We’re all probably a bit tired about hearing of Richard Sherman and his outburst in the NFC Championship game. His seemingly angry rant rankled a lot of folks and stirred endless debate both online and offline. But let’s look at what he did.
Did he curse? No. Was he incoherent? No, not really.
He was cornered for an interview immediately after making a big play and was pretty amped up. And it showed. That’s called passion for what you do for a living and that’s a great quality to have.
As Ben Shpigel (@benshpigel) of the New York Times points out, Sherman’s own family thought this level of celebrity was “‘destined to happen'” as he was a firecracker growing up, with a 4.2 high school GPA, and then graduated from Stanford. He came out of the school with a degree in communications, so he knows his way around a mic. Look at his post game interview (below), bow tie and all. He knew what he was doing.
Things aren’t always as they seem. This was not your average player running at the mouth and caught in the act on national TV. The NFL still seemed to think that was the case and handed down a $7,800 fine. But this all may have been a calculated risk as he’s about to ascend the biggest sideline of them all at the Super Bowl this weekend. What brand wouldn’t want to align themselves with passion like that?
The enemy of success is isolation. The higher you go the easier isolation becomes, but, it’s a devastating problem at all levels of leadership.
Isolated leaders fear conspiracies and feel misunderstood. Worse yet, ivory-tower leaders resort to control through authority.
Us/them thinking destroys influence.
Defeat isolation and enhance success by developing a high-power inner circle.
Don’t take volunteers. Choose your inner circle.
Three people are enough. Six is too many and two is too few. You need a:
Visionary who is never satisfied.
Tender-heart who nurtures people.
Doer who is fanatical about execution.
Note: Include at least one old and one young.
Hard working. Doers trump thinkers.
Strong opinions and emotions. Lapdogs feel good but won’t take you far.
Unflinching alignment with organizational values.
Comfort saying no. Good manners are nice but not essential.
Dedication to serve the organization before serving themselves.
Strength to confront brutal facts.
Openness to change.
Technical skills and experience are nice, but character comes first.
You won’t find candidates who perfectly fit the bill. Weaknesses are strengths in disguise. Consider the:
Recruit strong people. Hard to manage is better than easy.
Create connections within the inner circle.
Instigate creative tension.
Honor their individual perspectives.
Satisfy their fundamental concerns.
Focus them on finding solutions.
Put your three people – visionary, tender-heart, and doer – together and shake them up. Help them butt heads. Design projects, programs, solutions, and vision that satisfies their individual perspectives.
Focus, ignite, and galvanize your inner circle and your organization will follow.
Don’t worry about those who feel jealous of the inner three. But, don’t constantly huddle in public, either.
What qualities are essential for a high-powered inner circle? Tweet (@leadershipfreak) below or visit our Facebook page to offer your feedback.
The first 12 years of my career were spent working in professional sports and corporate America. I made the move to collegiate athletics two years ago because I was given an opportunity to work for my alma mater, Arizona State University.
Before shifting over to collegiate athletics, I assumed working in sports, regardless of whether it is pro or college, would be the same. However, that has proven not to be the case. There are distinct benefits and drawbacks of either career path. I have spoken with other industry experts who have experience working in both collegiate and pro sports to develop what I see as six primary differences.
Difference #1 – Opportunity
Because of the low supply of opportunities working directly for professional sports franchises, it can be difficult to land a full-time job. The NFL only has 32 teams, NBA has 30, MLB has 30, NHL has 30 and MLS now has 20, so that if someone wants to be a PR director for a pro sports team, you only have 142 job opportunities. Whereas there are 1,066 NCAA member institutions, including 340 Division 1 schools. If you want to be the sports information director at a collegiate institution, you have 1,066 job opportunities.
Difference # 2 – The Athletes
The biggest difference between collegiate and pro sports is the role of the athlete. Professional athletes are employees. In college, they are students first and athletes second. Because of this, we are able to impact collegiate student-athletes’ lives in a more meaningful way.
Many times, student-athletes never dreamed of graduating from college or completing internships, but we provide that opportunity and are able to shape their futures and impact the trajectory of their families for generations. A select few are able to continue their careers at the professional level. We are able to impact a much larger population and build the leaders of the future.
Difference # 3 – Sexy Factor
The majority of people entering the sports industry want jobs in professional sports. Unless you are working for a top-10 collegiate sports brand, working in pro sports is more attractive. But, this will change significantly over the next 10 years because college athletics departments are beginning to be run like businesses where they build strong local, regional and national brands.
