By G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón
We are often asked about ways to innovate beyond the traditional business setting. In honor of the All-Star Game, here is our suggestion to the owners of professional Major League Baseball teams.
Sports teams run on statistics. Players are signed, promoted, rewarded, or released based on how well they perform against an agreed-upon set of detailed metrics. Yet when it comes to figuring out the best way to attract and keep fans—especially during a recession—it's a whole other matter. These same teams are, for the most part, relying on either outdated research approaches or "gut feel" to determine what fans want.
And not surprisingly they are swinging and missing. Want proof? Consider some of our recent findings:
• Every sports executive we have ever met says the No. 1 thing fans want is a winning team. Fans rank it 11th when asked why they show up at a game.
• What the paying customers want most is a "fan friendly" environment, right? Nope. Fans rank it 6th in importance.
• Teams worry that their ticket prices are too high. Fans say cost ranks 7th when they are deciding whether or not to attend a game.
This discrepancy between what sports executives believe and what is actually going on in the marketplace reveals that most have failed to take notice of two related and depressing facts: A) Few sports teams recognize the power of their brand/customer relationship. B) Most fail to leverage the unshakable fan loyalty, simply because they have not taken the time to figure out what fans truly care about.
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