The overwhelming fear of being wrong

4 07 2011

Seth Godin has made an interesting post about a consumers underlying fear of being wrong, and how they behave as a result of it. His final sentence, that this is “the lone barrier almost every product and service has to overcome in order to succeed” is particularly relevant for the sports industry.

From a sports participants perspective, the fear of being wrong could be the fear of having:
– the wrong level of skills (too rusty to try)
– the wrong level of fitness (waiting ‘another week’ until they’re a little fitter)
– the wrong friends (not in the clique)
– the wrong gear (looking like a newbie)
– the wrong attitude (not wanting to be serious / competitive)

In developing, packaging and promoting participation opportunities, sports need to be considering (which means they first need to be asking) how current and potential customers feel about their sport. And the good news is that some sports are already creating some good practice for addressing these fears. Back to Netball helps overcome the fear of no longer having the right skills, as participants can all be rusty together. Likewise the different group speeds available within RunEngland Networks and SkyRide Local’s help people get over the fear of not having the initial fitness to keep up.

But until sports fully understand how current and potential customers feel about their sport (and the same person may have different perceptions/experiences, and hence fears, about different sports), they won’t be able to talk to potential participants in a way that addresses these fears. And until then, they’ll never know what they were missing!

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Forget satisfaction, what’s your net promoter score?

13 05 2011

What’s your team’s/club’s/sport’s Net Promoter Score? Or put another way, how many of your current customers would actively refer you to their friends?

While debate rages about how accurately this measure can predict revenue growth, most leading companies still pay more attention to this measure than they do to customer satisfaction scores. Why? Because we’ve all claimed to be satisfied when a waiter asks for our feedback on an ordinary meal. But rarely have we then recommended that restaurant to our friends.

Net Promoter Score was in the London news this week, in an article about Metro Bank. If you’ve not heard of them, they’ve just opened their sixth branch in London and are owned by Vernon Hill. According to the article, Metro Bank have a Net Promoter Score of 97% – that means 97% of their existing customers would recommend them to a friend.

Now they’re still very young, but that’s still a remarkable number. For context, the reported score for First Direct (who have a strong history of growth through word of mouth) was 57%, for RBS was 10% and for Barclays was -35%. In Barclays’ case, that means 35% of its clients would actively dissuade a friend from using it.

From a sports perspective, it’s easy to think that all our regular participants would recommend us to their friends. After all, they must love the club/sport if they keep doing it. But if that were the case, every team and leisure centre would be experiencing astronomic growth!

So what would you need to do, to have 97% of your current customers wanting to recommend your team or sport to a friend..?





The 3rd place…

3 04 2011

I was reading the Starbucks entry on wikinvest the other day. The bit that particularly interested me was the short entry on Starbucks 3rd place – a market positioning based on delivering a differentiated customer experience that became a catalyst for growth within the coffee shop market. growth.
The entry reads: Starbucks’ success is due in large part to the trendsetting triumph of its coffeehouses as an informal and convenient “third place” outside of home and work, ideal both for informal meetings and a quiet moment away from the hubbub of daily life. Wi-fi internet access in all stores also makes it a place where customers can work. Book and music events also take place at Starbucks, in accordance with the company’s goal of making each location a community center of sorts to garner the loyalty of local customers.

It made me wonder whether sport can build on it’s current position, for some customers at least, as being their 3rd place between work and home. What Starbucks did wasn’t new, coffee shops were already a 3rd place for some. But what Starbucks did was build it up into a relevant and compelling customer experience, and one they could use to grow their whole market (not just their share of the existing market).

Golf is a sport that often combines business with sport, and team sports like football create social and community bonds around playing. But how could a sport deliver a customer experience – consistently across all it’s touch points – that set a completely new standard? What would it take for a sport to no longer be seen by its participants as an either/or to working or spending time with the family? Could it be West Wing-style mass jogging networking events, using voice to text software on an iPhone? Or family canoeing days that start with brunch at a cafe, and end at a cinema?

The answer probably isn’t either of those suggestions. But it is out there…





No friends, no access – no problem!

11 08 2009

Ever wish you could have an exercise buddy to train with? Or wish there was a mass participation race near-by? In the old ‘real world’ you’d be stuck with no friends and no access. But not any more.

MapMyRun have partnered with the Columbus Half Marathon, to bring Columbus to the world. On August 30th, MapMyRun members around the world will join those in Columbus, running the 13.1 mile race. But they won’t just be there in spirit. By registering in advance, and entering the route they will run, they will be able to ‘compete’ with runners in the race and around the world. Better yet, if they succeed, they’ll even get a finishers hat, shirt and medal!

This is brilliant. Never again will race organisers have to turn runners away. Meanwhile, MapMyRun further engage their community of runners, connected by their common pursuit of running (or cycling, walking and skiing, which they also cater for).

Nike have been credited with a similar level of engagement and community around Nike+. And have also held virtual races around the world. Where MapMyRun could push the boundaries, is by extending this concept to those pursuing other sports too. Or perhaps by including video recording of your experience. And by tying it into existing real-life races, they can even cater for the virtually home sick. The loneliness of the long distance runner is no more.

This also has me thinking. What other events/brands restrict access to those being physically present? Orchestra’s already play “live” to theatres full of people around the world, who get dressed up to enjoy the experience of almost being there. Sports broadcast games to giant screens, where fans can gather, sing, drink, cheer and get almost the same experience as being there.

So where else could brands take this..?





Sports Marketing 2.0 – when being a regular fan is not enough

23 07 2009

Ok, so you’re a fan, but are you a citizen?

This is the question asked by the Phoenix Suns NBA team, who are doing some intersting things to build a tribe through social media. The question is on a banner that advertises PlanetOrange.net, “a social network built just for real fans” (their emphasis).

Planet Orange includes a live twitter stream from 25 Suns staff, including the mascot (“who can’t speak but can type”) and Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq is regularly interacting with fans through twitter. So much so, that the Suns threw him a virtual birthday party where fans were encouraged to create a happy birthday video and send the link to him via twitter.

Back at Planet Orange, fans are encouraged to register as citizens, create blogs, join groups and share audio, video and photos. These include Fan Art – mashups of photos and drawing that other fans can share and use. And if all this isn’t enough engagement for the real fans, the Suns also have a Facebook fan site where citizens can share more comments and media with over 46,000 other facebook citizens.

At the centre of the Suns social media campaign is Amy Martin, aka PhoenixSunsGirl, seen here being interviewed on the Suns own TV channel.

While it’s easier to think of sports teams than businesses having fans, this level of customer engagement (Shaq has over 1.5m followers on Twitter) must have some insights for organisations in other industries. What type of content would  an airline or retail store need to share, in order to get real customers wanting to sign up and become flag-bearing citizens of their brand?








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