SBJ/June 4-10, 2012/Opinion

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  • Starting next Monday, SBD Global will bring you the world

    Starting next Monday, June 11, we are pushing out the boundaries of our editorial coverage. Yes, we’re going global. Cliché, but true. We are pleased to be introducing a new publication from our group, SportsBusiness Daily Global, which will focus on sports business news aggregation and original reporting focused on the U.K., Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa and the BRIC countries.

    It’s been a goal of ours for years, to help package and summarize the key business stories from around the world in a product that would complement both SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Journal. We have established an editorial staff at our headquarters in Charlotte that will largely handle the aggregation and summarizing, as well as do original reporting. We also will be drawing on the editorial strength of SBD/SBJ to help round out our coverage. In addition, we will be targeting select freelancers and editorial talent in vital markets around the world. We will be analyzing and focusing on sports business news and information in multiple languages and translating to English to deliver a smart executive news briefing to you every business day.






    The online SBD Global will be very similar to SBD, with a strong mix of aggregation, curation and original content. We will link to original sources, allowing you to seek out more depth on topics you are interested in. Our content areas of focus will be similar as well, with emphasis on:

    • Sponsorship, advertising and marketing. 
    • Media and rights agreements and distribution deals.
    • League and governing body issues.
    • Franchise and facility development.
    • Global events like the Olympics, World Cup, Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, Commonwealth Games, Cricket World Cup, Asian Games, Tour de France, Copa del Rey, Champions Cup.
    • Executive moves and transactions.
    • Finance, and mergers and acquisitions.
    • Company launches.
    • New technology and mobile development and distribution.
    • Agency news and business.
    • People and personalities who make up the business.

    From left: staff writers Nicolas Journel and Kristen Heimstead, managing editor David Morgan, and assistant managing editor Brandon Zimmerman.
    Photo by: TIFFIN WARNOCK / STAFF
    Starting June 11, we will be notifying you when the current SBD Global is available. You will be able to reach it via the “SportsBusiness Daily Global” section accessible on the top navigation area on www.sportsbusinessdaily.com. Our plan is to publish our global news briefing at 8 p.m. ET, which would hit London at 1 a.m. (Berlin at 2, Moscow at 4 and Hong Kong at 8). That feed would have same-day news from all of these global markets and we believe would serve as a valuable news briefing for busy executives in the global markets. The news and information will be accessible for free to all current subscribers of SportsBusiness Daily. 

    Our editorial team will be headed by Managing Editor David Morgan, who joins us after 21 years at The Hollywood Reporter. David has established a strong group in Charlotte handling the day-to-day news operation. If you have news, information or ideas, you can contact David at dmorgan@bizjournals.com. In addition, for your distribution list, please send releases, news and executive transactions to global@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

    We are very excited about this initiative, a new publication that is complementary to our long-standing SBD/SBJ services. We would love your ideas, questions, thoughts and comments as we look to better serve your global sports business news needs.

    Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at amadkour@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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  • How colleges are adopting pro concepts in ticketing, CRM

    Ibelieve a watershed moment is occurring in the world of college athletics as we witness a shift in business approach by athletic departments to embrace a number of pro sports concepts and adapt them to their needs. This change is focused on using technology and innovation to increase revenue for the program while better serving sophisticated season-ticket holders and donors, ultimately creating financial benefits that help them expand their programs and better serve their student athletes and universities.

    One example beginning to gain traction in college athletics over the past two years is the staffing of both inbound and outbound commissionable sales teams, a strategy that every pro sports team relies on today. Pioneers like Matt DiFebo, formerly of the University of Central Florida and now with IMG Tickets, and Bernie Mullin, formerly of the NBA and now with The Aspire Group, realized success with several colleges looking to capture improved sales and renewals. Now, increasing numbers of programs are either working with a partner or building their own team internally, such as Florida State University and University of Arizona.

