Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
About a month ago, I had the privilege of going to see a Toronto FC game. "TFC" as they are more commonly referred to is the first Canadian team to enter Major League Soccer (MLS).
The Wikipedia entry on the club states that "TFC fans have helped make the club one of the MLS' most successful franchises off the pitch, having been profitable since its first year with regular sellouts and sold-out seasons tickets." But while the fans have been a powerful force in the success of the club, the club itself has and continues to be run really well.
Here's an example:
Two days before the event, I received an email from the club that was a reminder of the game coming up in two days. The email was short and to the point, listing only the opponent, place, time and seating information.
But amidst the simplicity, two things caught my attention about this email:
First, it came from a person. It wasn't from "tickets" @torontofc.com, it was from a person, and the email, although undoubtedly automated, had a real persons name at the bottom. Nice touch.
Second, and more importantly, the thing that struck me the most was that they didn't actually need to send the email. This is a club that sells out every single seat of their 22,000 seat stadium at every game. Things are going extremely well. People are showing up and buying lots of merchandise at the field and in stores across the region. Besides, there's the issue of responsibility. If a person actually chooses to purchase a ticket to the game and they print off or receive a ticket in the mail, they'll have everything they need to show up on time. TFC's got their money, who cares if they show up?
In a word, the reason they send it is: relationship
Sending out that reminder email let's the fan know that the club is thinking of them...even when they aren't at the game or picking out a jersey from a local store. It's a subtle courtesy that, although unnecessary, goes a long way to creating a two-way relationship between the club and it's fan base.
There's a lesson in that.
Whereas it might not be your responsibility to ensure that your constituents donate each month by the fifteenth like they said they would, and it might not be your responsibility to ensure that they are reminded of when the next big event for your organization is, for the amount of time and effort it takes to remind them, why wouldn't you show them that you care? Why wouldn't you let them know that you're thinking of them?
It's not just your constituents job to ensure the relationship with your organization continues and succeeds, it's yours too. So don't underestimate the value of the little things that you do which foster those relationships.