Regional Business News
regarding the 2010 Olympics
in British Columbia, Canada OlyBLOG is for businesses across Canada, especially in Vancouver / Whistler and throughout B.C. We also
hope companies in Alberta and United States (i.e. Washington, Oregon,
Idaho, Montana and California) will find OlyBLOG interesting and informative.
Compete for Olympic Profit? As "Red" from
"That 70's Show" would say,
"Yeah Ya Dumb Ass. Ya have to Compete! Olympic organizations don't
make it easy for SMBs to profit. "That 2010 Show" is
about making money, and if you want a piece of it, you have to compete
If you knew that mismanagement, on the part of Olympic organizations,
would undermine your ability to profit, would you so easily sign on the
Many small and midsize business owners mistakenly believe it is easy to
capitalize on Olympic spectator or sponsor spending. They do so because
it is what Olympic organizations want them to think. Winning the contract
isn't the hard part, profiting is the real challenge.
Olympic organizations lull SMBs into complacency, and then constantly
tug on the rug to keep them off balance. It's better than going
head-to-head from the start. As Sun Tzu advised, endeavor to win your
opponent's trust. It makes the battle easier. Fortunately, this sage bit
of advice cuts both ways. If you want to profit you also have to recognize
when Olympic organizations teeter off balance, which quite often is a
result of their own design, or it could be attributed to the actions of
a third party, possibly you.
Think about it. Why on earth would Olympic organizations go to the great
expense of promoting the big event, and then invite you to easily reap
the rewards? They wouldn't. And they don't. If you want it you have to
figure out how they operate, and then outplay them at their own game.
You have to leverage their momentum.
Most communities don't do well economically when the Games come to town.
They struggle, which means they must manage finances aggressively. Quite
literally, the bottom line is, you're paying for the Games, and if HBC,
RBC and McDonalds do well off the Olympics, you should too.
Some still naively say, "Come on, the Olympics are good for the
community. And we should unconditionally accept 'Olympic Spirit' and support
the cause." Tell that to Greece ($12 billion deficit), Salt Lake
City ($1.2 billion deficit), Montreal ($3 billion deficit), Turin (Who
knows? They're still counting, but it's big too! So big in fact that they
threatened to declare bankruptcy two months before their event unless
the government bailed them out, which they did, again.).
Absolutely no one is going to willingly share the pie with you. Not VANOC,
the IOC, RBC, Rona, HBC, GM, CTV, PetroCanada, or any of the other competitors,
err, I mean sponsors. They don't do it. Ever. If you want it. You have
to take it. Olympic sponsors never pick up overrun costs. Instead, they
conveniently duck into the bathroom just before the check arrives.
The sooner you realize you are in friendly competition with the
Games, the better your chances of profiting.
The challenge is that you have to simultaneously become an Olympic booster
as well as a competitor. You have to help your competitor along, because
if they win, you win, but don't get too chummy, because when they get
in over their heads, you take the hit too, and quite often you are first
In this era it is impossible for Olympic organizations to promote a successful
Games without the collective cooperation of all local SMBs - absolutely
impossible. Whether Olympic organizations recognize or admit it, they
need your help. They can no longer go it alone.
Fortunately, it's relatively easy today for SMBs to have more control
over the play. You have access to international media through email, your
websites, blogs, podcasts, and electronic newsletters. Even more importantly,
you can communicate with prospective spectators and Olympic suppliers
around the world before they arrive in town, and also reach and influence
countries interested in hosting future Games. You have influence over
the message the IOC, that up until recently, has had free reign over since
1896. You can inject your opinions into the mix.
Unless local Olympic organizations incorporate SMBs into the plan, and
they do it in a way that helps SMBs profit, they will never produce a
successful or sustainable event. It won't happen because SMBs in Vancouver
and Whistler are smarter than SMBs in Turin. Salt Lake City, Calgary and
Montreal combined. It's not a genetic or social thing. It's simply because
we have access to more information.
SMBs now have a choice. You can bob around like a sitting duck, like they
did in Athens and Turin, or you can grab the puck and take it down the
ice ... alone if you like. You have a choice of either getting in the
line that pays for the Games, or you can join the friendly opposition
and make a little money. As taxes and rents keep rising and the cost of
doing business in our Olympic region continues to increase, I'm predicting
the line behind the latter will be the longest. Canadians are smart, especially
west-coasters. Part of being "laid back" is knowing how to take
the path of least resistance. No dumb assess in this crowd. Well, a few
"insular diehards" maybe, but they'll soon fade into oblivion.
