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Sanford Vo-Tech Scholarship Plan Includes Unnecessary Marketing Budget

The new Sanford-funded Build Dakota vo-tech scholarship program includes some gravy for Lawrence & Schiller. Out of $25 million from T. Denny Sanford and $25 million from the Governor's Future Fund, the state will spend 0.5%*, $250,000, on marketing the scholarships and the jobs they target.

Now hold on: the state is going to offer free vo-tech programs to 300 students a year for the first five years, then 50 more a year. That's free education. Free pretty much markets itself. The reps from Southeast, Lake Area, Mitchell, and Western Dakota don't need a TV campaign; they just keep doing their high school visits and add one line to their pitch: "By the way, it's free." Boom—marketing done!

We won't need to market the jobs any more than the scholarships. Those first 300 scholarshipped vo-tech graduates will be required to work in South Dakota for three years or pay back the money. They won't need an ad campaign to point them to their required payback.

Maybe the marketing budget is just a gift to the state's favored ad agency Lawrence & Schiller, a Christmas congratulations for their great work on the safe-driving campaign. Now what can we do to get Mitchell Tech on The Daily Show?

First draft, Sanford Build Dakota Vo-Tech Scholarship ad
First draft, Sanford Build Dakota Vo-Tech Scholarship ad (Background from Mitchell Tech website; text by Madville Times Marketing Division)

P.S.: The South Dakota Department of Education already lists the Build Dakota vo-tech scholarship on its website. I'll bet that marketing didn't cost $250,000.

*Correction 16:09 CST: The original version of the story mistakenly listed the marketing budget as 2% of the planned $50 million. I regret the error and will remind my next math class to always check their work.


  1. larry kurtz 2014.12.18

    you're nefarious, cory.

  2. Catherine Ratliff 2014.12.18

    The strangest and cruelest pathway to redistribute wealth - from the poorest people to Daugaard's program. Credit-card pirate Denny Sanford made his billions off the poor, whose bad credit ratings make them ineligible for credit elsewhere. Premier Bank's credit cards come with high fees, "astronomical" interest rates, and high penalties when the poor are unable to pay on time. Couple that with aggressive collection.... Now, Gov Daugaard, to offset exploitation of the poor, let them have Medicaid.

  3. Nick Nemec 2014.12.18

    The regular suspects (Lawrence and Schiller) must be paid off. They could offer 2% more scholarships, but no, crony capitalism rules SD.

  4. JeniW 2014.12.18

    Are you guys saying that the employees at Lawrence and Schiller do not deserve to be paid for their work?

    From what I have seen of the employees who work for L & S, many of them are young adults.

    If I read correctly, the advertisements are going to go beyond the borders of SD. I am guessing the most likely are the states that surround SD, and then beyond.

    How else will potential candidates for the scholarships know what is available?

  5. Bill Fleming 2014.12.18

    Jeni's probably right. The sales pitch isn't about convincing someone to take free money, it's about convincing them to stay in SD for 3 years after they graduate. That could take some creativity, and the L&S people are obviously good hands when it comes to.... Oh never mind.

  6. Hubba 2014.12.18

    Geez, I hope this is just a draft. Does anyone else notice the two emphasized words next to the picture of the pretty but somewhat confused looking young woman?

  7. Bill Fleming 2014.12.18

    Hubba, did you notice who wrote those words. ;-)

  8. larry kurtz 2014.12.18

    Hubba: nice turnip truck.

  9. Hubba 2014.12.18

    Oh dear... we'll blame this on the kindle fire.

  10. oldguy 2014.12.18

    By the way CAH your editing is hilarious

  11. Hubba 2014.12.18

    And Larry that's not my turnip truck it's just the one I fell off of...

  12. Steve Sibson 2014.12.18

    "the advertisements are going to go beyond the borders of SD"

    The other states are doing the same thing. This is just a ploy to reduce the training costs of the corporatists. Thanks to you Big Government Democrats for providing half of the funding for this public/private partnership. Crony Capitalists need you.

  13. Steve Sibson 2014.12.18

    Hubba, perhaps it is like the jerk and drive ad, that was done on purpose.

  14. mike from iowa 2014.12.18

    So,we all need a hand up and down and up and down.....stop being a jerk-at least when you are driving.

