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Turning Ideas into Reality

A summer shoe drive that started with a kayaking excursion

I recently had the opportunity to join Nick Drake of T-Mobile, Soles4Souls, and Merkle in driving a campaign to collect money to purchase shoes for those in need. There are three things I learned about turning an idea into reality and wanted to share those experiences. But, before I jump in, I thought it would be fun to share the back story of how a campaign like this got started.

The back story:

Back in June, at Merkle’s Executive SummitNick Drake (T-Mobile’s EVP, Marketing & Experience) and I were on one of the afternoon kayaking excursions when we struck up a conversation about Adidas, his previous employer. We laughed about a tweet I had just posted about an old pair of Adidas superstars I was ‘retiring’ after 15 years.

Tweet: Retired Kicks

After sharing the tweet with Nick, before I knew it, Adidas joined the conversation and with a good amount of fun Twitter activity among its fans, and then offered to send me a free pair of Superstars to replace the old ones. Some followers jumped into the conversation in excitement, but one of the followers made a great point by bringing up the 1.5 million homeless Americans that could also use new shoes. Nick and I decided to run our own campaign to raise money to buy shoes for the homeless through Soles4Souls. Soon, our companies were teaming up to donate $1,000 each. In a few short weeks, we kicked off the shoe drive and generated over $5,000 in one week. I’m also proud to say the first $10 came from my two sons who ran a lemonade stand by donating 10 percent of their proceeds to the cause!

Tweet: New Kicks

Through this experience, I learned to:

  1. Build a team quickly: This was not a one-person show, we needed a whole team to make it possible. We were fortunate to gain support up front by finding the right people. We first found a marketing partner to support the campaign from both companies: Deirdre Pacylowski and a partner from Nick Drake's Business office, Jenifer Mac. We then pulled in a social media expert - Gena Mangano - and then executive sponsors Seth Romanow and Libby Barden. With a full team constructed we had the buy-in and support we needed to run fast.
  2. Inspire others to expand your reach: One voice can be limiting but, hundreds of voices together can be impactful. The team brainstormed how to pull in others and an internal social campaign was born. By eliciting the support of employees at Merkle to share the message with their social networks, we were able to expand our reach exponentially through trusted resources. Soon the word spread and multiplied beyond what our small team, could have done (plus it was free). To make it easy for employees to share, the social team developed quick copy & paste LinkedIn and Twitter posts to drop into their social feeds.
  3. Expect barriers: Turning around a campaign quickly like this is not easy, but it’s possible. We certainly had our fair share of road blocks. We were told ‘no’ by some groups, diverted in new directions based on legal rules and sometimes required late night calls to accommodate busy schedules. From the start, we had a date in mind and ‘no’ was not a possibility. I can promise the final campaign approach was not the initial plan but the outcome was. With each barrier, the team adjusted and simply moved forward to reach our end goal.

If you’re interested in helping with this campaign, feel free to donate here or you can help by spreading the word - you can copy and paste the below posts into your own social media networks.

LinkedIn Post: Help provide a pair of shoes to those in need by donating to SOLES4SOULS with Merkle! #WearOutPoverty http://bit.ly/2w75oG2 

Twitter Post: #Donate to @Soles4Souls with @MerkleCRM and 100% of proceeds go to providing shoes for those in need. http://bit.ly/2w75oG2 

Merkle Shoe Drive

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