Marketing Advice that (Almost) Always Works — Solving The NFL Attendance Problem
When I am asked for guidance on a brand or marketing problem, I usually respond that I know a method that is “guaranteed” to work: Find an organization that has successfully addressed a similar problem, and adapt what they did. Don’t limit the search to those organizations that look like your own, but be willing to look more broadly.
The NFL has a serious attendance problem due to the incredible experience provided by home television coverage, the high cost of tickets, the hassle of going to the event and the event experience. There is not only a risk to an important income source, but also to the experience. Playing to half-empty stadiums with passive crowds would affect the on-site and the viewing experience.
My view is that the NFL needs to look to role models. Consider the NASCAR experience, where attendees get to listen in on the strategy conversations between drivers and their pit crews, where the larger trip to the event is marketed with hotels and restaurants included, where the sounds are part of the energy. Or the Memphis Redbirds, a minor league baseball team that created an augmented experience with jazz bands, innovative food, five party settings and the Sonic Drive-In Kids Club, where members get to run the bases. Or women’s college sports, where the coaches have strategy discussion with fans in a variety of forms, where the players have autograph sessions after games, where there are events to publicize games, and where big backers get very special treatment. Or look to successful theater groups, symphonies, rock groups, evangelical churches and tennis tournaments.
The point is that the NFL would do well to look beyond their world for fresh ideas to grow their base and to make the NFL experience more involving, interesting, fun and exciting. They should consider not only functional benefits but also ways to deliver social, emotional and self-expressive benefits.
The NFL is taking some action. Big screens now routinely display replays like you see at home. It’s liberalizing its restraints on crowd noises so announcers and video displays will be freer to encourage crowds to get involved. Microphones can now be placed on players so that fans can hear on-field commentary (although a lot of work needs to be done to match the NASCAR insider experience). Teams will have to carry the NFL RedZone, which display plays made around the league within the 20 yard line. Hearing the conversation between referees is being considered. These are some promising steps, but well short of a comprehensive effort to marshal the programs and ideas of possible role models.
When you have a brand or marketing problem, look for role models. It nearly always works. Role model input, of course, needs to be supported by an understanding of the customer touch points and the offering’s limitations, but the key ingredient is usually generating new ideas and programs.
And that means fresh thinking – exactly what role models stimulate.
comments powered by Disqus
The fine print: All comments are reviewed before they are published, so your comment may not show up right away. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments at any time for any reason. Unprofessional language and spam will be rejected.