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    Create B2B Opportunities For Your Ticket Holders!

    Are you looking to show season ticket holders incremental value? Are you looking to do so at a minimal cost? The New York Knicks may have the answer for you...

    The New York Knicks created a "Business Alliance" for season ticket holders, and online forum that enables season ticket holders to post information about their business (Business Name, Contact Information, Address. Phone/Email, Website). The Knicks Business Alliance was designed to drive fellow season ticket holders and fans of the NBA to season ticket holders' place of business. The Knicks claim that the season ticket holder B2B directory will provide incremental value to all season ticket holders by providing discounts to local businesses. The Knicks send a printed guidebook (containing all B2B information) to all season subscribers.

    Developing a "Business Alliance" is a great opportunity to show season ticket holders incremental value at minimal cost. The Knicks drive business for their season ticket holders, learn more about their businesses, and possibly open up the door for integration opportunities. This would be a great idea for University athletic departments to show incremental value to large donors and/or local businesses. Teams/organizations can support this online business forum through a partnership with Yellow Pages, executive hiring firms, etc.

    Look for this practice to become implemented at organizations/Universities across the nation!


    Targeting Fans in Remote Cities?

    Are you looking to devise a strategy to target fans in neighboring/remote cities? Consider a recent strategy that the Seattle Mariners created to target consumers in Portland, OR, located 175 miles south of Seattle. The Mariners created a unique webpage designed solely for Portland consumers, which provides information on ticket offers, group events, promotions, transportation options, and local attractions. The dedicated webpage is titled, "Portland & The Mariners, You're Only 175 Miles Away from Blue Skies, Green Grass, and Mariners Baseball". The site even includes a sidebar that lists travel tips from select Mariners players.

    The Mariners are complementing their targeted online efforts with television and radio ads in-market and an interesting outdoor marketing campaign. The team has erected two (2) billboards, one of which proclaims, "Mojo. Just 175 Miles North". The Mariners outreach efforts in Portland are considered the broadest initiatives the team has had in the past ten (10) years.


    Target Young Fans Using Technology!

    The majority of professional organizations and athletic departments stimulate the attention and interest of young fans through Kids Clubs. Teams usually support these initiatives by providing kids with a magazine subscription, a chance to receive premium items, and limited entertainment opportunities. However, sports representatives may want to consider making a greater effort to target and engage young fans using technology.

    Recent results from a study conducted by The NPD Group reveal that kids are starting to use technological devices at earlier ages. The study analyzed the habits of children living in the U.S., Britain, Germany, and France and revealed insights into the average age that U.S. kids start using technology:

    • Desktop Computers - 5.5 years of age
    • Video Game Consoles - 5.9 years of age
    • Video Game Portable Systems - 6.2 years of age
    • Laptop Computers - 7.1 years of age
    • Digital Cameras - 7.9 years of age 

    American kids were the youngest of their global counterparts to use each of the items listed above. The popularity of technology among young consumers is directly seen through the booming popularity of two companies, Webkinz and Build-A-Bear. As a sports property representative, why not take advantage of this?

    Property representatives should consider:

    • Offering promotional items similar to Webkinz and Build-A-Bear to draw more families through the turnstiles
    • Incorporating Webkinz and/or Build-A-Bear produts/shops into their venue experience (see Build-A-Bear's existing MLB presence below)
    • Creating brand extensions for existing merchandise that incorporates a virtual component
      • Enable consumers who purchase plush toys of players to interact with other users in a virtual environment (where they can develop profiles, play games, etc.) 
      • Upon purchase of a stuffed animal, create a virtual environment where fans can become the team mascot and partake in virtual activities/games

    About Webkinz - Webkinz are stuffed animals that come with a special code on their labels that allow purchasers to access a "Webkinz World" where kids have a virtual version of the pet that they can use to interact with others (there is a smaller version of Webkinz called Lil' Kinz). With two (2) million Webkinz products sold and one (1) million users registered in the "Webkinz World", the company's demand levels have drawn comparisons to the Beanie Baby craze of the 1990s.

    About Build-A-Bear - Build-A-Bear is an American retailer that sells customized teddy bears and other stuffed animals. The retailer recently created an online virtual town called "Build-A-Bearville" where users can play games and interact with one another in a safe environment. Like Webkinz, users can bring their purchased stuffed animals to life using a special code found on the bear's berth certificate.

