Sport CRM – Customer Relationship Management

CRM opt-in page
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Opt-In Information Form

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

True in many areas of life and especially in (sports) business. If you always take out the same ads, do the same promotions or hand out the same fliers, nothing will change and you’ll likely see the same or similar revenue numbers year in and year out. If you don’t change anything up, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

So how do you get more without jeopardizing the integrity of your organization? Three little words – customer relationship management.

The purpose of any business is to provide value in the marketplace to its consumers by offering products or services. In order to dig in to this a little more, I’ll assume you are affiliated with a team or organization already in existence and already doing business. In order to grow from wherever it is that you are now, you’ve got to learn as much about your customers as you can. You have to make it a priority to know everything you can about them. If all you know is their email and mailing addresses, then great. You know how to get a hold of them.

Quite honestly, in this day and age, that’s not enough. The digital age we live in has shaped our fans into beings that have come to expect personalized service, pricing and attention. The more you know about your fans, the better you’ll be able to serve them exactly what it is they desire from your organization. Outside of the performance of the team, you have the ability to customize absolutely every aspect of the fan experience and it all starts with CRM – customer relationship management.

Just as your team operations staff and coaches are dissecting every move of their athletes, so should you be gathering data and dissecting every move of your fans and customers. This might sound shady, but it’s not. People share all kinds of information online every single day with numerous entities that track their every move, search query, transaction and click, often without knowing. Even when they do find out that they are being tracked online, most people don’t care or perhaps do exercise some caution, but still continue to browse and click. The people who don’t use the internet at all are probably becoming fewer and fewer as we progress as a society.

If you can afford it, just go buy the data on your fans. Yes, it’s possible. There are several companies that specialize in collecting consumer information from 3rd parties and then turn around and sell that information to companies looking to build CRM systems and learn more about their customers. They collect demographic information including everything from household income, job titles, property and real estate valuations, cars driven and even some pyschographic information such as which social networks are used, what they type into search engines, what their political views are and so on.

If you can’t afford to buy your customers’ data, just ask them straight up. (Be careful though…even when people give up a lot online, most people are still a little sensitive when answering direct questions) There are plenty of free and low-cost survey tools out on the internet, so find a marketing or statistics professor or graduate student to help you pull together a list of valid and reliable questions and ask your fans through email. Start with your season ticket holders, then move on to your mini-plan buyers, your single game ticket buyers and eventually everyone that buys merchandise from you online. You can collect their information during checkout, include a link to the survey on their online invoice/receipt, track their responses by group and come up with some idea of who these people are that attend your games.

That’s the first part of customer relationship management – getting their information.

The second part of customer relationship management is the analysis of that information and interpretation of your findings into something meaningful for the organization and for your fans. This is also called data mining. Do your fans like a certain type of music? Play that during time outs. Do they purchase tickets at certain times of day – say lunch time or late at night after the kids go to bed? Hire extra staff at lunch and make sure your website works. Do they buy more colored shirts than white? Print t-shirts in every color possible. Do they watch certain TV channels that you might want to advertise on? Place your ads on those networks and perhaps their websites too – every hear of “on demand?” This is just the tip of the iceberg, so really dive in and take your time with this process.

Furthermore, don’t forget about good old fashioned phone and face-to-face conversations. You can learn a great deal about someone just by asking them questions. The more personal you get with your fans, the more personal they’ll likely get with you. Your CRM system will also track those conversations for you so you can always make sure everyone on your staff has the most up-to-date information about every one of your customers.

Your job as someone who works in sports, at least on the business side, is to make it as easy as possible for your fans to get what they want – tickets, food, swag, you name it. You want a low barrier of entry to what it is that you offer. No matter what sport and no matter what level, you are there to provide something of value that other people want. Collect customer information. Analyze your data. Provide better value and service.

Go Forth!

Train Your Brain

Train your brain. Goals. Achieve
Train your brain to see more than just what’s in front of you.

When you want to achieve greatness, you’ve got to train your brain as much, if not more than, your body. Your body will follow whatever your brain tells you, so start with brain training. Self-psychology. Positive self-talk.

