Article 3: Content is Your Friend

Mike Guiffre
Jun 22 · 5 min read

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*Editors Note: this is Article # 3 of the 7 part series. To view the individual articles, click on the subject links in the first section below.

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Introduction:

7 Part Series: Attendance is not just an MLB Issue, but how do we Fix it?

There has been a lot of media focus on the declining attendance of MLB recently, some fair and some not. And while attendance is sliding it is hardly an MLB only issue other than it being the most visible due to large stadiums and the number of games. Many leagues, teams, concerts, and events are struggling to sell tickets as well.

You can look at many data points across the sports business landscape and see a myriad of varying conclusions as to why:

  • Ticket price
  • Ancillary costs
  • A changing consumer landscape
  • The ability to watch from home on a sick, affordable flat screen TV
  • *gasp* Those evil millennials

However, a lot of those data sets either do not tell the entire story and point to why attendance should be increasing and not the other way around. It is possible to maximize revenue by creating scarcity with affordable tickets. You can manage brokers strategically. Millennials, ironically, covet experiences amongst many other false assumptions. TV/Content drives attendance through brand awareness. And lastly, Fantasy Sports and Gambling are driving even more marketability and awareness.

The data points to more consumer interest. So why are ticket sales failing, and how can we quickly address it? Let’s examine five reasons why and define strategies to help. Plus, two sports business relatable bonus tracks on customer LTV and innovation using real-world examples:

  1. Create Scarcity
  2. Find Solutions to Real Problems
  3. Embrace Modern Content
  4. Market Specific Resale Strategies
  5. Non-Revenue Shared Operating Income

Bonus Tracks:

Innovation goes Beyond Tech: What Sports Business can Learn from Sheetz

Customer LTV: What Sports Business can Learn from Buick and Toyota

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Article 3: Content is Your Friend. Even TV.

Piggybacking on Article #2 and misconceptions, we have had a similar four-decade-long issue regarding content. Years ago the big misconception was that TV broadcasts were hurting attendance. It was a foregone conclusion for many executives. The biggest problem was the complete opposite had happened. Nobody bothered to check.

The more exposure, the more sales. Broadcasting games live on TV was the equivalent of someone paying you to advertise your product. Short of online infrastructure revolutionizing ticket sales, live broadcasts have been our biggest ally.

It is similar now with the excuses we read as to why attendance is down. Digital is not hurting attendance, and it is creating more loyal fans. Fans crave experiences and are more engaged than ever because of the online “tools.”

Engaged, you say?

To the tune of 16.7 billion online engagements in 2017 for the top 6 US professional sports leagues alone (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, NASCAR). TV viewership grew over time, but these engagements can drive revenue, especially combined with the targeted advertising potential based on the users online profile.

Even Millennials are still fans. How many in the business know that MLB is the 2nd most popular professional sport not just overall but for Millennials as well? According to McKinsey, there is only a slight drop in fandom between Generation X and Millennials for some sports and increases in others:

Chart: Maps People

We still have a ton of fans (*cough*Customers) and have the unique opportunity to engage with them 24/7. The customer craves it: Did you know that sports fans are 67% more likely to use Twitter to enhance their experience?

While some leagues shied away from digital content to protect broadcast rights, overall, we see a pretty significant shift in strategy. The NHL even hired a twitter personality who made a GIF of goals in real time to work exclusively for them as they should.

I would need a separate article or series entirely to analyze and create an in-depth content strategy. And most leagues are starting to embrace this. However, when you sit down to map out your strategy if nothing else remember these four things:

  1. The more content you have that is engaged with, the better online profiles are created for your partners (both primary and secondary) to market to. Consider additionally working in a strategy to combine data and utilize other platforms to automate marketing messages up-selling individual tickets buyers based on their profile.
  2. We have the unique ability to market 24/7 to customers who want and engage in the content. Let’s not squander that opportunity.
  3. While it is common advertising practice now, in ticketing, we have an advantage over other advertisers because of the customers increased engagement. We have much better data through positive, relevant content. We can target even more accurately based on a genuine personal profile and not demographic data, which is only a slight indicator of purchase intent.
  4. Do not make assumptions. Listen to what the data is telling you and use it to drive ticket sales.

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Mike, a 20 year veteran of the ticketing industry has executive experience with primary and secondary roles. He resides in Denver with his wife Jacqui, VP/Head of Studio at UpPurpose (A United Way funded marketing consultant), and their son Grayden, a 3 year old bad ass snowboarder. See more of Mike’s media at www.michaelguiffre.com