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What can the IT channel learn from the sports industry?

With the recent Raptors win of the NBA Eastern finals, Toronto erupted as fans of every type, joined in the celebration. If you live in Toronto, you could not avoid this celebration. Strangers doing high-fives with each other on top of the screaming, honking and giving the thumbs up were just some of this deeper sense of community. It’s wonderful to experience.

With the recent Raptors win of the NBA Eastern finals, Toronto erupted as fans of every type, joined in the celebration. If you live in Toronto, you could not avoid this celebration. Strangers doing high-fives, yelling, jumping, honking and giving the thumbs up were happening everywhere. It’s wonderful to see and experience the pure happiness of the fans.

Even if you are not a big sports fan, you do feel something when the sports team of your city or country wins. It is difficult to ignore the heightened feeling of pride, joy and overall sense of belonging as a citizen of the country or resident of a city.

The fans seemed to be in perfect harmony enjoying their reward of having a great win after investing so much time, energy and money into supporting the Raptors.

It made me think that the IT channel is nowhere as excited or galvanized around any one idea since the Apple days of Steve Jobs.

Beyond the extreme jubilation, could the IT channel learn anything from the sports industry?

“Think of sports fans in simple terms of a community of like-minded people”

On the business side, the sports industry definitely understands how to reach, market and exploit their community of fans (selling seats, logo products and related activities). They also sell excitement, entertainment, community and hope. All down-stream organizations such as television, sports bars, street vendors, transportation and even parking lots (that magically up their prices for special events), capitalize on the community of fans. The “spill over” economical impact generated from just the fans of sport teams is massive.

This same opportunity of community marketplaces is all around us in the IT Industry. The obvious marketplaces like Apple, Amazon, Google, Salesforce and Microsoft are already driving business. Almost all vendors with a platform have solution marketplaces for their partners showcase and sell. On top of this, we all belong to multiple communities like sports, university, college, associations, social networks, Apple, Android and the many technology platforms. There are probably thousands of communities.

Think of communities as marketplaces.

If you can find a way to harness the purchasing power of any community, the business potential is endless.

We know that the IT industry is made up of many communities. If you are a reseller, you most likely belong to several. I know of many channel partners that target, market and sell to non-IT communities like associations, chambers of commerce and local clubs.

Similar to businesses exploiting sport communities, IT vendors also need to figure out how to add value to each channel community that they target to attract and recruit partners. The future success of vendors may actually depend heavily on their ability to tap into these IT communities or marketplaces. End-users are already searching these vendor marketplaces to find solutions so channel partners will also need to optimize their exposure.

Simply advertising to a community may not be enough because it does not add value. You will need to figure out what keeps the target community glued and what it needs to fuel their interests. To be successful in community marketing, you should understand the community at a DNA level and become a value-add contributor and recognized supporter.

Our IT Communities…

At TechnoPlanet, we have built several IT communities. Our largest channel partner community of eChannelNEWS has over 25,000 loyal fans and extends to over 65,000 “playoff” fans. My LinkedIn community has over 10,000 peers. We have built a solid ChannelNEXT conference community consisting of a few thousand fans over the past 15 years. We have a rapidly growing Women In Tech community focusing on its unique agenda. Our latest community is called the Channel Partner Alliance and is focused on building best business practices. It already has a few hundred fans (see LinkedIn Group), and growing fast. The communities that we support are purpose-built with a clear mission.

We are constantly adding value to our communities to ensure we maintain and grow our “fan” base.

If you are a channel partner, then I invite you to join our eChannelNEWS community for free! The benefits include ongoing education on everything that impacts technology and the channel business.

If you are a channel partner, then you may also want to consider joining our new Channel Partner Alliance community to grow and future-proof your business through best business practices (Check out Elite 300 Mastermind or come experience the value of this community live by simply attending any ChannelNEXT conference or learn more).

If you are a vendor, ask us how you can reach and add value to our communities of channel partners to grow business!

Even if you are not a big sports fan, you do feel something when the sports team of your city or country wins. It is difficult to ignore the heightened feeling of pride, joy and overall sense of belonging as a citizen of the country or resident of a city.

Even when your team looses, the sense of collective sadness and support for each other seems evident that slowly subsidies into “we will win next year!”. In Toronto, Maple Leafs hockey fans know this feeling all too well. Win or loose, this collective sense of community can be seen everywhere.

The short answer is “Sports matter because communities matter!”

While communities may best describe cities, regions or countries, communities can also expand beyond geographies as well as to brands or common interests. Everyone can probably identify themselves as a member of general community like a university, college, association, Apple, Android, pilots or teachers etc.

On the business side, it’s obvious that many exploit a sport’s team win by selling all sorts of team logo products. However, all down-stream organizations such as sports bars, street vendors, transportation and even parking lots (that magically up their prices for special events), capitalize on the opportunity. The “spill over” economical impact generated from the fans of sport teams is huge.

We can all learn something from the economical power of sport communities.

When you harness the buying power of any community, the business potential is endless. The IT industry is no different. The channel is already built on many communities. If you are a reseller, you probably already belong to a few. Similar to businesses exploiting sport communities, IT vendors do need to figure out how to add value to each channel community in order to attract buyers. Simply advertising to a community is not adding value.

The future success of vendors may actually depend heavily on their ability to tap into these IT communities.

At TechnoPlanet, we have built several IT communities. Our largest channel partner community of eChannelNEWS has over 25,000 loyal fans and extends to over 65,000 “playoff” fans. My LinkedIn community has over 10,000 peers. We have built solid ChannelNEXT conference community consisting of a few thousand fans over the past 15 years. Our latest community is called the Channel Partner Alliance and already has over 60 full members plus a few hundred fans (see LinkedIn Group), and growing.

Size of communities do matter but it is definitely not the only factor of success. We are constantly adding value to our communities to ensure we maintain and grow our “fan” base.

If you are a channel partner, then I invite you to join our eChannelNEWS community for free! The benefits include ongoing education on everything that impacts technology and the channel business. It is inevitable that some of our content will eventually resonate with you to add value to your business!

If you are a channel partner, then you may also want to consider joining our new Channel Partner Alliance community to grow and future-proof your business through best business practices. We believe that this may become one of the best members-only communities in the channel (Is this a fit for you? Check out Elite 300 Mastermind or come experience the value of this community live by simply attending any ChannelNEXT conference or learn more).

If you are a vendor, ask us how you can reach and add value to our communities of channel partners to grow business!