It’s Not About You

The very first sales job I ever had I learned a very valuable lesson: “it’s not about you. It’s about the customer”.

That lesson has stuck with me ever since and illuminated many other areas of my life.
It’s not about me.
It’s about them.

It’s not about my club seat quota or my revenue goal or what’s going on in my life or how I’m feeling today. It’s about what the customer wants and what fits their needs the best. Not mine.

We both know that I have a valuable product. I know what I stand for personally (and what I won’t stand for too) and know I work for a company/team/organization that I believe has a solid foundation of values.

I can tell you about all the features and the widgets and the seat views and how awesome this thing is…but none of it matters unless you make it about the customer and what they want. What REALLY do they want? That’s the real question…and it’s not often what you hear in the first 5-10 minutes of conversation. That leads me to my next point.

The thing about sales is that it’s about people helping people. The moment you step outside that belief and way of being, that’s when it feels weird. Sales is service and great service leads to sales. When you’re not serving, but forcing a product, that’s when you feel “sold” as a customer and when you feel slimy as a sales professional. You can start to see someone pull away, they get tense and start to retreat. Their tone of voice and body language changes. You know what I’m talking about…you’ve probably been on both ends of that spectrum.

People need stuff, sure. And they want some stuff too. They also need someone to care about them and their problem. Sometimes that’s all it takes, someone to listen to their problems and treat them with compassion. Sometimes all you have to do is ask for the sale. Other times you have to lean in a little bit more and really let them FEEL that you have their best interest at heart. Either way, you and your person are as much involved as the actual product.

So let me repeat. It’s not about you. It’s about them. And in many ways, let this be relationship advice too. It’s not about how awesome you are. Someone else just needs to know how much you care, so make it about them. It’s not about you.

Ticket Analytics

Ticket Analytics - Seattle Mariners Media Guides
Seattle Mariners Media Guides – Ticket Analytics

Ticket analytics involves analyzing changes in ticket prices over time. Ticket price changes occur over time for a variety of reason and there are many tools and services you can use to track those changes, including two different websites I’ll mention here in a moment. Before we get to that though, it is important to try to understand why it is important to track these changes and what that means for your organization.

First of all, sports teams set their ticket prices at the beginning of each season based on the team’s performance the prior season, the current conditions of the facility in which they operate their home schedule of games, budget and accounting requirements for revenue goals, inflation, and the perceived value for tickets in the marketplace of their geographic location and general place in society. There are also several other unique and local factors that are outside the scope of this post on ticket analytics. Based on those inputs, the output is the final, published price for which tickets are sold as part of a plan or on a single ticket basis by the team or its distribution partners. Once those prices are published and the tickets are sold, the events for which those tickets grant access hold a perceived value in the hearts and minds of those who hold them and especially, for some events, those who don’t.

It’s been told that the secondary market for tickets began in the mid- to late 19th century with trans-continental railroad tickets for passengers trying to get across the country. Yes, ticket scalpers existed even back then and tried to turn a profit off of unsuspecting travelers trying to get around, surprise surprise. Given the changes in technology since then, we now have access to online ticket analytics tools that allow us to track the prices of tickets on the secondary market, giving teams more insight into the factors that influence the price thresholds that fans are willing to pay in order to gain admission to their often exclusive events.

Back in the early days of scalped train tickets and even up to our current decade for some sports, it was impossible to experience any type of event except in person, that is, until the dawn of television. Even now as many teams across the country and the globe struggle with ticket sales and do everything they can to develop a game experience that encourages live attendance and ticket sales, there is still much to learn about secondary market ticket prices and why they rise and fall they way they do, while still keeping access open to our lower and middle class fans. That is precisely where ticket analytics comes into play.

A few of the factors that influence ticket prices are team success, high-profile players, coaches, and owners (novelty effect), game experience and entertainment, team quality and winning percentage, opponent quality and winning percentage, economic factors of the community, both local and national, and numerous other factors that are too numerous to list here. Given those known factors, we can now track price changes of ticket prices on the secondary market and begin to draw some conclusions as to how accurately teams are pricing their tickets. With that information we can learn and eventually implement variable and dynamic ticket price changes in order to compete with the secondary market for better ticket sales performance and overall revenue. Assuming an accurate account of these numerous economic factors and the known price changes over time, teams can learn to better price their tickets over time in advance and alongside these market factors and get ahead of the secondary market. Perhaps this process may end in a game of diminishing returns, but that has yet to be seen.

