April 21, 2021

Customer Development: The Super League

Most of you who are interested in European Soccer/Football were agitated to learn that twelve teams planned to break off from the other 680+ teams and create a Super League (click here).

Within two days the plan imploded as a small number of business leaders quickly realized that hundreds of millions of "customers" hated the idea while Managers of some of the teams came out in favor of the fans over Management.

In e-commerce terms, we know the following.

  • Fans = Customers.
  • Players = Merchandise.
  • Teams = The "Brand".
The Super League chose (poorly) to focus on the "Brand".

Can I tell you a brief story?

Twenty-five years ago I was a huge fan of Jim Brickman and his piano music (click here). My wife bought tickets to see him at the Moore Theater in Seattle ... that evening still stands as one of the favorite evenings of my life!

Over the next five years, things changed. Less piano music. More singing. More partnerships with artists. More radio shows. Eventually I received an email from his marketing folks asking for my opinion about his career path. I said something I regret. Thought I regret it, my comment was honest.
  • "I liked Jim Brickman more when he was an artist and less now that he is a brand."
Yeah, that wasn't a nice thing to say.

But as a customer I could sense the shift ... away from being an artist and toward being a brand. We can all sense this shift in our favorite "brands". Stitch Fix was wonderful when it was an $80,000,000 startup and is something different now that it is north of a billion dollars in annual net sales.

The shift can be sensed via our Customer Development metrics. When we run our "Master Sheet", we see that our Welcome Programs stop being as effective (you have a Welcome Program, right?). Customers become less likely to reactivate. They become less likely to migrate to loyal status. We need larger discounts/promotions to convince the customer to buy, trading away profit for valueless Customer Development.

The ill-fated "Super League" is no different. They valued "brands" more than they valued "customers". When customers (and nearly everybody else) rebelled, the "brands" changed their mind.

Not everything in life is about money, dear readers, in spite of what the Thought Leaders want you to believe.

Develop your Customers. Don't take advantage of your Customers.

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