After leaving his position with the Citadel baseball team, Coach David Beckley began consulting for young athletes to help them meet NCAA eligibility rules. He was finding a great need: Nearly half of the athletes he interviewed had incorrect information reported from their school to the NCAA. And this could cost their eligibility. In some heart-breaking cases Beckley discovered, it did.
So parents and coaches saw great value in the services of David's firm, e4 Consultants. But, unfortunately, in spite of the need and desire, the ability to pay wasn't always there. Driven by a mission of helping these athletes fulfill their potential, Coach Beckley went in search of a solution, looking into fundraising apps as a way to help more athletes afford his consulting services. Seeing the high percentages some of these app companies were taking, he took a pencil to napkin and figured he and the teams would both be better off with him having his own app.
So he then sought a way to get his fund-raising app built. Not only would it help athletes afford needed services for NCAA eligibility, he felt he could out-do what he was seeing and give better value for everything these teams raised money for.
As he tells it, he then crossed paths with Chris McNeil of 5th Level Web. Chris pointed out that David's new app would need to stand out in a special way because the market was getting crowded. So he insisted on doing some market research before quoting the project. He didn't initially tell David it was a different kind of research, a certain way of respectfully listening to the market.
This market research was different because Chris was developing his own new concept: a new way to market online in response to, in his words, "pretty much the whole profession of online marketing going in the wrong direction." While 5th Level Web builds apps like Coach Beckley needed, they specialize in online marketing, which Coach Beckley's company would also need in order for his app to be successful against the established giants of youth sports fundraising.
But while the online marketing was needed, web marketing as a field wasn't exactly loved by everyone. In Chris' mind, that was for good reason.
As he puts it: "With all the big data statistics and high-tech visuals, these marketers forget customers aren't numbers, they aren't data, they are people. And it's the customer who set the value of a service, even when they are paying with time and attention. People are sick of targeted ads based on privacy invasion following them around. What, specifically, is it that makes them believe that customers won't be driven away by invasive marketing?
"What if, instead of paying big data to spy on them and advertisers to target them so they get annoyed, we took our technology to the customers' point of view instead and asked how can it help them by learning what they want and better giving it to them? And if we listen the right way, we can discover what doesn't even exist yet but they would love."
It seemed like the customers' point of view wasn't being considered with youth sports fundraising apps either. This respect-based, multi-level market listening* discovered youth sports fundraising apps were making fundraising easier than the "old way" of things like bake sales, sure.... but it wasn't all cake and pies.
Chris' R&D team and methods discovered, in authentic, public discussions online, Parents were saying things like, "Whatever happened to selling chocolates and Christmas wrapping paper for a fund raiser?" And, "Old fashioned fundraisers teach the kids about team work, hard work and values. This teaches them nothing!” These are exact quotes.
Chris went back to Coach Beckley with a strong message: He said they discovered a primary, unmet market value in the parents and coaches, the people who made the money decisions: growth for the youth. Any well-written app would offer the ease over bake sales and car washes the other apps promised. There would be no advantage there. "Making it only about ease could lead to instant gratification and breed entitlement mentality. But a program that focused on helping youths grow will resonate with the coaches and parents, light up a better path for the youths as well as helping them raise the money they need, and benefit multiple charities with donations or volunteer work.
"Instead of working harder telling people you have the best "ease" mousetrap, have an easier time yourself changing the game and leading the market somewhere new. Everyone else is saying they have the best mousetrap while you show them how to start a mouse circus. They are selling ease but people hear "entitlement" while you are leading them to growth experiences for the youth, instead. And, who knows, maybe discovering the satisfaction of helping others will be the turning point in some kids life ... and the rest of his or her life will be completely different as a result."
So, Chris suggested partnering with charities in the fundraising campaigns. The youths could either volunteer time when appropriate or they could share a reasonable percentage of what they raised with the higher cause. Either way, the purpose of the campaign would then grow to include raising awareness of the cause of the charity. And the kids would grow by having an experience of the intrinsic rewards of helping others in need.
So, while their app is just as easy, mPower6 stands completely apart from the competition by fulfilling that value of growth for our youth.
And Chris' new company, Thaut, helps develop more persuasive copy by listening for audience insights and inspiring creative thought leadership, like it has for Coach Beckley's mPower6. Thaut's content idea generation system adds impact to content for companies, content writers, copy writers and marketing agencies of all kinds.
As a results, mPower6's content, like the company itself, spreads a message of inspiration: leading youth athletes to becoming better people by helping those in need.
Coach David Beckley and mPower6 have changed the game in youth sports fundraising: It's not about ease- all such apps have that - it's about growth.
*Thaut's multiple-level audience listening comes from public conversations where people really write what they think, like in Reddit or in the comments threads in response to polarizing blog posts or news stories. They store no personal data, not even meta-data. They have no incentive to because, by providing leading content of value people are seek out, they have no need to individually target them.