With Apple’s headquarters right down the street, you would expect the teams in Silicon Valley to be digitally-savvy and data-driven. We were not disappointed, as the teams from San Jose demonstrated how they employ business intelligence to generate revenue.
Sharks Leadership Analytics-Driven
Flavil Hampsten, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, began honing his sales & marketing analytic skills to drive revenue while completing his MBA at Arizona State in 2009 and serving as Vice President of Ticket Sales at the Phoenix Coyotes, before heading to the Charlotte Hornets and now back in the NHL at the Sharks. Neda Tabatabaie was brought in at the Sharks to implement a cohesive data strategy when Mr. Hampsten arrived in 2015.
CRM Boosts Sales
S3 graduate McKenzie Bryan said, “I really enjoyed hearing from the Sharks on how well they integrate CRM/Analytics into the sales department and all of the ways a solid CRM system helps sales.” The Sharks organization encourages utilization of CRM to achieve more efficient and effective sales numbers. Beyond this, however, the Sharks want salespeople to be analytical and intentional as they attempt to make connections with current and future fans.
49ers Commit Headcount to Analytics
Hayley Di Naso, Hospitality Sales Executive (S3 ’15), hosted us at the 49ers. Following a stadium tour, Demar Amacker and Paul Epstein explained the organizational structure and integral nature of CRM as strategy working hand-in-hand with sales. The Business Strategy & Analytics group, led by Moon Javaid, includes five staff members with analytics responsibilities.
S3 Senior Jacob Kurian appreciated how “every aspect of the experience at Levi’s Stadium has been thoroughly planned out.” The 49ers have created an authentic atmosphere in the stadium that reflects much of what people in the area value. Levi’s Stadium uses repurposed redwood finishing in its concourses and has 16 (Joe Montana’s number) native plant species growing on the patio atop the building. The stadium also showcases an impressive collection of local artwork.
StubHub and Baylor S3 created a partnership to reward motivated, analytically-talented S3 students with an expenses paid trip to the Bay area. The inaugural S3 StubHub Analytics All-Stars group visited San Francisco for three days, gaining valuable interaction time with representatives from some of the Bay’s sports industry leaders. Thanks to StubHub’s generosity, we spent three days visiting with executives from StubHub, Golden State Warriors, San Francisco 49ers, San Jose Sharks, and San Francisco Giants.
S3 Senior Ian Young said, “It was great to see the variety of career paths people have taken to get to where they are in the sports industry. I really got a feel of how closely connected people are in the sports industry and how best practices are shared among teams.” Young also commented on the value of being data-driven as an organization. Each organization relies on a data strategy to generate revenue utilizing analytics, CRM, and BI/BA to derive actionable insights.
The StubHub Data-Driven Culture
Our group began the circuit of Bay area sports and entertainment properties by visiting StubHub’s corporate offices. Located in downtown San Francisco, the office encapsulates much of the Silicon Valley atmosphere and emphasis on creating a comfortable, enjoyable work environment.
S3 students received a tour of the office followed by interactive panel discussions with six StubHub employees whose positions touched many of the company’s various focuses. S3 Senior Jonathan Roselli found value in “understanding how analytics are used to report, optimize and predict performance.”
If you are interested in the Sports Sponsorship & Sales (S3) program at Baylor, visit www.baylor.edu/business/s3. Prospective students and transfers can find out more about their tickets to a career in sports. Like StubHub and other S3 Leadership partners, organizations can learn about supporting the growth of talent for the industry by visiting www.baylor.edu/business/s3/board. Look for more stories with insights from executives we met at the Warriors, 49ers, Sharks, and Giants in the coming weeks.
Since launching the first Sports CRM & Analytics track in the U.S in 2011, the S3 program is the leader in placing graduates in data analytics roles at teams [Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, Houston Astros, Houston Dynamo, Houston Texans, San Antonio Spurs, Madison Square Garden, New York Yankees, Denver Nuggets, Columbus Blue Jackets, Orlando Magic, Miami Dolphins, , Utah Jazz, University of Southern California] and sports-related companies [KORE Software, Stone Timber River, Eventellect, E-15 Group, The Company, Legends Hospitality, and SportsDesk Media].
The Spurs were the first organization contacted before the S3 program launched in 2004. We often say that the Spurs organization is “Baylor South,” because so many of the 250+ S3 graduates started careers in San Antonio.
These professionals discussed how S3 Values play out in day-to-day life in successful careers.
Take It Personally
Justin Wynter, Manager of Corporate Partnerships for the Austin Spurs, shared a story in support of the S3 Culture tenant to always “take it personally.” Wynter spoke about how he and his associates rose from underachieving to become a top of the league organization. This hard work came to fruition when the team received 8 of 10 year-end NBA G-League awards after receiving zero only a few short years before Justin Wynter and Stephen Gray (S3 2011) decided to take personal responsibility for business performance.
