CEO Blog

What Would Your Members Miss?

Published Wednesday, February 1, 2017
by Henry Wallmeyer

I hope that you have seen the announcement that George Bodenheimer, Former President and Executive Chairman, ESPN, Inc., will be a featured speaker at NCA’s upcoming 2017 National Club Conference in New York Mary 22-24. George was one of ESPN’s early employees who worked his way up the ESPN ladder from the mailroom (one of his first roles was as the regular driver for basketball announcer Dick Vitale) to becoming president in 17 years and ultimately the network’s longest-tenured president.

In his address, Bodenheimer will give a unique perspective into the inner workings of ESPN, share anecdotes about its on-air personalities, and convey his leadership principles that enabled the global sports media icon to grow even larger once he became president. In addition, attendees of his session will receive an autographed copy of his book Every Town Is a Sports Town, allowing you to take Bodenheimer's message home.

In preparation for inviting Mr. Bodenheimer to speak, I had the pleasure to read his book. And while it didn’t have as much about Villanova as I would have liked (can it be considered a sports book if there isn’t any mention of Villanova?), it was still a fascinating read. It was part memoir and part leadership story. I loved the memoir aspect as someone who grew up along with ESPN. I vividly remembered all the changes, growth and chances (anyone remember the ESPN phone?) they took. And now as NCA President and CEO, I loved the leadership aspects that he presented that enabled the network to flourish and become the fourth highest valued media company according to Forbes in 2014 at $50 billion.

One aspect (that can be tried at NCA and at your clubs) is his “deprivation” study. They selected 60 avid fans who were ethnically diverse and spanned different age groups and took away their access to ESPN for two weeks. They had three objectives for the study: First, to get a vivid illustration of consumer connection to their brand; second, to identify “blind spots” (where fans go instead of ESPN); and third, to learn how to entice viewers to use their other media platforms (additional to television).

Their study revealed four faces of “deprivation” had emerged among the participants:

  • Irritability: “I am used to having my information at my fingertips. Now I don’t, and it’s like cutting out a part of my brain.”
  • Depression: “I’ve been sleeping to avoid the agony of not being able to watch ‘Mike and Mike.’”
  • Desperation: “I am sweating and getting light-headed.”
  • Hallucination: “This is the final week and I’ve been seeing floating ESPN logos everywhere!”

My question to you is if you deprived your members’ use of all or part of the club for a period of time, would they have these same reactions? What, if anything, would they miss about the club? Would they begin using other parts of the club if that was their only choice? Would they or could they easily substitute club offerings? Would they exhibit any of the four faces of deprivation?

Knowing that you most likely don’t have the financial wherewithal to conduct a similar scientific study, I would encourage you to see what you can do to find out what your members would miss from the club if they were deprived. It can help you identify your strengths and areas for improvements.

Warm Regards,

Henry Wallmeyer
NCA CEO & President

Corporate Partners

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