5 Things to Chant in Your Head While Running to Keep Yourself Engaged






Are you a runner? I’d love to hear about your journey!

If you’re considering starting your own personal blog about your running journey, check out this article with 5 Tips for Starting a Personal Blog .

Joshua Lockhart gives great advice about the keys to writing a personal blog, such as:

Starting Small: Build your following one reader at a time! Before you know it, if you content follows steps 2-5, you will be getting followers and readers by your most powerful (and elusive) tool — word of mouth.

Picking a Topic and Sticking with it: Once you find your niche, stick with it! People love consistency. It’s easier to build a following when you are honing in on one specific group of people with shared interests.

Build Your Audience: It’s important to reach out personally and connect with people who are interested in the same topics you are writing about. Who knows, you may even find someone else who’s blog you’d like to start reading!

Staying Consistent: It’s important to stay in rhythm with your posts. People will start to expect and look for them habitually once you have been posting consistently for 30 days. After all, it takes 30 days for us to make a habit!

Be Real: People aren’t seeking information that is fictional or perfect. They want to hear the truth about how don’t always meet your goals, they want to know what makes you human, what makes you similar to them; they want reality. YOUR reality.

  • Current Stats:
    Motivation for my last training run: trying to get a ten minute per mile average speed
    Length of last training run: 3 miles
    Song that got me through my last training run: Started from the bottom, by Drake
    Longest continuous distance ran (to date): 5 miles
    Days to Disneyland Half Marathon: 42



More posts by Digital Drinkers Team! 

|Lauren Starts Her Running Journey | Stretches to Get Flexible!  | Marketing in Times of Crisis | Portland Trail Blazers Branding 



Joshua Lockhart . 2012. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-tips-starting-personal-blog-opinion/ 

A Military Coup in Turkey – How to Respond During Times of Crisis

Dead civilians. Reporters forced to issue statements on behalf of military government occupiers under threat of murder. An ousted President making a statement on live television via Facetime.

Scary, crazy times indeed.

In the world of instant updates, a constant stream of minute by minute accounts from ordinary folks on the ground report about the coup in Turkey, protests after The State murder innocent black men, the active shooter crisis in Dallas, and the terrorist attack in France.

The terror of these events has been nation-shaking. Do businesses (especially global organizations) have a moral or ethical duty to suspend traditional marketing efforts and adjust their message as the world manages through another crisis?

According to Fabienne Fredrickson (@fabienne), founder of Client Attraction, the best approach to marketing and operating a business during times of extreme crisis is to always put people first.

  • Both times—first during Hurricane Sandy (one of the most severe storms to ever hit the East Coast) then again during the Newtown shootings (one of the deadliest school shootings in history), our nation experienced deep heartbreak as we watched our fellow citizens endure pain and severe loss. And both times over that short span of two months, we as a small company with clients to serve, employees to support and year-end goals to meet, were in the middle of a major business launch.
  • Did we do everything right in response to the tragedies? No. But we’re learning and applying what we’ve learned to our Best Practices so that as a company we can continue to get better at what we do, continue to improve our service to our customers and clients, and to always, always put people first.  (Fredrickson, 2012)

Putting people-first for businesses could seem trite and insincere if messaged in the wrong way. While companies may be honest in their approach post-crises, too-formal posts, prolonged silence, an effort to “play both sides” when one side is clearly in the wrong, or the shortsighted overuse of auto-post twitter updates are certain to come off as crass, uncaring, insincere, and insensitive. Immediately post-crises is a time when a company would do well to avoid coming off inconsiderate.

For some, a business’ only responsibility is to its shareholders, and that lies in avoiding a massive PR mishap that results in millions of dollars in corrective action. Additionally, in many countries, the country is the business. Colombian and Iraqi governments focus heavily on oil subsidiaries to sustain government programs. Hence the government is in direct line with that business. During a crisis they work to protect that business because it is the key to the stable infrastructure of that country. Unfortunately, this is where corruption also comes into play.