Act with Integrity
Joe Clark, Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service, encouraged students to interview teams and companies. He highlighted the importance of making sure that an organizational culture is strong and a positive fit. Finding those organizations that care and do things the right way is an integral part of experiencing long-term success in the sports industry.
Go the 2nd Mile
Laura Dixon, Head of External Relations, exemplified the broad landscape of positions available across the sports industry. S3 Club members heard about her journey from working on an Olympic bid proposal to her current position where she works to strengthen stakeholder relationships on behalf of Spurs Sports & Entertainment. In going the “2nd mile,” Dixon does a little bit (or a lot) of everything in this role, going beyond the job description people typically associate with the sports industry.
Group Sales Representative Ashley Johnson shared a story of how Sales Representative Erika Moulder’s group were recently given a goal of making five in-person sales appointments for the week. Ashley noticed on the sales board that Erika set 19 appointments, going the second, third, and practically the fourth mile.
Redefine Success & Failures
S3 Club Member Tatum Lowe spoke highly of the insight she gained over the course of the evening. Lowe said she learned, “the idea of redefining our successes and failures . . . focus on the small victories that you achieve every day, before you know it these will add up to major successes.” She was inspired by how visibly passionate SS&E executives, managers and employees are about their careers, exemplified by the core principle of going the 2nd mile, in San Antonio as much as it is in Waco. In fact, they traveled 200 miles each way to freely share their time with S3 students.
How to Choose Among Job Offers
Lindsay Beale, Senior Manager of Group Sales, shared a common theme to the Spurs and S3: Pick your next position based primarily on the character and values of the manager who will directly supervise you. This person plays an integral role in developing your abilities and determining the opportunities for success. When they move up, you’ll have chances to move with them.
According to Nielsen, Millennials spend more time on mobile devices than on TV. So, how do we reach them? We find them where they are and sell the way they like to buy.
Geo-Targeting: Raiders Case Study
Where people come from influences how they buy–and how much they’ll pay and when. Working with our partners at StubHub, we find out-of-town fans are willing to pay significantly more, even as game time approaches. Below we see the difference in ticket prices paid for Raiders games in 2016, which is similar to other markets with respect to time and distance. Using geo-targeting, we can target campaigns (e.g., Google AdWords; emails) based on location.
Single-game buyers and, increasingly, multiple-game buyers prefer choosing individual games (vs. ticket plans) when they want to buy and when they want to go. Young consumers have always been variety-seekers. But, Nielsen reports all buyers are increasingly focusing on a wider variety of entertainment options than in the past. Buyers aren’t just thinking about your team (i.e., the Raiders). They may just as easily click on the next Groupon, social media offer, or Yelp recommendation.
Today’s ticket buyer is twice as likely to visit ticket websites (primary & secondary sources) than to directly contact the team. Younger buyers expect frictionless[ref]Read more about frictionless service here.[/ref] experiences. That’s why teams optimize for mobile sales and distribute tickets on secondary markets to take advantage of buyers where they are and how they want to buy.
What do buyers really want?
You need to know how seats are moving in the open market to appropriately set season ticket and individual game prices to maximize revenue.
Ticket distributors (e.g., Eventellect) and sellers (e.g., StubHub) help teams understand the dynamic nature of markets by analyzing what inventory sells through and at what prices. Sample data for an NCAA property (left) illustrates a typical pattern of average ticket prices (ATP) by seating area and the percentage of those tickets which sold (STR: Sell Thru Rate).
Buyers are less price sensitive for sports & entertainment events than for pretty much anything else. [ref]Wakefield & Inman (2003), “Situational price sensitivity: The role of consumption occasion, social context and income,” Journal of Retailing, Vol 79(4), 2003, 199-212.[/ref] Here, the highest priced premium seats ($900+) and the Field Club ($250) seats sell through well (75-80%). The lower STR (67%) for Stadium Club seats suggests needed adjustments to improve perceived value compared to the more or less expensive seats nearby. The high STR on New Alumni seats suggests the team could raise those prices, but may have overshot the mark on the Gold Zone seats. Without this data, this team would continue to leave money on the table or empty seats with inefficient pricing schedules.
The right side of the charts above show the hottest seat sections on the market for this team. If they offer inventory using dynamic pricing, share revenue with a consolidator, or (opaquely) distribute via a ticket provider like StubHub, they will capitalize on the high demand for specific sections (e.g., Benchback I and Gold Zones W and CC).
When should we release inventory and adjust prices?
Most individual game tickets sell during the week prior to the event. Well over a third sell in the last 72 hours. As the sample data shows below, advance ticket buyers are willing to pay more (ATP = $128) compared to those buying in the month leading up to the event (ATP = $72).
