Sports have dreams.
But dreams often get stuck. There must always be a sense of reality. In that sense, the success of "B.LEAGUE" (the top league of Japanese men's professional basketball) can be said to be the result of striving to monetize while having a big dream. The title of this book is "Earning is everything", which clearly shows that.
B.LEAGUE was born in September 2016 as the third professional sports for team competitions in Japan after baseball and soccer. In the opening round, the stands were filled with spectators, and in two years the number of visitors increased by 50% to 2.5 million, and league sales increased 10 times to 5 billion yen. That momentum continues even now in the third year.
Why has B.LEAGUE achieved such results in the Japanese sports industry, which cannot be said to be producing stable profits? There was a grand vision for sports that goes beyond basketball, and a thoroughly refined business sense.
Even if you are not interested in basketball or the sport itself, reading this book will make you want to pay attention to "What will B.LEAGUE do next?" The secret of such superb entertainment that goes beyond the framework of sports. Why don't you take a peek too?
The main points of this book
A new professional league is worthless unless you do something new. Therefore, B.LEAGUE actively hired human resources who are "buggy".
A solid business strategy is needed to realize the philosophy. B.LEAGUE emphasized the promotion of "digital marketing" and "integration of interests".
Focusing on "young people" and "women" and thoroughly implementing "smartphone first" led to the success of B.LEAGUE.
It's "GIVE & GIVE & TAKE" rather than "GIVE & TAKE". In order to get big things, you should first do everything to the other party.
Reset all past thoughts
Before the opening of B.LEAGUE, there were two top men's leagues in Japan. FIBA (International Basketball Federation), which saw this as a problem, urged the league integration many times, but the two leagues could not be agreed. In 2014, Japan's participation in international games was finally banned indefinitely.
However, after that, Mr. Saburo Kawabuchi, who launched the J-League and pushed it to the rank of domestic sports, combined the two leagues into one in just nine months. B.LEAGUE was born in this way. However, it was not "integration" but a "new league concept" to create a completely new professional league. Instead of integrating the two leagues as they are, they built everything on a zero basis.
Along with this, personnel affairs also took the form of new hires. The staff of the former two leagues are not hired with some exceptions. I didn't have time to do the “successive personnel” that is common in corporate integration, and I couldn't afford to argue over which league was more correct. And looking back, this was the most important first step in the development of B.LEAGUE.
Find human resources!
The momentum of B.LEAGUE, which started with overcrowding, continued into the second year. The number of visitors in the second year was 2.5 million, an increase of 50% from the previous year. League sales also reached 5 billion yen, 10 times the previous year's level. Awareness has also jumped to third place after professional baseball and the J League.
Why did you achieve such results in just one year of preparation? The authors attribute it all to "people." The key here is the idea of "human resources" rather than "human resources." If the former is an image of processing and growing the potential of human beings, the latter is an image of utilizing the material as it is.
The author emphasized the following five points in distinguishing human resources. (1) Don't be solidified by relatives (basketball graduates), (2) Have a professional mind and express your opinions clearly, (3) Be able to speak thoroughly in "the theory of power", (4) One-way ticket (Prohibition of secondment), and (5) Active promotion of young people and women.
In such a policy, the author's desire for "a person who is blunt" (= a person who is not bound by common sense) is expressed. If you were doing the same thing as before, nothing would change from the past. The new professional league is worthless unless you do something new.
Also, when hiring staff, I paid attention to the experience of frustration. Frustration is a necessary process for success. Especially during the start-up period, everything goes wrong. By paying attention to how you have overcome the setbacks, you can judge whether you have the power to do it without giving up until the end.[Must read point!] Business strategy theory
Japan-US sports that made a big difference in 20 years
The scale of the Japanese baseball business is about 180 billion yen. However, American MLB (Major League Baseball), which used to be about the same as Japanese baseball, is now growing to the scale of 1 trillion yen. The NBA (National Basketball Association) is also growing exponentially, and there are many places to follow.
The factors that have increased the difference in sales in the US and Japanese sports world in the last 20 years are (1) restructuring of league-led governance, (2) digital shift, (3) new construction and renovation of stadiums, and (4) young people. The rise of human resources, the above four can be considered.
The most important of these is the restructuring of league-led governance. MLB was not a league like Japan in the past, but each team had great authority. However, since the functions and authorities were concentrated in the league, efficiency has improved and sales have continued to grow in terms of business. The league's overall control of the business has made it easier to formulate market revitalization strategies.
Thorough promotion of digital marketing
B.LEAGUE's philosophy is to "produce world-class players and teams," "pursue entertainment," and "realize a dream arena." A solid business strategy is indispensable for realizing this philosophy.
B.LEAGUE is promoting "digital marketing" as a business strategy. This is a matter of course from a business perspective, but it has not progressed slowly in the Japanese sports world. For example, in the case of Japanese baseball and soccer, all the information on spectators and fan clubs is collected in individual teams. Depending on the team, there are even cases where ticket purchase information, fan club enrollment information, etc. are different for each customer behavior.
Therefore, in B.LEAGUE, customer data is managed by the league, not by each team. Even if you look at the data of only one club, the information that can be obtained from it is small and the range of utilization is limited. However, if each data is integrated, the amount of data will increase and various analyzes and utilization will be possible.
