Kenny Lauer from Golden State Warriors (Picture credit @Warriors Instagram)Action packed Sports Geek Podcast we chat with Kenny Lauer from Golden State Warriors and from London we chat with CRM specialist Fiona Green.

On this podcast you’ll find out about:

  • How Kenny brought is customer strategist skills to sports
  • Why Google Hangouts is the jewel in the crown for Google+
  • How Warriors leverage their proximity to Silicon Valley
  • How the Warriors are using Oracle Arena as a petri dish
  • Why new Warriors stadium will be a living & breathing stadium where contextual computing will be the norm
  • How Warriors will use inaudible tones from stadium speakers to drive actions in mobile app
  • What Warriors are planning for their own Google Glass app
  • Why sponsors are excited with development in sports CRM industry
  • Fiona’s take on how sports industry has grown into sports business
  • what sports can learn from companies like Amazon
  • How Excel can be a CRM because it’s not about the tools
  • CRM must be driven by need not technology

Like this episode? please leave a review in iTunes.

Fiona Green from Winners discussed sports CRMResources from the episode

Social Media Post of the Week

Denny’s takes it out this tweet for this well-timed jab at Auburn fans.

Send in your nominations for best social media post of the week – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine… for whatever reason fan engagement, sponsorship activation, cool content….

#SBNight at HONEY

See you at #SBNight

When: 6pm January 21st
Where: HONEY Bar, 345 Clarendon Street South Melbourne

Grab your ticket at Eventbrite

Eventbrite - #SBNight Sports Business Networking Night

Interplay Media

Interplay Media sponsors #SBNight

Big thanks to James Spinks from Interplay Media for sponsoring #SBNight, we can now offer EVERY attendee a drink upon arrival to get networking underway.

SBNight sponsored by Interplay Media

Closing 2 Cents

Don’t forget the NETWORK part of Social Networking. We’ll see you at #SBNight

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Podcast transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 32 of the SportsGeek podcast. On today’s episode, I chat with Kenny Lauer of the Golden State Warriors on engaging fans in the stadium, using Google Hangouts, and how to design a stadium for the future.

Then we jump across the pond to London, chat to Fiona Green on CRM, fan engagement, and understanding data.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the SportsGeek podcast, the podcast built for sports digital and sports business professionals. And now, here’s your host, who’s reading your Tweets right now, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joel. That’s right. Send in your Tweets, either to myself, Sean Callanan, @SeanCallanan; or to Sports Geek, @SportsGeek. And one thing you will see is a lot of Tweets for SB Night. That’s the hash-tag for our Sports Business Networking Night that we’re having on Tuesday, the 21st of January.

As everyone is starting to come back to work, I expect more people to be signing up for that. So go to It’ll be at Honey Bar, who always provide a great venue for our events.

And a big thank you to James Spinks from Interplay Media for sponsoring the event. That allows us to offer everybody who attends a free drink upon arrival, which should help get the networking started.

Big show today; I’ve got two really good interviews, so I want to really get cracking. We go around the world, like we did in the last episode, where we went to Finland and Kansas City. Today we got to San Francisco and to London.

My first interview is with Kenny Lauer, the VP of Digital and Marketing at the Warriors. And then we cross over to London to catch up with Fiona Green, from Winners, who has vast experience in the sports CRM space.

But first, here’s my chat with Kenny Lauer from the Golden State Warriors.

I’m very pleased to welcome Kenny Lauer, the Vice President of Digital and Marketing at the Golden State Warriors to the SportsGeek podcast. Welcome, Kenny.

Kenny: Thank you. I’m glad to be here, excited to have an opportunity to chat with you, Sean.

Sean: You started the role in September 23rd, if LinkedIn has it correct. Can you tell me a little bit about your role and your background, from a digital and a marketing point-of-view?

Kenny: Well, the interesting thing is my background is really as a customer strategist, to really understand how to use the technologies to engage customers, and, in this case, fans. So a lot of my background was more traditional in that more of a consulting role.

I worked with a company called Peppers and Rogers Group, who coined the term “one-to-one marketing”. I worked with KPG in traditional consulting. Started my career at Apple as an evangelist. So I’ve been involved with technology and the use of technology to engage customers, or engage fans, for most of my career.

Most recently, before joining the Warriors, I ran a global digital practice for one of the largest in the world experience marketing agencies. My primary role was the threading and integration of digital experiences into live or physical experiences.

So when I had the opportunity to come to the Warriors with an amazing ownership that believes in story-telling and believes in entrepreneurialism, with raving fans, and the ability to test in that arena, and then build out a new arena in San Francisco, was just something I couldn’t pass up.

Sean: Yes, and that’s the beauty of what draws so many people into sports. You’ve got those fans; I like to call them sports fans. In the digital point-of-view, I steal Seth Godin’s line, “positive deviants”.

