Ep. 42: Grassroots Opportunities with Rich Scorza
In each episode of The GameDay Playbook presented by FanFood, Rob Cressy discusses how leaders are transforming the sports and live entertainment industry by leveraging technology to enhance the fan experience and operate gameday more efficiently.
Listen to the Gameday Playbook on:
Rob Cressy: (00:04)
Welcome to the GameDay Playbook presented by FanFood. A discussion around how leaders are transforming the sports and live entertainment industry by leveraging technology to enhance the fan experience and operate game day more efficiently. I'm your host Rob Cressy and joining me today is Rich Scorza, founder of Huzzah Sports rich. Great to have you on the show.
Rich Scorza: (00:30)
Good to be here. Love energy.
Rob Cressy: (00:32)
Thank you. I appreciate it. Can you give a quick overview of who you are and what you do?
Rich Scorza: (00:37)
So my name's Rich Scorza I'm the founder of Huzzah Sports with a handful of very smart men and women. Our business is focused on grassroots sports organizations and helping them create revenue streams through sponsor relationships. It's a giant market, for example, is 35,000 high schools with soccer high school soccer teams in the country. Our focus is on keeping kids for the most part in adults on the field. You know, we have the same, well internally, this is very simple if a person, a kid wants to play and is willing to show up on Saturday, we should get them on the field regardless of the skill set, any perceived limitations, whether it's physical or mental limitations or frankly if they're financially limited we should still figure out a way to get them on the field. So that's our focus and we're driving towards, and I make the joke that this is my go to the grave project and we're in it for the long haul.
Rob Cressy: (01:30)
Cool. I really liked that. One thing that immediately stood out to me with what you guys do is the grassroots side of things because I believe it is something that is, one, extremely powerful. Two, often overlooked and three, I don't know if people, teams, leagues, brands have a strategy for it because we think about the scalability side of things. But what I've always loved about grassroots is it's usually high touch in word of mouth. So I can feel you in what you understand is that it's an interaction of one. I know that we're looking for this one too many relationships, but you and I talking on a grassroots level and a good example of this on my end would be anytime I saw someone wearing a sports hat when I was building my sports brand, all of a sudden I'd go and talk to them like, Hey, what's up? I'm Rob. Boom. I knew it was someone who would be in my demographic. But I'm curious to hear from you a little bit more on the grassroots strategy side of things because one, it's a topic we haven't talked about here before, but two, I think there's a good opportunity right now when people trying to figure out what to do, here's one that may be underutilized.
Rich Scorza: (02:43)
Yeah, so what we found when looking at this a while ago, we've been in the sports market for a while. I have another company that helps technologies and sports companies enter the market space to under a million dollars unfunded VC companies. What we see is when you talk to the grassroots clubs or relatively large ones. They typically, you know, they're struggling. Mom and dad are running it, or you've got an owner of a small soccer club out of Iowa. He's got a regular daytime job and he's trying to make this deal work at night and weekends. So they're really focused on putting the, getting the schedule figured out and getting the kids or the team on the field Saturday morning operationally. They don't think in terms of strategy when it comes to sports sponsorship, they typically have, a package, you know, a grid that says, you know, for thousand dollars you get a logo and that's okay. It's an okay starting point on that, denigrating anybody doing that. But we know as we come in and help them settle in on what a strategy really looks like, right? The other challenge then becomes, right, so I got a strategy, how do I execute that? So we think about clubs of all sizes. You've got a strategy, you've got marketing, you've got sales, and then once you, once you start digging in on that becomes pretty heavy stuff, right? So, first, we have the skillset challenge. And again I'm not picking on anybody because these people are doing things that I wish I could, which is helping kids play soccer. If you think about what they're executing day today, they don't have the time. There's one club out of Kansas City. It's a really solid club. They've got a Latin focused organization but they got one guy doing marketing four hours a week. So how does he take his time and exercise now? So now we've got the strategy then how do you market it? This is a big one that a lot of people miss is selling the sponsorship itself. That is not a hard sale and it's not long. You're not selling airplanes but, but it requires certain steps that if you don't do them correctly, like most sales you're not going to maximize it. So besides resources, it's a skill set limitation out there. And then I know it's really important you are in this podcast, here is what the technologies are offering out it is tremendous. It's just how do I go from having two hours a week to integrating an app that helps sponsors.
Rob Cressy: (05:17)
So we'll get to the technology in a second. But I want to talk about the sponsorship side of things with what's going on in the landscape right now because it's very easy to say, you know what, we're going to stay comfortable. The timing isn't right. We're not going to sell sponsorships right now, but I am of the opposite mindset where there is always an opportunity to find ways to provide value or to put yourself in a position to succeed. So talk to me about your mindset right now around the selling of sponsorships.
