Jimmy Hendricks, our tennis account executive here at Active, made an appearance at the USTA Campus Championships in Cary, NC this weekend to represent the Active Network and our products.
Jimmy���s report of the weekend���s frivolities was overwhelmingly positive, sharing that it was a great experience to spend a weekend watching tennis and interacting with current and potential clients.
eteamz was one of the Active products represented at the event, for which we developed a two-sided 4.25x5.5 printed card as well as a corresponding landing page.
I have been trying to shift to a ���less is more��� strategy for our marketing materials, focusing on a couple key points about the product as well as big product screenshots. Historically, eteamz has gone more with the ���fit as much info into the provided space as possible��� approach.
Sometime in the near future the plan is to adopt this minimalist strategy across the board for eteamz in tandem with the re-launch of the Active.com site. However, at this point the focus is completely on fixing all the site performance and stability issues.
When will we see a paradigm shift in athleticism? Over the last hundred years, there has certainly been an evolution of the competitive athlete. Modern athletes are now bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before���I imagine that athletes from the early 20th century would have a hard time believing some of the things modern athletes can do (picture Joe DiMaggio standing next to Barry Bonds). But when will we see a truly revolutionary shift in athletic mechanics, not just strength and size?
I came across a really interesting new story on NYTimes.com this morning about an ambidextrous college-level pitcher at Creighton University, Pat Venditte. Now this would be a true shift in game mechanics! What if being ambidextrous became more prevalent in competitive sports? Not only would this have an enormous impact on general game mechanics, but it would affect the very strategy of the game���that is, at least, until being ambidextrous became mainstream and effectively eliminated the advantage.
Will a whole generation of new parents start teaching their children to train both arms, rather than just one? Will tennis players some day be able to avoid the dreaded backhand all together? Will golfers be able to switch stances when the lie of their ball necessitates it? Possibly, although I would pity the caddies forced to carry around two sets of golf clubs for an ambidextrous golfer.
The future no doubt holds a great many advancements in the world of sport, some being minimal, and some being revolutionary. It will be interesting to see how athleticism develops over the next 50 years.
It's always fun to browse eteamz sites and see the variety of different things our members use their sites for.
One of our resident eteamz celebrities, Pat Neshek, recently had his eteamz site/blog mentioned in an ESPN article! How cool is that?
For those who don't know, Pat is a pitcher on the Minnesota Twins and uses his eteamz site to post news updates about his life as well as share his passion for trading collectibles, yet again showcasing how eteamz helps teams, athletes and enthusiasts connect and share their passion for sports and activities.
Click here to view the ESPN article. Check out #6 to see where Pat is mentioned.
The re-launch of Active and eteamz in the upcoming months marks the advent of the video-age for the two brands. Active, along with our video partner JumpCut, are integrating top-notch video services into Active and the Active suite of products (including eteamz).
An interesting issue worth pondering though is the legal ramifications of video support and how the system will function.
Case-in-point: YouTube. Google has been embroiled in legal conflicts with major media networks recently regarding the use of copyrighted materials on Google���s recent acquisition, YouTube. Originally heralded as the next cash cow application on the internet, YouTube has experienced a mass exodus of sponsors / partners due to the legally volatile nature of the YouTube business model.
My question is how will you, the eteamz and Active community, use these video tools? I envision a vibrant network of folks sharing original video of sport-related accomplishment rather than recycled content from TV shows and movies. Videography and photography of sport can be a truly powerful and awe-inspiring thing, imagine how powerful this consolidation of sport-related video from around the world is going to be?
The key to sustainable business is honesty and good intentions; a genuine interest in adding value to another person���s life. This aura of good intention will then pervade the company, product, and community and become a more powerful marketing force than any of todays generally accepted mass-media marketing tactics.
This hasn���t always been true, but as monopolized industry becomes a thing of the past, the competitive nature of the marketplace is shifting power from the corporation to the consumer. With the ball in the consumer���s court, it is up to the company to create products and services that add value to the consumer as well as create an image that the consumer can relate to and support.