When should tickets be released for individual purchase? Earlier is better. Some teams hold tickets back to release close to game time. But, we can see this is not the best time to get the highest price. In a forthcoming journal article, we find that experienced sports & entertainment buyers have learned it’s better to wait to buy. But, if you want to sell high–like to out-of-town visitors and other infrequent, inexperienced buyers, supply needs to increase well in advance.
We’ve been analyzing retail pricing strategies for over 25 years. Pricing strategies in sports are quickly catching up with corporate practices, but much less is known about pricing intangible services than pricing tangible goods and products.
If you’d like to learn more about opportunities to analyze your ticket data or gain more insights, feel free to reach out to our friends at StubHub: Charlie Rockman, Nick Rudolph, and Adam Budelli. If your organization is interested in collaborating in our research center, please contact Kirk Wakefield.
Kicking off the S3 StubHub Ticket Campaign Competition
Learning best practices is one of the most valuable elements of the meetings, conventions, and seminars we all attend. To that end, with partnered with StubHub to launch the annual S3 StubHub Ticket Campaign Competition at the 2017 S3 Board Meetings this past January. We’d love to have more great submissions for this year’s (January 16-17, 2018) meetings. Click here to learn more.
The Shoot for your Seat campaign was an interactive initiative to generate leads through invites from sales staff and marketing communications. Held during an off-season time frame (September), prospective clients were invited to the Palace for a fun four hours of activities. The attendees went through a series of station interactions with Piston personalities, introduction to new stadium food, a photo booth, behind the scenes staff-guided tours and the ultimate opportunity to take a shot from half court to win free season tickets. Phone follow-ups to everyone occurred within three days after the event. The results were dynamic as $100,000 in new sales were generated with an ROI of the event at 8-to-1.
Holiday Pack Mini Plans
Evans Adonis, Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets shared a “Holiday Mini-Pack” campaign that offered great flexibility and a nice Christmas present. The target audience was past holiday pack buyers and potential buyers who connected with Hornets via the email sent or linked the Hornets’ website. Leads were distributed to all sales reps with a window of November 7th thru December 30th to close the 5-game mini pack. Buyers could pick any 5 games for their packages (excluding Golden State). To motivate quick closes the first 300 buyers received a Mitchell and Ness Buzz City hoodie as a gift. The hoodie was a good gift for a friend or family member for Christmas. The campaign created an increase in holiday pack buyers averaging 30 packs a week for the duration of the campaign.
The Ballpark Pass
Adam Martelli and Chase Kanaly, Houston Astros
Some of the hardest MLB tickets to sell are the Monday-Thursday games early in the season. The Ballpark Pass focused on the 10 Monday through Thursday games in May. The primary target audience was millennials seeking a social experience. The value package of $49 includes all 10 games with tickets delivered digitally to smartphones with day of game seat assignment. The rationale behind the digital approach and seat location was that millennials place less emphasis on location and more on social experience. Sending tickets digitally is a common experience for this audience. The success of this campaign was to increase the database in this merging demographic and to increase attendance at low demand games without undercutting season ticket sales efforts. The Astros created 967 passes for almost $50K in new revenue and created an overwhelmingly positive digital experience for the target audience.
College & Career Readiness Game
Stephen Gray, Austin Spurs
The Austin Spurs took a single game approach to focus on middle and high school students. The College & Career Readiness event took a low attendance weekday game and converted it into a new revenue generator. They recruited over 40 colleges and companies to have a presence (booths) on the concourse to interact with the students. The game promotions and halftime encouraged healthy study, eating and living habits. Halftime included the Spurs iconic George “Iceman” Gervin challenging students to stay in school, lead a drug-free lifestyle, and to support anti-bullying. The game sold 2480 group tickets in 2016 and doubled its numbers for 2017. A key to its success is the organizational buy-in at all levels with a complete focus on high school aged demographics and their educational careers.
2017 S3 StubHub Ticket Campaign Winner
Based on a vote of the 65 managers and executives attending the S3 Board Meeting Advisory meeting, the winner was Stephen Gray and the Austin Spurs “College & Career Readiness Game.” Congratulations to the Austin Spurs and their staff for truly creating such a successful event!
Campaigns at a Glance
Below are the overview slides of each campaign. We look forward to your entry at the 2018 January 16-17 S3 Board Meeting! Click here to register.
Angela Duckworth made an industry out of her own passion and perseverance toward a long-term goal–her definition of grit–and measuring it in others.