Top leaders of these businesses will flee the country with suitcases full of cash (this is exactly what happened in Iraq when ISIS began gaining ground), leaving the company and the country to flounder. Other larger businesses will also use these crises to profit by exploiting the people. In Iraq, when bottle water became a shortage the local companies cut production to up demand and drive the price. This caused the Iraqi government to instead rely on imported bottled water, and the local bottling companies went under as a result. The bottling company tried to profit from the crisis by exploiting the situation, hoping for a short term gain; rather than responsibly focusing on their people and the community as a whole.

Responsible Marketing in a Crisis

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Using marketing to instead people in time of crisis  can not only up the public image of businesses but also profitability in the long run. For example, Colombian oil companies will support the government by supplying them with the funds to not only support infrastructure, but also the military, public sectors, and even other private companies that collaborate with them.  This sort of collaboration builds long lasting relationships that will far outlive the crisis.

According to Yurih Boykiv (@bojkiw) of Gravity Media, businesses have a duty to remain prepared for a crises and have a well-rounded, concrete, and culturally sensitive response ready.  In his post on Inc.com, he wrote:

  1. Identify the conflicts. Are they internal or country-to-country? How will your business be affected if the conflicts escalate? These questions are key when deciding which countries to invest in. Foreign corporations have been eyeing the recently opened Myanmar market as a lucrative place to invest, but internal political conflicts and a lagging legal system make it risky. Understanding these types of risks can help you assess whether it’s worth gambling on a volatile economy.

    Many entrepreneurs are also looking toward post-conflict African countries. Countries such as Kenya and Mozambique have credit guarantees and other incentives in place from the U.S. Agency for International Development, which makes them safer than other fragile economies. Examining existing safety measures and the likelihood of recurring conflict can help minimize your chance of losses.

    2. Understand the culture. If you’re going to do business overseas, you need someone on the ground who can establish commonalities between your company and your foreign stakeholders and who understands how business is done in that culture. Particularly in fast-growing markets such as China and India, you want someone bicultural who understands how public policies could affect your business.

    Your liaison can help maintain strong relationships with global partners if conflicts arise by opening a dialogue on sensitive issues. Whether the crisis affects your business directly or indirectly, you need to assure stakeholders of your good intentions, create a plan of action, and find ways to overcome political tension.

    3. Don’t underestimate the importance of relationships. Before you ever break ground in another country, you should work to foster goodwill and start a dialogue with local stakeholders. Building strong relationships gives you a greater chance of succeeding financially and enacting change in poor or conflict-ridden countries. (Boykive, 2016)

Who wants to buy from a company that openly exploits its customers in their time of need? If a business wants be in it for the long run, they need public and social support from the people, in the good times and the bad. In the end, a company can expend little to no resources on simply not-sounding like a jerk immediately after a crisis. Companies can then buy themselves time to develop a reasonable long-term approach to marketing strategy (if necessary) that will allow themselves to maintain market share and maintain brand value.


Read more from the Digital Drinkers 

Surviving a Beer Fest    |     Investing In A Home, Part 1      |     The Portland Trail Blazers Brand      |   Training For My First 1/2 Marathon | 15 Stretches for Splits, and Tips for Sharing Your Practice | 5 Secrets to Flexibility Training, and Building a Following


Fredrickson, Fabienne (2012, December 19). Seven Strategies for Doing Business in Times of Crisis. Retrieved July 18, 2016, from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/fabiennefredrickson/2012/12/19/seven-strategies-for-doing-business-in-times-of-crisis/#3b101dae7afe

Boykive, Yuriy (2016, July 19). 3 Things You Must Do When Conducting Business in Volatile Global Markets. Retrieved July 19, 2016, from: http://www.inc.com/yuriy-boykiv/3-things-you-must-do-when-conducting-business-in-volatile-global-markets.html

15 Stretches for Splits, and Tips for Sharing Your Practice

In response to my first post 5 Secrets to Flexibility Training, and Building a Following I received a lot of questions about what stretches I did to get my splits. So, here you have it!

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.51.15 AM

15 Stretches: How I Got My Splits in 65 Days

  • Disclaimer: I am not an expert on flexibility. However, these are all stretches I learned from certified personal trainers, yoga instructors, and contortionists and the order that I did them for 65 days.
  • Warm Up: Spend 10-15 minutes warming up. Do not stretch“cold.”
  • Questions? I’ve hyperlinked to video tutorials from professionals for most poses.