Rich Scorza: (05:46)
I really appreciate that. So I'm going to take two pieces of that. One is our personal position, right? So we've got a handful of very good clients that we're working with that what we're saying to them is, okay, you're not to know, you're not gonna make a phone call today, but let's really get that strategy based settled. And let's put a calendar think in terms of a year. We all know that we don't know what's going to happen, but that doesn't mean you can't. You can't think that stuff through. So, so from that standpoint, you want to plan on the year. And since guess what? You don't have to schedule those kids this week. You certainly have to keep communicating with the parents, but, but there's no field time. So let's take that time and begin to have conversations with your local potential support organization. Now, we all know the restaurants for scratch. Fruits are good, you're, you're a rug, a men's rugby club. There's nothing better than a brewery. They're not going to respond really well yet, but you can begin to have those conversations. Yes, you can't go out for a beer. I think there's one agent that he'd written a coffee. We can begin to articulate why they should think about you when we all come out of this command of this mess. And I think that's the best advice and frankly for a lot of businesses, is what can you do knowing that, hoping that we can, we're going to get out of this and have a strategy and then we're going to execute. There's gonna be some signal we all gonna get someday that we're coming out. And when that signal hits, what do we as an organization, forget my company, but what are you as a soccer club or rugby club going to do that the day after?
Rob Cressy: (07:09)
So let me give a contrarian viewpoint on this. And I live in Chicago and right now all of the restaurants are pretty much closed. We can't go into them. You can only order delivery or carry out right there. So we're seeing these restaurants and hospitality groups have to reinvent their model where they're saying, alright, well we're going to try and do a lot more of the delivery staff. So when we're talking about the sponsorship side of things, I'm like, well, wait a second. Maybe there is actually a good opportunity right now because when everybody else is, let's call it afraid and we're cowering, they need to find a way to increase the amount of visibility they have for what they doing. The challenge I see in this being the grassroots organization, being able to deliver the quantification of what a $1,000 package or whatever it is there, but I would think that there's gotta be something there where these teams, leagues, organizations can start to put in a foundation and say, listen, I know you're hurting. We're hurting right now as well, but why don't we work together to try and find a way where maybe you can build a brand partnership right now that maybe it's not 100 but in three months from now it's going to be so you're willing to do something to try and help somebody else out and it'll pay dividends.
Rich Scorza: (08:36)
Well, I gotta tell you, Rob, I have a, I have space in my advisory board if you're up for it. That's a brilliant perspective and I really appreciate that. I hadn't, I hadn't gone on that path yet and I really mean that a lot. So like my knee jerk suggestion is that make the phone call, give it away. If you have to give it away, let's throw away a partner, you know my, my, my soccer field is literally 80, 80 yards from your, from your restaurant. Like my mom and my brother and I go in there for a beer every Friday night. What can we do right now to get the community? Cause that's the big thing, right? When you think about value propositions like the Minnesota Vikings, there's a giant community, but the community that the grassroots want to go after are the people around that field, right? They get the kids on the field and you got the houses it. So I really like where you're coming from and I think what you want to do, let me back up a little bit. What most organizations have struggled with is identifying the value of their property. And when we talked about value to the property, you're talking about social media, you're talking about potential other sponsors, ticket sales, if there are any merchandise social media reach, you know, all those things that if you can identify very quickly, then you're off and running. So let's just say staying with your idea of pickup, right? So you got the Mulligan's Irish bar and if they've got a really good pickup model going and there’s a rugby and football club close by, why not look into them and say typically on a weekend we'll get three to 400 people at this meet, we do 20 minutes, let's figure out a way just to get this thing working. That's pretty much a resell. We liked that idea. She only, you want to go for the big dollars the time. I think your suggestion is a good one, but just get this thing working. You're not doing anything anyway. I love the attitude. I appreciate it.
