#Sportsbiz Mantras: 9 Ways to Win Over Sports Fans

Longtime sports marketer Dan Migala, now a consultant and doing a lot of work with Australia’s cricket teams after working in corporate partnerships for years with the San Diego Padres, recently joined The Sports Geek podcast for an interview with Sean Callanan. Migala discussed the current work he’s doing down under and offered some fantastic insights about sports business, applicable to anyone working in sports marketing. I encourage you to listen to the full podcast.
Here are nine key takeaways from Migala’s chat, to help you focus on some of the main insights offered by the sage sports marketing vet.

It’s not about having the church choir sing the same songs every weekend, it’s about recruiting new parishioners

Invoking a church analogy, Migala explained how teams need to focus on what they can do to attract, and keep, new fans that come out to the game. There are many fans teams can count on to be at their pew every night, but you also need to focus on those fans that may be attending their first game on any given night. What will make them remember it and want to come back?

Create an entertainment option that includes a cricket match

Migala was speaking about cricket, but this principle applies across sports. Teams are largely competing with disposable income earmarked for one’s personal and/or family entertainment. Going to a game should feel like a premium form of entertainment, which includes, as its focus, the game. But more. Do you present a product to fans that entertains every time out?

Fostering civic pride in the community

A lot of teams have strong community relations efforts and this takeaway serves as a reminder about how important it is to not just be active in the community, but such a presence that it is part of the community. Part of the identity of the fans, city, state, school, et al.

Surprise and Delight – if fans don’t go, they might miss something [can/should be unique to each team]

Similar to an earlier point, and this is one of my favorite mantras for marketers in sports, it’s so key to “surprise and delight” your fans. Don’t let the experience of attending a game or being a fan or even following the team’s content become a stale activity. What have you done recently to surprise and delight fans?


What are you doing to wow fans?

Related to the previous principle, it’s important (and fun and stimulating) to constantly create new ways to “wow” fans. Even if the team isn’t winning, the organization can still create some “wow”-inducing events and memories and visuals and mementos and prizes and experiences. Is there a wow factor for fans at every game, at multiple touch points, and in general?

Sell the value of your fans with data

The future is now and teams have access to a great deal of (anonymized) data about their fans, which can be leveraged not just to optimize ticket sales campaigns, but to pitch to potential partners. Teams now have the knowledge to show demos, purchase plans/activity, cross-referencing email rewards lists, and more, about their fans, so partners can know, almost exactly, how many fans are also their current customers.

Direct and indirect ROI

Everyone always talk about digital and social media ROI. It’s an important objective, and story to tell, but it’s also good to consider the long-term play and the indirect ROI. Whether it’s keeping a team front of mind, brand development, building the young fan of today into the crazed season ticket holder of tomorrow; engaging fans and giving them stories to tell and memories to hold dear have value that data cannot yet tell.

Have long-term and short-term goals, particularly in the digital space

Related to the previous point, when developing strategy, in any space (including digital and social), the short-term and long-term consideration can be key, as Migala discussed. A campaign may have short-term objectives, but it should also fit in to the greater marketing and brand strategy of the organization.

Fan Development, not fan maintenance

I loved this point from Migala because it really wraps all of this is up. The nomenclature is “fan development” and not “fan maintenance.” No fan should be taken for granted, whether a die-hard or a newbie, because they all hold value and all take effort to keep them excited to be fans, and evangelizing others. Fan development is everyone’s job every day.

Thanks to the Sports Geek Podcast and Dan Migala for sharing these nuggets of sportsbiz knowledge! Be sure to also check out more about Migala on his website, The Migala Report.
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