Kenny: Yes, yes.

Sean: Because I think that’s a really great way of describing sports fans. And then the other side of it, is sports is a great story-telling platform, overall, because there is so much content coming at you, all the time. You’ve got so many options ahead of you.

I wanted to talk to you a little bit about something you did in the pre-season. I was lucky enough to be involved in Warriors Live. You did a live Google Hangout from a Golden State Warriors practice in the pre-season. You had Mark Jackson mic’d up, and you had your TV crew there, and you had a few people also joining the Hangout. I joined all the way from Melbourne.

Do you want to give us a bit of background on, one, that activation, and also the response you had from your fans?

Kenny: Yes, absolutely. This was an opportunity for us to try an experiment that hadn’t been done yet to really blend the physical world and the virtual world, and use some technology to really, with all due respect, allow more visibility, more access for our fans to see what happens at a typical practice.

We teamed up with Google to do this. As you know, we used Google Hangout, which, for those who don’t know, is really a tool …

Sean: It’s a live-stream, Google+’s live-streaming product.

Kenny: Yes, that’s right.

Sean: I guess, the jury’s still out on Google+ as a complete platform, but if you’re looking at their jewel in their crown, it is Google Hangouts. By and large, it works. You point a camera at multiple people, and they can have a conversation.

But I think the way that you guys did it for Warriors Live was really good, because it was engaging content that was happening on the court. Where you could choose the vision, say, “I want to watch the court”, but you also had the banter happening, underneath.

Kenny: That’s exactly right. We specifically picked individuals whom we knew would comment, and would be engaging, while in parallel, streaming what was happening on the court. And it was an incredible success.

It took a lot of planning; we really needed Google’s help to do it. But the overall feedback from the fans, which was most important to us, was overwhelmingly positive.

Now, there were things we learned, and things that we could do better. We had special privileges from both Google and from NBA to do an open practice like this. But we would do it again in a second, because of the feedback that we got.

Sean: One of the advantages of being at Golden State is being so close to Silicon Valley. Does being so close to all the tech companies, and the hottest things happening in tech, does that have its advantages for the Warriors?

Kenny: Yes, absolutely. We are 15 to 20 miles from the three largest social media companies in the world. We are the basketball team in the Bay Area. That presents unique opportunities for us.

In fact, we are in talks right now and trying things with Facebook, with Google, with Instagram. We also have the ability to access such an amazing wealth of entrepreneurial efforts that are happening in San Francisco and in the Valley. It really presents a unique opportunity for us to truly be innovative in terms of how we change, evolve, and truly excel in the fan experience.

A lot of it is because we have ownership that is open to that, and giving us a runway to do that. We’ve got people onboard who know what to do with that information. And we’re, as you said, clearly situated geographically in a desirable place to be able to actually do that. It’s really a perfect storm.

Sean: Yes, I completely agree. I was lucky enough to go to a Warriors game, back in March. Kevan Akers, who sets up all the tech and makes sure that the fans can actually connect and share their experience at Oracle Arena, he’s done a great job at setting up the Wi-Fi, there.

You’ve really done a really good job of trying to integrate the social and the digital experience at the games. You really do want people to check in. You know, I tell all my clients about the Warriors’ check-in desk and how effective that’s been.

Kenny: It’s crazy, yes.

Sean: Just from a giveaways point-of-view. But it really, like promoting that FOMO, the fear of missing out, you know, fans do want to brag that they’re at a Warriors game. And if they can do that with an Instagram picture of a foam finger, all the better.

You talking of fan experience, if you want to double that up, into Oracle Arena. What do you want to do in Oracle Arena? And then how can you explode that, and make that even better in the new arena?

Kenny: We are already doing quite a bit in the Arena. We are really looking at, I think as I mentioned before, the Oracle Arena as a petri dish, to be able to really try out new technologies.

We have the kinds of fans, which I love, raving passionate fans, but also those who want to be part of these experiments. They want to try certain things, to see how they work. Remember, they live and work in the Bay Area as well.

We are already, obviously, are doing a lot with Twitter; we’re doing a lot with Instagram, obviously, the Facebook check-in, where we really can tap into the tribal nature, and the feeling of that belonging that fans have.

But we’re also looking at extending things, using different ways to engage people with our app. We’re in the process of testing out inaudible tones coming out of our speakers to drive certain things on the app.

Sean: Oh, wow.

Kenny: Yes, it’s really unbelievable. Because, and to your point, Kevan Akers is a master in helping us enable what we need to do, within the arena, with Wi-Fi. But this particular instantiation of an experience doesn’t require Wi-Fi, because we’re using little sound chunks that will come out of our speaker system, which we have plenty of speakers, to drive different sorts of experiences.

We are also, and this came through an unique opportunity with one of our owners and an entrepreneurial effort, creating a tool that allows for multiple video feeds, multiple content, both live and pre-programmed, to come to your mobile device. And allow you to be able to click on different ways, different cameras, to see within the arena, different content mechanisms.

