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How To Stand Out From The Crowd And Challenge The Champion

by | Sep 25, 2013

I recently had the privilege of moderating a panel discussion with executives from the Miami Dolphins, FoxSports, and the Back9Network. While this was a panel of sports executives, the lessons learned at the event can be applied to any business. The panel offered an interesting juxtaposition of media conglomerates vs. start up businesses, national vs. local businesses, but the common thread was how to upset the apple cart, unseat the incumbent, and drive customer loyalty.

Jeff Husvar, Executive Vice President of Fox Sports Media Group, shared the “challenger” approach that any business, large or small, can apply. With the launch of FoxSports1 (just over a month ago) in competition with ESPN, Fox was following the proven formula that it used years ago to catapult FoxNews to number one in the news category against conventional wisdom. How do you do it? “Pick a fight with the established leader,” says Husvar, “Declare yourself number one in the category and when the competition starts paying attention, you’ve made it.”
Carlos Silva, President of the fledgling Back9Network, a multi-platform golf lifestyle network, agrees. Without the big budget of a FoxSports, the Back9Network has to do things differently to stand out from the clutter. The Back9Network has backers like Clint Eastwood, Ray Allen, and Cheyenne Woods (yes, of the Tiger Woods lineage) but what makes people notice them is their aggressive coverage of the lifestyle and news surrounding the sport. Just a day before our South Florida Interactive Marketing (SFIMA) panel discussion at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale held on September 12, the Back9Network announced that they had the exclusive streaming rights for the “The Match at Mission Hills” between Tiger Woods and Rory Mcilroy that will be broadcast live on October 28th.  “You always have to be making noise, you can’t just sit back,” says  Silva, who is no newcomer to this as he was the President of Universal Sports, now owned by NBCSports.
All parties agreed that customer loyalty needs to be earned and your best customers should be recognized and rewarded. Jim Rushton, CRO of the Miami Dolphins, discussed how their Fin Club has moved the needle on ticket sales by providing unique experiences and leveraging partnerships with other businesses like Duffy’s Sports Bar. “Our loyalty program is built to provide real value to customers while also providing tangible benefits to our business. The Fins Club has already proven to be a huge success in 2013 and we are just at the start line,” Rushton said.

While this discussion clearly centered on the world of sports, the lessons learned can be applied to just about anyone’s business. Ask yourself, what are you doing to challenge the leader in your business line, how are you making noise in a crowded space, and how are you reaching out to and rewarding your most loyal customers? Share your stories and comments.

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