Ikea is a great example of a company that delivers on all of these points. They are a trendsetter in the budget furniture market, constantly designing and producing numerous styles of furniture sets and they are also a company that has done a great job developing a hip and conscientious corporate identity.
Quality Product + Positive Identity = Success
Recently, Ikea started an environmental program where they are charging shoppers $.05 per plastic bag with the proceeds being directed to an environmental conservation group.
Ikea's U.S. stores went through 70 million plastic bags last year -- and officials want to cut that in half over the first year of the ''bring your own bag'' policy. That would equate to about 1.5 million trees being planted.
Polled customers responded favorably to this program, which makes perfect sense. Who wouldn���t be willing to deal with a minor nuisance in order to be a part of such a respectable and socially conscientious program? Programs like this help create an identity that people support and are proud to be a part of.
I���d love to get your thoughts on this topic regarding eteamz. Is the eteamz product something you are excited to use and proud to display? Can you easily identify what the eteamz brand stands for? Do you think eteamz has a positive image?
Modern society thrives on the connectedness that is offered by constantly evolving technology and the internet. Many of the things that the average person takes for granted are powered by computers and the ability of these computers to network with each other. However, at what point do security holes and information sharing begin to compromise personal privacy?
CNNMoney.com and Business 2.0 recently published their 7th annual ���101 Dumbest Moments in Business��� report for 2006. One of these moments which resonated with me was this blunder made by AOL:
In an ���attempt to reach out to the academic community with new research tools,��� AOL releases the search queries of 657,000 users. Though AOL insists that the data contains no personally identifiable information, the New York Times and other news outlets promptly identify a number of specific users, including searcher No. 4417749, soon-to-be-ex-AOL-subscriber Thelma Arnold of Lilburn, Ga., whose queries include ���womens underwear��� and ���dog that urinates on everything.��� The gaffe leads to the resignation of AOL���s chief technology officer and a half-billion-dollar class-action lawsuit.
In a perfect world, search queries and other tech-actions of a personal nature would live the moment they are processed and then disappear forever. Unfortunately, this is not the way technology works and pretty much everything done on a computer these days is recorded. But if all our actions are to be recorded, then we should at least be able to take comfort in the fact that this data will not be disseminated to random third-party organizations.
While personal data is quickly becoming the currency of the realm and extremely valuable to a wide variety of companies and institutions, holding this type of personal data in confidence is mutually beneficial for all involved parties.
Consumer confidence is maintained when a feeling of security and trust is experienced. Similarly, companies benefit from being trusted by their customers���trust that seems to be hard to come by for large companies these days. Case-in-point: avoiding costly lawsuits and negative publicity such as those experienced by AOL. I should patent this theory���C2: Eric���s Theory of Consumer-Company Relations!
It all comes down to trust. A senior executive at IBM shared his thoughts with me on this topic: when making decisions or faced with internal issues, he noted that he would apply the ���Light of Day��� test to the situation. How would customers, other companies, the general public, etc. respond if and when the decision, event, or situation saw the ���light of day.��� If AOL had applied this rule to their search query decision, they would have realized that sharing the personal data of over half a million users was not a good idea and avoided the negative situation that ensued.
However, mistakes can be productive learning experiences, and hopefully companies facing issues similar to those experienced at AOL will use this as a guide. To quote Batman Begins (and reveal that I am a total nerd), ���And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.���
My little desk calendar is just about out of interesting factoids to share so it must be the end of the year. This is a time when we all take a moment to review the past year and look forward to what's to come. Well we at eteamz are no exception, so I thought I'd share my reflections and resolutions with all of you.
2006 was a pretty steady year for eteamz, on the outside. That doesn't mean there weren't any important changes.
We began in January with some really big enhancements to the calendar and schedule admin tools - expanded recurring event options, multiple event categories, shared events for league and org sites and import/export tools for big schedules.
We added the eteamz Newz page to let our members showcase their latest news and updates on a larger scale.
We enhanced the Snapshotz program, making it easier to submit your photos for our monthly contest.