    From this trend evolved the concept of using customer relationship management systems within college athletics to share information between ticket sales, fundraising and marketing. Gone are the days of white boards and sticky notes for sales teams; they are being replaced by sophisticated CRM platforms to better manage fan and donor relationships with immediate access to the entire management team.

    To make this happen these leaders in collegiate sports are bringing with them experience from both the professional and the business worlds, and here are three great examples:

    Arizona State Athletic Director Steve Patterson is the former president of the Portland Trail Blazers. He and Associate AD Steve Hank have an outbound sales team and a fully integrated CRM system to maximize the team’s efforts. To refine and optimize their sales efforts, ASU took another page out of the pro sports play book by implementing sophisticated database profiling and lead-scoring techniques through a partnership with Turnkey Intelligence. ASU’s sales teams prioritize leads into ranked categories and target fans most likely to purchase. To help measure many of their sophisticated programs, ASU then implemented a data warehouse solution that allows it to quickly identify ticketing, fundraising and marketing trends and pull together information from previously disparate databases at the school through an executive, graphical dashboard. This enables the sales team to make data-driven decisions to maximize results.

    Dave Brandon brought his experience as CEO of Domino’s to the University of Michigan when he was hired as AD in 2010. At Brandon’s side is an agent of change, CMO Hunter Lochmann, who came to Michigan from the New York Knicks. In fact, the concept of the chief marketing officer role, while prevalent in pro sports, is new within the college athletics ranks. Together, Brandon and Lochmann have quickly implemented several exciting new initiatives that one would expect from a Fortune 500 brand or a professional sports franchise. Michigan not only now boasts the largest mobile marketing database in college athletics, but it also has quickly embraced sophisticated digital marketing, ticketing and social media strategies to better engage and interact with Wolverine fans. Michigan also owns the most successful social media ticket sales campaign of record, selling $86,000 in ticket sales in a single day through a Facebook-only presale.

    Under the direction of Pat Haden (right), USC has partnered with StubHub for integrated ticket resale.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Under the direction of AD Pat Haden, the University of Southern California has implemented several new groundbreaking initiatives including an integrated ticket resale solution with industry leader StubHub. Although pervasive in the professional sports world, college athletics organizations waited to embrace this trend until just recently. The opportunity of providing fans the ability to instantly post and resell their unused tickets online while delivering a guaranteed, valid new ticket to the buyer is a great proposition for many universities. Fans get great tickets, universities fill seats and gain access to new customers, and the university has additional money to fund its mission. USC also recently implemented a CRM system to complement its integrated ticketing, marketing and fundraising efforts so it can better manage and segment all the new fans in the school’s database.

    So what is the next big idea that was born in professional sports and is about to take college athletics by storm?

    I believe it is dynamic pricing. Although the landscape in college athletics is very different than professional sports, including far fewer home games and the element of required donations for premium seating, there is an unbelievable opportunity to exercise more efficient pricing. The University of South Florida was the first college athletics institution to implement true dynamic pricing, not just variable pricing, last football season — the difference being variable pricing takes place before the season begins, assigning a higher value to marquee games, while dynamic pricing happens during the season, allowing teams to flex pricing based on demand for remaining inventory.

    In a survey of more than 105 Paciolan college athletics clients executed by Turnkey Intelligence, we found that 26 percent of all college athletics institutions reported they are “moderately or more than likely” to adopt dynamic pricing within the next year. This represents an amazing opportunity for colleges to realize the actual market value of their tickets. Several large BCS schools are now evaluating this technology with partners such as QCue and Digonex.

    It is a tremendously exciting time in our industry. As more college athletics organizations embrace these new pro sports concepts, it opens numerous new opportunities to drive increased revenue, better serve fans and donors, and energize the community around funding the student athletes we all enjoy cheering for on the field and in the arena.     

    Dave Butler (DButler@paciolan.com) is CEO of Paciolan.


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  • How to keep motivated, productive amid organizational change

    No one is irreplaceable.