Sean: Will that be geo-fence? So only fans that are at the venue to sort of, again, amp up that live experience?

Kenny: Yes.

Sean: So if you want to be at the game, obviously, it’s an amazing experience. Everyone’s screaming for almost the whole 48 minutes of the Warriors game. It’s almost a college-like atmosphere.

But if you want to pull up a vision, down in the tunnels, or on the practice courts, or from the bench, you’ll only be able to get that from the stadium, using the geo-fencing technology there?

Kenny: Yes, that’s exactly right, absolutely doing that. We are also doing a test, in fact, in the next week, with Google Glass. It’s not really of interest to me to use Google Glass as a PR stunt or to get press. It’s more about, “How can we actually improve the fan experience?

So our app, which is designed by YinzCam, we’re the first NBA team to actually have a Google Glass app created. And we are testing it out in some specific areas in our arena, where they will actually get an augmented experience while they are wearing the Glass as a way to really test, “How can we offer more to our fans?”

Again, even within the arena, we’re looking at how to use contextual awareness. I know, Sean, you’ve probably heard of the use of beacons and sensors.

Sean: Yes.

Kenny: All of this is going to be incredibly relevant when we move over to the new Arena we’re going to create. This new arena is going to be a living, breathing arena. It’s going to have ubiquitous computing, and it’s going to be very relevant to everyone who is actually coming to a game or an event, or even if you’re just coming to experience it and there’s nothing going on in the arena.

Sean: That’s the exciting thing for tech geeks, like you, and Kevan, and Kevin Cote, who is now activating the Digital. It’s like you’re now planning a stadium for technology that people don’t yet have, or it’s not yet adopted. So things like wearables, and context computing, which is the trend.

I’ve already spoken about Robert Scoble’s latest book, “The Age of Context”. That is where everyone’s going to be heading. Whether it’s the current vision that we see Google Glass, and we see, I think they’ve termed, “Glass Halls”, where people are walking around with Google Glass. We won’t be talking about that version of Google Glass.

Kenny: No.

Sean: It will be far more integrated. And they won’t be abnormal; they’ll be the norm. Whether it’s that, or the technology in our phones that enable us. Even just yesterday, I saw there’s an Android up-writing system that has that contextual awareness. So when you’re in the gym, the whole phone changes, and only just shows your gym apps. It’s called Aviator. And when you’re traveling, it shows you Google Maps, and it shows you all the different traveling apps. Even our phones are getting that contextual smartness about them.

So moving into a stadium where you’re trying to plan, you know we’ve had five years of smartphones doubling the amount of data down every 18 months. That’s a big issue that you’ve got to face in designing this new stadium.

Kenny: Yes, absolutely. I was one of the early reviewers of Robert and Shel’s book. I think they hit on a lot of things that are right on. To me, the most important word is “relevancy”.

We can get caught up in a whole bunch of technology and, believe me, I’m the first to be an early adopter. I was on the first wave at Apple Newton. For me, it really is about relevancy. Which then moves to, “Okay, how do we drive certain behavior?” Then, “How does that behavior drive value?”

This toolbox of things that we can pull, when we start to think about things we want to do. We look at, “What is the behavior we want to drive?” And then we dive into our toolbox and say, “Oh, we can use Twitter, we can use some sensors, we can use an inaudible tone. We can use second screen.”

Remember, we’re not only just focusing on the fans that are in the arena; we are looking at, and currently working with Comcast, right now, on how to deepen engagement through second screen, through those fans who are experiencing our game remotely, watching TV.

Sean: That is a jewel focus, both of the team, but also your digital team. You really want to be promoting the live event and how great it is at the live event. But, yes, you’ve still got the majority of people are following a lot of things social.

I guess, even 18 months ago, a lot of our social content that was going out was for the person on the couch, because the person in the stadium couldn’t get that content. Now we’re serving two audiences, because the person in the stadium, if they choose, can get that content.

But I tend to agree, to a certain degree, with Mark Cuban’s remarks of, “If you’re at a game, you should be entertained by the game.” So there’s a mix, there, where you want the fans to be taking their Instagram shot, or pulling that vine when the slam-dunk and the trampolines come out.

But when they’re in the game, Warriors games are like that, they’re very much focused on the game. So it’s a bit of getting a mix of engaging that digital fan at the stadium, but then also making sure that the fan on the couch or in the sports bar is getting as much information as they can get possible.

Kenny: That’s something, Sean. When we get together, we can debate back-and-forth around Mark’s comments. I found those very interesting.

Sean: What’s your stance?

Kenny: I can see where Mark is coming from. And, to tell you the truth, that is not unlike some of the comments in the corporate space, which is, “I want people looking at the person on stage and not engaging with whatever they’re holding on their lap. I want a lean-back, more a lean-back, maybe not a lean-in experience.”