If you don't like how the game is played, change the rules, but first
you have to know the rules. You have to know how Olympic organizations
really operate if you want to get on the ice and score a few goals.
It's easier than you think.
Here's an excerpt from my new book, Leverage Olympic Momentum.
Olympic Athletes Plan - You Must Plan
In the previous chapter, 'You Need a Coach',
I introduced you to ideas that will be addressed in greater depth in this
chapter. You will be able to take the information in the following pages
and transpose it to specific cross-media viral promotion opportunities
specific to your company or interests. You will also be able to adopt
many of the ideas here on your own, although some of them can only be
developed properly if you work with a professional who has a more intimate
understanding of Olympic organizations. This chapter will also help you
create a list of questions you will need in order to find and test a prospective
Cross-media viral promotion is the process of developing an intriguing
story and distributing it in a strategic, subtle manner through a wide
array of media. Sometimes you feed it directly, at other times it is injected
into the system through third parties. Regardless of the method, it does
not happen by accident. You need a plan, and part of the plan is to develop
a hook, which is basically an emotional, single-pointed connection with
your audience. For example, consider the hook in the following line; "Live
it, breathe it, do it all, Spirit of the Games embodies more than
just sports. Human drama and intense competition draws us to the flame,
but if that's all spectators come to see they will miss a most incredible
part of the Olympic experience." It will be in your best interest
to entice people to not only come for the Games and the athletic passion,
but to also come and experience the local spirit. When they do they will
discover a new world of unique hidden treasures. Most travelers don't
realize until it's too late that Olympic regions are rich with unique
businesses and wonderful people who bring special charm to the Games.
In fact when visitors are lucky enough to stumble upon these hidden treasures
they often report it as being the best part of their experience. Unique
local information is hard to find. Olympic visitors see the sporting events
and main tourist attractions, but many miss those hidden treasures that
make a trip even more memorable.
The preceding paragraph encapsulates from a business-to-consumer point
of view why leveraging Olympic momentum and integrating your business
into the overall process is not only feasible, but also the right thing
to do. Sports fans and athletes in Olympic regions want to experience
more than their predecessors have in the past. Many Olympic spectators
expressed that the sporting events were great, but they missed so much
because overwhelming crowds made it impossible to casually explore the
host city like a normal tourist. Olympic spectators felt they were herded
from one facility to the next, and that they never really had an opportunity
to experience the real spirit of the region. They never complained their
Olympic sporting events experiences were lacking, but they did resent
being so limited in their choices of things to do between competitions.
Many Olympic spectators and local business owners don't realize large
crowds make it difficult to take a casual stroll. Unless spectators know
exactly what they are looking for, or where they are going, it is an inconvenience
to just poke around. They get caught in the crush. This is why it is so
important for local retail businesses to establish a relationship well
in advance with Olympic sports fans. If you can connect with them before
they arrive they will make an effort to seek you out. With so many options,
plus the chaos and confusion, it will be hit and miss for them to find
you if they don't do it purposefully. Give Olympic visitors incentive
to find you and don't rely on chance. You will be trying to attract the
attention of people from around the world. They have different cultures
and it will be in your best interest to make sure you are appealing to
their differences. Don't expect everyone to react the same way to the
messages you send. They will interpret your messages based on their culture
and respond accordingly.
The best way for a retail community to leverage Olympic momentum effectively
is to work together to create a buzz bigger than they could possibly do
alone. Everyone on the street has to get together, formulate a plan and
put it into action. Olympic organizations strongly recommend to prospective
sub-contractors and suppliers that they should create alliances with other
like-minded businesses if they expect to win contracts to supply Olympic
organizations. Not only is this good advice for companies interested in
cultivating a relationship directly with Olympic organizations, it is
also a good strategy for retailers who have no interest in marketing products
and services directly to Olympic organizations, but who still want to
target Olympic spectators independently. Many retail business communities
have some type of association and a corresponding website to promote and
market it. SMBs can take what is already in place and adapt it to manage
the Games. If the community has not already established an association
and web presence, they might want to consider doing so at their very first
opportunity, but be warned because this can be a very time consuming and
expensive project. A more effective approach, from both a cost and promotional
perspective is to create an online 'news magazine' for the business community
and use it to feature and showcase specific retailers and restaurants.