1) Downward Dog (Yoga with Adriene, 2012)

Press into the ground with your hands and draw your hips back. Hold for 3-5 breaths.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.03.44 PM

2) Cobra Pose (Yoga with Adriene, 2013)

Press into Cobra Pose from Downward Dog. Hold for 3-5 breaths.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.05.55 PM

3) Downward Dog Leg Extensions

Raise each leg, while maintaining Downward Dog form and pulse the leg 10 times. Then, pull the extended leg forward for Pigeon.

downward dog, leg extended

4) Pigeon Pose (Yoga with Adriene, 2013)

Keep your ankle bent to protect your knee and draw your hips forward to keep them squared forward. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.07.37 PM

5) Warrior One Pose (Yoga with Adriene, 2012)

Keep your hips squarely forward, while tucking your pelvis (avoid just sinking into this stretch). Hold for 30-60 seconds. Drop the back knee to get into a Runner’s Lunge.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.09.41 PM

6) Runner’s Lunge

Do not sink into this stretch. Press your hip forward for your back leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Then, draw your hips back for the Hamstring Stretch.

runners lunge

7) Hamstring Stretch

Fold forward with a flat back and front foot flexed. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

forward runner lunge

8) Lizard Pose (Yoga by Candace, 2014)

Press forward and drop both elbows to the inside of the forward leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.11.17 PM

9) Seated Modified Hurdler Stretch (Strong Runner, 2012)

Hold for 3-5 breaths, reach a little further. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.11.41 PM

10) Frog Stretch (ehowhealth, 2012)

Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds. Keep your hips in line with both knees.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.12.30 PM

11) Pancake or Straddle Stretch (GMB Fitness, 2014)

Hold for 3-5 breaths and reach a little further. Repeat 3 times on each side.

forward fold

12) Side Reach in Pancake or Straddle Stretch.

Add a side reach. Rotate your torso to the sky and look up, while reaching with the opposite hand as leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

other side reach

13) Wall Lunge (Charlotte PoleFit, 2016)

Feel free to use yoga blocks to help with balance. Similar to the Runner’s Lunge with the added resistance of the wall. Hold for 30-60 second intervals.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.13.37 PM

14) PNF Hamstring Stretch (Brian Abelson, 2012)

You’ll need a theraband or friend to create resistance. Watch the hyperlinked video for best practices. Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat 3-5 times on each side.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.14.18 PM

15) Try Your Split

Quick tip: Put on calming music and focus on your breathing. Try to get out of a place of fear. Listen to your body and never push past extreme pain to get your split.

From your Runner’s Lunge, slowly slide forward into your best split. Hold for 5 deep breaths or 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times on both sides. Feeling bendy? Try to roll through to the other side, like this:

How often to stretch?

I did the stretches listed above for 20-40 minutes daily for 65 days until I got my first split. To maintain that flexibility, I stretch a minimum of 4 days a week for 20 minutes. That said, I am not a naturally flexible person so it may take you less or more to maintain.

Tips for Sharing Your Practice

Before creating this post, I sought out advice on developing “How-To” posts. As an instructor, I am used to verbally queuing students. Writing about my own flexibility practice has proved to be much more challenging. Ali Luke (@aliventures), author and blogger, shares great tips in “How to Write a How-To Post: 7 Simple Steps” for creating a written tutorial:

  • Step #1: Pick a Good Topic and Goal
  • Step #2: Work Out the Steps from Start to End
  • Step #3: Write the Introduction
  • Step #4: Write Instructions for Each Step
  • Step #5: Add a Conclusion and Call to Action
  • Step #6: Tweak the Title
  • Step #7: Edit Your Post

Step 4 really resonated with me. As I began writing this post, I found myself just listening poses. Being both a student and instructor, I know that is not actionable. I think this blog does a great job of identifying not only the steps of how to create a tutorial but how to make it engaging. Following her steps made writing this post much easier for me, I encourage to check out her blog here.

Share Your Practice!

