EVER since FIFA’s 2014 World Cup kicked off on June 12, there has been a buzz in the air. It is a common topic that bonds family members, friends, colleagues and strangers.

Yet the World Cup is magical also because it is about so much more than football.

Beyond the excitement of watching two teams slug it out in each 90-minute, 11-a-side game, football’s most significant event is also about the fans, the culture and all the hoopla surrounding it.

To draw a parallel, your business is also more than just its products and services — your fans, your culture and your events are vital elements that will ultimately lead to its success.

While your products and services are the epicentre of your business (just as football is the epicentre of the World Cup), the surrounding elements are what differentiates a successful business from one that is not.

The fans

Your business has customers, but how many of them are fans? Who will strongly advocate your products or services to their peers, staking their own reputations and relationships to recommend your business?

Genuine customers who are advocates of your business are the best marketing asset any business can have. Not only is it cost-effective to nurture this advocacy (compared to advertising), but it also leads to publicity.

If you have 10 advocates who absolutely love what you offer to them and they share it with two friends each, you immediately have 20 new potential customers and more advocates in the making.

The reason why the World Cup is football’s largest global event is because of the fans and the teams.

It is the person seated next to you who fervently shares with you the latest World Cup happenings that stir excitement.

If you want to do the same for your products and services, look to  the fans of your business.

The culture

The World Cup projects a strong culture of camaraderie, teamwork, celebrity, and health and wellness. Top footballers are viewed as heroes.

All stakeholders, from fans to sponsors, embrace this culture. The run-up to the World Cup is frenzied — from non-stop advertisements featuring football players and media coverage to friendly games organised in the neighbourhood park and merchandise on sale. You don’t have to watch a World Cup match to know the season is here.

Can your business create that culture for stakeholders (customers, partners, suppliers, investors) to identify with?

The Body Shop is a good example of a business that has created a culture of environmental friendliness and earned a reputation for advocating ethical practices.

Any interaction with The Body Shop as a customer or supplier results in the confidence and satisfaction that neither animals nor the environment were harmed in the manufacture of the company’s products.

This powerful association forms your brand positioning and has a ripple effect on what you and your business stand for.

The events

Did you just receive yet another brochure inviting you to a football match screening? Although the World Cup is in Brazil, thousands of kilometres from where we are in Asia, many events are organised almost daily to keep fans excited.

Likewise, your business needs events to nurture and grow your fan base and culture. An event does not have to be a company-sponsored rock concert. Simpler gatherings that promote your organisation’s values can help to engage your customers and convert them into advocates, while reinforcing your brand positioning.

Now you know what makes the World Cup a global phenomenon. Get ready to leverage on your fan base, culture and company events to score some goals for your business.

Article by Looi Qin En, chief brand and marketing strategist of Training Edge International. He is a branding and marketing expert who has successfully transformed businesses of all sizes. For more information, e-mail Qin.En@trainingedgeasia.com or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com