SportsBiz Madness: 2021 Case Study Tournament (Final Four Edition)

We continue to be very impressed with the work from our competing students for our fifth annual SportsBiz Madness case study tournament. 

In the “Elite Eight” round, students were asked to build a social media campaign in a ticket sales push for their favorite professional sports team. The effort all eight remaining teams put forth was evident, and selecting which schools would advance was very tough.

Unfortunately, just four teams will move on in the tournament for the chance to be crowned 2021 case study champs. Here is a recap of the elite eight round results and a look at who will be moving on to the Final Four!

HONORABLE MENTION:

Carle Place High School, New York

Students at Carle Place HS chose to create a social media ticket marketing strategy for the San Diego Padres. Some really cool ideas here from a content perspective. In particular, the utilizing the story feature on Instagram to host fan votes like what event will happen first in today’s game, a Tatis home run or a Snell strikeout. That’s a great way to keep fans engaged. “Favorite moments” in a bracket style fan vote is a fun idea as well, and perhaps there could even be some interesting opportunity to monetize some of those moments to help the club generate some revenue. Great job Carle Place High!

Flower Mound High School, Texas

Perhaps not surprisingly, Flower Mound students chose to develop a social sales plan for the Dallas Cowboys. One idea that really stood out was the inclusion of “experiences” with certain ticket packages. These experience packages would be promoted on Facebook and would command a higher price point. Featured experiences featured as part of Flower Mound’s “interactive” ticket packages would include things like access for fans to an exclusive tailgate outside the stadium, reservations at the iconic restaurant that the Cowboys players run through before games, and opportunities to watch pre-game on the sidelines for an up-close experience with the players. Excellent job by Flower Mound students as well from a research perspective, determining which social media platform would be most appropriate for the different types of ticket packages they plan to offer. Outstanding effort from FMHS!

Fruitport High School, Michigan

Fruitport High School students created a social sales plan for the Detroit Tigers. They did a nice job identifying which social platforms would be most effective in reaching their target audience, and building ticket promotions accordingly. Love the idea of tapping into the concept of fandom and creating a “superfan” promotion. From the Fruitport student report: “The Superfan Contest:  Like, Post, Share and Win!: Win a Superfan merchandise pack that includes  Detroit Tiger merchandise (t-shirt, drawstring bag, masks, water bottle, lanyard) and 20% off a Detroit Tigers baseball game ticket. Spectators will participate on social media and post their Superfan Selfies on Instagram with the hashtag “#TigerSuperfan.” Really nice job Fruitport High School!

Ellicottville Central, New York

Students at Ellicottville Central School chose to build a social media ticket sales plan for the Buffalo Bills. It was clear that these students did a lot of research re: covid protocols (which was one of the requirements for this case study), and determined a ticket sales strategy accordingly. Given the limitations with fewer fans being allowed to attend games, there were some great ideas here…it really shows how in tune Ellicottville students are with what teams have actually had to manage throughout this pandemic from a ticketing perspective. For example, providing tickets to healthcare workers was something a lot of teams did this year, including at the Super Bowl. Promoting everything through social media was well executed. Nice job Ellicottville Central!

THE FINAL FOUR:

Pinelands Regional High School, New Jersey

Two-time champion Pinelands Regional just continues to bring it in this competition. Some REALLY good ideas here from PRHS students to help boost ticket sales for the Tampa Bay Rays with a social media marketing campaign, along with a great plan for fan safety in addressing how the team will handle covid protocols.

Some highlights from PRHS fan safety plan:

  • Implementation of staggered seating pods on game days to ensure fans are social distancing
  • Fans and stadium workers will be required to wear face coverings to enter the stadium, and temperature checks for fans as they enter using special thermal cameras and sensors
  • Contactless stadium entry, cashless concessions & team shops
  • Customers will need to use credit or debit cards or cash apps (those patrons without access to those options will be directed to kiosks that allow cash to be converted into preloaded “RAYS PAYS” card)
  • QR codes be placed on the seat backs throughout the stadium so that fans can access concession menus and gift shop items, pay for their purchases at their seat and then have food runners bring the items to the patrons. This will help keep people socially distant and limit people gathering on lines and wandering around the concourse.

Some highlights from PRHS ticket marketing plan:

  • Via social media, offering live streams, behind the scenes looks and Q&A sessions with Rays players and staff with ticket sales promotions being offered during these sessions
  • “Inside Pitch” program exclusively for fans who buy a full or half season ticket package which includes monthly exclusive live stream Q&A sessions, with Rays’ General Manager
  • Ramping up a content strategy to feature one of the team’s most popular players, Ji-Man-Choi, and the team mascot to keep fans engaged and aware of game day promotions and “shoppable” opportunities to purchase tickets at a discount through social media platforms

Also, great idea to connect the promotions strategy to sponsors, recognizing the importance of generating revenue with fewer fans at the stadium during a pandemic year. Recognizing the impact the pandemic would have on ticket renewals was next-level thinking, appreciated seeing a plan in place for addressing that concern as well.

