Breakfast With Bernie

Looking At The Big Picture For Women’s Sports

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April 29, 2016

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Attendance in women’s collegiate sports is down. Coaches are upset. Rightfully so, they want more fans in the stands for their games which usually result in more resources being allocated to the program. Additionally, these coaches are expecting more marketing efforts behind building the fan base. Larger crowds have a drastic effect on recruiting quality talent and it adds motivation to the team playing in front of their passionate fans. Simply put, a crowd attracts a crowd.

As an administrator, you probably do not think you have the budget to fund a position dedicated to selling and promoting JUST women’s sports. How can you justify a full-time employee’s salary and benefits cost when they are responsible for selling $2-$10 tickets?

I challenge you to look at the big picture. The argument has sometimes been made that there is minimal demand for women’s sports.

“It seems easy for people to look at current attendance figures in women’s league sports and argue that people just don’t like women’s sports. But the ratings we see from the U.S. Women’s Soccer team and college women’s sports defy that argument.” [SOURCE]

“Girls participation in high school sports has increased for the 26th consecutive year with an additional 20,071 participants and set an all-time high of 3,287,735, while boys participation dipped 8,682 from the previous year.” [SOURCE]

With this growth in participation and viewership of women, it’s LONG overdue to start embracing the opportunity women’s sports bring to every level in which they complete.

At the majority of our Fan Relationship Management Centers (FRMCs), Aspire has created specialized staffing models, similar to the same model found in professional sports, but they are the first of their kind in collegiate athletics.

At Army and FAU, our partners have taken this one step further and embraced this opportunity by adding Women’s Sports Specialists to their Aspire FRMC staff.

As an example of how effective this has been…

  • Army West Point FRMC increased women’s basketball group ticket sales by 123 percent this past season. 
  • FAU FRMC doubled women’s sports ticket revenues in its first year of women’s sports specialization.

Although the primary role of the Women’s Sports Specialist is selling all women’s ticketed sports, they don’t just sell tickets.

These positions act as a dual purpose role. Not only do they cultivate relationships with relevant groups, leagues, and the community at large, but they also work with the coaches to build out business plans for each individual women’s sports program to increase revenues and attendance.

These Specialists are also utilized as an additional marketing/promotional resource for the coaches to increase exposure for the programs through facilitating experiences including:

  • Pre-game “chalk talks” with the coaches.
  • Clinics post-game.
  • Youth exhibition games on game day.
  • Autograph sessions.
  • Speaking engagements for the coaches.
  • Community ticket sampling programs.

Having the right person in this position, who has a passion for women’s sports, is critical in developing this vital asset that builds lifelong connections between the coaches, teams, athletes, relevant organizations, and the community.

Even the most talented and successful women’s teams struggle with attendance. But with the rising importance of effectively targeting and segmenting your fan base in order to satisfy their needs, it is now time we really start embracing women in and out of uniform.

The Washington Post said it best in an article about the rising focus on the women’s fan base,

“Women make up an estimated 45 percent of the NFL’s more than 150 million American fans and have become perhaps pro football’s most valuable players. Female fans, a group beloved by advertisers, represent the league’s biggest opportunity for growth.” [SOURCE]

As women’s sports ticket prices slowly start to increase, this Women’s Sports Specialist position can pay for itself. This is demonstrated at Army and FAU and validated from my past experience selling the WNBA. When the added benefits outlined above are factored, the ROI from these positions start to look pretty good.

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