Are You Listening to Your Customers? Learn More at this Event

 

Conversational marketing is trending and businesses of all sizes are using the strategy to engage with their customers. This means they have to listen to what their customers are saying more than ever.

The Applied Marketing Science (AMS) workshop called, “Listening to the Voice of the Customer” will teach you how to listen to your customers.

The Voice of the Customer (VOC) is an in-depth process for capturing customers sentiment across the board. When you execute a VOC initiative in your company, you are allowing customers to voice their expectations, preference, likes, dislikes and more.

You can then use this information to improve your business operations, products, and services. Additionally, the workshop will also teach you to analyze the information you collect about your customers to address their demands.

The workshop will be held from October 16-17, 2019 at the University Club of Chicago.

You can download the course overview here (PDF).

Get $100 off the course registration price by entering Discount Code SMALLBIZ.

Click the red button and register.

Register Now



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Listening to the Voice of the Customer Listening to the Voice of the Customer
October 16, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Led by veteran product development and market research experts, this course will introduce Voice of the Customer (VOC) market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets. The workshop uses a lively, interactive format with numerous hands-on activities and practice exercises to build skills and will also expose you to the latest applications of these techniques in areas such as machine learning and journey mapping.
Discount Code
SMALLBIZ ($100 Off)


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Are You Listening to Your Customers? Learn More at this Event" was first published on Small Business Trends



RSS Business Feeds

Are You Listening to Your Customers? Learn More at this Event

 

Conversational marketing is trending and businesses of all sizes are using the strategy to engage with their customers. This means they have to listen to what their customers are saying more than ever.

The Applied Marketing Science (AMS) workshop called, “Listening to the Voice of the Customer” will teach you how to listen to your customers.

The Voice of the Customer (VOC) is an in-depth process for capturing customers sentiment across the board. When you execute a VOC initiative in your company, you are allowing customers to voice their expectations, preference, likes, dislikes and more.

You can then use this information to improve your business operations, products, and services. Additionally, the workshop will also teach you to analyze the information you collect about your customers to address their demands.

The workshop will be held from October 16-17, 2019 at the University Club of Chicago.

You can download the course overview here (PDF).

Get $100 off the course registration price by entering Discount Code SMALLBIZ.

Click the red button and register.

Register Now



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Listening to the Voice of the Customer Listening to the Voice of the Customer
October 16, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Led by veteran product development and market research experts, this course will introduce Voice of the Customer (VOC) market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets. The workshop uses a lively, interactive format with numerous hands-on activities and practice exercises to build skills and will also expose you to the latest applications of these techniques in areas such as machine learning and journey mapping.
Discount Code
SMALLBIZ ($100 Off)


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Are You Listening to Your Customers? Learn More at this Event" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

10 Ways to Get Real Results and Move the Needle for Your Small Business

Not every small business task will make a big impact for your company. Certain marketing, sales and management tactics are more likely to lead to real results than others. Here are some strategies from members of the online small business community that you can use to really move the needle for your small business.

Use Blogging Strategies for Building an Audience

If you blog for your business, you need to focus on building an audience so your content can actually make an impact. In this Lobster Digital Marketing post, Ashley Lipman shares some of the most important strategies that businesses can use to improve in this area.

Learn How to Ask Customers for Reviews

Positive reviews can really improve your business’s reputation online and help you gain credibility with new customers. But if you want to cultivate more of those reviews, you need to be strategic in how you ask. Jason Yormark elaborates in this NetBlaze post.

Be Specific About What You’re Selling

Before you can actually make sales, you need to get really clear about what you’re selling and what kind of value it can add for your customers. Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media discusses the concept in this post. And BizSugar members explored it further here.

Intertwine Online and Offline Influencer Marketing Tactics

There are several ways to cultivate relationships with relevant influencers in your industry. Most businesses go right to online methods, but there are offline options as well. Caitlin Burgess examines some of the options, especially for B2B businesses, in this TopRank Marketing post.

Increase Your Business Agility

How easily can your business make shifts or adapt to changes in the market? If you’re too set in your ways, you could potentially miss out on major opportunities. But there are some procedural changes you can make to increase agility. Alex Gallia dives into some of those actionable steps in this Process Street post.

Learn Branding Lessons from Top Retailers

Your small business might not have the resources of a large brand. But you can still take some cues from giant enterprises to make your business more effective. Katie Lundin of Crowdspring offers some branding lessons in this area here.

