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3 Strategies Smart Sports Teams Use to Boost Sales

With so many other forms of entertainment competing for fans’ attention these days, teams need to offer more than just bobbleheads and dollar dog nights to boost sales of tickets and merchandise.

Sports marketers and operations directors recognize they must offer fans unique, personalized experiences to entice them to come back. Here are three strategies marketers are using to boost ticket sales and promote loyalty throughout the year, regardless of their team’s standing.

1. Using Data to Boost Sales


While the Milwaukee Brewers would love a World Series win as much as any other team, they rely on data analytics to keep their most loyal fans coming back year after year.

The Brewers’ analytics team looks for indications of loyalty using data from ticket scanners, purchasing history and even email. Ticket scanner data reveals how many games season ticket holders actually attended, which can help predict their likelihood to renew. The team also analyzes every email from its fans, with the assumption that those who take the time to write are more committed than the average fair-weather fan.

The Brewers partner with a demographic data provider to paint a more complete picture of the fans in their email database, including age, income and location.

Information from post-season surveys gives them additional insight. The Brewers use data from all these touch points to determine which season ticket holders are most likely to renew — and which ones need more nudging — so they can focus their sales and marketing efforts. It’s a smaller group, but the revenue potential is much higher, allowing the team to achieve a greater return on their investment.

The team determined it can improve season ticket sales by asking its sales reps to focus on the fans who were less likely to renew first, since the diehard fans don’t need as much convincing.

“The best customers would be buying within a call or two,” Milwaukee Brewers data analyst Diny Hurwitz said in an article in Knowledge@Wharton, a publication of The Wharton School. “So if someone is mostly likely to renew, why should that be the first call to make? They may even renew online without any phone call at all. But you may be missing out on leads if you let people who are less likely to renew go until later.”

2. Providing Exclusive Perks and Customized Experiences

Sorting through fan data also allows teams to determine what experiences and perks will be most enticing to certain groups based on their interests.

The most successful season ticket programs are strategically developed based on this data.

For instance, the Washington Redskins Rewards loyalty program allows longtime fans to participate in unique experiences such as joining players in the pre-game tunnel before kickoff or having their names added to the stadium’s Wall of Fame.

The Toronto Raptors offers an MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus MasterCard that allows fans to use routine credit card purchases to collect points that can be redeemed for tickets to the annual Raptors Red Party. They also can receive special gifts and have the opportunity to join an exclusive Raptors road trip.

3. Generating Excitement With Commemorative Event Tickets

The Daytona 500 was innovate to boost sales

Every fan loves a keepsake. Commemorative event tickets add to the excitement and VIP experience, enhancing loyalty programs. They are an important part of branding, making fans feel like part of an exclusive club.

A well-designed ticket or mailer is social media gold — fans can’t resist sharing it with their friends. This type of organic promotion costs nothing and can be just as effective in creating brand awareness as more traditional forms of advertising.

The Daytona 500 tapped into the power of social sharing when it printed a commemorative ticket to celebrate the race’s storied history and promote its new stadium construction project. The ticket used lenticular printing to produce a dynamic image that changes when viewed from different angles. One image features a black-and-white photo of the track in 1959, while the other shows the same track in full color in 2016. The ticket was a hit on social media, garnering hundreds of likes, shares and comments. The race sold out for the first time since 2008, thanks to the $400 million Daytona Rising redevelopment project, which included the addition of 40,000 new seats.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway unveiled a similar commemorative ticket to honor the 100th running of the Indy 500. The plastic ticket, featuring Juan Pablo Montoya, was available only in limited quantities, encouraging fans to pre-order.

“We’re really excited about it,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said in an interview with CBS News. “We think it’s something that people are going to look forward to keeping and it’s certainly going to last for a long time.”

Other teams are experimenting with custom lanyards, deluxe tickets for rivalry games, and hard plastic tickets that can clip onto lanyards. Some even offer special access to designated areas, such as press boxes and dining areas, giving the most loyal fans an even greater sense of exclusivity.

These fans are in a category all their own, and they pay top dollar for the experience of being treated that way. The most successful franchises in sports recognize this and are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to elevate the VIP experience.