What I find is that when you allow the fan to choose the experience that is going to deliver the best value to them, is going to allow them to align themselves with what the customer profile, whether they’re into: stats, maybe they’re into video replays. Allow them to slot themselves into that.

If you offer that opportunity, what you find is that the overall experience when they walk out is, “I had a great time.” Which is, to me, what my goal is. I want them to be in that arena, and this goes back to Mihaly’s book on flow, which you’re probably aware of.

Sean: Yes.

Kenny: Which is to create an optimal experience where, in a sense, the rest of the world falls away. That’s what I want to create when these fans are watching and immersed in our game. Many of them are already looking down. What I would like them to be doing is looking down and deepening the engagement in something that is happening right in front of them, than checking email, or doing something else.

Now I do understand the cadence of basketball, for example, versus baseball, where you have a lot more downtime, requires a whole different treatment on how you do that. Which is one of the challenges that we always have as a team. We have very small amounts of time to actually engage. So you do have to take that seriously, and you have to make sure that you own that, on behalf of the fan. But I believe it’s not one or the other.

Sean: Yes, I think the key point, and I think that’s probably an extension of Mark Cuban’s one, is that it’s what the fan wants. It’s the experience that they want, and you need to be able to deliver that. So I think I understand Mark’s point because, as a sports fan, when I’m not just SportsGeek, and I’m a sports fan, I like to consume the game and have that envelop me.

Like you just said, “have the rest of the world fall away,” because I am so in on the live experience, whether the live experience is at a football game, or a basketball game or a music concert.

Whereas, other people, and you see it every time, who are at a concert or a game, their live experience is either on their phone or through their phone. A lot of times they’re taking shots, or SnapShotting, or Tweeting, or texting with someone, either on the other side of the stadium or at home. That’s how their experience is. So I think that is an extension on that, and building it for all those different types of fans that you have in your Arena.

Kenny: I agree. I think this is going to be something that’s going to continue to evolve. We’re getting more research; we’ve already got a tremendous amount of research that says that most multi-screen behavior is involved in unrelated activities.

But now, we’re even getting more where we’re overlaying that. There was just a new study that came out that said one in four TV viewers use second screen to simultaneously watch more video.

So, how do you start to really look at these trends? You get what I call the “quiet signals” or the “early signals” so that you can evolve. And keep in mind, for us, we have a dual purpose. We absolutely want to maximize the experience in the Oracle Arena.

In addition to that, we are also looking at the trends and trying to understand, “What is the fan experience going to be like when we light this up in 2017?” When we light it up in 2017, in San Francisco, how do we make sure that it’s not already out-of-date? That it’s put in, it’s scalable, and it enables the fans to really experience things over the next decade or so. But just listen to what we’re talking about; it’s incredible.

Sean: Exactly, it sounds like there might be a panel discussion at SEAT in Miami. I’m sure it will fire a few people up.

Kenny: Count me in.

Sean: One question I did want to ask you. You’ve recently had a trip to China. You’ve opened up some accounts on Weibo. Do you want to give us a little bit of background on, one, how that trip went, and how your efforts are going, sort of pushing in to things like using things like Weibo and reaching that Chinese market?

Kenny: Yes, absolutely. The trip was phenomenal for us. It happened relatively quickly after I joined. I only fully appreciated it as I experienced, remotely, what was going on over there. Not only was there a tremendous amount of excitement but Kevin Cote, who leads our Digital effort, did a phenomenal job at creating the right online presence to be able to support that trip.

We localized, launched an entire site in Chinese. We are one of just a few teams to have a Weibo account. And we have continued to develop that relationship with everyone who is following us on Weibo.

In fact, as part of an All-Star campaign, we did a Weibo chat with Curry, and it was phenomenal. I think what this shows is when you find opportunities where you have a fan base, the value of communicating in their language, and understanding their customs, and understanding what resonates with them, not unlike as you create profiles for your different customers, say, in the US.

It’s just incredibly, incredibly powerful. We have a huge base, and we’re definitely leveraging that for the All-Star vote. We just got the latest numbers, and Curry is number two. We believe that has a significant amount to do with it as well.

Sean: Terrific. You obviously will be getting lots of votes from Australia, now that Andrew Bogut is on the court there.

Kenny: Yes.

Sean: I do remember the guys from the back said that we’re getting unusual amounts of traffic from Australia when Andrew Bogut was with the Bucks. But now he’s with a West Coast and a time-friendly team. There are definitely a fair few Aussies watching the Warriors, one, because it’s exciting team, and then the Andrew Bogut-Stephen Curry alley-oop, off the backboard, was on the news the other night.

Kenny: Yes, great.

