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Inside the C-Suite of the Seattle Sounders

Bloomberg Television

This week on C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett I took you inside the wildly successful soccer franchise Seattle Sounders. If you missed the full episode, check it out here.

Big Takeaways

  1. Sometimes you get really lucky. You have passion for something that you just adore and want to do, and then along the way you find that all the things get put together. When I talked to the General Manger of the Seattle Sounders he said it wasn’t one big thing, but 20 little things that fell in line at the same time. Luck plays a part some times, and it helped him be extremely successful.
  2. They know their audience. The Seattle Sounders built a program in an area that was ripe for soccer and they were really pulling from ages 21 – 35, mostly male. I was wondering if anyone looked at the demographics, why they picked Seattle, and why it was so successful. In the end, it’s because Joe Roth talked to the MLS Commissioner Don Garber who recommended he look to the Pacific Northwest. They happened to get really lucky in that in the Seattle area they’ve got the highest density of soccer players in the country. So there was a tipping point that played in their favor. It was the tipping point of which the kids who grew up playing soccer were now at the age between 21 and 35, mostly male. Now they’re filling stadiums twice as much as their closest competitor and sometimes outpacing the other major sports when most people wouldn’t even mention the word soccer when talking about professional sports.
  3. They’ve got a combined executive team that focuses on skilled disciplines. They took their passion and separated it from the business. Their GM focuses on building their product – their team – and the management of sponsorships, fan base, marketing and more is all done in conjunction with a partnership with the Seattle Seahawks. It gave them the head start in moving from being a minor league team to a major league team overnight and avoiding some of the blunders they would have probably made from that move.

Surprising Moment

The one thing that was very surprising to me was that I thought the fan bases would have a larger crossover. I thought if you went to one sport you would like to go to the other. That’s not the case here. It’s only a 2% crossover rate which was really eye opening.

If a business is facing a similar situation – moving from a small business to large business – what are some things they can implement right away?

Seek out people who have done it before. The Seahawks experience with digital marketing, fan appreciation, and sponsorship solicitation was a major help in helping the Sounders make sure they didn’t fall into the same ruts they had in the past. If you’re a business going through major growth, why not go to where the food is? Go talk to someone who has done this before.

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