25, August 2015:

How much data is too much?

How do I get all my data in one place?

How do I get the rest of the company to buy-in to what we’re doing?

How do I integrate my customer’s social profiles with my CRM records?

Just a few of the many questions posed at CRM Evolution in New York this week — questions that we constantly hear being asked in the sports industry. But this wasn’t a sports conference — it was CRM Evolution, now in it’s 12th year. At the Marriot Marquis just north of New York’s Times Square, and under the guidance of the ubiquitous Paul Greenberg CRM practitioners, consultants, technology providers, and other industry voices met to discuss strategies, innovations, services, and solutions, and to share and discuss the latest ideas.

One of my observations at CRM Evolution is that that the sports world has many of the same challenges as other industries, but attending this conference also highlighted to me some of the key differences:

1) Brian Vellmure said that “moments of truth are relatively few”. Well that may be the case outside our world, but here in #sportsbiz we get them all the time! Every goal, point or touchdown scored (or missed!), every decision made (or not!), every player drafted/transferred/fired/injured, provides our fans with an opportunity to form or change a decision about our teams, leagues, athletes, and events. And boy they like to talk about it (that’s why social media is made for sports!)

2) R “Ray” Wang said “If your customer really loves you, is a fan, how long do you have that feeling?” We’re pretty sure we know the answer to that one. Thankfully our fans love us forever, they rarely leave us — we have to do something pretty bad to upset them, to cause them to turn their back on us. And they never switch allegiance. Now that’s not to say we can take them for granted or abuse their relationship with us — it’s the opposite, their loyalty has to be acknowledged and rewarded again and again.

3) Another soundbite from Ray, industry must “prioritise the brand” which suggests that the non-sports industry doesn’t do it as much as we do. But it hasn’t always been down to us has it? The press, our fans, sponsors, broadcast partners and licensees, all take on the brand prioritisation role for us, using our logos, trademarks, imagery and colours to show their affinity. And sometimes we get a little control…..I remember the days of those heavy “Graphic Standards Manuals” and again I thank goodness for the dawn of digital!

4) And from Marshall Lager who asked “Was your customers’s experience good or bad? We need to know that?” Yes we do……but in the sports industry we don’t have a problem getting that type of information: our fans are vocal, and they don’t hesitate to let us know how good their experience was…..particularly when it comes to the quality of our team or the referee’s performance!

My point to all of this is, while the non-sports industry may be further advanced in certain areas of CRM strategy and data, we’re in a sector where because of the passion, the loyalty and the emotions that our teams, leagues, events and athletes produce, we have the potential to move further and faster.

So with this in mind, I make the statement that the sports industry will help deliver the biggest advances in CRM.

The unique qualities of our industry and the intense relationship we have with our customers will power disruptive technologies.

And CRM Evolution will be one of those places where you’ll hear about it first.

If you'd like to hear more about our work in CRM and BI in the sports industry or discuss any challenges or opportunities you currently face, please contact us - we'd love to talk to you.