Didn't work Wednesday: Supermug.com

This week I’m just going to give you some background thinking on a system that didn’t work out for a number of reasons…I won’t actually talk about the specifics of why it didn’t work out in today’s post, but this is all important background so that we can dig into the specifics over the next few Wednesdays. So here goes.

Not long after I started thinking about turning thedfl.com into a ‘for profit’ system, I came up with the angle of running fantasy leagues for bars. The line of thinking was pretty simple really.

Historically, most of my league preferred to get together at a given bar each week to watch the games together, enjoy some drinks and snacks, and of course partake in some smack talk throughout. We also usually hosted our draft at a bar (an event that usually had us drinking and eating for at least 3-4 hours at that bar on a random, usually down, night).

I already had software that could be used to run a league and bars already had people going there because of fantasy football. I simply wanted to connect the two and I had a number of hypothesis on why this would be exciting/important for the bars:

1. At the time, the bars thought people were showing up just to watch the games.

This was only half true…the real driver is/was the community and comradery around the games. This is the real motivation (and addictive nature) behind fantasy football as well.

At a bar you usually can’t hear the TV, your view is often blocked or obstructed from key plays or moments, and usually space, seating, and general comfort is limited…plus you have to (over) pay for every drink and snack you want! Why would you choose to suffer through that instead of watching the games at home or at a friends house?

Because that’s where your friends are, that’s “your hangout”, and that’s where the action is.

My thinking was that, by offering up fantasy football leagues the bar was fostering even more of this community/comradery concept and it would be yet another reason people would be inclined to “show up”.

2. Even at that time, lots of bars had the Sunday Ticket package. This made them all about the same.

How did we pick which bar to watch the games at each week? It depended on a number of things including what specials a given bar had, who the bartenders were likely to be, how crowded it was expected to be, and what was the most convenient location based on who was going that week.

What we didn’t have was any concept of bar loyalty.

My thinking was that, by offering up fantasy football leagues the bar would build bar loyalty. If you’re league is officially associated with a given bar, it would be much more likely that you would go to that same bar every week to participate.

3. Bars have/had no real data or contact information for their customers. This limits their ability to up-sell, to promote, or to build any sort of relationship.

My thinking was that, by having your customers play fantasy football through your bar, in addition to the above two points you would also have a reason to be collecting contact information about your best/most engaged customers. Throughout the week (and the year really), the system could send out the league newsletter updating them on scores and match-ups…but also alerting them to any other specials and events you had going on throughout the week.

4. Bars didn’t yet understand the draw/power of 'draft day’ for fantasy football leagues.

My thinking was that, by running a fantasy football league, the bars could set drafts for traditionally slower, down nights and give customers yet another reason to spend the night at the bar.

5. The stronger the bond between the bartender and the customers, the more bar loyalty that was built.

My thinking was that, if you could get each of your bartenders to be in a few of the leagues run by your local bar (or at the very least, be the ones promoting the signup for the leagues)…then they will get to know your customers better and your customers will feel more connected to them as well. Your bar becomes the place where everyone knows their name…

So ultimately my thinking was that by providing fantasy football leagues to their customers, bars would really be building more bar/brand loyalty.

There was of course a lot more details than I have time/space to dig into here right now, but overall good idea right? So why, then, didn’t it work?

In this case, I think it came down to a few big reasons/problems…and that is what I’m going to work through with you over the next few “Didn’t work Wednesdays”!

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

If you have comments, thoughts, or want to respond to something you see here I would encourage you to respond via a post on your own blog (and then let me know about the link via one of the routes mentioned above).