Our community is build on sharing. Having success with a new pose, strength, or flexibility? I encourage you to share your journey too and use the seven tips from Ali Luke.

Happy bending!

Melissa Barker

Read more from the Digital Drinkers 

Surviving a Beer Fest    |     Investing In A Home, Part 1      |     The Portland Trail Blazers Brand      |   Training For My First 1/2 Marathon


Luke Ali (2011, December 12). How to Write a How-To Post: 7 Simple Steps. Retrieved July 14, 2016, from: http://www.dailyblogtips.com/how-to-write-a-how-to-post-7-simple-steps/

Yoga with Adriene. “Downward Dog – Downward Facing Dog Yoga Pose.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 12 December 2012. Web. 14 July 2016.

Yoga with Adriene. “Cobra Pose – Yoga With Adriene.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 16 January 2013. Web. 14 July 2016.

Yoga with Adriene. “Pigeon Pose – Yoga With Adriene.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 24 April 2013. Web. 14 July 2016.

Yoga with Adriene. “Warrior One Yoga Pose – Yoga With Adriene.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 20 December 2012. Web. 14 July 2016.

Yoga by Candace. “How to do Lizard Pose.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 15 September 2014. Web. 14 July 2016.

Strong Runner. “Seated Modified Hurdler Stretch is One of The Most Important Stretching Exercises For Runners.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 11 October 2012. Web. 14 July 2016.

ehowhealth. “Pilates Exercises : How to Do a Frog Stretch.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 25 February 2012. Web. 14 July 2016.

GMB Fitness. “Stretching for Super-Stiff People – How to Get into Position.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 29 April 2014. Web. 14 July 2016.

Charlotte PoleFit. “Wall Lunge & PNF Flexibility Technique.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 5 January 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.

Brian Abelson. “PNF Stretching For Your Hamstring Muscles – Kinetic Health.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 6 August 2012. Web. 14 July 2016.

Digital Drinkers Week in Review

Happy Friday!


This week, the Digital Drinkers posted compelling and fun, mostly long-form, content.   


Who are the Digital Drinkers? Meet the team and their first posts.



sophia basketballSophia, our resident sports fan and Portland Trail Blazers expert, wrote in-depth about how the Blazers brand awareness and ticket sales strategy have helped them maintain regional popularity.



davidDavid, our Portland real estate guru, started his 3-part-series on the Do’s and Don’ts of real estate investing.



laurenLauren, our runner extraordinaire, has begun training for the Disney Half Marathon and she’s chronicling her journey here.




melissaMelissa, our bendy acrobat, wrote about her flexibility transformation and building a social media following.




To celebrate the end of the work-week, hit up a beer festival in the area and check out our guide to surviving a festival. 

5 Secrets to Flexibility Training, and Building a Following

For me, flexibility has never come easily. Two years ago I could barely touch my toes or press up into a backbend (wheel pose) without help.

Today, I can sit comfortably in a split, while enjoying my morning coffee.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.44.35 AM

Jokes aside, when I decided to commit to flexibility training, I learned some big lessons. These lessons were not only about flexibility but about building a following on social media.

1) Take progress photos. And share them.

When I started working on flexibility, I took a contortion class where my instructor made us take progress photos. Sharing these photos (while uncomfortable at times) on Instagram kept me accountable.

I stumbled into a subculture dedicated to flexibility through sharing progress photos. “Today you’ll find a flourishing crowdculture around almost any topic” because subcultures are amplified in the age of social media (Holt, 2016). This community became my primary source of motivation. I received comments of encouragement from people I would never meet in person – my digital family.

Two years later, and I’m still sharing progress photos.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.25.24 PM

2) It takes 30-days to form a habit.

I HATED stretching. All of my fitness instructors told me if I really wanted flexibility training to become a habit, I would have to do it for thirty days. To jumpstart my flexibility training I took on a 30-Day Split Challenge. My challenge was simple: do 20-40 minutes of active stretches for my splits every day for thirty days. Sounds easy, right? It wasn’t at first.

I shared weekly progress with hashtags like #30daysplitchallenge to tap into a community of people who were working towards similar goals. The positive affirmation I received from these posts really kept me motivated to keep going. I ended up extending the challenge to do a second month. Stretching had become a habit.