    Build-A-Bear has existing roots in baseball - "Make Your Own Mascot" stores are located in Citizens Bank Park (Phi), Jacobs Field (Cle), Great American Ballpark (Cin), AT&T Park (San Fran), Nationals Park (D.C.), Fenway Park (Boston), and Busch Stadium (St. Louis). From a premium standpoint, Build-A-Bear plush toys were distributed in McDonalds Happy Meals in 2006 and 2007.


    Targeting College Males?

    Maxim Magazine, SportsClips, and Hooters were all founded on a simple, yet extremely effective formula to attract male customers:

    Sex + Sports = Sales  *Note: drink specials and great 80's music also serve as a complement

    Using this equation, turn college male students into repeat customers, serving as WOM brand ambassadors for your organization.

    This formula is so simple, yet it seems that professional organizations continually struggle to generate creative ideas for to attract college students throughout the season. Keep it simple, they will come. The underlying message of this article is not for teams to exploit their assets, it is to LEVERAGE their assets. Remember, be sure to capture footage of your college nights... from the student's point of view (by asking students to submit footage of their experience or position a staff member in that section with video). You need to sell the experience to prospective students, and the best way to do this is virally (through YouTube on the Internet/Facebook/Myspace) and/or video board segments promoting the events.

    Brainstorming for ideas should always begin with thinking from the consumer's mindset. If you were a college male with endless Friday night entertainment options (local college sports, bars, parties, hanging out with friends, movies, road trips, etc.), what would drive you to spend a larger sum of money to attend a professional sporting event? What stadium activities would drive you to tell friends and colleagues about your experience?

    Remember the "Sex + Sports = Success" equation:


    • Team Cheerleader/Dancer Poster Night (with post-game autographs)
    • Meet-n-Greet with Team Dancers/Cheerleaders Post-Game
    • A local attractive celebrity profiled on the scoreboard (In the past, the Miami Heat have profiled Anna Kournikova and Enrique Iglesias on the "Kiss Cam")
    • An affiliation through a special post-game party/concert with a local bar/club/entertainment provider (free admission to the event with ticket validation)
    • A sweepstakes opportunity to win a free trip with the team's cheerleaders/dancers for their annual calendar photoshoot
    • Green Screen opportunity (PictureU Promotions) where all college males can take a picture with the cheerleaders/dance team when they enter the arena doors (as a takeaway from the event)
    • Cheerleader/Dance Team Circulate the crowd (Before every game, the Minnesota Timberwolves have their dance team circulate throughout the crowd and engage in conversation with ticket holders)
    • Through a collaboration with Hooters, create a unique stadium section (chalet, suite, reserved designated upper bowl section) where college students are served by Hooters girls (a great brand extension for the restaurant)
    • Limited Edition Maxim/Sports Illustrated edition given to all college students in attendance (similar to SI on Campus)

    The Atlanta Thrashers offer one of the best in-game experiences there is in sports. To generate crowd buzz during the third period, the team profiles a fan on the scoreboard who chugs a Guinness beer and runs up and bangs on the rink boards. Every time that I have been in attendance, the crowd has gone absolutely nuts. Pre-game, $8 64-oz beers are sold in Phillips Arena's neighboring CNN Center Food Court. Although this alcoholic drink special is not offered by the organization in any manner, the Thrashers benefit from having out-of-venue, independent vendors offer such great offers to target college students.

    Think creatively to attract college students, but keep it simple. Remember, if the formula ain't broke, don't fix it.

    "College Nights" are supposed to be fun:

    The video featured above was captured by a UPenn student profiling his experience attending 'College Night' at a Philadelphia Phillies game. This is a great example of "indie video" created by fans to profile their experiences attending games.  When watching this video, think about all the ways that you can target this "college fan" on their way to the stadium. What are ways that you can enhance his experience/journey to the game?

    But remember who your audience is:


    Driving College Students to Professional Games...

    The Columbus Blue Jackets created a unique vignette to target college students at neighboring Ohio State University. The Blue Jackets developed "Rush CBJ", a campaign that uses a theme from the movie Old School to drive home select messaging to college students, offering discounts on ticket prices before each Blue Jackets home game ($15 Upper Level ($41 value), $25 lower level).

