Why over 100 million people watch the Super Bowl (and why you should care)

Happy Super Bowl Monday! (or Sunday, if you’re in the US)

Much like the AFL Grand Final in Australia and the Rugby World Cup Final in New Zealand, the match that stops a nation is currently playing out in lounge rooms and bars across North America.

Last year, a global audience of 111 million people tuned in to watch the Green Bay Packers storm home over the Pittsburgh Steelers, with an estimated 10% of those watching from outside of the US.  (and the preliminary figures for this year indicate that we might be on track to reach the 120 million mark.)

While I’m sure many of these were ex-pat US citizens tuning in to share in one of America’s biggest sporting traditions, what’s interesting is the fact that the Super Bowl is starting to gain momentum outside of the US.  What was once confined to sitcom and drama TV show references now has bona fide Australian interest – with plenty of venues holding events to celebrate.  (And fittingly, as I’m typing this, a colleague has just got up from his desk, announcing that he’s ‘off to check the Super Bowl scores’…)

So why should Australian and New Zealand businesses care? 

Well, it’s all just another sign that the business world is well and truly becoming a global marketplace.

This has some real impacts for small business owners.  The most crucial being the importance of being found online.  As more and more people opt out of receiving phone books and directories (when was the last time you used the paper version of the white pages?), if you don’t have an online presence, you simply don’t exist.  With news from the recent MYOB Business Monitor that over half of Australian and New Zealand businesses don’t have a website (and nearly half of these not planning to build one during 2012), there are some real opportunities for the engine room of our local economies.

It now also means that for Aussie and Kiwi SME’s, the world is your oyster.  Competing on an international scale has never been easier or cheaper, and as the barriers come down, there is increasing choice for small businesses to get involved.  In the past, international trade was not only costly but was also incredibly slow (remember sending Christmas cards to overseas relatives in November to ensure they’d make it in time?).  But today, with the help of a website, a Paypal account and some speedy international shipping options, sending your goods to Europe and America is as easy as sending to Auckland or Sydney.

On the downside – it means that you are competing on a global scale. Competition is no longer limited to your local area; you are literally competing with thousands of similar businesses around the world to an increasingly online savvy, global customer.  Differentiation is key in a cluttered marketplace – something that many SME’s are coming to terms with.  Small business has plenty of opportunity to outclass and outshine in this area – with customers increasingly demanding personalised service, seizing the opportunity to build relationships and interact personally with customers will allow the SME industry to shine.

If you haven’t thought about how your business operates, and is found, on a global scale, today’s Super Bowl is a timely reminder to start.  There’s never been more opportunities for our local businesses to shine on the global stage, and with such incredible advances in technology, there’s really no excuse as to why we shouldn’t.

Do you market and sell to international customers?  What are you doing to make your business stand out in the global market?  And did you watch today’s Super Bowl?!