Women Leaders In the Business of Sports

Women Leaders In the Business of Sports
by Hannah Bouziden – April 2014

Baylor University welcomes Paige Farragut, Tami Walker, and Amy Pratt to the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) Club’s Women In Sports panel on April 14th. The event will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Baylor University in the Cashion Academic Center, Room 203. The panel will discuss the opportunities and challenges that women face in the sports industry. Each of these leaders in the business of sports serves on the Baylor S3 Advisory Board.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Go to the post-event article to read the panelists’ advice on maternity leave, sexual harassment, and breaking the glass ceiling.[/dropshadowbox]

Meet the Panel

Paige Farragut
Paige Farragut

 

Paige Farragut currently serves as Senior Vice President, Ticket Sales & Service for the  Texas Rangers Baseball Club. Previously, Farragut worked within the Rangers’ ticket and suite sales operations. Prior to working at the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, she worked for the Dallas Stars as a season ticket account executive. Farragut is a graduate of Texas State University.

 

 

 

Tami Walker
Tami Walker

 

Tami Walker currently leads US Fuels brand management for Phillips 66. Prior to this Walker served as a Global Marketing Strategist for Shell Oil Company. Walker also previously worked with Pennzoil Quaker State, SpencerHall, The Coca Cola Company, and the Kellogg Company. Walker received her undergraduate degree from Baylor University and then went on to receive her MBA from the University of Texas.

 

 

 

Amy Pratt
Amy Pratt

 

Amy Pratt currently serves as Vice President, Events and Tours for the sports, entertainment, and media company, Legends. Pratt has also served as director of sales and manager of AT&T Stadium while working for Legends. Previously, she served as a sales consultant for the Dallas Cowboys. Prior to working for the Dallas Cowboys she worked in corporate and group sales for the Phoenix Coyotes. Pratt is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.

 

 

 

All Welcome

The public is invited to attend the panel discussion. Later this month, a summary article in the S3 Report will highlight insights from the three panelists. If you have more questions, please follow up with program leaders Dr. Kirk Wakefield or Dr. Darryl Lehnus.

How to Create Sponsorship Inventory & Activation Out of Thin Air

How to Create Sponsorship Inventory & Activation Out of Thin Air
by Drew Mitchell – April 2014

After spending more than 8 years in the “Minor Leagues” (4 with Daktronics Sports Marketing and 4 with the Texas Legends), I have learned you can never have a shortage of creative inventory and thinking.  This is especially true in a competitive market space where you are up against all the big boys of the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL. You must be able to differentiate your property and the value of your brand with new, creative ways to drive value to a brand or sponsor. 

Where do you find new premium inventory?

When team owners annually increase revenue goals and you are already sold out of your premium inventory, what do you do? Where do you find new premium inventory that drives enough value to justify a major spend and attract the big sponsors?

Justin Cooper
Justin Cooper

Justin Cooper, Director of Group Sales for the Texas Legends suggests, “With major league teams the sponsorship opportunities provided are more black and white, while within the D-League (and other minor league markets), being creative is half the battle. Without creative and outside the box thinking, it’s hard to affect the transactions that big league teams are asking for.”

In my time at the Texas Legends, we have been nothing short or creative with our outside the box thinking. Most times, there is no box.

Creating visibility out of thin air

Case in point, last summer when we were brainstorming with one of our existing sponsors, KIA Motors America and Central KIA dealerships, we were challenged with coming up with a way to get them “Bigger and Better” inventory and provide a more commanding brand visible platform.

So, what’s the problem you ask? An existing sponsor is telling you that they want to spend more money with you and asking how they can spend it.

The problem was that we were sold out of premium court inventory: We had already sold the four court quadrants the NBA allows D-League Teams to sell. We had an already committed jersey sponsor. Our center court logo was the brand of a state in Mexico (Veracruz, MX), not the Texas Legends logo. So, I guess that was thinking outside the circle. But, surely we weren’t maxed out on premium inventory, right? How could we possibly find additional inventory to meet the sponsor’s need of “Bigger and Better” inventory and stand out along with our other top-tier sponsors?

Let’s hang a car!

The conversation was flowing at a nice Brazilian steakhouse with representatives from the Legends, Central KIA and regional KIA Motors. We were throwing out ideas, taking turns putting on the thinking cap and then as we scratched our heads, we looked at each other when….POOF…there it was. Just like out of thin air came the idea, “Let’s hang a car.”

