How sponsorships can add to the fan experience

How sponsorships can add to the fan experience
by Lynda Carrier-Metz – December 2015

What is the first sponsorship question?

The first question we ask as we develop each partnership with a sports team is: How can our involvement benefit our customers? The second question quickly follows: Will this partnership ultimately drive sales for our company?

When I was in college (quite a while ago), the athletic director needed to ramp things up. He brought in camels to race during the half-time entertainment.  I don’t recall a sponsor. It was a desperate act to get fans in the stands.  It was high on the shock-level, but not very interactive.

That was then…

When we signed our first sports contract a couple of decades ago, stadiums had limited sponsor signage. Game time sponsor entertainment was sparse. Sponsors were less sophisticated about how to leverage opportunities with sports teams.

Fast forward to 2016: Schools push back on sports management companies. They say there are:

  1. Too many signs,
  2. Too many (2-3) promotions in each break, and
  3. Too many spectators numbed to the exposure overload.

How can a sponsorship add to the fan experience?

What can we do? How can we add to the fan experience–rather than add to the over-commercialization of sports? Both seller and sponsor are responsible for assuring they enhance the overall event.  Otherwise, everyone loses.  Fans stop paying attention. Sponsor messages don’t cut through the clutter. Contracts aren’t renewed.

This situation happened to us with a long term partnership. We nearly walked away from future sponsorship. The cost was high. We didn’t believe the impact was what we once had.  Both parties reviewed what we were doing. We saw what was working and what wasn’t.  After months of discussing solutions, we found new events fans would enjoy with ways to focus our media to cut through. How?

  1. Own the opening game segment. Own the beginning of the game, both on TV and in-stadium.  During our post season review we determined the in-stadium activation was a really fun promotion. The kid-fans experience was great. But, awareness was low.  The promotion ran prior to the game before many spectators were in the stands to see it.  Rather than ditching a good idea the kids enjoyed, we did the promotion and ran a recorded “recap” immediately prior to the game.  Fans now in their seats see kids having a great time. Our brand is associated with that fun fan experience that can only occur by attending the game.
  2. Activate post-game purchases by tying it to the results of the game.  While supporting their team, fans know if the team wins. When they do, they win a way to buy our product for less.  We increased views and received only favorable comments on Facebook throughout the football season. We used social media and traditional media to promote. The sales results are great. (We lucked out with a near perfect season. If the team isn’t expected to win many games, make the tie-in connected to points scored or some other favorable outcome.)

These kinds of approaches work because we connected the promotion with (a) a clearly identifiable event that happens every game and (b) an enjoyable consumer (re)action. As a sponsor, align your brand with the team to offer a better product by focusing on how to make the fan experience more enjoyable.

Cover photo courtesy of Dustin Holmes.

I’ve got the golden ticket! Breaking down the anatomy of a ticket sales promotion

I’ve got the golden ticket! Breaking down the anatomy of a ticket sales promotion
by Ken Troupe – May 2013

NO, not really.  The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers have the original Golden Ticket.  What we at the Phoenix Coyotes saw was an idea that worked for another team, so we developed a version that would work for us.

It has always been my thought that to be good at the business of selling tickets you need to always be looking for and trying to develop the next “great idea.”  In my eye, the next “great idea” can be something truly original or something you saw work (or not work) for another team.  The latter was the case here with the Coyotes GOALden Ticket.Phoenix Coyotes Goalden Ticket

The Golden Gopher’s Golden Ticket was based around the idea that if you saw the Gophers Men’s basketball team lose at home your ticket was voided.   They sold some packages, but they also got a tremendous amount of buzz, and created exposure for their program.  We took the idea and adapted as our own with three main focus points.

    1. We wanted to develop a ticket package to help drive sales over the last 10 games of our season, which are games that traditionally we struggle with.
    2. We looked at the GOALden Ticket as an excellent branding tool to create some buzz within our market and possibly nationally.
    3. We continually work to find ideas to help fill our building which also increases the demand and perceived value of our season tickets.

A Golden Incentive Plan

Emphasize potential savings. We built incentives around the Coyotes version of the GOALden Ticket to encourage our fans to attend as many games as possible.  The package centered on the number of goals allowed at home emphasizing the “potential” value/savings the holder of a GOALden Ticket may receive.

We offered a five goal package for $100 and a twenty-five goal package for $250.  We picked a seating area with the smallest percentage of season ticket holder in a lower level section normally listed with a gate price of $75.  If we had given up five goals that first game, those folks with the 5-goal package would had seen one game for $100.  As it turned out we surrendered five goals over three games, so the average ticket price ended up at $33.33 a seat and a great value for our fans.

Promote additional attendance. As of today we have given up fifteen total goals over eight  games, so it appears that our 25-goal GOALden Ticket buyers will see all 10-games. That works out to the great value of $25 a game.  Additionally we added an element to encourage buyers to attend each of our games: If GOALden ticket plan buyers see a shutout the team will provide extra tickets to the last regular season game of the year.

Distribute via multiple channels. We marketed the GOALden Ticket via an email blast, the use of a variably printed postcard to past season ticket buyers (5-6 years back), a purchased list of recent new movers from hockey markets, a strong social media push and newsletter/press release inclusion.

The GOALden Ticket ended up being a tremendous win for us, selling around 200 packages for $35,000 in revenue, and another $10,000 in revenue coming from other packages that resulted from call campaign to past STHs.

What’s your idea?

Now, of course, the challenge becomes to find that next big idea and adapt it as our own.   Tell us what’s worked for you in the comment section below and tweet @KTsportsmarket and @BaylorS3.