Sean: Any time the Warriors are on a bit of a tear, you’re always going to get a bit of press in Australia. Well, Kenny, I know you’ve got to head off to another meeting. Thank you very much for joining me. I’m looking forward to catching up with you in Miami for the SEAT Conference. We can have a chat a little bit further, and maybe discuss the multi-screen environment and Mark Cuban’s comments on a panel, too. So I look forward to catching up then.

Kenny: Thank you, Sean. I look forward to it as well. I appreciate the time.

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Sean: Thanks, again, to Kenny for joining me on the podcast. Really good insights, especially on his experience as a customer strategist, and what he’s bringing to the sports space, and really focusing on the fan engagement.

I’m really, super-interested to see what the new stadium is going to be, especially with all the contextual components of it. The Google Glass app and all those kinds of things that will develop I’m sure will actually, probably, be a discussion point. I’m very pleased to have Kenny join the Digital Steering Committee for SEAT. It will be good to catch up with him in Miami.

My next guest is Fiona Green, from the UK. And thanks to [Bez] for suggesting Fiona. We’ve been following Fiona for a few years on Twitter, so here is our chat about the world of sports and CRM.

Sean: I am very pleased to have on SportsGeek podcast this week, all the way from the UK, and I promise not the mention the cricket in the Ashes, but I’ve already done it in the intro. Fiona Green, from Winners, they are a CRM and business intelligence consultancy out of the UK. Fiona, welcome to the podcast.

Fiona: Thank you very much for having me. And, yes, you did promise me you weren’t going to talk about the cricket, but let’s leave it at that and move on.

Sean: Yes, I really couldn’t. I really couldn’t after the five-nil whitewash, but I will stop there.

Fiona: Thank you.

Sean: For people who don’t know Fiona, @FionaGreen66 on Twitter. And you’re from Winners, which is @WinnersCRM. Do you want to give us a bit of background of your background in the sports business industry?

Fiona: Yes, sure. I’ve been involved in the sports marketing industry, gosh, for a long time, over 26 years, actually. I’ve spent the majority of my time representing rights holders with their intellectual property, primarily sponsorship, media, and licensing.

I think it was about three years ago, now, that I stepped in to the world of CRM. I just think this is such a right time for sports organizations to be embracing CRM to its fullest. We’re probably a bit behind, actually. Certainly when you think about what’s going on in America.

I think it’s down to the fact that ten, 15 years ago, we’d open our gates and people would come. Of course, we don’t have that luxury anymore. Taking what I’ve learned over the 20-odd years with rights holders, and now applying the principles of CRM that businesses like Amazon have been doing for many, many years.

Sean: Yes, definitely. I think sports has really dived into the CRM space. I’ve definitely seen that with my involvement with the guys at SEAT. Guys like Russell Scibetti at the Jets, and the stuff that they’re doing, and the guys whom I’m meeting in the CRM track of SEAT.

It’s understanding the fan and getting that 360-degree view of the fan is something that sports is now getting a hold of. That things like retail, the hotel and hospitality industry, the travel industry, they’ve been all over that for 15 years, or so. Now, sports has realized, “Well, we’ve got these people who are turning up to stadiums; there is so much information we can get about them. What can we now do with them?”

Fiona: It’s staggering. As you just mentioned, the financial services industry, the telco industry, the travel industry, they’ve been using CRM for years. But they’re also sports’ biggest partners, sports’ biggest sponsors.

At the moment, we’re just doing a piece on the role of CRM in sponsorship. Again, it’s staggering that none of our sponsors, people like Visa and MasterCard who have grown out of CRM, have turned to any of their sports properties and said, “What are you doing about CRM?”

But the minute the sports rights holders go to their sponsors and say, “We are now embracing CRM,” the sponsors get excited Because they know this is the way to go, understanding their customers, understanding the fan base, identifying them, and being able to relate with them in a way that’s meaningful and relevant for them.

Sean: I think, too, rights holders are now getting a bit of a handle on the value of the data that they do have. They’re not just selling signage rights; they’re not just selling logo spots on stadiums, or jerseys. The access to the data, and better understanding of the data, is something that the sponsors have always wanted, and sports are now getting better at integrating that into their offerings.

Fiona: Yes, you’re absolutely right. But I don’t feel it’s a criticism of the sports industry. Because the way I look at it is, for example, we specialize in the football industry, the soccer industry. This industry has been around for, I don’t know, 150 years, or so. So they grew up in an environment where all they had to think about was getting those three points on a Saturday afternoon.

Of course, now, fast-forward to the 21st century, and it’s so much more than that. It’s growing the sport. It’s entertaining. People are so used to being entertained 24/7; they’re so used to having multiple screens from where to get their information.

I think that’s why the sports industry has been a lot slower. We talk about Amazon as being the best representatives of CRM. They grew up in the Technical Age, the Technology Age. was all about technology.

That’s why I feel the sports rights world is only just now waking up to the power of their data and understanding how to use it.