Expand Your Thinking to Raise Results

If you want to make tangible changes in your business, your mindset should be one of the first things to adjust. If you expand your thinking in a business sense, you should be better suited to actually get better results for your business, according to Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals Musings.

Check Out Business Books for Entrepreneurs

It’s essential to constantly keep learning as a small business owner. Books can be a wonderful source of inspiration and insights. To add more to your reading list, check out this Startup Cafe post from Sandeep Mallya. Then see what BizSugar members are saying about the post here.

Avoid Mistakes That Lose the Sale

To move the needle in your business, you need to close sales. But there are tons of mistakes that can derail your efforts. Matt Shealy details some of the ones to avoid in this Smallbiztechnology.com post.

Optimize Direct Mail Campaigns with Martech Tools

Direct mail can be an incredibly effective way to reach out to customers. But without the right tools, your marketing materials might fall flat. In this Target Marketing post, Summer Gould provides some tools small businesses should take a look at.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "10 Ways to Get Real Results and Move the Needle for Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

10 Ways to Get Real Results and Move the Needle for Your Small Business

Not every small business task will make a big impact for your company. Certain marketing, sales and management tactics are more likely to lead to real results than others. Here are some strategies from members of the online small business community that you can use to really move the needle for your small business.

Use Blogging Strategies for Building an Audience

If you blog for your business, you need to focus on building an audience so your content can actually make an impact. In this Lobster Digital Marketing post, Ashley Lipman shares some of the most important strategies that businesses can use to improve in this area.

Learn How to Ask Customers for Reviews

Positive reviews can really improve your business’s reputation online and help you gain credibility with new customers. But if you want to cultivate more of those reviews, you need to be strategic in how you ask. Jason Yormark elaborates in this NetBlaze post.

Be Specific About What You’re Selling

Before you can actually make sales, you need to get really clear about what you’re selling and what kind of value it can add for your customers. Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media discusses the concept in this post. And BizSugar members explored it further here.

Intertwine Online and Offline Influencer Marketing Tactics

There are several ways to cultivate relationships with relevant influencers in your industry. Most businesses go right to online methods, but there are offline options as well. Caitlin Burgess examines some of the options, especially for B2B businesses, in this TopRank Marketing post.

Increase Your Business Agility

How easily can your business make shifts or adapt to changes in the market? If you’re too set in your ways, you could potentially miss out on major opportunities. But there are some procedural changes you can make to increase agility. Alex Gallia dives into some of those actionable steps in this Process Street post.

Learn Branding Lessons from Top Retailers

Your small business might not have the resources of a large brand. But you can still take some cues from giant enterprises to make your business more effective. Katie Lundin of Crowdspring offers some branding lessons in this area here.

Expand Your Thinking to Raise Results

If you want to make tangible changes in your business, your mindset should be one of the first things to adjust. If you expand your thinking in a business sense, you should be better suited to actually get better results for your business, according to Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals Musings.

Check Out Business Books for Entrepreneurs

It’s essential to constantly keep learning as a small business owner. Books can be a wonderful source of inspiration and insights. To add more to your reading list, check out this Startup Cafe post from Sandeep Mallya. Then see what BizSugar members are saying about the post here.

Avoid Mistakes That Lose the Sale

To move the needle in your business, you need to close sales. But there are tons of mistakes that can derail your efforts. Matt Shealy details some of the ones to avoid in this Smallbiztechnology.com post.

Optimize Direct Mail Campaigns with Martech Tools

Direct mail can be an incredibly effective way to reach out to customers. But without the right tools, your marketing materials might fall flat. In this Target Marketing post, Summer Gould provides some tools small businesses should take a look at.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "10 Ways to Get Real Results and Move the Needle for Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Know the Basics of Fonts and How They Affect Your Marketing

Know the Basics of Fonts for Marketing and How They Affect Your Efforts

Digital technology has made people more aware of the importance of typography, or fonts. Whether it is an ad on a computer or images on a smartphone, people notice fonts more than ever. And this is what a new infographic from MDG Advertising is looking to do. Increase your awareness by teaching you the basics of fonts and how they affect your marketing.

The good news for small businesses is fonts for marketing are readily available as part of office productivity and design software. The key is to become aware of the fonts you have at your disposal and learning how to use them.

Titled “Fonts 101: What Marketers Need to Know” the data comes from MDG Advertising. This is an agency with two decades of experience, so it has great insight into how the right font can make a big difference.

