Gamify Your ROI

 Gamification that works: Hip Hop Gamification

gameification

 

THE ISSUE

Sports & Entertainment Sponsorships are predicated on generating returns on investments (ROI’s) for corporate clients. More than ever, entertainment companies have to generate brandability, consumer traffic, and notoriety for their clients to warrant the higher than average monthly contribution for advertisement opportunities. Beyond doing sweepstakes, inculcating logos and messages into people’s brain and gaining network opportunities, sponsoring companies are looking to make impulsive and empathic connections with their audience(s).

With the arrival of new marketing channels like internet and mobile marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search retargeting and widespread social media services, companies are being more and more discerning over how they are spending their marketing dollars.

In response to the heightened competition in the world of marketing, sports and entertainment companies find more  ways and spend more money than ever to enhance their patron’s experiences.

Amongst my studies at The University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School, I took a gamification course taught by (a true innovator in behaviorism) Professor Kevin Werbach.

The idea is to influence desired behavior while generating positive results. The most important thing though is that we offer our subject(s) “fun”

THE IDEA

When you enter the venues doors, a text message or application invitation gets sent to your smart phone, tablet or device. If you choose to accept, you will get entered into the gamified systems program designed to turn brand loyalty and fanhood into a game.

What the program does is provide each patron with either promotions, coupons, offers or information regarding all corporate clients. Everything patrons are sent and every way they interact with a sponsor, earns the patrons points.

For Example

*You enter the venue and get an invitation from the venue to accept an application. I accept the invitation and register!
(+)Earns me 10pts

*You see all the sponsors in an organized fashion in your device and a point value attached to an activity (watching a youtube video, giving a like on facebook, using a 20% off coupon, etc.) with a point system range of 1-8pts per activity.

*The point progressions go towards earning free or discounted memorabilia, food, tickets, invitations to events, meet-and-greets with players and performers, special offers, and at the end of the day…points help you earn bragging rights!

*The sports and entertainment company can also issue points (with a value greater than 5pts if desired) for things like ticket and event referrals, buying season tickets, attending away games, being great fans or whatever activities they decide to reward.

The idea behind the incentive based gamification program is to reward desirable behavior and reward patrons for being informed about client offerings. With gamification, an audience is more likely to pay attention, get involved and have fun.

The implementation of a gamification system offers clients a greater sense of “guarantee” for two great reasons

  • Gamification is behavior focused and incentive based.
  • Gamification is a fun and interactive way for people to spend their money and become informed as well as engaged with YOUR CORPORATE CLIENTS, YOUR BRAND AND YOUR LIFESTYLE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY. 

I’m excited to go to the game because I am only 10pts away from getting 15 seconds on the jumbo-tron…I’m bringing my chicken suit tonight!!!

THE NEED

We live in a digital age where digital content is moving out of our devices and into our lifestyles. There frankly are just too many marketing alternatives today that have the ability to reach mass audiences of different demographics, without ever appearing to be niche or of limited capacity

For Example
*Google – Google Adwords
*Facebook – Advertising
*Yelp, Groupon, Online Radio, etc

I know some of the large market organizations may never find an interest in this kind of venture, and gamification in sports is not exactly new, but creating a gamified system to generate a greater return for third (3rd) party members is! Organizations that own losing or failing franchises find it hard not only to retain fans but to generate sponsors and partners as well. Creating an extensive loyalty program should ensure the patrons and clients both stay or that the organization does not bleed to death from sponsor and fan loss.

They might be losers, but they are our losers!

THE ENDING

“The Organization” has to do whatever they can to win championships and retain fans. Gamification is a good investment for building a fan-lifestyle brand, generate better engagement between fans and clients, and most importantly generating better returns on the clients investment. Don’t be surprised to see more gamified systems in the future, especially in the sports and entertainment industry.

Oh, and for reading this, you just received 5pts!

2012gamification

Enjoy.

Bikini Basketball

Bikini Basketball

Orlando unveils its concept for their BBL franchise.

American entertainment media has attempted to generate alternative mainstream professional sports leagues many times before like the XFL, SlamBall, the IRDL (indoor roller derby), and MLS soccer to name a few. As you know, all have failed (and yes, MLS is a failure!) but here is one league I actually think will generate some levels of success.

The Bikini Basketball League or BBL was formed by Cedric MItchell and AJ McArthur, strongly based off the success of the Lingerie Football League. The LFL has media distribution rights with MTV2 and has been publicized in a viral way across multiple media channels in recent years.

The BBL has plans to house teams in New York, Miami, Hollywood, Chicago, New Orleans, LA, Minnesota, Atlanta and Orlando, making up a group of nine (9) inaugural teams.