  15. mike from iowa 2014.12.18

    If people want to know what is available they should read MADVILLE TIMES and believe every word Cory writes. Then they would know and it wouldn't waste 250k that could be used for schollies.

  16. mike from iowa 2014.12.18

    The downside to this program is there will be several hundred young folks who will now be known to Sibby and he can attack them for coveting free scholarships of someone else's money.

  17. Bill Fleming 2014.12.18

    Sibby says, "Hubba, perhaps it is like the jerk and drive ad, that was done on purpose." Bwahahahaha! Very astute observation, indeed, Mr. Sibson.

  18. larry kurtz 2014.12.18

    Sibby's turnip truck picks lane before spilling contents.

  19. JeniW 2014.12.18

    Steve S., will you, or any of those who agree with you, try to stop the program from happening?

    If you do not try to stop it, then you are not different than the Democrats, Republicans, Independents who will not try to stop it either.

    In case you did not notice, Gov. Daugaard is Republican, and so are the majority of the SD legislators... hmmm, whom is it that you are blaming?

  20. Owen reitzel 2014.12.18

    But if you are out of state and looking for work and you have young kids, what do you look at? Schools. And if South Dakota has a teacher shortage and last in pay are you moving here? Doubt it

  21. Steve Sibson 2014.12.18

    JeniW, you need to look beyond party labels and deal with the principles at work. The Democrats are the Republicans best friends. Without Big Government, you can't have crony capitalism. It is short sighted to say: if it is good for education it is good for Democrats. The Crony Capitalist have turned education into subsidized training. It is no longer education. And teachers are now facilitators.

  22. Mike Verchio 2014.12.18

    Steve ,
    If you think corporate S.D. is sitting on its hands when it comes to C.T.E. education you are dead wrong . They too provide scholarships , instructors & equipment to our Tech Schools . This insures a pool of good basic trained workers to hire from .

  23. JeniW 2014.12.18

    Thank you for sharing your perspective Steve.

    The question remains of how are people who object to the program going to try to stop it from happening?

  24. tara volesky 2014.12.18

    Why is Lawrence and Schiller involved when Vo-tech schools already advertise out of state and they have recruiters that go to High Schools all over. They also have lists of hundreds of potential students. Yup, sounds a lot like the Manpower disaster. Giving taxpayer money to cronies.

  25. Nick Nemec 2014.12.18

    Have any details been released on which programs will qualify for the scholarships? Will scholarships be awarded on the basis of need, HS standing, college entrance test results or first come first served or perhaps some other basis? High school seniors are making decisions now on where they will go to post secondary school in the fall of 2015? Time's a wasting.

    I agree with Tara on the need to pay 2% of the program's money to L&S to advertise. The schools already have recruiters visiting all of the high schools. Maybe a letter to high school councilors to remind them and give program details is in order, but people have a way of finding free money on their own. Thank you very much.

  26. Steve Sibson 2014.12.18

    Mike, I said they corporatists training costs are being "subsidized" via "public/private partnerships". So yes, they are putting in some funding, but not all. The taxpayers, many who receive no benefit, are forced to pay for training costs. In addition the students who don't get the grants are going into debt while being trained before they become employed, instead of become employed right away and trained while on the job, there by receiving a pay check instead of a school loan. But then the corporatists would have to pay all the costs of training their employees.

  27. Nick Nemec 2014.12.18

    Given the recent publicity the "Jerk and Drive" campaign received this "Hand Job" campaign really makes you wonder about the competence of SD advertising agencies.

  28. Steve Sibson 2014.12.18

    Nick, looks like they are being run by liberals doesn't it?

  29. Bill Fleming 2014.12.18

    Nick, L&S didn't write that ad, Cory did.

  30. Bill Fleming 2014.12.18

    (See his caption under the photo. I'm surprised how many are missing Cory's satirical intent here. Plus, even though, technically, L&S are our company's "competitors" we've always had great respect for their agency. They know their stuff and work their butts off. )

  31. JeniW 2014.12.18

    Now that you mentioned it.... LOL

    Cory deserves an award for coming up with a sex related advertisement.

    Sex + Creativity = Humourous ads!

