Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Fan is Forever

Sport touches everyone. A recent study I read about on sports and happiness says that having a winning NFL football team boosts the wallets of a city's inhabitants by a full $120, making harder workers and bigger spenders, while increasing happiness and self confidence. Even if your team is not winning, sports fans remain dedicated, sometimes even obsessed. This is because following a team is a pure example of an emotional connection; an experience that is part frustrating and part exquisite pride and happiness. We all love the feeling of community, the emotional tug on the heart-strings, the hope that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year.

It's a dream of hope that springs eternal! As a fan, what you experience is Loyalty Beyond Reason, and as a Manchester City fan I know exactly what this means! What truly matters in the end is performing, not simply winning.

Last week I gave a keynote address to the big players in the US sports world at the Relay Sports Symposium in New York. Most of the conference involved investigating the relationship between sponsor and team (or club). I wanted to focus on the connection that irrevocably binds fan, team and sponsor, so I gave the sports nuts seven ideas to build Loyalty Beyond Reason around a sports team. These are ideas that can grow value for one and all: fans, brand marketers, sponsors, managers and boards.

1. Share a dream. One Team, One Dream. Sponsor, owner, player and fan. A mission isn't going to light up the ball park. Feel like a family, play like a team.

2. Connect with emotion. Ditch rational-based marketing and move people to your cause.

3. Move from Irreplaceable brands to Irresistible. Lovemarks.

4. Check in with reality. Do you just want to be respected, or loved and respected?

5. Use Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy, the three secrets.

6. Seal it with Sisomo. Hand your brand over to fans and connect with the family of screens. They'll take good care of it!

7. Perform at Peak. Create the conditions for Flow. Just like the best sports people, find the zone where passion and harmony put you at your best.

Once you've got Loyalty Beyond Reason, you're all fans. The great thing about fans is that they all face the same way and dream the same dream. Turn that group into a winning team and scientists and economists say it's worth $120 each and bundles of happiness, which is priceless. Which all confirms what husbands have always known and wives have feared for years. Watching sport is good for you!