Difference #4 – Clutter
At ASU, we have 400,000 alumni, 70,000 students, 40,000 season ticket holders, more than 15,000 faculty and staff, 550 student-athletes and 22 sports with overlapping schedules that we have to promote and monetize. When I worked in pro sports, we had one team to focus on year-round, while occasionally hosting other events like soccer matches or concerts.
The biggest challenge working within the university system is making sure your messaging is coordinated and in-sync with the university’s priorities and goals. In pro sports, you have one message that is consistent because you are only marketing one product and one team.
“Although our priority is revenue-generating sports, we still have to service the other sports with the same intensity, with fewer resources than pro teams,” said Kate Brandt who worked for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and now oversees digital media for Arizona State University
Difference #5 – Layers
In pro sports, the approval process is simple. If your team owner approves, you can move forward. The hardest part about working in collegiate sports is the multiple layers of constituents and approvals that need to be accounted for before a decision can be made. This includes the board of directors, administration, and compliance, among others.
“In college, we have more constituency groups (i.e. faculty, faculty senate, parents, student-athletes, state legislators/government, alumni, boosters, etc.) In the pro leagues, you deal with fans and your owner and everybody else really doesn’t matter in the same way,” said West Virginia Athletics Director Oliver Luck, who spent the majority of his career working in pro sports.
Difference #6 – Business Structure
Twenty years ago pro sports owners decided to change the business structure to focus on generating revenue and improving the fan experience.
Before they made the change, former coaches became general managers and they were responsible for running the team and the business. It was a flawed model.Once the forward thinking owners started hiring experienced business executives to run the organization, the revenue grew exponentially.
Collegiate athletics is about 15 years behind the curve. School presidents and leaders are beginning to understand the value of hiring business executives rather than former coaches to run their multimillion-dollar businesses. Because of this change in the college space, look for significant growth in both revenue and job opportunities.
What’s your conclusion?
Take your pick.
The biggest benefits of working in collegiate athletics are the enormous business potential, the professional opportunities that will be available over the next 20 years and the ability to impact student-athletes in a profound way. In pro sports, the biggest benefits are the speedy approval process that allows you to accomplish your goals faster, the esteem that comes with working in pro sports, and the proven business model.
The Digital Fan Engagement Conference to be held March 3-4, 2014, in Dallas (TX) looks promising.
Q1 Productions, a leading organizer of research-based, education program content, shared some content with us from some of the leading presenters. These interviews are posted in full on the Q1 productions blog and highlight the conference content.
Why should we go?
1. Best practices. The conference will highlight best practices in connecting with sports fans through advanced digital and social media strategies. The upshot is you’ll be more likely to develop content applicable and engaging for fans.
Speakers for the program represent leading experts among teams, universities and brands.
Tyler Tumminia, Senior Vice President of the Goldklang Group notes, “I am most looking forward to hearing and sharing the best social media practices, industry-wide. From Adidas to Nascar and everywhere in between, the Digital Sports Fan Engagement Conference will feature an array of experienced organization that leverage social media to create valuable content.” Tyler continues, “The conference is a tremendous resource for both fans and industry professionals to learn valuable practices on engaging fans via social media. Conferences where everyone is a creative sponge often lead to the best new ideas and adaptations.”
2. Interaction. All presentations will incorporate time for dialogue between the presenters and audience. So, the conference is, well, engaging. Brainstorming and knowledge sharing will allow for the opportunity to discuss and learn from shared experiences.
As Chris Yandle, Assistant Athletics Director, Communication at the University of Miami Athletics notes, “Social media is a telephone, not a megaphone. To be a successful brand, you can’t stand on your soapbox and just scream what you want to convey. You have to actively listen and communicate online. In order for your brand to be successful you have to provide customer service and give the digital sports fan content they can’t get anywhere else.”
We can learn from each other on what we’ve found works best in communicating with our fans.
3. Unique focus. With so much to discuss on trending topics, the conference will offer value and interest to teams and organizations throughout the sports industry. Focusing directly on fan engagement will allow for a unique and targeted discussion unlike any other conference program in the industry that we’re aware of. Here’s a look at just the first morning of the conference:
See you there
Who else plans to be there? Let me know (@kirkwakefield) and we’ll get together. For more information regarding the Q1 Digital Sports Fan Engagement conference, visit the Q1 website at www.q1productions.com/sportsfanengagement.