Controlling for other factors (SAT scores, IQ, self-control, and the Big 5 personality traits), she and her colleague’s research[ref]Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews & Kelly (2007), “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals,” Journal of Personality & Social Psychology.[/ref] found the grit items (click here to see if you have grit) to be good predictors of performance among spelling bee contestants, Ivy league students and West Point cadets. Gritty children work harder and longer, performing better in national spelling bees. Gritter students attain higher levels of education among those of the same age, but grit does appear to increase as we get older.[ref]Duckworth & Quinn (2009), “Development and Validation of the Short Grit Scale,” Journal of Personality Assessment.[/ref]Gritty cadets are more likely to complete training. Those with more grit experience fewer lifetime career changes.
The question is: Is grit a good predictor of sales performance in professional sports? In particular, accounting for popular DISC behavioral measures and factors under sales management’s control, does measuring grit offer potential help in recruiting and retention of salespeople?
Data were collected from 307 salespeople (89% < 4 years experience; 67% males; 98% with at least college degrees) and 34 managers from 18 professional teams in MLB, NBA, MLS, NFL, and NHL. Respondents provided demographics and completed measures of:
DISC behavioral profile
Impression management (to account for social desirability bias)
Adaptive selling skills
Extent of sales training provided by the organization
Confidence in selling skills
Sales performance relative to others in department (dollar sales, new packages, major accounts, exceeding targets, helping supervisor & dept hit goals)
Selling effort relative to others in the department (hours, effort, contacts made)
Different from other studies, we collected sales performance and effort evaluations on exactly the same items (#8 & #9) from the direct supervisors of each sales representative. Each sales manager examined current sales performance (in dollars), rank ordered those in the department, and then completed the performance evaluations for the first quarter of the 2017 year. In total, we were able to match 288 responses (i.e., inside sales and account executives) with supervisor evaluations. [ref] We conducted a second study among sales staff (N = 144) across the entire East Coast Hockey League with similar results. [/ref]
The Results of Grit
The types of achievements studied by Duckworth each culminated in an event (i.e., completing college, West Point, or a Spelling Bee). A sales career is a series of continuous competitions, where standings update daily, and the conclusion uncertain. Does grit directly predict performance?
Among salespeople in professional sports, grit indirectly influences sales performance in two important ways:
Grittier salespeople give relatively more effort than other salespeople, including hours spent selling and the total number of contacts made. In turn, effort (work ethic) drives performance in this data.
Grittier salespeople are more satisfied with their jobs, which means lower turnover. Satisfied salespeople give more effort, which leads to higher performance.
Bottom line: Hire gritty salespeople. Use the grit scales as one input in recruiting. Mean grit score among cadets (3.75) and our study (3.82) would be a good baseline.
Grit scores at the highest levels may be a function of impression management, saying what we want to hear. But, either way, people who say they have more grit are evaluated by their managers as giving more effort. In a battery of measures, grit scores offer insight. [ref]If potential reps willingly admit having little grit (i.e., scores low on the grit scale), you should believe them.[/ref]
The Effects of DISC Behavioral Styles
This study largely confirms what we found before regarding DISC behavioral styles among salespeople, with some additional insights. Salespeople with more dominant behavioral styles (High D’s) perform better than those with low dominance traits. Why? The data shows:
High D’s are more likely to be confident in their sales skills.
High confidence in selling skills is a strong predictor of performance.
High D’s are more likely to use adaptive/consultative selling.
High C’s are less likely to use adaptive/consultative selling.
Bottom line: Use DISC behavioral profiles for recruitment and development. But, be careful: Some high SCs (low D) can be very competitive and have the ability to focus on goals. Confidence in selling skills is a much stronger predictor of performance than DISC behavioral styles. The good news is good sales training builds confidence.[ref] In other words, good salespeople are born, but you can also raise them.[/ref]
The Effect of Sales Training
Effective sales training helps salespeople know how to: (Average grade across all teams.) [ref] For measures, see: Sujan, Weitz, and Kumar (1994), “Learning Orientation, Working Smart and Effective Selling,” Journal of Marketing. [/ref]
When I feel that my sales approach is not working, I can easily change to another approach.
I like to experiment with different sales approaches.
I am very flexible in the selling approach I use.
I feel that most buyers can be dealt with in pretty much the same manner.*
I don’t change my approach from one customer to another. *
I use a set sales approach. *
I find it difficult to change my presentation style to certain buyers.*[/dropshadowbox]
Overall, reps positively rated sales training. But, being good is not good enough. The more profound effects on sales confidence are at the highest levels: We found training needs to be excellent (90+) to help reps exude confidence. The data also shows effective sales training increases goal clarity and adaptive selling skills. The latter has a huge (statistically speaking) effect on sales confidence.
Bottom line: Focus sales training on adaptive selling skills, particularly in dealing with difficult situations with critical customers. Include the adaptive selling skills scale to your recruiting toolbox.
Do Salespeople Deceive Themselves?