And on Day 65, I got my first split.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.51.15 AM

Before I knew it, I had also gained almost 4 followers for every 1 person I followed. Why does this ratio matter? Because it showed me that being authentic in my content was the reason people followed me, not to get another follower in return.

People love an underdog.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.20.36 AM

3) Flexibility is mental.

So, what is really happening when you’re stretching? The truth is this: you’re training your mind, “Exercises such as reaching for your toes train the nervous system to tolerate a greater degree of muscle extension without firing off pain signals.” (Ghose, 2014) Sounds silly – but you can’t deny science.

Each time I stretched, I knew I was training my mind to go a little bit further. If someone had told me, “one day you’ll put your head between your feet,” – I would’ve laughed.

Looks like the joke is on me.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.32.24 AM

4) Gains come at the most unexpected times, don’t give up.

You never know when gains will occur. There will be weeks (and even months) where you don’t feel like you’re making any progress. That’s normal!

For me, when I am injured (ironically) is when I have the biggest gains in flexibility. Weird, right? Earlier in 2016, I hurt my left wrist and had to rest it for 3 months. During that time, I had my first center split roll-through and stood up from a back bend with one hand.

The video doesn’t lie – note the wrist brace.

5) Stay hydrated.

Muscle flexibility is highly dependent on your hydration. “If you’re looking for a quick fix for just about anything that ails you, water is it. And that goes for flexibility as well.”  (Kita, 2009).

Drink water, osmosis is not the way. Trust me.


Parting thoughts…

Don’t be afraid to show weakness, failure, progress and success on social media. Authenticity is the key to finding and building your community.

Happy bending!

Melissa Barker


  1. Holt, Douglas. “Branding in the Age of Social Media.” Harvard Business Review Mar. 2016: n. pag. Print.
  2. Ghose, Tia (2014, November 13). Does Stretching Increase Flexibility?. Retrieved July 8, 2016, from: http://www.livescience.com/48744-how-does-stretching-work.html
  3. Kita, Joe. (2009, April 14). Drink Water, Boost Flexibility. Retrieved July 8, 2016, from http://www.coreperformance.com/daily/one-small-change/drink-water-boost-flexibility.html


Chasing My Dreams, Realizing My Power


“Why are your knees covered in mud and your heels bloody?”

“Why are you in grad school?”

“Why would you try to do that?”


Hi. My name is Lauren and awkward social interactions are my specialty. Like, even more so than Dory from Finding Nemo. You know, that fish who forgets she is talking to you mid sentence? Loses her family because she forgets she even has one? Yeah, even more awkward than THAT fish.

(case and point: comparing myself to an animated fish – and meaning it. Publically.)

The above questions are just some of the brutally honest questions I have been asked in the last three months. No, I’m not recently pregnant, married, or attempting to get to Rio in 2016 for the speed walking competition, either. All I am doing is working towards my MBA at Willamette University, while working full time, and training for my first half marathon.

Not even a FULL Marathon; just a half! 13.1 miles of constant motion; during which all I will be uttering in-between gasps for air is I-havent-been-fit-since-I-was-16-years-old-what-the-hell-was-I-thinking.

This is my story. Well, one of my stories. This is my story right now – as it is happening in real time – all of the mucky, defeated, determined, yes I just shit my pants a little on that last run parts of it.

If you’re on board for the honest and gritty truth of trying to do something you once was impossible, stick around. This is the story of my journey to finishing this half marathon and documenting the experiment for my Marketing class. This is the first in  a series of posts chronicling, through various digital marketing methods, my trek to the half marathon.

It’s bound to get interesting. Some people argue that is already has!

My current goal is to finish the Disneyland Half Marathon on September 4th, 2016 in under three hours.  While dressed das a fish that has a terrible short -term memory, but damn is she committed! Just. Keep. Swimming. Lauren.

Current Stats:

Motivation for my last training run:  the sheer curiosity of if my body can stay in motion for two hours straight.