We partnered with Shutterfly to create a program called eteamz albumz. This program allows site admins the ability to let their visitors upload photos directly to their site and then view them in a slideshow on Shutterfly, where you can order up prints and all kinds of other great products like photo books and calendars.
We added a bunch of new player stats for baseball, softball, hockey, soccer, football and lacrosse.
And just this week we've enhanced our advertising upgrade option to remove the image dimension restrictions so your custom ads can be the size that fits best for you.
And that was just some of the stuff you could see. There was quite a bit going on here behind the scenes at eteamz. Of course we launched this blog to give you an idea of some of those things. We added several new staff at important positions. We did some back-end technology work to improve overall performance. We did some internal re-organization to help improve our own efficiency. And I can't tell you how many times I've moved offices.
So what will 2007 hold for eteamz? Of course no one can say for sure what's to come - and if you all knew, what would be the fun in that? I can say, though, that where 2006 was a pretty steady year, 2007 will be a year of change for eteamz. All good changes, we hope.
Coming in January we'll be vastly improving our site building process to make it easier to get your site set up.
We'll also be making some changes to our site info pages to help give people a better idea about what eteamz sites are all about, what all the great features are and why eteamz is not just the best place to come to build a web site for your team or club, but why it should be the only place that you would ever need to consider.
There will be some pretty important changes to the community that will open a whole new world of functionality and ease of use for all of you looking to chat each other up about your teams, your styles and your active lives.
We'll be developing some new site designs and giving site owners more control over the look and feel of your sites.
There will undoubtedly be much more to come in 2007, so stay tuned for all the details. While there will be some great changes coming this year, some things will definitely not change. eteamz will continue to be THE place for low-cost, easy to build, team sports web sites. eteamz, together with our parent company the Active Network, will continue to be home to the largest and very best participatory sports community in the world. We'll continue to provide outstanding support and service to our rapidly growing membership. And we will continue to listen to the needs and desires of our members and fans.
So, from all of us at eteamz, we close out another great year and wish you all a safe, successfull, and Happy New Year!
The definition of marketing varies depending upon who you ask. One of the definitions I've heard over the years which resonated with me is marketing as a process of building long-lasting relationships with customers. Marketers often focus on inundating current and potential customers with messaging focused on corporate goals and their own bottom line. Rather, marketing should be a series of communications between related parties featuring content that both the marketer and the customer find interesting and compelling.
One of our marketing projects that just went live is our autumn sale offer to current free site administrators. This piece is visible when logging on to the eteamz admin area and accessing a free site. The purpose being to spread a little autumn/holiday cheer by offering 20% off PLUS as well as to educate about why eteamz PLUS is the best web site solution for teams and groups. More storage space, increased customization, a laundry list of features and tools...there is nothing you can't do with PLUS!
For those who missed out on the autumn sale piece, all you need to do is enter the coupon code: AUTUMNSALE when purchasing PLUS in order to take advantage of the 20% discount.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on the autumn sale piece as well as eteamz marketing in general. Are our offers compelling? Do you find our creative interesting? Would you like to hear from us more? Would you like to hear from us less? We're all ears!
Some of you may know that November is National Novel Writing Month (sometimes known as "NaNoWriMo," or just "NaNo" for short). I learned of this fantastic idea last year when I came upon it searching the web and thinking about writing. And it means pretty much what it sounds like - take a month to write a novel, which they define as 50,000 words. Doesn't have to be perfect, doesn't have to be pretty, doesn't have to make sense - just write and write and write some more.
I gave it a try, but I'm sorry to say that I got to about 7,500 words and had to give up. But this year, I'm determined. At the very least, I'll beat my previous total, but if you've followed some of my posts here you might think I've got it in the bag.
One of the only ways to complete a novel in a month is with a lot of support. Folks get together for a "write-in" where they meet at a coffeehouse or someplace and just challenge each other to write about a certain topic or just cram as much writing into 15 minutes as possible or whatever. Having everyone together in a group is a surprisingly good motivating factor.
