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Direct Response Marketing

Former Blue Angels Lead Pilot John Foley Draws Record Crowd at Keynote Address

16 May, 2012 By: Doug McPherson, Jackie Jones


SAN DIEGO – Keynote Speaker John Foley drew a crowd of nearly 700 attendees during the Response Expo 2012 Keynote Address on Tuesday night. The former lead solo pilot of the Blue Angels kicked off Response Expo 2012 with his Keynote Address, “The How of High Performance,” presented by Euro RSCG Edge, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

“I’m so glad to be here, and those are words that have a deep significance to me,” Foley began the Keynote Address. “And I hope that those words will have a deep and richer meaning to each of you individuals at this show, too – thankful for the opportunity to have the jobs you do and for whom we’re all surrounded with here in this very room. As direct marketers, you have pretty cool jobs and the opportunity to impact a lot of people.”

Foley, who has logged thousands of hours in the cockpit of F/18s and other jets when he was an aircraft carrier pilot, a Naval instructor pilot for the Marines and a member of the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, drew on his experiences as a former lead solo pilot for the Blue Angels to show direct response marketers, agencies and business executives how to achieve unprecedented performance excellence in their own business and personal lives.

A video showcasing Foley’s incredible and awe-inspiring skills in the cockpit of the Blue Angels jets preceded his Keynote Address, introduced by Steve Netzley, CEO of Euro RSCG Edge. Foley also used photos, video and real-life examples to interact with the audience and highlight the cooperation, trust and skills required by the pilots involved in the Blue Angels, and then tied those experiences into the advertising ins and outs of marketers, agencies and companies at Response Expo 2012.

“If you put that collaboration into every business partnership, every relationship you have, can you imagine what would be possible?” Foley posed to the Response Expo crowd.

Few DR marketers at Response Expo may have flown their own jet, yet Foley still successfully related much of his life as a pilot to life as a direct response marketer.

“Measurement is key, we measure everything in what I did,” said Foley, who educated the crowd with interesting facts just as much as he entertained them with jokes and anecdotes that kept the audience laughing almost nonstop. “And you can’t control everything – just like you guys can’t always control the market and the economy. But you can control your reaction to it, and that’s the key difference in becoming successful.”

Foley shared four steps for success with the standing-room only crowd at the Keynote Address: vision, planning, execution and feedback.

“As direct marketers, you intuitively know all of this. Nothing too new, but I want to open this up here,” he said. “Instead of just vision, let’s talk about belief. What happens when you surround yourselves with others that have a high belief in you, your product, your business plans?”

“If you can elevate your own belief level, success will follow,” Foley concluded.

Response Expo guests were impressed with Foley’s ability to parallel his life experiences with the world of direct response.

"I thought it was very motivational and, in particular, I thought what he said about being focused and getting better at your work and believing you can do it was all very relevant to what we do at work every day," said Jonathon Lieberman of Cammex Intl., a manufacturer based in Hong Kong.

"What he talked about was key to any organization, that to be a leader in your industry you have to focus on the details and execute," added Dan Reeves of Innotrac, an Atlanta-based fulfillment company. "I thought it was especially pertinent to the direct response industry. It was a very good presentation."

Response Expo attendees also joined John Yarrington, Response publisher and Expo director, at the beginning of the Keynote Address in a moment of silence in honor of longtime direct response industry veteran Ray Golden, who died yesterday morning after a battle against lung cancer.

“The industry lost a good man today,” Yarrington said, “and we all lost a good friend. I know his family appreciates the love and support from everyone at this show upon hearing this sad news.”

Foley’s Keynote Address echoed the optimism, trust and close-knit relationships evident throughout the Expo crowd.

“I talk at a lot of different industry events, and you guys raising money for the Amber Golden Education Fund – that is a purpose larger than self,” Foley said. “Not every organization has that, and it’s not something you can fake. You guys have a purpose larger than self, and that’s amazing.”

“Everyone in this room knows what success is, that’s why each and every one of you are here,” he added. “Are there going to be obstacles amid that success? Of course. Are you going to overcome those obstacles? Of course – that’s what you all do every single day.”


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