SponsorDirect Webinar and a Radical Rule about sports fans online

I’ll be hosting a SponsorDirect Webinar with my boss, Kathleen Hessert, next Thursday (June 26th). We’ll be presenting “5 Radical Rules of Word of Mouth Marketing”. It’s really geared towards sports, but hopefully you’ll find something interesting.

One of the things I want to point out (our first “radical” rule) is something that seems obvious, but is also something that sports businesspeople seem to forget.

Fans ≠ Consumers

To be perfectly clear, fans can be consumers and consumers can obviously be fans, but when thinking about sports fans, we can’t mix up the two. To clarify a little bit more, when I talk about consumers, I’m talking about somebody who’s going to pay for what they consume. A “buyer”.

Take the WWE for example. A big part of its revenue stream is in pay-per-view events, yet I know of plenty of self-proclaimed WWE fans that have not bought a WWE PPV in years, if ever. Furthermore, how do you define a person, if he or she never actually buys any WWE merchandise, very rarely catches any of the weekly shows on cable, but keeps up with his favorite wrestlers by YouTube and fan blogs? This person would be seemingly non-existant in terms of revenue, but is obviously valuable as a fan.

Of course, everybody knows that, but it’s worth thinking about when trying to get a “fan” to actually be a “consumer”. As a fan, I might love everything about the current WWE storylines. As a consumer however, I might hate the quality of the broadcast and refuse to pay for the PPV. Or I might hate the fact that the t-shirt doesn’t fit right. Or that the replica belt feels too light.

The WWE is just an example. They actually appear to do very well in getting their fans to support their brand.

We’ll talk more about it here and on the webinar, but it surprises me every day how often the two aren’t differentiated.


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