Anthony Del Gigante who wrote the report says, “…font choice impacts how audiences process and perceive messaging. Understanding the basics of font design and positioning can be hugely beneficial for brands of all types.”

It goes on to say, “Ultimately, brands should think situationally when it comes to choosing fonts.” This means don’t use a universal font for all your content. Find a font for each use case so it can address the context of what you are trying to say. This will allow you to target each audience with a font which appeals to them.

So, What is a Font?

A font describes a collection of characters with a combination of typeface and other qualities. This includes size, pitch, and spacing.

According to MDG, the term font is a carryover from the days of the “movable type” system. While the typeface describes the overall design of the characters, the font describes specific attributes.

Ther are many different elements on a font. Designers use elements such as stroke, counter, bar/crossbar, and ligature to create unique fonts. Even within a family of fonts, characteristics such as weight (Thin/Normal/Bold) and style (Upright/Italics) can add differentiating features.

The major font categories are Serif Fonts, Sans-Serif Fonts, and Decorative.

The Importance of Fonts

Fonts are especially important in today’s digital ecosystem because consumers are interacting with brands at all times.

A data point which drives this fact home is 75% of consumers say they judge a business by its website design. Another 72% say packaging design influences their purchasing decisions.

As a brand, you have to use fonts which are easy to read, communicate your message, and fit well with the overall design.

According to MDG, you should ask if the font matches your goals, as well as:

  • Do I want to come across as traditional or modern? (Serif vs. sans-serif)
  • Does standing out or readability matter more? (Decorative vs. non-decorative)
  • Will this font appear widely and be read in large blocks? (Size, weight, style, etc.)

Finding the Right Fonts for Marketing

Graphic design looks simple at first glance. You only begin to appreciate the work which has gone into a particular image after you attempt to do it. This, of course, includes finding the right font.

If your talents lie in other aspects of running your small business, you can hire an agency for the design work. Depending on the size of your business it may not be possible to hire an agency, but freelancers are now readily available.

Whether you go the DIY, agency or freelancer route, today’s digital technology gives you multiple options.

Take a look at the MDG Advertising infographic below.

Know the Basics of Fonts for Marketing and How They Affect Your Efforts

Infographic by MDG Advertising

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Know the Basics of Fonts and How They Affect Your Marketing" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Know the Basics of Fonts and How They Affect Your Marketing

Know the Basics of Fonts for Marketing and How They Affect Your Efforts

Digital technology has made people more aware of the importance of typography, or fonts. Whether it is an ad on a computer or images on a smartphone, people notice fonts more than ever. And this is what a new infographic from MDG Advertising is looking to do. Increase your awareness by teaching you the basics of fonts and how they affect your marketing.

The good news for small businesses is fonts for marketing are readily available as part of office productivity and design software. The key is to become aware of the fonts you have at your disposal and learning how to use them.

Titled “Fonts 101: What Marketers Need to Know” the data comes from MDG Advertising. This is an agency with two decades of experience, so it has great insight into how the right font can make a big difference.

Anthony Del Gigante who wrote the report says, “…font choice impacts how audiences process and perceive messaging. Understanding the basics of font design and positioning can be hugely beneficial for brands of all types.”

It goes on to say, “Ultimately, brands should think situationally when it comes to choosing fonts.” This means don’t use a universal font for all your content. Find a font for each use case so it can address the context of what you are trying to say. This will allow you to target each audience with a font which appeals to them.

So, What is a Font?

A font describes a collection of characters with a combination of typeface and other qualities. This includes size, pitch, and spacing.

According to MDG, the term font is a carryover from the days of the “movable type” system. While the typeface describes the overall design of the characters, the font describes specific attributes.

Ther are many different elements on a font. Designers use elements such as stroke, counter, bar/crossbar, and ligature to create unique fonts. Even within a family of fonts, characteristics such as weight (Thin/Normal/Bold) and style (Upright/Italics) can add differentiating features.

The major font categories are Serif Fonts, Sans-Serif Fonts, and Decorative.

The Importance of Fonts

Fonts are especially important in today’s digital ecosystem because consumers are interacting with brands at all times.

A data point which drives this fact home is 75% of consumers say they judge a business by its website design. Another 72% say packaging design influences their purchasing decisions.

As a brand, you have to use fonts which are easy to read, communicate your message, and fit well with the overall design.

According to MDG, you should ask if the font matches your goals, as well as:

  • Do I want to come across as traditional or modern? (Serif vs. sans-serif)
  • Does standing out or readability matter more? (Decorative vs. non-decorative)
  • Will this font appear widely and be read in large blocks? (Size, weight, style, etc.)

