Sens fans should be heard but a billboard is not the way.

Buying outdoor advertising space in front of the Canadian Tire Centre and a page in the Ottawa Sun will effectively get the attention of hockey fans alike. It will be cool to see and feel good for a minute.  Great, then what?

There is a small movement of people putting their hard-earned money into a GoFundMe page to remove Eugene Melnyk as owner (and now CEO) of the Ottawa Senators. When I saw the initiative hit over a thousand dollars, I shed a tear.  Wasted money is something that makes me sick to my stomach, so I must weigh in with some ADvice.

Buying outdoor advertising space in front of the Canadian Tire Centre and a page in the Ottawa Sun will effectively get the attention of hockey fans alike. It will be cool to see and feel good for a minute.  Great, then what?

For two years, I managed a store where two brands brought in the most revenue. My sales team leaned mostly on these brands for their commission as they had strong brand loyalty. The problem was the store could not survive on selling two brands alone. After trying to appeal to the market with promotions and sales but still not yielding the necessary revenue to grow the success of other brands it was time to decide; keep bleeding money or find a new retail market that may have a more aligned customer base or a sales team that can diversify its portfolio. Eventually, the store closed.

That is not what I want for the Ottawa Senators. Trading players and management changes are inevitable when a team is not performing or selling seats. You can’t just sit back and blame the customers (fans) you must continuously innovate your product (team) to adjust or you close shop.

For what it’s worth, here are my business, fan, and Ottawa resident opinions about the struggle to sell Ottawa Senator’s ticket sales:

  • Ottawa is a walk-up town when it comes to ticket sales. Concert promoters, festival organizers and theatre companies are always shocked and reluctant to take risk in the Ottawa market because of how last minute their tickets sell. Countless clients of mine have nervously called me to ask what the heck was going on, should they pull, only to be pleasantly surprised with last-minute results. (most of the time)
  • Ottawa has one of the cheapest price points for an NHL ticket yet many losing teams in major markets are sold out game after game. Business’ are the majority of ticket purchasers allowing for very little seats for their walk-up fans. After working for five years in media sales, I can tell you there is a lot of private business in Ottawa but getting their dollars is ruthless.  The largest employer in town is actually the government who cannot buy season tickets, Club Bell packages or suites. This cuts the ability of a sales person to sell marketing tactics dramatically compared to other similar sized cities.
  • The troubles with the Phoenix pay system has taken homes, cars, and affluent families down a notch to the point they are petrified to make any entertainment purchases with their disposable income. Given the largest employer in Ottawa is the federal government perhaps fans are looking at the wrong person to blame for low ticket sales.

I cannot comment on what the exact problems are within the Ottawa Senators Sports and Entertainment group as I know what you know and that is only what the media covers.  Eugene Melnyk is not going to sell the team. As recently as December 2017, he denounced all rumours of a sale.  I remember an interview on 580 CFRA  when he remarked, “I’m not selling the team…what would I do (instead) buy art?”

As a fan, I do hope they figure it out in a way that keeps them here; however, I am not naïve enough to think my love for Karlsson is going to motivate Melnyk to keep losing money.  I did not have much respect for him when witnessing his lack of passion for Ottawa at the Winter Classic but when I heard him take office at the CTC I was impressed enough to recognize that he just may be trying to make things work for the sake of his investment and the fans.

Providing a couple of hundred dollars towards a paid social media campaign would at least have a better return on investment for those needing some tangible evidence of their Melynyk revolution. Fans tweeting, posting, and instagraming #melnykout has a farther reach and impression than a billboard seen only by those that bought a ticket on the way to the Sens’ game or what is left of the Ottawa Sun’s readership.

Instead of spending your money on an ineffective advertising campaign with an unattainable objective, donate your dollars to the Sens Foundation or enjoy the next Sens game at the Canadian Tire Centre. For those of you that simply can’t afford to go (I know I can’t) get yourself some local craft beer and enjoy the game on your comfy sofa. Keep sharing your opinions but please, not without some sensible return on your investment.







Parents Today are Awesome.

We have built a world that is more accessible than ever before. Our children are now exposed to an increasing amount of content and experiences that no other generation has ever had to filter.  Who is accountable for protecting, educating, guiding and providing for them?  Today’s parents and they are awesome.

Each generation had shitty parents. Each generation had helicopter moms, too strict dads, keeping up with the Jones’ moms and absent fathers. No generation has had worse parents than others. Perhaps due to our more accessible world, the shittier parents are just now easier to expose.

