By Sue Brady
Sometimes life’s (well, marketing’s) lessons come when you least expect them. I spent the last three days attending a number of minor league baseball games. Minor league teams have very little money so they need to be creative to generate revenue. There are lots of games for kids, mid-inning entertainment, and of course, opportunities for attendees to spend money.
While I watched the shtick, I realized that in the minors, the Marketing Department needs to be creative. And they need to be able to stretch the dollar. At the park I was at, they had Marketing 101 down. Specifically, they know how to:
Engage Your Audience
- This team uses Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to post pics during the game. During one particularly gorgeous sunset, their social media maven took a picture and tweeted it. She noticed that others starting posting their own sunset pics from the ballpark so she encouraged everyone to send in their pics and she tweeted those.
- They also have a ‘smile cam.’ The roving staff member snaps random photos that not only appear on the big screen in the outfield, but also appear after the game on their Facebook page.
- They host a sleepover in the outfield once a season. What baseball loving kid wouldn’t jump at the chance? And of course, all those kids, and their parents, have to buy tickets to that night’s game.
Give a human face to Your Organization
During all of the games, the Marketing/Promotions staff gets involved with the fans. They walk the stadium throughout the game, giving high fives, chatting it up with the crowd, and basically, being human. The team mascots also stroll the stands to kiss babies and fist bump the fans.
Know Your Brand Champions and Treat Them Well
This ball club made their season-ticket holders feel special. I saw several season ticket holders come up to staff members just for a chat. And they greeted each other by name. They truly feel a part of the ballpark. Talk about figuring out how to make your best customers continue to spend money with you!
Use Creative <Grass-Roots> Marketing
No surprise that with limited budgets, grass-roots marketing is critical. Being local makes it makes it perhaps a little bit easier.
- Before the season starts, all staff are given boxes of team schedules. Everyone is expected to visit as many local businesses as possible to drop off handfuls for distribution to their customers.
- Everyone is responsible for ad sales and ticket sales. That seems to be a rite of passage for baseball staff. And because everyone has quotas, employees are incented to talk to local business owners in their own community, to try to sell ad space in the team roster, a poster for the concourse, an exhibit table for just inside the entrance, or a giveaway during the game. One of the games I attended had a pizza parlor highlighted, a dog treat product giveaway, a burger joint coupon given if the ballplayers hit a certain number of home-runs, and free tacos coupons after the pitcher threw a certain number of strike-outs.
- They sometimes have guest baseball players from the Majors sign autographs. The adults are as excited as the kids!
Consider non-Typical Forms of Promotion
- This club hosts events at area schools where they give out some free tickets. Not only does it generate excitement for the kids at the schools, but the kids come home begging mom and dad to take them to a game.
- I strolled through the on-site retail shop. They had tons of T-shirts, sweatshirts and caps, almost all offered at fairly low prices. The impact of this is that probably 50% of the attendees on most nights I was there, were wearing team logos. And you know that means they wear their shirts, caps etc. when they aren’t at the ballpark too. It’s free advertising! Who doesn’t want that?
All basic marketing techniques, and all effective!