Leading From the Front: Interview with UFC’s Dana White
You may not be a fan of the fight game, but if you’re reading this blog then you must be a fan of Social Media. And no one does Social Media for business better than Dana White.
For the uninitiated, Dana White is the President of UFC.
UFC is a 4th largest sports franchise in the US, and a 2nd largest sports franchise in the world (after soccer). To say that Dana is in charge of a giant business with many moving parts would be an understatement of the year.
I had a chance to sit down with Dana in January while speaking at NMX in Vegas. It was a dream come true for this long-time fight fan.
How long have I been a fan? Let’s just say I watched UFC on Pay-Per-View back when black boxes were still effective in stealing cable. :-)
Our interview is below for your viewing pleasure, but I wanted to share some thoughts on the subtext of the interview. There were many things that were implied, and I wanted to shine some light on that.
My first question for Dana was to make a business case for Twitter.
Dana’s answer -if you listen very carefully- tells you how a General who is sitting at the command center, can have on-the-ground, real-time, information about the situation on the front lines.
I think this military analogy is very apt.
Generals have always had to maintain centralized locale and command the troops from a safe distance. After all, an army without a leader is useless.
The drawback has always been that the General could never know on-the-ground, real-time, information about the status in the battlefield.
Generals always had to rely on second-hand info via messengers, and the like.
What Dana said in the interview is that Twitter allows him to sit in the center of the battlefield and get on-the-ground, real-time, information not only from his army, but also from his enemies.
(In my analogy, the enemy is the fan. :-))
And the way Dana wins this war is by making his enemies insanely happy in engaging in the battle.
He stick the analogical landing, and the crown goes wild. :-)
The next question was about him bypassing the PR department and talking to the fans directly.
This is in fact one of the principles of Insane Loyalty. The best way to understand the hearts and minds of your audience is to BE your own audience.
Short of that, first-person contact, high-touch, getting out there, shaking hands and kissing babies, is the way to get to know your target demo.
Dana does both. He is both a fan and he maintains high-touch contact with UFC fans.
Note that the high-touch contact has to be maintained by the person who sets the vision. The person leading the company. Not the marketing department which will bring back filtered, attenuated, second-hand information at best.
The subtext of the third question was very interesting to me. We talked about UFC going public, and Dana basically said no way.
Biz types didn’t get the appeal of UFC when UFC was struggling to survive. And now that UFC is one of the biggest sports franchises in the world, why would Dana listen to the advice of these same biz types.
I think this is an important lessons for all people and brands alike. If you want to develop relationships with bloggers (and most brands do), you need to support them when they’re young. Build them up. Help them become bigger.
If a big brand takes a blogger under its wing and takes that blogger on a journey, that blogger will remember that, and the kind of loyalty that will build through that journey can’t be measured in pesos.
Sitting in the left corner, weighing-in at none-of-your-business lbs, the host with the most, the thrilla like vanilla, Dino the Bosniak Dogan.
In the right corner, weighing-in at I-didn’t-ask-he-didn’t-tell lbs, the President of pugilism, the Rumble in the Belly, Dana the Great White.
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