I personally hit a home run by bringing in Mike McCall, the President of Schlegel Sports, to speak to the group. Mike has a long back ground in professional sports, both major and minor leagues.
Mike shared the philosophies and strategies of successfully marketing a product that, to be completely honest, isn’t always very good (the product, not his philosophies and strategies). AA teams are two steps below the majors and usually filled with young teenagers and recent college grads trying to break into the majors. If they’re any good, they don’t stay in AA for long, so players are constantly moving in and out.
This means that selling and marketing minor league teams, like the RoughRiders and dozens of others across the country, must rely on creativity and a different value proposition.
Mike used to be President of the RoughRiders, so he knew first-hand what it took to make them successful. I was particularly struck by how customer-focused Mike was. Some thoughts he shared:
Tickets in the drawer at the end of the season means they won’t buy again next year.
Talk about customer-focused! Mike taught his staff to sell only what the client will need, which meant they had to help the client figure that out. He knew that if the client didn’t use all his/her tickets and still had the visible proof in their desk, they wouldn’t renew. His objective wasn’t getting the most money out of his clients right now. It was generating a long-term, mutually-beneficial relationship.
Sell a customer when it’s convenient for them, not you.
Mike said most teams wait until a season is over and then go out and start selling season tickets, suites, and groups. But he realized that company’s fiscal years don’t always coincide with that. He gets salespeople to find out when prospects’ fiscal years start and work with them around that.
Do ALL the work for them.
Again, most teams might sell you a season ticket and that’s that. Then it’s up to you to pay for all the other stuff — like parking, food, and drinks. It not only adds up, but it’s a hassle. The RoughRiders sell you a Founder’s Membership that includes VIP parking, FOUR different air-conditioned VIP lounges, a private entrance, and a concierge.
On the surface, none of these might seem to fit your business, but I would argue they do.