Industry Views

Pending Business: The Agony of Complacency

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imWhat happens when the world-wide leader is for sale? When they stopped spanning the globe 25 years ago, I thought the budget cut would help the leader. I could still hear the great Jim McKay describing the agony as Vinko Bogataj rolled down that ski slope in utter defeat. There were so many different images of the thrill of victory, but for most of the 37 seasons of “Wide World of Sports,” the agony of defeat was forever connected to that helpless Yugoslavian skier.

Maybe the real story of Disney/ABC/ESPN’s “Wide World of Sports” is lost in the silo of being first in on the marketing ladder and not recognizing opportunity.

The world-wide leader was the first to televise Wimbledon, the Indy 500, and who could forget the Pro Bowlers Tour? Not recognizing the need to expand into targeted sports coverage, pre-empt competitive efforts, and experiment with new media may be a flaw in an otherwise crown jewel. Did Mickey Mouse see the “Rugrats” coming? You mean history repeats itself when the successful get complacent and positive paranoia is the domain of the dot-com entrepreneurs?

Ok, it’s getting a little heavy here. This column is about sales and marketing, not business theory or case studies. Or is it?

The lessons here are classic and are a direct connect to your commission check.

ESPN is searching for answers, and when billions in ad sales, cable fees, streaming subscriptions and theme park attendance isn’t enough to goose the growth curve, well, Houston, we’ve got a problem. But let’s learn how to work with what surrounds us.

— What are the biggest challenges to your business base?

— Can you identify the challenges in your control, and which are not?

— How would you rank your competitors?

— As your local ad market shifts into more digital advertising, who are the winners?

— Can you name the five biggest digital-social media ad spenders in your market?

— Do you keep updated on new ad marketing opportunities presented to your clients?

Forgive the blurry lines that connected the dots in the Disney-ABC-ESPN story. The business lesson, however, is clear. Sellers can only control what they are asked to sell. But when complacency sets in at any level, take a time out and rethink your playbook.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: