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5 Business Lessons from the Big Boxing Match

By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

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With the outcome of last weekend’s Floyd Mayweather - Manny Pacquiao fight still dominating headlines, Yahoo! Small Business Advisor fielded a call from a boxing-obsessed publicist who saw his own clients reflected in all the sparring. He asked to remain anonymous, but offered these insightful business takeaways from the match.

1. Target your opponent’s weakness. Some fans accuse Mayweather of knowing about and taking advantage of Pacquiao’s weak spot—a shoulder injury that he’ll have repaired in surgery this week. It might seem like an ethically cheap tactic, but knowing the other guy’s weakness is an essential business strategy.

Our boxing fan/branding expert says the CEO at Punchh, a mobile business-loyalty app developer, saw that existing apps on the market didn’t employ indirect customer engagement tactics. The company focused on creating indirect engagement in some loyalty apps through features such as branded games. By playing the branded games, customers can earn points for use at various retailers. Those brands saw dramatic increases in indirect customer engagement. 

2. It really is all about quality. Fight winner Mayweather landed 34 percent of his total punches. Pacquiao? Just 19 percent. Likewise, winning businesses commit to quality over quantity.

The publicist we spoke to points to Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, a national sandwich chain known for making subs with whole turkeys that are slow-roasted in-house overnight and hand-pulled the next morning. When economic challenges arose, CEO Ashley Morris could have cut costs by using a cheaper, sliced, processed turkey meat, but he saw it as a cop-out. He refused to risk everything Capriotti’s stood for.

3. Take time to evaluate right out of the gate. A boxing match often begins with the opponents dancing around each other, sometimes not even throwing a punch until the first round clock is half spent. The contenders aren’t wasting time. They’re sizing each other up, getting warmed up, and absorbing everything they can about their opponent and surroundings.

Rodney Anderson, CEO of Pancheros, a 65-location chain offering fresh Mexican fare, spent his first few days on the job working every employee’s role, according to his publicist. Spending time as dishwasher, cashier, janitor, and cook gave Anderson a deep sense of his business and enabled him to relate to his employees and understand their day-to-day reality.

4. You’re running a marathon, not a sprint. Many businesses are so consumed with the here and now that they forget that longevity is key to success. In boxing, it’s about landing points throughout the entire match. Aiming for a knockout is the quick way to win, but it’s also the hardest and the riskiest.

Joe Schumacher, CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc., a national early education franchise with over 400 schools in 35 states, is all about responsible growth, says our source. The system takes a long time to evaluate potential franchisees to ensure they’re a fit for the brand, rather than just accepting anyone and everyone with cash to open a school. Responsible growth is also about ensuring that there is enough support from the top for every franchisee. Growing too quickly would reduce the ratio of support available to franchisees, and the whole system would suffer.

5. Constantly survey your competition. Some fans criticized Mayweather for spending so much time circling the ring, evading, and “hugging.” But the fighter was evaluating Pacquiao from both a distance and close-up. Amit Kleinberger, CEO of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, does something similar. According to the publicist we spoke to, he runs an international frozen yogurt company with over 475 locations in 14 countries, but spends his free time visiting other quick-service chains, surveying how the most successful ones operate so he can apply what he learns to his own business.

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