Once again, an amazing job by Pinelands Regional High School!

Green Run High School, Virginia

One of two “rookies” in this year’s competition to advance to the Final Four, Green Run HS students chose to develop a social sales plan for the Washington Nationals. Just as Major League Baseball officials navigate the pandemic and its impact on attendance, Green Run students were required to face the same challenge with this case study. GRHS stepped up with a masterful plan for creating the best possible experience at the park while maximizing revenue through ticket sales.

The key to the success of Green Run’s plan? Consistency. Regular posts featuring engaging content. A Snapchat post on every single game day featuring whatever promotion they were running. A TikTok challenge to start the season, starring one of the team’s best and most popular players. Game day tweets encouraging fans to post their favorite plays from the day’s action with offers for discounts on tickets to an upcoming game for the best tweets. All excellent ways to not only engage the fan base but also to increase ticket sales.

Some great promotion ideas here too! A few favorites:

  • THE VAC PACK: The Washington Nationals want to encourage all members of our community to get vaccinated against COVID 19. Season ticket holders : Show a vaccination card and receive 1 Free ticket for a friend to use at any home game this season.Though 1 is FREE, it encourages another game to come to and bringing more people.
  • The “You’re vOUTcher!” Meal Plan:This plan allows you to sit together with your family and all family members(up to 5) will receive a free meal “vOUTcher”.
  • Fans will have the opportunity for unique fan experiences and access to limited edition items. Fans who purchase season tickets, or  22,42, or 82 classic ticket plans and group sale tickets will get a VIP exclusive deal. They will be able to access a VIP area in the Clubhouse Team Store to shop and purchase exclusive souvenirs not sold anywhere else.
  • Mask giveaway: Team-branded masks will be given out to the first 2500 fans entering the game. Fans can follow us on twitter to view the mask for each home game.There will be daily tweets promoting the importance of public mask wearing, social distancing and regular handwashing. 
  • NATScination baseball card promotion involves our free vaccination pop up event at 1 designated game. Fans can show a vaccination card and get an exclusive signed baseball card. Fans can visit the NATScination tent up to 2 hours prior to game time. The first 3,000 fans showing their vaccination card will gain free entrance for the game. For all future games, fans who are NATScinated can use a special line for earlier entry into the games by showing their NATScination card along with their purchased ticket.

Fantastic job Green Run High School, really loved the creativity!

Grant High School, Oregon

The other “rookie” in this year’s competition is Grant High School who created a social ticket sales strategy for the Portland Trail Blazers. Grant High School students did an excellent job weaving promotions and ticket sales efforts with fan safety and covid protocols in a fun yet effective manner. Because the team is limited to just 25% of capacity at the stadium, GHS students built the entire campaign around that theme. A couple of highlights:

  • Playing off of the theme of 25% Capacity and 25% Off tickets, fans who buy tickets with a special social media link to purchase game tickets will be entered into a raffle with a chance to win a #25 classic Jerome Kersey jersey (one of the most popular players in franchise history).
  • The “social distancing special” campaign on the team’s Instagram and Twitter feeds promotes social distancing, but ties in with a ticket sales effort by asking fans to post a photo on their social feeds and tag the team anytime a Blazers play crosses up a defender. Fans who post and tag as part of the promotion are then eligible for a 25% discount on tickets.

Overall, great ideas from Grant High School. Really well done!

Downers Grove High School, Illinois

Students at Downers Grove High School chose the Chicago White Sox for this case study. Their social sales plan was LOADED with creative ideas and sound strategies for boosting sales, all while keeping fans safe during the ongoing pandemic.

One thing that really stood out in the DGNHS campaign was the team’s effort to market to a younger audience, something MLB teams have been struggling with in recent years. DGNHS students chose to embrace personality, promoting things like bat flips and on-field celebrations. The social media strategy aligns well with the target audience, as does the campaign slogans of “The Time Is Now” and “Change the Game.” Students chose to really push “The Time Is Now” narrative to encourage fans not to wait before purchasing their ticket packages for the year. Very smart! “The Time Is Now” will also serve the franchise well as a rallying cry for the team’s social justice plan with a social media campaign “The Time Is Now For Equality.”

Overall, fantastic job breaking down what content will be shared through each platform to maximize reach and fan engagement. Perhaps the most unique idea in this round of the competition, however, was the inclusion of Spotify as part of the campaign. Using Spotify to bring “Sounds of the Stadium” to the homes of fans is a really fun idea, and connecting the platform to game day walk-up music could be a great way to engage fans. Tying those in with game day ticket sales promotions could help to give sales a boost.

