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By John Hooper
As if you didn't have enough New Year's resolutions, here is a relatively pain-free one: get out from under your soccer rock. As a reader of Soccer Business Insider I'm sure much of your life revolves around soccer. I'm encouraging you to take some time away from soccer and attend a couple non-soccer events in 2008. You will be amazed by the energy and ideas you can get from attending events in other fields.
Some of the best marketing ideas I have come up with have come from attending events like South by Southwest (SXSW), the NFL Super Bowl Fan Experience, the NCAA Final Four Fan Jam, the MLB All Star Fan Fest and street fairs and festivals.
SXSW is an event you can only understand by attending. It is a music, film and interactive conference and festival held in Austin, Texas each March. During the day there are a full slate of workshops, panel discussions and trade show exhibitions. At night the latest emerging musical acts perform on over 50 stages and screenings of new independent films are shown. Then there are parties day and night - the perfect place to make new contacts.
I came away from SXSW with a number of customer acquisition and retention, content distribution, event management and promotion ideas that I never would have got from attending a soccer event. I also got a better understanding of music, film, niche online social network, video game industries and their customers.
Learning about these industries can be extremely valuable as there is more and more overlap between the sports, music, film and television industries. A number of years ago Sandy Bodecker, Vice President of Nike Global Design, commented to me that every professional athlete wants to be a musician or actor, every actor wants to be a professional athlete or musician, and every musician wants to be an actor or professional athlete. You can now see examples of this overlap daily in movies, television, concerts, music videos, websites and at sporting events.
SXSW is also a great networking event. I made new contacts in the music, film and interactive industries and came away with new contacts for producing TV commercials, posters and promotional items.
When Soccer America developed the Soccer America FanZone, an interactive fan festival held in conjunction with NCAA Division I Soccer Finals, the best research I did for developing the event was attending the NFL Super Bowl Fan Experience and the NCAA Final Four Fan Jam. I came away from these events with great ideas for designing, marketing and managing our event.
You can get many of these benefits by simply attending events that have nothing to do with soccer. If you are a soccer specialty retailer, attend a trade show or conference for fashion retailers. You might find innovative ways to merchandise. If you run a soccer tournament, then attend a street fair or festival in your community. You might come up with great new ideas and vendors for concessions. If you work for a professional team, attend a music concert. You might come up with new ways to improve your customer's experience at your next game. If you are a soccer product manufacturer, attend the Consumer Electronics Show. Electronics manufacturers are great at convincing us why we have to have the latest, greatest, new technology.
Attend an event you have an interest in and have fun. Don't go to the events looking for ideas and there is a good chance you will come away with a great new idea for your business.
John Hooper is Vice President/Sales & Marketing for Soccer America Communications LLC. John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org