Saturday, April 01, 2006

Centre court, Second row

I was invited this week to a basketball game with a very successful Canadian entrepreneur who owns season’s tickets to the Raptors. I was flabbergasted when we reached the seats – centre court, second row. We were so close that if this had been a Leafs’ hockey game, our seats would have been on the ice.

My friend is very proud of his seats, but also slightly embarrassed. They cost a lot of money, but he insists they are his only indulgence; there aren't many other things he wants or needs to buy (he drives a Toyota Prius to save money on gas).

In fact, he says he has turned down seats in the front row (apparently they cost $300 more each, per game, than those in Row 2). He couldn’t justify the cost. (Note: He could afford it. Just couldn't justify it.)

I think there are a few instructive notes to take from this experience, for anyone targetting entrepreneurs as a market:

* Entrepreneurs are price sensitive (okay, cheap). They know the cost of everything and the value of everything.

* They don’t hesitate to indulge themselves when they wish to. The sky’s almost the limit.

* Successful entrepreneurs are often embarrassed about their wealth and the things it can buy them. But beyond their homes and one or two indulgences, their needs really are few. To them, business is definitely about competing and winning, but once their basic needs (and highest indulgences) are met, the monetary rewards are secondary.

* If you're marketing to entrepreneurs, they probably don't have a budget (unlike corporate customers) for what you are selling. But if you can convince them they need your product or service, they’ll find the money.

* If they come presold, as my friend with his b-ball tickets, price is not a problem: the sky is almost the limit.

* Few entrepreneurs have to justify their buying decisions to any outsider. But they do have to justify it to themselves.

My friend also commented on the many other entrepreneurs he sees at Raptors games. It’s as if, competitive by nature, the best way for them to wind down is by coming to see other high-level professionals compete. Adrenalin: the best way to finish your day.

(As you might expect, my friend plays recreational basketball. And he hates to lose.)

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