The Butts In Seats Challenge

The Challenge of Sports

Sports marketers have a specific challenge ahead of them: How to get butts in seats. Sounds simple enough, except its not. The decline is becoming drastic in sports attendance overall.

Getting fans to actually come to the games and enjoy the ballpark experience is becoming harder.  This is the flipside of huge TV contracts and more, better technology. Fans aren’t as interested in always visiting the stadium because the in-home viewing experience is sometimes a lot better.

The Challenge Before Us All

There isn’t going to be a “one-size fits all” approach, but here are a few ideas that you can use to spur your fans to actually come to the games.

Amp Up The Experience

We hear a lot about the term “experience” these days and it is partly driven by the fact that our fans and customers are more into purchasing “experiences” now and not so much into buying stuff.

That should actually be music to your ears because in sports, you are always offering up an experience. And, it is always unique.

But a game isn’t going to be enough anymore.

So, you are going to have to step up your efforts to create a holistic experience from start to finish.

That means that you need to consider every step of the process for your fans.

Four Core Marketing Questions

How do I want my fans to feel when buying tickets?

What do I want the ingress and egress experience to be like?

What can I offer them when they are at the stadium?

What can we do after the game to stay connected?

Engage With Your Fans

We think about “engagement” a lot now, but most of the time we think about it as a silo where we have categories like “social media,” “in-stadium,” and “sales.”

But what would happen if you looked at the engagement process as a holistic thing?

How would your relationship to your fans change if you looked at each of these silos as an opportunity to spur fans to come to games and that the in-game experience was one form of expanding and solidifying the engagement strategy?

Instead of having social media engagement and sales engagement, you had holistic engagement that covered everything about the fan’s experience?

And, couldn’t you use holistic experience to motivate fans to come into the stadium?

Create Special Moments

How many times have you been to a game and stadium in a bunch of different cities and felt like you could be anywhere?

If you have been around a while, probably more than you wish to admit.

But as our fans move towards more experience based buying patterns, it is pretty informative that we begin to consider this; how do we make something special about their trip to the game?

Sports marketers can face this challenge head-on, and become better for it. Perhaps it isn’t giveaways, as much as concession or other amenities that your fans are after.

Maybe you can partner with your local brewery or restaurant to create a beer or food item only available at the stadium.

Maybe you can create a special bar or dining experience that is one of its kind for fans to congregate at.

How about having a special membership program that really rewards fans for purchases, attendance, and other things that go beyond just free merchandise, upgraded tickets, and discounts on concessions?

As with most things, there are a lot of options and you are only limited by your creativity.

Dave Wakeman

Dave Wakeman is a globally recognized expert in the areas of revenue, strategy, and marketing. His consulting firm, Wakeman Consulting Group, has attracted clients like Odwalla, Yellow Tail Wines, the US Department of State, American Express, Madison Square Garden, and Volunteers of America. Wakeman will be teaching "Making The Strategic Sale" at the Sports Sales Boot Camp in Pittsburgh on June 28, 2016.

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