The Trendy Thing to Do

May 13, 2013 by Mike Pitman

A strong desire of every business is to catch a wave or trend in the marketplace.  Although I have spent my fair share of time running in place throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to catch a couple of those waves over the years.  My first experience was in the staffing industry and coincided with the explosive growth in technical recruiting.  Fifteen years later, I cautiously transitioned onto another wave – this time in the nutritional beverage category. It was a much steeper but shorter wave.  Although I have always worked extremely hard at any role or task, it became clear to me that my results were not always directly related to my effort.  Much of my success, and even more so my career enjoyment, had to do with the size of the wave I was riding while working hard.

We place a serious focus on trends within the sports industry at Premier Sports. For instance, when the trend began for men’s basketball players to leave college early to enter the NBA Draft, Premier seized on something Dick Enberg said during a 2001 NCAA Final Four broadcast. Enberg wondered why there wasn’t an award that recognized players who completed their athletic eligibility, fulfilling a four-year commitment to a university. Twelve years later, the Senior CLASS Award continues to do just that. Premier created the Senior CLASS Award property in 2001, and universities across the country have invested time and resources to promote their outstanding senior student-athletes for this prestigious award.

Premier also recently seized on the groundswell of public opinion for a college football playoff by assisting the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) with branding and identity strategy as it transitioned to the College Football Playoff for 2015.

This focus on trends was a determining factor in our decision to create our latest property – XVAL™.  The XVAL property actually includes a couple of trends within sports: 1) the growth in the use of advanced statistics to measure player performance and 2) the ever-growing economics of professional teams and athletes.  Yet perhaps the biggest trend captured with XVAL is the seemingly ever-increasing convergence of sports and business.  I recall 15 years ago when I was with the staffing company, we invited Mark Shapiro, GM of the MLB’s Cleveland Indians, to speak to our company and we incorporated much of his approach to running his team into our training program.  At the time it felt like an innovative approach, but given the big business sports has become, it would feel more like a basic corporate partnership today.  Another clear sign is the way corporate America has attempted to integrate the “Moneyball” story into its operations.  Many times an updated Internet search of “moneyball” will produce more results in the business section than sports section. 

At Premier, we will continue to monitor the latest trends in sports and business because it is wise and fun.  Being disciplined in efforts to search for and recognize what is trending in an industry is extremely beneficial for any company looking for the next big thing. Find a wave and enjoy the ride.