Finding the Right Fonts for Marketing

Graphic design looks simple at first glance. You only begin to appreciate the work which has gone into a particular image after you attempt to do it. This, of course, includes finding the right font.

If your talents lie in other aspects of running your small business, you can hire an agency for the design work. Depending on the size of your business it may not be possible to hire an agency, but freelancers are now readily available.

Whether you go the DIY, agency or freelancer route, today’s digital technology gives you multiple options.

Take a look at the MDG Advertising infographic below.

Know the Basics of Fonts for Marketing and How They Affect Your Efforts

Infographic by MDG Advertising

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Know the Basics of Fonts and How They Affect Your Marketing" was first published on Small Business Trends



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5 Situations Where Loans Can Be Most Effective And Helpful

Getting into a debt arrangement is no small matter. Borrowing money is a huge responsibility and, if not understood properly, can have a severe adverse impact on your life. Defaulted payments can lead to a bad credit rating which can sometimes take years to overcome. This is why you should reserve the decision of getting a loan for very specific reasons.

Reasons for taking loans

Despite the above issues, getting a loan can sometimes be necessary or even beneficial, depending on the reason. Today, we’re going to go over five different reasons or situations that you should consider taking out a loan.

Buying a home

Buying a house with cash, especially with the prices being where they are today, is not an option for the majority of the population.…

The post 5 Situations Where Loans Can Be Most Effective And Helpful appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.



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In the News: Back to School Retail Sales Expected to Rise in 2019

There’s a lot of good news this week for small business owners that’s looking in the rear view.

But let’s look a little bit ahead and some big news this week for some retail small businesses.

New data from the National Retail Federation suggests that Back to School shoppers plan to spend $40 more this year than they did last year on school supplies and clothing. Now, that’s on top of some pretty boisterous spending last year, so if you’re in the Back to School business in any way, there’s a good chance you’ll see an uptick in business.

That is, of course, if you’re planning ahead. And that’s why the NRF released these numbers now.

Check out what else they’re saying about the Back to School shopping season just around the corner and then check out that good news we teased at the top in our news and information roundup:

Economy

White House Kicks Off “Made in America” Week

Yesterday the White House proclaimed the start of Made in America Week, which runs July 14 – 20, 2019.  The week kicked off with a “Made in America” showcase for products made in the USA.  The showcase featured manufacturers, makers and crafters – representing each of the 50 states.

76% of Small Business Owners Say They’ve Been Successful in the Last Year

The success of small businesses is extremely important to the overall economy of the U.S. because of their sheer volume. The Small Business Administration (SBA) puts the number of small businesses at 30.20 million for 2018. So, when a survey reports 76% of small business owners say they have been successful in the last year, it is great news all around.

BizBuySell  Predicts 2019 to be the Second Most Active for Business Sales in Over a Decade

The second quarter of 2019 ranks as the most active for business sales over the last decade. The data comes from the Q2 2019 BizBuySell Insight Report, which looks at the national business-for-sale trends and transaction activity. BizBuySell Q2 2019 Insight Report According to BizBuySell, 4,948 transactions took place in the first half of 2019.

Local Marketing

Wow! Small Retail Businesses Hire Nearly 40% of All Retail Employees

Independent retailers are a huge economic engine in local communities. But in order to find out their role on the U.S. economy, SCORE researched the subject and compiled the latest 2019 retail statistics into an easy-to-understand infographic. 2019 Retail Statistics Titled “Small Retailers Can Compete and Win,” it is a timely report because July is Independent Retailer Month.

Research

The Average Business Gets 59 Actions from Their Google My Business Listing

Before today’s digital ecosystem, local small businesses had a hard time growing their brand. Word of mouth and traditional advertising was the only way to go. And the high cost of advertising meant they did very little of it. However, a small business can now let everyone (including a global audience) know who and where they are with digital technology.

Small Business Loans

Only 32% of Small Businesses Reported Securing a Traditional Bank Loan in Q2 of 2019

Capital is an indispensable resource throughout all stages of a business, but access to said capital is not always possible. This is especially the case for small businesses, which leads owners to look for alternative lenders when they need funds.