Length of last training run: 2 hours 18 minutes

Song that got me through my last training run: Donald Trump, by Mac Miller

Longest continuous distance ran (to date): 4 miles

Days to Disneyland Half Marathon: 50

Delivering Huge Returns in a Skyrocketing Real Estate Market

Always wanted to build a Real Estate empire?

Want to know how to get started?

This 3 part series will get you well on your way with real life examples and experiences using proven techniques for generating huge returns.


The Basics of Real Estate Building

I began investing in real estate at the age of 25 in Jacksonville, Florida, during the crash of the real estate market from 2006 to 2008, a losing venture! I’ve learned a lot since then. During the last 5 years my wife and I began heavily investing in real estate in the Pacific Northwest, purchasing properties in Vancouver, Washington, Hood River and Portland Oregon. We have effectively delivered a 43% return yearly on our investments on average, 4 times the national average. How? Read on to find out.

Right now the real estate market is skyrocketing nationwide, with many homes “flying off the market” in a matter of days, at well over asking price. Is this the right time to buy? This leads to the first lesson in real estate:

A. There is no “right time”, ever.

The market is always going to be volatile, it’s real estate. It is more important to find the right property, in the right neighborhood, for the right price. Stop staying “I missed it”, there is nothing to miss, keep looking; you will find the right place with enough persistence.
B. Stop watching silly home flipping shows.

This not representative of a realistic situation you will find yourself in. Leave flipping to those who do it full time, it is a full time job. Doing this on your spare time, turning a property in months will be costly and not worth your time.

C. Have cash ready to invest.

I don’t care what the real estate books tell you, you need some cash begin with. This can be either out of savings, home equity line of credit (HELOC), or finding investors (friends and family is a good place to start). Down payments are 25% of the purchase price for an investment loan/property, or make it your primary resident (live in it) , and pay as little as 5% down with a conventional mortgage.

D. Build a Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator.

Build a calculator that will determine your return for each property you consider. Include maintenance, taxes, depreciation rates, and forecast for growth. Below I posted a screenshot of an example, and in Part 3: Closing the Deal and Cashing In, I will post a working spreadsheet you can use to make your real estate investments come true!



E. Don’t discount any property.

Look at EVERYTHING. I mean everything: rundown properties, homes with ghost stories, bad neighborhoods, good neighborhoods, even houses that are not for sale. What do I mean by that? If you see a home you like, find the owner, and try to buy it. They may be more open to it than you think and for a great price if you do not involve real estate agents. This also eliminates the competition. Real estate auctions, foreclosures, and short sales are also good places to start. Here is a good start on distressed properties.

F. Find a persistent agent.

Real estate agents that understand what you are looking for and are willing to visit a property an hour after it goes on the market with a flashlight at 9pm. This is especially important if you work full time. The best houses go off the market within days sometimes hours, be the first in.

First Discount Safety – Link

G. Find a good lender.

A good lender will know you and your finances personally, for every purchase. I like brokers; they are personally involved along the way and tend to close on time (which is important in this market). Establish this relationship before you look, you will need to act fast if you find that right property.

H. Find a good contractor.

Almost any investment property will need work, and the good ones will need a ton of work. Building a strong relationship with a good contractor can take time. Most good contractors are months out and talking to one before you even look will ensure projects will be completed in a timely manner.

Bottom line: Follow these essential guidelines and you are off to a good start. Relationship building is the key to success, start getting involved in the real estate community and contractor community now for long lasting profitable relationships. You will probably make some friends along the way as well.

How the Portland Trail Blazers Maintain Sell Out Success

How has a team that hasn’t won a championship since the 1970’s retained generations of loyal fans, consecutive sell out seasons and a reputation for one of the loudest arenas in the league?

Jimmy - Basketball NBA Pinterest
Jimmy – Basketball NBA Pinterest

The Portland Trail Blazers have won an NBA championship only one time. The year was 1977 – most of us early-30’s fans only have grainy footage of Bill Walton throwing his jersey to a frenzy of fans in the lower level of The Coliseum to remind us of the Blazers’ only Broadway parade.

Since that time, the Blazers have managed to advance to the Western Conference finals a few times, meandered about the middle and lower rungs of the Western Conference standings most years, picked a center with bad knees over Michael Jordan, and repeated the same mistake 20 years later selecting a center with bad knees over a high volume scorer.