Our KIA representatives looked at each other inquisitively as if they had misheard what was proposed. “Hang a car? As in a KIA?” It certainly would capture the attention of fans. What else could we do to build value?

  • We could create a season long activation and give the car away during the final home games.
  • We could capture leads for the sales team and enhance other marketing initiatives through media, digital and print.

The ideas started pouring in…from where? Out of thin air.

Fast forward…in a Kia

Eight months later, there was a beautiful KIA Soul hanging above center court inside Dr Pepper Arena. We received a challenge from a sponsor with specific goals (Bigger and Better). We created inventory that didn’t exist. We created one of the best activation ideas to be the first to suspend a car above the playing surface of a professional sports team.

Jon Bishop
Jon Bishop

“The advantage of selling a smaller sports property is the ability to help marketers target a specific group of people and engage them in an intimate and memorable way” adds Jon Bishop, Senior Director, Team Marketing and Business Operations for the NBA.

One thing I enjoy best about working in the minor leagues is that you are not limited on creatively thinking of new sponsorship inventory. The Legends have mastered this art after changing the way that many league executives think and what even a sponsor would imagine possible.

When it comes to your team or property’s inventory, are you maximizing all the potential areas of valuable inventory? Are you looking for those ideas that just may appear…out of thin air?

Outbound ticket sales: How to create a sales playbook to maximize sales

Outbound ticket sales: How to create a sales playbook to maximize sales
by Mark Washo – April 2014

As NCAA programs continue to adopt more revenue-generating practices, activating an outbound ticket sales program appears simple.  Hire entry level sports management grads, provide a desk, phone, and email address, pull past buyer lists and watch the ticket sales role in. While most understand ticket sales is more complex, how many take ALL key aspects of successful sales into consideration? [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Jamie Leavitt“Game day name capture initiatives are one of the best ways for us to connect with fans that have formed a habit of waiting to make a ‘game time decision’ and show them the benefits of reserving their seats in advance as opposed to walking up and buying a ticket at the game. We also find that database collection efforts at community events and local sports bars are a key component in creating new relationships with local businesses and organizations.” – Jamie Levitt, Manager of Ticket Sales at Western Kentucky University[/dropshadowbox]

The first step to a successful program is commitment

To maximize revenue, the organization must commit to outbound sales over a full calendar year, not month to month or short term (3 to 5 months). After committing to a 12 months sales staffing plan, with a year round sales focus, you are ready to make your ticket sales plan,  your playbook for success.

Create a sales plan or “Playbook” that includes:

  1. The past: Review past season ticket sales reports to look for strengths to build on and opportunities to improve.
  2. The future: Goals setting; annual, monthly, sales rep goals and quotas. Set realistic yet aggressive minimum expectations for your sales professionals, including minimum sales activity expectations and sales targets. Continually track progress towards the goals.
  3. Develop a 12 month ticket sales timeline:  The timeline should include “early bird new and renewal campaigns” while existing playing seasons are happening to capitalize on fan excitement and interest while they are still engaged.  Waiting until after the playing seasons are over to begin new sales & renewals for that sport is not as effective at maximizing ticket sales revenue as renewing and selling new tickets during the season.
  4. Recruit top talent: Don’t cut corners during the recruiting process.  Activate a multiple step process, including a sales role-play interview step to help recruit the strongest candidates.
  5. Hire enough talent: Hire the appropriate number of sales staff based on revenue goals; creating realistic revenue expectations will help you draw conclusions on appropriate # of ticket sales executives to hire.
  6. Create motivating compensation plans with commission and bonus opportunities: Compensation models should provide incentives to sell, which aid in recruiting and retaining top talent.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]tom phelpsFailure to prepare is preparing to fail ~John Wooden          “It is vital to have a game plan for your sales approach just like a coach has a game plan to execute on the field. The key is to have an attack plan for sales prepared once a schedule is made available. Often certain groups dictate the time of year they can attend an outing. For example school base programs, scouts, and ROTC’s need a two month leeway into a school year to plan an activity. An outline will help a sales person know exactly where they stand and what needs to be accomplished at any point of the year. Also, it is a quick and easy way to keep superiors up to date on what a sales representative is currently working on and how they are planning to make the next event a success. — Tom Phelps, Naval Academy[/dropshadowbox]
  7. Commit to data base building: Invest in CRM to cultivate leads and grow your data base.  Newer web based models provide 24 hour remote access.
  8. Analyze your pricing strategy:  Based on analytics that consider situational factors, increase the average ticket price with price integrity for single game pricing. Add incentives to encourage season ticket and advance purchase.  Analyze your ticket sales customers buying habits and patterns to guide pricing.
  9. Create season ticket benefits: Find creative low cost ways to provide season ticket benefits (e.g., with corporate partners) to provide added value beyond discounts (i.e., experiences).
  10. Create flexible ticketing packages: Explore options such as vouchers or “pick me plans.”
  11. Develop a group sales pricing strategy: Reward groups with appropriate benefits that include group leader incentives to motivate purchase.
  12. Commit to consistent ticket sales training:  Just like in well-run corporations, sales training must be consistent and on-going.
  13. Promote the promotion: Encourage cross-departmental integration that support ticket sales initiatives with “buy in” from other departments; gain support from marketing/PR/social media and operations.
  14. Create a positive sales culture: Create visible team-wide goals where everyone is committed to revenue generation.  Include motivating reps through sales incentives and contests.
  15. Develop a renewal and retention strategy: Explore ways to activate proactive retention efforts and develop strong customer service, with multiple “touch points” throughout the season.
  16. Ticket Operations: Don’t forget to recruit professional and dedicated ticket operations talent.  Sound ticket operations is needed to support any proactive sales effort. 

