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Investing in Long-Term Relationships With Your Fans Pays Off?! Wait!? What?!

4. Bobbleheads are a means to drive attendance!

Big Ideas:

  • Relationships matter, duh! 
  • You need a strategy to make sure you are going in the right direction. 
  • The most valuable asset you have is your brand. 

This is a good one and Corey Leff is a long time friend of The Business of Fun and Talking Tickets. So if you don’t get the morning newsletter, sign up. 

Here is an example of a few things when it comes to fan development:

  • Investing in the relationship pays off over time.
  • Strategy before tactics. 
  • Long-term brand building beats short-term activation, over time. 

The idea called Lifetime Customer Value (LCV) is something I’ve been trying to teach y’all for a long time. I must be breaking through since I see Gary V talking about it constantly now. 

Jokes aside, LCV is super important for a number reasons like easier sales, higher NPS scores, more word of mouth marketing, on and on. 

But it doesn’t happen by accident. 

You have to plan for it. 

That’s what makes investing in relationships so valuable. 

The upside here is fairly clear. 

The opposite side and the challenge is that in too many instances the incentives at a macro and micro level are to commoditize everything. 

Which means that you look at your fans as numbers on a spreadsheet and you don’t invest in the relationship with them. 

The importance of the relationship highlights the need to put strategy first. 

An example I’ve shared in the past is about the Atlanta Hawks and their work to build a brand that reflects their city. 

This is an impressive bit of work they did and it all began by taking a step backwards to diagnose the situation, not just throw stuff at the wall, say we want to attract millennials or something and hope for the best. 

Melissa Proctor and her team built a strategy:

  • Research into the community, the brand, everything. 
  • Segmentation of the market around behavior. You see this in the targeting of the “Next Gen Atlantans” segmentation. Which is also where you see the beauty of their positioning. They made choice. 

That’s the heart of strategy. Decisions. You have to make a choice. 

So if you are going to build long-term relationships, that is a choice and one you have to make. 

Finally, doing the first two things requires an understanding of the investments necessary to build a strong brand. 

There is a book, more of a study, called The Long and Short of It by some researchers in the UK, Les Binet and Peter Field. I have a copy that I refer to when I need it for a project.

The gist of the research points to the importance of long-term investment in brand building. 

Short-term activation works great in the first year without the support of long-term brand building activities. But by the end of year three, you’ve lost almost a lot of your sales because people don’t know who you are. 

Meaning, you need to invest in the long-term stuff at the same time you are doing short-term activations. 

Don’t be fooled by the final sales and think that this is the only thing that matters. That’s called last click attribution and it has hurt more marketers than I can count at this point. 

Unless you plan on only being in business for one year. 

Then, YOLO! 

This matters because as a team or any organization, you need to invest in both, short-term activation and long-term brand building. You can’t just assume that your brand is stamped on people’s minds…you have to make sure it is. 

Because over time, people’s impression of your brand fades if you aren’t there reminding them of how awesome you are. 

That’s why I talk a lot about brand values, brand DNA, and brand mission in my talks. You need to know what 2-3 words or phrases you want folks to think of when they think of you. Then you have to hammer them until they are reflected in your brand surveys.

Your brand is your most valuable asset. For publicly traded companies, somewhere between 30-50% of their market cap is in the value of their brand. 

Your brand is nothing to mess with. The same can be said for your customers, fans. 

Invest in relationships. 

Build a solid strategy that emphasizes that. 

And, focus on long-term brand building and you are likely to have a healthier, more profitable business.