Tuesday, April 6, 2010

OK, well, this is what I think about sports marketing

Big hoo-hah on certain DC sports blogs today about the fact that there were tons and tons of Philadelphia Phillies fans at the Washington Nationals opener yesterday.

That is to say, there were plenty of seats available for The Enemy to buy. And everybody's got their knickers in a knot about it too.

Sure, it's easy to say nobody here buys tickets to Nats games because the team, well, in a word, sucks. (At least it did last season. Improvement is expected this year.)

But I don't necessarily buy it. Look at the sorry-ass Redskins. They sell out. There are other franchises that stink but fill the stands - college and pro.

I think sports marketing for individual teams, as a general rule, is what sucks.

Seems like most of it is built around ticket offers. Two-for-one, small game packages and the like. Well here's what I think about that approach (and not surprisingly, it's about the same thing I think about all price-based marketing).

If nobody knows about or cares about your team (or your product or service) or the experience of going to a game, or even, in the case of women's sports, what the game is all about, what possible difference can it make if the damn tickets are cheaper today?

(That sentence was too long. My apologies. Now deal with it.)

A day at the ballpark can be a great experience even if the home nine lose (again). The weather is nice, the beer is cold, the dogs are hot and everybody's having a good time. Women's basketball is more of a team sport than men's basketball. You can see better at a minor-league game. Soccer is an interesting sport if you understand it. And on and on.

I just think that when a sports franchise goes straight to some wrong-headed ticket and discount-driven approach, they've skipped right past anything that has anything to do with building a loyal brand base. I didn't say fan base, I said brand base. Because damn few sports teams bother to try to establish their brand. That is, why the hell anybody had oughta come to a game - especially when the team loses.

If you're going to succeed, you've got to have people coming to your games even when the team struggles and even when the tickets are full price.

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