No matter what your goals are, I’ve realized first hand, especially lately, how important it is to have a good frame of mind in order to achieve goals. If you’re not mentally prepared to do something before you start, your path is going to be much more difficult than it really ought to be.

Start training your brain by first defining your goals. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) and cover all areas of your life. For the purposes of getting started, start with only a few goals – if you look at everything at once and it seems too overwhelming your success rate will likely plummet and you’ll end up nowhere.

Next, with a few goals in mind, come up with a game plan of what you’ll do on a daily basis to achieve those goals. Yes, on a daily basis. To achieve anything worthwhile, you’ve got to be diligent, focused and resilient in the face of fear and doubt. That’s why I suggest you only start with one or two or a small number of goals at one time. Once you’ve gotten those steps down and you’re doing alright, then you can add more. In the meantime though, you’re going to be working really hard on your brain training. Teaching yourself how to think through the hard stuff. Think through the self-doubt. The lack of confidence in certain areas. The little voice inside of you that says you’ll never get there and it’s all pointless and you should just give up.

If you commit to actually doing a few small things on a daily basis, odds are you’ll meet your resistance very quickly…BUT, because you’re only doing a few small things EVERY DAY – you’ll be able to overcome that voice inside that says you’re not good enough by doing the small thing you set out to do.

For me, I have to just ignore that voice and soldier on. Once I do, I see that I am capable of achieving my small goal for the day. I take a step back in my mind and really try to feel what it is that’s trying to tell me I can’t do this one thing. I focus on my feeling of “can’t,” watch it, look at it and let it pass. I sit in silence in my mind and witness what it does inside of me. Sometimes this feels like more than 10 minutes but it really only lasts seconds. It’s a practice of self-awareness that starts in your brain and can only be instituted by yourself once you’re aware enough that you can control your brain and train it to do what you want.

Isn’t that weird? Your brain is the thing that controls you, but it’s also the thing that controls itself? You can tell your brain to do something while it’s also doing a whole bunch of other stuff that lets you tell it what to do?! I love that. You have the power to control everything about yourself if you only give yourself enough time to train your brain to do that which you want to do.

Want to lose weight? Make a plan and train your brain.

Want better relationships? Make a plan and train your brain.

Want a better job? Make a plan and train your brain to take deliberate, daily action toward making that goal happen.

Change you want doesn’t just happen but must be forced into motion. You must be the change you want for yourself. You have to train your brain, practice positive self talk and do absolutely everything you can to ignore everything that says you can’t. YOU can have everything you want in life if only you’re willing to work for it – daily, diligent, resilient work. Start by training your brain and do some psychology on yourself.


Thank Them for Complaining

Complaining about construction
Thank them for complaining – Turn criticism into improvement.

The next time your customers complain, thank them. If they take the time out of their day to complain about something, they care about what it is that you’re doing – they want you to be better. Of course, they also probably want something else – if you can, give it to them but also consider where your weaknesses are as an organization.

Do you have enough information on your website? Or too much?
Does your checkout process issue the correct receipt?
Does the angle of the seats in a particular section really make it difficult to see the game?
Do the transportation routes really not line up getting fans to and from your games because of construction?

When your customers contact you about something not going quite right, take care of their concerns but also look for the question behind the question. Track your complaints and take the initiative to solve their problems. Make it easy for them to spend their time and money with you and everyone will be happy!

Go Forth!

Academic Dishonesty at Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stadium Football Game
Notre Dame Stadium on a Football Game Day. Everyone is watching…

Many people know that I went to school at Notre Dame and worked in the athletics department there for several years both during my time as an undergrad there and after graduation. With the recent announcement that several student athletes are under investigation for academic violations I am being frequently asked what I think about that situation.

Honestly, when I first caught wind of what was happening I was very disappointed. I don’t know the players involved but do know many people at the university and in the athletics department and know how they feel working in a department under such scrutiny for less than ideal circumstances.

