Through the years, colleagues have reached out asking for a big idea to help them generate revenue and excitement for their team and/or organization. Everyone wants to have the attention for being the first person to implement an idea, but they also want the security of knowing that it’s going to be successful before they do it. While it’s almost impossible to guarantee something is going to be hit with your fans, my answer to this is simple. Research. You can eliminate a lot of the guesswork, and in turn the risk, by truly understanding your fans.
I created this blog as a forum to share marketing ideas, good and bad, in an effort to generate ideas that will grow the game of Women’s Basketball. So if you see an idea here that you want to replicate, the first step is to do the research. Will this idea work for your fans? What tweaks are necessary to fit your brand?
For example, years ago when I was working at Northwestern, my staff and I attended a session at the NACMA Convention that showed how having tailgates before your basketball games would increase student attendance. There were several schools in all types of climates that had the attendance numbers to prove that this idea works. But as we talked about trying this out, we went back to the research, which told us that the number one reason Northwestern students don’t attend basketball games is because of the time commitment. If this is the case, adding an event that will take even more time away from their studies probably wasn’t going to yield the same results.
So instead, we created a Pregame Study Hall. Sure that sounds like the exact opposite of a fun tailgate, but it’s an event that had the best chance of success because when making a sale, you need to provide the customer with something that eliminates their problems. So when they said they weren’t willing to waste 90 minutes of study time waiting for the shuttle buses before and after the game, we took the essence of the tailgate idea and tweaked it.
We tested this idea out at the Men’s Basketball games by incentivizing them to take the early shuttle buses to study at the arena where free food and drinks were flowing. We all know that students love free food, and we saw our weeknight attendance increase on the nights we had the Pregame Study Halls.
As we talked with these students, they said that doing well in school was just part of the problem. They also needed the opportunities that would open the doors to get jobs after graduation. And boom, Networking Night was born. Each Networking Night featured a different careers, including doctors, lawyers, business and sports, which were even more successful than the Pregame Study Halls.
We won a NACMA award that year, and it’s an idea that is still implemented today at the men’s games. In fact, Darren Rovell came in town last year for the Social Media Networking Night. If you build something that’s catered to your fans, they will come.
These stories encompass why I started this blog. An idea always gets better when you have people to bounce ideas off of in real time. Ideas that work for the men’s team might not work for the women, so let’s start sharing our experiences in an effort to create some of the best promotions in the country. The more we share, the less risk we take when implementing a new idea, especially a big idea like Kansas State giving away bacon at a Women’s Basketball game.
These are the ideas that get people talking. Not only were the fans talking about bacon, but it sparked an article by ESPNW asking, Does Women’s Basketball Need Gimmicks to Sell the Game? This is a great read that tells both sides of the story, and the bottomline is when done as part of your overall marketing strategy, the effects can be felt all season rather than just one night.
What do you think?
What’s the craziest promotion you’ve ever implemented? What promotions came out of digging deeper into your fan research? Comment below!
Tracie Hitz has 16 years of experience working in the sports industry, which includes college, professional, agency and association. If you want to be a guest blogger, email her at TracieHitz@gmail.com, and join the conversation on Twitter (@TracieHitz), using #WBBmarketing throughout the year.