Let’s assume you have the right ball and a pair of sneakers. At that point, it takes two to play catch. Two to pass a soccer ball. And sure, you can go shoot hoops by yourself, but that’s just practice. If you want to get a game of one-on-one going, it’s a pretty simple math.
Most people think about sports as a way to stay fit, active, and healthy. We love those things. They are universally positive, fun, and help us get a sense of competition. But there’s something even bigger. Sports bring people together in real life—on the field, court, or for a post-game drink—in a way that very few things do anymore. And that’s what we’re fighting for.
Haven’t you heard? Young adults are increasingly staying at home to Netflix & Chill. They’re not getting their drivers licenses. They’re overstaying their welcome, living with their parents, way longer than in previous decades. And in the most boring, depressing news ever, staying in is the new going out.
It’s an actual crisis. Not just for our company, or for sports, but for the society at-large. Retail sales are in a massive decline, and brick-and-mortar stores and malls can hardly keep their doors open. In 2017, movie attendance hit a 25-year low. And restaurants are in their worst slump since the 2009 recession.
So are we just going to sit back and watch as our communities turn increasingly sedentary, secluded, and lonely? Heck no.
As the largest social sport community in the nation, we are fired up about this. Here are the 3 things we remind ourselves every single day in the fight against Stay Homerism.
- Give customers what they truly need, even if they don’t know they need it
Plenty of our players come to us thinking that what they really want is to play soccer, plain and simple. They’ve played the beautiful game their whole lives, and just need a weekly fix.
But if you look at the statistics, many of them join our leagues when they first move to one of our markets. They’re looking for a chance to play the game they love. They’re looking for an opportunity meet new teammates.
After all these years in the business, what we know is that our players are not just looking for a game. On a deeper emotional level, what they want is a sense of community. They want real personal connections, friendships, and real-life interactions.
So that’s what we offer. It’s not just about the product or the service your company provides, it’s how it serves some deeper, emotional need for your customers. We constantly remind ourselves of the bigger picture—and how we play a crucial role in delivering something our players don’t even know they need. It’s deeply validating, it gives us purpose, and it’s the reason our business keeps growing, despite the momentum against us.
- Meet your customers where they are
You know what should make us nervous? The fact that our prospective customers are spending more and more time snapping, scrolling, and sharing through social media and less time out of the house.
But instead, we see it as an opportunity and a challenge. Now that the player and the game have changed, we can’t keep doing the same thing we did in 2002 and expect it to work now; we’ve got to keep up.
If we want to reach our target market, we have to meet them where they are.
We have to embrace Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat as dynamic tools, platforms to help us amplify our message, purpose, and worldview. We can’t run away from social media—we have to make ourselves relevant in the new media landscape. There’s really no alternative solution. We have to lean into it.
To be honest, we haven’t quite nailed our strategy or execution yet. It’s a work in progress, and things are constantly changing. But we’re excited about where we’re heading.
We’re beginning to share content that lets our players and prospective players truly feel what a ZogSports experience is all about. We need to convey our opinion on the world—that life is better with real personal connections, caring communities and a sense of play.
And if people don’t buy that? Well, no sense wasting time trying to convince them. Life’s too short to spend it with boring people who don’t like fun.
- Take it personally
So often, we hear people say “It’s not personal; it’s just business.” Well, let’s agree to disagree. If we’re going to spend a third of our lives working, we better be personally invested. If not, what’s even the point of showing up every day?
That’s not to say we don’t analyze our data, pay attention to the numbers, or care about delivering hard truths when necessary. It’s just that there’s something much bigger than just making cold, calculated decisions. There’s a purpose. A sense of WHY we do what we do.
We believe that life is better with real personal connections, caring communities, and a sense of play.
At ZogSports, we have a very clear understanding of our WHY. We talk about it at every all-hands meeting, in every interaction between our staff and their managers, and in every management meeting.
We can use that WHY to pressure test some of our ideas or priorities. If we want to test out a new league or customer experience enhancement, for example, we just need to ask ourselves, does this idea fit into our WHY? If it does, it’s worth trying. But if it doesn’t, then we move on.
When we set that WHY as our true north, it became a lot easier to navigate all the complex business challenges we might face. Our WHY gives us a framework and a purpose, so we can be flexible in our approach to any problem.
We can tack around obstacles or change our products, marketing strategy, or organizational structure if we have to. So long as we keep our vessel pointed oriented toward our WHY, we know we’ll get to the promised land.
The truth is that it’s not easy to succeed in our business. But it’s not easy to succeed in any business. You really need to be committed. You need to remind yourself of these things every single day. But if you live your WHY and stay the course, think of all the great things your business can do.