The World Cup at Work = Lost Productivity or Employee Camaraderie?

World Cup = Lost Productivity?
Productivity – from Flickr Creative Commons

The World Cup is on this week and for those of us who work “typical” hours, most of these matches fall during the work day. So what is your company policy for employees watching sports (World Cup) at work? I mean…we DO work in sports, so shouldn’t this be somehow considered “part of the job”? (sidenote: would someone explain to me when I’m supposed to put the end of sentence punctuation inside the quotes and when to put it outside the quotes? I got all A’s in English class but can’t remember that rule for the life of me. Instead of looking it up myself, please leave a note in the comments. Thank you)

Well, not so fast! Most of us that work in the business of sports have jobs that are typically oriented around a normal work day. Emails, meetings, tasks, phone calls, to-do lists and so on and so forth, but does that mean we can’t take out some time to bond with our co-workers during the biggest international sporting event that doesn’t take place but every four years? But, Bill, you might say, what about the Olympics? Well, yes, the policy applies to the Olympics as well. Well, here are my thoughts, the pros and the cons of watching the World Cup at work.

– Team camaraderie that develops out of the fact that employees are doing something fun and engaging in a sport product
– “Market research”
– Break from the monotony of a hot, sweaty office with no A/C and a chance to cool-off with some refreshments (depends on where you work I suppose)
– Reward and rest from the hard work and grind that was a long season or year
– Opportunity to get to know other co-workers you might not get a chance to interact with that often
– Creates space to learn about people of different cultural backgrounds and identities

– Lost productivity due to employees not paying attention to work during work hours – this is a big one
– Many employees are out on vacation during the summer, so there is already an assumed loss of productivity during the summer, watching the World Cup at work only adds to the distraction and loss of productivity
– Distracted work is work with mistakes which causes more problems in the long run

This is not an exhaustive list, but just the idea of the consequences of watching the World Cup at work was something I thought was interesting to think of from an outside perspective. Surely there are many organizations out there that don’t approve of any kind of distraction at work, especially live TV, but what about those of us that work IN sports? Do we have it in our DNA that we’re somehow required to engage in these types of events just by the nature of work? What about our cultural or national heritage? Do our values and beliefs as a society require us to be involved in something that has global impact, even if it is “just” a sporting event? Certainly sports influence politics in some ways and definitely the other way around, but how are we supposed to manage this situation at work?

Do we shut down the office for the Olympics? Probably not as much because of the NBC television programming that packages most of the events in which the US is participating during evening hours when most of America is available to watch, but sure, maybe. So other than that, why is soccer different? Perhaps because it is a one sport tournament that lasts almost as long as the Olympics and thus somehow different?

Either way, we can’t deny the sociological impact of sport on society. The ceremonies, behaviors and actions wrapped up in sport define or explain culture and act as a stage on which we exercise our values and what is important to us. During these large international sporting tournaments, we’re given the opportunity to cross cultural divides, learn from other people, grow as a human race and break down the barriers that keep us separated. Sport has the power to heal and unite, but only if we let it do so.

When it comes down to it, yes we’re responsible to our obligations at work and there definitely IS a tangible loss of productivity. But what we must ask ourselves is whether or not that loss of productivity in the short term is worth the price of what we gain in the long term. Certainly every organization has some units that must be always on deck, on call and always responsive; but for the rest of us, however, let’s enjoy the World Cup together, cheer on our national team and make up those hours elsewhere in the week.

Go Forth!

Book Review: Marketing Outrageously Redux: How to Increase your Revenue by Staggering Amounts

Jon Spoelstra is a sports business legend. If you don’t know anything about Jon, check out this Wikipedia page and buy his book right now, Marketing Outrageously Redux: How to Increase Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts(affiliate)

I just finished reading this book two days ago and all I can say is WOW! Jon’s ideas are definitely outrageous but definitely get you thinking outside the box when it comes to increasing your team’s bottom line in a way that builds your brand positively and creatively. No matter what particular area of sports business you call your own, there is something for everyone in this book. The ideas and examples speak directly to managers working in marketing or ticket sales but also provide a great deal of insight for entry level professionals trying to come up with that next best idea that will get them noticed. For team administrators at the VP or Director level, Marketing Outrageously Redux: How to Increase Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts (affiliate) gives you concrete advice on how thinking outside the box translates into bottom line results that generate positive outposts of memories in your customers’ minds without damaging your public image.

Jon lays out his ideas for marketing outrageously with 17 “Ground Rules” that cover topics such as “Ground rule #1: If you aren’t willing to take a few risks in marketing, become a bean counter” (page 19) and “Ground Rule #6: If you mimic the market leaders, you’ll just add to their dominance.” (Page 97) In addition to being an accomplished NBA executive and established author, Jon Spoelstra is probably also famous for developing the “rubber chicken theory” as well.

