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All Sports Brands Should Be One Word: FUN

My sports brand marketing philosophy is simple: Fun.

If your brand of fun isn’t more fun than the competitor across town, your brand loses.

Simple as that.

Let’s not over-complicate with trying to find “true fans” of the sport. Those “true fans” will find you no matter what. But fun should reign supreme.

“True fans” probably make up about 10-15 percent of any audience. The rest of the audience is there based on casual interest. Or the amount of fun that they believe that they will have in your venue.

If you’re a NFL team, you have eight home games “Super Bowls” a year. NHL and NBA have 41. MLB has 81.

The goal should be to maximize the amount of entertainment possible to your patrons. Regardless of whether that’s on the field or in the stands. What happens on the field in terms of operations is likely out of your hands. What happens in the stands is totally under your control.

Everyone would like to win. But that’s only one team out of every other one in your conference or league. So you cannot count on that component of your brand being there. Or that winning matters anyway.

There have been several teams in several leagues which have won championships to half-empty stadiums. Simply because there was no fun to be had by the community.

This is where branding sometimes misses out. The over-complicated idealism of telling a “story” rather than just becoming the largest amount of fun possible.

Unless you are a media darling already, no one cares about your “brand” or “story.” But what they will care about is fun.

That is all.

Instead of a brand story, focus on the fun to be hand by the audience. Make those who do not attend receive an earful from those who did.

Here are some questions to be asked: Can you do fireworks after the game? A concert at halftime? Stupid pet tricks? A massive water balloon fight in the stands?

Adding the value of fun to any event will make people pay full price for your product.

It’s as simple as eliminating the excuses why people don’t show up to your event.

The lame excuse of “the fair is in town this week” should be laughed at. That’s because the fair is more fun than what your entertainment option offers. Plain and simple.

Let’s stop marketing as if we know what is going to happen on the field. Unless the marketing director or ticket manager can block home plate or throw a 90 mph slider, the affect on the field by the front office staff is minimal.

But the fun of the game experience is something that the front office does affect.

The goal shouldn’t be to care about how we do it, as long as people are willing to buy more tickets at the set price point rather than receive those same tickets at a discount. Price point should not be an enticement because when it becomes part of the discussion, the team loses the argument.

It’s the same issue with the “ultimate” fan chase. In my opinion, teams don’t need more “ultimate” fans. What teams need are more paying customers who plan to come to more games because they are having fun, regardless of what happens on the scoreboard. “Ultimate” fans abandon teams that don’t win, which doesn’t make them as “ultimate” as their moniker would have you think.

My point is: If you can make your home games into a “super bowl” every time out, where you maximize the excitement and fun in the stands, there will be no argument against a person paying full price for your product.

This is important when viewing pricing and discounts. The more value assessed to the product, the more attractive the perception of the product. When teams discount or provide free tickets, the product is devalued across the board.

Plus, this is not the 1970s when attending a live event was important because there was likely a 10-15 percent chance of ever seeing it live on television. You had to see it in person, or you missed out on the product entirely. In 2013, I can view just about every MLB game on my IPad. Attending a live event does not have the value it once did, especially if the brand focuses entirely on the field of play, and not in the fun to be had in the stands.

That’s why I don’t see free trinket ideas such as t-shirts or garden gnomes or bobbleheads to be a great way to transfer fun from the team to the customer. If you’re not one of the 2,000 folks who received that item, yet you still walked through the turnstiles, how has that fun been provided for you as a fan? My opinion of fun is more experiential, making people forget that they are just at a live baseball or basketball game, and instead finding fun surrounding a live event that the customer happens to be at.

Teams only have a few “Super Bowl” events a year, sometimes as little as six home games if talking about college football. Why not put the best foot forward on those marketing efforts?

The goal should be to have every patron exit your building willing to tell their family, friends and neighbors one thing about your brand:

They had fun at your event.

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