I was a marketing minor in college, so clearly, i am an expert to listen to in the area of marketing. With that in mind, here are a few ideas i have that i think could help the much improved effort already underway for the Nashville Predators.
List Game Dates/Times Everywhere
The presence around town of Predators billboards is vastly improved over the last several years. They look better and there are just more of them. Trouble is, they don't have one very key piece of information - when are the games? Through the summer the drive has been for season tickets, and that makes sense. But trying to sell seasons tickets through most of the year doesn't make as much sense. After all, people buying season tickets are probably already fans. That's no who you need to be reaching.
The main push needs to be for individual game sales from casual fans (or people who have never even seen a game). Those people buy tickets more impulsively. They want something to do this weekend. They just remembered a spouse/child's birthday and need to do something, etc. They can only do that if they know when the games will be. Everyone knows when Titans games are (Sunday is pretty easy to remember) but not everyone has (or thinks to look at) their pocket calendar of Preds games.
I've seen the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs use this to great effect. Every month they would put a new billboard up listing games that month. It was very easy for fans driving down the highway to see it and think "oh, i could catch a game this weekend" or "hey, there's a game on my husband's birthday - i bet he'd like that". Last year the Preds had a billboard up pushing the Capitals game, which was good, but putting up a month of games lets people plan for more than just one option. (The widespread use of digital billboards around town also makes changing the game listings much easier/cheaper to do) (Here's an example of one done by Michigan St football)
Tell businesses why it makes sense to partner with the Preds - not "support" them.
I was very happy to hear David Freeman say last year, when he took over as lead owner of the Preds, that he was not asking for anyone's charity. He didn't want the Predators to be a charity case and didn't think or want to say that business "should" support the Predators as part of their civic duty. Unfortunately the Radio "ticket-thon" that 104.5 did last week did exactly that. Operating far outside their comfort zone, George Plaster and crew begged people to support the Predators and "buy tickets to 1 or two games" or "buy a 10 pack...whatever you can afford". While very well intentioned and very appreciated, the message sent to businesses was the wrong one.
For one brief moment though, someone did say the right thing: When interviewing someone from Vanderbilt Sports Medicine (the new official health care provider of the Predators), the question was asked "why sponsor the Preds". Among other things in his answer, the Vandy rep said (and i paraphrase) "because they are a great way to reach our target market. There is a lot of overlap between who they draw to games and the customers we want to reach". BINGO! That message needs to be being said VERY loud and VERY often.
Now, i trust (and hope) that David Freeman and crew, when going out to give presentations to businesses, are saying this and have all sorts of demographic data to back it up. Businesses buying tickets for Preds games just makes sense - from a business point of view. And we aren't talking about it-helps-keep-the-Preds-in-town-and-if-we-don't-Nashville-will-look-bad-and-top-talent-won't-want-to-move-to-Nashville-and-you'll-have-to-hire-lesser-people. That's not it. The connections are much more direct.
- Advertising with the Predators (in the arena, on TV, and on the radio) is a fantastic way to reach a passionate crowd of typically young, upper- and upper-middle-class people. The associate with teams is a proven way to build fantastic brand loyalty among people who have money to spend and are still building loyalties. There are more numbers out there to back all this up... if i was back in a marketing job i'd go on and on here...
- It's a great way to reward employees and build a good corporate environment. I know of multiple businesses that have used this to great success: Buy a pair of season tickets - good seats - to the Predators. Then give it away to top performers. Maybe its a contest for whoever is the top sales person that week gets the tickets. Maybe employees get the tickets for a month when they have been with the company for X number of years. Whatever it is, people go crazy for what they perceive to be a valuable commodity - regardless of the actual value. Example: Season tickets right next to the governor and his wife (section 112, around the 4th row) cost $156 per game. I know very few commission-based salespeople (which i work with) who will go crazy and bend over backwards for $150 spiff (only interested in the big bucks) - but tickets like this? Very prestigious and they will go nuts for them - working OT, etc. I've seen it happen more than once. And of course there are other seats on the suite level that include all you can eat food/drinks packages for about the same money.
Again, i trust that this conversation is taking place, but it is happening behind closed doors right now. It needs to be shouted from the mountain tops.
Make the 'value' packages very clear and well promoted (during poor economic times)
Did you know you can get 4 tickets in the all-you-can-eat zone for $220? That's 2.5hours of great family entertainment, all the hotdogs, burgers, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, water and soda you can handle for $55 each. Last year's family fun packs that let a family of 4 go for $100 and included a free hotdog and soda was a fabulous deal too. In hard economic times, you have to emphasize that the games aren't as expensive as people may think they are. And you'll have better family bonding time at a game than at a movie (you can actually, ya know, talk to each other).
Side note: Promote the website better. It's awesome.
Last plug i gotta make here is for the absolutely awesome website. Especially PredsTV. If you haven't checked out Training Camp Central, its excellent. Reports on all the players and daily write-ups with interviews with coaches and players, etc. There are write-ups and highlight shows posted quickly after every game, and resources for fans all over.
PredTV is by far the highlight though, with videos posted all summer long showing what the players did during the off-season (JP Dumont's kids are pretty cute), how prospect camp went, and more...
Every press conference the team does is available online as well:
Best way to stay caught up with what is on the website: add the following feeds to your feed reader (or to your MyYahoo or iGoogle page):
New PredsTV Videos