    “The cemetery is full of irreplaceable people.” That is one of my favorite sayings, paraphrased from French statesman Georges Clemenceau. While it may sound cold, and you may not agree, it is true. The replacement might not be as good, but then again it might be better. The one thing you can count on is that it will be different, and the adjustment to different is what we must all master while remaining motivated and productive.

    The topic of managing and coping with change was suggested to me through Twitter. A lot of what I share will be based upon my experiences from a managerial perspective as well as being the catalyst causing the change.

    On the sports side, a new manager or general manager might result in a new playbook, a new offense and many times new players to implement that offense. The business side is very similar. There are new ways to market and solicit business, new types of meetings, opinions on what went on before, and the possibility that the new leader will bring in some veterans from his or her previous stop. This is the type of change where people can become defensive regarding the old offense and try to avoid the new offense. This is the “different” I described in the previous paragraph.

    A new president or chief marketing officer is hired to perform and achieve goals. If the team that is in place immediately shows resistance and does not embrace change, the new leader must look to people he or she knows can execute the new plays and help achieve the goals. This often results in trust hires — proven performers who have a history with the new leader and in whom the new leader trusts.

    How can the existing team minimize the influx of new talent? The answer is simple, but the execution is difficult. Embrace change, and agree to never utter the following two harbingers of your own personal doom:
    • That’s not the way we do things around here.
    • We tried that in the past and it didn’t work.


    Unfortunately, those two phrases are heard all too often when there is a change in leadership. A new leader is looking for people who can adapt to change, give the changes time to work and ultimately embrace the new initiatives and direction.

    In thinking about this change scenario, which will probably affect each of us at least once in our professional lives (and probably in our personal lives as well), I have constructed Sutton’s Suggestions for dealing effectively with change.

    Learn to listen and process information before forming an opinion and a response. Too many times we have something to say and are waiting for the person to finish speaking so we can make our point. Listen and think about the new initiatives before reacting.

    Respond to change as Mr. Spock would — rationally and based upon the facts at hand, not with the raw emotion that is the first instinct. I have a 24/48-hour rule for email responses that have an emotional element. Write the email immediately to express exactly how you feel. Read it again after 24 hours but don’t send it. Read it again after 48 hours to see whether it still reflects how you feel and how passionate you are about the content. If you are still that passionate, then send it. Experience has taught me that in the cases when I did send that email, it differed dramatically from the original copy.

    Use the Ben Franklin method of analyzing pros and cons about the newly introduced changes. This analysis forces you to see both the positive and the negative in each, and that should help develop your understanding and hopefully your acceptance.

    Ask questions to make sure that you understand the points that the new leader is trying to convey. Question your peers to see how they have been interpreting the change points, but also meet with the new leader to seek clarification and understanding. You will be respected for doing so.

    Look within yourself to understand what it is that you really want and how this change will help you in realizing that self-actualizing goal. Change presents opportunity. How you engage that opportunity is up to you, but in most cases there is something that can be learned that will benefit your personal and career development. Also, look within to make sure that there is not anything there that could be causing an adverse reaction to the change.

    If you can’t salute the general, it might be time to leave the army and find a new one. That’s one of my father’s sayings that has stuck with me a long time and served as the catalyst for several of my career changes. It might not be the general, it might be the fort, or it might be your fellow soldiers, but change often forces us to look at those things we have been accepting and conclude that we are no longer willing to accept them.

    Understand it is not all about you. While you are important, and how these changes affect you is important, the change is about the organization, the business and the world view in which that business operates. Your perception of that and yourself is influenced greatly by your personal world view.

    Remember it is not about the change itself, but how we handle that change and our ability to move forward. The adjustments, refinements and lessons learned from change can help define our individual abilities to be great.

    Bill Sutton (wsutton1@usf.edu) is the founding director of the sport and entertainment business management MBA at the University of South Florida, and principal of Bill Sutton & Associates. Follow him on Twitter @Sutton_Impact.



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  • Cartoon: Triple Crown expectations

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