Sunday, March 7, 2010
Ideas for Getting More Fans to Otters Games
As someone who went to the University of Kentucky for sports management, I have a deep love for historic Bosse Field and Evansville Otters baseball. I have big dreams of making Bosse Field and the surrounding district a baseball entertainment meca like Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville are in Chicago. As I said in a previous post (http://evansvillemovingforward.blogspot.com/2010/01/encourage-small-businesses-to-build.html), I envision:
-Both Warehouses across the street being converted into condos, lofts, shops, and museums with Wrigleyville like bleachers on top.
- A fall festival like festival on Main Street the week leading up to the Otters first game of the season with baseball legends in the parade.
- An early 1900's cable car system going up Main Street and across West Morgan Avenue on existing tracks that would take tourists to the game.
- Starting up a women's baseball league with games at Bosse Field, the site of the movie A League of Their Own.
With that being said, what kind of marketing ideas could the Otters do to bring fans to the game? I have come up with 17 (and counting....) ideas that I think will bring fans to the game. They are...
1.Otters Community Board- This advisory board consisting of fans, residents, and activists meet either weekly or biweekly at the team offices The Community Board advises the team on events they would like to see in the community and then completes community service projects that have been agreed upon by the board and organization. The board will consist of fans, community activists, and students who are looking to make a difference by volunteering and doing community service.
Benefits: This concept allows the team to gain crucial data from the community, which will lead to the implementation of community events that the city and surrounding areas will enjoy and appreciate. It allows for the community to play an active role within the team organization. The board will recruit students and citizens who have great ideas but may have no other way of presenting them. The team will find these students and citizens, use their ideas, and let the students and citizens represent the team in the community. Costs of the board are minimal compared to other survey initiatives. The only costs would be whatever supplies the team purchases to complete a community service project that would be recommended by the board.
2.Otters Forest- I came upon this idea with the Philadelphia Eagles. With the Eagles program, I was able to purchase a tree for $62 and it was placed in a Philadelphia forest called “Eagles Forest” and the goal was to offset the emissions of the Philadelphia Eagles on game day. I also received a certificate in the mail that had tree seeds buried in the paper which would develop into a tree once I simple put the certificate into the ground. The idea has been quite popular in Philadelphia. Over 60 trees have been purchased by fans so far. To go with the forest, the team could set up a page on their website dedicated to green initiatives as well as pictures of the forest. Down the road, the team could add to the forest with an idea that has been implemented by the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs organization has sold burial spots in their forest for fans. The Forest could host gatherings, receptions, and fan events as well.
Benefits: The Team Forest would send a message to the community that it is serious about joining in on the green movement. One cost of the Forest would be buying the land itself if they chose that route, but I would recommend teaming up with a national or state park in the area like the Eagles did. This would also cut the costs of maintenance as well. Fans would pay for the price of the tress and volunteers (maybe the Community Board) would help plant the trees. For a very small price, the team could send a strong, green message to the community.
3.“Pay It Forward”- The Magic have used this concept once before on Christmas day last year. My proposal would use the “Pay It Forward” model with a different marketing program. With my “Pay It Forward” program, a predetermined amount of fans are allowed to sign up. When the fans sign-up, they are given a set amount of tickets. For example, John Doe signs up and receives 10 tickets. He goes out into the community and does a good deed. After completing the deed, he gives 8, 9, or all of the tickets to the person he has done the service for and tells them to “Pay It Forward.” That person then goes out and completes a good deed for another person. He keeps either one or two tickets for himself and then gives the rest to the person he has done the service for. This cycle continuously repeats itself until all tickets are given out. On the team website, these fans enter their name and deed done so that all fans can see all of the good deeds done around the community.
Benefits: This concept allows the team to attach their name and logo on to the good deed cycle going around Team. It sends a message to the fans that the team wants to reward those who do the right thing. It also allows the team to be pioneers in the “Pay It Forward” concept. Most importantly, the only costs are tickets and website space.
