Archive for the Bottom Line to Start Line Category

Cycling & Brand-Building

Posted in Bottom Line to Start Line on November 10, 2009 by bethleasure

What’s in a Name

32“…a team with the uncommon vision of restoring faith…besides argyle is way cooler than skulls.” Jared Eborn, Cycling Consumer

ArgyleTatoo

Brand launches a Movement; a Movement launches a Brand

 

 

As resources and their allocation come under pressure because these are times to justify every expense, competitive cycling as a whole must embrace a brand-building strategy with vision. It’s clear that building a stronger brand for competitive cycling is necessary for it to thrive. In a race against other outlets for corporate ad expenditure, branding is one of our strategic assets. Unfortunately, cycling’s brand as a quality sports product has taken a hit.

Focusing on just the 33attributes of cycling – competitive or recreational – may not be the best approach for its recovery. At times, external emotional responses have been negative since our symbols for health, wellness, and overcoming have been overshadowed by a dark cloud of doping. Marketing pro cycling into something the People can identify with is less about inherent benefits of bike racing and more about the emotional responses it creates and its value as a symbol.

A different focus is on cycling’s ability to sell relevant and exciting products to its demographic. This is more than brand awareness and moves into the realm of ad expenditure to move units directly. In this way, cycling offers a very competitive advertising buy. Some products can move units of product directly – such as consumer goods.

A third approach is to use naming and image rights as a campaign in a demographic outside of those interested in cycling. Cycling then becomes a symbol of whatever metaphor is sought for the brand. The good news is that brands can be adapted to changing environments using consistent symbols. Witness the power of the argyle.

Underwritten by various title sponsors, Slipstream Sports gained brand power as an innovator team: a white knight in a dark fiefdom overcoming evil with good. Symbolizing all that’s best about a People’s movement, the team sought to stand for changing a corrupt status quo using ingenuity, unification, and a heightened sense of morality. The Argyle was an overarching symbol even while the team’s circumstances went from a developing domestic espoir presence to an international professional squad. The argyle itself, a symbol of enduring quality, silently mirrors the mission of the team – to restore faith by offering quantifiable quality. Arguably, the argyle restored faith for pro tour cycling during a dark day. 

Strong brands can be leveraged into new products and markets. Even juxtaposed against negative publicity or especially providing a bright light during dark times can draw a wider audience. People want to believe in something. They want to have hope in good things, good times, and good people. There are symbols that renew trust.  Cycling must have a saleable image and that image must restore faith and renew trust.

Faith-Restorer is an attractive title. All of cycling should be seeking it.

Prayer for Brand Building 
“You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day.” Nehemiah 9:10
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed…better than silver.”34Proverb 22:1

We confess we deserve some of the name-calling. We seek mercy and high morals to restore cycling’s good name.

Ponder Does my character inspire loyalty or am I relying on a title? Affirm I inspire trust through consistent quality and a sound identity. Watch because team success doesn’t keep sponsorship indefinitely, but can inspire long after the sponsorship ends and is as enduring as character.

 

 

 

32“Slipstream of consciousness,” by je posted January 17, 2008 on his blog, “I Ride, I Write” www.irideiwrite.wordpress.com

33Brand Leadership, Brand Equity by David Aaker

34The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling’s Human Resources

Posted in Bottom Line to Start Line on November 6, 2009 by bethleasure

Grass Is Green

25“To grow cycling here in the U.S., focus has to be grassroots and USA Cycling’s partnerships with LAs [local associations] play an important role in local growth. I think it allows the local people to do what they do best, which is grassroots racing. We know the venues. We know the promoters. It helps us ensure that the standards of quality are met.” Andy Hollinger, Texas Bicycle Racing Association

TXjersey

Big World, Big Possibilities

Thinking like a Texan isn’t a bad idea when it comes to bigger. Growth and gaining more people brings more resources into the sport. Perhaps grassroots racing is one means to enrich pro cycling also. Stories abound of the company president who picks up cycling and decides to sponsor a team. It’s typical of corporate sponsorship of cycling being championed by someone within a company who knows and loves the sport. Why not infiltrate those ranks with bicycling kids who grow up and become business owners and ad executives and marketing experts?