Sean: I think the other thing, from the sports point-of-view, and again, it wasn’t a criticism, it’s also the fact that the infrastructure has now been put in place for them to be able to get that data. So we’re getting season tickets that are getting smarter, that have more tracking ability in them.

But then, we’re also looking at the stadiums currently getting more up-to-speed, from an infrastructure point-of-view, which makes it far more valuable from a CRM point-of-view.

I only have my reference point of going to the SEAT Conference in 2011. The big discussion was, “How do we get Wi-Fi solved? How do we sell [DAS]? How do we make sure more fans can get connected?” That was a really big discussion point in 2011, but by 2013, it was seen as, “It’s a necessity.” Wi-Fi and those kinds of things are a must for stadiums. We’re seeing rollouts now, and in the next 18 months, where more stadiums will have capacity for fans.

From a CRM and business intelligence point-of-view, what do you think the opportunities are in the market for the CRM specialist for all that data that’s coming in from the stadiums?

Fiona: I’ll come back to that issue about stadiums in a second, but I just want to go back to something that you started this segment of the conversation with. That was about technology. I have to say that as a consultancy, an agency, we take quite a specific stance on technology.

We say, “CRM is not about technology. Yes, the best technology, the best software, can help you be CRM-mature more efficiently. It can help you achieve things, perhaps at a greater pace.” But we don’t want sports rights holders to be scared away from implementing CRM because of the fear of technology.

Nor do we want sports rights holders to be sold technology by a slick, software salesman, because technology is only one element of CRM. If you’re talking about a sports club that’s got, I don’t know, a capacity of 10,000, and a membership of 5,000, they don’t really want to be invested in technology. They can get away with mining their data in Excel. They can get away with some of the simple applications out there.

Sean: Oh, yes, I completely agree with that. The technology is really just the tool. And, I guess, CRM comes across multiple spectrums. There are still a lot of people, even the ones whom I’ve spoken to, who are using high-end CRM, but who are still doing some data dumps, and mining that data in tools like Excel.

Fiona: Yes, exactly.

Sean: You don’t have to be at that super-high-end solution. A lot of the pro teams are moving that way. But along all the different scales, there are definitely CRM solutions that are in that space for different price points along the way.

Fiona: You’re absolutely right. So, our view is the technology has to be driven by your need and your objectives. You can never let you CRM decisions be driven by the technology; it has to be the other way around.

Back to your question about stadium. For me, it’s all about the customer experience, obviously. There are massive debates going on about whether stadiums are missing out, because the TV broadcast quality is so high that people prefer to stay at home.

The benefit of having a network stadium and being to collect or, more importantly, utilize already collected in the stadium, is to get messages to people, for a start, telling them what’s going on, telling them where they need to be, telling them, I don’t know, if they’re selling out of beer and pies in the concession stands. Telling them that there’s a special offer on the new home jersey in the souvenir shop, giving them an opportunity to buy a ticket to next week’s game because somebody scored a goal and won a high.

But it’s not just that. It’s about the fact that watching a match, watching an event on its own, is no longer sufficient for people. They want more entertainment. They want to access the Internet and find some statistics related to what they’re watching. They want to place a bet. They want to SnapChat with their friend who’s sitting in the stadium on the other side. That’s why the network stadiums are so important.

What you can do with your CRM data is acquire more data during the match that will help feed your insight, and to build your customers’ profiles. But it also allows you to communicate with them in a way that’s relevant.

CRM, for us, is really basic. It’s about getting the right message to the right people at the right time. You can’t do that on a match-day environment, unless you’ve got a network stadium.

Sean: Yes, definitely. And I think the other thing that I definitely saw, helping at the SCG in the last test match, the fact that they had the new stadium. I’m sorry, not the new stadium, but the new stands, at the SCG. The Bradman and Noble stands were added, and those stands were serviced with the new Wi-Fi.

It was the first rollout of, I think it’s a Cisco implementation to the stadium. And just the fact that they had, I guess, lessened the load on the 3-and 4G networks opened up the rest of the stadium to be able to Tweet and post and share Instagrams, and consume content.

We were able to send them a video, saying, “Oh, do you remember this great moment from the previous match?”

Fiona: Yes, yes.

Sean: They were able to consume it. And you just realize how much the fans love it. I was seeing in the SCG’s feed that fans were taking speed tests of the Wi-Fi, SnapShotting the photo, and sending it out. It just shows you how much fans love it.

Even last night, I was at Rod Laver Arena, and my girlfriend was trying to check in. The 3G and the 4G were getting a bit stressed, and she was getting the shakes because she couldn’t check in to say that she was watching Roger Federer. It’s become a necessity now, because you are trying to rival that in-home experience.