4.Green Jerseys- Currently, the trend in the NBA, as well as the whole sports industry, is to wear special jerseys throughout the season. Teams have implemented throwback jerseys and alternate jerseys into their uniform mix. Although these two types of jerseys are extremely popular due to fans wanting to see something new each game and because they increase jersey sales due to a larger assortment, there is an overwhelming demand for a new type of jersey. This was proven by the New York Knicks wearing St. Patrick’s Day uniforms. On Earth Day, which is April 22, the team will wear green jerseys to commemorate Earth Day.
Benefits: This allows the team to capture the green movement with fans of the team while increasing jersey sales. It also gets away from the traditional throwback or alternate concept for mixing up a team’s uniform. These jerseys wouldn’t just commemorate a special day; they would also capture the environmentalist market. Outside of the green movement, this concept would also allow for the team to commemorate Christmas with red and green jerseys as well as. There would be very little additional costs given the fact that the team already purchases jerseys; they would just need to purchase a different color on Earth Day.
5.Lights Out- During the 2008 ALCS between the Rays and Red Sox, Sharp challenged viewers to turn their lights out during the game in order to conserve emissions. Viewers registered how many light bulbs they turned out and there was a competition between the states. Of 122,030 lights pledged to be shut off, 14,950 were in Florida, 5,000 more than in any other state. My idea involves the Super Bowl. During the Super Bowl, local residents will be asked to turn their lights out for the game. Fans then go to the team website and register their house and amount of light bulbs turned out. During the game, players and coaches of the team will go from house to house (ones that are registered) and present the homeowners with team gear, autographs, and a huge goodie bag from team sponsors. CEOs and Executives from team sponsors (ex: Papa John) would be welcome to come as well.
Benefits: This concept, like some of the previous ideas, establishes a green reputation with the community. Also, it would occur during the Super Bowl, which is one of most watched events. It would also allow for the team to draw some marketing attention away from the NFL during the NFL’s biggest game. The costs would be basic. They would be fuel and vehicle expenses to go from house to house in Team, payroll for a few team representatives, team gear, internet bandwidth, and any products from sponsors that wouldn’t be donated.
Out of Game Marketing
6.Tours of Bosse Field -As a fan of the game, I have toured almost every arena, ballpark, and stadium in the United States and Canada. While going on these tours, I noticed that there was a huge demand for these tours in all regions. Schools, churches, fans, and tourists are always taking advantage of this opportunity to see behind the scenes of their favorite team. Tours could be used in promotional packages as well. Season ticket holders will get a free tour with the purchase of their season tickets and fans who buy ticket packs will receive discounts on tours. I am confident these tours will be popular.
Benefits: This concept generates revenue, while allowing the team to make their organization open to the community by giving the fans a behind the scene look. Tours will tap into the school field trips market that has very little formal competition in it. The cost of these tours is only the payroll of the team staff that will lead these tours, plus whatever gifts the team wishes to give to their customers for going on the tour.
7.Otters Caravan- I have been a fan of these caravans since I began following the Tennessee Titan’s caravan in 2000. I have been to the vast majority of Titan caravans that make appearances in Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky. A few years ago, the Titans were recognized by the NFL for their caravan program. I also attend caravans hosted by the Cincinnati Reds and Indianapolis Colts. So what is a caravan? With a caravan, the team would travel across not just their own city but all of their regional territory that otherwise wouldn’t get to see the team. Players, coaches, front office staff, and ownership make appearances on the caravan. At these stops, the team would sign autographs, distribute season ticket pamphlets, and pass out advertisements from team sponsors. These stops could be hosted at sponsor venues such as a grocery store, a bank, a restaurant, a car dealership, as well as public areas like a mall, a school, and/or a minor league ballpark.
Benefits: The caravan would allow for the team to reach into nearby small markets where fans may not be able to make it to home games. It would also help generate publicity for sponsors in those areas which will increase sponsorship value. Appearances by well known players and staff would build a bigger fan base in those markets. The general consensus that I gathered from fans in small markets on these caravans is that the caravan sends a message from the team that, even though they are headquartered in a big city, the team cares about the fans in their entire region and they want to express that. The costs of this project would be fuel and vehicle transportation, payroll for team representatives, internet bandwidth for advertising, and pamphlets for marketing and autographing posters for fans.