The rubber chicken theory is an application of basic advertising principles that finds a way for your message to be not only delivered by also consumed by your target audience. The purpose of a headline is to get someone to read a subheadline whose purpose is to read the first paragraph, whose purpose is to read the second paragraph and so on and so forth. Basically a way to get attention and keep your customers moving along the sales escalator. If you want attention, you need a headline (something that will transmit a rubber chicken like a round poster mailing tube), a subheadline (a rubber chicken) and a message (a letter or message to your customers). I won’t give away the punch line, but the story gets really good right about here. To learn more about the rubber chicken theory and how awesome it is, buy Marketing Outrageously Redux: How to Increase Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts (affiliate) and see for yourself! I promise, you won’t regret it. Even if you think your organization might be caught off guard by “outrageous thinking,” you can’t not be entertained by some of Jon’s real life examples. He’s intelligent, witty, entertaining and an excellent teacher in this book.

I highly recommend Marketing Outrageously Redux: How to Increase Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts (affiliate) and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Go Forth!

Here’s the link one more time – thank you for supporting Bill’s Sports Business Blog!

Own Your Mistakes

Admit it – we all make mistakes. No one is perfect and every now and then we mess up. Hopefully your mistakes aren’t life threatening and hopefully you work diligently to minimize your mistakes and eliminate them as much as possible. When you do trip up, do you own your mistakes? Do you take responsibility for your mistakes and the consequences of your actions or lack of action? M-Go does. M-Go is an online movie streaming service that brings the magic of Hollywood to your internet connected device. No, this is not an advertisement for M-Go, but a real life example of a brand taking responsibility for their short comings, their human-ness. Apparently real people work on the other end of these wires we call the internet because they did a very humble thing – they took responsiblity for their mistake and tried to make it better.

Here’s the first email I got from them that got me really excited:

M-Go Email Offer Free Movie
M-Go Email Offer, Free Movie Credit Offer

When I received that email out of the blue, I was stoked! Whoa – a free movie! It’s my lucky day! Now, I had just signed up for the service a few days before this and already used my free “thanks for signing up” offer and now here is another free movie on my account. BONUS!

Then…I got this email:

M-Go Sent In Error
We’re Sorry: M-Go Free Movie Credit Sent in Error…#fail

I can’t describe the sinking feeling I got when I received this email. At first I was sad and upset that they took away my free prize and after a minute I felt myself getting angry. WHOA! You’re going to give me a free movie then take it away…uh, wait, what?!? Grrr >:-| I suppose at least they tried to let me down easy. I’m glad they still value me as a customer…

So while I’m thinking about what it is that just happened, literally not long enough for me to consider what I might do (nothing really) M-Go figured out pretty quickly that they messed up not once, but twice and took responsibility for what it was that just transpired over the last few emails they sent…

M-Go Owns Mistakes and Takes Responsibility
M-Go Owns their mistake of a free movie, then not really, but then yes, really…sorry

Ahhh, relief at last! Own your mistakes? Yes – Thank you M-Go! You did good here. I can just picture the frantic conversations the people over in the M-Go offices were having when this was happening. They don’t have a phone number that I know of, but I can imagine the email inbox for M-Go Customer Care getting flooded with messages from angry and upset customers. I have no idea how many people got this email, but I am very glad they owned their mistake, took responsibility and tried to make things better. For me personally, they definitely made me feel better. I can accept that people make mistakes. We all do. It’s what you do after that shows me more about who you are than not doing anything at all.

Of course we try to do what we can to minimize our mistakes and our errors but stuff happens and things slip through the cracks. Depending on what it is that you do for work, some mistakes can be fatal and there will be consequences. In M-Go’s case, they probably lost a few customers, yes, but they also gained a few more loyal customers merely by owning their mistake. Way to M-Go. Thanks for making us feel human.

On a side note, what do you think about the title of their head customer focused employee – head of “customer care”? Does it make a difference if this person is customer “care” vs. customer “service”? What do you think? Leave a note in the comments below.

Go Forth!

Thank You, Fans

Thank you. Two little words with so much meaning. So yes, thank YOU fans of Bill’s Sports Business Blog! It’s been a while and it’s great to be back. I’m not going to be posting daily like I was the last few months of last year, but I will be here more regularly and once I get a manageable schedule going I’ll let you know what that will be so you can tune in regularly.

Now, seriously, thank YOUR fans. If you follow this blog you know that I’m a big fan of email marketing and that’s exactly what the Portland Trail Blazers did when their 2014 NBA playoff run ended – they emailed their fans to say thank you. Here’s what it looked like:

PDX Trailblazers thank Fans
NBA Portland Trailblazers say Thank You Rip City Fans for 2014 season

This is a very important message, especially in a time when fans often feel like we’re just constantly asking and never giving back. Send them an email to let them know that you’re really there behind the hoop (or goal post or diamond or net or microphone or whatever) supporting and encouraging their fandom of your team.

Go Forth!