About Q1 Productions:
Q1 Productions designs and develops webinars, training courses, conference programs and forums aimed at specifically targeted audiences, including the life science and sports industries. Through a highly structured production process focused on research calls with end-users and key stakeholders in the industry, our team is able to understand the immediate business concerns of today’s leading executives. Whether focusing on new or pending legislative and health policy issues for the life science industry or upcoming marketing trends in the digital and mobile space for sports organizations, our programs provide solutions to the urgent educational and information needs of our attendees.
Why should brands pay for the rights to be an anchor sponsor of an NFL, MLB, or NASCAR property? Can these properties defend their rate cards that afford brands the rights to communicate with their fans via the property’s venue, television, radio, website, social media, special events, and logos/marks?
“We have been very successful showing the success of sponsorship to build brand equity, and in turn firm value, which has been harder for those trying to use impressions to capture ROI.” ~Anne Rivers, SVP, Global Director of Brand Strategy, BAV Consulting
Sponsorships activate the brand in the minds of passionate fans across multiple channels to achieve brand objectives. If it were just about buying media and exposures to gain a particular audience, there are typically cheaper (CPM) options than sponsorships. But, exposures can be important, because it gives some idea about the potential to reach passionate fans. What it doesn’t tell us is if they are paying attention.
So, the question becomes less about media and more about meaning.
Brand managers are smart. They know single exposures (or even a few) of a brand message have no meaningful impact on consumers. They know people pay more attention when they are highly engaged and passionate, which is what people are about their favorite sports, teams, and players. They also know consumers think, feel, and act more positively toward a brand if the message is received and reinforced through multiple channels.
This brings us to the sponsorship question of the day: Is paying the property for the rights to use their assets worth it?
Evidence for rate card support
[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ] “Brands have had an overwhelmingly positive response to our analytical approach to measurement. Our ability to provide our partners with measurable, goal-oriented results is invaluable and allows us to truly be a solutions provider.” ~ Matt Webb, Director, Corporate Partnerships, Cleveland Browns[/dropshadowbox]After years working with brands such as AT&T, TXU Energy, HEB, and a variety of other brands in cooperation with The Marketing Arm, this past year I began working with clients in NASCAR, MLB, and the NFL to determine if anchor sponsors receive more bang for the buck than mid or lower level sponsors.
We learned two simple lessons that we’ll complicate with colored charts and graphs.
#1 Attendance means nothing. Engagement means everything.
Fans can spend up to 36 hours over three days at a NASCAR racing event. And many do. But the number of hours at the track has no significant correlation with whether or not fans recognize the activation of brands like Ford, Coke, Sprint, and SpeedTV. Instead, it’s the frequency of engagement with sponsors–which we measured using RFID tags connecting fans with sponsor activation locations–that predicts whether or not fans distinguish the brand as a sponsor and not its competitors.
#2 More channels increase relative brand equity.
With our partner, BAV Consulting, we measure a brand’s energized differentiation (see inset) for not only the sponsor, but also competing brands who may be sponsors or ambushers. In short, sponsors routinely outperform non-sponsors (see our MIT Sports Analytics paper). But, what about anchor sponsors versus secondary sponsorships?
Working with our NFL and MLB team partners, we compare multiple categories of anchor versus secondary sponsors in terms of fans’ recognition of the sponsors’ use of property assets: stadium signage, stadium messages, special game promotions, website, social media, television, radio, and use of team marks in advertising/POP.
If you’re the kind of stats nerd that attends and understands the data analytics presentations at the MIT or Wharton conferences where we’ve presented, then the charts below are for you. If not, here it is in words:
Activation not exposures. How often the fan attends, watches or listens to games increases the odds of recognizing the brand’s sponsorship activation (the green boxes), but does not have a direct effect on the brand’s energized differentiation (the red boxes). This reinforces our NASCAR findings: Just being there doesn’t count. The brand must be activated in the minds of the fans.
Multi-channel communication. The greater the multi-channel activation among the property’ eight assets, the greater the energized brand differentiation of the sponsor (dark green boxes).
Anchors = activation. Fans recognize anchor sponsor communications across more channels than they do for mid-level or low-level sponsors in the same categories (tan boxes). In other words, the additional assets pay off with greater activation of the brand among fans.
Brand equity effects. For the eight categories we tested, each additional effective channel increases energized brand differentiation by 6-7% (the regression equation in Table 2 is an example of one anchor sponsor for the NFL team). Overall, the number of effective channels explains over 90% of a brand’s asset value in the minds of fans. This is a big number.
Some might still say, “So, what? Where’s the big payoff?” We’re glad you asked.