Startup

Changes in HRA Regulations – and Why They Matter to Small Businesses

New HRA regulations will allow small businesses to fund employee premiums in the individual health insurance market. The new version of the HRA (health reimbursement arrangement) will disrupt traditional group coverage by letting employees pick their plans. Individual Coverage HRA It’s called the individual coverage HRA (ICHRA). This new rule is set to go into effect January 2020.

Zoho and Mastercard Expand Partnership to Benefit Small Businesses

One of the benefits of today’s digital technology is the efficiency it has introduced to small businesses.  Enterprise-grade solutions are now readily available at a price point small business can afford. The latest effort in this endeavor is the expansion of the partnership between Mastercard and Zoho.

Taxes

TaxWise Mobile App from Wolters Kluwer Helps Preparers Keep in Touch With Clients

The big five accounting firms get most of the attention in the industry. But they only make up 10% of the firms in the U.S. Overall, 90% of these accounting firms have 10 or fewer owners or partners. Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting designed its new TaxWise Mobile app for tax preparers. These preparers have a heavy focus on individual tax returns and thus a very seasonal business.

Image: DepositPhotos.com

This article, "In the News: Back to School Retail Sales Expected to Rise in 2019" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

In the News: Back to School Retail Sales Expected to Rise in 2019

There’s a lot of good news this week for small business owners that’s looking in the rear view.

But let’s look a little bit ahead and some big news this week for some retail small businesses.

New data from the National Retail Federation suggests that Back to School shoppers plan to spend $40 more this year than they did last year on school supplies and clothing. Now, that’s on top of some pretty boisterous spending last year, so if you’re in the Back to School business in any way, there’s a good chance you’ll see an uptick in business.

That is, of course, if you’re planning ahead. And that’s why the NRF released these numbers now.

Check out what else they’re saying about the Back to School shopping season just around the corner and then check out that good news we teased at the top in our news and information roundup:

Economy

White House Kicks Off “Made in America” Week

Yesterday the White House proclaimed the start of Made in America Week, which runs July 14 – 20, 2019.  The week kicked off with a “Made in America” showcase for products made in the USA.  The showcase featured manufacturers, makers and crafters – representing each of the 50 states.

76% of Small Business Owners Say They’ve Been Successful in the Last Year

The success of small businesses is extremely important to the overall economy of the U.S. because of their sheer volume. The Small Business Administration (SBA) puts the number of small businesses at 30.20 million for 2018. So, when a survey reports 76% of small business owners say they have been successful in the last year, it is great news all around.

BizBuySell  Predicts 2019 to be the Second Most Active for Business Sales in Over a Decade

The second quarter of 2019 ranks as the most active for business sales over the last decade. The data comes from the Q2 2019 BizBuySell Insight Report, which looks at the national business-for-sale trends and transaction activity. BizBuySell Q2 2019 Insight Report According to BizBuySell, 4,948 transactions took place in the first half of 2019.

Local Marketing

Wow! Small Retail Businesses Hire Nearly 40% of All Retail Employees

Independent retailers are a huge economic engine in local communities. But in order to find out their role on the U.S. economy, SCORE researched the subject and compiled the latest 2019 retail statistics into an easy-to-understand infographic. 2019 Retail Statistics Titled “Small Retailers Can Compete and Win,” it is a timely report because July is Independent Retailer Month.

Research

The Average Business Gets 59 Actions from Their Google My Business Listing

Before today’s digital ecosystem, local small businesses had a hard time growing their brand. Word of mouth and traditional advertising was the only way to go. And the high cost of advertising meant they did very little of it. However, a small business can now let everyone (including a global audience) know who and where they are with digital technology.

Small Business Loans

Only 32% of Small Businesses Reported Securing a Traditional Bank Loan in Q2 of 2019

Capital is an indispensable resource throughout all stages of a business, but access to said capital is not always possible. This is especially the case for small businesses, which leads owners to look for alternative lenders when they need funds.

Startup

Changes in HRA Regulations – and Why They Matter to Small Businesses

New HRA regulations will allow small businesses to fund employee premiums in the individual health insurance market. The new version of the HRA (health reimbursement arrangement) will disrupt traditional group coverage by letting employees pick their plans. Individual Coverage HRA It’s called the individual coverage HRA (ICHRA). This new rule is set to go into effect January 2020.

Zoho and Mastercard Expand Partnership to Benefit Small Businesses

One of the benefits of today’s digital technology is the efficiency it has introduced to small businesses.  Enterprise-grade solutions are now readily available at a price point small business can afford. The latest effort in this endeavor is the expansion of the partnership between Mastercard and Zoho.