LETS TALK ABOUT THE NUMBERS NOW!!!!

The BBL has the potential to become a successful and LEGITIMATE league with greater profitability than the LFL. I am not saying the LFL does not possess athletes amongst their midst, but you do have to recognize that there aren’t organized contact football leagues for females ages 9-18 years old, which is the contrary regarding females and basketball. This means that the quality of product will be much greater, and the audiences engagement with the games should be consistently higher.The potential for sponsorships, brand ambassadorship and product activation is high in my mind. This idea is new to the world, marketable and distinguishable from other sex-oriented concepts. I do however have a question…

HOW ARE THERE ONLY NINE (9) TEAMS?

Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Houston, and LAS VEGAS (the city that has been squealing for a franchise for ages) get on the wagon!!! More teams means having a greater market, which means higher impressions, which means more money, and the possibility of getting a real network contract (not just becoming an extension of MTV2!

I under no circumstance believe TNT or Verses will extend the BBL a contract for their services, but a league of at least 12-15 teams will generate the interest of SPIKE TV, FX and G4 who would be offering them larger contracts.

The problem with ventures like these are their lack of sustainability. Lets be blunt, the people wanting to watch aren’t tuning in to see quality basketball, they are hoping for wardrobe malfunctions or are tuning in for sheer curiosity. The curiosity will fade, the wardrobes with function properly and the basketball will end up being even worse than the WNBA.

Tactics Never Trump Talent

The BBL will do just fine if they recognize who and what they are (a gimmick) and focus on their entertainment, promotional, and marketing value. If the BBL wants to be taken seriously, here are the things they need to do.

  • Avoid playing games in Professional or College arenas
  • Get as many digital marketing and media partners as possible
  • Stay out of courtrooms
  • Avoid trying to grow too big, too soon
  • Never let their product (the girls) sweat or play pregnant

I am interested to see how this league will all turnout, but the potential market and the feasibility of this is all there, now lets just wait and see how it all plays out.

BigTen now a BigMess

A “Power Conference” is not determined by their accomplishments anymore, its determined by their TV contracts!
———————————————————————————————
What I would like to see out of Maryland and Rutgers to not become just another conferences dead weight…

Maryland:
Develop a Hockey Team
Strengthen their Baseball Program
Rutgers:
Be More Relevant than Indiana in all Sports (except Basketball)
Develop a Reputable Golf and Rowing Program
———————————————————————————————
The BigTen doesn’t need two more spoiler teams! I want someone to divulge the great or genius resolve of this deal besides the idea of creating a stronger mega-conferences in anticipation for this conceptual NCAA Football Playoff System the public has of recent years begged for.This deal today really shocked me! The idea of adding to a conference, that already supports existing teams that SHOULD BE removed from the conference for lacking the level of marketability Maryland processes (Purdue, Penn St. (now), and Minnesota) bothers me.””BUT HEY””

On the other hand, the SEC (also a 14 team MEGA CONFERENCE) survives off the bases of consistently upgrading their conference and it has worked in every capacity thus far, RIGHT?!?!

On the contrary! Their conference strength in all actuality, has been predicated more on their dismissal of three teams in their conference history (Georgia Tech, Tulane, and Southern University – Sewanee) so that they could in recent years, add the University of Missouri’s and Texas A&M’s allegiances.

The strength of the SEC is cased more on the dismissal of dead weight schools and less on the acquisition of stronger, new members. So for the decision of the now “BIG Conference” (formally refereed to as the BigTen) to extend invitations to two mid-major schools is nothing more than a mistake in my eyes, but I could be wrong.

I would have liked seeing a good old-fashion “switch-a-rue” or harsh “boot” out of the conference for at least one school. This formerly feared and revered conference has struggled lately with upholding the STANDARDS of the conference and building onto their great sense of tradition. Does or will Maryland and Rutgers change that? Simply “no” in my opinion, and that more than anything, bothers me.

“What are you guys doing?” Why diminish what it means to be in a “conference”? Or does the BigTen really even know anymore? That is the real question!Image

Thank The Horse & Pay The Jockey

College football coaches continue to see salary explosion

Amateur Athletics
vs.
Professional Sports

It’s all a product, school is a product and athletics is a product. One product proves to be more scarce, more entertaining and in higher demand than the other. This doesn’t bother me at all. Coaching is a stressful job and you have to deliver results in a job field that few are even qualified to enter.

There is obviously a skew in the average salary data reported by USA Today, and with there being 117 or so D1-A football schools and even more represented for basketball and baseball; coaching is still a $150,000/year job. 

