It’s football season, and I could not be more excited. There is something about fall and football that just go together, like cookies and milk. Recently I traveled to Morgantown, West Virginia, to take part in some Mountaineer football tailgating.
As I walked through the tailgate area, my businesslike mind started crunching numbers. I was astonished by the amount of money that had gone into this one game. Coaches’ salaries, ticket sales, fan gear, food and beverage choices, campers decked out in fan gear and much more. It seemed like to these die-hard fans money was no object. I began to question the extravagance. Other than the thrill of the game and the experience of being with friends and family, what do the fans get in return?
Sports fans are probably the most loyal type of fan. They follow their teams to away games, stay up to date on player conditions and even use “we”, associating themselves as a part of the team. It is a marketer’s dream to have someone so invested in your brand that they will keep coming back and defending it no matter what. As a way of saying thanks for their commitment and support, many companies have started their own rewards and fan loyalty programs.
Football fans have proved time and time again that they are invested not only in the sport but also in their teams and individual players.
It is a great reminder to us in marketing and public relations, that capitalizing on this commitment is a good way to continue to grow relationships and give back to our audiences. As with any marketing strategy, the best way to target consumers is through research. Before thinking about starting a loyalty program, find out what your fans would what. What would be their ultimate experience or reward? Use that to drive your campaign.
When thinking about developing a loyalty program, it’s important to make sure it’s offered to all fans, not just season ticket holders or frequent fans. Here are some general recommendations for program creation to help drive engagement:
• Create a community where fans can stay current on favorite players, join team discussions, and get exclusive behind-the-scenes, access.
• Offer discounts for upcoming events and team items.
• Create contest/campaigns on social for chances to win event access with players.
With football season ramping up, it will be interesting to see if teams are finding ways to deepen relationships with their die-hard fans. Cheers to a great football season!