In professional sports, the term “free agent” refers to an athlete who is free to sign a contract with any team. But, as one sports writer pondered, what happens when a fan declares their own free agency? Free for anyone to earn and sign?
Scott Soshnick sent the same memo to every team in the four major U.S. sports leagues: The NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and the NHL. In it, Scott declared his free agency as a fan, said he was theirs for the taking, and offered a lifetime of allegiance. All they had to do was tell him why he should pick their team.
Of the 122 teams that make up the four major leagues, all but nine ignored Scott’s note. Eight of those that responded made offers ranging from marketing materials to invitations to use the owner’s court-side seats — all pretty amazing considering 113 teams didn’t respond at all.
But one team, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, went all out. In addition to sending Scott his own personalized Warriors jersey, they also:
- Called to say they wanted him as a fan and asked for a photo
- Had 28 employees from various departments send him emails
- Had fellow New Yorker and then-Warriors General Manager Chris Mullin call to make the team’s case
- Sent Scott a “We Believe” slogan T-shirt with his face on it
- Put together a mock press release announcing a new fan acquisition
- Created a highlight DVD with rookies wearing Scott’s personalized jersey
- Sent Scott a $1 lifetime contract, signed by Mullin
The Lesson: It can be astonishing at how little effort the majority of your competitors are making in doing special things to earn new fans. Yet, at the same time, every industry has their version of the Warriors — an organization that loves to amaze customers with fantastic service and special treatment.
When building your word of mouth program, the little things are a great start — they’ll quickly put you among the minority of companies willing to wow their customers. But we’d encourage you to not just settle for beating the lazy guys. Instead, assume your industry has someone working as hard as the Warriors and aim to outdo them.