Rob Cressy: (10:18)
Thank you. And then let's actually flip it on the other side. So you're going to build this partnership with a restaurant who's doing pickup and delivery and you're like, man, if only there is an opportunity for me to throw a flyer in there about the league that we're going to have upcoming when the things go even if it doesn't exist, it can just say, here's one, two, three rugby sign up your kids when it's ready to go on the website. Join the email list. We've partnered with ABC restaurant here because we are going to help each other because I really believe right now one of the biggest opportunities for every single company out there is about the community side of things. Because in times of change, everyone's in this together or the perception that we're in this together. So be a brand or a team or a restaurant that says we are in this with you. We are with others in the local community and together we can all rise. I love that attitude. I don't wanna get too off on a tangent, but to get the pencil out, but for the idea of having, having donation building for either for the club or for the employees, you see people write checks for two grand now help try and help the employees. I'm not sure exactly how to flesh that out, but if you, if you open your eye in mind up, realize that every dollar that you can bring in above your other kid’s sales and then the rest is cash that can run right to the kids. So those, if you have 80 kids in the five of them cant make it because they don't have the money. Well now you can get 81 kids out there and just keep focusing on that, people looking to do good now and when I do anything anyway, right? Well I the $150 dinner you haven't sat in, it ain't going to happen for a few months, so why not? Why not go after that? That dollar, we frankly blew cold on it. But go after that, that money, pull it in to help the longterm play. Knowing that the clubs come out, we have one client, he doesn't awesome. We have a plan already for July. It's going to be online, I won't give too much away. We think it will be a viral campaign where these got kids coming into the soccer organization doing things. Kind of a fundraiser, each kid has a mom and dad ship a dollar in and we already have that lined up. And so what we're planning now is having a scale that knowing, starting July. That's a strategy that frankly we would rush through. Now the really plan the detail of it as an example.
Rob Cressy: (12:37)
You know, what I would like to see is some of these grassroots organizations using the parents in kids and their social footprint right now as a way to get more awareness for something. So maybe your kid can't play basketball or soccer right now because they're not able to. But that doesn't mean that they're not working on it in their base and playing little dunk stuff. So go ahead and if you're an organization, create a hashtag or something that can bring the community together that now says, Hey, show me a video. I'm stealing that brother. I'm stealing it. You get credit when I post it today, but I'm going to steal. That's a really good idea. Go for it. Because what you, what you can do now is you have to think about, all right, what are the assets that exist that are out there from a fan engagement standpoint that we might not be taken advantage of? And you talked about it, the grassroots organization, they may have a hard time creating strategy, executing all of it, but if you've got the right strategy that says, Hey, your kids aren't with us right now, but they're always with us and we want you to send a hashtag, whatever, jumping around and show us your kids still jumping around because we still believe in the importance of fitness and whatever. And Oh, by the way, you've got you to integrate your partners into this now. So now you get the people who have the social impact to post this on Facebook or Instagram and use it as a small shred of virality by bringing the community together to say, listen, you're not with us, but you still are.
Rich Scorza: (14:07)
Exactly right and then you throw in the mulligans logo. Right?
Rob Cressy: (14:12)
Rich Scorza: (14:13)
Now you get everybody winning, right? Everybody's winning. We all got a smile. The kids get a little exposure. The club gets, gets that unity, maintains connections with the kids, which is a super important portion, and then mulligans get their logo across that possibly. So those are really good. That's really good. Simple online example of how to do it. Excellent.
Rob Cressy: (14:31)
You want to know a sneaky trick? Here's the thing, everybody loves to see their name in lights. And what that means is when little Timmy is jumping around playing basketball, guess what? Of course, they're going to share that. When the grassroots organization goes, look at little Timmy, they're going to say, Holy smokes, you're famous now. And even if there are only 87 followers on that Facebook page, guess what? So that's how you can start to build community and virality. Because people love to talk about themselves. People love when you share something of theirs. So now you're actually giving by them, giving to you. So for me, that sort of grassroots and community building one-on-one, because guess what, most brands don't do, they don't share stuff from their community. They just say, buy what I'm selling, buy what I'm selling. But if instead, you're like, Hey, we're mulligans and we're going to support our local soccer organization because look at this cool thing they're doing. If you have a kid who's jumping around, make sure to use this hashtag and tag us, and now all of a sudden you're all working in unison on social media, which is where the opportunity is, right?
Rich Scorza: (15:42)
That's spot on. So we've created a formula and you're, you're right on it. The formula for grassroots is different than the New England Patriots, right? Typically, if you're a New England Patriots, you've got to get an ROI. Understand that quite detailed. They have much more men and women figuring that out than I ever will be. In the grassroots space, We've a couple of very simple formulas. It's PV + RV = sponsor dollars and PV is perceived value plus real value. I use the example of a pizza joint. It's called Lou's pizza joint. So Lous sponsors a local baseball team. He puts in 250 bucks a month, once a quarter they have an event that has a pizza joint, he nets a thousand dollars. So he's $250 a head-on quarterly basis that sponsorship will last forever. That's real value. And most large organizations have the fight for that. Smaller organizations, if you can prove that, great. But there's the other one which has perceived value, which is what you're talking about. It's kinda like the halo effect, the affinity effect and what that is. Lou's son is also on the baseball team. So now Lou’s pizza joint. It's a small club out in Western Minnesota or somewhere and he goes to the game and everybody's, Hey Lou, how's it going? You know, put logos on the thing. And Lou feels good about that. He's part of the community and so that's a perceived value. And when you're talking, what you're leaning towards is that community build perceived value. So our formula one, the way to look at is if, if your perceived value and your real value kind of even a breakeven, you still going to be okay because of what you're talking about. People do have, people do have hearts. We see it all the time. You just have to help them understand what you're trying to do as an organization.