It’s important to take as comprehensive as an approach as possible to selling tickets.  Find ways to activate all of the key elements, you will be in a great position to maximize ticket sales revenue! [dropshadowbox align=”left” effect=”lifted-both” width=”550px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Brett Zalaski
Brett Zalaski

“It’s always interesting to me, that all of us who work in professional or collegiate sports are exposed to elite athletes who we see practice & train every day, in order to stay at the top of their game. Therefore, it’s surprising that most ticket sales teams don’t commit to consistent sales and role play training. The most successful sales teams in sports (pro or college), have a dedicated commitment to consistent sales training, which includes sales role play, bringing in outside sales trainers and taking advantage of free sales content on social media such as this Baylor sportsbiz article.” ~ Brett Zalaski[/dropshadowbox]

Ball State Full House
Ball State Full House

What can teams learn from Manchester United? How to hang out with fans on Google+

What can teams learn from Manchester United? How to hang out with fans on Google+
by Alex Stewart – April 2014

Manchester United is a global brand

Manchester United, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona, have the most fans outside their own country. They can count on fans in emerging markets, especially Asia and Africa.

The Red Devils may be suffering on the pitch currently, with the tenure of David Moyes, Sir Alex Ferguson’s anointed heir, currently a stuttering work of bathos, but their relentless commercialization shows no signs of abating. Indeed, it has become something of a running joke that United cannot seem to win much at the moment except for a slew of endorsements and commercial partnerships ranging from Japanese snacks to diesel engines.

Google+ Campaign

Manchester United has an active, if fairly staid, social presence, but they have recently become one of two clubs (Real Madrid being the other) to begin exploiting the burgeoning potential of Google+. With some 1.15 billion registered users, Google+ is a more dynamic, interactive social platform than the less agile social media such as Twitter and Facebook. United has hosted chats with the team on Hangout, and, most recently, launched Front Row, a campaign to encourage that global fan-base mentioned above to participate in the match day experience.

Using a hashtag-based competition, similar to Juventus’ #LoveJu fan choreography campaign, Manchester United invited fans to submit a picture via Twitter or Facebook using the #MUFrontRow hashtag to show their passion for the Red Devils. Winners were then selected from this group to participate in a Google+ hangout, which displayed their faces on the pitch-side advertising hoardings at Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, during the showpiece match against north-west rivals Liverpool.

Why the hold up?

Google+ has been around a while, so why has it taken so long for football clubs to recognise and develop its potential?

Clubs’ use of social seems to fall largely into two camps:

  • the sometimes successful tongue-in-cheek conversation with fans via Twitter, and
  • the rather generic release of team information, photos, and match reports via all platforms.

