Lessons Learned in Digital Sports Marketing for Non-Sports Brands


The other night, I presented to a group of Vancouver entrepreneurs on the topic of social media – specifically on how non-sports brands can leverage the passion of sports marketing for their own brands.

It’s a topic that had been on my mind recently and I was happy to take advantage of the opportunity to speak at the event. I used to do presentations to entrepreneurs back when I lived in Toronto. When I started my business in 2005, I benefited from a great program that supported entrepreneurs so I’ve always been happy to give back.

The carry over to my blog is this – give back. The sports business is a niche to say the least. It’s tough to break into, and there are a lot of challenges despite its high-profile perception. I’ve always gone out of my way to support people I’ve worked with and recommend individuals for positions with teams. Like any business, sports is about people and networking is critical.

In addition, I always admire entrepreneurs and those people who go about building their own business. Building a career in sports or building a business requires tireless efforts, bouncing back from mistakes/rejection, adapting and growing. It’s about people and networking – so thank you for being a reader and let me know how I can help you.


Marketing = Applied Art, Selling = Fine Art


It’s always different working with entrepreneurs vs. sales people.

Teaching at Microskills

Teaching at Microskills

I recently taught a class here in Toronto focused on social media at MicroSkills. For a lot of “new” entrepreneurs, selling is the last thing they want to do. Many of them see sales as a necessary evil – as if it is only a matter of time until the market finds out about them and the phone begins to ring. They have the vision, but are not prepared to put in the time to find customers/clients (and the skills to pull it off). They focus their skills gap on the brandi.e. “if only the brand were stronger…” vs. “I’d like to be better at selling.”

On the other hand, sales people often miss/overlook the vision of the business – both their own and their prospect’s businesses. They have the skills and can pound out calls and presentations, but have trouble with the big picture.

Now – these are generalizations, and there are some great sellers with vision and some entrepreneurs who can work it on the streets. Ultimately, I think it is rare for individuals to be strong in both areas. Success doesn’t come easy.

Bottom line = $. The efforts of any business – your own or selling within someone’s business needs to result in sales. Sales continues to be stigmatized while functioning as the life blood of any organization. I see both entrepreneurs and sellers alike continue to wish that their brand could help them sell, or better yet, sell for them.

Selling is a fine art – marketing is an applied art.

Google Profiles and Personal Branding


In a continuing effort to be everywhere at once, Google has a Profile feature… Here’s mine.

Do you have a Google profile? I’d be interested to see it and understand how people are using it differently than Facebook or Linkedin. I think it begs the question – just how many profiles does a person need? Or on the flipside, is the idea of a singular profile even important?

All these social media profiles are really a venue to demonstrate personal brand. Is it difficult to demonstrate consistency through multiple profiles? Is it an issue of redundancy? Is each profile a specifically different media and therefore merits a different “flavor” of personal brand?

I’d like your help in thinking this out… please let me know your thoughts!

Olympics in China – Are Corporate Sponsors Concerned about their Brand?


The Olympics is about as big as it gets for corporate sponsorship.

And this week has seen some interesting events in the form of protests that accompany the Olympic Torch relay. Amid requests from world leaders to boycott some elements of the event, are corporate sponsors worried about associating their brand with all that is going on?

Despite the market potential that China represents and the visibility that the Olympics brings across many industries, I would think there is a growing concern about positioning here. If nothing else, those in the sponsorship industry should be paying close attention as this plays out.

I reached out to my network recently for their feedback:

“Most folks sponsoring anything in China do it because they see a huge market. Tibet wouldn’t make a dime’s difference to that picture.

For the other negligible minority, Tibet is only one of a long list of concerns. In that sense, there are already other symptoms that cause apprehensions.

A venture-funding-specialist friend of mine predicted that China is fast heading into an overheated state; and that folks with long-term interests are taking their money (and baggage) out of China. So why would they even begin to sponsor?” Sastry Tumuluri, Founder/CEO at AntHill IdeaLabs

“I’m involved in the sponsorship marketing industry and, while I’m not currently working with Olympic partners, I’ve had an opportunity to speak with people who oversee these investments for the sponsors.

Truth of the matter is that sponsors are chomping at the bit to get access to the Chinese market. In fact, one gent from Visa almost grew faint when explaining the opportunity for that company (Chinese apparently don’t have much debt. Yet.) These sponsors see the Olympics as a way to both reach the masses and (more importantly) to create strategic ties to the Chinese government by supporting their ‘crown jewel’.

Sponsors of the Beijing Games have been preparing for (and spending on) this event since before the start of the 2004 Athens Olympics. A tremendous amount of time, energy, and money has already been committed.

As a result, I highly doubt that any Olympic sponsor has qualms about their ongoing participation in the 2008 Summer Games. To be certain, I’m sure they’re hopeful that the situation in Tibet will be resolved. But the plans for this event were put into place a long time ago are currently being executed at full speed ahead. ” David Almy, Owner at ADC Partners

“… Since China is the host of the Summer Games, we are calling on China to join the charity and reach out with aid to Darfur, and take the opportunity to be honorable hosts and follow the example of others who are doing positive things for the people of Darfur, who are hurting and being killed.

Maybe we can accomplish something by providing China with the opportunity to do honorable acts now that they are in the position of leadership, and the eyes of the entire world are watching. I hope this will produce more results than protests alone have (not much other than awareness … ” Jesse Gift, PR for Aid Still Required.org

As the Olympic torch relay makes its way through San Francisco today, it will be interesting to relate coverage of protests to sponsorship. Is this a challenge to the $ winning vs. human rights? Why is Tibet the most visible symbol of oppression when it is occurring in many places? Is it fair to the athletes to take a stand here? Are the athletes still using performance enhancing drugs? What exactly is the positioning here?

Or this simply not a Marketing issue? Over to you….