Fiona: What’s the business model down at the SCG because, for me, this is the thing that’s stopping the sports rights holders being more ambitious with the Wi-Fi. It’s the fact that they’re afraid of the install costs, yet, of course, we all know that there are providers out there that will do it with no cap-ex, no investment from the rights holders at all. But that’s another matter.

People are nervous that nobody is yet producing their results and showing people how much more merchandise they’ve sold, or how much more betting, or how much more content was consumed, etc. What was the model at the SCG?

Sean: Yes, it’s still a work in progress. I don’t have all the numbers, but I’m planning to catch up with the team at SCG in a future podcast. For the last 18 months or two years, there has been a bit of a standoff on the “who pays”. There are a couple of different ways that it happens.

It’s actually in the best interest for most of the telcos, and I’ve seen this is some of the stadiums in the US, for the telco to implement the Wi-Fi and the data, for instance, that usually would be on your mobile plan. It’s actually cheaper for the mobile operators to actually put you through their Wi-Fi. It’s less stress on their network, and it’s actually cheaper for the mobile operator.

That’s one that I’ve seen. I’m not quite sure of the full details of what Cisco has done at the SCG, because they’ve done deals with a few stadiums here. It’s sort of been rolled into most of the upgrades around stadiums, and it just becomes a must-have thing.

Fiona: The leaders over here, in Europe or, more importantly, in the UK, their model, and there are various agencies doing it in partnership with Cisco, actually, is to go to the rights holder and say, “Okay, it’s going to cost X-hundred thousand, or even X-hundred million to build a Wi-Fi network dedicated to your match-day experience. But you don’t have to pay us for that. You’ve just got to let us sell advertising, commercialize your data, link in the gambling companies, et cetera, and once we’ve paid off the hardware costs, we do a revenue share.” That’s the type of model that seems to be prevailing over here.

But it’s one of those things that they’re sitting and waiting to see. Glasgow Celtic, up in Glasgow, they’ve leapt in. They’re doing it. We’re all watching with bated breath, and waiting to see what happens there.

Liverpool have done it in the same way that SCG have; they’ve got one stand that’s Wi-Fied up. But of course, they haven’t had to enter into any sort of rights barter; they’ve just paid for the installation. Because, of course, they can. Yes, there are a number of different business models floating around.

Yes, it’s all about enhancing the game-day experience for the fans, but also about acquiring more data to help you leverage better, on non-match days.

Sean: The other question I had, one of the hot terms from the last 18 months has been “big data” in the fact there is so much data out there. How do you sift through all of that data, as a CRM specialist, to say, “What’s the data we should be focusing on?”

Fiona: Firstly, when I see people talk about big data in sports, I think, “Yes, you can talk about big data when it comes to the participation, when it comes to the statistics.” The pace of the ball and the player body temperature, and the speed, et cetera, I’m not convinced we have big data when it comes to the marketing and commercial aspects.

The data that sports orgs need to be focusing on, for CRM commercial purposes, of course, is contact data. That’s your number one aspect.

Sean: Yes.

Fiona: Is demographic data. Behavioral data, both online and offline. Socio-economic data. I guess that falls into demographic. Transactional data. Lifestyle data. It’s stuff that’s going to allow you to identify, to put it crudely, what sort of things you can sell to them, what sort of things they’re interested in.

Also, of course, as we mentioned earlier, what sort of people your sponsors are interested in. We’re just writing a piece at the moment; we’re saying, “You know, if you’re Superdry,” I’m sure you’re familiar with that clothing, but “if you’re Superdry, a men’s darts team does not want to be contacting Superdry, asking for sponsorship.” Because the target demographics just don’t work, don’t match each other.

They need to be getting the type of data, and using the type of data that will allow them to communicate in a meaningful way. And also go out and find partnerships with broadcasters and corporate sponsors.

We take a very simple view. There is no much data out there, as you know, as you’ve already mentioned, so we use the term, “single-customer view”. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that.

Sean: Yes.

Fiona: Yes, okay. Our view is the single-customer view is not all the data you have about all your customers; it’s the data that you need to achieve your CRM objectives. Of course, those objectives will continue to change, and grow, and move, as your business develops, as technology develops.

Sean: Yes, and they’ll be different for every team. There will be teams that are sold-out, that have a waiting list, that have a different objective than a team that’s still trying to fill out a new stadium, that just might be starting out and they’re trying to sell single-game tickets.

Or there will be other teams that will be trying to fill out their season ticket, or their membership lists, as we would call it in Australia. So it all comes down to what your objectives are.

Fiona: Yes, absolutely. So we say, “Take your single-customer view, your very first starting point is objectives, and then you work it back from there.” And that’s where you end up with your question on data, “What data do you need to achieve your objectives?”

And it will vary, as you said, for every sports organization, for every different sport, for different size of venues, et cetera. For example, Man United, they’re in this fantastic position, where they’ve got fans all over the world, a global fan base. So their needs are to find out about people in Indonesia.

