Ben Perreira

My head's dropbox.

Month: February, 2014

My 2 cents on Sports Marketing and what I learned from SMU Basketball this week

blog maverick

I had the pleasure of going to an SMU Basketball game this past week. It wasn’t a huge game from a standings perspective. It wasn’t a big rivalry game.  It wasn’t a game between 2 powerhouse teams. It was an important game as every game is for an up and coming team like SMU.  But there was no one outside the two teams that were really paying attention to the outcome. Bottom line, it was a game on the schedule.

It was a game on the schedule for every one but SMU basketball fans.  For SMU basketball fans it was their chance to show off to any and all newcomers who walked into the gym.  President Bush (43) was there.  Dejuan Blair, Jae Crowder, Casey Smith and others from the Mavs were there (I had no idea they were going to be there).  I ran into friends I hadn’t seen…

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I, Consumer

I was talking to one of my friends this week about something I was working on and I mentioned that I don’t see myself as a consumer. She seemed surprised. How could I not be a consumer? 

Of course, I am a consumer from an objective perspective because I buy things. I am a rather heavy consumer of sports equipment, Trader Joe’s groceries, digital technology products and, at times, fine whiskey. But I don’t see myself as a “consumer.” In my mind these are things I just happen to buy along my journey. I am a person who consumes out of necessity, I tell myself.

Some marketers talk about using social media to create a “relationship” with fans. In reality, people treat brands like the guy they see at a bar, share a few beers with then don’t see for a month. That guy serves his purpose perfectly at that time. People don’t want to be married to brands. They don’t want to check in hourly.

The smartest brands realize that many brands in many industries are competing for the attention of people who watch TV, drive past billboards, use the internet and use smartphones. Those people are buying many things throughout a given day, week, month and year. They are certainly not wondering if Coca-Cola is thinking about them while they’re window-shopping Volvos. 

People who identify with a brand’s perspective will likely ultimately feel a need for that brand’s product (and the accompanying emotional boost the brand offers beyond the benefits of the actual product), and they will buy it. 

In that moment, that person will consume. In the next moment he is heading to a meeting or picking up his kids from school. Relieved, he becomes a person again.  

A focus on how we buy may make more sense than simply profiling the demographic and psychographic makeup of who we are as “consumers.” We are people who have simple desires. Brands should figure out how they can fulfill those desires, generate more occasions to fulfill new desires whenever possible, and stay in the background the rest of the time. No one likes a clinger.

Competition

Everything I learned playing sports as a kid I learned again in business school, then again competing and watching sports as an “adult” (used generously). Today I spend quite a bit of time studying competition. In business, winning and losing is more dynamic than it is in sports. There are often multiple competitors and “wins” and “losses” aren’t so cut-and-dried. A company can be a big winner in terms of market share at the expense of profit margins, or vice versa. Ultimately each company determines how and where it would like to win. Many of them can learn from what the world’s best athletes do to maintain an edge.

Learn all the rules: Rules help frame your approach. Of course, you wouldn’t kick a basketball or try to hit a tennis ball over the fence. But knowing the subtleties of penalties and scoring offer room to find opportunities. Learning the rules helps the competitor focus her energy on the most important thing, which is learning how to follow the rules more efficiently than your opponent.

Learn the customs: Customs are the unwritten rules. Don’t flop in basketball (I’m looking at you, LeBron). Apologize when your tennis shot hits the net and lands on the other side. Sportsmanship is critical in competition in the same way being able to work with people is critical in business.  Maybe it shouldn’t matter how you treat your co-workers, teammates or opponents, but we have seen time and time again that tone and context are critical to communication. 

There are good and bad misses: Once you know the rules and customs you can find ways to arbitrage them through competitive psychology. We know that the best hitter in MLB history, Ty Cobb, got out over 63% of the time. A “crafty” pitcher moves inside and outside and high to low to get into the hitter’s head, usually throwing a strike on the inside corner then a slider low and away on the next pitch. Having a plan includes knowing you will miss sometimes. Knowing when to take risks that could lead to misses allows the competitor to keep his opponent guessing. You can be sure he will often guess wrong if these misses are places properly.

Feedback is critical: Soliciting and giving solid feedback are two of the most important parts of being a great teammate. If you work on the assumption that your teammates are giving you feedback to try to make you a better player, the times you get burned by nefarious partners will seem less destructive. Plus, you need their help. The best athletes in the world have coaches who are able to point out subtle blind spots in their fields of vision. 

Test, adjust, repeat: Top athletes are constantly tinkering to try to find an extra advantage. Roger Federer changed his racket in 2013 to add more power to his game after the influx of bigger, stronger athletes (and his own age) began to catch up with him. These types of athletes are confident in their ability to stay the course, so aren’t afraid to make radical changes that maximize a competitive edge. They know they can always go back to the tried and true.

It’s not personal: Competition gives us the chance to test our skills against worthy opponents. Those who end up on the losing end benefit from learning several ways not to win. Those on the winning end know that their plan worked, but are humbled to know that their opponent will come back stronger the next time. Learning to be gracious in victory and defeat is the mark of a seasoned vet.

Winning is fine, but losing is the worst: The expectation of a competitor is to create a plan, execute it, and win. Anything less is failure. The feeling of losing is a strong motivator to go back to the top of this list and fill in some gaps. The end of one game/ match/ heat/ tournament is the beginning of the next.