It’s getting to be the weekend again which means that many of you will be watching sports.

Cheerleader of the Aachen Steelers team at the...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe it’s your local baseball team, maybe it’s one of your kids, or maybe it’s one of the many hours of televised sports that will be available.  The reason sports rights fees continue to rise so dramatically despite the continued fragmentation of audiences is because the market sees sports as one of the few pieces of content that really must be watched as it happens.  They’re sort of DVR-proof.

That’s part of the secret but the real truth is that sports make people care.  There is an emotional connection with the team or with a player.  If you ever played a sport I suspect there is a part of you that feels the excitement of competition again as well.  Fans are cheerleaders and maybe even more.  Some researchers have found that fans experience hormonal surges and other physiological changes while watching games.  The emotional connection is strong because, to a certain extent, whomever you root for represents you.  When they win, you do too.

That got me thinking.  How do we bring that deep connection outside of sports? How do we get them to see themselves not so much as buying products but rather belonging to a larger movement?  Apple certainly has done that.  Some mom and pop local businesses manage to do that as well.  The get their customers to root for them as they would a sports team.  Those teams are a central component to their daily lives.  How can we make our brands play that kind of role?

It certainly isn’t by selling.  When your team takes the field, they sweat and get hurt for you to win.  Are we making consumers feel that we’d do the same thing for them, or are we constantly asking them to do something for us?  How can we turn customers into cheerleaders? Something to think about.

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Filed under sports business, Thinking Aloud

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