    Note: The Blue Jackets track fans down in a van referred to as the "Fanboni" ... pretty creative! Here is the clip:



    Think Sports. Think Mobile.

    mobile%20marketing.jpgAs sports marketers, we need to be thinking like mobile marketers. Why? Because mobile marketing is the next revolution for targeting our fanbase and operating our stadiums (see: ticketless entry). 

    Mobile ad spending will reach $1.6BN in 2008 and will jump to $4.8BN in 2011 (there are 243 MM cell phone subscribers). While consumers have been slow to adopt some forms of technology, mobile marketers have learned that kids are willing to pay a dollar or two to engage with their favorite band (affinity which translates to sports teams). How many? Marketing analysts figure approximately 15-25% of people in an arena (although this figure seems relatively high).

    While on the topic of mobile marketing, here are a few quick mobile activation ideas:

    Enhance Marketing Messages/Advertising - A company called Feverpitch International aligned with Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand to create a program for the Wellignton Zoo. When consumers point their live-camera feed on their cell pone at a newspaper ad, a 3-D virtual beast appears on their cell phones. Sports Translation: Teams can create a concourse display where fans can point their picture at a life-sized poster of Dwight Howard and see a video clip on their cell phone of Howard completing the Superman dunk during the NBA All-Star game. For advertising purposes, teams can create enhance their print messaging by allowing fans to see a team video clip when pointing their cell phone at a ticket offer advertisement in the local newspaper

    Enhance In-Venue Interaction - Hyperfactory created a mobile campaign for the Korn "Family Values" tour that enables paying fans to send text messages that appear on a large screen during the concert. Sports Translation: Sports marketers can work with their affiliated wireless provider to develop a similar mobile promotion. During select timeouts, fans could pay to text in which play the coach should call; messaging could be displayed through LED signage and/or main videoboard/trivision signage. This would drive fan interaction and serve as a text messaging visual for a wireless sponsor. Other in-game text messaging ideas: Fan polling (Will the Heat win the Game? Text _____ for Yes, Text _____ for No), Chance to participate in halftime promotion, Trivia, Premium Redemption (The first 2,000 fans to text ____ will receive a free bobblehead - when fans would text in, they would receive a coupon on their phone to redeem for the premium item). 

    Enhance Viral Messaging - Feverpitch International worked with Ogilvy, Hong Kong, to put David Beckham and Chinese pop star Jay Chow on people's cell phones, introducing messages to loved ones in mobile-only videos. Sports Translation: A team/organization can work with mobile providers to create a mobile messaging campaign that enables fans to send viral/audio messages from their favorite players to their friends, family and colleagues (similar to the recent Chad Johnson P&G campaign / Samuel L. Jackson "Snakes on a Plane" campaign). Enable fans to type in a message on the team website that they can have their favorite player say in a message to their friends and loved ones.


    Targeting Consumers at the Pump...

    gas%20station.jpgWhen are consumers most receptive to corporate messaging? Have you ever considered the 2-3 minute period when people are filling up their tank at the gas pump? These questions have led marketers to believe that targeting consumers at the gas pump is an effective means. But how does this apply to you as a sports marketer?

    IdeaCast and Gas Station TV, two (2) out-of-home video content providers, recently formed a strategic alliance to represent a national network of 5,300 gas pump locations where consumers are shown ad-supported news, sports, and entertainment programming. The recent alliance figures to deliver 1 billion measurable impressions by the end of 2008, a time when gas station programming is expected to expand into a $1.7BN industry.

    Is there a better way for sports marketers to engage consumers during an intimate 2-3 minute period? Sports marketers can capture the attention of gas pumpers through a quick highlight clip, followed with a brief sales pitch. Teams can measure the effectiveness of this medium by offering consumers a discount on single game tickets with proof of purchase at the pump. Targeting consumers through media at the pump can also add value to existing team partnerships with local c-stores (7-Eleven, Circle K, Exxon Mobile stations, etc.).

