“I always want to see the best man win,
even if it’s by a country mile. And even
if it’s the same man all the time...”
T WO- Time CART indy CAR
2003 indiAnApOlis 500
Winne R hen a business starts to lose focus on its clients, that’s going to spell trouble.
With a lack of focus comes a reduced
understanding of what a client wants and
needs. Suddenly, you’re no longer meeting
your clients’ expectations, you lose sales
and your competition crushes you –
because there’s always someone else out
there who’ll find out exactly what those
clients want. That’s just the way it is.
When we talk about the business of
motorsports, I don’t believe things are
any different. Only thing is, in our
industry, it can be rather difficult to
identify your clientele and what exactly
their expectations are in the first place.
OK, if you’re a supplier, it’s rather simple.
how do you cater to them without (how
do I put it?) “corrupting” the sport?
Before I digress (and you know I’m
going to digress), let me just say: To my
naive understanding, beyond the formal
definition of “sport” in the dictionary (Google
it yourself), a sport is a competition with a
fixed set of rules that govern it. These rules
are the same for all participants and the one
who does the best job within the rules wins.
Sometimes, these competitions are very
interesting, fascinating and exciting – the
very things that convert people into fans.
So, you have a defined brand of
competition and you have fans. At this
point, the marketers get involved. They
see these fans as potential clients and
think that the competition in question
(and its competitors) may provide a good
way for them to engage with this clientele
in a meaningful and relevant fashion.
As a result, the laws of supply and
demand take hold and the sport has
something of value to offer to third
parties – particularly those marketing
folks. People come, negotiations take
place and money starts flowing in.
So now your “sport” is also a “business.”
Over time, society changes, technology
changes, tastes change, fans’ interests
change. Everything changes. One sport
might suddenly break big, while another falls
out of fashion. New sports competitions
are created every day purposely to try and
Feats such as Michael Schumacher’s seven
Formula 1 titles, including five straight from
2000 to ’04, should be appreciated – not
cause change or manipulation to the rules.
You make a part, or provide a service for a
team or manufacturer – your client – and
they pay you. If the service you provide is
good, along with the parts, price, quality,
delivery and support, you keep improving,
innovating...and selling. And life is good.
But let’s take a wider view and look at
the show as a whole with its many
participants and, in some cases, many more
spectators. The number of stakeholders is
suddenly much larger, and identifying your
clients isn’t quite as straightforward. Plus,
you’re now dealing with the “sport” part of
the “motorsports” word, which complicates
the question even more. After all, it’s not
Drivers, teams, sponsors, promotors,
media companies, fans, etc., etc. Who is
whose client? I see it as a pyramid, with
unquestionably only one group at the top.
If you’re unfortunate enough to have
read any of my other Pulitzer-winning
masterpieces (that’s Brazilian humor,
folks…), or an interview, perhaps you’ve
come across the following point of view.
There are two main branches of
motorsports: one that’s participant
focused and another which is fan focused.
For simplicity and relevance, let’s focus
mainly on the second branch. After all,
RACER is fan focused, isn’t it?
So, if the fans are your clients and
you’re focused on them as you should be,
SPORT AND BUSINESS