The 'online news magazine' would use Olympic-related stories to attract
Olympic spectators. One such community I've been involved with is DenmanSpirit.com.
The challenge in any venture like this is to first find a common denominator
between the community and the Olympic target market. Denman Street in
Vancouver has three strong attractors going for it. The first is the Olympia
Restaurant, the second is the old Denman Arena, which hosted the first
western conference Stanley Cup game in the 1914-15 season, and the third
is the 'Denman Walk', between the Pacific Ocean and Stanley Park.
The Stanley Cup/Stanley Park connection will be of special interest to
die hard Olympic hockey fans and is one of the anchors that will encourage
Olympic tourists to explore the eight blocks of restaurants and boutiques
on the Denman Walk. The primary anchor though is the controversy surrounding
the Olympia restaurant, which resides on Denman Street. Thanks to the
COC and VANOC, it has garnered attention throughout the world because
of its name and the combination five rings/torch neon sign hanging over
its front door for more than fifteen years. The COC, VANOC, and the IOC
insist that the owners remove the sign. As you will read later, the owners
refuse to bow down to what amounts to Olympic bullying. Consequently,
they attracted support from thousands of people around the world who think
they should fight back against the Olympic machine. The retail community
on Denman Street has a built in focal point. All they have to do is leverage
and grow the already blossoming attention into a global presence. Some
progressive members of the Denman community decided to do it through a
news magazine that shares with the world why Denman Street is excited
about welcoming Olympic guests to their street. Most retailers have no
idea how seriously the Games can negatively impact their businesses until
it is too late. Getting them on board is incredibly challenging because
they either think they are either a shoe-in for success, or they have
nothing to offer. At the time of the printing of this book DenmanSpirit.com
is in its first blush of growth. Only time will tell how well they grow
their magazine and manage the momentum.
The strategy of DenmanSpirit.com, is to create an online news magazine
that has freedom to talk about the Olympics in the same manner a newspaper
or television program does. If you create a web presence that shares information
based on news worthy information, you can, citing fair use, use Olympic
logos, and information valuable to anyone with an Olympic interest, including
athletes, their support teams, contractors, and especially the public.
You have to make it a news source, and not an advertisement for your company.
As soon as you turn it into an advertising enterprise the Olympic trademark
police will pound on your door. To avoid confrontation all you have to
do is bring to the world Olympic-related news about your community. By
doing so you will have access to an audience that was never available
pre-internet. Eventually every smart community in Vancouver will adopt
a similar strategy. They won't have the Olympia Restaurant or the old
Denman Arena site as an anchor, but there are other strategies they can
use to the same effect. Fourth Avenue, Commercial Drive, and West Broadway
all have incredible products and services to offer Olympic travelers,
but you can bet Olympic travelers will never find them unless retailers
reach out online before they arrive in town.
Fourth Avenue at Burrard for example is a winter-sport hotspot and a perfect
anchor. Winter-sport gear and clothing attracts vibrant health-conscious
people, including spectators and Olympic athletes. They will come to 4th
for the sport, and if managed properly make their way up the hill and
all the way down past McDonald to other star performers like; Bimini's
Nightclub, The Flag Shop, Vuji's Japanese Tapas, Chocolate Arts, Hell's
Kitchen, lululemon, Zulu Records, Duthie Books, Capers organic foods and
supplements, Gravity Pope shoes, Bishops fine dining, SpaEthos, The Naam
vegetarian eatery, the Gallery Boutique of velvet and lace romantic apparel,
and maybe even as far as NeverMind. They are all unique establishments
Olympic spectators will love, but never find on their own without a personal
Olympic athletes, their support teams and international journalists start
to set up shop a couple of years before the big event, plus tourism ramps
up then too. The best way for Fourth Avenue to make sure visitors make
it to their community is to leverage the traffic from the winter-sport
gear and clothing shops. The Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce is one of the
oldest and best managed business associations in the lower mainland. They
are in a perfect position to leverage Olympic momentum for their members,
but unless shop owners lobby them for organizational help the opportunity
will slip away. Historically, chapters of the Chamber of Commerce are
strongly wooed by Olympic organizations that have been through this many
times before. It is only when business leaders start to feel the squeeze
that they beseech their local Chamber for help, which in many instances
is too late. Be prepared and plan early. Businesses everywhere have to
quickly recognize they are in competition with Olympic organizations,
and that the Olympic business machine does not want to share revenue.
Fourth Avenue has to recognize they are also in direct competition with
every community in the region, especially Granville Island. Therefore,
they have to effectively promote that their upscale community will be
less congested and more fun than Granville Island. It will be an important
factor considering Granville Island is a government enterprise, and as
such an Olympic partner. Olympic spectators are going to be herded everywhere
like sheep, including to Granville Island, and if you can offer people
a respite from the oppressive crowds they will choose the path of least
DO NOT count on spectators to stumble upon you, because everyone, especially
Olympic organizations will be working hard to monopolize their attention.
The secret behind building a community strategy is that both the winter-sport
shops and all the other enterprises on the street need each other. No
one can afford to do it alone, especially considering how hard Olympic
organizations work to keep people from finding you. If board and ski shops
establish Fourth and Burrard as the WestCoast WinterSport HUB they will
be able to create a bigger footprint. All businesses interested in the
winter sport demographic will benefit by also setting up shop in the vicinity,
especially businesses that sell sport items. Olympic organizations recommend
to prospective suppliers that they create alliances and develop a wider
working base if they want to land Olympic contracts. The same advice applies
to retailers on not only Fourth or Denman, but also to areas like Metro-Town
Mall, White Rock, Kerrisdale or Steveston Fishing Village. If you want
the traffic, you have to compete for it. Today, everyone has access to
Olympic spectators, but you have to plan and execute effectively to leverage
end of excerpt - this chapter continues in more detail in the book . .
If you have to pay for the Games,
you should benefit too.
The following was pulled from the end of the
book . . .
Parting tips; If I could only invest in one genre of product in a
Winter Olympic region my number one pick would be snowboarding, followed
by skiing, hockey and figure skating. This group will generate the most
interest and revenue for entrepreneurs. Spectators will visit these shops
and want their purchases shipped home, so be prepared. As you read earlier,
Fourth Avenue at Burrard will be the winter-sport epicenter for gear and
clothing in Canada, and not only anchor the street, but if managed properly,
the entire city. Follow the money and maximize your profit.
Outside of winter sports I would choose eco-tourism. Nowhere on earth
is there a more affordable and unique outdoor wilderness experience than
in British Columbia. It compares in excitement to the Galapagos, the Great
Barrier Reef, or the Amazon, except it is more affordable. B.C. is a confluence
of ocean, mountain, rainforest and moderated climate. We have incredible
botany and wildlife, both marine and land. Another retail hotspot will
be West Broadway between Yukon and Manitoba Streets. The epicentre for
hiking, climbing and camping gear and clothes, and also only a short jaunt
up the hill from the Olympic Village. Athletes = Opportunity. Leverage
If you're looking for a generic product to market, think rain gear and
clothing. Face it, we live in a rainforest, plus, the Games will fall
in the middle of the rainy season. We are used to it, but people from
outside the region will be taken by surprise. Why surprise them when you
can sell them "B.C.-friendly" rain gear online. Consider high and low
quality products like ponchos, rain suits, umbrellas, footwear, etc. Prepare
visitors before they arrive. Brand the products appropriately and get
the jump on your Olympic competition, who inevitably will move millions
of dollars of rain gear through their "Superstore" and leave you (pun
intended) high and dry.
Olympic organizations are BIG BUSINESS MACHINES that attract corporations like CocaCola,
McDonald's, Wal*Mart, etc. Consequently, VANOC (Vancouver Organizing
Committee) will be stretched thin trying to also develop ways to assist
small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum. Surprisingly,
many people don't realize the event can also be lucrative for smaller
businesses including agriculture, manufacturers, entertainment, technology,
retail & obviously tourism, even when they don't have products
or services that appeal to Olympic fans or serve a direct Olympic need.
The information we share here is invaluable in helping
small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum.