With just one sports marketing challenge remaining (digital marketing) before we crown a champion in our third annual sports marketing competition, the standings have been updated as we head into the Thanksgiving Day NFL games.Â It is shaping up to be a wild finish!
One of our favorite things about this competition is seeing not only how well our students grasp fundamental sports business concepts, but the effort, enthusiasm and creativity that goes into each response to our sports marketing challenges.Â One of the best challenges for demonstrating that creativity is the ticket sales, promotion and sponsorship challenge…and the students did not disappoint, incorporating elements from three different chapters of our textbook while demonstrating an understanding of the importance of the sales and service function in managing a professional sports franchise.Â There were so many unique and fun ideas.Â We also loved seeing the mock-ups of actual tickets that their franchise would be distributing to fans…several pretty cool designs this year!
There were some great giveaway ideas as well…here were a few favorites:
- South Texas Wranglers:Â Gym memberships for the New Year’s Day game to help fans follow through with their resolutions
- Orlando Ducks:Â Ducks branded Bose mini-bluetooth speakers (Bose is a sponsor)
- Alaska Avatars:Â Â Team branded Knit wool caps sponsored by North Face
- Alabama Everglades:Â Replica Super Bowl rings celebrating their championship from the previous season
- Boise Spuds:Â NFL Play 360 / Spuds branded eye black stickers for kids under the age of 14 (would love to see this as an actual NFL promotion with every team!)
- Wichita Stealth:Â Stealth branded Santa hats for the team’s Christmas Day game vs. the Salt Lake Swarm
As we have seen throughout the competition, another fantastic jobÂ by all of our competing schoolsâ€¦bummer we have just one challenge remaining this season!
Here are a few highlights from the ticket sales, promotion and sponsorship challenge:
San Diego Sharks (Atwater HS / CA):
Wow Sharks front office!Â We were absolutely blown away by the advanced data collection strategy detailed in your response to this challenge.Â Utilizing “target software” and collecting website cookies to gather fan data is some serious next-level thinking, really impressive…and without a doubt, such a strategy will help to identify target consumers, ultimately helping your franchise to boost ticket sales.Â
We also really thoughtÂ your plan for increasing demand for some games with “limited time” ticketing offers was smart, and hosting “watch parties” for the team’s away games is a great strategy for maximizing revenues for the franchise.
London Guards (Carl Sandburg HS / IL):
Love the idea of finding a sponsor for each game (props to the Orlando Ducks as well for applying the same concept) as part of the franchise effort to maximize revenue through sponsorship sales.Â Really cool strategy to provide fans with these game day informational print pieces (branded w/ sponsor logos) to communicate key information to fans relevant to the game day experience.
Most teams in the competition recognized the importance of offering smaller ticket packages for fans to help alleviate the financial and time pressures associated with full season tickets.Â In the case of the London Knights in particular however, smaller packages will provide a fantastic opportunity to introduce new fans in a new market to the product..so really well done.
Also liked the idea of making sure to connect fans with sponsor brand through social channels by tagging a sponsor (Pepsi) with a branded hashtag (#PepsiGuards).Â Overall, really nice response to this challenge from the London Guards front office!
San Antonio OutlawsÂ (Crook County HS / TX):
Thought it was a really fun idea to giveaway “special edition”Â coolers for fans, weaving in a nice promotion that benefits fans AND team sponsor (would like to see the sponsor logo on the coolers as well though)…
Also, really nice job with focusing on group ticket sales as part of your overall strategy and not simply relying on game day promotions and ticket packages to fill the stadium.Â REALLY loved the recognition of the opportunity targeting youth, church and community organizations with group sales plan to help put butts in seats…ALWAYS an effective strategy for almost ANY sports team.
Like several other teams in this competition, really nice job with the development of your promotions calendar for home games by including a nice mix of both cause related promotions and those promotions that will help boost attendance while maximizing sales of concessions and team merchandise.Â Â
Fantastic job with this challenge by the San Antonio Outlaws front office.Â Well done!
Omaha Outlaws (Hinsdale Central / IL):
Really nice job recognizing how relationships with sponsors can provide a ticket sales boost while adding value for corporate partners.Â Promoting ticket packages at local Omaha Steaks stores and including Omaha Steaks products with certain ticket packages to add value to “premium packages” is a really smart strategy.