So what in the world does this have to do with eteamz? eteamz is a perfect place to build a website for a sports team, since that's really been the primary purpose. But eteamz is pretty flexible and you can do a lot of things with it. There's no reason why you can't use eteamz really for any group activity where you want to communicate, post information, create a schedule, have your own message board, post photos, etc....
NaNoWriMo is a great excuse to get involved with a writing group, and what better headquarters for your group than eteamz? Of all the dozens of sports eteamz offers, I don't believe writing is one of them... yet. But build a site and choose "Other" as your sport and off you go! Publish your calendar with your scheduled write-ins. Set up a message board to chat with your group. Post the latest news and photos from your recent write-ins. Heck, you can even publish your novel when it's done!
Well, the first day is almost over, so I better get to it. I really do hope you check it out and give it a try. I see new ways to use eteamz almost every day and thought I'd share this one with you. Good luck to everyone in November.
Ahoy me maties! I be needin' to have a bit 'o a chat with yarselves about yet olde eteamz marketing program! What be the type o' plunder that yarselves would like to see pillaged from the eteamz coffers?
Okay, as much as I love Halloween, that is more than enough pirate talk. For those of you who got about half-way through that paragraph and gave up due to the headache you no doubt developed, here is the translation.
Hi everyone! I want to talk to you about the eteamz marketing program! What type of incentives would you like to see us offer in our marketing programs? What do you find personally compelling when it comes to upgrading to a PLUS account?
So far, we have stuck mostly with discounts and free upgrades as incentives in our promotional materials, but as a team full of indidviduals plagued with A.D.D., we are looking for some new ideas to spice it up a little bit...not to mention an excuse to milk our partners a little bit for free goodies!
Without further adieu, I present to you the top 5 worst ideas for promotions that we have come up with so far. Enjoy these treats....
Can you imagine a greater thrill that sitting down and sharing a meal with one of the creative geniuses who run eteamz? I sure can't. Upgrade to PLUS today and be entered in the drawing to enjoy a lunch with the eteamz staffer of your choice at any one of these fabulous restaurants: Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Wendy's. Don't forget your credit card, because you're buying!
Number 3 - The Angry (and potentially rabid) Ferret Speed Trainer
Bob and weave. Any boxer will tell you that training to move quickly and be light on your feet is essential in any bout. Strength and speed are two of the most important characteristics in any athletic endeavor. Behold! The angry ferret speed trainer! This eteamz exclusive is available only to those who sign up for a PLUS account. Train your team to be the fastest in the league by setting this little bundle of fun on them! The ferret's speed and erratic movement will no doubt guarantee almost immediate athletic improvement in whichever participant he decides to chase first.
What says "team" better than a ballpark hotdog or a big juicy hamburger? Not a whole lot, right? Well, now eteamz and our partners are bringing you a special promotion...custom printed meat products! Put a picture of your little all-star on a hotdog and chow down. Print a picture of that championship-winning play on a hamburger and celebrate! Sign up for a PLUS account today and receive 15 free meat prints!
Number 1 - The eteamz Urn
Is sport your life? Does your sweat pool in the form of the ESPN logo? Sign up for a PLUS account today to share your love of sport with the world and receive your very own custom eteamz urn! Continue your love of sport into eternity after your mortal presence is long gone. Be remembered the way you deserve with a custom designed eteamz urn featuring your choice of photo printed on the exterior courtesy of our partners. Supplies are limited, so act now!
In all seriousness, please send any ideas that you would like to see made into a marketing reality to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear your opinions. Otherwise, look forward to your face on a hamburger patty!
P.S. A private company actually does offer MLB themed urns, check it out here.
It never ceases to amaze me what you'll find within eteamz. One day its a rugby team in New Zealand and the next it's a kickball team in DC.
Well last week while clicking around eteamz and I found the site of Pat Neshek who is a relief pitcher with the Minnesota Twins. I ended up spending a half hour reading his posts and learning about his rise to the major leagues. It appears that Pat has had his eteamz site for some time and it provides a unique perspective on his career and almost as importantly, his interest in baseball card collecting.