By many objective measures, the Blazers, as a franchise, has been a failure. They should have a dying fan base, no brand loyalty and trouble selling tickets.

Why are the Blazers more popular than ever on the eve of the 2016/2017 season?


How can you still sell tickets when your dad’s favorite team only won 19 times the season before?

In part, the Blazers sell tickets thanks to pure brand loyalty. There’s nothing more old-school Portland than the Blazers. Rip City. The Schonz. East Portland Grit. The cool factor.

The Portland Trail Blazers are a subsidiary of SportsMyx Holdings Inc. and fall under owner Paul Allen’s Vulcan, Inc. As a private company, their objective brand indicators are not publically available, but all signs point to high brand loyalty that cross multiple generations. Here’s how.

The Blazers aggressively appeal to old-Portland. They don’t sell tons of scarves, they don’t market to Portland-Pearl-Dwellers, they’ve managed to differentiate their brand from the Portland Timbers through appealing to middle to lower income groups of Portlanders and Oregonians. Ads over recent years have appeared to target the anti-Portlandia crowd, you know, men that do want to work, because they have to. Sales in the Blazers’ on-campus store include Bedazzled shirts for women and snap-backs hats with mock graffiti on them. Legendary broadcaster Bill “The Schonz” Schonely starred in Standard TV and Appliance (a SE 82nd home store) ads for over a decade. He knew his appeal: in many ways, his brand mirrors that of the Blazers.

Standard TV and Appliance
Standard TV and Appliance

While the Blazers do have scarf night, their Brand is one of the old-school, hard-working, against-all-odds, middle-to-lower class, Portland, blue-collar worker. Think of your most favorite Blazer, he is most likely one that’s a “hard worker,” “win against the odds,” “fighter” with a story that mirrors your own.

How brand loyalty like this fits, now, when the demographics and economic makeup of the city have changed so drastically in the past 25 years, is almost too perfect – it’s no longer cool to adhere to the status quo. The hipsters that made a living a few years back off the trendy, “I loved it before it was cool,” are now just a mockery, making room for the Portlander that loves to love everything decidedly non-hipster and non-Portlandia.

When the Blazers of the late 90’s and early 2000’s became embattled in a number of off-court incidents, the Blazers briefly became known as the Blaze City and had trouble selling tickets after the Blazers stopped winning. The Blazers quickly realized that the city of Portland loves a “good -guy” who stays out of trouble, and they branded the new players they acquired as such.

The Blazers have mastered a consistent message of nostalgia.

Ticket Sales and Price Modeling

As we know from the classic business case, the Cialis case, a high level of brand awareness makes brands more difficult to change. And while Blazers brand loyalty and brand awareness have stayed concrete, to sell tickets in the Rose Garden – I’ll never call it the Moda Center- the Blazers have changed their approach a number of times in the past 20 years, before settling on a mixed approach, targeting:

1.Corporate ticket package buyers

2.Season ticket holders

3.Club buyers

4.Setting fan appreciation nights, where discount, third tier, tickets are sold at discount prices

All ticket prices are market sensitive, meaning if the defending champs, Cleveland Cavs, come to town, ticket prices will be higher than if the 76ers are making a visit. They have a full staff of over 20 outside sales people, and a full team of inbound marketing representatives passing leads and making sales over the phone or internet.

So while the Portland Trail Blazers brand is very well ingrained, the ticket-selling strategy is a bit more complex. Any major sports game is an event worth visiting in most major towns, for corporations and businesses in Portland, the Blazers are an excellent high-dollar benefit to offer clients or visiting friends. According to a source inside the Blazers, revenue from corporate buyers represents a large proportion of total revenue in the past 10 years. Indeed, the flexible pricing structure did not impact overall sales as much as some folks predicted because corporate buyers could afford the slightly more expensive package, or, were purchasing packages at bulk rate at the beginning of the season.

The Blazers are using data to inform segmenting and targeting, also. They’ve reportedly used Cortana (Thanks, Paul Allen) to drive data and inform ticket sales.

