Building your Brand Around Your Customer

Exclusive insights from the Atlanta Hawks on the importance of relevance and its role in increasing engagement.


This article first appeared on Tech Exec. The original article can be found here.

Peter Sorckoff CMO Disrupt Sydney
Peter Sorckoff, Atlanta Hawks. Source: CMO Disrupt, Sydney

Understanding the customer takes more than reading graphs or taking standard surveys. In order to completely engage with your desired market, you need to encapsulate yourself in their day-to-day life.

Back down under for his second CMO Disrupt conference, former Chief Creative Officer for the NBA team, Atlanta Hawks was Peter Sorckoff. He shared his insights with over 150 of Sydney’s top marketing executives at OmniChannel’s CMO Disrupt, Sydney.

Sorckoff stressed the importance of shaping your company around the desired market. For the renowned team hailing from America’s east, it meant a complete rebrand starting with a solid foundation of data insights.

“We really needed to figure out the conversation on brand, and we needed to have enough volume of data, that it was untenable to argue against.”

Investing in some seriously deep digging data software, and taking the time to understand what the data was saying, revealed that fans lacked the commitment to come back for another match in a few days.

The Hawks were wonderful at getting fans to come for a day, however, after coming, they were reluctant to return for the rest of the season. It led the Hawks executive to ponder what the issue was with the team.

“Are we the guy in uni that is really, really fun to go out with once, but you’re definitely not going to go out with him regularly. And he is certainly not the guy you’re going to bring home for the holidays to meet mum and dad. Are we that guy? And do we have a brand problem?”

He came to the conclusion that there was indeed a misconception regarding their brand and sought solutions to engage with the audience better.

He said the main issue with the Hawks was that they were not relevant to their customers and to create relevance throughout the brand it was vital to start taking a few risks.

“If you want to build relevance, you really have to understand how they’re living their life and then be fearless about going into those spaces. Cause it’s not about awareness, it’s about relevance. And if you can get to relevance you can build trust, and if you build trust you can sell stuff”.

The reward for taking those risks is trust with the customers which leads to a personal relationship and an engagement level where they will always come back to the one place.

Sorckoff continued with his dating metaphor and summarised the successes of the Hawks:

“Membership sales spiked 500% in two years, so all of a sudden we were the marrying kind.”

Just like a relationship, the level of commitment towards your customer enables understanding and builds a trust that keeps them coming back for more.