4 ways your sport brand (or any brand, for that matter) can influence 2013

2013 promises to be very exciting. As many of your know, I am also the founder of a startup called CheckinLine, which is being launched into the US Sports and Ticketing market. While thinking about how we can best influence that market, it occurred to me that these might be useful thought-starters for almost everyone in business. (inspiration for this post came from the Sports Business Summit in Sydney last month)

What becomes apparent as you read this is how much this relates to brands of any kind, in any industry. It’s all a matter of knowing who and what influences your real market and how your brand can best leverage this.

1. Get Serious with Social

Social media is moving beyond a means for simple promotion and broadcasting. Brands in all industries are realising that social media offers a special connection with fans and is, in fact, a powerful database. Merging social with more traditional CRM is one of our biggest challenges, which is why it’s time to get serious with social media.

What’s most important for your brand, the millions of followers on twitter or the 2,000 (or 20K, or 200K) “über fans” who will advocate your brand? Identifying and empowering these fans is the key. It’s time to let creativity be the real driver.

An ability to get behavioural and preferential data from your fans is one of the keys to success in this field.

'Advertising is the price you pay for not being creative' (special thanks to Jim Delaney for this quote, that somebody said once, I'm sure). We have instantaneous, engaging and iterative social platforms at our disposal. These platforms provide an opportunity to test and implement big ideas with very little cost.

2. Harness the Big Idea

As humans, our perception of normal is limited by our perception of “abnormal” and the outcome of this is a lot of “safe” ideas.

Sport, fuelled largely by raw passion and emotion, provides a fertile ground to nurture the truly big ideas. The ideas that make even occasional sports followers say “wow, that is really freakin’ cool!”

US based Dan Migala is renowned for his creative marketing concepts (and for his taste in start-ups...he is assisting CheckinLine in it's US endeavours). Like when he convinced the Chicago White Sox to change the start time of their evening games to 7:11 to appease new sponsor 7Eleven. Pretty freakin’ cool huh?

Here is Dan’s framework for a big idea:

  1. The idea is to enhance, not interrupt the fan experience
  2. Revenue is a result, not an objective
  3. Emotional connection is key
  4. Create “moments of truth”
  5. Be authentic

Encourage and nurture the big idea and don’t be afraid to fail.

3. Generate new revenue streams

Where does brand love come from? We connect with sport through experiences, rivalries, emotion and stories. Storylines – how we create them, enhance them and engage with them – will generate new revenue streams.

New revenue streams are found at the intersection of passion and motivation. They are energized through storytelling.

4. Realise your brand is a story

As listed earlier, revenue should be an outcome, not an objective.

What IS a sports brand? The Logo, People, Players, Fans, History, Loyalty?

What are we actually selling? Who is the buyer? Participants, commercial sponsors, network broadcast partners, supporters…?

We need to tune into how each stakeholder perceives value and tweak the storyline to the engaged listener. This will be different for each “brand” and therefore, must be flexible and multi-dimensional in approach. We learn through telling stories.

We must be able to let go of the brand and allow the fans to engage on a level they choose. IP laws are “under threat” by increasing social media, but not if we rework the game. Move the goalposts. Perhaps once the content is in the public domain we should sign over rights to the fans. To enhance, add, engage, improve and personalise the story and therefore the brand, through their eyes.

It's your path, so don't fuck it up! (but if you do, that's OK too)

It's your path, so don't fuck it up! (but if you do, that's OK too)

Knowing you know very little is a good thing. You know?