I'm not from Minnesota but ever since I found his site I will admit to rooting for the Twins. They clinched a playoff spot last night and I'm sure Pat got drenched with champagne after the game.
If you have an interest in baseball or card collecting I would definitely check out the site. Also be sure and sign his guestbook!
Now that we're getting this blog thing going, I thought I'd put a post together about my experience with eteamz. We all have a story, and while many of them are probably pretty similar, I bet there are as many or more that are unique.
My story begins on a warm, late summer afternoon in Southern California. The sky was a clear blue, the ocean breeze kept the fresh air flowing, and the grass was green for my first practice as a fall ball coach. I played baseball growing up - I was on some good teams and some lousy teams. I got a chance at most positions but liked pitching and third base the most. It just so happened that a friend of mine has a son of baseball age and he needed a helping hand, so I was only too glad to hop on board.
Knowing that much of my life experience has been spent on Web development and not coaching baseball, I thought I would use my skills to help the team however I could while learning the ropes. I contacted my Internet Service Provider and found I could get a small amount of disk space on their web servers for a site of my own.
I had that sudden panic that comes from staring at a blank screen as I tried to decide where to start, but then I just buckled down and tried to get creative. I tried to think of what the layout should be, what links I might need, how I could incorporate the team colors, where to put photos - all the good stuff. After a couple of days, I had put together a nice little site. Of course, then there was a schedule change, so I had to go get the files from the FTP server, make the changes and reupload to the server. It was at this point that I realized this wasn't the most practical solution if I wanted to make updates to this site, which was kind of the point. But, it was what I had.
So I decided I'd take a break from that and go see what I could learn about coaching. I did a few Web searches and started to notice quite a few links to eteamz. I first came upon the coaching Tips and Drills for baseball. There were some really good ideas in there that I made note to try at the next practice. Then I found the message boards and saw coaches chatting about, well, coaching. Soon enough, I found that I could get a free Web site for my team and I thought I'd check it out.
Before I knew it, I had built a site on eteamz that was about 100x better than what I had just spent a weekend on. It already had the nice layout and pages for everything I needed and updating it did not involve FTP servers, which is always a win. Needless to say, my orignial site was quickly forgotten and eteamz was the new home of my team.
I was fortunate enough to find a job here and I couldn't have been more excited to work on a product that I already knew. Of course, once I got here and started digging in, I learned so much more that has made me even more passionate about eteamz. Now, several seasons later, I'm still here, I'm still coaching, and I still have my team's site on eteamz. My current Fall team is the White Sox. I don't generally do anything too fancy with my site, but I like to write up game summaries after each game. The parents tell me that they, and the kids, love to read their names in bold letters highlighting the good things they did that week.
So that's my story. I'm sure many of our members have fascinating stories, and I'd love to hear them, if anyone wants to share.
Eric's post got me thinking of when
I was a youngster...tearing through my Grimm's Book of Fairytales; Which I admit
I still have and flip through every time I move and have to unpack my bookshelf.
J The book was my
mothers so as you can imagine it's seen better days. It���s now quite tattered
and aged; well loved I like to say. Those seemed to be much simpler times;
summers were great since the sun didn���t go down until 8 pm which meant we could
play football in the street with the neighbors a few hours longer. Now summers
come and go and I seemed to have missed them?! But I
For years we've supported the
educational value of athletics - the development of teamwork, sportsmanship,
cooperation, competition, work ethic, and more. Of course we can learn these
values doing/participating in other things however for the sake of this article
and for the fact that I work for eteamz I will agree. However, there have been
several instances over the last few years that have made me think long and hard
about this theory and the role of parents here. I���m sure you all recall the
most recent story of the father who rushed a football field to tackle a player
that hit his child late - after the ball hit the ground. I was horrified when I
saw the footage���But he was far from the worst sports parent ever. Oh no the
honor is shared by several infamous lunatics:
Christophe Fauviau, a Frenchman convicted of poisoning his children's tennis rivals with an antianxiety drug. One drugged opponent fell asleep at the wheel of his car and died; and
Thomas Junta, who killed a fellow hockey dad after a fight during their sons' practice.