Google+ requires thought in order not to be simply yet another platform on which to post the same pictures and comments. But, with thought, Google+ can be perhaps the most useful of all platforms for clubs.

Google+ fan interaction = community

Fans love nothing more than to debate and discuss, to put questions directly to their heroes, and to feel part of a community. This is especially so when it comes to fans of a team in a foreign country.

If you are a die-hard United fan from Thailand or Ghana, you might never get the chance to go to Old Trafford. Google+ hangouts allow a level of engagement and participation that is immediate, actual, and generates the kind of fan engagement that builds a genuine sense of community.

Circles = Global reach for sponsors

The use of ‘circles’ on Google+ also allows the content managers for United’s social team to tailor material specifically to fans in different countries. This, in turn, has an obvious benefit for a club with specific sponsorship partners in different locations. Those commercial tie-ins can be used only in the circles where the have an impact for the sponsoring partner.

The use of Circles is not the only benefit for sponsors. DHL already hosts the Hangouts with players. AON, the title sponsor of United, sees their logo emblazoned across shirts in every Hangout.

Customized messaging

The tailoring of commercial messages across specific circles can also benefit sponsors. The main plus point, though, is surely that Google+ allows fans across the world to feel connected in a way that other platforms cannot. It creates a direct, bespoke level of conversation, at times a genuinely two-way conversation, with a variety of content that realises and solidifies a fan’s passion for her team.

Football clubs benefit sponsors mostly by positive association rather than direct messaging. The global reach of Google+, married to its ability to create more of a genuine feeling of community than any other social platform, means it could be the most significant vehicle for generating earned media for clubs yet, with all the commercial benefits that entails.

Manchester United might be struggling on the pitch, but in the social space, they’re setting the pace.

Digital CRM is the New Ticket Sales

Digital CRM is the New Ticket Sales
Eric Nichols
Eric Nichols
by Neil Horowitz – April 2014

The most eye-popping statistic shared at this year’s National Sports Forum (February 9-11, Dallas) came from Associate Athletic Director and Chief Marketing Officer at the University of South Carolina, Eric Nichols (@ericnichols):

A $38,000 digital media budget realized $922,000 in track-able ticket sales.

That number is astounding to be sure, but the point isn’t so much the level of success, but that taking shots in the dark in digital should be a thing of the past. Data is the new & reigning king in making marketing, sales, and activation as efficient and effective as possible. Companies like the Property Consulting Group who executed the digital CRM campaign for South Carolina are the wave of the future and the now.

Where do you start?

Before investing in some expensive data mining software or hiring an agency, the first thing to do is commit to integrating social, digital, partnerships, & sales. This means insights and ideas are shared across channels and inform best practices:

  1. Is the sales staff ready for a new marketing campaign and the messaging coming from the team to its fans?
  2. Does the marketing team know what questions, concerns, and suggestions are coming from sales leads and fans?
  3. Are sales and leads acquired tracked by source so the value of digital dollars spent can be assessed?
  4. Are analytics from social media content used to optimize messaging, campaigns, and calls?

    social crm
    Social CRM with Microsoft Dynamics
Ali Towle
Ali Towle

Integration = Sharing

“We’ve gotten better at incubating ideas for web and social media that sales can use in the future,” said Ali Towle, San Francisco 49ers Director of Marketing. A similar sentiment came from Jeff Meyer, Senior Vice President of Event Marketing and Sales for Feld Entertainment. “Our marketing and sales people are one and the same in our organization.”

That sounds all well and good, in an abstract kind of way. But, as is the common refrain in sports, it all comes down to execution. And execution begins with one simple concept: sharing. Sharing data, that is. We may be tired of hearing it, but as long as it’s true we must keep reminding ourselves to eliminate “silos” within our departments.

Understanding what drives sales, what works in marketing, what could be useful for partnerships – all of this data, and the insights drawn from it, should be consistently shared.

Start small and build

Jeff Meyer
Jeff Meyer

We can easily be overwhelmed with the amount of data available. Start with those on your team with the talent and willingness to share and collaborate to reach a common goal. Then begin to utilize big data to get more nuanced with:

  • specific marketing campaigns
  • targeted sales programs
  • sales lead scoring
  • customer relationship management
  • web and email marketing analytics
  • equipping partnerships with data to sell and renew clients

Every action a fan takes to interact with the team is a signal of intent, an insight about their personality, desires, lifestyle, activities, or opinions. The interaction with the customer is where it all starts.

