Make your business personal.
Make your fan interactions personal.
Engage with your customers on a personal level.
In the age of social media and “big data,” what good is all the information we have if we don’t try to use it to reach people on a personal level? I was listening to yet another podcast recently (can’t remember which one) that said that the one thing people want the most is to be missed when they are gone. People want to feel like they belong and feel like if they weren’t there that they would be missed. That is a pretty powerful insight that we can’t ignore.
One way to do this is to set up an auto-email program that sends them a message when their tickets don’t scan at the game. Film one of your coaches or players telling them they missed them at the game and hope they will see them next time.
You can also mention your fans on social media, post their public tweets and pictures on your jumbotron during game breaks and encourage your athletes to sign autographs after every game.
Sport organizations have one of the most valuable assets to market – people – and you can’t get more personal than face to face conversation. By encouraging interactions between your athletes and fans, you are building a personal network around your sport and your team. Of course there is possible reason for concern, as athletes are people and susceptible to social pressures and making mistakes, which can be a slippery slope. If however, you are recruiting and hiring people of sound moral judgment and upbringing, training them to handle the pressures of being in the public eye, and addressing mistakes appropriately when they happen, you should be able to lessen your liability. The more deeply held your fans’ connections are to your team, the more likely they will start to see their favorite players as real people and real humans who miss them when they are not in the stands, cheering for their victory, and are likely to forgive them when they make mistakes.
Many sports fans tell surveys that sports are their “outlet” from real life – work, stress, problems, etc. In this regard, sports are entertainment, but unique from all other forms of entertainment as well. There are very few forms of entertainment that allow people such an engaged relationship throughout the year and at such close proximity to the entertainers as sport organizations do. In addition to that, sport organizations exist to exercise and enforce community relationships and social values which provide an even deeper personal connection to your fans.
National, state, local, and community pride rituals and showcases are often held during sporting events, making the sport organization the center for these types of celebrations. Over time, the sport organization becomes an avenue for people to come together to celebrate what it is that binds that community. This relationship is also in some way expected, as many sport facilities are built using public funding sources. As a result of being built with public funds, there is a very real financial connection to the community in addition to the other more social and philosophical connections.
So what is your team doing to make your interactions more personal and specific to the individual fans supporting you? Consider sending them pre- and post-game emails with recaps, interviews and messages from your players and coaches. Host fan appreciation days and encourage your sponsors to be especially generous during those activation opportunities. Engage your fans personally on social media where it is natural and appropriate to do so. Thank your fans with freebies, coupons, and discounts for acting a certain way or performing certain tasks, like arriving early to games or mentioning the team on social media. Create these bonds with people at every step of the sales funnel, as discussed in yesterday’s See, Think, Do post.
Use the data you already possess to learn more about the people who are already committed to your organization and what you stand for. Figure out who those people are and look for more people like them. Digital marketing today is becoming increasingly easier to perform and measure, so you really shouldn’t have anything holding you back except time. Reconsider how you are spending your ad dollars and integrate more into the digital space, even if that means only local search. Learn, engage, measure, repeat.
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