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Strategy before tactics!
If I only get one idea across to you ever, let that be the one.
Always create your strategy before you do anything tactical.
In far too many places, folks go tactics crazy.
I share this piece and highlight the importance of strategy first because it brings into account knowing how you make money, who your customer and key stakeholders are, but also brings up the topic of not being 100% sure what people’s habits are really going to look like when the pandemic ends.
From my point of view, a lot of folks are in danger of missing out on the golden opportunity to rethink their strategy, reposition themselves in the market, and give themselves a competitive advantage heading out of the pandemic.
I talked with SecuTix CEO, Frederic Longatte, this week and we talked about a lot of the challenges that folks are coping with, overcoming, and thinking through.
For any of you reading through this today, strategy boils down to two questions:
- Where will you compete?
- How will you win?
Check out this video from Professor Roger Martin that my marketing teacher shared with me:
I’ve often shared my strategic framework as being three questions long:
- What is the value you want to contribute?
- Who is your customer?
- How will you reach them?
Whatever the case may be, the business of events, sports, and tickets is going to be different once we are finally past the pandemic. No one knows exactly how it will be different, but it is ridiculous to think that after having events mostly shut down for 18+ months that things are just going to snap back like nothing ever changed.
So get right with your strategy and think about how you can create value for the customers you want to serve, now.
While you have the chance to really do it well.
Here’s another one I’ve been beating on constantly for months now, but don’t assume that you know what your customers want or value.
You must do a few things, but most importantly: ask them, listen, be creative, and test.
Back to value.
We don’t define value, our customers do.
In the case of Marine FC, they had a really solid run to get to the point of drawing Tottenham in the FA Cup. This was an event that they talked about having the chance to secure the club’s future for many years.
Then, the pandemic put the club in the position where they would be unable to host fans at all.
The club created a digital ticket plan with the goal of selling out their venue with virtual tickets, around 3,000 tickets.
What did you get?
A virtual ticket to the game.
If you were feeling rich, you could also make a donation to the club.
What happened was pretty amazing and teaches us a lesson about the customer defining the value of a product and not us.
Because Marine FC sold almost 10x the number of tickets they needed to sell to declare a sell out.
This is the power of perceived value.
I’m still waiting to get the most accurate data, but tens of thousands of fans from around England, the United States, and other places spent money to support a non-league club in England because they saw value in supporting non-league football clubs. (The club will release more data about this in the coming days, but I was informed that fans from around the Premier League and around the world supported the effort by buying tickets.)
That’s the power of perceived value and we can’t define that…only the customer can. That’s why we need to make sure we know what is going on with our customers.
Even with limited attendance you see that this announcement combined with the ICC’s announcement of the hope of putting on their summer tournaments in the US and Asia, and the success of Summer Sounds in Australia and events are coming back.
In all three of these cases, we do see a strong pull towards being customer focused.
We know that even in limited capacities, there is still a market for going to events.
We aren’t sure how large it is, but we do know it exists.
Through the power of science and continuous learning about the virus, we’ve found that certain things are possible that limit the risk of community spread which is outdoor events are safer, social distancing is safer, and limiting crowds is safer.
By taking those things into consideration, understanding the customers’ wants and needs, and focusing on solutions, these events are likely to be successful at coming back with fans this year.
Will they be the same?
No. But a safe event with fans, even limited, is better than nothing. And, it shows us that paying attention to the things that our customers wants can lead us to profits and innovations like the pods and golf cart delivery at Summer Sounds in Australia.
I’ve come back to this a few times in the last week or so because folks keep offering up different takes for what was going on and the overarching theme seems to be that the partnership is mostly technical innovation or luck.
It was really neither.
The NFL’s success with their Nick broadcast is a sign of a really great marketer doing a great job of proper marketing: strategy before tactics, STP, and finding how to slot that strategy into the tactics of the marketing mix.
I don’t know if I shared the marketing research I did at the end of last year to prepare for this year, but here is the high level stuff:
- 80% of CEOs don’t trust their marketers.
- 40% of businesses don’t have a strategy to speak of.
- But 73% of businesses are looking for their marketing teams to drive growth.
- To add to the fun, 53% of folks have no clue where to start with the growth process.
So the reason I am harping on this topic is because part of the way that you can help fill the gap in your business to create opportunities this year or whenever things can start to normalize again is recognizing the need for strategy and marketing. But, even more importantly, the power that marketing and strategy done well can have on your business.
In this case, the NFL brought in a new CMO from outside of sports, he did some research and found that if you don’t turn a kid into a fan by the time they are 18, your ability to turn them into a fan drops significantly from there.
After this, they segmented up their market based on behavior, targeting kids under 18 that weren’t really engaged in watching sports, they positioned the NFL on Nick as fun and exciting versus serious and not fun which was the perception of non-fan kids.
Then they rolled out their partnership with Nick.
The qualitative data came back pretty quickly that kids that weren’t typically fans were more likely to watch. The quantitative data showed Nick had a bigger audience than they had had in years.
Does this mean that there is long term success with kids?
But it does show the power of marketing done well to help you understand your market and offer them value that fits their needs.
As I’m typing this, I think there are three themes to this week’s newsletter:
- Market Orientation
So when I see someone leave a $5M gift in Australia and see the creative ways that Sound Stage is doing audio plays, I am reminded of being on a panel at INTIX in Dallas and having someone in the crowd stand up and talk about how limited folks are in their ability to generate new revenue.
At the time, I believe I said that the idea that folks are limited is “stupid”. I think I may have added that folks are only limited by their creativity.
I’ll double down on that here because these two examples point once again to the idea that value is in the eye of the beholder and that distribution matters, but value is the thing that is most important in understanding about your customers, now especially.
Like I discussed on the podcast with Sean Kelly about pricing live streams during the pandemic, our assumptions and guesses about what our customers want is often wrong.
What people value is often a mystery to us because we are too close to the production, to the event, team, or venue.
Our assumptions about our market are dangerous.
Market Orientation, like I spoke about with SecuTix’s CEO, Frederic Longatte, this week, requires you to recognize that your opinion doesn’t matter and it might be dangerous. So you have to recognize that the key thing is to get the voice of the customer inside your business by talking with your fans and customers, understanding what they value, and taking action to give that to them.
If you do, you may find that people have a much deeper connection to the value you give them than the performances alone.
Still in DC.
Check out the podcast stream lots of good conversations coming up and I’m going throw in a few different ideas to use the stream as a teaching tool as well.
Visit my website. I’m blogging almost daily and posted a new thing with my guiding principles on pricing.
As you look to reopen and relaunch events on a large scale, check out my friends at Booking Protect. Refund Protection can be a valuable tool in your re-opening and recovery playbook.
Make sure to hook up with my friends from Activity Stream. They are using AI to help make your data more actionable and they are the folks behind the We Will Recoverproject where folks from around the globe are sharing ideas, courses, and ways to recover from the pandemic.