3 Sports Marketing Assumptions That We Need To Defeat…


I’m thinking a lot about change, innovation, and opportunity creation in advance of my trip to Australia to give a keynote at the Ticketing Professionals Conference of Australia in Sydney and to do a workshop in Melbourne. (Want to know more about either, send me an email dave@davewakeman.com) 

As I’ve been prepping, I find myself coming back to some of the assumptions that sports marketers are making and that we need to defeat.

I have three that stick out more than others:

  1. Fans will come if we win!
  2. Discounts are a good way to rescue our marketing. 
  3. Marketing is really about promotion.

There are way more, but these three I want to focus on right now. Let’s take a look.

Fans will come if we win!

No they won’t.

Don’t believe me, let me introduce you to the Twitter feed of Empty Seats Galore and my local baseball team that has been one of the best teams in baseball for years with some of the most exciting players in the games, sitting in the middle of the pack of attendance despite averaging over 90 wins.

If you are only selling winning and losing, you are likely losing.

Even the University of Alabama isn’t safe.


Because winning works for a little bit, but then people get bored and want the next dopamine hit.

This is why instead of focusing on winning as a cure for your attendance woes, you have to have a constant focus on the customer experience.

Giving them fun, excitement, a party.

Everyone can steal a great deal from Minor League Baseball and Jesse Cole with the Savannah Bananas. No matter what league you are in, you should take the concept of putting on a “show” and apply that to the way that you think about your game presentation.

Discounts are a good way to save our marketing:

I’ve said once and I’ve likely said it a million times, but discounts destroy brands.

Again, don’t believe me:

How’s J. Crew doing?

When was the last time you payed full price?

Run that down through a ton of retailers and you’ll see that a lot of retailers have gotten into the game of trying to compete with Amazon on price, speed of delivery, and about 10 other things all at once and have come out on the losing end of things.

Let’s return our attention to discounts though.

Here’s why they don’t work:

Once you open the door to a discount, your market immediately jumps to the conclusion that if they hold out maybe they will get a better deal.

This is part of the challenge of the current state of the ticket sales market in the States. Due to the nature of the internet’s push for more openness in ticket sales, we have seen the market move to a point where if you are a sell out show, you sell out immediately, but far too many shows don’t move tickets until the last minute.


Because we’ve trained people to wait.

And, the thing is consumers are waiting for a better deal, but they are also likely to have other things come up: work, illness, life.

The lesson here, create incentives to get people to buy earlier.

Marketing is only about promotion:

There are 4 Ps to marketing: price, promotion, place, and product.

You know in too many instances, marketing isn’t getting the respect it deserves.

For me, marketing is everything you do.

In too many places because marketing has lost its respect, executives and other co-workers look at marketing as the place you go to promote whatever it is you are trying to sell.

This leads to an overreliance on price driven strategies like discounts; or, giveaways that are like a sugar rush and end up not producing the results or long-term impact that they are focused on.

The reality here is that marketing is about everything that anyone does in an organization.

Marketing isn’t a cost center. It better be a profit center.

This means that marketing is about promotions, and pricing. Absolutely.

But it is also about the product: the merchandise you sell, how you sell your tickets, customer service, and more.

And, it is about place…which is the venue and the way that everything presented.

All of these are marketing decisions.

So don’t lose sight of this and put your marketing focus on the entirety of the experience, not just a promotion you can run to get a sugar rush.

What are some of the assumptions that your organizations make?

You want my weekly newsletter? Send me an email at dave@davewakeman.com with the subject line “newsletter”. I’ll get you added for the next edition. 


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