*Names and affiliations have been removed for my own neutrality. I’m not looking to bash anyone. Only make a point.*
As I take stock of my surroundings, a caravan of black escalades whiz past me. A couple of luxury sports cars follow soon after, finally ending with a brand new 2011 Porsche 911. Dark tinted windows obscure the faces of those inside. A flock of kids run, screaming, after the sports car hoping for so much as even a glimpse of the driver. Burning rubber and the screeching of tires sends the car flying through the red light and up the block as the driver narrowly escapes facing his fans. As I look around me, I see some 30 or 40 children all dressed from head to toe in official *name removed* attire gloating over their favorite players. The excitement I saw here in the first minutes was nothing short of pandemonium. Now, the air thickens with disappointment as their heroes zip past them, unable to even spare them the dignity of a single wave or perhaps even a honk of their horn. Reality sets in. Their chances of getting a baseball signed by *name removed*: nonexistent. The talk around me drops from anxious optimism to complete and utter disappointment. I witness children muttering the words “daddy, where are they going?” and “why won’t they stop for us?” I pause and wonder the same thing. Twenty-four million dollars a year and you can’t spare a couple minutes with some of your biggest fans? These people waited for hours, and in all likelihood, would wait for days at the chance of meeting some of these players. They idolize them. Worship them, and what do they get in return? They’re treated like the dirt they wipe off their cleats after every game. Unbelievable. What a brilliant example of how not to treat your fans.
So why did I start with the sob story? Simple. Treat your fans with respect. The same respect that you would give to investors in your company, because in all honesty, that’s exactly what they are. They fund your career. They can literally make or break you. Justin Bieber’s fans purchase multiple copies of his albums for the sole reason of furthering his career. No gimmicks and unfulfilled promises on his part. They do this because they want him to succeed. Do you realize how powerful a fan base like that is? What Justin’s fans don’t realize yet is that they hold all the power in that relationship. They are the key to his success. We need to start treating our fans/consumers/investors with the respect they deserve, because once they realize the incredible power they wield, things will never be the same. And I for one can’t wait.