Tag Archives: Management

Connecting with People, Not Logos

Two things have resonated with me these last few days and I wanted to share these with you.  It is in regards to how powerful it is to show the people behind the logo.

The first was reading Amy Jo Martin’s new book “Renegades Write The Rules” (Amy is the founder of social media agency Digital Royalty) where she talks in some detail about this humanisation*.  That people want to connect with people, not logos.

This is something I have heard a lot about in my time in the industry and continues to strike a cord.  The second thing came to me whilst watching ‘Undercover Boss USA’, one of those programmes that I find fascinating.

Why does the show work so well?  It’s because it shows to the boss that it is not about technology or strategy or product, it’s about the people you have in your company.  More importantly it shows to employees that their boss is a real person with falabilities, a family and with beliefs…. this develops an emotional connection between them all.

The biggest frustration of both employees and fans in any business is lack of communication.  How can they buy into something when they have no idea what the philosophy is or what direction they are going?  Just ask the fans of Blackburn Rovers!

If you have employees who want to work for you and believe in the direction you are taking them then it improves your chances of success exponentially.

The same can be said for the external image of a company.  Those who hide behind logos and send out controlled corporate messages will have no emotional link with consumers.  If a better product (or even similar) comes along there is no affinity to stay with your brand.

So how can you ensure that you can have that relationship like others have done.  Those such as Apple, Virgin, Zappos and UFC to name just a few.  What do they all have in common?  They have leaders who have a vision, are very public/visible and approachable.

Even though Steve Jobs was never one for Twitter, he was the face of the brand and it was his vision that people bought into rather than any individual product.  The other mentioned are Richard Branson, Tony Heish and Dana White, all advocates of social media, who give consumers an insight into what their brand is all about, where it is going and why they should buy into their dreams.

So how does this relate to you?  It has always been said that people buy into WHY you do something rather than WHAT you do.  Whether it is a club, NGB, brand or charity, once people understand what you stand for and can feel part of the journey then they will follow you through thick and thin.

If you develop the ‘why’ you should be on there and how you can help give fans/consumers an insight to what you do and be a positive influence… then go for it.  Developing that link with them and showing people there is more than just a logo to what you are doing then I believe you will succeed.

As Amy says in her book;  “In contrast to traditional branding, social media focuses on building loyalty through community because…. humans connect with humans, not logos.”

“This human connection to brands isn’t groundbreaking.  If you think about your favourite brands, you’ll typically be able to identify the people you connect with, whether it’s the CEO you heard speak, a celebrity who endorses the brand, or someone you know directly who works for or advocates the brand.  There’s usually a human touch point that makes that brand more meaningful to you than your agreement with a tagline.”

Shaun, over on Digital Football, wrote about Chairman of clubs tweeting.  Should they do so and who does it now?  It is an open-ended question as they tend to do it with no real strategy and is more personal to them.  Are they doing a good job or damaging their clubs?  If you have no strategy then you could be doing the opposite of what you want to achieve.

For the record there are only 3 currently tweeting;

Remember, people like to connect with people, not logos. 


*You can read more about Amy’s great new book (which launches tomorrow – 2nd October) with my review/write up tonight.

Having a Social Media Philosophy

This is a subject I have been thinking about sharing for a few days now and has been in mind for a lot longer.  It can easy to be in a work environment and be shaped by what people say you should be doing and just do it but it shouldn’t be so.

With social media being so new that you will be looked upon as the expert.   What this means is that you are seen as the one who can answer any query and be the Mr or Mrs Fix-It.

Something that I believe to be crucial is to have a philosophy and the belief of what is right and what you think will work.  The closest I can think to a comparison is that of a football manager.

A manager comes in with a way of working and belief of how the game should be played, what will work with the resources, and the team needed to achieve the goals.  This can be the mark or break of a manager; can he get buy-in for what he wants to do? will the supporters back his plans? Are the players up to the job?  Will he have enough money to spend?

This is an extreme example but makes it easier to see the track in which I am taking.  If you are guiding your company/teams’s social media efforts then of course, listen to advice from others but keep your principals and eye on what you want to achieve.

There are many times in which I could have just followed what was being said but then I would be offering nothing new and certainly not leading the line in creating new experiences, helping educate those around me and propel the business forward.

My advice is to listen and form a way of working that enthuses you, have total belief that it will work and have the confidence to see it through.

What is your social media philosophy?

Is Sport broken and in need of a fix?

The alleged match fixing charges against Pakistani cricketers which have been dominating the sporting headlines recently raise two interesting questions. Firstly, will there always be match fixing in sport? Secondly, is sport really any different to any other business?

History would suggest that the answer to the first question is unfortunately a resounding yes. In ancient Greece, Olympians had to take an oath to maintain the integrity of the competition but bribes were still common. Match fixing is probably as old as sport itself.

Getting back to cricket – the English game, which first attracted gamblers as early as the 1660s, is no stranger to match fixing controversy. A decade ago Hanse Cronjé, the then South Africa captain, was charged with match fixing and players from India, Pakistan, Kenya and South Africa have all been banned since 2000.

Our national game, football, has also been tainted by match fixing. Back in 1964, eight players from the FA were jailed for it. More recently, in 1999, a Malaysian based betting group was caught installing a device to disrupt the floodlights at Charlton Athletic’s ground and further investigations revealed that the group had also been responsible for floodlight failure at both West Ham and Crystal Palace. Another footballing scandal involved Matt Le Tissier who “revealed that he once attempted to play a part in a £10,000 betting scam while a player with Southampton”.

Across the channel, French football was shocked by a match fixing scandal in 1993 involving powerhouse club Olympique de Marseille (OM). In the year that OM won the Champions League, the club fixed a match with Valenciennes. The club was subsequently stripped of its French championship. Financial irregularities linked to the club president, Bernard Tapie, were also discovered. As punishment, the club suffered a forced relegation to the second division.

Similarly, Italian football was thrown into turmoil in 2006 when several major teams, including then league champions Juventus in addition to AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina, were all found guilty of match-fixing (the clubs actually influenced the appointment of match referees).

There are also ongoing investigations into match fixing in several other European countries and sports. In August 2010 charges were filed against two men alleged to have attempted to influence at least 10 football matches in Germany and 14 elsewhere in Europe. As I write this, John Higgins, the snooker star, is also maintaining his ‘100 per cent’ innocence into allegations he threw frames.

Arguably the most famous case of match-fixing in sport is the ‘Black Sox’ scandal. In 1919, the Chicago White Sox threw the baseball World Series. Eight members of that team received life bans for deliberately losing to the Cincinnati Reds. The ‘Black Sox’ scandal resulted from players being linked to the Chicago underworld, and set a pattern of established crime syndicates being associated with professional sports match fixing.

All these cases, and this is by no means a comprehensive list, merely demonstrate that sport is a reflection of the human character. Unfortunately that means that traits such as greed, arrogance, self-interest, to name a few, will always be present in sport. The stakes in sport are high and the punishment for breaking rules too light. The incentive to throw matches is always going to be there – and I haven’t even touched upon other sporting crimes such as doping, cheating on the field itself, breaching salary caps and other matters.

Getting back to the second question, sport is therefore no different to any other business (just look at some of the banking scandals on Wall St).  However, the ‘rotten apples’ in sport are definitely in a minority.

Nearly all sports are played, administered and governed properly and in the right spirit. Sport is far from being broken. The growth in popularity of sport on a global scale is living proof of that. The examples of good sportsmanship are just too numerous to mention but one famous one I’d like to leave you with took place in English football in the 1999/2000 season. In a surprising demonstration of fair play from a player previously banned for pushing a referee, the Italian striker Paolo Di Canio caught “the ball rather than shoot when Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard was on the ground injured”.

Had a Bad Season? Focus on Customer Retention

The football and rugby seasons are drawing to a close in the UK and while some teams are battling it out for honours and trophies, there are others who will spend the summer regrouping after being relegated or underperforming during the season. Those who have been successful may be developing their marketing strategies to focus on recruiting new fans, growing their membership, increasing their brand reach and improving sales of merchandise. For those at the other end of the spectrum they should be focused on one thing – Customer retention.

Some companies have realized that, sometimes, the best people to market to are your current customers. It generally costs a hell of a lot more to acquire new customers than it does to retain current ones. Sports teams need to think “How much is an ‘engaged’ fan worth to us?”  There is a natural tendency for clubs who have dropped a division to try and squeeze as much revenue from as many sources as possible but if they think first of all, how to provide value to their existing fans then they will be in a much stronger position to increase their reach and financial activity when the tide turns.

As a fan of a beleaguered club, you probably aren’t feeling too hot about spending hundreds more pounds on renewing your season ticket or buying the club’s new kit for the kids, so the clubs need to think how they can reach out the fans and create a ‘we are in this together, lets get out of it together’ mentality. Offers, Deals, Promotions are great…but also giving them exclusive content and more importantly, a platform to voice their opinion and a better ‘user experience’ when interacting with the club. A lot of the time, human beings just want to be heard or noticed – especially when you are as passionate as a sports fan, the smallest amount of interaction or connection with the club can have a big impact.

The brand equity that clubs could win by making the fans believe they are important to the club, their opinions do matter and ideas they have can be implemented, would be a good start to retaining their loyalty (and revenue) for another year.