The important thing is not to "store" data, but to "use" it. By making a hypothesis by a person with field experience and demonstrating it by a person with excellent analytical skills such as an MBA holder, effective policy planning can be realized.
However, at this time, the data must not be danced. The more you face the data, the more important your beliefs become.
Market expands by consolidating interests
Another business strategy of B.LEAGUE is "integration of interests". The efforts of each club are very important and I have no intention of denying them. However, even if the number of visitors increases by a few percent, it is insignificant in terms of market size. Only by integrating the interests of associations, leagues and clubs will the market expand.
A typical example of this is the American MLS (Major League Soccer). By selling the sponsors of the league and the sponsors of the national team under the jurisdiction of the association together, the profit has increased 3 to 5 times in 3 years. B.LEAGUE also emulated this and established the operating company B.MARKETING to consolidate the rights. We will maximize the value of rights and speed up decision-making and customer responsiveness. Currently, B.LEAGUE is making various new efforts, but it is possible only with the unification of associations, leagues and clubs, and the unification of interests.
Marketing strategy theory
Targets are "young people" and "women"
In talking about the success of B.LEAGUE, it is necessary to describe the personalization of 7 million "watchers" nationwide and the marketing strategy for "young people" and "women".
Many people associate soccer with the most popular sport in the world. However, in fact, basketball has the largest number of athletes (soccer has 260 million, basketball has 460 million). This is because basketball is popular with both men and women, unlike men's soccer, where more than 90% of athletes play soccer.
Soccer has a larger registered population in Japan (about 900,000), but basketball also has about 600,000. In addition, 15 million people are willing to watch soccer, while 7 million people are playing basketball. However, when comparing the actual scale of business and the number of visitors, basketball was only about 10% of soccer. This is obviously strange.
Looking at the number of people who intend to watch basketball, it was found that there are many younger generations, especially women. Therefore, while narrowing down the main targets to "young people" and "women," we investigated their attributes. Then, the personas "I prefer watching groups rather than one person", "I like going out fashionably", "The medium for collecting information is mainly smartphones and magazines", "Sensitive to fashion", and "I also actively send out" emerged.
That's why B.LEAGUE thoroughly implements "smartphone first," that is, a series of steps from arousing interest to sharing experiences, so that all can be done with a smartphone. I was also conscious of such an "easy-to-invite" UI / UX that allows you to easily buy many tickets at the same time and share them with people you want to go with. People who come to watch basketball for the first time come "because they were invited" after all.
To become a true marketing constitution
In the sports business, the most important thing is the number of "visitors". As the number of visitors increases, ticket income and goods income will naturally increase, which will have a positive effect on sponsor income and broadcasting rights income.
However, in actual management, it often takes more time to search for sponsorship activities than the number of visitors. It's more time-efficient and you can make solid management figures. Therefore, while emphasizing the number of visitors, the progress report of sponsor sales is prioritized over ticket sales. It's one of the pitfalls in the sports business.
Of course, in sports marketing, target segment selection and tactical analysis are important. However, the most important thing is that top management will continue to emphasize ticket revenue and the number of visitors.
Of particular note are royal customers. The cost of bringing in a person who is completely uninterested once is much higher than the cost of bringing in a person who has come five times six times. First of all, we should gather fans with high loyalty and increase their turnover rate.
7 business policies
B.LEAGUE has seven business policies. (1) Speaking openly about legitimate values based on logic and numbers, (2) Customers are not "sponsors" but "partners" who develop and grow together with the basketball world, (3) Creating a thorough "competitive environment" by reducing sales quotas, (4) having a stance of wanting cooperation to invest in the future, thoroughly listening to corporate needs and customizing (4) 5) Never discount, (6) Focus on direct sales, sweat on your own, (7) Have a person in charge of your business on your side.
Currently, partner companies are using B.LEAGUE in their respective fields of expertise. For example, our top partner, Softbank, is cooperating in disseminating information such as sportsnavi live, and our partner, Sony Entertainment, is providing know-how such as creating attractiveness for players as a fan business and developing goods. .. While thinking about what kind of benefits it will bring to each partner company, we will build a new relationship between the league and partner companies that is not found in other sports organizations. That is the idea of B.LEAGUE.
First of all, do it to the other party
There is a word "GIVE & TAKE". The idea is that the person who pays and the person who receives the money are equal in return for providing some benefit.
This seems correct at first glance, but the author doesn't use it much. Instead, I try to say "Let's GIVE & GIVE & TAKE". Anyway, it doesn't matter if it's small, but I believe that if you GIVE and GIVE hard to the other party, you will get a big TAKE someday.
Pre-emptive interest. In order to get big things, you must first do your best to the other party.
Recommendation of reading
B.LEAGUE is growing with the momentum of breaking bamboo. In this book, the future development of B.LEAGUE and the author's desire, ideas, and anguish to enliven the entire Japanese sports industry are spelled out, and the reading as a business book is sufficient. In particular, the enthusiasm for the opening round of B.LEAGUE is tremendous, and I hope that you will relive the situation at that time through this book.