Loved some of the planned giveaways for Omaha Outlaws promotional events…rally towels, lunch boxes and team gear always provide a great incentive for fans to come out to the stadium.Â The pop socket giveaway, however, is brilliant and totally unique…not sure how many teams are currently doing promotions that include a pop socket giveaway at the door but they all should be!
Some other great ideas in here as well.Â Always a good plan to create referral programs that incentivize existing ticket holders for encouraging other fans to purchase ticket packages.Â The social media “contests” to engage fans sound like a hit in boosting both fan engagement and sales.Â Creative, unique and fun…excellent work from the Outlaws’ front office once again!
San Antonio RoughridersÂ (Grapevine HS / TX):
Incredible detail w/ the season ticket planning, including the identification of season ticket benefits to add value to packages that offer more incentive to purchase tickets for all eight home games.Â Really cool season ticket flyer, LOVED that you took the time to include franchises/logos from our competition.Â Nice touch!Â Shout out as well to the Alaska Avatars and Wichita Stealth front offices who also included the franchises from our competition as opponents in their promotional calendars…awesome!
Really liked the “Teddy Tuesday” promotions encouraging community outreach from RoughRiders players…again, nice touch to include an actual promotional calendar (and featuring “Teddy Tuesday” planned visits to places like Salvation Army and the area school districts)…amazing attention to detail with the entire plan.Â Really impressive response to another sports marketing challenge from the RoughRiders front office.
Oops, one more thing… The in-seat upgrade feature through the app as a benefit for ticket holders is really good.Â Nice job recognizing the opportunity there for generating incremental revenue and improving the overall fan experience.Â Good work!
Alabama EvergladesÂ (Montgomery County HS / MO):
Many of the strategies featured in the plan submitted by the Everglades front office in response to challenge #5 are tried and true…several promotions included are so effective that they are used by real sports teams all over the world and they consistently deliver results.Â This was one of the best responses to this challenge, great job Everglades front office!
Specifically, the KFC promotion was a great example of an effective sponsorship activation.Â These types of promotions (50% off on the day after a team win) are always popular with sponsors.Â Including a redemption code with the ticket “coupon” was also a very important detail.Â Nice job recognizing the importance of allowing sponsors to track how many fans are actually participating in the promotion. Ultimately, this helps them to evaluate whether the promotion was a success.
Loved the incorporation of a Star Wars theme night.Â This is one of the hottest trends in sports right now and these promotions have been incredibly effective at boosting ticket sales.Â In fact, Sports Business Journal recently reported that the number of pop culture themed Major League Baseball promotions doubled in 2017 from the previous season.Â That trend is expected to continue again next season.Â The report also found that the 21 MLB teams that staged a “Game of Thrones” promotion last season saw a 10% increase in attendance for those games.Â Long story short, these types of promos are bringing fans out to games.Â Â
Interesting idea to cross promote with some of the other major collegiate football programs in the area…offering a package that includes discounted Alabama Crimson Tide and/or Florida Gators tickets is an intriguing concept.Â Florida and Alabama likely won’t need any additional help selling tickets but curious to see if this would work with programs that need an assist filling the stands in other markets.Â Either way, impressive out-of-the-box thinking from the Everglades marketing team.Â Really good stuff!
Honolulu Surf (Vista Murrieta HS / CA):
Great response to challenge #5 from the Surf front office!Â Some pretty innovative ideas here.Â In particular, we loved the commitment to not only selling naming rights to specific areas of the stadium (like the team’s “Kona Ring of Honor” celebrating the most iconic Surf players in history with retired numbers) and tying sponsors to game day promotions, but also finding ways to connect those brands with the fan base in a way that wouldn’t feel overtly superficial.Â
For a sponsorship to be effective, a franchise must find ways to provide value for its corporate partners.Â A fantastic example is the “Surf” collaborating with its sponsor, Hawaiian Airlines, to offer a package that offers discounts on airfare and game tickets for out of market visitors.Â Same goes for the hospitality ticket packages being offered in partnership with another team sponsor (Hyatt) to encourage fans to patronize those businesses that support the franchise.Â Really good stuff!
As we head into the Thanksgiving Day games, here are the updated standings reflecting the point distribution following the response to sports marketing challenge #5 (ticket sales, promotion and sponsorship). Good luck to all this weekend and with the final challenge (digital marketing)!