Loved the Twitter MEMES, TikToks and YouTube content as well. Stoking the flames in the Cubs’ rivalry will certainly boost levels of fan engagement. Pairing a ticket to the Cubs’ series with another game that would typically be harder to sell could be a strategy that pays off as well. Also, NEXT LEVEL stuff from DGNHS students to have actual, real-life posts for all your social platforms…clearly students put a lot of time and effort into this case study!

Overall, a very comprehensive plan…super impressive work from Downers Grove North High School!

UPDATED BRACKET:

Case Study Competition: Final Four is Set!

“Elite Eight” Competition Recap

As SCC’s case study competition moved into the head-to-head tournament round, remaining teams were asked to create a fan engagement strategy for the Northwestern men’s basketball team.  Following the most successful season in the program’s history, students were tasked with the goal of leveraging the team’s on-court success to boost ticket sales, merchandise sales and sponsorship through fan engagement.

We were really impressed with all of the entries as each team demonstrated a very clear understanding of all the sports business principles outlined in this particular case study. Each team presented a very compelling call to action for fans through social activations, sponsor engagement and advertising campaigns.  Those who advanced, however, did the best job focusing on developing strategies for the off-season that would continue to tap into the momentum created by the Wildcats’ fantastic 2016-17 season.

While we’re sad to see four more outstanding student groups eliminated from our competition, we are looking forward to seeing what the remaining teams bring to the table in response to our third case study.  The tournament’s next case study challenges students from an entrepreneurial perspective so it will be exciting to see what they come up with.  Stay tuned! Continue reading

The Social Sixteen (Infographic)

Last year, the North Carolina men’s basketball Twitter account had 303,000 followers when they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.  This year?  Nearly 575,000, an impressive increase to say the least.  Even more impressive is the increase seen by their rival Duke who enjoyed an astonishing 503% increase from last year at this time. While the Blue Devils were stunned by South Carolina and eliminated before they could reach the Sweet Sixteen, a million new Twitter followers in the last year might serve as a nice consolation prize.

But where do the rest of the teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament stack up?  This infographic, created with the help of sports marketing students from Helena High School in Montana, provides a nice summary as we gear up for the Sweet Sixteen!

Social Sixteen: Which Remaining Teams Have Biggest Twitter Following? (Infographic)

The fact that Syracuse basketball, ranked by Forbes last year as the sixth most valuable NCAA basketball program in the country, has just  25,000 Twitter followers could be the upset of the tournament.  An unexpected Final Four run could change all that.  Case in point?  4,000 new followers this week alone.

But where do the rest of the teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament stack up?  This infographic, created by sports marketing students from Helena High School and Capital High School in Montana, provides a nice summary as we gear up for the Sweet Sixteen!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Twitter (and other social media platforms) have a unique ability to manufacture “holidays”, finding reasons to celebrate something just about every day.  With today being Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it is only fitting that “DrSeussDay” is currently trending on Twitter.  Perhaps not coincidentally, #WednesdayWisdom” is also trending.

I love this.  If you think about it, Dr. Seuss should be credited with the creation of the first “motivational poster” through his illustrations and wisdom shared in his books.  Today provides a seamless and fun opportunity for teams to create motivational messaging to share with their fan base.  An inspirational post is more powerful than traditional content in the sense that it creates an emotional connection to the brand.  Tying a message to something as simple as #DrSeussDay and #WednesdayWisdom creates an authentic and organic means for reaching fans of all ages.

Surprisingly, few teams have jumped on the opportunity thus far.  A quick scan of my timeline shows a limited number of posts with #DrSeuss hashtags.  Considering how many teams participate in anything from #NationalToastDay to #LEAPDAY, it seems a bit surprising that more teams haven’t taken advantage of the opportunity today’s “holiday” provides.

That said, here are a few examples of how the sports business business world is taking a moment to pay tribute to the great Dr. Seuss.  If you think about it, Dr. Seuss is actually the originator of the “motivational poster” we see so often in sports through the illustrations and wisdom shared through his books.

The Carolina Panthers’ mascot is all in on #DrSeussDay!

Dartmouth Hockey took a moment to recognize Dr. Seuss as one of the school’s most influential alumni.

The Houston Astros posted a motivational image for fans.  This seems like a slam dunk idea for any team today.

The Houston Texans posted a vine with a player hopping out of the tunnel to start a game with a reference to a Seuss classic, “Hop on Pop.”  Adding visuals like vines and gifs can create an even stronger emotional connection with fans.

