Meaningful Careers Begin With Meaningful Relationships
We need meaningful relationships. Young employees thrive or dive on the strength of positive relationships in the workplace. Such important relationships should start well before college students graduate.
We spend the bulk of adult life with people at work (see chart). According to research, the top three reasons people leave jobs are relationship driven:
Supervisor: People leave managers not companies.
Co-workers: Appreciation, recognition and respect from peers make or break us.
Culture: How we personally fit with the values of those we work for and with points us to open doors or out the door.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to get a head start on knowing the nature and culture of these people before launching a career?
When is turnover too high?
The most productive recruitment strategy would seek more, not less, information on candidates. Too often recruiters make decisions based on a resume, references or referrals, and a few hours in an interview. The average turnover rate in sales is 25%. Many believe if the employee churn rate is higher than 10% the problem is the manager not the employees. None of us want to be that person.
As professionals, now is the time to invest in the lives of young people while they are still in school. They need your experience, guidance and counsel to understand and discern the best fit to start careers. Your organization gets the best read on recruits by getting to know them 12-24 months in advance of hiring decisions. You–and they–will make better, more informed decisions. Internships provide the needed edge to make good decisions and the opportunity to give back like others have done for us.
Commit this to be your best year yet in relationships and recruitment.
The ongoing conversation is how to integrate the second screen into the sports industry. More and more, fans spurn attending games to watch events from the comfort of their own homes. As teams and leagues seek to increase revenue, the time has come to fully integrate the second screen into the stadium.
In order to fully integrate the second screen into the stadium experience, stadiums must present fans with seamless Internet connectivity. The data usage at some of the sporting world’s biggest events demonstrates the reliance fans have on the second screen, even while they’re inside of a stadium attending an event.
The Super Bowl of data usage
At the 2014 Super Bowl, fans used 3.2 terabytes of data. This amounted to fans uploading over five photos per second onto Instagram throughout the game. More recently, at the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, fans used 6.34 terabytes of data–nearly double the amount of data that Super Bowl attendees used! This amount of data corresponds to 18.1 million social media posts with photos being sent during the game held at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
In order to attract fans to events, teams and venues must have reliable Wi-Fi connectivity. In fact, in a recent survey of 3,000 college students and young professionals, Cisco found that one in every three believes that the Internet is as important as air, water, food and shelter!
What teams and corporate partners must ask themselves is: If one of the most important parts of the game experience is what fans are holding in their hands, how can we build our brand and improve our bottom lines by providing reliable Internet connectivity?
One way teams and venues can maximize revenue by providing reliable Internet connectivity is to partner with corporate sponsors to provide or upgrade connectivity. This year, the Dallas Cowboys did just that when the team partnered with AT&T to fully upgrade AT&T Stadium’s connectivity to maximum potential. Doing so ensured that fans attending the College Football Playoff National Championship Game wouldn’t hit any snags when posting on social media during the game. Fans attending games at AT&T Stadium can access mobile devices with exactly the same reliability they get at home.
Other teams have likewise made seamless connectivity a priority in their venues. One team that has also successfully done so through a corporate partnership is the Seattle Seahawks. In October 2014, the Seahawks announced that along with Verizon, they would make significant enhancements to CenturyLink Field’s Wi-Fi network by having Extreme Networks install high-density Wi-Fi and Purview analytics systems.
Given that every team needs to maximize connectivity capacity to ensure fans connected to the second screen continue to attend games, it’s critical that teams look for sponsorship partners to help provide connectivity upgrades. Sponsors can serve not only the important role of helping pay for the upgrade costs, but can also help publicize the improvements through their networks.
Corporations should be attracted to the possibility of partnering with a team for a connectivity upgrade, because of the goodwill created among fans–if the partnership is strategically articulated in a campaign that links the WiFi provision for the team’s fans with the providing sponsor. Every digitally savvy fan will celebrate a corporate partner who ensures seamless communication on their social media channels while attending a game.
In the digital age, robust connectivity should be one of the top priorities for every team. As teams look to cut costs and create revenue streams, it becomes apparent that partnering with sponsors for the upgrades provides the best solution for making robust connectivity a reality.
