June 29, 2010

Longtime passion leads to Olympic-sized opportunity

I love almost everything about the Olympics. I like the idea -- that every four years the world comes together as one to compete -- and the ideal behind it.

I like the five-ring circus, the spectacle of the unusual -- be it badminton, curling, or water polo -- as well as the bright lights that bathe swimming, speed skating and track & field.

There’s something enchanting, and entrancing, about the theater of the Olympic stage, that once-in-a-lifetime chance for so many athletes who train four years for an event for that might last all of 10 seconds.

I got my first up-close view of the Games when I was executive sports editor of the newspaper in Colorado Springs, home of the U.S. Olympic Committee and training center. I was fortunate enough to lead our paper’s coverage of the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, which provided a lifetime of memories and friendships.

It was in Colorado where I met the group of people who are behind 776 Original Marketing, led by Jim Scherr, an Olympian and former chief executive of the USOC, and a handful of his USOC brain trust. 776 Original Marketing is a full-service sports marketing company, but many of its clients -- past, present and future -- have ties to the Olympic community.

Which is why I’m so excited to work with 776 to provide digital strategy for their clients (read the press release about our affiliation on my new website, www.geoffgrantconsulting.com).

I relish the prospect of helping give a boost to Olympic organizations by helping them better leverage their digital assets. Because for a lot of them, the Internet is the path to a successful future and could be a big part of their salvation.

Many of these organizations, including many of the national governing bodies of the individual sports, languish between Olympics, when the media hordes and NBC cameras are gone. They face steep uphill battles three out of every four years, when their site traffic lags, and with it, their sponsorship and advertising revenue.

None have the luxury of annual TV contracts or the gate receipts that keep pro leagues thriving. But what they do have is valuable in the digital space: fans and members who love these sports but who are splintered around the country and around the world, and who would embrace a place to rally together between Games.

The digital space can be that rallying point, that pulse. With better engineered websites and digital strategies, with aggressive use of social media and sponsorship-driven initiatives, these sports organizations can engage fans, better serve their memberships and increase their revenue and fundraising. Even more important, they can draw a new generation of fans, ones who just might grow up to love the Games like I do.

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