Season tickets are one of the most important revenue streams for football and rugby clubs in the UK and across the sporting world.
With a constant focus on helping clubs increase revenue and reach, Atomic Sport Directors Patrick Murphy and Stephen Quinn highlight the building blocks of a successful season ticket campaign. Read on for a more detailed look at the following:
- Understanding your fans
- Segmenting your target audience
- Sweating the spend
- Working with sponsors
The Importance of the Season Ticket
Revenue from season ticket holders can range from 5% to 40% of overall club revenue, so the importance of renewals and recruitment can mean the difference between a healthy year and one where the club has to play catch up financially.
Successful clubs know the latent power that exists in their loyal following. But how do Commercial Directors harness that opportunity? How do they balance their precious media and marketing budgets? How can social media connect with audiences in powerful ways?
We outline our playbook for success…
1. Get into the figures
It all starts with the revenue drivers. Where do you make your money from? How much do you spend to make that revenue? What is your cost per acquisition? How does that rate compare to other clubs of your size and type?
For one client we uncovered that they were underspending on their Season Ticket Campaign considering the value of the opportunity versus other investments which offered less return.
Advertising effectiveness can always be increased, but the first investment necessary to achieve this increase is to take a closer look at how well each media and promotion type worked for your customers.
2. Ask the Fans what they think
Your fans are your biggest asset. Focus groups are cheap (or often free). Fans are not like customers of products in that they actually want to tell you what they think! Do they feel that they’re getting value for money? What could be improved? What could be changed? Your fans are a rich mine of information and advice. Much of what they want (and will encourage them to renew) is cheap to implement. Far cheaper than a new fan recruitment campaign.
3. Segment your market
Segmentation is a critical part of any sales and marketing strategy. Not all fans are the same. They have different motivations, some will balk at a £10 increase - others don’t even know the price. Each market needs it’s own mini-strategy with language and levers that are distinct to their specific needs.
Segmentation work we have undertaken with clients has in some cases uncovered entirely new segments of potential customers who we could speak to directly using the club's owned media.
With the advance in data-mining the possibilities for segmentation have become more and more significant. The Miami Heat have developed a database with over 700,000 entries containing data on age, income, zip code and lifestyle. For every dollar spent on this process, the Heat received an $11 return on investment*.
4. Sweat the Spend
Media will always be your biggest cost in a marketing campaign. Spending the majority of your budget letting your fans know tickets are 'on sale now' is a complete waste of money. For our campaigns we split the budget between brand awareness and tactical marketing. Brand awareness tells fans WHY their club is the best club in the world, while tactical campaigns talk directly to our segmented markets and generally contain more benefit-led messages (what you get as a season ticket holder that ordinary fans don’t get - getting to meet the players, better seats, discounts) anything that justifies the cost of the ticket will feel like money well spent.
Recent years have seen large increases in advertising from major league teams across the Atlantic. Franchises such as the Cleveland Cavaliers have increased their marketing budget by 15-20% while the Arizona Diamondbacks have recently increased their budget by 60%. Meanwhile smaller sporting organisations such as the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is spending close to 30% of their $67m budget on marketing**.
Social is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must have, especially when it comes to Season Ticket Campaigns. Using your own fan base on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and existing traffic on your website can inspire existing and future ticket holders. From a media point of view connecting your messages with their media consumption, especially around mobile, means less waste and lower costs.
Companies such as Crowdsurge are driving innovative ticketing solutions in the music space and the time is ripe for similar ideas to be used around sports events - such as ballots and auctions which operate directly within social media. Twitter are selling tickets for the Atlanta Hawks direct from tweets in a move that will surely be quickly replicated.
5. Ask the Sponsors
Sponsors offer a lot more than just a signed cheque each year. Many sponsors struggle to effectively activate their partnerships with clubs. They also tend to have budget for marketing which far exceeds yours. Clubs should consider offering sponsors a piece of the season ticket marketing message in return for help creating and amplifying that message.
We've helped clubs secure funding from their sponsors for additional marketing initiatives by pitching the opportunity in a brand-centric fashion and outlining the benefits for the brand.
Season Tickets are a hugely valuable revenue stream for clubs. A planned approach that uses emotional and rational messages, a cost effective media strategy and harnessing the reach of your sponsors can be the difference between success and failure.
*John Lombardo, “A whole new Ball game in South Florida” SSSNJ, 2005
**The Elusive Fan, Iving Rein et al.
To discuss our season ticket case studies or arrange a free workshop, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.