You have a choice: lead or lose

David Peart
David Peart

Leaders in the field of sports recognize that mass marketing campaigns and ticket reps pounding out calls to single-game buyers lists from 2009 are old-school.

As David Peart, Senior Vice President of the Pittsburgh Penguins, shared, “There will be a digital transformation. In the next five years,  we see marketing as primarily digital and social media and ticket sales relying more heavily upon CRM and analytics, as we interact with fans on a 1-to-1 basis where they are and in the way they want to be reached.”

Those clinging to the status quo will be left hanging by a thread. Those who see the future of digital and big data have already begun the transformation. Where will you be?


 Cover photo courtesy of the Digital Traffic Squad.

Why You Should Embrace Monday

Why You Should Embrace Monday
by John Graydon Burnett – April 2014

Don’t show your hands

Meet Willie. Willie lives in Roaring Creek, in the Cayo District of Belize. Willie is a parrot and Willie has a bad attitude when it comes to hands. 

Willie

Place your hands behind your back, and you can put your face right up to Willies face with no problem. He will actually rub his head against your head, as long as he cant see your hands. Do NOT let him see your hands. Keep them behind your back. Because…if Willie sees your hands, Willie FREAKS OUT.

Show your hands, and suddenly your friendly neighborhood parrot starts screaming at you. Willie will peck you, bite you, flap his wings hysterically and attack you if he sees your hands.  Willie hates hands.

It’s impossible to know why, because, well, Willie is a parrot.

People hate Monday

People treat Monday like Willie treats hands…people dont like Monday. It’s impossible to know why, because, well, people have been hating Monday forever. 

Most other days of the week are fine. Theres Tuesday, a perfectly cool day. Then Wednesday, such a groovy day it has its own nickname, Hump Day. Thursday comes along and men, women and children get downright giddy. Why? Because it comes just before Friday. 

Glorious Friday. A day with a grooviness quotient eclipsing Wednesday. We know this because the grooviest things in life dont just have nicknames, they have acronyms…like TGIF. Regardless of religious beliefs, background, or affiliation, we all THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY! And, of course, Saturday and Sunday are at the top of the menu. They’re like a super-sized combo day we simply call The Weekend. We work for it, bask in its sunshine, party in its wee hours, and worship in its Day of Rest.

If we could, we would rub our head against The Weekend. Whats not to love about The Weekend?!?!” The Weekendis lovely.

But do NOT mention Monday. Because you mention Monday, and people FREAK OUT. 

Fear grips, outlooks dim and anxiety levels climb. It’s so bad that if another day of the week is going poorly, people say they have a case of the Mondays. Monday is like a disease. No, really–it’s a killer. Research tells us people are more likely to have a heart attack on Monday morning than at any other time. Yikes! No wonder people hate it. 

Monday is beautiful

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” -Zig Ziglar[/dropshadowbox]

But Id like to challenge you to love, Love, LOVE Monday! Monday is life-giving. It’s a sparkling horizon and a budding flower. It has the potential to be the launch pad to a great week.

We study, attend seminars, training classes and work our butts off in order to be as smart as possible in our chosen field.  However,  only 20% of success is a result of our aptitude, while 80% can be attributed to our attitude.  As a result, we need to launch into Monday with an attitude that is counter to the cultural norm. We can’t dread Mondays. We need to bring an attitude of excitement and gratefulness! Do you want to stand out to your clients, boss, in the classroom, the office or the boardroom?  Roll in on Monday with an “Im gonna rock the world” attitude!

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“Rejoice always.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16[/dropshadowbox]

Choosing joy on Monday, the greatest day of the week, will allow you to catapult into each week like Charlie walking into (another Willys) Chocolate Factory. You will cruise into Monday wide-eyed, whimsically and ready for adventure.

My bird-buddy, Willie, pecks, screams, and attacks hands as if they are his enemy. And he misses out on a lot of love that folks would like to show him. Monday has a lot of love to show us if we just embrace it. 

No matter what you are facing in the coming weeks, fall in love with Monday! Because changing a day can change your week.  Changing your weeks will change your months.  And before you know it, youve changed your life.

Life is Sweet.

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