So now for my two recommendations on ticket analytics tracking websites – SeatGeek and TiqIQ. Both of these websites offer great information, but more so with the fan in mind and not the sport ticket sales and box office manager, so beware if you try to jump right in expecting great results. Ticket analytics tracking requires some data intelligence and some general intuition with a few goals in mind, so make sure you know why you are doing it and come up with a few goals before you begin. There are several data companies that will do this for a fee, so do your research if you plan on taking ticket analytics more seriously.

Let me know what you think or if your organization is involved with this in some way – I’m interested in hearing what other teams and organizations are doing in terms of ticket analytics.

Go Forth!

Game Watch Party

Rainiers Game Watch Party at Cheney Stadium
Tacoma Rainiers Game Watch Party for the Seattle Seahawks Monday Night Football game on ESPN – Dec. 2, 2013

Ever heard of a game watch party? Sure you have! You go to your friends house or they come over to yours at least once a week to watch a game or two, so why not have your fans over for a game watch party at your sports venue? On an off night or especially during the off-season, consider opening up your luxury seat areas for an open house/select-a-seat type event in addition to watching the big game.

I don’t know how many teams do this, but what a great way to boost revenue a little bit while at the same time getting your sales staff in front of a potentially new audience. You can even offer a discount for those in attendance to buy whatever it is that you’re selling that night or a lesser discount if they buy in the next week or two. Consider letting your fans know that in lieu of a cover charge, they’ll witness a presentation from the team president or athletics director and then a pitch from the sales staff at halftime.

The Tacoma Rainiers

Above is an email I got the other day from the Tacoma Rainiers baseball club in Tacoma, WA. The Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, the Rainiers renovated their entire stadium a couple of years ago and included in that renovation the outfield jumbotron, which let me tell you, is one of the nicest screens in sports.

Rainiers, Cheney Stadium
Tacoma Rainiers, Cheney Stadium

I’ve made it a point to get out to Cheney Stadium a few times a year for the last couple of seasons and have always had a great time at their ballpark. The game experience is great, the food is good and well-priced and the entertainment on their jumbotron is always very well done. During the football season for the last two years (since they’ve had the renovated stadium) the Tacoma Rainiers have sent me these emails about joining them in their club seat entertainment area to watch the Seattle Seahawks on the NFL’s Monday Night Football on ESPN. Although I haven’t been able to attend one of these events, I thought this was well worth sharing with the sport administrators that read this blog – you!

The Rainiers put the game up on the big screen in the outfield with the TV audio coming in through the club sound system (this is an assumption since I haven’t actually been there) and welcome anyone interested to come in for dinner and the game. Considering the strong following of the Seahawks and the Rainiers throughout the Puget Sound area, especially in the south sound, I think this game watch party is a great way to refresh your brand and your place in the community. Many will argue that minor league sports teams are some of the most fan-centric, community organizations in existence, and while this may be true, any sport organization with an entertainment space or large screen can put on an event like this.

Club/Suite Lounge

Depending on the size of your fan base and your anticipated audience, a club lounge or suite lounge is ideal for a game watch party at your venue. If you are a college team with an arena and nice center-hung scoredboard/jumbotron, consider doing something like this for your post-season or playoff games, or even for Monday Night Football for your local NFL team! Open up a few concession stands and give it a try.

If your team is located in a remote area and you know you’ve got a captive audience that never misses a game and likes hanging out at your venue, this is a great way to build fan loyalty, give people a place to go to watch with other fans, and a way for your to further get to know your customers. If you can offer childcare or a kids zone, even better! Again, depending on your audience and your sport, adapt the ideas in this email from the Rainiers to your own organization with the intention of boosting your bottom line and further forming your fanbase.

Go Forth!

I would love to hear about your experience with this type of event – both the good and the bad. Please share your comments below.

GUEST POST: The Power of Sport and the Role of Sports Memorabilia

This is a guest post from Isabelle Riley, a copywriter working for HT Framing & Memorabilia.

Sport is about as old as human interaction itself. We have always measured ourselves and each other through physical competition. It’s a distraction as well as an end. Today, we have raised sport up to a refined and lucrative professional activity, that is central to our communities. Sport is one of the ways that we express emotion together in public, which is a very important exercise. Such is the power of sport that it can be turned into a terrible political weapon with disastrous consequences. We have all seen the results of politicised sport. Hitler was expert at making sport into an aesthetic weapon to deploy against his enemies. But it backfired on him, and the truth and beauty of real sporting competition revealed itself in the 1936 Olympics when Jesse Owens, the under dog, won the 100 metre race, and Hitler refused to shake his hand because he was black and therefore ‘sub human’. Hitler couldn’t make his racial theories true when it came to sport, where the best athlete always wins.

