Lately there has been an epidemic of discount programs popping up around sports, disguised as “subscriptions” and because one got a nice piece of PR, everyone needed to jump on the bandwagon…the only problem with these things is that they are just accelerating the decline and value of tickets and attending games even further.
Because I am sure that at some point in the very near term we are going to see almost every team roll out this kind of program as a “fan friendly” “new” program, I wanted to address it immediately because I think this is going to accelerate the destruction of these multi-billion dollar brands.
Here’s 3 big issues to think about:
Undervalues the product to no end:
I’ve managed to count no less than 5 of these programs that have popped up around the major sports leagues in the US.
But the most egregious program is being produced by an app in Atlanta called INWEGO which offers you up unlimited games in the Atlanta market for $29 a month.
So you are telling me that I can do anything sports related in Atlanta for $29 a month?
So why would I ever buy tickets at full price again?
That’s the problem with all of these programs, they are just really deep, deep discounts hidden in the disguise of a subscription program.
But what is lost in all of this is the utter and complete destruction of your brand at the cost of these “opportunities.”
I’ve written pretty early and often about the danger of discounts to your brand with much of my observations being taken from the largest neuromarketing survey ever done, recounted in detail in Martin Lindstrom’s book Buy-ology.
But I’ll reiterate it here, when you do something like this…you have set up your brand to be viewed as a discount brand for 7 years.
Which means that if you are like the Atlanta Braves and you just opened your brand new ballpark, the ballpark is going to have lost its new car smell by the time you aren’t considered a discount and low value option to your customer base.
The same goes for the renovations that are being considered by the Hawks to Phillips Arena.
On and on down the list.
The simple fact is that discounting, gimmicks, and tricks provides a sugar high for you, but in the long term, it really, really, really destroys the value you have been focusing on creating.
Teaches Customers All The Wrong Things:
While I am on the topic of discounts and gimmicky subscriptions, these programs teach your customer base the wrong lessons.
I mean, if you offer me a $29 subscription and I can just wait to the last minute to decide if I want to go to a game, and that I might or might not get a premium seat or a great seat out of the deal…
Exactly why am I going to buy early or pay premium?
I’m not ever going to pay full price again.
Because you’ve already taught me that there isn’t a lot of pressure on my purchase to buy early because games are selling out fast by the fact that you are offering me up an all-you-can-eat buffet subscription for your product.
So by logic, I am not going to make a decision about going to a game until the last minute because: why should I?
Again, absolutely no reason.
Weather looks a little bad…maybe I will go to a brewery or sports bar.
Friends are going to happy hour, was going to the ball game…now, I’m going to happy hour.
On and on and on, until no one goes to your games.
Because you have taught fans and your customer base several terrible lessons that you may never overcome:
- Our product is really just a low cost nice to have.
- Its not a hot thing to attend
- There will always be a better deal, so wait
- Never pay full price
These are all destructive to the health of your brand and your place in the entertainment marketplace.
Don’t Really Address The Main Issue:
Which is marketing, branding, and service…but mainly marketing.
As an industry, we’ve kind of fallen back on a bunch of really poor business practices like winning cures all, fans will not care if we overcharge them on F&B once they are in the building because we have a formula that says so, and if we don’t sell early, we can always discount later and our season ticket holders won’t notice a thing.
But the main issue is that we have forgotten all about what real branding, marketing, and service is about.
It is about developing relationships over time.
Controlling our reputation and building a reputation that is meaningful and represents what we want to be in the marketplace.
Service is about nurturing and growing that relationship.
These are the core aspects of your business.
These are the things you can do that only you and your organization can do.
These are the things that you need to be focusing all of your energy on, consistently.
Man, these subscription deals are going to be everywhere…but don’t do them and say you haven’t been warned.