8.Otters Fan Board- I originally came upon this idea from the Memphis Grizzlies when I applied for the board but was unable to participate since I was outside of the Memphis area. With a fan board, the team can get ideas directly from their target audience on ideas for promotions, arena settings, and other team and game day operations issues. The board makes recommendations and is even allowed to participate in the implementation of it. This board is perfect for diehard fans and regular fans of the game of basketball. As a reward, the board is given tickets to a few games during the regular season as well as recognized during a few games. Pictures of the board shall be posted in the team’s magazine each year.
Benefits: This concept also satisfies the Experience Marketing Theory as it allows fans to play a role with the Otters organization. It is also cost friendly. The only costs would be a few employees to guide the meetings, a room in the team office, food and tickets for the fans, and some marketing pamphlets to advertise joining the board, and/or an advertisement in the team’s magazine.
9.Bosse Field Ballpark Bricks- In cities like Philadelphia, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Atlanta, teams sell bricks outside of their facility to their fans. Ranging from $35 to $75, fans get their name on the brick outside of the facility, and for a smaller fee can buy a replica brick for displaying in their home. Outside of Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers play, there are huge Panther statues that have all original season ticket holders name on it so that they can show their family, friends, and colleagues that they were a part of the original season.
Benefits: This concept satisfies the Experience Marketing Theory. Fans feel like they made an impact on the team and city by having their name displayed at the historic ballpark for all of the community to see. Most importantly, there are little costs associated with it, as the bricks on display will already need to be purchased to complete the needed renovation anyways (statues will be a little bit more).
10.Otters Block Party- My proposal is for the team to set aside an area in the parking lot for a block party for a week or so during the summer or maybe for opening day. The block party would consist of elements such as rides, games, and various other activities. Traveling promotional activities such as the Coke Zero bus and the Madden Cruiser bus would be invited. E.A Sports would be able to set up several of the virtual and computers games throughout the block party. Players, coaches, and dancers would sign autographs, and various local sports celebrities would make cameo appearances throughout the week. The block party could be scheduled during the week of the draft, where fans would be invited to watch the draft with the team at the block party.
Benefits: The block party concept allows the team to keep their name in the community during the offseason or for opening day. It would also invite children in the community to come out and become fans of the team. Costs would include payroll for the team’s staff, payroll for celebrity appearances, ride and festival expenses, and promotional pamphlets to recruit season ticket holders.
11.Otter’s Fan Card- All across America, local high school teams sell sponsor cards as a fundraising tool. The team has the opportunity to do the same. The Otter’s Fan Card would be given to season ticket holders and would consist of discounts from team sponsors. These offers would be only available with the Otter’s Fan Card.
Benefits: The Fan Card would great value for both the season ticket holders and the sponsors. It would encourage fans to either become season ticket holders or renew their current account in order to get good discounts from team sponsors. For the sponsors, this card would allow for them to directly reach each and every season ticket holder of the team instead of relying on reaching them during a game with a sign, brochure, or public announcement. The only costs would be the manufacturing costs for the card itself.
12.“Where in the World is (select an Otter’s player)? - This concept uses the idea of a “mystery add” For several weeks, radio, newspaper, and television ads ask views “Where in the World is” a player or coach that has been selected by the team. Each week a new clue is given out about the location of the person. The selected location would be a current sponsor of the team who needs to boost sales in either a new or struggling location. The first viewer who comes into the selected location and mentions the player/coach in the contest receives a grand prize which could consist of season tickets, team gear, a chance to sit in the team owners box, a chance to travel with the team on a road trip, a chance to go in the team locker room on game day, and/or a chance to sit on the sidelines with players.