In a word, yes. Nearly 70% of the sales reps rated themselves higher on the very same questions we asked managers about each one. Some by a lot. In fact, on a scale ranging from -5 (much worse than others in the department) to +5 (much better than others in the department), 55% of reps rated themselves one point higher than their managers did on all items. About one-third rated themselves two whole points or higher than their managers did.
What does this matter? The strongest effect on sales performance and sales effort by far is the margin between self-evaluation and manager evaluation. Sales confidence, DISC profiles and effort all significantly help predict the manager’s performance evaluation. None come close to the effects of being in touch with reality. Those with perceptions closest to (furthest from) their managers are the best (worst) performers.
Bottom line: If one-third of reps are clueless about their performances and more than one half widely overestimate relative performance, how well are we communicating? Given industry turnover issues, we expect more intentional and consistent one-on-one professional development and career goal setting meetings would reduce the deception gap and improve performance.
Grit does not have a direct effect on sales performance, but does help predict effort and job satisfaction. Effort leads to performance. Satisfaction leads to low turnover.
DISC behavioral styles offer guidance in knowing who will succeed. However, since sales confidence improves with experience and training in adaptive selling, DISC profiles should be only one factor considered in hiring.
Our view is that the DISC is better suited to teach adaptive selling and to get people in the right seats on the bus. Further, the DISC scales exhibit poor psychometric dimensions–which we are refining. If your organization would like to participate in the next round of studies with improved DISC scales, grit measures, and our impression management scales (AKA BS Meter), please contact us here.
How Managers Can Use this Research
Based on conference calls to review the research with participants, some offered comments on action plans.
Rob Erwin, Director of Ticket Sales, Dallas Mavericks
This study gave our management some new concepts to consider with regards to recruiting and retaining a best in class staff. I intend to apply more questions during the interview process to discover the candidate’s measure of grit. I hope this will in turn help better predict their effort once they move past the honeymoon portion of their hiring. Separately, given the statistics on reps deceiving themselves, I will continue to evaluate how we can clearly communicate with our staff regarding their individual performances.
Geno Fata, Manager of Inside Sales, Arizona Diamondbacks
After reading “Grit” by Angela Duckworth last year, I’ve been increasingly curious as to how grit applies in a sports sales setting. My hunch was “grittier” sales reps would be more likely to succeed over their less gritty peers. It is valuable to know that in a sports sales setting, grit heavily influences both effort and job satisfaction, as those are two crucial indicators of success in our program.
We plan to use takeaways from this study in a few different ways – evaluating grit both in candidates and our current sales reps by administering the Grit Scale, and supplementing it with a few supporting questions that will either reinforce their Grit Score, or call it into question.
The study is also a great reminder of the importance of quality and on-going training, and regular perception vs. reality exercises between sales reps & managers – making sure our reps perceptions of their performances are on par with our evaluations of them.
Moving: From one sports/entertainment related position to another
Other stupendous feats of possible interest to readers.
In in this month’s newsletter we learned of:
S3 Track Rebranding & New Faculty
To better align the curriculum with the needs of the industry, Baylor S3 now offers three tracks: Ticket Sales, Strategic Partnerships & Branded Content, and CRM & Analytics. After completing her Ph.D. at Rutgers, Dr. Tyrha M. Lindsey-Williams joins the faculty in the Department of Marketing this fall to teach advertising & digital marketing as part of the partnerships track.
S3 Club Record
The S3 Club includes all junior & senior majors and underclassmen interested in S3. With 138 active members, we surpassed the previous high membership set the year before by over 50%. Thank you board members and alumni for your support!
Thanks to our partners for another great year placing S3 students in careers & internships. See who went where here.
Want to be involved next year? Register now for January 2018 Pro Day & Board Meetings! We are currently accepting new supporting and leadership partners.
AT&T Challenge Winners
As part of Pro Sales II with Dr. Lehnus, juniors teamed with AT&T to create strategic partnership solutions for the Dallas Mavericks to reach fans in Mexico. This year’s winners of the competition were Diane Siri, Dodge Bludau, Courtney Ulrich and Ian Young.
The Bright Futures Award goes to the male and female seniors who best exemplify the S3 values of WINS: Work ethic + Integrity + Networking + Spirit. Winners are honored at spring events, awarded plaques, and receive $1000 toward attending the Daniel Summit after completing one year in their careers in the business of sports.
Mitch Mann (2009) – Associate Athletic Director, Baylor Athletics
Tommy Wright (2011) – Marketing Sponsorship & Partnership Manager, Houston Space Center
StubHub sells a ticket at least once every second. Over 21 million unique highly qualified buyers visit StubHub every month. Last year (2016), StubHub sold over $4.2 billion in tickets. That total essentially places StubHub in a league by itself, comparable to the NBA or Premiere League and more than the total revenues of the NHL, Bundesliga or La Liga.