Taxes

TaxWise Mobile App from Wolters Kluwer Helps Preparers Keep in Touch With Clients

The big five accounting firms get most of the attention in the industry. But they only make up 10% of the firms in the U.S. Overall, 90% of these accounting firms have 10 or fewer owners or partners. Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting designed its new TaxWise Mobile app for tax preparers. These preparers have a heavy focus on individual tax returns and thus a very seasonal business.

Image: DepositPhotos.com

This article, "In the News: Back to School Retail Sales Expected to Rise in 2019" was first published on Small Business Trends



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David West of the Historical Basketball League: Disrupting the NCAA’s Stranglehold on Pathway to the NBA is Right Thing To Do

One of my favorite conferences to attend every year is the annual Sports and Entertainment Alliance in Technology (SEAT) conference. It’s one of the leading events for C-level execs at professional sports teams and leagues. This includes the NFL, NBA, MLB and MLS. But it also includes major college athletic departments. And it’s the only business conference I know of where I can moderate a general session panel while wearing my Eric Dickerson authentic throwback jersey.

Historical Basketball League

Speaking of which, I had the pleasure of hosting a fireside chat with two of the C-level executives of the Historical Basketball League (HBL).  I’m talking about CEO and cofounder Ricky Volante and COO David West. David also played 15 years in the NBA and was a two-time champion with the Golden State Warriors. The chat was all about the HBL.

This startup basketball league looks to provide college athletes with an alternative pathway to the NBA. So it seeks to disrupt the NCAA’s stranglehold by paying athletes, giving them scholarships and allowing them to benefit financially on their own personal brands. The discussion proved so interesting. So my CRM Playaz partner Paul Greenberg and I asked Ricky and David to join us for an episode. So we can dig in a bit more and discuss why they decided to challenge an organization with the power and clout of the NCAA.

Below you’ll find an edited transcript of our conversation. To see the full conversation watch the video or click on the embedded SoundCloud player below.

The Historical Basketball League is Disrupting the NCAABrent Leary: So, Historical Basketball League. You got to tell us what it’s all about and you also got to tell us about the name too.

Ricky Volante: Yeah, so I guess we’ll start with what it’s about. We’re trying to become the primary destination for elite college basketball players across the globe competing directly with the NCAA and then to some extent also with organizations like the MBL and the G League, but we’re trying to become that 18 to 23 year olds that are the best in the world at what they do in terms of college basketball, we want them to be playing in our league. Yeah, if you want to-

David West: Yeah. Again, a lot with Ricky said, we were aiming to become the premier destination for college basketball athletes to start. We want to create an environment that is centered around them and give them options and opportunities that benefit them more than the universities.

Ricky Volante: The name itself. So, in 1929 the Carnegie Foundation had a commission that was similar to what Condoleezza Rice recently did with the NCAA and what they were trying to do was determine whether or not universities were providing anything beyond a scholarship to their college athletes and so, they surveyed 121 universities and found that 84 of them were outright paying players.

When you think back to that point of time, Harvard was a football powerhouse. Why? Harvard paid more than everybody else and nothing more than that. I mean, Harvard was one of the first super stadiums within college football. They redevelop them and the University of Pennsylvania pretty much changed the entire landscape of college football building the first 30 and 40 and 50,000 seat stadiums back in the beginning of the 20th century and again, that’s because they were paying more than the other universities.

Brent Leary: It wasn’t because of the Ivy League and all. It was about cash-

Ricky Volante: I’m sure that there are Ivy Leaguer’s that’ll tell you that it was because of the education. It was not because they were paying the most.

Brent Leary: Wow. All right. So, let’s talk about why you guys founded to do this. What was the reason that you just wanted to come out and pretty much try to disrupt what the NCAA is all about?

David West: Yeah, I think first of all, it’s the right thing to do. When I was looking at the layout of the league and the concepts behind it and what the intent was, it was just the right thing to do. There’s career opportunities that exist off the backs of the labor of these young athletes and they are the people that have the fewest opportunities, the fewest career choices, particularly while they’re in school. So, the model that we have is just the right model to present to the market at this time.

Paul Greenberg: So, fill us in a little more on the actual model, what you’re actually going to do with these athletes and what your plan is for you too.

The Historical Basketball League is Disrupting the NCAA

Ricky Volante: Yeah. So to start with, we’re a single entity. So, we’re going to have eight teams. The cities that those teams are going to be located in going north to south, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia, Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta.

