Ticket marketing, sales and service strategy for engaging fans
March 12, 2012
These days everyone is focused on increasing Fan Engagement. The questions is how can clubs better engage supporters and drive attendance and revenues. At The Aspire Group, we know that engagement starts with really listening to fans and responding to their needs. Engaging in this way takes commitment and buy-in from the entire staff and organisation. Disney, one of the best customer service organizations in the world, knows that their success comes from doing 100 things 1% better and not from doing 1 thing 100% better than their competition. But it’s doing the 100 things that the fan feels are most important. To find that out requires constant fan engagement, which must become the focus across the entire club. To accomplish this Aspire recommends a fan-centric approach using a simple Seven Point Marketing Plan that involves really listening and responding to customers at every stage.
The Seven Point Marketing Plan
1. Market Analysis
The first thing clubs must do is to regularly ask for fan opinions, then analyse and understand who their fans are and what they want. Then clubs must intelligently identify the needs of different fan segments (targeting), the different purchasing trends in order to activate and engage each segment (business people, families, young supporters, etc).
Once clubs have this understanding, job number one is to focus on keeping existing customers. In football, our lifeblood is our season ticket holders. This is the primary group that needs to be kept engaged as their spend is the highest and they are the most likely to refer other business. Aspire has worked with Coventry City Football Club (CCFC) since 2010 and we constantly analyse the season ticket holder base to identify high-risk fans, listen to their concerns and ensure they stay connected to the club. As a result, Aspire helped to halt a precipitous 13% decline in season ticket holder retention and improving it by 3% in just one year.
Job number two is to grow the attendance frequency and wallet share of our existing customers from the lower tiers by offering a full menu of partial season and group ticket plans.4. Acquire
Job number three is the acquisition of new fans by targeting only those prospects most likely to buy, rather than relying predominantly on mass-media advertising campaigns. A great example is a Group Sales Program targeting youth football, schools and community groups and providing them with unforgettable match day experiences that strengthen their connection to the team. In Aspire’s work at CCFC, we sell over 10,000 group tickets per year for more than £100,000, demonstrating that engaging groups does indeed can drive significant attendance and revenue growth.
In order to complete the three jobs in the marketing, sales and service strategy, we need to effectively capture as much fan data as possible. Data capture plans such as concourse or social media competitions, text for man of the match, etc. provide fans a way to engage with the team while capturing essential data.
We must then communicate intelligently with the fans and prospects, ideally within 48 hours of them hitting our database. Intelligent communication means that we do not SPAM, instead we send the fan something of value or interest based on what they’ve told us in the past. We cannot mindlessly send them promotional emails with what we want them to buy; the communication has to be two-way and relevant.
After the fan receives the intelligent e-marketing communication, our outbound ticket sales team follows up with a phone call to those who bought or opened the email that focuses on building a relationship with this fan by identifying their needs and matching it to one of our full menu of products that best suits them and making a purchase recommendation. When done correctly, this results in the closing of a sale, increasing revenue and attendance.
With declining attendance and more fans preferring to watch on television, connecting with core supporters, plus engaging casual and new fans is more important than ever. Any ticket marketing, sales and service plan that does not engage at each of the seven stages and incorporate stakeholder and staff intelligence is almost certain to fail.
Dr. Bernie Mullin is President/ CEO of the Aspire Group. He was formerly CEO of the Atlanta Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena and previously SVP Marketing and Team Business at the NBA. He is the principal author of the best-selling text Sport Marketing. He is originally from LIverpool, England and a life long supporter of Everton FC.
Michael Meitin is the Managing Director of the Aspire Group’s UK and European division. He manages the CCFC Fan Relationship Management Centre an was formerly a sales manager for the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche in the Kroenke Sports and Entertainment organisation.