In this article we present three of these insights related to demographics, search habits and mobile use in ticket purchase. Next month we will follow with insights on geo-targeting, conversion to ticket plan buyers, and inventory management given the timing of purchase behavior.
Demographics of online ticket buyers
Knowing half the females in the DFW metroplex are Dallas Cowboys fans, the Cowboys launched www.5pointsblue.com to offer content written by female staff members. The content appeals to the female fan base, but a broader audience as well, generating 350,000+ monthly visits. Other properties would do well to emulate the initiative to serve its entire fan base in a way that meets needs and preferences.
As seen below, we see a slight shift in females buying online (43%), but more importantly the Average Order Value (AOV) increased among first time female buyers versus first time male buyers. As millennials overtook baby boomers as the largest generation this past year, so has the percentage of younger buyers. These young buyers may see concerts and other events as viable entertainment options to sports. Commensurately, we see more lower-income first-time buyers–who will be tomorrow’s potential season ticket holders. The question is: How are teams serving the buying needs of this younger segment that will translate into future ticket buying fans?
Ticket Search: Event, Team or Date?
Knowing how people search is one of the keys to successful Google AdWords campaigns. Which of these is most likely to show up in a relevant search?
Event (Cavs vs. Rockets)
Team (e.g., Cleveland Cavaliers) or artist (Justin Timberlake)
Date (Friday, December 1, 2017)
We might think new buyers typically want to see a specific event on a certain date. We would be wrong. Instead, buyers increasingly and foremost search for the team or artist, rather than having a specific event or date in mind. Furthermore, last minute purchases (33%) and on-the-go (not at home/office) are the major reasons for purchasing via mobile. So, if we want to reach people where they are–with phones in hand–we best be mobile and search-engine optimized for quick access.
Mobile First Strategy
In 2014, 41% of traffic and 20% of sales came via mobile for StubHub. Just two years later, 60% of traffic and 42% of sales came via mobile. In general, revenue from 2015 to 2016 is increasing via online purchases, but disproportionately via mobile in terms of tickets sold (+25%) and total sales (+44%) compared to tickets sold via desktop (-3%) and total sales (+10%). (See graphic at the top of this article.)
Expect the trend toward mobile to continue. In the past the majority of time spent on mobile was searching, but most purchases of goods and services were made on desktops. But, as StubHub and others with native apps improve the mobile experience, more will shift to mobile purchases. As seen below, the majority of purchases are still on desktops, but more bought via mobile devices and native apps in 2016 than 2015. The most mobile-friendly buyers are football (NCAA & NFL) fans, but the growth in mobile purchases will extend across leagues.
In short, the takeaway insights are:
Target females the way they consume content and make purchases.
Manage search engine campaigns aimed at team/artist searches, more so than event or date.
Optimize for mobile ticket purchases. If your mobile sales are not growing at the same rate as the market, you are not mobile optimized.
When do people buy? And what happens to average ticket price over time? We know over one-third now wait until the last 72 hours to purchase. To learn more, come back for next month’s release.
After arranging & supervising hundreds of sports internships for the last dozen or so years, Dr. Darryl Lehnus and I devised a system that works well for us.
Ideally, partners provide the internship with the same objective of developing and evaluating talent in view of future employment there or elsewhere. Our partners see intern successes as their successes, as it reflects on their abilities to train, motivate, and model excellent performance.
Among others, the Pittsburgh Pirates B.U.C.S Academy and the New York Mets are ahead of the game in organizing internships and recruiting to careers. While many teams and companies provide summer internships, the Houston Texans (sponsorships) and Houston Astros (CRM) provide 9-12 month postgraduate internships specifically for our graduates to gain more in-depth training before launching careers.
Initiate follow-up with interviews to (a) hire or (b) refer for hiring.
Five Not-So-Easy Steps
From a process standpoint, partners follow these five steps. We’ll explain each in turn.
Prepare students for careers.
Determine parameters & responsibilities.
Define, communicate and evaluate on criteria that predict success.
Hold students responsible.
Review insights & follow-through with students.
Prepare students for careers
Ask employers what they want. Continue to ask.
Too many prepare students for sports marketing or sports management jobs. The only problem is no entry level positions exist for “sports marketer” or “sports manager.” Entry level positions do exist in ticket sales, sponsorship sales & service/fulfillment, CRM, and analytics. Design coursework and programs accordingly.
Business schools have courses in professional selling, database management, statistics and predictive modeling, and data visualization (Excel, Tableau, etc.). Take advantage of these courses in planning curriculum requirements. When employers see you take them seriously, they’ll line up for your students.
Determine Parameters & Responsibilities
Once employers agree, we send them a link to an online form to identify the supervisor, time frame (start, finish, hours per week, pay or course credit), and responsibilities. Most likely you’ve already discussed this, but best to not be surprised at the end of the term that the internship didn’t include a vital part of what they needed to experience.
