The competitive landscape of baseball is tough. Without a salary cap many small-market teams have a tougher time succeeding. While MLB has taken measures like revenue sharing and luxury tax thresholds to help level the playing field, the small market teams have to work harder to be considered a contender.
Just like on the field, small market teams need to work hard and be strategic to engage and grow their fan base.
Empires are built on brand loyalty, specifically the loyalty of a franchise’s fan base. With more access to fans and larger markets executing integrated programs, it’s becoming even more difficult for small market teams to do something unique and increase the loyalty of their fan base.
3 Small-Market Teams Developing Great Marketing Activations:
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals are the quintessential small-market team that hasn’t enjoyed much recent on-field success. However, the Royals have been gaining attention with their social media marketing strategies.
Recently they executed what was a one of a kind experience for the sports industry and could be the blueprint for other organizations to follow.
The #SocialRoyaltyKC campaign idea was that when they reached 100,000 Twitter followers, the Royals would lock their account and launch a special trivia contest in which only their first 100,000 followers could participate.
It’s an interesting strategy. How do you cut through the clutter and best reward your followers with social media marketing? The Royals looked to drive loyalty through a balance of number and special engagement.
Today social loyalty can switch on a dime; it is nice to see that a team is taking time to treat their followers like more than just a number.
The Brewers have been very busy this year with their activations. At the beginning of the season they launched a program called Design-a-YOUniform, a contest in which fans could design a uniform that was worn during a spring training game.
The crowd sourced program garnered nearly 700 entries and turned the winning entry into an additional revenue stream.
Currently, the Brewers have teamed up with Leinenkugel’s Brewing Company to create a new beer that will be served exclusively at Miller Park. Much like the YOUniform contest they are letting their fans decide the beer’s name through a public vote.
The Brewers have done a great job looking for opportunities to create unique offerings to enhance the fan interaction and experience through their unique activations.
While the Indians are not currently executing any ground breaking promotions, they have taken a unique approach to their marketing strategy. The club began working with the marketing firm, ThinkVine, to build a marketing-mix-modeling system that mimics a market rather than employing actual consumer data.
The Indians built a marketplace of 5,000 simulated consumers living in the greater Cleveland area, factoring in die-hards and others infrequent visitors to Progressive Field. This virtual marketplace has several built in variables that could affect attendance and how much fans are willing to pay for tickets, including weather-forecast data; win/loss record; star players from opposing teams; player injuries; and whether other entertainment options.
These scenarios can help the club determine the best days of the week for particular giveaways and how to be more efficient with media dollars.
It’s not impossible for small market teams to compete with “The Big Boys” but just like on the field it takes some creativity, innovation and great execution.