Sportstao Industry Posts

Blog Post – The Religion of Marketing And The Heresy of Sales

I find myself harping way too much on today’s marketers on whether or not they consider themselves truly in “marketing” or just a component of a bloated budget.

Too harsh? Probably.

I consider myself part of the heresy of sales. It’s a sect which believes that the experience may be a great portion after the sale is done, but not before.

What do I mean by that?

Too many operations (small college and/or professional teams) center their marketing methodology around the idea of giving something away to entice a customer to attend their function.

I have an issue with that. I consider it a bribe. And to me, bribes show that those giving them out don’t have faith in the product itself becoming a draw. And the experience once a customer is in the building seems to mean little to those type of marketers either.

The “let’s give away the store” ethos is one of the very things I believe is damaging the sports industry’s ability to compete in a multi-messaged marketplace where revenue shares are growing thinner as new competitors emerge.

Think I’m wrong?

Find out how much a professional team really generates in revenue and the main response is about the resale value of the franchise after the fact.

And that to me is an issue.

Farming is a self-defeating business where for every three years of being in debt, there are two years of profit.

Professional teams appear to have matched that scenario with how they sell their product to customers.

To me, this comes down to the difference between the religion of “marketing” and the heresy of sales.

Marketing folks are great at telling you about how much they have “branded” your product. Spending large amount of budget on advertising buys which have no ability to show translation toward a firm customer ROI. The mentality of giving away 10,000 Bobbleheads to generate an additional 3,500 single game buyers is silly enough. Couple with that the added notion of producing several free ticket packages as a “promotion” to the advertising strategy along with heavily discounted tickets, and your “per cap” is less than what it normally averages, even though the stands are full.

Sales folks understand that they are in the results business. That’s why the “per cap” is valuable. The sales department actually contacts 20,000 prospects, sells about 5,000 of those into long-term ticket packages that ends up generating more “per cap” than what the Bobblehead Night does. Even if the stands are completely full, the results are different on the revenue side.

And that is where the heresy comes in.

Terms such as “marketing” & “branding” have become the religion segment of the college athletic administration and some higher ups in professional teams. Say “marketing” to anyone and you’ll see nods delivered in return. Everyone believes in the magic of marketing’s importance to gain results.

This is completely different than promotions, or activities inside the building.

This type of religious marketing centers on the notion that premium item “bribes” are the only factor which cause people to attend a game inside your building.

No actual proof that the marketing plan put forward is working. Sure, attendance is up, but the “per cap” is dead if you figure in the cost, time and efforts to initiate a Bobblehead Night.

They are the religion segment of any athletic administration/sports team. Say “marketing” to anyone and everyone starts to nod their head & believe in its importance.

No actual proof that the marketing plan put forward is working. Because if something isn’t working, that’s something the sales department isn’t doing correctly. Marketing never seems to be answerable for anything.

To me, there is a vast difference between a premium item giveaway to “bribe” a single game fan who is going to be cheap on the ancillaries anyway.

The person eager to gain the Bobblehead upon entry likely bought the worst general admission $7-$10 ticket, parked 15 blocks away to avoid paying, and ate at home in order to avoid the concession stand.

I’d love to see “per cap” averages of what Bobblehead Nights really do, and the damage to the games that happen right after a Bobblehead Night.

Wait, hold on, what about the next game?

That’s right, while everyone pats themselves on the back for bribe a bunch of single game buyers to the Bobblehead Night, the next game approaches. And without another bribe equal to the last, attendance will be down and the idea of the game not being of “equal value” to the Bobblehead Night game rests within each customer’s subconscious.

This is the sort of psychology we are playing here. Where the customer sees value not just in one night, but how the entire string of season events goes. By offering a premium item such as a Bobblehead one night, it may become a turn-off for the fan to attend a non-Bobblehead Night game.

And I would love to see “per cap” averages for the game following a Bobblehead Night.

And that’s where marketing blames the sales department, for not getting enough fans to buy. Meanwhile, the marketing department has created a dilemma of how a customer may end up feeling about each game and its value.

To me, this type of marketing is a simplistic way of making a non-committed with a fan, not a customer. A customer is someone who buys the product long-term, not a single game person who doesn’t see long-term value in what they are buying.

Marketing budgets tend to be bloated exercises in spending into oblivion. Their practices cause me to wonder sometimes as the only way to do an ad buy is to also provide discounts and other enticements on top of the main advertisement.

All a marketing person seems to do is credit a campaign, a slogan, a blanket-measure of unproven idioms which never show an actual result in the application of more people showing up long-term to the venue.

Sales is a science.

That’s the main issue with sales. It’s not a sexy, glamour-filled sort. But it does offer the best results possible for a team to succeed.

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