Sunday, May 27, 2007

Predator Possibilities?

By possibilities, I am referring to those possibilities that might exist for Vanderbilt. Since 1998 when Nashville welcomed two professional franchises into the market, we (Vanderbilt) have struggled to keep up. (until recently)

But after the Predators were sold, and much of the speculation is that the team will be moving, we have begun having discussions about making sure those businesses that have supported the Predators fulfill their business needs with their friend who has never left and never will, the Commodores.

-- Allow me to speak as a Nashvillian for a minute. I love my city, and whether I am a Pred fan or not, the Predators are good for the city, even if it means making my job more difficult. The Predators provide a vibrant downtown nightlife that would be nonexistent in the winter months otherwise. Of course, I do not pretend to know the financial situations related to the city's deal with the Preds. --

Back to the topic. The love affair with pro sports has taken a hit recently. We at Vanderbilt have fielded many compliments from those that have defected from the Titans or Predators. After taking our lumps and being knocked down a few pegs in the Nashville sports community, we have attacked the corporate culture with creativity, work ethic, and superior service as related to the corporate community. And the results are showing. Our corporate revenue has taken a sharp increase recently int he sponsorship and hospitality categories.

Now, the opportunity has presented itself to go further on the offensive now that the Predators are facing extinction. We are excited, prepared, and eager to accept this new challenge.

But the challenge will not be easy. The Predator fans are rallying around the chance they could actually play a part in keeping the team in Nashville. They will have the help from local media (who have an obvious vested interest in the team staying), and the target of 14,000 average attendance is an attainable goal. It will be very interesting to see the response of Nashville to the very public 'NEED of ticket sales or lose the team' messages.

For me, I will be happy either way. I just love having the opportunity to learn ... either what to do or what not to do if I am every faced with a similar issue in my professional life.

Take care.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Identity Discovery

Marketing guru.

Biggest Titan fan I know.

Money bags.

Wall Street Journal evangelist.


A Mac is the way to go.

Huge "24" fan

The above phrases are but a few descriptions of people I have heard just in the last 24 hours. Some sound negative. Some are hard to measure. But all are part of a little secret in marketing successfully ... discover a way for your customer to use you in their identity.

People love labels. Labels stick. Bad part is, when you get an identity, it is only as strong as the amount of dilution. In Nashville, it is very hard to be the "biggest Titan fan". Pretty soon, you are just a fan like everyone else.

So what can an organization do to allow customers to identify themselves with your product, yet not make is so diluted they become bored with it?

I do not have an answer, but I am thinking on it. Maybe in the near future I will write more on the subject. This fascinates me.

Take care.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Campaign Copycat

I am not a terribly political person. However, I love a presidential campaign as I tend to learn an awful lot about PR, spin, crisis management, positioning, communication, and most of all marketing.

After surfing a few presidential hopefuls' websites, it dawned on me that college athletic departments can learn a lot from the way a presidential campaign can be complemented online.

Obama 08 was the first that caught my attention. (actually, the first was W's in '04 who apparently was the first to embrace the online medium effectively - I don't count Howard Dean)

Now before I go any further, let me reiterate I do not have a current opinion on any candidate, but I am merely analyzing their campaigns from the online community only. There, I don't want my conservative buddies lined up at the office when I get to work!

Some of the highlights I like that could easily translate to college athletics:
  • HUGE "Donate button" - duh
  • Answer Center
  • Blog - I personally think an athletic fundraising blog should share stories from around the program, coaches, etc
  • Well produced video pieces carefully illustrating the message
  • Grassroots initiatives online
  • Clear objectives - recruiting your vote (fan support) and raise funds
  • Calendar of events including volunteer opportunities

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I think this can begin the thinking that would lead to a more active solicitation of an online relationship with a large group of people.

By providing some easy points of entry or new ways for fans of your school to become active, a site can deepen the relationship and emotional bond for a donor or fan.

Take care.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

My Playoff Plan

I really do not consider myself an NBA fan, however the past few Mays, I have found myself tuning in and thoroughly enjoying the Playoffs. But, this always makes me wonder why I watch ZERO regular season games.

This morning on the Sports Reporters, one the discussion points was on how insignificant the regular seasons are becoming for every major professional sport.

Almost half the teams make the playoffs for each of the major sports, thus the regular season is getting diluted. And I strongly agree.

But this is something that I have thought for a while, and I think I have a relatively decent solution.

Keep the number of teams in the playoffs, keep the seven game series (obviously this will not apply to NFL), but only play the games on the higher seed's home arena/stadium.

What? Yea, I'll say it again, all games played at the higher seed's home.

It really is not that difficult for a lower seed team to win a series nowadays. All they have to do is steal ONE game on the road and then the 82 game NBA regular season is nullified and the lower seed now has the advantage. It is happening more and more often. Lower seeded teams are winning.

Let's look a little deeper. It is a well known fact that some teams will rest players with nagging injuries, not give their maximum effort, and generally cruise through the regular season should they be good enough o be in the playoffs. Why? Because the seeding carries very little weight. If you had the top team in the NBA, and you had a one game lead on the second place team, but your star tweaked his ankle late in the regular season? Would you rather have your star 100% for the playoffs by resting him, or play him so you can hold on to the top seed? Everyone will do the former.

But, should that team potentially have to play the final series at the No 2 seed's home arena/stadium should they lose the final few games, I think more of them would play.

This plan will put significant emphasis on the regular season and the battle for the seeds.

Of course, you are probably thinking about the lost revenue for the lower seeded team? I have a plan for that too. Pretty simple really. All ticket, concessions, sponsorship, and ancillary revenue produced by the higher seeded team will be split right down the middle with the lower seeded team.

The few drawbacks include taking playoff home games away from half of your markets could jeopardize some of the fan avidity come postseason time. But I think this will be offset by the increase in attention and focus paid to the increased significance of the regular season.

My plan certainly has a few holes, but I think there is not enough on the line during the regular season, and having to play all games on the road of the higher seed's turf could make the regular season a bit more important.

Take care.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Prized Products

I thought I might pass along a couple of products that have blown me away recently. might be the most useful tool since the fork. Are you like me in that you call your own voicemail several times, leaving yourself a message for you to get when you get to work? (isn't that awkward at the end, I mean do you say bye? Or have a nice day? Or take care?) Anyway, makes this process a bit easier. After registering for the free service, you can call the Jott phone line (programmed into your phone of course), speak your message to yourself, then will email you your message. Cool huh? If you are like me, and utilize your inbox to be sort of a to-do list, this service is a must-have.

The second product is more of a service as well. Erica Erck, a lifestyle photographer, blew my wife and I away with her talent. We have a two year old girl, and were needing a springtime photo. We were debating between a relatively expensive hired gun (Erica) and the old faithful Sears photo studio. I mean Sears had a $10 special going on! Obviously I am not endorsing Sears, so needless to say we bit the bullet and went with Erica. We were very nervous as anytime you have a two year old you never know what will happen. But, Erica was able to turn the 7 total minutes of time out of the 2 hour shoot that our daughter was happy into 75 masterpieces. I mean seriously, these photos are amazing (Gracie in the park). Of course, I think my daughter is cute, I mean every father does, but these are far and above beyond anything I expected. I am happy with my fee to pay her for her time, and ecstatic with forking over the money needed to print the photos.

Take care.