  32. Bill Fleming 2014.12.18

    JeniW there you go. And yes, he does. (But he loses a few points for bad typography LOL)

  33. Patrick Duffy 2014.12.18

    No good deed goes unpunished.

  34. Nick Nemec 2014.12.18

    BF, now I feel like the dupes who repost stuff from the Onion thinking it's real. You got me Cory.

    My questions on the specifics of the program remain. Get the info out to HS guidance councilors pronto. Kids are making decisions for next fall as we speak.

  35. mike from iowa 2014.12.18

    Imagine if Cory was serious.

  36. mike from iowa 2014.12.18

    Old Guy are you dangling parsnipticles?

  37. Bill Fleming 2014.12.18

    Fooled me for a second or two as well, Nick. :-)

  38. mike from iowa 2014.12.18

    Apologies to oldguy. It was Hubba dangling parsnipticles.

  39. Lynn 2014.12.18

    As Patrick Duffy mentioned "No good deed goes unpunished."

    There are some things I don't like about this and when I think of "Sanford" I think of an association with the SDGOP establishment, cronyism, mismanagement and misplaced priorities coming out of Pierre. I might add the infomercials disguised as news promoting Sanford Health and the Denny Sanford Premier Center by SanfordLand(Keloland) at 5,6 and 10:00.

    Don't you think we should put our frustration aside regarding where we are politically and be grateful for what Denny Sanford has donated here in South Dakota? I'm guilty! He could of donated his fortune in another state or just kept it and done something else with it.

    Historically James J Hill in St. Paul, MN aka the Empire Builder, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller for example were ruthless in their time and one had blood on their hands but they became great philanthropists to which we benefit from even today! Just something to consider.

  40. JeniW 2014.12.18

    I think this is a wonderful opportunity, particularly for young adults who are trying to figure out what career they want to pursue, those who are out of the k12 school system, and individuals with disabilities or special needs who do not qualify for Voc. Rehab. services.

    The thing I do not like about this is that it does not provide opportunities for those who want to be teachers, or those who want to work in the human/social services area.

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.19

    First draft, Bill! If I get the GOED/DOE contract, I'll happily subcontract with you for typography consultation. :-)

  42. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.19

    Nick, Hubba, sorry to trick you! Not my intent!

  43. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.19

    Lots of good questions about the details of the program—who's eligible, which programs, etc. Build Dakota is a work in fast progress; I have a new post coming up this morning with more details from DOE. Stay tuned....

  44. Nick Nemec 2014.12.19

    Not to worry Cory, I need to work on my reading comprehension. I listened to the SDPR noon show on Thursday, they interviewed the president of SE Tech and a woman with state government. The state government spokeswoman was especially evasive in her answers when the interviewer asked about eligible programs and other basic details of the program.

  45. Steve Sibson 2014.12.19

    Nick, it is either the fine print or it is the money that gets us.

  46. Wayne B. 2014.12.19

    Cory, stick to their Shrek green boxes and white font!

    Y'all harp about 1% of the total initiative going to marketing.
    Marketing works.

    (check out 5:35 if you can't watch the whole thing, but I recommend you do)

  47. Bill Fleming 2014.12.19

    WayneB, you probably meant to say "advertising" works. Just guessing. But it always amazes me how many think people the words "marketing" and "advertising" are interchangeable and synonymous, when to those of us in "the biz", they are two very distinct activities, with the latter sometimes (but not always) being a subgroup of the former.

  48. Wayne B. 2014.12.19


    I believe I meant marketing (the overall strategic process of raising awareness and getting two parties together for the exchange of something - usually goods/services for money. Advertising would be a component of marketing, but in today's world would be a generally insufficient marketing strategy - am I mistaken in my understanding of the terms?).

    Dan Pallotta speaks a lot about advertising, but it's just a component of marketing (which he clearly has been doing with great effect for charities).

    My point is we shouldn't revile it for it's ability to bring awareness of a service or opportunity. The philosophy that 2% of a gift shouldn't be spent to ensure enough people partake in that gift is a bad philosophy to hold, and one I hope to break with a compelling illustration.

  49. Bill Fleming 2014.12.19

    Wayne B. very good. And yes I agree. I've heard some marketing advocates go so far as to say "if marketing is done properly, "sales" is unnecessary." (Which, of course goes over lie a lead balloon with the people in the sales department. :-)

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