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Ice Cold Beer Bottle with Cap On

—How a Simple Idea Saved Schlitz Beer 

Do you know the rescue story of Schlitz beer?

How a simple idea saved the Schlitz beer company?

Schlitz beer was locked in a death match…

The brewery was stuck in fifth place, and the competition was growing bigger and badder by the day. Breweries were pounding each other (and the public) with one beer ad after another. If you’re seasoned crew (old like me), you probably remember some of these ads.

Beer companies just kept leap-frogging each other with bigger and bigger ads. All shouting that their beer was the PUREST!

When the competition starts screaming like this, it’s the companies a few rungs down the ladder from the top that get crushed. The makers of Schlitz beer knew they were in serious trouble, and luckily they were smart enough to get help.

Desperate to cut through the noise and be heard, they made a wise move. They brought in an outside expert, a successful advertiser known for his ability to make products fly off the shelves.

The guy wasted no time. He immediately asked for a tour of the brewery, and what he saw stunned him.

If you’ve never been to a real brewery, it’s very impressive equipment.

Plate glass rooms full of filtered air, designed to cool the beer without contaminating it. The original mother yeast cell — developed by the brewery after 1,200 experiments — that all of the yeast in Schlitz beer descended from.

The mother yeast cell…how cool is that?

And that’s not the end.

He also saw four-thousand foot deep artesian wells drilled to where the water was purest. Sidenote: This is where the idea started for modern pubs to showcase their equipment to the public.

After the tour, the ad man turned to the brewers and asked “Why on earth aren’t you telling anyone about this?”

“It’s nothing special,” the brewers said, “All the brewers do these things.”

That was true — but the public had no idea because none of the brewers talked about it in their advertising.

So the ad man rolled up his sleeves and wrote a series of ads describing the painstaking lengths the brewery went through to ensure the purity of its beer.

Did the Campaign Work?

Yes, it worked like gangbusters.

When the ads rolled out, demand for Schlitz Beer skyrocketed. And within months, Schlitz jumped from a mediocre fifth place to slugging it out for first.

All because an outsider saw what the brewers couldn’t.

I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s pretty easy to hear a story like that and come down hard on the brewers. Duh, how could they be so blind?

But if I’m honest with myself, I can think of a bunch of times where I’ve missed opportunities that were so obvious you’d think an 8-year-old could see them.

This Old Saying Sums It Up

“It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle.”

The same thing happens in EMS and air medical.

We get so involved in our work that we sometimes fail to see the big picture. We’re “inside the bottle.” We miss opportunities because we’re so focused on the present.

We’re so concerned about having enough pens and pins for everyone that we forget what really matters. We forget what folks really want from flight crews when they do outreach?

What do folks really want?

They want to connect with you. They want to know what it’s like to fly on a trauma helicopter. They want to hear your story.

That’s it.

I know this “inside the bottle” tunnel vision happens to folks I coach. Sometimes, it really sucks. You can read about a little mistake that cost a medic $3000 a year here.

And it doesn’t end there.

It also happens to ambulance and flight companies I teach how to market their services to the public–and how to grow their membership programs. They sometimes forget it’s about the people…not about the numbers.

Nobody is immune.

Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s getting ready for your first flight interview, securing the clam shells on a BK-117 helicopter, or doing an ambulance drug count… don’t assume that you see everything.

It’s impossible to always look at what you’re doing objectively. You will always have blind spots.

That’s why — no matter where you are in EMS or air medical  — one of the most valuable things you can do is get an outside perspective.

Get a mentor to help you see the bigger picture.

When you put fresh eyeballs on your personal and professional goals, “obvious” things that you’d never see on your own become visible.

At EMS Flight Safety Network, many of my student’s biggest breakthroughs come from hearing about other wannabe flight crew success stories. Reading the monthly training letters and listening to the monthly CDs is the ‘ah-ha’ moment for many. Just a little bit of outside perspective is all some students need to really hone in on what matters most and start getting real results in their own quests for air medical flying jobs.

For me, it’s exciting to see their “light bulbs” come on and their Schlitz beer moments happen. And of course it’s always exciting to get calls and emails from coaching students when they land their first flying jobs.

Free Professional Help Is A No-Brainer

Right now, we’re making it no-brainer easy for EMS who want to fly some day —to get started.

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Troy Shaffer
Troy Shaffer

About the Author: Troy is an Air Medical Career Expert passionate about a team approach to improving air medical safety from the ground up. Troy is a former Army medic, Army pilot, Coast Guard pilot and EMS pilot. Troy has taught hundreds of wannabe flight medics, flight nurses and EMS pilots the exact steps needed to launch air medical careers.

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