Rob Cressy: (17:35)
So let's get to the last piece of this, the technology side. And there is always an opportunity for technology. Some of the challenges that face our user adoption or when we look at the grassroots side of things, the understanding of the technology for how I can actually use it so that my users can do it. And really the seamless integration of all of them in right now. Once again the good part about being forced to change and see things from a different perspective is that it means there's an opportunity. So right now there's a little bit more time to say, let me evaluate the technology side. I might not understand it, but guess what? I'm going to find someone like rich who says, I do understand it. Let me help you. So talk a little bit more about the use of technology in how it can help these grassroots organizations.
Rich Scorza: (18:25)
So, so forget this for a minute. There are organizations out there that provide these, FanFood is one of them, I provide a lot of a half a dozen that are really committed to helping. The challenge for those kinds of organizations is getting head or brainpower from the smaller grassroots clubs. We do come in and sort of sifting through that. But I do want to just share, if anybody's listening to that are from grassroots, if you take an hour, just give these organizations a call, they'll sit and go through it with you now if you want, you can certainly call me and we can do that as well. But, they're very active in that space. But here's why he's telling the dirty little secret. You have all these apps out there that are really built for the market we're in and the people that are building, every one of them has a big heart.
Rich Scorza: (19:08)
They just love what they're doing. They are former athletes and coaches and they just love it. The problem is, the market is so disjointed and each individual club is so small that the resources required to bring in new deals are really hard for them. So they're going after leagues, which is a good thing. And that's a challenge that we, we can help, we can help those partners with. So I just, I just share there. Most of these organizations also, besides having the technology, but most of them will have what's called a giveback. So a lot of these, these products will you pay X dollars or you're selling the product to the client or the, I'm sorry that the fans and the other folks that are running sponsors, then the sponsor then you build a relationship with the sponsor. Then the technology company that every dollar they get, they may get 5 cents to back to the club. So there are some things you can work out there that then make it really worthwhile long term. That's the other thing. Traditionally, the sponsorship models have been, I've got to get $2,000 okay, great. How about if you get $500 but it's the five years, right. So the idea of taking a long view at its value is the other piece. I don't know how deep you want me to get on technology.
Rob Cressy: (20:18)
That makes a ton of sense. One question I would have is you don't know what you don't know. So if someone's like, we need technology or I don't know if I need technology, where do you even go? And you go to Google, but I wouldn't even know what I'm going to now type into Google to say I need to have the technology for my thing. So I almost need someone like you or your company to approach me to say, Hey Rob, you don't know this, but we've worked with companies or organizations like you.
Rich Scorza: (20:53)
I appreciate that and I really appreciate it. Gladly have anybody call me. You don't know me. If folks don't know me, I will, we'll solve your problem for us. We work in the UK every day. We're really here to help people move off-center. But yes, the issue of understanding technologies is no small thing. People struggle with Twitter and Facebook. I'm not being disrespectful to anybody, but there again, I would, I'm going to show you in a club, there's a club in mid-Minnesota, 2,500 soccer players with a giant, giant coaching staff. The marketing person is also a coach. So how is, how's that person going to get their head around what we're talking about? We can help with that.
Rob Cressy: (21:36)
And I think that's the perfect example right there because it's a real-world example that's multiplied all over the place in finding ways to say, listen, we understand you, we empathize with you.
Rich Scorza: (21:48)
Now here's the way that we can help you out. You hit it again, you know this market probably better than I do.
Rob Cressy: (21:57)
Well, Rich really enjoyed jamming with you. Where can everybody connect with you?
Rich Scorza: (22:02)
So just the best place to get me is on Twitter @huzzahsports and we're always monitoring that. That's our lifeline to the outward world and showing that you can, you can come up to huzzahsports.com and shoot me an email, but when I'm on LinkedIn as well, so wide open, if you just want to chat on the next 90 days, our organization is just out there to help share some ideas, get people moving. So that when this thing, when we all break out of this that we are hitting the road.
Rob Cressy: (22:34)
As always I’d love to hear from you about this episode. You can hit up FanFood on Twitter @FanFoodOnDemand, on Instagram @FanFoodApp or on LinkedIn and you can hit me up on all social platforms at @Rob Cressy.