June 10, 2012: A member-centric association
Fostering athletic competition, which many people think is MLB's primary task, is actually not what the association does.
It's primary purpose is to improve business conditions for its members. And it does that by devising ways of engaging members' customers so they will continue to be customers.
Here are some of the ways it does that:
- MLB creates more ways for customers to spend money on member businesses.
It schedules more games, which lures more attendees (registration fees) and leads to more on-site sales (food, beverages, merchandise), creates more remote interest (television viewers), creates a demand for more television coverage (resulting in more sponsorship sales), and stimulates customer interest (leading to merchandise sales, television viewership, and long-term purchases).
- MLB creates more opportunities to compete for the "championship" (which customers care about) by creating smaller competitive divisions with more award winners, so teams will be considered viable for longer periods of time and customers (fans) will pay more attention and spend more money for longer periods of time.
And it enables more members to qualify for championship games and lengthens the process by which a "champion" is chosen, which increases customer (fan) interest and opportunities for engagement.
- MLB allows customers (fans) to vote for their favorite players (not necessarily the best players) for selection to an annual All-Star Game roster. It also creates a runoff voting process so that customers can vote a second time for favorite players who weren't selected on the first round of voting, thus increasing customer (fan) engagement, loyalty, and buy-in (ticket sales, television viewership, merchandise sales).
-MLB institutes various special events, designed to attract media attention and increase the number and diversity of customers (fans) and their degrees of engagement.
These include "Jackie Robinson Day," in which EVERY player on every member team wears the uniform number "42" in remembrance of the first African-American baseball player; and use of pink bats, gloves, hats, and other paraphernalia on Mother's Day, to call attention to the fight against breast cancer.
If you thought professional baseball was about winning, you were wrong. It's about making money for members. And meeting members' needs is the way it's done.