events during the intermissions of the games to keep people entertained such as mascot races, Star Wars nights, and many other themes. Incorporating pop culture into my empathy business, is essential to grow and maintain interest in my business. Having events that students can go to and are trendy with the current culture such as concerts, and themed events. Social media is another important aspect of pop culture as well and really getting the consumer involved.
Take risks. If you want to make it to the top, you have to be willing to take risks. You can be average by being risk averse when it comes to marketing, but you’ll never be great until you take the leap into the unknown. Sometimes you don’t know the outcome of your ideas, but that's what being successful is all about and knowing the right risks to take. Taking risks for me as a start up company is essential. Taking a risk of receiving investment and spending money on web development to create an app for empathy is an important part of the business.
Make the most of every day.. Wake up and get after your day and learn as much as you can on your own. Now is a great time to take advantage of the situation especially with many of students' internships being cancelled due to the Corona Virus. Pursuing knowledge is one of the best ways to not only educate yourself, but also allow you to build innovative ideas. For me, improving my knowledge of empathy and events going around in schools would greatly help my business. There are always situations you can take advantage of if you have the knowledge and expertise to know how to do it.
Build your business one step at a time. When starting a new business, looking at the amount of work that needs to be done can be overwhelming. Working on one project at a time, not only relieves the stress of trying to accomplish everything at once, but also allows you to focus on innovating for each individual aspect of the business. One innovative idea from one part of the business can lead to a completely new part of another. I can relate to this directly in the early stages of building the business plan for the Empathy Project. Looking at everything I had to do was just overwhelming and didn’t seem possible. Separating out different projects and having a team to divide up the work, really makes a difference on how our overall perception of the feasibility to implement our business comes into play.
One of the key takeaways from my conversation with Patrick is the motivation to make a difference in others’ lives. For Patrick, it might be the opportunity to provide a memorable experience. For me, I hope that my business will give students the empathetic mindset to collaboratively discuss hard topics and implement new innovative solutions to our countries’ problems.
Learn more about Patrick's company Agile Marketing Partners. Connect with him on LinkedIn. Jamie is a student at St. Thomas University studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Connect with him on LinkedIn and learn more about his company.