Benefits: This concept uses the team’s players to increase media exposure for a select location. In turn, this increases the value of the sponsorship for the sponsor. This concept also gets the Team’s name out in the community and keeps it on their minds as they go from place to place trying to find the player/coach. The costs would be those of a typical sponsorship which consists of radio, newspaper, and television advertisements plus whatever rewards are given to the fan.
13.Paint the Town Otters Blue and Red - The Charlotte Hornets were successful with this concept in the early 1990s, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are having success with it currently. Both teams used huge images of their logo and players on buildings as advertisements. My proposal would be to do something similar to that plus a little more. I think it would be a valuable marketing tool to create a blown-up image of a team player and place it vertically on the side of a downtown building. The building tenants would be given free season tickets in exchange for the banner being placed on the side of the building. To go with that, businesses throughout the city would be given free tickets in exchange for placing huge decals, images, and banners on the outside of their business. There would also be a competition on the team’s website to see which business could design the best display. The winner would receive a plaque or trophy commemorating this plus a gift bag.
Benefits: This concept allows the community to help the team in their marketing. The team cannot place ads everywhere so this encourages the community to chip in while building community support as well. Most importantly, the idea is cheap advertising as the only costs would be tickets, whatever team gear would be given out in the gift bag, and a plaque or trophy.
14.Otters Fan Club- The Cleveland Browns Fan Club implemented this several years ago, and now the Indianapolis Colts have used successfully tapped into this idea (mycolts.net) by using their message board not only as a place for fans to interact online but also as a place where fans can meet other fans in their towns and have game day gatherings. With this concept, members of the team’s message board are placed into social groups that are divided by communities. Their username is enhanced with a profile that allows them to be grouped into their local community where they will be able to share photos, interact with local fans, attend local gatherings, and blog about local events. The Otters could also send a representative directly to local colleges, establish a team club that is registered with the university, and use this website to communicate with the members.
Benefits: This concept satisfies the theory of Experience Marketing. Furthermore, the team doesn’t just have fans locally; they have fans in the rest of the United States and even all around the globe. This site allows them to personally interact with fans in their area which encourages them to remain fans even in other teams’ markets. Best of all, the only cost is the cost of running the website. The fans take care of the rest by setting up gatherings with each other.
In Game Marketing
15.All You Eat Seats- In Major League Baseball, approximately 13 of the 30 teams offered “All You Can Eat” seats. These seats are ticket packages that give the ticket holder access to an “All You Can Eat” buffet. Prices ranged from $30 to $200, but the average price of these tickets was between $30 and $55. They include basic foods you would see at a game like burgers, hotdogs, pizza, soft drinks, pretzels, and nachos. They can be used for both season ticket holders as well as single game ticket holders.
Benefits: This concept combines ticket sales along with concession stand sales into one package for the customer. It increases sales in both because it allows the common fan to attend a game and grab a bite to eat affordable. With the bundling of these two products, customers that otherwise wouldn’t purchase concession stand food because their comfortable in their seat would be purchasing concession stand food due to the fact that they’ve already purchased a food voucher. If the fan is comfortable in their seat and decides to pass on the food, the team increases their profit margin from the seat.
16.Presentation of Trophies for Amateur and Grade School Teams during Pregame- I ran across this idea while attending a Lexington Legends minor league baseball game. With this concept, sports groups bring their own trophies to the game and the team announces each player and coaches name during pregame festivities. Photos are taken to commemorate the night. The Legends charge $17 per person which includes a seat, a hotdog and soda, a pennant, and three game vouchers for each person.
Benefits: Since the team is positioned as a role model for children in the community, recognizing future generations of the game of fits into their target audience. Being recognized at the game will create a memory that will live with each player for the rest of their life. This will create a higher consumer loyalty rate in the future. In the meantime, it increases sales of tickets, team gear, and concession stand food.
17. Bosse Field Replica Night- Lately, it seems that every team is giving away replicas of their stadium, whether it be the Yankees, Pirates, Rays, or Mets. When I went to Shea Stadium Replica Night a few years back in New York, all 40,000 replicas were gone in less than an hour. The Otters play in the third oldest ballpark in the country, they should take advantage of it.