Overbearing adults aren't a new
thing, especially where fame and fortune are at stake. Still, it's hard in a
world where athletes become not only super-famous, but extraordinarily wealthy.
We dream of that for our own kids, especially if they show some talent. This
dream can be dangerous. Having outsized expectations and applying too much
pressure are two big mistakes parents can make. It���s natural for kids to want to
grow up and be super stars. Doesn���t every kid? But the reality is that most
won't grow up to be professional athletes. Most won't even earn college sports
scholarships. So finding the balance between healthy support vs. an unhealthy
obsession is crucial. Otherwise we aim to lose those core values we as parents
work so hard to instill in our children. We as parents end up being the cause
of our misbehaving or unbalanced child.
So what should parents do? I say
find balance between teaching children to embrace the journey and maintaining a
competitive spirit. Instead of focusing on the trophies, ribbons, and
scholarships focus more on the fun and the skill-development aspects of the
sport and let go of the pressure to win. Make sure your kids are having fun;
Don't project your dreams onto your child; Be realistic, remembering the goals
are fun and fitness first; and don't push your kids too early, and don't push
them to do sports that interest you. Seems easy enough. Let kids be kids with
healthy guidance and support.
I am reminded of an anecdote written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1837 entitled, "The Emperor's New Clothes."
For those who are not familiar with this tale, Anderson describes an Emperor who is so obsessed with his own material gratification (i.e., clothing) that he completely neglects his responsibilities as a leader; such as his soldiers, citizens, etc. Rather, the Emperor spends all of his time buying new clothes and parading around his city to show them off.
Eventually, two swindlers drift into town and proclaim to the Emperor that they can weave the most amazing fabric ever created...a cloth that is not only exceptionally beautiful, but is also invisible to any man who is unfit for his office. The swindlers pretend to work tirelessly day and night to weave this magnificent fabric, and finally present to the Emperor his new suit.
The Emperor immediately is draped in his new imaginary clothing and proceeds to once again tour the city to show off his new garments. As the Emperor roams the city not one citizen has the courage to recognize the Emperor's nudity until a child watching the procession comments, "But he has nothing on at all." The Emperor finally realizes that he has been swindled and proceeds back to his palace with as much dignity as he can muster.
Now, you might be wondering, "Eric, what does that have to do with anything?" My answer to that: besides being a delightfully funny story, "The Emperor's New Clothes" offers valuable insight into the world of marketing. Specifically, the story shows us the value of honest public/customer opinion and feedback. One can not possibly expect to develop long-lasting customer relationships without having an open and honest dialogue with one's constituents.
I have had the chance to chat with many of you lately regarding eteamz: who you are, how you found us, what you like about our service, and what you dislike about our service. I would like to personally thank all of you who have participated for the wonderful mix of positive reinforcement and constructive criticism that has been offered thus far.
The more feedback you give us here at eteamz, the less naked we feel; and being a particularly modest individual, I would appreciate as much feedback as you can give! Feel free to email me at email@example.com with your thoughts and feedback and we can work together to make eteamz the best it can be!
Once every so often, throughout the fleeting passage of history, certain individuals and teams accomplish awe-inspiring feats which demand recognition; the Romans and their system of aqueducts, Sir Isaac Newton and his theory of universal gravitation, Jack Kilby's integrated circuit. Today I speak, of course, about our own resident eteamz football titans: the Byrnes Rebels and the John Curtis Patriots.
USA Today regularly publishes a rankings list compiled by Christopher Lawlor based on a school's strength of schedule, the level of competition in the state, and the quality of the athletes. This round, the Byrnes Rebels in Duncan, South Carolina secured the #2 spot, while the John Curtis Patriots in River Ridge, Louisiana clawed their way to #13. With a national population of approximately 17 million high school age kids (according to 2004 Census data), this is truly an impressive accomplishment.
All of us over here at eteamz are incredibly proud of your accomplishments. Keep on keepin' on and good luck with the rest of the season! If your team is also a top contender, let me know! Please email me with your team's URL at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence." -George F. WIll