Unless you’re the Green Bay Packers or Toronto Maple Leafs or another club for which sellouts are a given, and even for them, selling tickets is job number one in the sports biz and social media can and should be a part of the sales funnel. The misconception is that marketers want to directly tie leads from social media and narrowly define this as the only way social influences ticket purchases. This can be short-sighted and sells short the potential value in ticket sales using social media.
Find a community, find a group. A lot of the most active (local) fans that interact on social media are either attending games or wanting to attend games whenever possible. Visitors to a social network do not have the same purchase intent as those opening an email, clicking a web ad promoting tickets, or those visiting the website. They do, however, identify themselves as fans and part of the community who, when given the opportunity, will entertain unique offers. Your Facebook discount offer should be treated differently from one placed with a radio station or sent in an email. A considerable proportion of fans of retail brands (40-45%, I’ve seen) cite discounts & offers as a reason for following on social sites, but, in sports, more fans have lasting relationships with the page and with each other. Show you know them by making more personalized offers.
Some quick ideas – create a quasi-CRM or data collection of which users are most active, investigate, and you may have a group leader on your hands; segment your users to as micro a level as possible and create offers targeted to niche communities, reach out to individuals who have expressed any remote interest in your team [Twitter, FB, Linkedin, etc.] and write a personalized note/offer, use powerful geo-based Twitter keyword searches to identify potential fans (and community influencers) Target the right influencers/leaders, take the time to make it personal, record it and keep it at a nano level. One carefully written message can deliver as much, if not more, than dozens of more generic messages shot in all directions. An element of exclusivity and the willingness to not be a ‘sellout’ [no pun intended] can go a ways too. Do not count on social media to sell 1,200 unused tickets, but, if you have a section of tickets [discounted or not, augmented value or not and priced appropriately] that are offered exclusively through social channels and find a good number that balances demand and (damn near guaranteed] sellout every game, it’s better than breaking the glass and doing a Groupon or deeply discounted SM offer that reeks of desperation.
As we listen better, target better, and learn to maximize every ounce of value there to be taken, social can deliver tons in the ticket-buying medium, let alone for potential premium ticket holders and season ticket holders. Connecting those that want to share, learning more about them, the list goes on. But the age of the discount in sports is not sustainable. It’s more about adding value now and nowhere does making $$ beyond tickets (and selling beyond the ticket) hold more latent potential than in the realm of social media.
Between secondary markets, discount sites and a growing expectation to receive a constant stream of discount offers, the trend has been training fans to believe tickets retain value about as well as the US dollar (not good!). Some of this is because the market is getting better at pricing tickets, especially when they otherwise go unsold at face value, because there are a lot more fans [especially on social networks] who want to interact and engage with the team, but are comfortable watching the game at home next to a shrine of team swag donning a jersey…and saving the money on tickets. Similar to the fans for whom attendance is not a feasible option, these fans still want to support the team and may be enticed to give game attendance a swing more often than not when they’re getting more than just a ticket.
Promotional giveaways, especially for unique and novel items not normally owned or sold, can be a fantastic way to make the ticket-buying experience more memorable and give fans a reason to get tickets to a game. A ticket package that includes an exclusive bobble head or pre/post game experience, novelty item, chance to win something, etc., is selling more than the ticket and offering something exclusive. Even better, let fans on social discuss and have input into some of these upsells of items and experiences and seat upgrades and perhaps some other ideas fans may suggest. And don’t underestimate the potential value in the most mundane things and experiences. A $10 off offer may not do as well as a ticket page that adds $10 and includes a bobble head offered only through FB, selected by vote by FB fans. And, while this stuff can be good to reserve for season ticket holders (and should be used), take advantage of every experience possible and use it: high-five players during intros, stand next to them during the National Anthem, say Play Ball, be a guest bat boy, get a pregame locker room tour, broadcaster meet & greet, etc. These can be built into ticket-buying experiences to add value and can even involve sponsors (hello – pre game buffets, a tablet at your seat?, all you can eat seats, souvenir beer mug with your seat, pre game receptions off-site at sponsor location or on-site with sponsor product, etc.).
Everyone is looking for a unique experience now; something to boast about, post a photo of to Facebook or Instagram, a story to tell to amuse or impress and a unique piece of paraphernalia or memorable experience can give them that. Heck, give each fan a free framed photo to commemorate their experience they can hang in their house and you have a story, with your brand weaved in, they’ll tell every time someone asks about it (or it jogs their memory every time they walk by).
Don’t stop thinking of ways to: add value to tickets and game attendance experiences, always be giving fans stories to tell and stuff to share and boast about, give fans something to take away to help them tell that story, and empower fans with tools to facilitate them sharing/telling those stories. I saw a team offering photos of fans featured on Kiss Cam recently and love that idea. That will be emailed to family, posted on Facebook, stuck on the fridge, and will be a story to tell forever….about how much fun that game was.
It really is all about touching every fan in a sentimental way, one individual at a time. A preview of what’s next in this series of ramblings…
Clich here to see more of the No Biz Like Sports Biz series of posts
Posted by Neil Horowitz