15 May 2009

Fan versus Fan

When I invited an English blogger who markets a sports betting group to write for the blog, I was swayed by the fact that there would be regular content (that none of our authors wrote about) on this blog, that would make up for my tardiness and limited focus. At that time, I did not realise that it would alienate our regular readers. It did.

Most businesses (I use the term to include persons who do not make profits) have to make a choice when faced with quick growth - grow bigger or consolidate, invest incoming revenues in new products and services or increase salaries etc, are some of these dilemmas. Cricket and all its spinoffs are faced with a similar choice right now. The revenues coming in are massive and an unprecedented number of fans are now aware of the game.

Should cricket focus on taking the game to the masses of people that are yet to hear about this game? The discussions about a certain American market and the huge promises that it beholds are evidence of this. At the same time, getting distracted by a potential market can easily alienate your existing clients (fans). Is it possible to get the perfect balance between both? I am certain. But by the cricket suits? Hmm..

I can only speak for myself. I am a cricket fan from as long back as I can remember, and it will need a lot for me to become indifferent to the game. I have been treated like shit for years by the BCCI and the broadcasters that it has sold rights to, but that has not turned me away. Despite large advertisement that covers the Cricinfo homepage, I am patient enough to click 'close' and read the content. The bowlers run up for the first ball of an over may be eaten up by advertisement, but I will watch the rest of the over eagerly. These are minor irritants for me, but it can turn some away from the game. And these some, are cricket's greatest marketing engines.

I am almost evangelistic in my desire to convert some of my European friends into cricket fans. I am sure that a lot of the regular readers of this blog behave the same way. If cricket were to alienate such people, it is a massive loss for the game.

I for one, would love to be treated better. That would make me even more effective in my evangelism. If the game would only provide me with a loudspeaker. If the ICC would seriously consider my views on rules, terms of a broadcast contract etc.

And this is not a strange request. When Google gives me a page of search results, their rankings are a reflection of the internet behaviour of regular users. A certain bar in Delhi had me as a lifetime fan when the owner sat next to me while I was sneaking snatches of a cricket game away from my desk, and asked me for my opinions on the food menu. Customer feedback has been a part of intelligent marketing for years. More and more businesses are getting the hang of giving their ardent customers a mouthpiece, so that they can spread the word. (Are you a cricketwithballs or Bored fan on Facebook?)

Cricket needs to learn from this. What I have written may seem abstract and floosy in its lack of concrete suggestions. So more of that later.

14 comments:

TM said...

Good post John! It probably is in the interests of all boards, ICC, broadcasters etc. to take this game to newer markets. Its a wonder that heavier inroads have not been made into US and China as yet given their massive potential as markets. Lets come up with some concrete suggestions!

jrod said...

How do you Mr Rooney alienated people?

jrod said...

Sorry was meant to be, how do you know Mr Rooney alienated your fans?

Q said...

I don't get the point ur making John? What happened? Thomas Rooney's post alienated ur readers? How? why?

John said...

Thanks TM.
JRod, Q, I reached that conclusion based on analytics information and the lack of discussion generated in mr rooney's posts. The average number of visits to the site has been in free fall despite regular posting from mr rooney.

John said...

Q,
I was also just using this blog's predicament to illustrate the choices before cricket. I took the easy way out. I wanted fresh and regular content. I also wanted to reach out to other markets. But then I got feedback which suggested that mr rooney's posts did not engage people who i thought constituted the core of my readership.

John said...

TM, China has promised a good cricket team by 2020. But the extent to which cricket must bend over backwards to conquer new markets, needs to be determined by how much said bending-over will alienate existing fans.

TM said...

Do Q and JROD disagree that Thomas alienated readers of this blog?

John - I am with you - conquering new markets cant come at the cost of alientating your existing markets. Certainly, it is perhaps of paramount importance to first consolidate your own market by pumping back in some money that the the market gives you - ideally into imprmving stadiums, taking the game even deeper into the hinterlands of the country so on and so forth.

In what ways do you think cricket needs to bend over to convince new markets?

jrod said...

I don't disagree. Although it didn't alienate me, I just waited for you guys to write and skimmed over his. The problem with Rooney's posts, not just here but all of the posts he writes, is that they are dry. They are not anything like the style you write in, they stick out, not in a good way.

Q said...

I don't think it alienated the readers.. I saw the post and read it, but had nothing to say, hence did not comment..

But I do differ with Mr. Rooney's ways in one way:

There are a number of cricket betting sites that use the blogs to advertise.. BetUS is one of them, who do it exactly the same way as Betfair (Mr. Rooney's).. i.e. both want certain specific words like "cricket betting", "sports betting", "IPL betting", etc to be linked back to their site.

The difference however is that BetUS and other sites let you write the post and figure the words in the way you want to. I did that for BetUS.. just put in the words and linked to them.

Mr. Rooney, however, insists on writing the posts himself.. why?

Not that I mind it, but I believe the better way is to let the blogger write in how own style, as Jrod mentions, and use the words given as the links.

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straight point said...

john...the problem with other writers writing for you is that they may not catch the mood and style...and that's what happening...

which we also faced at bored...initially nobody knew what they will or should write at bored...and it took lots of efforts and convincing that what bored meant to be and how one can shoot of there...if you are getting the drift...

i am also a firm believer of what my father told me once...

"do not make new friends at the cost of existing ones..."

scorpicity said...

I am with your thoughts John and Yes, it is in your best interest for you to write and not a paid advertiser, whose interests are elsewhere.

Perhaps it would only be fair if we discuss this topic via email.

Meanwhile, we would love to read John's thoughts whenever he writes. There is more I would like to talk to. Perhaps, might be better off via email.

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