Consistent with our findings in each category, the chart below shows what happens to market share among those fans who recognize activation across multiple channels between the anchor sponsor and the low-level sponsor in the same category.
Both sponsors are national brands with otherwise strong brand equity according to BAV Consulting. But, the payoff for being the anchor sponsor for the NFL team brings substantive market share increases (4.4% ) for each additional effective channel.
If your team or brand would like to learn more, please tweet (@kirkwakefield) below or email. Happy to help!
I’m often asked how sales & marketing should work together and if they can. There always seems to be tension between the two in most sports organizations, even though fundamentally they should be integrated.
Since I spent eight years selling tickets before crossing over into the world of marketing, the answer seems pretty simple to me. So here goes…..
For the Marketers
Remember you are there to SELL. That’s it. Pretty simple. No matter what industry you are in, you are selling something. In sports, it’s tickets, partnerships, merchandise, your brand (and on and on). You serve SALES. PERIOD. END OF STORY. In fact, you serve your entire organization. So,
Step 1: Understand their goals and objectives.
Step 2: Meet with them regularly in case their goals/objectives change. And not just with the managers. Get to the people ACTUALLY answering the phone.
Step 3: Repeat this until you get it and adjust accordingly.
For the Sales People
Remember YOU are there to SELL. So, focus on your job. In sports, sales is still a numbers game.
Track every sale you can. This really helps marketing since DATA DRIVES DECISIONS.
Give Marketing constant feedback on what is working and what makes the phones ring or makes your job easier.
Know the Marketing Campaign and incorporate it where you can.
Often, sales people go by gut. Here’s a sample conversation:
Salesperson: “The phones were ringing like crazy today” Me: “Really, how many calls?” Salesperson: “I don’t know; a lot.” Me: “Well, what made them call?” Salesperson: “I don’t know. I didn’t really ask.” Me: BANGING HEAD ON DESK UNTIL I NEED ASPIRIN with thought bubble rising to the ceiling, “You think it could have been marketing?”[/dropshadowbox]
To sum up for both: CONSTANTLY COMMUNICATE
I can’t promise if you’re in sales you will always get someone in marketing who understands selling and truly knows their job is to help you. And I can’t promise the marketing department that sales will ever get the big picture and all you are tasked with. When you are focused on building the BRAND, not every message will be a sales one. That’s a good thing that salespeople don’t often get.
But, I do know this: Organizations cannot survive without these two departments aligned and working as one team. So, start talking. Tweet @LynnWitt below or post to your LinkedIn page!
In recent times, PowerPoint presentations WERE considered trend setting and innovative. But, as we all know we live in a rapidly changing technology driven world. What was once standard is now being quickly replaced by anything digital teams can get their hands on.
Digital budgets are one of the fastest growing line items in franchise budgets. The standards are rapidly changing for how teams want to PITCH and go after sponsorship dollars. This is really why Sportsdigita decided to help teams in the sports sponsorship space with the creation of the Digideck platform.
After leaving the Tampa Bay Lightning and starting Sportsdigita, I have seen a growing trend of teams, venues and leagues wanting to do m
ore with their branding, story and presentation decks. With two years in the making, we’ve basically built an entire company on teams wanting to better present themselves and be more creative in going after sponsorship dollars. And now, we’ve provided them with an innovative vehicle to do just that.
The need for strategic integration
Organizations already have all the assets, inventory and history. We help them strategize and put it all under one interactive digital umbrella. This kind of integration forces a team or venue to rethink what they have done for so long and really hone in on the story they are trying to tell and why someone should partner with them.
“The Digideck platform provides an innovative solution for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment,” said Christy Grady, Vice President of Partnership Marketing. “The Digideck provides a dynamic solution for telling the Kroenke Sports & Entertainment story to our prospects and current partners. We are able to provide significant insight into each of our team’s brands and potential partnership opportunities giving people a true sense of just how powerful it can be to partner with multiple KSE properties across different platforms.”
No more flying solo
At first, the strategic process can seem overwhelming, but once our partners immerse themselves in the process and start to understand the end goal and see the finished product – it all becomes worth it. The complete Digideck provides a highly branded unified message that is presented the same way by all salespeople with a blessing from the entire organization. The days of the lone salesperson recreating each and every deck by cutting and pasting logos themselves with possibly outdated branding is now a thing of the past.
The Digideck is a very cutting edge leading interactive alternative to traditional presentations. It’s a first-of-its-kind digital platform that allows for the inclusion of award-winning design, video, motion graphics, analytics and 360-degree game day panoramas of in-venue sponsor inventory using our own groundbreaking logo integration technology.