Look, if the company that you’re working for is making more and more money each year, but your not getting a raise, then you’re an NHL player! So, fair is fair. Grab a clipboard and make that money if you can!Image

Atlanta Hawks “Sad Sad Sale”

When Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson was exposed via email for saying “the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.” [entire letter below] what he must have meant was “I’ve tried everything I can, but we aren’t the Atlanta Braves”. Nevertheless, his comments and operating cost that outweigh the teams revenues are all good reason to abandon ship and leave town.

I remember in March, 2013 when I attended an Atlanta Hawks game as a guest of the franchise and although they did a lot of in-game activation and decor right, you could see at first glance that their venue seemed like a large hole in the corner of a cave. The arena walls were empty, the seats were half full, many areas of the arena were dimly lit and the entire arena did not flow together very well, the entire experience was utterly mottled and confusing. Not only was the presentation of the Atlanta Hawks was bare and gloomy, but there was definitively not enough distinctive advertising in empty places or bare walls and all-in-all you just didn’t feel indulged while there.

Image from ATL Dream game, but things I noticed while at the Hawks game.

Image from ATL Dream game, but things I noticed while at the Hawks game.

But, when you are the owner(s) of Atlanta Spirit, LLC. (the owners group of the Atlanta Hawks and Operators of Phillips Arena) and have hired “experts” to create a one-of-a-kind experience that in 2009 had a $6.7 million operating income, suddenly suffered a $-2 million operating deficit in 2010 ($-7.3 in 2011, $-14.7 in 2012, $-18.7 in 2013, $-3.6 in 2014) it must have been something drastic to have created such a dynamic business shift, right?

Operating income is a measure of profitability that tells investors how much revenue will eventually become profit for a company.

Not at all, from 2009-2013 the Atlanta Hawks had been a consistent playoff team with consistent financials and most things unchanged except their operating cost.

atlanta hawks financials

Atlanta Hawks: Financials from 2005 to 2014 (right to left)

It can’t be us, it must be “the blacks”

Lets get back to the numbers. The Atlanta Hawks have the 5th smallest arena by capacity in the NBA with a seating capacity of 18,118. Amongst all NBA teams, the Atlanta Hawks have historically been in the bottom 25th percentile in jersey sales (excluding “throwback” jersey sales i.e. Dominique Wilkins). Of the 30 NBA franchises, the Atlanta Hawks are rated as the 27th most valuable franchise by Forbes.com, and of all the NBA franchises, the Atlanta Hawks have the highest/worst (debt/value) ratio at 55%. What does that all really mean?

Debt/Value Ratio measures how much value (revenue, effective marketing, safety, etc.) you have gain from an investment you incurred through debt.

It means that the Atlanta Hawks have a track record of having unsuccessful investments, campaigns, promotions and fan relations, suffering small payouts for investments that required large amounts of capital; which has made them one of the most unprofitable teams in the NBA. Additionally, of the most unprofitable teams, they will require the most money and financing to turn the franchise into a sustainable and highly profitable franchise both in Atlanta and in the NBA. To make it even simpler to understand, the Atlanta Hawks have dug the deepest hole in the NBA, and now they want to sell the franchise completely.

Factor in that the franchise is located in the 40th largest city in America (Sacramento #35, Oklahoma City #27, Boston #24), and have done almost no large scare PR stunt to build press or re-brand themselves (i.e. Drake “Global Ambassador” Toronto Raptors) all the Atlanta Hawks management ever did since 2009 was sit at tables, come up with ideas and then when they failed…they brainstormed on who to blame (outside of the organization) for their failure(s). In the instance of Bruce Levenson, he decided to blame “blacks” instead of his impotent management team.

Albeit, impotent may not be the right adjective for Bruce Levenson and his staff. When the Atlanta Hawks were bought for $189 million in 2004, the Hawks were considered the worst team in the NBA after a dismal (13 win – 69 loss) season. Since then, the Atlanta Hawks have become a consistent playoff team and will most likely sell for an estimated $600-$750 million dollars.

I call this a “sad sale” just based on how poorly this organization was ran over the past 5-years. The Hawks organization have had all the right elements of a great arena and a successful team, but when it was all put together it reminds me of holiday fruitcake in how everyone likes the ingredients but nobody likes the product.

The Atlanta Hawks struggled to sell more tickets because they play in a poorly put together game-day atmosphere, in a small market city: who’s total population is over 54% African-American, and if not for “blacks” there may not have been anyone there to watch games at all, making it even harder for the Atlanta Hawks to gain lucrative television contracts, season ticket holders and suite occupants. Believe it or not, but in major cities, where there are many things to do on any given night, it creates a condition of fans called “fair-weather fans”. As popular as basketball is in America, not all sports fans need sports! Atlanta is “fair-weather” market, where they want to see championship teams or All-Star players (because otherwise there are better things they can do to entertain themselves or utilize their time).