After selecting the type of internship, the employer completes the appropriate section for what the intern will do. Our forms are below.
Define, communicate and evaluate criteria for success
Every year the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) publish a list of attributes most desired of new hires. These could differ among some, but odds are they are the same. With a little adaptation, we use these for midterm and final evaluations by the intern’s direct supervisor.
Responses on the primary criteria (below) are shared with the intern in a meeting with the academic advisor. We also ask about punctuality, attitude, performance, and overall grade from the direct supervisor of the internship at the employer. The entire form may be downloaded here.
Sports Internship Evaluation Criteria
Specific to our own preparation and values, we ask students to be 2nd milers. When asked to do something (walk a mile), go above and beyond expectations (go the second mile). Supervisors rate the intern accordingly (below).
Hold students responsible
Students should perform well in the internship. We expect that.
We also expect them to reflect on what they learn. Keeping a daily or weekly journal is recommended.At the end of the term, students must submit the S3 Internship Report Form (click to download) regarding a weekly log of hours, assignments, volunteering, accomplishments, application of class material, issues (problems or challenges & resolutions), culture, behavioral adaptation, recommendations, and net promoter score rating for the internship.
Review insights & follow-through with students
Meet with each student to get his or her take on the evaluation provided in Step 3. Usually there are no surprises. Employers do a good job of picking up on areas for improvement that you’ve likely noticed in class. So, it’s nice to have someone else see it and say it.
Generally, these are great times to encourage students in careers. On occasion, you can use these to give appropriate kicks in the pants. We’ve seen these have fairly drastic effects on capable students who needed to get with the program. On occasion, you find some who need to find another program. The wide world of sports, perhaps the same as other industries (but we think more so),demands a high level of commitment. We help students by holding them to a high standard.
Providing good internship experiences takes effort on the part of the academic advisor, student, and employer. But, working together, internships are the foundation for successful careers. No class, book or assignment can substitute for on-the-job reality training.
The very best part of what we do is to see students succeed in their careers.
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Business intelligence is old school. Business analytics is new school. Sport business analytics is finally going to school. In the past decade, interest grew beyond the 100 or so nerds at the first MIT Sports Analytics Conference to sellout crowds (>3000 geeks and wannabes) today. At the same time, courses and programs have emerged to educate tomorrow’s sports business analysts.
In all fairness, I acknowledge a number of the chapter authors are associates. My intent, then, in this book review is to not treat them as I do my friends, but will instead try to be considerate and complimentary.
The Evolution & Impact of Business Analytics in Sport
The question, “What is analytics? Really?” is often raised among academics. Professors and data scientists tend to think of analytics as using advanced statistical techniques to model and predict behaviors based on (big) data. Practitioners may refer to analytics when they really mean reporting.
In the opening chapter overview of the text, Scott Bukstein states the core purpose of sport business analytics is “to convert raw data into meaningful, value-added and actionable information that enables sport business professionals to make strategic business decisions, which then result in improved company financial performance and a measurable and sustainable competitive advantage.” In short, analytics is any “data-driven process as well as any actionable insights derived from data.”
Consistent with this understanding, the book chapters provide good case examples of data-driven processes that produce actionable insights. In large part, many of the chapters read as a series of case studies with examples of how organizations implement analytics. The chapters provide instruction to understand what leading teams and companies do on a day-to-day basis, as well as propose thought-provoking ideas for practitioners.
In Chapter 2, Jay Riola offers replicable examples of how the Orlando Magic use customer data to target and engage fan segments through appropriate digital channels and devices. Other teams would do well to learn from the success of the Magic’s Fast Break Pass and season ticket holder app, as thoroughly explained by Jay in this chapter.
Using ticket pricing analytics, Troy Kirby does a great job explaining how the secondary market is the primary market, in Chapter 3. Troy makes the argument that a ticket may eventually evolve beyond its current revocable license legal status to a material good, allowing greater freedom for fans to use and resell however they wish. The practical upshot of these two chapters is teams must more quickly adapt to digital channels–whether owned by the team or others–to provide value to fans. Teams with NIH attitudes will suffer.
Data Management & Marketing
Ray Mathew offers a basic understanding of how teams use CRM to gather and analyze customer data for use in targeted marketing campaigns in Chapter 4. Since CRM coordinators are typical entry-level positions, interested learners should be motivated to self-learn, intern, or take courses in CRM to prepare for careers in data management in sports. This chapter provides a good foundation for students to understand if this is a viable career path for them.
Michael Farris provides an overview of the Aspire Group’s 8-point ticket marketing, sales and service philosophy in Chapter 5. Academic programs lacking courses in marketing strategy will benefit from the Aspire Group’s marriage of marketing with analytics. Programs housed in business schools will also appreciate founder Bernie Mullin‘s sound approach to management and marketing. The application of the model to the experiences of Georgia Tech are particularly insightful for NCAA programs. Plus, students in classes adopting this text will go into interviews with Aspire knowing what they’re all about!