Leading the way to sponsorship revenue
The Digideck is now used in every major pro league with 60-plus professional teams, including the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Stars, NASCAR, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Timberwolves, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Mavericks, and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. These clients take advantage of the many features of the Digideck shown below (click on picture to pause).
If you are interested in bringing your partnership inventory and story to life, feel free to explore further on our website or contact us HERE for more information.
We hope you like the new look of the site that allows us to feature the most recent articles on top and to randomly display some of the 110 articles written in 2013 by leaders in the sports sales industry. You can pull up any month’s articles from the Archive pulldown menu on the lower left or use the search function or navigation bar for topic or author searches.
Sales Industry Survey. Thanks to those who completed our 2013 sports sales industry survey! The NBA, among others, is helping us distribute league-wide. We look forward to sharing the overall results throughout the spring. The survey is still open if you or your organization would like to participate. Click here to take the S3 Sports Sales Industry Survey.
By the numbers.You helped us grow together in our inaugural year in 2013 to attract over 71,000 page views from over 10,000 unique visitors from 114 different countries. We began last January with only 75 of the Baylor S3 advisory board registered to receive S3 Report updates and one year later you have helped us grow to nearly 600 registered users. If you’re not yet registered, we’d like to know who you are–you can register here.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]
Lead partners. This past year has also seen our corporate and team support grow for the Baylor S3 program and the S3 Report. These organizations are leaders who partner with us in the classroom offering dedicated projects for S3 students and also lead the way in financially supporting the educational process for students and the industry alike. We’re proud to include Academy Sports + Outdoors, AT&T, BAV Consulting, the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Phillips 66 and Schlotzsky’s in this group. If you are interested in supporting education with a gift to the S3 academic program which produces the S3 Report, you may do so here.
Contribute. The S3 Report is an open forum for exchange of ideas and best practices in sports sponsorship & sales. If you have ideas or interest in contributing content for the common good, please email here. The S3 Report offers you a way to give back to others by sharing what you’ve learned to be successful and to receive help from so many others who want the industry to grow. Maybe your article will be in the Top 5 in 2014!
Fans today demand access to a second screen experience to stay connected during the game, rather than just sit there and watch the entire event. So how can organizations respond to this trend with a changing viewing audience? They need some fresh legs: Young adults who bring an innovative, creative energy to the sports industry.
With kids coming out of college looking for their first job in sports, the market for sales men and women has gone up. Most organizations are beginning to see the value in recruiting college grads to bring a new perspective to the sports world in ticket sales, sponsorship activation, and CRM. Lynn Wittenburg, SVP of Marketing at the Tampa Bay Lightning, said, “Most sports organizations are looking to reach a younger audience, so [young adults] usually have great ideas on how to get more young people engaged and coming to games.”
As soon-to-be college grads completing majors in this field we have the opportunity to bring “fresh legs” and fresh ideas to the sports industry for three reasons.
First, young adults are mobile. We should not be averse to moving away from home to begin a career. Besides, industry stats tell us that we can expect to change jobs/organizations/employers many times. If we want to seize the opportunities, we can’t afford to have an emotional attachment to a given place. Instead, we breed a “front-runner” mentality that maximizes potential instead of settling for what’s comfortable.
Young adults accept technology as part of everyday life. Immediate gratification/access to information is desired, if not required. This generation feeds on new content on a frequent basis to maintain interest and to connect with others. Younger people are more adept at multi-tasking and dealing with a broad range of inputs and managing despite distractions. Whereas older individuals may require peace and quiet to work, the younger set can easily incorporate new technology and interruptions and move ahead. This is where we have some of the greatest opportunities to stand out.
Katie Morgan, Director of CRM and Corporate Services at the American Airlines Center, said, “College grads need to improve on new technology once they get into their job. Step up and take the lead.”
Selling the Experience
The game is the focal point but is marketed more for experience and atmosphere rather than a sporting event. Even inside the stadium or arena, the presentation is chock full of pulsating music, cheerleaders, dancers, pyrotechnics, and gigantic video screens. Some people come just to see the in-venue charades rather than the actual gameplay. Compared to traditionalists, college students know that the experience of going to a game has become just as important as the event itself.
Overall, young adults in the sports industry can bring new life and a new approach to sales, sponsorships, and CRM. We enjoy the ever-changing atmosphere of sports and we want others to experience the same thrill we do as we start a career in sports.