Back in the early 1990’s, I started out with my Baseball Almanac contacting major and minor league teams to conduct research. Being at Ole Miss during that time, just an hour south of Memphis, I made quick friends with every pro franchise that came through town–among them the Memphis Chicks, Memphis MadDogs (CFL), Memphis Fire (USBL), and Memphis Redbirds, where I managed their fan research for three summers before leaving for Baylor in 2002.
During the ’90s, I recall a visit with a vice-president of marketing at a MLB team in the northeast about collaborating on fan research. He thought it was all very interesting, but said they weren’t interested because, “We already did one fan survey this year.”
Times have changed and MLBAM has taken the league and its teams to the front of the class in understanding its fans. However, one paradox I learned still holds today:
The best organizations always want to know more and the struggling rarely want help.[/dropshadowbox]
Why do the best get better?
Everyone who’s read “Good to Great” knows that the best leaders have an intense drive coupled with humility. This combination is what makes any leader get better because first they want to and second they know they don’t have a corner on knowledge. Derek Blake, Vice President, Partnership Marketing, La Quinta Inns & Suites, demonstrates this kind of leadership. Derek shares how this plays out in working with educators,
Business today is always evolving and we want to be on the cutting edge. Working with academics who are experts in a very specific field of study – like corporate partnerships – just makes sense. By giving back to our educational institutions, we help build the foundation of who students become in the future and that’s where we all benefit.
Some of the greatest franchises in the world are literally right up or down the road from us here in Waco and they always want to learn more. Some might think the San Antonio Spurs have accomplished all they need to after five NBA titles and operating above 99% attendance capacity. But from the top to the bottom of that organization, they always want to get better and are always open to new ideas, new methods, and new approaches to satisfy and grow the fan base.
The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL’s most valuable franchise, but their executives never hesitate to explore new ideas and to partner with us on research and classroom projects. Eric Sudol, Sr. Director, Corporate Partnerships Sales & Service at Dallas Cowboys, adds, “Teams are always busy and we can save time and money by partnering with academics when our interests overlap with their research needs.”
Much the same can be said of Baylor’s other partners around the state, both corporate and sports organizations. Further, aggressive teams like the Padres, Browns, Chiefs, and Dolphins work with us to take an innovative partnership approach with corporate sponsors to provide valid measures of sponsorship returns.
Why (not) work with academics?
ESPN and the Sports Analytics Conference partner with MIT. Wharton’s Consumer Analytics Initiative (WCAI) works with a variety of corporate partners (see right) and also works with sports teams. Yet, some corporate and sports organizations are hesitant to engage with academics.
Hey, I get it, we’re a little weird. Some of us are a lot weird. There’s a reason the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is called a “nerdfest” and hosts a panel entitled, “Revenge of the Nerds.” But, for the fearful, here are three reasons you should work with academics:
Focus. At research institutions like MIT, Wharton, and Baylor, faculty are experts in very specific fields. Aside from service responsibilities, typical workload is 50% research & 50% teaching. We spend 2-4 days a week, about 50 weeks a year, often for many years focused on finding out what’s new in one or two areas–which leads to the next point.
Innovation. Academics are rewarded for publishing research. Research gets published (ideally) only when we learn something new. In contrast, syndicated research firms are rewarded for standardizing and commercializing past practices.
Confidentiality. If you read the Sports Business Journal and popular press, you might think academics will want to publish the name of the team, the executives, and specific financial or customer data. In sharp contrast, academics do the opposite for two big reasons:
Research is published when it’s generalizable to other situations. Sports is just the laboratory to study interesting phenomenon. We often don’t state the specific team or location because then someone would say it might not apply elsewhere.
Research is based on the relationship between variables or fields in a data set–not the levels. In other words, we care about the relationship between X and Y, not the levels of X and Y. So, if you had data on fan demos and expenditures, we don’t care about the amounts–we care about how much variable X (e.g., tickets used) influences variable Y (e.g., renewals). What we report is the strength of relationships.
Expense. What academics need most is data. If you can provide access to data, most academics will trade time for cool data. Obviously, our institutions and programs need support so we can conduct research and teach the future business leaders of the world. Partners understand that (e.g., WCAI, above), of course. But, essentially, all we need is access.
You probably rely on a variety of benefits when pitching a sponsorship opportunity to a prospect, including things like signage options, hospitality opportunities, media exposure, and activation potential. However, have you considered the value of how well your brand “fits” with the prospective partner?
What does research tell us?
