Finding Sports Business Books

You may not be in the Sports Industry, but if you are a sports fan, you may find a relevant topic for your industry:

Welcome to www.sportsbusinessbookstore.com – the only online specialized bookstore for discounted sports business and management books. The bookstore is managed by National Sports Marketing Network – the industry trade association for the sports business industry.

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Location Sites for Small Businesses

Author: Jennifer Van Grove

5 New Ways Small Business Can Offer Location-Based Deals

This originally appeared on American Express Open Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Location-based services, such as Foursquare and Gowalla, are proving quite popular with consumers open to sharing their locations with the world. They’re also built to be inherently business-friendly, as most allow retailers to incentivize checkins and social sharing behaviors in the hopes of attracting swarms of patrons to their businesses.

As the space continues to evolve, new platforms, technologies and services are emerging with the specific intention of helping small businesses reward their loyal patrons with deals for their in-store behaviors.

Small businesses looking for fresh and relevant ways to serve up location-based deals and stay ahead of the curve have numerous options. The following examples highlight how small businesses can leverage verified checkins, barcode scanning technology, group buying initiatives, activity-based rewards, and opt-in lists for innovative and mobile-friendly location-based deals.


1. Verified Checkin Rewards


Most checkin apps are designed so that small businesses can set up specials or rewards for checkin activity. Few, however, can truly verify that an application user is exactly where they say they are. For the small business owner to truly benefit from offering checkin rewards, verification is critical.

SCVNGR is an example of a location-sharing service built with verification in mind. The startup, which seeks to serve as a game layer for the real world, has a QR code checkin feature; businesses can display QR code decals to encourage patrons to pull out their mobile phones and scan the QR code to check in to their venues. Since the scan is tied to a specific location, the checkin is valid.

In general, QR codes present a clean way to tie a customer’s whereabouts to a physical location. Small businesses can choose to chuck the checkin app in favor of creating their own in-store QR code marketing initiatives — think scan-activated coupon codes or discounts — with the help of full-service QR code solutions such as ScanLife.


2. Social Barcodes


Small businesses sell products. Products have barcodes. New technology makes it easier than ever for consumers to create social experiences around products, and for retailers to reward them for their in-store scanning behaviors.

Bakodo is an iPhone app that can scan nearly all types of barcodes; consumers can use it to comparison shop, read reviews from friends, and make more informed purchase decisions. Stickybits has a mobile app that lets users create a social experience around products with photos, text, and videos. Even Shopkick, an automatic checkin service for retailers, has an iPhone app that supports barcode scanning activities.

As barcodes become more social in nature, small businesses have an opportunity to participate in product-driven communities and even reward consumers who scan in their stores. With Bakodo, for instance, small businesses can license a white label version of the technology to reward customers with discounts and coupons depending on what they scan.


3. Group Deals


Those following the group buying trend have no doubt noticed the growing buzz around Groupon and its many competitors. These deal-a-day sites allow small and local businesses to offer extreme discounts to new audiences. The formula has proven to appeal to customers looking for a deal, bring in new business, and create repeat business.

Interested small businesses can turn to services such as Groupon, LivingSocial, OpenTable, Yelp (Yelp), or Zagat to help them facilitate a location-based deal. Better yet, there’s now a handful of do-it-yourself, deal-a-day software options. With Wildfire, for instance, businesses can offer their own group deals via their website or Facebook (Facebook) Page.

Another new option perfect for neighborhood bars, restaurants and coffee shops is GroupTabs. The service blends group buying with checkins, so that when a certain number of people check-in at the same place at the same time, they can unlock a pre-defined venue deal or special. GroupTabs is brand new and available in limited markets, but it hopes to expand and is accepting business requests via email.


4. Challenge-Based Rewards


In addition to QR code checkins, the mobile location-based game SCVNGR now enables any retailer to offer custom rewards to patrons who accrue points for specific behaviors — checking in, posting a photo, or completing a user-defined challenge — at their store.

The rewards platform is more flexible than those offered by Foursquare (Foursquare) and Gowalla (Gowalla), and allows small businesses to decide how many rewards to offer, how many points customers need to unlock a reward, and how many times the reward in question can be redeemed. Patrons can also only attempt one reward at a time and can visually track their progress via a green status bar.

SCVNGR also sends out signage, QR code decals, table tents, and coasters to participating businesses free of charge to help facilitate the in-store behaviors. As such, the platform is perfect for small businesses looking to offer their own location-based deals.


5. Opt-in Deals


New startup Bizzy is designed to be the go-between for small businesses interested in distribution for their hyper-local deals and residents hungry for deals in their neighborhood. The service is designed with the intention of eliminating the clutter of traditional e-mail marketing campaigns by presenting deals and offers only to interested parties on their own terms.

Because Bizzy is opt-in for businesses and shoppers, it creates an ideal platform where local businesses can list deals that consumers want to find. Members can use the service to create their Bizzy List — a list of businesses they want to hear from — for a daily stream of related events and offers. Bizzy business members can create, manage, and track their deals, as well as personally engage with shoppers and build better opt-in lists.

Bizzy is accessible to consumers on the web, or via its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch applications. Bizzy’s only downside is that it’s currently a beta service only available in Dallas, New York and San Francisco.

As location-based marketing continues to grow, there are more and more ways that small businesses can offer location-specific deals. Verified checkins, barcode scanning technology, group buying initiatives, activity-based rewards, and opt-in lists are just five new ways that small businesses can leverage location-based marketing for innovative and mobile-friendly location-based deals. Let us know how your small business is offering location-based deals in the comments below.

