Sunday, December 31, 2006

Capturing the casual fan

I have just returned from a Titans party (term used loosely) at a college buddy's house. At the party there were 5 couples, all married and 4 of which had at least one child. We were drinking beer, eating snacks, and having a good time. Every one of us had been to at least one Titans game during the current season. None of us paid for the tickets.

I am sure there were a number of these parties throughout the Nashville area. Now, as a marketer, I am always evaluating human behaviors. I am wondering ... why are none of us at the game? with a playoff birth up for grabs, and the known ease of scalping tickets, why are we choosing to watch the game in someone's house?

That is my dilemma relating to the Commodores.

I have often wondered exactly how big is our fan base? We have over a hundred thousand contacts in our database, but why won't more of them buy tickets?

A little background ... the Commodores have about 10,000 season ticketholders from year to year. We have a stadium that seats almost 40,000 and we average about 34,000 per game. Oh, we have not had a winning season since '82.

For a while I have thought that we were getting an overwhelming majority of our fan base to buy season tickets, which I was very proud to say. However, when we played a crosstown school, MTSU, the TV ratings were off the charts? They were larger than what the Titans receive! Over 400,000 watched the poor old Commodores! (if you buy into ratings, which I don't)

There were other factors, but I want to focus on how I can get more of the 400,000 potential fans into our gates.

That was what I was thinking about as I watched a Titans game with 17 people who fit into my target market. According to the Titans, we do not exist. We have been to games, called ourselves fans, but do not receive any communication, or have had any relationship with the program.

What would you do if you were the Titans? If you were the Commodores? One has a season sold out, and the other has plenty of seats available.

I haven't given it much thought, but there are two missions: identify the fans by getting them into your database, and ratchet them up the fandom ladder to the point of generating revenue for your program.

What would you do?

Take care.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wow, it's been a while

Sorry for the long period of time between posts. Not a great way to build a consistent readership huh?

Had big ideas, but I think I started this project at a terrible time, begining of football season. Well, now as we are about to ring in the new year, I have re-dedicated myself to this blog.

This is my favorite part of the year.

You see, I am what some call an idea guy. Some use that term in a derogatory manner suggesting they can not really execute their ideas. Those perceptions serve as my major motivation.

At this time of year, all the plans for this academic year have been planned, executed, and succeeded or failed by now. We must now look to next year, with heightened expectations, and more opportunity to turn Vanderbilt into a differentiated sports entertainment option.

I have several ideas I want to flesh out, and this should be the place to do it, right?

Until then, see you later and take care.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Search for the Holy ... Grunt?

I am officially frustrated. Why can't everyone be like me. Wait, that sounds a little conceited. Why can't people be more like I want them to be?

I have had an abnormal amount of turnover this summer. No, I am not driving them away, they are getting promoted. I should be proud, and happy, and feel like I have done well in leading my people.

But I do not. I am frustrated by the crapshoot that is hiring entry level employees. They are tough to hire. Many look exactly the same on paper. All have degrees. All have advanced degrees. All have similar work experience. All have not had significant autonomy. Very few have had to multi-task. Fewer have continuously tried to improve themselves and be better today than they were yesterday.

That's what I am looking for. How do I find it? What questions do I ask? I do not know yet. I am still figuring it out.

For those trying to get in the business ... I do not want to hear "I just love college athletics." Crap. I do too. Maybe instead of a job, you should buy season tickets. I do not want to hear ... "I want to be an AD," but then not have any clue what that means when pressed. I want to hear ... "I am eager to learn" and "this career path is my passion" and "how do I see my career progressing", etc

More to come later.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Holy crap, Miss State changed their colors

This is getting ridiculous. College sports, by all accounts is stronger than ever. Right? Maybe not.

I was recently in a presentation by CLC (Collegiate Licensing Company) where they were discussing the college merchandise business being $3+ billion industry (say that in your best Donald Trump impression as is this were the Apprentice). But, I am watching the Miss State Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers battling it out in front of a very ... tan fan base. Tan because there are more empties than full seats. (tan is the concrete, sorry, bad joke)

So, what's up? MSU is in the SEC, great tradition, first African American head coach in the SEC, but nobody there to see them have a chance at the No 4 team in the country? Hmm. Very fickle. Sure, their announced attendance will be high, but my eyes do not lie.

Is it pricing getting out of hand? Are the much publicized errors of 18 year olds catching up to us? Now, if a tailback farts in church, it is on a blog and people will adjust the betting line for his flatulence. (sp?) It used to seem as if fans were in it all the way, good times and bad. Maybe now, you win, or you change your school colors to hide the empty seats. (ala, the Atlanta Hawks!)

Take care.

Allow myself to introduce ... myself

Ahh, what a great line. I sometimes feel as if I do not even have my own dialogue anymore. If it isn't a movie, famous quote, or an overused line from Seinfeld I don't say it.

My name is Eric Nichols and this is my blog. Whew, that was awesome. My first blog post. Exciting huh?

I am in my eighth year in the Vanderbilt University athletic department. I am currently the Director of Marketing for the Athletic Department. (yea, yea, yea, I've heard all the jokes before. YES, we DO STILL have an athletic department)

Our Marketing office prides itself on being progressive and innovative when it comes to marketing Vanderbilt athletics. I in no way am suggesting we are the best, at least not yet. But, we have to do things better, smarter, and more efficiently than almost any other school in the country. And we do pretty well at it. More on that in posts to come.

This blog is intended to appeal to those in or interested in the college sports administration field. It is not what it seems and too often I am confronted with young, wet-behind-the-ears interns who have no idea what this business is about. And maybe that is it, they do not understand this is a business.

I hope to provide an inside look at real issues, with respect to confidentiality, that are impacting Vanderbilt, the SEC, college sports in general, pro sports, and maybe a little pop culture.

I also hope to provide an online laboratory where I can post the beginings of an idea, and you can weigh in and make it better, or say shut the hell up - this is stupid.

In short, I want "you, to complete me". Make me better, make our industry better, and indirectly, hopefully make you better.

Take care.