3 ways to create raving fans like the Seattle Seahawks


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Are your customers giving you a 12th MAN Advantage?

BahyTP1IAAARFHZLast December the Seattle Seahawks broke the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd noise at 137.6 decibels. To put that sound into perspective, that level of noise rivals a jet engine. According to Popular Mechanics, it’s even louder than the 120-decibel implosion that took down the Seahawks former home, the Kingdome back in 2000.

These fans personify the term “raving.” The sound is legendary, so loud that it’s seismic. The cheering of the fans supposedly sparked a few mini-earthquakes.

Has this translated to success for the Seahawks? Absolutely. The team has lost only once over the past two seasons at CenturyLink Field. Many attribute this stellar home record to the “12th MAN” advantage.

seahawks600How crazy are the Seattle fans? One fan named Tim Collins got a tattoo back in August celebrating the tem winning tomorrow’s Super Bowl. Look for Collins tomorrow night during the game. Doritos spotted him a couple tickets and a VIP trip to New York.

Is there something in the water in Seattle?

I don’t believe its something unique to the franchise. There is a reason behind the madness. Here are three things you can learn for the Seahawks:

1. Give Them Something to Scream About – You’ve got to get the basics right in business. You can’t expect raving fans unless you have a strong product or service. Seattle’s product on the field is world class. They say OFFENSE wins games, but DEFENSE wins championships. The Seahawk’s defense is one of the best in the league. They boast a league best takeaway / giveaway ratio of +20 for the season. That’s eight takeaways more than the #2 ranked team in the league.

century link-field2. Design Matters - CenturyLink leads the league in most false-start penalties by the opposition at 2.36 per game. This is because the noise is deafening for the opposition on the field. This didn’t happen by mistake. Owner Paul Allen set out to replicate the raucous collegiate atmosphere he experienced at University of Washington’s Husky Stadium. He challenged designer AECOM’s Jon Niemuth to accentuate the noise. Niemuth responded with a design that contains the smallest footprint of any stadium combined with 70% of the seats being covered. That covering not only protects fans from Seattle Sunshine (rain), it also deflects the noise toward the field. Are you designing your physical space to maximize ambience and intimacy? If you are in the bar business, are you creating a butt funnel? An area according to Bar Rescue host Jon Taffer, “a butt funnel is a dance floor or other tight spot where people must get close to each other to pass.”

space needle #123. Priming the Pump and Rituals – Sometimes you have to prime the pump to get things going. The team has went to great lengths to court its fans. In December 1984, the Seahawks (at the time just eight years old) retired the number 12 to honor their fans. Nine years ago former Coach Mike Holmgreen gave the fans a #12th MAN game ball after 11 false starts and influence 3 missed field goals in a key late season victory over the New York Giants.  The #12 is ingrained into everything the team does. Every jersey has the #12 in place of a tag. There are 12 feathers on the sleeve of every jersey. The team has a page dedicated to fans on its website called the “Spirit of 12.” The team has ingrained it into rituals. Just before kickoff at every home game, a giant flag is raised in honor of the 12th MAN. From former Seahawks greats, to local celebrities raising the 12th MAN Flag has become a symbol of Seahawks supporters all over the Northwest. The community has embraced the #12, whether its Starbucks selling 12 cent cups of Joe, local parlors offering $12 tattoos, or the Space Needle flying the #12 flag.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – The tradition of the 12th MAN can be attributed to Texas A&M.

12thManAccording to the site Aggie Traditions, the tradition of the Twelfth Man was born on the second of January 1922, when an underdog Aggie team was playing Centre College, then the nation’s top ranked team. As the hard fought game wore on, and the Aggies dug deeply into their limited reserves, Coach Dana X. Bible remembered a squad man who was not in uniform. He had been up in the press box helping reporters identify players. His name was E. King Gill, and was a former football player who was only playing basketball. Gill was called from the stands, suited up, and stood ready throughout the rest of the game, which A&M finally won 22-14. When the game ended, E. King Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies. Gill later said,

“I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me.”

This gesture was more than enough for the Aggie Team. Although Gill did not play in the game, he had accepted the call to help his team. He came to be thought of as the Twelfth Man because he stood ready for duty in the event that the eleven men on the gridiron needed assistance. That spirit of readiness for service, desire to support, and enthusiasm helped kindle a flame of devotion among the entire student body; a spirit that has grown vigorously throughout the years. The entire student body at A&M is the Twelfth Man, and they stand during the entire game to show their support. The 12th Man is always in the stands waiting to be called upon if they are needed.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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