July 9, 2014 Muhammad Ali on marketing

July 2014 newsletter

Panoramic photo of match between Colombia and Uruguay. FIFA World Cup 2014

As some of you may know, last week I arrived back in Australia after a very exciting 3-week FIFA World Cup holiday in Brazil. The atmosphere was incredible.

Amongst the buzz of the most followed sporting event in the world, I got thinking about sports marketing. How did football get so popular? Why do some players make so much money? Why do others remain disliked or unknown, despite their talent?

This reminded me of something I learned from Anthony Pratt (Global Chairman of VISY) at a Melbourne Victory Football Club fundraiser. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali once told him the most important thing about his career was ‘bums on seats’.

What Ali meant was that it doesn’t matter how good an athlete you are; what matters is how you promote yourself to the world. Ali’s strategy was to make friends with influential people such as renowned photographers and journalists to ensure he stayed ‘top of mind’ in the media, boosting numbers at any event he attended.

I bet this same idea propels Lionel Messi (Argentina) who earns $23 million AUD per year, and Neymar Jr (Brazil) who was bought by Barcelona last year for $126 million AUD (at the age of 21!). They know how to market themselves.

In a business context, I’d like to ask how this thinking applies to you. Are you reaching out to those that matter? Do you have a fan base that promotes your business for you? Or is your head down, and your blinkers on?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a business owner, it’s the power of not just knowing your strengths, but also showing them to the right people. So get out there, network and ensure you speak to the prominent influencers in your industry.

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