The Olympic games is one of the biggest and most important instances of global human interaction, where we all come together as equals and compete. The glory and beauty of sport is as plain for the spectators as it is for the athletes, who rejoice or lament together over triumphs, bravery, effort, and human struggle. Sport becomes a way of testing ourselves, under the comforting constraints of parameters and rules that aren’t to be found any where else in life. Everyone has their own special memories of a sporting occasion, even if sport isn’t a part of our every day lives, because sport is one of the ways that we celebrate together. It’s a way that we connect, in every culture. Think about some of the biggest communal days of the year, outside of religious holidays (in many ways, sport is a modern stand in for religion); they are days like the Super Bowl and Grand Final day.

That is where sports memorabilia comes in. High quality sports memorabilia helps us to commemorate and celebrate those happiest and most precious sports memories by making them part of our daily lives. Like all nostalgia, sports memory nostalgia helps us to enjoy our daily lives by accessing past times of joy and excitement and remembering them as examples of how nice life can be. We can use these sorts of things to connect to others, by showing what we’re interested in. Sports stars or sports awards that have a noble and fair or brave character become inspiration to us as ways to live, and sport goes well beyond pure physical ability in that sense. The ‘sporting spirit’, a little bit of which is distilled in every piece of sports memorabilia, is something that we like to think that we live by.

Make Your Mailing List Easy to Find

Does your organization do email marketing?
Do you send out updates when you publish new articles to your website?
Do you do business, sell tickets, or sell merchandise online?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you ought to make it easy for people to sign for an a “free” account to receive email marketing from your organization. If you’re looking to monetize your digital properties, this is one easy way to do it – by sending emails. Most of the major college properties already have a website template provider that ought to make this a pretty easy solution. As for the professional sport organizations, all of the actual league properties make it pretty easy to sign up for an account, although they are not all equal in terms of actually getting email updates.

When developing an online revenue strategy, email really ought to be a huge part of that plan. Email marketing is not dead. It might need a little reviving if you don’t know what you are doing and haven’t made a dime yet, but those changes will come as long as you seek advice from a reliable source with a proven track record. Many bloggers out there know how important an email list is and many make it so easy to sign up that it is almost obtrusive. Don’t be obtrusive, but do give people the ability to get what they want, when they want it. Take some time to see how different bloggers set up their websites and take notes on what you think looks good. You’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, just getting ideas on what looks good.

If you would prefer not to add a sign-in or sign-up feature on your homepage, at least make this a part of your ticket page or marketing and promotions page. You could also consider adding these links to the bottom of every article that goes up on your site, making it subtle but obvious what you want your fans to do (call-to-action). The ticket and marketing pages of your website are the two places were it is very natural to ask people to sign up and almost a negative if you don’t offer then a place to receive updates on these pages.

Step one would be to just get the capability active on your site if you don’t have anyway for people to sign up. Step two would be to put some analytics on your website and find out where people are looking the most. Again, if you don’t put it on the homepage, put your sign-up links on the pages with the most, regular traffic. Step three would be to allow your customers to customize their email experience based on their own interests. Also important to note is that there is a law that states you must give them the option to unsubscribe in every email you send. Look up ICANN legislation for more on some important tips and rules.

After doing a pretty thorough search for college email lists in all of the major FBS conferences, I was very surprised at how few schools actually have a list to sign up for and how difficult it was to find the schools that did offer a way to get marketing emails. The ones that did offer a way to sign up to get emails had the links buried so deep that in some cases it took almost ten minutes going link by link, menu by menu to find what I was looking for.

While you are thinking about all this, clean up your website and make it easy for people to find what they want and employ a good search tool. All sports teams have a ton of information to put online, but there are numerous examples of teams that do it well. But, in order to cleanup appropriately, you have to know what your organizational goals are in order to do so. If you have those laid out and you know what they are, great! If not, figure that out first before you tackle your website re-design. Goals are critical to everything you do as an organization and everything you do must advance you toward those ends.

Thanks for sticking around and reading my blog. Please enter your email address in the box to the right if you want email updates for each new post or enter your thoughts below in the comments.

Go Forth!