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If You Build It, Will They Come?

July 11th, 2018

By Luke Melms

Unlike a baseball stadium which you can physically see a foundation laid and walls go up, the best you can do in business is have a plan on paper.

Playing baseball is like speaking our first language. There’s no thought to it. When it comes to business, we are all at different levels of comfort and may not have this same level of certainty.

This message is tailored to current pro players and building a personal brand. One of the questions I hear is, “How to do I know if I go after building a brand people will follow me?”

The great movie Field of Dreams echoes the line, “If you build it, he will come.” However that is Hollywood and we are living in reality. If you simply start an account, people wont just magically show up. There has to be an intentional strategy.

Building a personal brand needs the ingredients of consistency, authenticity and time.

To use a practical analogy I want to contrast two different MLB franchises to show what these personal branding ingredients look like in a different setting.

To do this we will compare the Yankees and Marlins. Both teams have built new stadiums within the last decade but have had very different results when it comes to a having a loyal fan following.

While the Yankees have a longer history, both teams have demonstrated an ability to win. In fact it was the Marlins that beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series.

Consistency is the biggest key to building a following whether it is on social media or an MLB organization. The Marlins biggest challenge is that the previous ownership group was not consistent with words and action.

When the stadium was opened in 2012, they acquired a lot of talent heading into that season which fueled the buzz around the new stadium. Ownership said they were committed to winning and spent some big money in free agency. However shortly after the season they traded several of these key pieces away. This is after fire sales after winning a World Series in 1997 and 2003.

When people know what to expect, you will gain and keep loyal followers. Using Baseball and Business as an example, we have consistent content schedule. #MoreThanAthletes Monday, the weekly article on Wednesdays and On the Field Fridays are the pillar pieces surrounded by content that can be shared as it arises.

The Marlins new group has taken heat for trading their entire outfield which was arguably the best in baseball. However as someone who lives in South Florida, I’ve seen how small the crowds were despite these stars on the team. It is not a player issue before or after these trades. Fans feel burned and have never a strong following that has stayed for the long haul.

Derek Jeter knows winning better than most and what a winning culture takes to build. He is focused on findimg ways to change the culture and repair the badly damaged relationships in the South Florida community with the team. As an example, he invited the Stoneman Douglas baseball team to play a game after the tragic shooting and also had the team come to a game and met the whole team.

To build a great following is no different than building a physical structure. You have to focus on the foundation first which as days go on seem like the walls are a long ways off.

That being said find something to share more days than not. Whether that is a video or picture, give access to who you are a baseball player and beyond. This authenticity is the second most important ingredient. Once you get someone’s attention you have to keep it and can do it by providing access no one else can. No one else can share your story better than you.

The last element is time. No different than understanding there is a journey to the big leagues, time is on your side in building a brand. It won’t happen overnight but realize that most people are not willing to put in the effort to be consistent. This is what separates baseball players from the world. Playing a long season is a grind but develops an uncanny ability to show up and go to work everyday.

Use this to your advantage as you compete for the valued asset of someone’s time and attention.

If you put these three elements together, I confidently can say people will come and stay. Companies will pay you to partner to be an ambassador with products that organically fit who you are and can create an income stream beyond being a W-2 employee as a baseball player.

Social media is a game changer not just in how we live and can be more easily connected to one another but in how baseball players can capitalize on opportunities.

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