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10 Fantasy Football Sites from Mashable

From Mashable.com

Posted: 28 Aug 2010 01:43 PM PDT

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Miranda Lin recently completed an M.S. degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and now works as a freelance writer and full-time sports fan.

While the opening kickoff to the 2010 NFL season is still over 2 weeks away, die-hard fantasy fans are already hard at work crunching stats and scouting players to build their own dream team.

With an estimated 27.7 million fantasy football players around the world and thousands of sites dedicated to the game, the competition this year is fierce as ever.

Here are 10 websites that might give you the winning edge over your competition:


1. Football Guys


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Having up-to-the-minute breaking news is the life-blood of any fantasy footballer, and Football Guys’ network of writers and inside sources is one of the best in the business, producing an “avalanche of news” that will keep you ahead of the game.

Though their news, forums, podcasts, depth charts and basic draft guide are free, access to their statistical and forecasting tools costs $28.95. But for those who are serious about winning, it may be worth the investment. The premium version of their Draft Dominator app alone might justify the price tag as it uses the Value Based Drafting system they invented to customize and compare projections for every player, across all positions, for any league setting.

Also included with your subscription are custom cheatsheets, ADP lists, weighted expert projections and daily email newsletters. In fact, Football Guys are so confident in their product that they offer a money-back guarantee up until the end of Week 3 action.


2. Rotoworld


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Owned by NBC Universal, Rotoworld is one of the biggest players on the fantasy field. The speed and quality of their newswire is second only to Football Guys and their “On Demand Draft Guide” ($14.99) produces an easily printable document filled with player profiles and stat projections, ADP reports, rookie rankings, depth charts and injury reports that are updated in real-time and tailored to your league settings.

For an additional $4.99 you can also download Rotoworld’s iPhone or iPad apps so that even when you’re on the go, you’ll always have access to Rotoworld’s compendium of fantasy news and analysis.


3. The Huddle


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For $29.95, The Huddle has it all: Cheatsheets, player profiles and rankings, mock drafts, game predictions, free agent reports, start/bench advice and stat trackers. Their award-winning draft kit also includes player consistency rankings, ease of schedule updates and the especially helpful Better Than Average (BTA) ranking, which measures how well a player performs compared to everyone else in his position.

But what really sets The Huddle apart are its forums. Few other sites have such a large community of knowledgeable and enthusiastic fantasy players actively posting on its message boards.


4. Fantasy Football Sharks


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This is the only site on this list that is 100% free – and it doesn’t give up anything in quality. Its Player Projections page presents a variety of graphs, interactive statistics and feedback from other Fantasy Shark members to predict how every player will perform during the season.

The Fantasy Sharks Lineup Coach, an integrated myfantasyleague.com add-on, is another handy tool that will give you direct advice about who to start and who to sit for every matchup.


5. Fantasy Football Champs


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Team and player statistics are one of the most crucial – and frustrating – parts of fantasy football. Fantasy Football Champs takes out some of the headache with its array of proprietary statistical tools. The site’s crown jewel is the FFC Performance Index, an in-season ranking and projection system that calculates which of your players will have the best outing. It is updated daily, right up to kickoff, and has been shown to predict the exact tier of each player with 70-80% accuracy.

The Champs Customizable Cheatsheet (C3) also uses proprietary algorithms to help users find sleepers and avoid busts on draft day. The draft kit is $16.95 while the full-access premium package is $29.95.


6. Football Docs


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Under the slogan: “Where geeks meet the gridiron,” Football Docs is owned and operated by a group of fantasy addicts with PhDs. Apparently the Football Docs’ advanced degrees in engineering have also given them an inside track on fantasy football trends, draft tactics, lineup decision-making, and player rankings and projections.

Most of their expertise is offered for free, including their weekly, Ask the Docs write-in advice column. The only exception is the Draft Advisor software ($10.95), which creates custom rankings, tracks draft selection for up to 20 different teams and is completely updated every week.


7. CBS Sports


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Although it’s not as organized or as user-friendly as some of the other sites, it’s hard to argue with the quality of CBS Sports’ product. Its Power Projector feature offers three expert projections on every player in the league. It has downloadable draft kits, analyst mock drafts and draft video preps – for free. And according to the New York Times’ NFL blog, CBS had the most accurate rankings across all positions in 2009.


8. Pro Football Reference


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Think of this as the fantasy football almanac. Mathematician/Sports fan Doug Drinen has put together a super-organized, easy-to-navigate collection of football statistics that allows users to search any aspect of a team or player’s performance throughout history and updated throughout the season.


9. Draft Sharks


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With a sleek-looking interface that provides custom tailored cheatsheets (called MVP Boards), weekly player rankings, newsy and gossipy articles, personalized trade advice and in-season strength of season updates, Draft Sharks believes it can “out-analyze other websites.” Unfortunately, it also out-prices other sites with its hefty $43 premium subscription fee. At least they have a 30-day money back guarantee.


10. ESPN


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Last but certainly not least, the venerable grand-daddy of sports websites celebrates its 15th year on the fantasy gridiron by offering its most complete collection of fantasy tools yet. In addition to the usual news and analysis from its stable of experts, including five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award-winner Matt Berry (aka “The Talented Mr. Roto”), ESPN has begun to offer a variety of services across different media platforms. This includes mock drafts, forums and live-chats on ESPN.com, fantasy-focused podcasts, mobile alerts and TV segments, and a free mobile draft kit app that provides news and commentary for iPhone and iPod devices.

And for those who will spare no expense to win their league, try ESPN INSIDER, the $39.95/year subscription service that provides extra online tools to help draft, manage and analyze your fantasy team, including Insider Recommends and Draft Analyzer.

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