“As a fully managed big data and advanced analytics product, Cortana Intelligence makes this end-to-end data experience easy to navigate. It allows data specialists from both our organizations to quickly ingest, process and analyze data and build operational machine learning models. Specifically, Python support in Azure ML allows us to easily incorporate feature engineering into model development and increase our development speed and productivity. The insights gained from the analysis using Cortana Intelligence Suite are useful in optimizing the marketing strategy. For instance:

•There are significant differences in purchasing patterns among fans, and they are powerful signals in predicting season ticket purchase.

•Attendance patterns with different opponents are also strong predictors of whether or not a customer is going to be a new season ticket holder.”

Season ticket holders have waxed and waned relative to the success of the team, and single ticket buyers or club ticket buyers, tend to be super fans that can afford one game a season, or the casual fan that enjoys the beer and atmosphere more than the game, respectively.

As the Blazers have worked to attract and retain more corporate package buyers, which has kept ticket sales level or rising over the years, the team has consistently partnered with local schools to offer cheap tickets on school appreciation nights. This gives fans that otherwise would not be able to afford seats a chance to witness an NBA game. The Blazers have also partnered with local Boys and Girls clubs in lower income areas, charter schools and NIKE to give back to underserved communities. The attention to underserved areas appeals to consumers that may not be able to attend games more than once a season, or, who don’t work for a large corporation where they can win tickets to games.

Social Media Marketing

The Blazers social media marketing team is well known for their ground -breaking and first-to-market work across the digital space. They were one of the first teams to embrace the digital realm, becoming early on adopters of a consistently excellent team-Twitter user, and generating compelling digital content that was meaningful, well-researched, carefully curated, and seemingly from fans just like you and me – we could relate with those users – exactly how social media marketing should be set up.


How they do it:

1) Nostalgic mindset

“In their office, the team has assembled all sorts of unique memorabilia that showcases their passion and originality. It helps paint a picture for understanding why they’re great at what they do.” (Baller Mind Frame)

2) A mix of podcasts, video, twitter posts, blog posts of original content, and stories that combine video, audio, and written word that rival the Oregonian’s most poignant player profile.

3) Consistent and strategic use of hash tags and tracking mechanisms that allows content to appear at the top of regional digital users online ads, twitter and facebook news feeds, while providing great data feedback for future decision making.

Winning at the Right Time

Branding and ticket sales strategy can only take you so far, at some point, the product must deliver. Fans want wins. The Blazers have managed to assemble a lovable, against-the-odds, team that made it to the second round of the play offs last year, even after losing its biggest star. The Blazers reinvented themselves after the troubled era at the onset of the 2000’s through drafting and coaching young, talented, utterly underappreciated players and making a play for the top slot in the West (sound familiar, doesn’t it).

Indeed, the Blazers are currently enjoying the success of Damian Lillard, who has catapulted himself to international stardom, a rarity for a small market NBAer. And while many players have a similar rags-to-riches story, the Blazers don’t hesitate to point out the struggle Lillard came from with his longer-than-average time in college, quest to finish his Bachelor’s degree, and sheer determination.

The Blazers attract and retain a certain caliber of player because, in part, he will fit with the Blazers brand. That brand has endured over four decades as the Blazers have one of the most well known franchises in the country. And through the relative lack of success in the NBA, the Blazers have been able to capitalize on their brand loyalty and ticket selling strategy to fill the stands every night.

The Blazers have successfully managed their organization without consistently winning, to retain generations of fans and gain new viewers year over year.

Top 7 Ways to Enjoy Beer Festivals Like a Lady

Get your waterproof mascara ready, it is beerfest season! With the Oregon Brewer’s Festival around the corner (and many more), we’ve got you covered.

Here are our tips for getting the most out of your beer festival experience.

  1. Get your leg day in with squats over the porta potty. Because you won’t want to sit down.
  2. Come prepared-with to-go tissue.
  3. Be ready for the long lines.
  4. Make a plan for the inevitable beer fumble. Bust out the good ol’ bend and snap.
  5. Feeling embarrassed? There is always more beer.
  6. Don’t get paralyzed by too much variety.
  7. Take a cab, don’t drink and drive.