  • The Atlanta Hawks have been a consistent playoff team but they have yet to come close to winning a NBA Championship while under Bruce Levenson’s management. So why buy season tickets?
  • Since 1986, the Atlanta Hawks have not produced a 1st Team All-NBA player (Dominique Wilkins, who still produces strong jersey sales annually) who why buy jerseys?

This memo goes out to all business people: when you’re business is starting to fail, don’t  blame other people, outside conditions or make excuses.The less accountable you are,  the more your debt rises, ideas fail and the more you lose yourself in your follies.

(more…)

Michigan Happy To Pay Harbaugh

harbaugh

I’ll even admit, when the news came in about Coach Jim Harbaugh signing a 6-year, $48 million contract to coach at the University of Michigan, I looked at my old University of Michigan football hoodie and thought about buying a new one.

Headlines glared “Harbaugh now highest-paid college coach” and while some snuffed their faces at the big business college football has become, others re-shouldered the argument over college athlete student-athlete compensation. Nevertheless, the economic impact and ultimate worth of a Jim Harbaugh (in regards to the “Michigan Tradition”, media payout(s) and donor retention) is barely appreciated by a mere $8 million annual salary.

As of 2014, the University of Michigan’s football program was valued at $117 million, with $91 million in revenues and having generated a profit of $65 million dollars in their 2014 football season, which was sorely underlined by a dismal 5-7 season, not allowing them to participate in any post-season bowl games (guaranteeing several million dollars in additional revenues for the program).

2014 Team Value: $117 million Revenue: $91 million Costs: $26 million Profit: $65 million

*The University of Michigan’s football program is ranked as the 3rd most valuable program in NCAA Football *The University of Michigan generates the 2nd highest ticket revenues in NCAA Football ($43. million – 6 home games)


The hiring of Jim Harbaugh brings not only a new attitude and prestige to the University’s program, but brings with him a new MMP (money making potential) as well.

TV In the 2014 season, the University of Michigan played 12 games, 5 of which were televised by a national broadcaster (ABC,NBC, CBS, FOX), where the Wolverines ended up losing all of their televised games. For most mid-major and non-powerhouse schools, losing nationally televised games limits the amount or ability to be seen in the national spotlight. Even for powerhouse schools, years of dismal seasons and softening interest in their program can lead to a decline in national viewership opportunities, like the University of Texas who had only 4 nationally televised games in the 2014 NCAA football season.

Jim Harbaugh offers new interest into the program for being a big name coach. Michigan already has strong traditional rivalries like Michigan St., Ohio St., Notre Dame and University of Minnesota that will automatically generate national viewership, but Jim Harbaugh’s first year with the Wolverines will be broadcast almost-if-not weekly as long as the team is winning, The natural intrigue of Coach Harbaugh is polarized by those wanting to see him take Michigan back into an elite status and be enshrined as a great coach, others to see him fall on his face, but either way, Jim Harbaugh garners an audience.

The Big Ten Conference’s television deal(s) to date is with ABC and ESPN for $1 billion over 10 years (through 2016) and $2.8 billion with the BTN ownership group (51% Fox and 49% B10 inner conference channeling). With the conferences ABC and ESPN contract coming to a close, the University of Michigan and the Big 10 Conference are both expecting some very large paydays, both off the back Jim Harbaugh and other big name coaches within the Big 10.

Donors & Fans Jim Harbaugh’s prior coaching success has caused a lot of excitement amongst University of Michigan fans. It is easy to presume that the University of Michigan expects to sell more tickets, gain more donors and donor money, sell more merchandise and memorabilia as well as gain more revived excitement regarding the program.

The University of Michigan football program has a recorded 1,238 registered financial donors (down from 1,536 in 2012) which in 2014 gave the University’s football program a substantial $6,538,259 while under the direction of Coach Brady Hoke.

It is very foreseeable that the University of Michigan’s Athletic Department can gain back the 298 donors they had lost, if not gain more than the nearly 300 donors who voided their funding towards the program.

Bowl Games This year there are 38 post-season bowl games, 5 are new and have not publicized their purse money totals, but 25 of the 38 bowl games for 2014 guarantee at least $1 million for participating and additional money(s) to be offered to winning teams.

Under the new Bowl Championship Series, the Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl offer at least an $18 million dollar payout, the national championship game offering at least $22 million to their participants.

Based off Jim Harbaugh’s record of success, the Wolverines returning to a major bowl game is to be expected, but even if they don’t, you’d have to believe that “at least a million dollars never hurt nobody”.