So media, let’s ease off on the fake news posts that hit my news feeds EVERY SINGLE DAY. You know the ones I mean. The headlines that feed into our self-doubt and worry designed solely for the purpose of increasing click-though-rates to sell advertising on the website:

7 Damaging parenting behaviours that keep children from growing into leaders (thriveglobal.com)

8 Resolutions to be a a better parent in the New Year (cnn.com)

The collapse of parenting: Why it’s time for parents to grow up (macleans.ca)

I’m not even going to hyperlink any of these because I want you, parent-of-today, to stop reading this crap. You are awesome. Your kids are awesome.  Chances are if you are still reading this blog post you are trying your darnest and need some recognition. Somehow, parents from previous generations managed to raise us without all of these tips and scare tactics so please, don’t click.

Technology has made many things much easier for today’s parents but also much more difficult to decipher fact from fake news. Social media enables everyone the license to print which scares the crap out of me as a parent. As soon as my child can read, she will be faced with much more fiction that appears as fact than I ever faced when searching for quotes in our Britannia encyclopedias. I now have to learn about parental controls, cyber bullying, and what ads are going to play before the bunny video. A big hug goes out to the moms and dads trying to regulate the online world that even the government can’t figure out how to legislate to protect our most vulnerable.

For majority of households, two incomes are needed to breakeven. Finding a fabulous daycare provider that you can afford while ensuring your work can accommodate their strict drop-off/pick-up, vacation days, sick days, and personal days all with a reasonable commute adds to today’s parents lifestyle.

The constant challenge to find fun activities can drive your nuts ensuring your kids are occupied but not too occupied that you may stunt their creative brains. Kudos to all of the parents that are trying to balance hockey practices, birthday parties, not-too many episodes of Paw Patrol and matching Saturday schedules with little Tommy so your kid can have free-play. Have an unscheduled day with your kids. In front of the TV. With chips. You deserve it.

Kids today do not appreciate working hard to obtain the things they have. Parents just hand it to them.  Blah. Blah. Blah. This statement is not unique to kids today. I remember my grandfather referring to my father as a “52 year-old punk” and remember my dad complaining about his own son’s waist length hair. I may be one of the first but I would like to say congratulations to the parents who are raising millennials, Generation Z and Generation Alpha. We have amazing kids and young adults that are actually making a difference in the world today. (IE. We Day)  Millennials are coming up with apps to counter cyber-bullying and young females are standing up for the first time against sexual harassment.  I am sure the parents of those kids are not crediting their Facebook news-feed for these successes.

I wrote this post not out of news-feed frustration but rather out of the notion that some may be motivated by positive reinforcement and recognition. If you are a shit parent, you know it. But if you are a good parent, chances are you are not sure so I am saying to you:  You are Awesome.

Macleans.ca, you grow up.




Avoiding the black hole of advertising….step one.

Small, medium, and large business owners are all trying to find the key to unlock the mystery of advertising.  When I used to call on businesses and suggest using xx media as their place to advertise, often I could hear their frustration before I finished my first sentence.  At first, I thought the frustration was from the number of cold calls they had received that week but it wasn’t just that. It was the recollection of their money being thrown into a black hole of unknown results.


Developing a marketing and advertising strategy can seem like a waste of time to a small business owner. For many, they base their advertising decisions on personal preferences rather than the preferences of their customers.  Why?  Because they don’t truly know their customers. When asked to identify who their customers are, a typical response was either “everyone!” * or:

-Adults aged 25 to 54

-Income 100K+

-Own a home

The problem with this ‘target’ is about a million other businesses in a million industries have the same ‘target’.  Want to know the easiest way to identify your target customer?

Here is your first ADvice: Ask your existing customers!  Do your own in-store field research! It is the best way to get real, genuine information.

So, than is a 50-page marketing strategy necessary for small business?  No, but having a clear and concise direction to give you confidence in your advertising decisions is key to staying sane when choosing to which cold call to say yes.

Take the first step today and ask your next five customers these questions to get started:

We’re trying to learn more about our loyal customers, so we stay relevant. May I ask you a few questions?

Do you live in the area?  (helps to know if your customers come from far so you can decide if mass media is a good option or just the local newspaper)

What brings you in today? (this can help with deciding to advertise during sales only or more consistently throughout the year)

Have you considered other options?  (who are your main competitors?)

These questions are examples to get your mind going.   Comment below to let me know how it goes!

 *If you are targeting “everyone!” you are targeting no one.