And they are increasingly turning to experienced partners to manage the intricacies of these programs. DATA Communications Management is a leader in this space, supplying tickets and management of premium perks for major sports teams across North America. To learn more about their solutions for event ticket printing and loyalty programs, request a free consultation today.

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  12. Karri Calhoun March 20, 2018 at 10:25 am #

    Being from a smaller city in which the closest professional team is two hours away, I look for the games that offer some sort of incentive when attending. My family is a huge supporter of the New York Yankees. Every year we look for the closest venue to be able to attend a game. A couple of years ago, Chicago was going to be our closest destination. Of course, the Yankees would be playing 3 games that week. How did I choose which game to attend? I chose the game that was giving out an incentive. I believe we received a bobble head doll of a White Sox player as our incentive. It didn’t matter to us if it was a Yankee product or not. What mattered to us was that we received some sort of “prize” for attending the game.

    The following year the Yankees were playing in Cincinnati. We chose our game for the simple fact that it was Grateful Dead night. What could be better than the Yankees and some Jerry Garcia?

    Needless to say, whether the fans are dedicated or just simple “fair-weather” fans, everyone enjoys getting a “freebie”. I think this is a great way to get more ticket sales. I am still getting emails from the Chicago White Sox about ticket deals. Their persistence emails make it hard to say no.

  13. Lauren L. March 21, 2018 at 2:07 pm #

    Great post about marketing in the sporting world. With technology constantly changing, many organizations must change how they view ticket sales, media, community relations, etc. in order to boost sales. The analytics behind ticket sales interest me, as it is gives marketers an entirely different and unique avenue to reach out to a larger audience.

    As an avid sports fan, it never hurts to receive incentives every once and awhile. At my first Cubs game, the first 1000 ticket holders to enter the stadium received a free Cubs tumbler cup, which I sport everyday. On top of that, since I was a first time visitor, and since I am a child at heart, I received a certificate stating the date and the Cubs opponents (SF Giants) of my first ever Cubs game, which is a great keepsake from a wonderful day.

    Many teams are beginning to take advantage of their “Truck Day” in order to grow their audiences. This, to me, can soon become a top way to boost potential ticket sales, as it offers plenty of incentives for season ticket holders and non-season ticket holders alike. It allows teams to expand out into the community, as well as surrounding communities, and interact with fans, which can help boost any sales if there’s positive interactions. Everybody loves meeting a talented athlete, especially ones of huge caliber.

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  15. Emily E Boyd April 16, 2018 at 9:42 pm #

    Sales drives success in the sports world. In the age of technology there are plenty of ways to track progress from direct sales as well as social media campaigns. Data analytics has also proven to be a front running tool to indicate the progress organizations have made with their target publics in order to achieve sales goals. Specific strategies including providing personalized experiences are a wonderful engagement tool to make fans feel they are getting a custom experience specifically tailored to them. It makes patrons feel important and in having that feeling, they demonstrate brand loyalty by repeating business.

    Keepsakes and collectible offers have also been proven effective to keep fans’ interest. I personally believe in the power tangible perks have over someone’s choice to decide who to purchase from. Especially if marketing is persistent such as timed emails to remind customers the benefits they will receive from purchasing tickets, offers, etc. Temptation is easy to succumb to when a collectible item from your favorite team is listed as special edition or produced in limited quantities. It creates a sense of urgency and plays into fan’s fear of missing out.

    These are all relevant strategies in today’s market to boost sales in an organization. It is relevancy that is key to staying competitive in the market.

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  1. 3 Strategies Smart Sports Teams Use to Boost Sales - GotSports Media NYGotSports Media NY - September 15, 2016

    […] “The best customers would be buying within a call or two,” Milwaukee Brewers data analyst Diny Hurwitz said in an article inKnowledge@Wharton, a publication of The Wharton School. “So if someone is mostly likely to renew, why should that be the first call to make? They may even renew online without any phone call at all. But you may be missing out on leads if you let people who are less likely to renew go until later.” View Full Article >> […]

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