So You Still Have a Blackberry

Last week we talked about creative promotion.  This week we take on the issue at the other end of the continuum – prehistoric marketing tactics.  Or as author Scott Stratten would put it, “UNmarketing.”
Those that know me know that I loved my Blackberry.  It took me years to replace it with a smart phone.  Once I did make the switch, my life got a lot more productive.  I am constantly asked by clients, family, and friends, “What took you so long?”  Which led me to think, what are our clients doing today that they know deep down isn’t working? 
Here are some things we see in the sports tourism marketing space that should get a second look…..

1.    Print Ads – In 16 years of leading sports commissions, I never once secured a piece of business from a print ad.  Rights holders are making buying decisions based on relationships and reputations, not by paging through a magazine.  Use your resources to build bridges with people, rather than to buy ad space.

2.    Hard Copy Venue Guides – Every year we get dozens of magazine quality venue guides mailed to our office.  With very few exceptions, they are non-descript, and don’t tell the story of the destination itself.  If you must produce a hard copy venue guide, we suggest you at least deliver it in a unique way to separate yourself from the competition (google “Jon Spoelstra Marketing Outrageously rubber chickens” for some cool ideas).  One city sent us their venue guide this past year on a version of the Amazon Fire.  More expensive, yes.  Did we turn it on and go through it?  You bet.

3.    Trade Show Sponsorships – If you sponsor one or more of the industry trade shows for “branding” purposes, make sure you are getting positive value for your investment.  Specifically, make sure you can measure your sponsorship in some way versus just plastering your logo all over an event (such as a luncheon or reception).  We prefer an activation where you can count the number of people that engage in your promotion (such as a rights holder only breakfast where you bring in a special speaker that is not on the conference program).  Prior to the event make it known to the event owner what your numerical expectations are for the activation, and keep score based on those initial goals (such as how many rights holders you expect at your breakfast to consider it a success).

4.    Holiday Cards – This year we received no less than 50 holiday cards from various CVBs and sports commissions across the country.  Similarly to the venue guide example, the cards are usually the same from one to the next.  We love the holidays, don’t get me wrong.  However, if you are going to make the effort, do so in a unique way – such as sending the holiday card via e-mail with a video greeting from a famous person that lives in your destination.  One unique idea, we once had a local team’s announcer voice over our staff’s outgoing messages on our voice mail – people noticed and the creativity set us apart. Even better, how about sending a birthday card to rights holders on their big day?  That would show you put thought into the gesture much more than grabbing your mailing list and running off some labels like everyone else.

5.    Familiarization Tours – Very few event rights holders we have talked to enjoy FAMs.  Specifically, many of them despise group FAMs and won’t attend them no matter how attractive the itinerary.  Sports leaders prefer individual visits, and where possible, most want an opportunity to bring their significant others.  We suggest you allow for a spouse or “plus-one” when planning any type of sales visit, and make the invitation open to that possibility.  We think you will see a much higher acceptance rate if you provide for a guest to accompany your client.  One additional best practice we have seen – use non-sports events for sports-related client visits.  Three of our clients use their annual music festivals to host potential sports clients.  One even uses their Harley Davidson rally to try and attract sports event rights holders to see their community.   Everyone has unique assets, be creative and put them to work.

Back to the initial question.  What are you doing that you know isn’t working?  Why don’t you try something different?  When we first meet with a new client, inevitably some say, “We have a budget for booths, one for FAMs, and one for print ads, that is how we have always done it.”  Wouldn’t that be the same as having a Blackberry today?
Ditch the old way of thinking and try something new.  Do so today, or face the risk becoming a sports destination “Blackberry.”