Experiential marketing is about selling experiences, rather than just stuff. Before I get into that though, sports business organizations generate revenue in only a few ways, while their expenses are numerous. Here are the types of revenue generated by colleges and universities, according to the NCAA’s 2012 Fulk’s Report(.pdf): ticket sales, NCAA and conference distributions, donations/cash contributions, concessions/programs/novelties, broadcast rights, sponsorships/advertising/royalties, sports camps, endowment/investment income, direct/indirect institutional sport, and misc. revenues.
Although some of the numbers for these areas can be quite large, the potential options for generating revenue are limited, while the list of expenses can go on for days – everything from the salary of the head coach of your most prominent to team on down to the type of cleaning products and paperclips you use. In terms of finding unique ways to do more with what you have, take a look at this YouTube video to see what the University of Arizona is doing this year with experiential marketing. I’m not entirely clear on how they find the people who get to be a part of this type of event, but it is very clear that the people who get to be a part of the gameday experience at Arizona Wildcat football home games are self-proclaimed fans for life.
It seems to me there are a few that get to be a part of the pre-game ritual, hanging out in the locker room with the team, being there for pre-game drills and warmups, being there for coach’s pre-game speech and finally running out onto the field in time for the game to begin. At that point, that person’s experience is over for that fan. After the game, sometime during the 4th quarter, it then seems that the next lucky fan gets to come on down to the field for the post-game activities – only this past weekend’s lucky fan got to be a part of an Arizona victory over the Oregon Ducks! What a game to be the lucky recipient of an experiential marketing experience for your favorite team! Obviously you can’t count on something like this happening, but what a great bonus! This lucky fan was able to rush the field with the team and the entire stadium as well as continue celebrating all the way into the locker room and coaches post-game press conference. Once the excitement mellowed out a little bit, he also had the opportunity to talk to and take pictures with all of his favorite players – a day he “will never forget as long as he lives.” Wow – what a great testimonial to have caught on video!
Now consider how you might implement something similar with your own organization and do experiential marketing. Perhaps you auction something like this at charity event or through your letter winner’s organization. Perhaps you do something like this as part of a sponsorship agreement or high-level donor activation. Or perhaps you hold a sweepstakes over the summer, generating buzz and some healthy PR during the traditional off-season for most colleges and universities. Or perhaps this is the premium reward you give to the top points earner in your fan rewards system (a system that rewards users with points for performing certain actions like making team purchases in addition to interacting on social media, among other things). Whatever the case, this is a fan reward that doesn’t cost much more than the time of your student videographer and an escort – in exchange for a lifetime fan made over a few hours spent with your team.
The next time you are looking to expand your long tail reach into the hearts and minds of your fans, consider experiential marketing and how you can do more with what you already have.
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