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6 Tips for Marketers from Magic Johnson

By Lauren Harper

Sirius Decisions Summit was in Nashville last week, and the one and only Magic Johnson delivered a truly inspired keynote presentation.

A five-time NBA Champion and Hall of Fame basketball star turned wildly successful business executive, Magic told the crowd of his time as a basketball legend and how he turned his passion on the court into passion for his business ventures.

Here are 6 valuable takeaways from Magic Johnson himself:

1) Know your customer. It’s as simple as that. Magic knew that he had a good understanding of who the urban consumer is, so he partnered with Starbucks to open three Starbucks that appealed to the urban audience. For example, he wanted to make a change to the food being sold, so instead of scones, these stores were offering things like peach cobbler. “I know my customer, I know what they want, and I’m going to deliver it to them.”

2) Over-deliver to your customers. It’s Magic’s credo. Over-delivering can also win you more deals. Magic told a story of how he worked for years to land a contract with Disneyland with his food service company SodexoMAGIC. He knew that at the end of his contract, if he over-delivered to Disneyland, that he could possibly land the bigger contract with Disney World, and sure enough, he got the new contract.

If you over-deliver on your promise to your customer, not only are you creating delightful experiences, but you’re creating customers for life.

3) Create and nurture your loyal customers. Create these loyal customers by over-delivering on your promise. Loyal customers then become brand ambassadors for you, telling their friends, family and co-workers to buy your product or service. As we pointed out in this blog post, word of mouth marketing is extremely powerful, with 78 percent of purchases being socially influenced.

After Magic and his partners agreed to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball team, he wanted to understand what they could do to keep the fans coming back. After listening to the fans, he realized that making improvements to the stadium would provide a better overall fan experience. “Understanding what your customers need is going to affect the bottom line of your business,” explained Magic. The Dodgers now have the highest home game attendance record in all of baseball for two years running.

4) Truly understand your competition. What are they delivering vs. what are you delivering? It’s imperative that you’re able to articulate those differences to the customer.

Your competitors push you to make you better. Magic told the audience about his rivalry with Boston Celtics basketball legend Larry Bird. The competition was white hot between the two, but every success Larry had only fueled Magic to work harder.

5) Adapt and adjust to the new marketplace. Times change, technologies change, and the customer’s needs change. Make sure you’re able to adapt and adjust to not only meet your customer’s needs, but to stay relevant in your industry.

As Magic said, “I’ve seen businesses fail because they were too stubborn to adapt. The customer has changed, so you need to, too.”

6) Hire the right people. Self-evaluation is really tough, but it’s crucial. Learning what you’re not good at is important so you can find the people who can do what you can’t. The right people can help improve on the things that are already working, and add new ideas to help adapt your business to the changing times. “I know my whole team right down to the receptionist. I know what buttons to push to make them better, but I also stay in my lane and let my people do their jobs.”

Magic made it all sound so simple. Know your customers and you will succeed.

“It’s important to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the business so that you can start focusing on the things that aren’t working and improve on the things that are,” said Magic. Be focused, disciplined, and over-prepare. Bring fire and passion every single day. Know your customer, and over-deliver to them.

How are you going to over-deliver to your customers this year?

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