Paul Greenberg: And why that?

Ricky Volante: Atlanta was a critical one for us, but overall if you break down those markets, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and DC are three of the top 10 markets in the US. When you throw in Baltimore and Charlotte, you’ve got five of the top 21 markets in the US and then Richmond, Norfolk and Raleigh, where a lot of people might scratch their heads and say, “How can you throw those in with the others?” They ranked as three of the top eight markets in terms of NBA viewership and so, Norfolk was number one, Raleigh was number seven and Richmond was number eight.

Paul Greenberg: So, what becomes the value to the athlete?

Ricky Volante: First and foremost, we’re going to be providing them with salaries, salaries of 50 to $150,000 per season. Beyond that, we’re also providing them with five year guaranteed scholarships, which can be completed on a non-continuous base or on a continuous basis. So, if they go to the NBA, they can come back and complete it at a later date. In addition to that, there are not restrictions on name, image and likeness.

So, they can sign endorsement deals, they can have agents, they can have financial planners, they can have attorneys, all the things that in some way shape or form is either impermissible or severely restricted by the NCAA. We felt taking a focus on having it as player centric as possible would allow us to bring in maybe not all, but a good percentage of the elite basketball players in the US and globally and then from there your revenue streams, going back to your question about the business side, people are going to tune in and watch.

Companies are going to want to be associated with these athletes. Another thing that happens within college is you have this inefficient relationship between sponsors and players because the sponsorship deals can’t be directly with the players. They have to be with the university, which means you have to work through the athletic department, which means the players get nothing out of it. So, the athletic department is playing middleman. The Athletic Department forces the athletes to participate. They’re getting nothing out of it.

Brent Leary: What I like about the model is people are getting salaries. They’re getting paid. But they’re also getting scholarships. So, instead of having to be tied to the university who’s under the NCAA rules, which restricts money they can make. Now, you’re basically allowing these athletes to get a salary. Find the college of their choice and then you give scholarship money for them to go to that. And they get the opportunity to build their own brand and actually make money off of their own brand as opposed to the NCAA making money off of their brand.

David West: Right. And in the most simplified form is it’s just you have a student who has a summer job, right? So, these guys’ job is in the summer. Their job just happens to be basketball. In the fall, winter and spring, they are students where they are developing and training in an academic pursuit that fits their needs. And is best going to serve them as they look forward to their professional futures.

Ricky Volante: It’s a great analogy in a lot of ways and when you think about it, for CS majors, Google has a program that pays a CS major, if you get into it, $100,000 for the summer. None of us would ever think-

Brent Leary: For the summer?

Ricky Volante: Yeah.

Paul Greenberg: OK we’re done with the show… We have to go fill out a job application.

Ricky Volante: None of us would, in our craziest minds think that makes that student’s academic experience less meaningful because they’re getting paid while they’re in college. All of us were like, “No, that’s exactly what you should be doing.” If you develop an app, if Google itself was developed out of a Stanford course once upon a time, it’s Stanford doesn’t get 100% ownership of that as a result of the fact that it was developed in a Stanford class. So, there’s those types of things that again, it would be insane for us to say that Stanford should have had 100% ownership rights of Google, but if a Stanford athlete is playing for Stanford, they pretty much do.

Paul Greenberg: One of your criteria was they have to be a college student. Now, let’s say they’re incredibly talented, but not college student and when I say not college, I’m deliberately not saying high school because if you remember years ago, huge amount of street talent in New York for example, right? So, what about those kids?

David West: That’s why we aren’t going to try to fit a square peg into a circular hole. We’re going to work with those kids and their families and our academic advisors and our nonprofit to find an education that suits their needs. So, we’re not going to say, “Okay, you’ve got to go to this university.” No, we’re going to say we’ll identify the kids. We know the kids that don’t fit the traditional classroom model, but we can put them in a trade school-

Paul Greenberg: And you’ll work with them, get them into the trade school?

David West: We’re going to work to get them into … Each one of our student athletes are going to have an educational track that they’re on and I guess no singular athlete will have the… There won’t be a cookie cutter look at it. We’re going to be very nimble with it. We’re going to make sure that it suits the needs of that athlete And we’re going to utilize the community college network, local college, smaller universities, online curriculums, like we said vocational and trade schools if we have to, but we’re going to find some education that fits each one of our athletes.