This image was posted on NBA on TNT’s Twitter account with the caption “Starring Splash 1 and Splash 2” in tribute to the Golden State Warriors’ “Splash Brothers.” Pretty clever.
Creating content worth sharing through social channels is always a challenge.  Creativity can be key when trying to capture the attention of fans so kudos to those who have jumped on the #DrSeussDay train today.

#BeFrank Player of the Year Campaign

The Wisconsin Badgers have a done a great job all year promoting Frank Kaminsky as a NCAA Wooden Award candidate (given to the nation’s top player each year).  The marketing efforts along with his play have helped solidify him as the leading candidate to win the award.

The Badgers athletics program has been updating a unique microsite (promoted through their various social channels using the hashtag #BeFrank) linked to their athletics homepage all season long (http://www.uwathletics.com/befrank).  Adding the social element has given the campaign more legs as it enables brands and media outlets to get involved (see the screenshot featuring tweets from Champs Sports and Sporting News below).  It also, allows them to maximize fan engagement such as their efforts on Instagram to congratulate Kaminsky on being named as a finalist for the award and share Vines featuring highlights throughout the season.

The site itself includes a brief video, media clips, accomplishments throughout the season, including his academic achievements and commentary regarding his character.  There is no question that having a player from your program win any award, particularly something as prestigious as the Heisman or Wooden award.  It certainly gives the program’s brand a big boost, especially on the heels of having another player from the program finish as runner up in this year’s Heisman race in Melvin Gordon (the Badgers used the hashtag #MelvinMoment to promote his campaign).  It is always interesting to see how an Athletics program promotes individual success but this particular campaign, to be frank, looks to be a winner.

 

Leveraging Free Agency (DeMarco Murray Edition)

After withstanding a firestorm of criticism for their free agent moves thus far in free agency, the Eagles made a major splash on the FA market with the signing of rival Dallas Cowboys’ RB DeMarco Murray.  To maximize the publicity generated by the move, the team naturally took to almost all of their social platforms with Murray related posts.  The only omission was Pinterest (screenshot below).

Interesting to note that the team now carries three explosive running backs on the roster and they parlayed that into the hashtag “Legion of Zoom”, a spinoff of the nickname for the Seattle Seahawks defense who is dubbed the Legion of Boom.  At the time of this blog post, that Instagram image alone had already received 28,500 likes and nearly 1,500 comments.

All in all, pretty well measured campaign to cap off an exciting free agency for the Eagles as they continue to overhaul the entire team…they have easily been the most talked about NFL franchise in the last week…both in the media and through social channels.  Check out the gallery below for more…

 

Leveraging Free Agency

How are teams leveraging their moves in free agency to generate excitement with their fan base?  Look at the Bills’ trade for LeSean McCoy as an example.  Look how many times these posts have been favorited and shared.  Notice the push to sell jerseys already.  No doubt they’ve seen an uptick in ticket sales as well, depending on available inventory.  Curious to see how other teams respond after a wild first day of free agent signings…

 

Twitter in the Classroom

With school officially back in session, we wanted to dig into the archives and re-post a previous commentary on Twitter in the classroom…the post was an informal interview with Mr. Ryan Durrett, the sports and entertainment marketing teacher at Lake Oswego High School in Oregon, conducted by former SCC intern Griffin Booth (now with the LA Galaxy) and we explored Twitter as an educational tool.  

Be sure to follow SCC @sportsbized and @BizDRett!

SCC:  Thanks for taking some time to share some of your best practices with us Ryan.  If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been teaching?

RD: I started teaching marketing seven years ago at Lake Oswego High School, eventually  helping to integrate a sports marketing class into the curriculum.  I also teach advertising, advanced marketing, and AP economics.

SCC:  How do you use Twitter as an instructional tool?

RD:  I started using Twitter about two years ago for my sports marketing class because sports and entertainment brands, specific artists, entertainers, athletes…they are all on there.  It is a huge media outlet for all of them and provides them with a great platform for connecting with fans (consumers).  I felt that, if that is where the industry is, that is where we need to be as well.

I primarily engage students by re-tweeting current events/developments within the industry and by looking for relevant stories that might be help illustrate some of the concepts we have explored in the classroom.

Students are always active with social media platforms. If you can have them have in contact with sports and entertainment marketing outside of classroom, that’s just more teaching for them beyond the normal class period.

SCC:  Do your students follow you on Twitter?

I don’t make them follow me because I don’t want to force interest from the students.  I think it’s important that the whole social media component is natural and authentic.  I’ve found that doing contests/fun trivia helps to really keep students engaged and active. I try to keep things pretty simple and avoid posting links to long articles, unless it is something I deem to carry particular relevance to whatever we’re currently discussing in class.

Continue reading