    Other outdoor media players include:

    • NBC Everywhere
    • CBS Outernet
    • The Hotel Networks
    • CNN Airport Network
    • Simon Media OnSpot

    On the Fast Track to Targeted Print Marketing...

    newspaper.jpgSports marketers continuously look for the most efficient means to spend their dollars. Print, radio, and television options have evolved to include outdoor, digital, mobile, and other new forms of marketing mediums. But how can we use these new technological means to become more efficient in targeting consumers?

    The Interpublic Group recently revealed a new analytical tool that helps clients (and in this case, sports organizations) target consumers through a narrower geographic lens with print advertising. The tool lets advertisers focus more accurately on targeting individual neighborhoods to focus on higher-profile customers. Previously, one would have to pay a lump sum to market to a print publication's entire circulation. This new tool enables marketers to be more efficient; targeting consumers in select regions (by zip code) through a combination of newspaper inserts, direct mail pieces, and other publications.

    How will this affect the newspaper industry? Well, only time will tell. This industry has benefited on the fact that marketers have spent large dollars to blanket regions with their messaging. As more marketer funds are shifted to the digital space, this may be a step that newspapers are forced to take. Some believe that this new tool could be a saving grace for newspaper outlets because it will enhance their role as an advertising medium.

    For now, this tool is being utilized by big spenders (Home Depot, CVS, Sears, Bridgestone) on a national level. But it is only a matter of time before this technology is regionalized and we can begin to push our organization's messaging and ticket sales through more efficient print advertising. 

    Source: Ad Age, 2.29.08    



    Marketing Through Athlete Blogs?

    phil%20hughes.jpgThere was an interesting article today in Sports Business Daily (2.26.08) about Yankees P Phil Hughes. Alongside Curt Schilling, Hughes is leading the charge of MLB players who have chosen to launch their own personal websites. While some use their websites as information portals, Hughes has taken his efforts to the next level.

    Who is Phil Hughes anyway? Well, that is a question that we might like to ask the 340,000 people who have visited his site in the past month. Clearly, with the advances in digital technology today, fans are looking for every avenue to know more... More about their favorite teams, players, history...everything.

    Phil Hughes has taken an innovative approach to engaging fans through his website. He recently held a contest offering fans a game-used autographed ALDS game ball if they could get his favorite quote from NBC's "The Office". He also posts blog entries, hosts chats, provides insights on his favorite songs, and even shares pictures from his personal life.

    However, with his personal blog there becomes risk for the organization, his self-image, and Major League Baseball. Keeping all things in check, Hughes' website provides fans all-access and serves as a great outlet of publicity for the organization and himself.

    If your organization is looking to enhance or create player blogs for your team website, it might be a good idea to first look for a few best practices in the industry.


    Marketing FREAKOUT!

    Looking to capitalize on others' success to drive awareness for your organization?

    Look no further than the Whopper "Freakout" Campaign. Most organizations could stage a similar campaign outside their ticket offices where they tell consumers that their Will Call tickets (or season tickets) are not available for the biggest game of the year... The reactions would be outrageous and would make for a great viral campaign!

    See one of the Whopper "Freakout" commercials below:


    The Ultimate Tailgate Package... In an RV?

    What Do SEC Football and NASCAR Weekends Have in Common? 

    1. Scarcity of Premium Tickets (unless you are at Vanderbilt)
    2. An Abundance of RV's
    3. A Passionate, Loyal Fanbase Seeking Unique Experiences

    Creating a package that capitalizes on these three (3) variables together can generate some very high returns for a property. Officials at Talladega Superspeedway recently caught notice of this fact and created the Orange Infield RV Park Package, offering 180 RVers a reserved parking spot and two (2) infield admissions in a package deal for $330.  

    But are sports marketers taking full advantage of this? Outlandish condominiums and townhouses are being constructed on every square inch of real estate near stadiums and racetracks - elements existing outside of the property's control. But why don't property stakeholders drive artificial demand by creating VIP RV sections within the confines of the venue? By incorporating sponsor support, a property can easily package an "Ultimate RV Package", offering premium seats, prime real estate for parking, and a VIP experience (a unique meet-n-greet with drivers/track president, coach/University athletic director), to loyal fans and donors at a premium price. While the University/track cannot sell the tickets higher than face value, they can easily overvalue the VIP experience to suffice demand.

    Why not use this opportunity to drive incremental revenue before these consumers motor home?


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