Summary With so many figures into play and the immediate impact Jim Harbaugh’s brand will have on the Wolverine’s fanbase, a marginal season will more than pay for the $8-$10 million it will take to pay Jim Harbaugh, a win against Ohio St. will feel like paying a quarter for a gumball, making it into the Bowl Championship Series would feel like nothing more than paying your barber a tip before a hot date.

“Either we pay for mistakes or we pay for results, only time will tell” 

Chinese Football League – A New Beginning

Chinese American Football League

 

It has been announced that in August of 2015, China will unveil its own arena-football league. The inaugural season will commense with six to eight teams, consisting of 20 men rosters, playing 8 vs. 8 football on a  50 yard long field, and the ball being able to rebound off nets above the end zone for extended play.

At this point, each team owner is buying in with an equivalent of $10 Million. There have been no information disclosed into how much players will or can get paid (which will have a great baring on the talent the league will attract).

The question on everyone’s mind is “will this become more valuable than the NFL (National Football League)”?

The CAFL rosters will be divided evenly between American and Chinese players. A large sum of NCAA players have been playing contact football since they were at least 9-years old and mixing those players in with players that are much less familiar with the sport may take some years to equilibrate.

So to go back and answer the question “will the CAFL become more valuable than the NFL?” my answer is a swift and strong “no”! If the CAFL catches on and become a wildly entertaining success, we are describing fanhood from a population of 4-billion people with 44.5 million television sets and a variety of 3,000 different channels.

Wait, what?


 

According to a Chinese Census, there are only some 50 million people with television sets in China, and those viewers have over 3,000 channels to choose from.

In America there are over 116 million television sets and a large portion of the economy is generated off of sports (bars, advertising revenues, merchandising, etc) as opposed to China who makes a large amount of their economic revenues from manufacturing and exports.

Statistically speaking, Americans are way more into sports and entertainment and are much more likely to generate fanfare and celebrity  based off of leisurely activities (such as movies, sports and music).


 

If you’re a lover of the NFL draft and are worried that the potential number one pick might find it hard to choose between playing for the Minnesota Vikings or Beijing Bulldogs, I’m sure you have little to nothing to worry about.

The fact of the matter is, this is a smart business venture for CAFL owners and the Chinese economy. I’m pressed to believe that the CAFL will in fact be profitable and entertaining (but only to a respectably small level). Lets be honest, China has basketball and baseball leagues, where when those players become exceedingly popular, those players come to America to play and this process never happens the other way around.

Yao Ming More than anything, the creation of the CAFL signifies a new beginning for the diversity and adaptation of mainstream sports worldwide. Just as Americans have the MLS, American Ninja Warrior and a revised version of cricket we call baseball, so should the Chinese have their own version of American Football, even if it is the wildly unpopular indoor kind!

Good luck to the CAFL and all of the future players that will now benefit from it.

The Greatest Sports Campaign Ever – Sports Matters

Image

If you haven’t seen the commercials for Dick’s Sporting Goods – Sports Matters campaign you’ve completely missed out on the most stunning and emotion evoking commercials ever for a sports marketing campaign.

I often only think of sports as money and athletes, sponsorships and patrons : I rarely think about sports as family, friends, courage and pride. Sports is for many people a never-ending life experiences, full of growth, togetherness and discovery. Sports historically has been so instrumental in exercising tolerance, understanding and humility. Issues of race, sexuality, nationalism, political activism, gender equality and social inequality are commonly unveiled by our curiosity for our favorite coaches, players, their bosses and our fellow sports fanatics. Simply speaking, we learn so much about life, the world around us and the world before us through our passions in life and for so many, that is sports and for that fact alone, sports matters.


In many inner-city and impoverished areas, sports programs are being taken out of schools due to a lack of funding and public facilities like parks and recreation centers are closing down due to safety, funding and maintenance issues.

I think it is important for us as sports fans to invest in the future of our country and the interest of our past time by giving back.

The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believes in the importance of youth athletics and has launched the Sports Matter program to address the growing issue of underfunded youth sports teams. This initiative will raise awareness and match community donations up to $2 million on a new crowdfunding platform to save teams facing financial challenges.

for more information
Go to http://www.SportsMatter.com

Innovation in Sports

Image

 

I started a new LinkedIn Group that focuses on spreading, promoting and broadcasting innovation in the Sports & Entertainment industry.

If you have an interest, idea, new technology or anything that you believe can be impactful for this group/industry, all are welcome.

-Post Jobs
-Find Funding
-Have Discussions
-Network
-etc.

-Thank you!