Other than disappointment, I also feel proud to be a Notre Dame alum – NOT because a few individuals possibly violated a few important rules (they haven’t been found guilty yet as of this writing, but to be temporarily suspended certainly causes some suspicion) but because the people there take their responsibility to hold everyone accountable very seriously. Based on what I know, Notre Dame self-reports every instance of NCAA rule infractions and is forthcoming about any potential violations there. Even more serious than NCAA rules, the university takes swift and immediate action when enforcing its own rules, especially as it relates to academic honesty.

Every freshman student at Notre Dame (at least when I was there) is given a hard paper copy of the student conduct policies (it might just be digital now) and asked to sign a declaration of personal commitment to obey the rules which have been set forth, most especially as it relates to academic honesty. To sum it up, that policy basically states that you will not cheat, steal, forge, plagiarize or otherwise attempt to act dishonestly in any way, including your academic work. I remember the day I signed that document and took that commitment seriously. Unfortunately, a few individuals chose not to do the same and now must face the consequences.

Notre Dame is a private school and does not have to publish or disclose their investigation of this situation or the results, but I do hope they share what the infractions were and what the consequences will be. The integrity, honesty and morality of these athletes will be tested and I hope they do the right thing and take responsibility. The university will do what is right and take appropriate action based on what they find. Whatever the outcome ends up being, Notre Dame’s actions will be an example to others of what to do when the same thing happens somewhere else. On the other hand, the actions of the students serve also as an example of what NOT to do. Everyone is watching and time will tell.

Don’t let this happen to you, your school, or your team. Do the right thing. Be honest. Tell the truth. Do your own work.

Go Forth.

Manners Matter – “Why you gotta be so rude?”

Do you know your manners?

Do you use your manners?

Who taught you?

Have you taught anyone else?

Regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, manners matter. Say please. Thank you. Excuse me. Use your indicator. You’ve got hand signals and brake lights for a reason and it’s NOT all about you. Those things are for other people. These small words and signals work wonders for getting what you want while not putting down, belittling, trampling, or hurting the others around you in the process.

I spend a lot of time outside on trails walking, running, biking and hiking and am constantly amazed at how many don’t DON’T use their manners. Sir, a simple “excuse me” would have been more appropriate than clipping my side as you run by me on a narrow and crowded trail. I know we’re going slow and it’s downhill, but come on – there’s no way you didn’t see me and the numerous other people around us from 20 yards away.

When using public trails, an early and more appropriate “passing on your left”  would have been much better received at 3-5 seconds away from me than “WOW – Watch out – get out of the way!” just as you come speeding around a corner on your bike at an intersection point of two paths. There’s no way this is your first ride considering the outfit you’re wearing and there’s very little chance you’ve never been on this trail, so you MUST know that this is a congested area. Next time, use your manners, slow down, announce your presence to us ahead of time and consider that you’re not the only one out here enjoying the great weather we’ve been having.

When driving, go the speed limit, not 10mph slower than what’s posted; also, don’t go 20 over. Also, read and obey the signs on the road, especially this one: “STATE LAW: ALL VEHICLES KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS.” Here’s an easy way to remember which way is left and which is right.

– Put both of your hands out in front of you

– Make a fist with each hand

– Stick out each thumb

– Stick out each index finger (the one closest to your thumb)

– Great – now which hand’s fingers most closely resemble a letter of the alphabet?

If you answered the one on the left that looks like a “L”,  you win! The hand with fingers that make the “L” shape is your left hand. That’s the lane on the road that is for PASSING ONLY. If you’re not passing, stay out of the left lanes. Yes, lanes. I don’t care how many lanes there are on the freeway. Just because the carpool/HOV lane is the left most lane does not mean that the next one over is appropriate for you to cruise. It’s not. Move over to one of the other 3 lanes closer to the right. Better yet, move to the right most lane as you can. When you go slower than the speed limit in one of the left most lanes, you are breaking the law. It says it right there on that sign – STATE LAW.

Please use your manners at all times. Manners matter. Learn the rules of the road. If you don’t know what the rules are, Google “rules of the road” or check out your local bike shop; I’m sure there is someone there who’d be willing to teach you how to properly navigate the streets and trails of your community.

Be a sport. Manners matter. Learn the rules of the road.