Sports Marketing Is Not Gifting Fans

Gifting Attendance

Gifting is not sports marketing. A troubling sign in sports marketing is when it is about a premium giveaway more than actually promoting the live entertainment product’s value. The easiest way to see this played out is if your customers go through the turnstiles for a premium Bobblehead, only to put it on eBay the following day.

That shows little value beyond monetary and has no uniqueness for the customer experiencing the product.

Stop Gifting Your Fanbase

Actual value is achieved by showcasing something that is intangible, something that cannot be earned any other way or acquired in any other fashion. Perhaps Bobbleheads were like that back in the 1990s but anyone can have a Bobblehead created now, as long as they are willing to shell out enough money. And if that’s the case, what makes the Bobblehead giveaway so special, so unique, that people will remember it forever?

I’m not opposed to Bobbleheads, but if they are simply a glorified figurine then the idea really hasn’t been hatched yet to declare what is being given away by the franchise as “a facet of sports marketing.”

Concepts of sports marketing should try to encompass the entire event (beyond just a gimmick) into a theme. If a giveaway is part of it, the gift should compliment the entire night and play a role in exactly what theme is being carried out.

Be Unique With Theme Experiences

Think of a theme such as a Star Wars night and how a premium giveaway might be unique enough that no one could possibly mistake it for just another gifting opportunity by the franchise. I’ve always wondered why on Star Wars Night for a minor league baseball club, no one has decided to give away a replica of Luke Skywalker’s severed hand holding a light saber from “The Empire Strikes Back.” Not only is it unique, the entire giveaway presents a conversation starter that begins (as opposed to ending) the entire night.

These types of themed concepts should go beyond the premium giveaway at the turnstile, seeping into the PA announcements (by Yoda?), Imperial writing on the scoreboard, uniform designs, concessions, and other components of the event. This is about making the night so original that the customer feels compelled to share with their friends who aren’t there, whether that be in person or on social media. Have those themed activation components not always be items which can be taken from the ballpark itself. This forces prospective customers to go experience the live product as a result.

Generic Gifting Means Generic Experience

Sports marketing has gotten into a form of spending a budget rather than really enhancing the fun. Too often the night’s activation points are only marginally enhanced, directed at 1-2 channels rather than covering the entire event. But an all-inclusive package leads prospective customers to hedge their bets on exactly how much the experience will be altered, considering whether it is enough of a draw to buy that ticket to consume for themselves.

troy kirby

Troy Kirby is the creator of the Sports Sales Boot Camp. He will host the 2016 Sports Sales Boot Camp at ALSD in Pittsburgh.

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