Your Competition Isn’t What You Think It Is

MLS All-Star Game in Portland, pitting the MLS All-Stars against German super team, Bayern Munich

MLS All-Star Game in Portland, pitting the MLS All-Stars against German super team, Bayern Munich

A lot of people see competition where they shouldn’t. I’ve been saying this for years, especially in live entertainment.

It’s great to see a real example, especially in an area that’s been on my mind (and probably yours, too) lately, of someone getting it right.

Major League Soccer is, realistically, a second-tier soccer league on the world level. Everybody knows this. Not a bad league, and certainly improving, BUT clearly below the big four leagues of England, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Duh.

Yet, in many ways, as Tim Fernholz points out in this interesting story, the MLS is promoting those very leagues.

It has chosen, wisely, not to see those leagues as competition. Why? Because the league is wise enough to understand that the best way to grow fandom and support for the MLS is to make more soccer fans in America. It’s already been shown that if people are interested enough in soccer to develop a preference in a European team, there’s a pretty reasonable chance they’ll support their local club in America. I witnessed this firsthand at the MLS All-Star Game as the Timbers Army (independent supporters group of Portland Timbers) rattled the windows marching past my hotel on the way to the stadium.

People ask me frequently who is Goldstar’s competition. My answer is always the same: Our biggest competition is the urge to sit on your sofa and watch Netflix or play Candy Crush. Forget about other people who might or might not sell tickets. They’re nothing compared to the incredibly formidable challenge presented by laziness and inertia. The vast majority of the time we lose to that competitor.

You too, venue owner, show producer or ticket marketer, are not competing with the theater or music hall across the street or across town. You compete with how easy it is NOT to go out. If someone chooses to go to another venue instead of yours — that’s if they actually gave yours consideration and actually go to a similar venue to see a similar show — that’s half a win. I’m serious.

In a way, all of us in the industry have the exact same job: Make live entertainment fans. Make ravenous, energetic fans who can’t wait to find the next thing they’re going to go and do.

The MLS gets it when it comes to their “competition” in Europe. Everyone else should, too.

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