Research & Applications
Chapter 6 leans closer to the professor or data scientist’s POV of business analytics. Michael Lewis, Manish Tripathi and Michael Byman address the importance of calculating, tracking, and managing customer lifetime value (CLT) and related functions of brand and fan equity. CLV is critical to model retention and seat-buying decisions. The authors present insights into NFL team’s fan equity and social media equity to pinpoint pricing and promotion opportunities. Updates among leagues are available on Michael Lewis’ blog at Emory University (follow link here).
John Breedlove illustrates how teams use analytics to improve the performance of sales reps with targeted campaigns to open the door to warm leads. In this chapter (7), John illustrates the importance of keeping analytics simple to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Combining public (secondary) and private (primary) data can provide insights to make decisions, as when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used public geodemographic information to help set prices and target customer segments. This chapter provides a good explanation and case study for A/B testing.
Digital Media Analytics
Duke University serves its huge fan base through its crowdsourced data visualization platform know as #DukeMBBStats. Ryan Craig provides an engaging explanation of the process Duke followed to grow the platform. Ryan’s chapter (8) offers direction for other NCAA and pro organizations to create fan profiles to authentically and personally engage fans with effective marketing strategies to enhance renewals.
Michael Lorenc and Alexandra Gonzalez present a fascinating chapter (9) on leveraging digital marketing to drive revenue, relying on data from their employer (Google) to paint a picture of today’s digital buyer. Evidence shows the potential ROI on digital marketing informed by audience, acquisition, and behavioral and conversions data via Google Analytics. You’ll be analyzing your own website and digital marketing before you finish the chapter.
Sponsorship Valuation & Affinity Groups
Adam Grossman and Irving Rein provide one of the best summaries I’ve read on the state-of-the art in sponsorship valuation. [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”200px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]”Where audience analysis often fails is the inability to recognize that it is never static.” ~Grossman & Rein[/dropshadowbox] The authors provide descriptions of inherent valuation (profits generated by sponsorship assets), relative valuation (comparing CPMs across channels), and comparable valuation (comparing the price of assets offered by different properties), as well as how best to communicate to particular audiences. In addition to teaching at Northwestern (along with Professor Rein), Adam founded Block Six Analytics, using analytics and technology to help brands and teams generate revenue.
Co-editor C. Keith Harrison of the text, along with Suzanne Malia Lawrence, introduce the concept of “live analytics” in Chapter 11 to study and understand affinity groups and develop marketing plans accordingly. Live analytics, in this case, means distributing surveys during events, collecting and analyzing the results, and then creating innovative ways to engage fans. They provide an example of the Gridiron Girls football clinic at Montana State University. Another good example at the pro level is the Dallas Cowboys 5-Points Blue designed for female fans, based on extensive primary research and analysis of other NFL teams to differentiate the affinity group.
Talent Analytics & Data-Driven Storytelling
Brandon Moyer explains how the Aspire Group and others use analytics to hire and develop talent in the business of sports. At Aspire, they look for employees with WHOPPPP:
Honesty, integrity & character
Openness to learning
Passion for sport business & sales
Potential for leadership
This chapter (12) provides other examples of how teams and companies (should) use data-driven approaches to hire and evaluate personnel.
Ryan Sleeper illustrates a variety of data visualization approaches to enhance storytelling–or communication–with the intended audience in Chapter 13. Effective visualization reduces time to insight, increases accuracy and improves engagement. The lesson here, again, is: Keep it simple. Ryan offers engaging examples of how to hook an audience–like converting a league standings table into a map to quickly gauge relative team performance. See more of his Tableau tips at his website. While we are at it, we strongly recommend taking a course in Tableau if your goal is to succeed in the business of sports.
Michael Mondello provides a concluding chapter on how to teach a sports business analytics course. Dr. Mondello provides helpful examples of his approach to class relative to content delivery, class assignments, and exams.
The approach in the Sport Sponsorship & Sales (S3) program is to combine the Sport Business Analytics text (most Mondays) followed by lab instruction (most Wednesdays) using Microsoft Dynamics 365 to learn CRM and marketing automation processes reliant upon analytics. Microsoft IT Imagine Academy provides video instruction for learners at member Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance schools. Code Academy offers free courses on related data management topics, such as SQL.
To assist others using the text, below is a list of key terms for each chapter. To give the reader of this review an idea of the concepts and content, the first and last chapter are complete with definitions. The first chapter outline also provides tips on studying, just in case some students are still trying to figure that out. Other chapters contain key terms/concepts only. Feel free to download, edit and use for your own class purposes.