I had a wonderful time at the Leaders Week Sport Summit in early October (2017). It’s difficult to pick the highlights from a packed schedule of inspiring presentations. All held in the fabulous venue of Chelsea football ground too! There however, were three stand-out sessions that particularly resonated with the new business I am building.

The stats behind the stars

The first, was this talk from Matthew Marolda, Chief Analytics Officer at Legendary Entertainment. He runs Legendary’s Applied Analytics division. The division uses data and analytics to drive strategic decisions across all aspects of the company. He also has a background in the sport sector. This is where he developed the pricing and revenue analysis software used by many professional sports teams.

Gut feel and business savvy are great attributes to have when growing a business. However, I learned that we also need analytics and data-mining to generate hard facts. This was the key message I took from his presentation. This is what will help us understand our customers better. It will help validate the key messages we are sending out to consumers.

I was also struck by the synergies between the worlds of entertainment and professional sport. All in all, it was a hugely enlightening talk.

Growth and change in business

I’ve written before about the importance of recruiting, training and motivating retail teams. So, I was interested to listen to Ian Ritchie, CEO at the RFU, and Martin Glenn, CEO of the FA. They gave their accounts of how important – and sometimes difficult – it is to make good decisions in this field.

They gave a useful perspective on the recruitment process. Don’t just rely on psychological testing and personality profiling. Instead, combine them with your own first impressions at interview. As well as the history of the individual to gain a deeper understanding.

Their insights into how you develop the sporting brain to perform well at a competitive level were also fascinating. It’s helpful for business leaders to be able to get behind the scenes. They need to understand how players get their head in the game before they take to the pitch. Personal and team development is something all businesses need to take seriously. In particular, training staff to have the right mindset to deliver success.

The future of content and storytelling

My third source of inspiration came in the form of Werner Brell, Chief Engagement Officer at Samsung Electronics America. He delivered a powerful presentation on the future of content and storytelling, with a particular focus on how mobile phones have taken the world by storm.

We take our smartphones for granted now and sometimes forget how much we use them day-to-day to generate communications and source and share information.

He also covered topics such as how personalisation is creating more engaging consumer content across social media. The fact that we touch our phones approximately 2,600 times a day is quite staggering. As is the estimate that brands only have 2.8 seconds to attract the customer’s attention on mobile.

If we don’t make it happen in those 2.8 seconds, we miss the boat in terms of tapping into the hearts and minds of our customers. It was telling that he referred to ‘brand-love’ and ‘product-love’. You don’t often hear the word ‘love’ at business conferences, but it resonated with me because that is exactly what we’re trying to do. To make people feel better about themselves and about the products and services they buy into. In that sense, ‘love’ is a very apt word.

As is often the case, some of the best conversations take place away from the main stage during networking breaks. I was delighted to see former colleagues from Norwich City Football Club, proving again that they are at the forefront of the business world by attending the right events. As always, it was a pleasure to meet up with my client Fabrizio Taddei, Sales Director of Italian sportswear brand Erreà, at their fabulous-looking stand in the main exhibition hall.

In summary, this was my first Leaders event and it was a fantastic learning and networking experience. It is an event I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in the future of sports and retail marketing, professional development and leadership.

What business events would you recommend? Drop me a line with your suggestions.

Stephen Balmer-Walters

Author Stephen Balmer-Walters

An experienced international retail omni channel director with a wealth of knowledge. A strong leader able to communicate and negotiate at all levels.

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