Last December, the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks broke a Guinness World Record. Because they have been able to create raving fans, they recorded the loudest crowd noise ever at 137.6 decibels. To put that sound into perspective, it 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.
Here are three things about creating raving fans that you can learn for the Seahawks:
- Give Them Something to Scream About—You’ve got to get the basics right in business. You can’t create 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.
- Design Matters—CenturyLink leads the league with the 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 the 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), but 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.”
- Priming the Pump and Rituals—Sometimes you have to prime the pump to get things going and create raving fans. The team 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 Holmgren gave the fans a 12th Man game ball after eleven false starts and 3 missed field goal “influences” 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 it’s Starbucks selling 12 cent cups of Joe, local parlors offering $12 tattoos, or the Space Needle flying the #12 flag.