Of course, there are short-term ways to attract more of the best bodies into cycling, such as solving our image issues and increasing awareness of cycling’s benefits by showcasing exemplary athletes. One may credit the popularity of one great athlete, but it takes many to sustain growth.

We need resources to discover and develop these athletes. We need morality and ethics to govern the way we teach success. American cycling is seeing greater participation rates recreationally and competitively. The growing number of license holders seems to parallel growing media exposure. Perhaps this is a worldwide trend, and this was one of the emphases of the origination of the Pro Tour.

Money and people seem to go together, and cycling needs more of both resources. Great companies manage growth by inspiring cooperation among both the Accounting and Human Resources departments. Seeking recruits for a growing company is a big idea, but not exactly a new one.

Prayer for Human Resources
“God authorized and commanded me to commission you:
 Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life…
Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you.
I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day…26Matthew 28:18-20

We’re glad about cycling’s growth. We pray for more programs and more interested participants to put in them.

Ponder Have you noticed growth in cycling from a local group ride to greater territory raced in high-caliber events? Affirm I recruit by living an exemplary cycling lifestyle. Watch our expanding territory for opportunities about your place and purpose in it now and later.

 

25“Local Association payouts pay off as cycling participation grows,” published 2008-02-13 on http://www.usacyling.org

26New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Cycling Resourcefulness

Posted in Bottom Line to Start Line on November 3, 2009 by bethleasure

Outside the Tool Box

23…the car park of a bike race is a good example of the resourcefulness of your average cyclist.” Barry Meehan, Bike Shop Owner

 

ParkingLotMassage

Parking Lot Criteriums as metaphor for resourceful solutions

Amazing all the uses of parking lots we cyclists discover: toilet, dressing room, skills area, crit course. We can really think outside the box even within a square perimeter. Another example is the race mechanic who doesn’t have the part necessary to get a rider on the road but quickly rigs what’s available. Cycling tends to draw resourceful people because it rewards risk, resilience and self-reliance.

There is gentleness and beauty in our innovative meandering; freedom and infinity in our lifestyles. We tend to despise the stodgy, spoiled and institutionalized. Like the universe, many of our fields of play – race routes- have no edge and no center. Our competitive courses are often random and flowing so when we face our cycling dilemmas within anal, rigid frameworks, we well-rounded cycling people are uncharacteristically thrown into the barriers. We would rather jump curbs than get hacked in a corner.

Sometimes, we may think we know the center of a problem, but in a subculture in love with motion, it is we who need to move and find new tools. We need to change our centers and remember that there are no edges – only separations we create for standoff. Even lack can be bunny-hopped.

This is God’s entry. Connecting to the Infinite not only expands possibilities but tends to help us adapt to the creative possibilities for resourceful solutions to what may seem like an impossible constraint.

The nature of our problems or our disagreements is less important than having agreeable, problem-solving natures. It’s less about what’s right or wrong and more about if we love our neighbors as ourselves. If one loves one’s neighbor as oneself, one comes to a conclusion based on what is best for all and this multiplies possibilities. Unlimited supply of random beautiful road opens up before us, and we can either move out of the rectangular constraint like what’s felt in a parking lot criterium or see aspects of infinity within it.

 

Prayer for Resourcefulness
“Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.’24Hebrews 13:5-6

We are grateful that God provides where He guides. We ask to be able to deal promptly and skillfully with difficult circumstances and to be imaginative in finding solutions to cycling’s problems. Help us find those extraordinary courses.             

Ponder What are all possible scenarios to solve a problem? Affirm I find a way when circumstances warrant it. Watch every possible and impossible means to create solutions to problems worth solving, and for answers to questions worth asking.

 

 

23“The Lynx effect!” posted by Barry Meehan of worldwidecycles.com on February 4, 2008 www.worldwidecyclesblog.com

24New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Financial Resources

Posted in Bottom Line to Start Line on October 30, 2009 by bethleasure

bikeleaves

If money grew on trees...

Hamstrings & Purse Strings

 

21“It is frustrating at times as we only have limited financial resources and I would love to be able to do so much more. I am far from a perfect manager and I certainly do have a lot to learn, but I do the best I can with what I have.” Nicola Cranmer, Pro Team Manager

 

This expresses a sentiment felt by most pro team managers…never enough resources! Only a few top teams have budgets capable of participation at the Grand Tour level. Most pro squads make do with less money at whatever level their budgets allow them to be competitive. Teams with limited resources but stellar teamwork within tight organizations sometimes dominate wealthier teams in the races.

One domestic team had so much stuff; it took blocks of streets to park their personal caravan. They boasted a café in their RV and had so many support staff, mechanics stood around looking fresh – if you can imagine that in pro cycling! They had some success but not enough to justify sustained sponsorship, which makes sense if you add up dollars spent compared with exposure in only one domestic market. It’s a challenge to obtain the resources necessary to travel in a country with vast distances like America but which also lacks the eyeballs of a European-based team in terms of interested marketplace.

Still, the most successful teams are better resourced typically. Really big budget teams buy up the best riders. Parity may be better for the sport and make more interesting races but dominant teams do bring a lot of exposure from a riveted marketplace. We rely on this marketplace to be interested enough in cycling to funnel funds our way. That being said we love it when the underdog rider from a small squad outrides well-funded favorites.

The key is to make a realistic assessment of what the budget will buy and plan team goals and strategies to capture a niche within competitive cycling. Without resources, we get hamstrung – limited to where we can race and with whom. Our purse strings are sometimes tighter than our hamstrings.

Prayer for Financial Resources
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.”  221 Timothy 6:6

We understand an aspect of money management is humility in determining realistic goals and contentment at that level. We pray for more resources if we can properly steward them.

Ponder How much money do I need to be competitive? Affirm I add up what I currently have so that it equals success. Watch every penny to see which bits go farthest.

 

 

 

21“2007-2008” posted January 01, 2008 by Nicola Cramner on PROMAN Professional Cycling Team blog at www.proman-paradigm.blogspot.com

22New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Cycling’s Prosperity

Posted in Bottom Line to Start Line on October 27, 2009 by bethleasure

Tour de Globe

19“In the world of sport, the Tour is the third most watched event (after the Olympics and the World football championships.) Up to 15 million spectators are present on the race route, another two billion watch the event on their television sets during broadcasts to 200 countries. This spectator interest precisely corresponds to the ambitions and strategy of the Škoda brand.”       Cycling Sponsor

 

cyclingSuit

Cycling dons a suit

This spectator interest must also correspond to the ambitions and strategy of professional cycling.  Money may not make our world or our wheels go round but it does pay for sustainable cycling livelihoods and the privilege of pedaling.

With the glaring reality of a healthy bottom line income necessary before going to the start line, we need to take a hard look from a meta-view of pro cycling’s business strategy. Economics of-, Marketing of-, Foreign Policy of-, and Publicity of Competitive Cycling may not be grad school subjects, but we need to major in promotion and foreign exchange to generate income, as well as minor in tracking data for tailored financial growth strategies. Our cycling organizations should have units assigned with marketing tasks, such as publicity that increases cycling awareness in the general press; public relations that explains, maintains, and expands a leadership position in world-wide public health, fitness, and recreation; and ambassadorship that improves international commerce because of the world’s most basic and effective transportation – via bicycle.

Competitive cycling is an under-resourced, financially-stretched sport. Our lack of gate-proceeds is a hindrance in what is otherwise one of the most watched sports worldwide. Short of launching a global donation campaign to fund our campione, cycling’s interest does provide a legitimate and growing exposure to a large and loyal audience. During the assessments and the dreams, counting costs become part of an equation in determining direction. Can you dream it? How to fund it?

 

Prayer for Cycling’s Prosperity
“Steady plodding brings prosperity.” 20Proverbs 21:5

We understand love of money is the root of a lot of evil behavior, not money itself. We pray for money’s use as a resource to put and keep effective-entertaining-ethical cyclists, cycling programs, and cycling events on roads across the globe.

Ponder What would pro cycling be like if a group of business experts were actively working toward its expansion? Affirm We can take a leadership position in the world that affects finance and foreign policy. Watch how small the world gets – its circumference about the same as a pro’s annual mileage.

 

19Skoda Auto website www.skoda-auto.com

20The Living Bible Copyright © 1971 owned by assignment by KNT Charitable Trust published by Tyndale House Publishers