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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we thought an Irish perspective on business by Irish keynote speaker and business humorist Conor Cunneen might be interesting.

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The Brand Experience – Ireland

Location: O’Hara’s Bed & Breakfast, West Coast Ireland.

Characters: Mary Margaret O’Hara, proprietor: Hank Devlin, Boston resident and his long time golf- buddy Martin Boyd, both on first visit to Ireland.

“Well, now lads I hope you enjoyed that lovely Irish breakfast – the three slices of black pudding – blood pudding to you – the slices of bacon, mushrooms, baked beans, the two fresh eggs sunny side up as you Americans like to say and of course the giant sausages from McCool’s the Butcher – he’s a brother-in-law of my sister-in-law you know, although they are not talking right now, but that’s only temporary. Right so you’re off to the golf course, are ye?”

“Mrs. O’Hara we sure are. We need directions. We don’t have GPS.”

“And what would ye be needin’ that for, Sir? Doesn’t everyone around here know where everyplace is, around here like? But I’ll tell ya how to get to the golf course. If you go down this road for about two miles, you’ll see a road to the right. That road takes you over the beautiful green hillside and you’ll get a great view of the lakes. They say it is where the angels swim. Some people say they swim in the nude, but I don’t think Father Murphy would approve of that.”

Mrs. O'Hara paused.

“Anyway, if you see the lakes, you’ve taken the wrong road. Don’t take that road. About a kilometer – ‘tis kilometers we use here now, you know. Kilometers are shorter than miles, but the funny thing is you don’t get there any faster. Anyway - before that road, there is a turn to the left – take that, and the golf course is down there. Have you gentlemen visited these parts before?”

“No. No. We have not, although I sure do love it. My grandfather emigrated from here years ago. I remember sitting on his knee and he telling me about the beautiful Irish people and countryside. He never told me about the great Irish golf courses you have.”

“Ah, the only things walking the land in those days were the sheep. Off you go now, gentlemen and par for putt or whatever you guys do. You don’t know that Tiger Weeds guy, do you?

“Woods.”

“Woods? Well, there is a forest about 5 miles from town, but I thought you wanted to play golf”

“We do Mrs. O Hara, we do. The golfer’s name is Woods – Tiger Woods.”

“And there’s me saying … oh well. Off you go and keep an eye out for sheep on the road, when you are near the golf course.”

“Sheep on the road, I’ve heard it all now,” Hank gestured to his associate as both Americans got into the car.

As the would-be golfers drove off, Mrs. O'Hara smiled, took out her sleek Blackberry Pearl and hit a speed key.

“Hi Michael. Morning. Quick one for you. I’ve just had a couple of guests heading off to the golf course. I think they’re marketing guys, but they’re still nice! Are you out on the land at the moment? Good. Good. Look they’ll be going by your place in about 10 minutes. Put a few sheep out on the road for them. Give them a touch of old Ireland.”

“Mom, you’re nuts.”

“Ah now Son, you are the one that told me about this Brand Experience thing. Those guys came looking for the old Ireland. Aran sweaters. Friendly people. Crazy directions.”

“And what’s with the sheep, Mom?”

“Sheep? That’s the added value son which you tell me should always be provided. Won’t it be a lovely memory for them, to give sheep right-of-way on our highways and bye-ways. And can you imagine the word-of-mouth buzz it will generate back in the States? You know when I was a wee girl, it used be called gossip. And we’d get a clip in the ear from my mother for it.”

“I think word-of-mouth marketing is a bit different Mom.”

“I suppose it is, but anyway son, as you well know Ireland has got an 'it' factor and there is no harm in reinforcing it, now is there son? Didn’t I read in that marketing book you gave me that if you create an 'it' factor around your brand and customer experience, it will pay dividends eventually. So put those sheep out, create that Brand Experience thing and I’ll get repeat business and pay off your student loans.”

“OK, Mom, I’ll put the sheep out. But why are you sending them this direction? All you had to do was give them MapQuest details.”

“Son, Ireland has one of the best educated young populations in the world. You are not a good example of that. I keep telling you. It’s the Brand Experience. These two nice men came to Ireland looking for ‘The Real Ireland,’ and we’re just fulfilling their expectations. I’ve got to go now son, Padraig Harrington is on the Golf Channel. Hurry up with those sheep. You’ll hear them coming. They’re driving a stick shift. Oh by the way, tell them to keep the ball out of the weeds!”

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Chicago based Irishman Conor Cunneen is an award winning business speaker and humorist. He is author Why Ireland Never Invaded America and a former Chicago Humorous Speaker of the Year. Conor can be contacted at 630 718 1643, or www.IrishmanSpeaks.com.


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