Well, unfortunately, Portsmouth Town don’t need to know what’s going on in Indonesia. So, yes, it’s very much based on the individual property and what their objectives are.

Sean: I just wanted to finish up with one. There’s a little cartoon you’ve got on your website, which I see. It’s very similar to the world that we work in, in the digital and the social space. It’s one around the cultural silos in the workspace and how CRM fits.

We see the same thing, because digital and social sort of touches all departments. CRM is a little bit the same in that it’s of use to everybody, but for a little time there, it didn’t have a home.

That’s obviously changing now that there are dedicated CRM departments. But it’s still something that CRM is sort of the glue of an organization, to a certain degree.

Fiona: Yes, again, our view is that CRM needs to be sponsored at the organizational level. It need to be bought into and accepted at a senior management level. There’s always going to be a specific department that will tend to drive it and lead it.

Of course, it’s natural that it might be a marketing department, marketing/sales/comms commercial. But, yes, it’s relevant across all departments in a sports organization.

The way we advise our clients to deal with the cultural silos, and this is really, really easy to achieve with CRM as it is with digital media applications, is to find some quick wins. For example, if you’ve got either departments, or individuals, and sometimes it can boil down to personalities, if you’re got either individuals or departments, that are all standing there with their arms folded, saying, “No, no, no, we don’t buy into this whole CRM thing,” get an objective from them and do something sharp and snappy, that can quickly help them understand how impactful CRM can be.

For example, if you’re thinking about your participation department, say you’re got a sports team that is all about growing participation. They want to put on a summer camp and they’re not getting enough traction. They’re not getting enough interest.

Go to your participation department, say, “Okay, let me take your database. Let me communicate with them. Let me figure out who’s relevant to this, from a geographic, from a gender, from an age standpoint. And let me tell them all about your participation camp and see what happens.”

It’s those types of quick wins, using some very basic CRM principles that we believe will help break down those cultural silos.

Sean: Well, thank you very much for the chat today. Just for the listeners, where can we find you, and Winners, on the Internet?

Fiona: Our URL is That’s WinnersFDD, for Fiona Dan Darren. But as you said, it’s @FionaGreen66 on Twitter. And our LinkedIn group is Sports CRM and Business Intelligence. So if you do a search in LinkedIn, you’ll find us there.

Some great conversations going on in our LinkedIn group. And I’d love to have more members getting involved.

Sean: Not a problem. All of those links will be in the show notes for this podcast. Thank you very much for joining me today. I’ll actually be over in London and Europe for a bit of a tour, and a bit of a holiday, a bit of both. So maybe we’ll be able to catch up when I’m there in May.

Fiona: Great. Looking forward to meeting you, Sean. Thank you very much indeed.

Sean: Cheers.

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Sean: Thank you, again, Fiona, for joining me. Apologies for a little bit of a technical mishap with the audio. It was a little bit scratchy. I tried my best to clean up the audio with Fiona’s interview, there. But it was really good to have some insight on the sports CRM market in the UK and how especially the football teams are using it.

Fiona is very much in the thick of things, all things football. We’ll probably catch up with her again with her thoughts on sports CRM. And definitely check out their LinkedIn group. There will be link in the show notes to their LinkedIn group. A really vibrant conversation around all things sports CRM and business intelligence.

Another reminder, Sports Business Night. Tuesday, the 21st of January, at Honey. That will be Now, that would be “Sounds of the Game.” That’s not applause for me or the podcast. That’s actually from the Roger Federer and Friends Night.

It was a fun night to see both Roger Federer and Rod Laver on the actual arena that it’s named after. Two greats of the game. If you’re at a game this weekend, or any weekend, for that matter, or during the week, take your phone out, record some of the sounds of the game. Send them to me I’d love to include them.

This week’s Social Media Post of the Week comes from the BCS Championship Game. I’m going to give this one to Denny’s diner. Denny’s diner trolled the Auburn fans with a single Tweet. “If it’s any consolation, Auburn fans, there are 47 chances to win on the way home.” And they mapped out where every, single Denny’s was, on the way home.

Not bad; they got nearly 6,500 retweets for that one. It just shows you the usefulness of doing a bit of planning. I’m sure they would have had one set up for either team. So congrats to Denny’s.

Okay. That’s the clock wind-up. That’s to tell me to wind up this episode, dedicate it, and get out of the show. This is Episode 32 of the podcast. That means, for me, it only means one thing. I did have a few nominations from a few people tweeting in, a few AFL fans Tweeting in Travis Cloke, Tim Watson. NFL, Bo Jackson. Baseball, Sandy Koufax, Jim Brown.

But for me, I can only dedicate this episode to one man, and that would be the Magic Man, Earvin Magic Johnson. You can get the show notes at

And that’s the signal for the closing two cents. “Don’t forget the network part of social networking.” We’ll see you on SB Night.

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