Ricky Volante: And that’s part of what we want to do is instill upon these guys what they can do on and off the court and how everything off the court impacts what they do on the court as well. So, financial literacy, public speaking, media training, selecting and vetting agents, all these things that whether you like it or not, it’s going to impact how successful you are as an athlete.

Brent Leary: And you were saying you don’t get that from college. You talked to a lot of young talent and if things don’t go the way they expect them to go, they’re lost.

David West: Most athletes today are in educational tracks that meet the needs of their athletic requirements, right? So, your schedule, your schooling, your major, your class schedule is all built around to make you most available for athletics. So, there’s very little space or room for the guys who want to pursue certain academic tracks. If it interferes with your sport, then that’s something that’s off the table, right? Because you go to that school as an athlete first. Particularly the scholarship athletes. And that’s one of the narratives we want to change. And we want to fight, right? Players have the right, if they want to commit themselves to the sport.

Sports are a global phenomenon and a massive opportunity, not just at the player level. But the whole range of athletics can be available to these guys. So, for us it’s most important to put them in tracks that fit what they want to do. And fit what we ask them. What is your idea? What are you gonna do after sport? What are you going to do while you’re in sport? Because as a professional and former professional now, the conversation is, for us, once you become a pro, you can’t wait to figure out your next step when the basketball is done.

So, you’ve got to start figuring out your next steps while you’re in your career and that’s relatively new for professional athletes because we were trained and brought up to put all of our eggs in this basket and then for this younger generation, this new, this future athlete, they have all types of interests and they have all types of ideas and things that they wanna pursue such as being media mavens.

I mean, these guys are talented, they have other things that peak their interest and basketball is still their centerpiece, but they don’t buy into the idea that they’ve got to deny these other aspects of themselves and not build these other aspects of themselves just to play the sport.

Ricky Volante: That’s part of how we want to reshape how people view college athletes to start with, but athletes overall; they aren’t just athletes. A lot of people only think of it in that term that an athlete is an athlete. They have huge significant platforms. They have significant influence and we want to be able to again start to shape that a little earlier so that these guys understand going into the NBA, this is what I can accomplish, not just on the court.

But off the court to have a more profound success on my community, where I came from, from my family, all those types of things because a lot of these guys come from low socioeconomic backgrounds and that’s part of the stress that is associated with the current system is that these guys have to go a year unpaid and again they come from families that live below the poverty line. They’ve got people that are counting on them to make it.

Brent Leary: This has been great. But I got to throw one thing out there. I mean, you are going up against the NCAA. And all the power and money they have. So, what are the things that keep you up at night the most? What are the biggest challenges that you foresee with battling a behemoth?

Ricky Volante: Well, I’ll start my answer by saying mountains are there to be climbed. So, this absolutely it’s going to be a mountain. We aren’t shying away from that. They were formed in 1906. College sports generates about $13 billion a year. The financial power and economic power that they can wield is significant. And it’s not just the NCAA. A lot of people think about it in just those terms.

There’s a lot of institutions and corporations and donors and alums and universities out there that all benefit from the status quo remaining as it is. And so, there’s a lot of people out there that if we’re successful, their pockets are going to get a little lighter. So, for us it’s about maneuvering and finding the right groups that want to be associated with us and work with us.

Take distribution as an example. Looking at purely digital companies that don’t have long standing relationships with the NCAA or conferences. And there’s a lot of them out there that people don’t even realize. Facebook Watch, Amazon Prime, Twitch, Flow Sports, 11 Sports, Caffeine Stadium. And I’m sure I’m missing a whole bunch.

Once upon a time when leagues were trying to compete against, whether it’s the NFL or the MLB or whatever, you had four channels. Sometimes two or three channels. And those were your only options to distribute. That’s no longer a challenge today.

We can get the product in front of people, but it’s about finding mission-aligned investors, going back to your original question now. Mission-aligned investors who understand what we’re trying to accomplish as much on the court as off the court. People that are going to understand that this is going to take time to develop and develop the right way.

What we launch with next June, a decade from now is probably going to look very — those two products are probably going to look very different. But because we have a clean slate, because we don’t have a century’s worth of policies and procedures that have always been in place that we have to follow. We can tweak and go back and forth on different things to find out what the fans want. What’s going to be supported. What the players want and so, I mean, yeah, it’s all a challenge. But if it was easy, someone would have already done what we’re doing.

This article, "David West of the Historical Basketball League: Disrupting the NCAA’s Stranglehold on Pathway to the NBA is Right Thing To Do" was first published on Small Business Trends



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