Research we’ve done shows that a good match between the sponsoring brand and property leads to a number of positive outcomes. More specifically, a strong sponsor-property fit results in:
Positive attitudes and emotions toward the sponsor and the sponsorship
Higher recall of the sponsoring brand
Higher levels of attention to the sponsor
A greater willingness to consider the sponsor’s products.
These successes lead to higher sponsorship renewal rates, and it’s a great selling point for a brand to choose your property over others.
When is the fit obvious?
The term “elephant test” is sometimes used to describe situations in which an idea or object is hard to describe, but instantly recognizable when viewed. Fit between sponsor and property can often be considered an idea where the elephant test is in play. Audiences will often have a feel for whether a sponsor and property fit together, even if they have difficulty defining why.
The “why,” however, is typically based on at least one seven common types of fit:
Use — when sports participants or audience members are likely to use the sponsoring brand
Size similarity– when the brand and property are equally prominent
Audience similarity– when the brand and the event share the same target audience
Geographic similarity — when the brand and property have the same scope of influence
Attitude similarity– when there is equal liking of the brand and property
Image similarity — when both brand and property have equivalent meaning or image in consumers’ minds
Time duration — when the brand and property go together because of historic ties
Which type is best?
Should brands and properties seek partnerships with particular type of fit? Are multiple fits better than a single fit?
This seemingly simple question has a complex answer, because the best fit depends on many factors. The interplay between the fit type and the product category may influence which type is the best. Product categories differ in purchase frequency (soft drinks vs. automobiles), purchase involvement (candy vs. vacations) and consumer interest (casinos vs. insurance). So, for example with casinos, geography and size (prominence) might be more important than anything else.
How “the best” is defined will influence the answer of which fit is best. In some instances “best” might be measured by the pairing that results in the highest level of recall. But, of course, there are many other measures of “best” depending upon the goals of the sponsoring brand. These could include changes in brand attitude, purchase intentions, word-of-mouth propensity, and image change. Thus, what is deemed to be the best is dependent upon what goals the firm is seeking to achieve through sponsorship.
What if the fit isn’t obvious?
Is all lost if no obvious fit exists? Sponsorship research indicates “articulation” holds value if the partners communicate why the firm sponsors a particular event, especially if a fit argument can be made (e.g., Brand X is proud to sponsor team Y because of….). This explanation tends to have a more favorable effect when the communication about the sponsorship originates from the property rather than from the sponsoring firm.
Other creative approaches can manufacture fit. Southwest Airlines sponsors the NBA halftime break, which somewhat fits with its “Wanna Get Away” campaign. Better fits were the Nestle’s sponsorship of the NBA Crunch Time Stat of the Game and the Dutch Boy Paint’s “In the Paint” TV segments. The San Diego Padres made a TaylorMade club fit as a right field foul pole. The Chicago White Sox start games at 7:11 because, you guessed it, an anchor sponsor is 7-11.*
In the end, it’s up to you to assess sponsors for the appropriate fit or to get creative to make the sponsor fit. Because if it doesn’t “fit” in the buyers’ minds, you won’t be looking at a good fit at the end of the contract.
Today (9:00 CST) we revealed a new look for American Airlines. I’m asking my fellow board members on the S3 Report and our readers to join me in celebrating this significant step forward in our journey to become a more modern, world class global airline worthy of the name American.
And, in anticipation of your questions: No, I didn’t design the new look. I was tasked with helping plan the launch of an iconic American brand that hasn’t been refreshed in 45 years (what an honor!). It is a significant milestone for the company, and one of those career-defining moments for me, so I hope you will join me in watching the unveiling today:
We’ve been hard at work building an exceptional travel experience with our customers at the center:
adding hundreds of new planes – including the Boeing 777-300ER set to fly in a matter of weeks
cutting edge technology, and
more ways to keep our customers comfortable and connected throughout their travels.
Today’s announcement takes our transformation one step further.
I look forward to strengthening our valued partnership throughout this journey, and invite you to be among the first to see our new look. Many of you know I have recently been preoccupied with another project, and, well, this is it! I am very happy to be able to share this moment with you.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, we understand the rollout of our new look will take time, but are excited to take this step forward with you today. For our business partners, we will reach out to you to help define a conversion plan including our new look in your communications and channels. Thank you for your continued partnership, and for putting your trust in American Airlines.