12 Ways To Connect With Your Fans

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Originally posted on LinkedIn in 2017, this is still mighty relevant today. 

October is the month of the year when everything sports-related is humming.

We have football, basketball, soccer, hockey, and baseball.

As such, October is a good time to build stronger connections with your fans.

Here’s a quick hit list of 12 that you can use to grow your connection to your fans, superfans, and newbies.

  1. Offer up some sort of Halloween promotion. Pearl Jam sells Halloween t-shirts to their fan club members. Maybe you could do the same thing?
  2. Is your team out of town? Out of the playoffs? Maybe you can host a watch party at a local bar or local sponsor? That could be a win for you and your partners.
  3. What’s your local micro-brew? Can you and your local brewery come up with something special for your fans like DC Brau and DC United do with The Tradition?
  4. Can you make up a holiday? Much like Amazon does with Prime Day? This one won’t be easy, but I do remember the push that someone made to make baseball’s Opening Day a national holiday. Maybe you could do something different in honor of your team?
  5. Add some value to the relationship. We are in the value creation business, no matter what we are doing. That means that we have to always look for ways to generate more value for our fans. With all of the digital tools that is easier than ever before.
  6. Establish some fan values. At the Verizon Center, there used to be a sign in the box office that talked about today being someone’s first game and reminding the box office staff to act like that mattered. What could you do to establish better fan values for your building?
  7. Tell some stories. Stories are at the heart of sports. Think about me, I went to the University of Alabama and you can’t spit without hitting something that reminds you of the legacy of Alabama football or Bear Bryant. Better yet, think about a team that doesn’t have as rich of a history like the NY Mets and the way that their fans gravitate to people like Wally Backman. How can you use stories to improve your relationship with your fans?
  8. When was the last time you talked to your fans? Seriously? I was going to write about proximity bias today and the fact that we can become too close to our industry and our POV. Which leads us to make decisions and assumptions that might be built off of false or bad information. You can avoid that by spending some time with your employees and people in other industries.
  9. Be human. In our current society, we seem to lack empathy and humanity in a lot of contexts. The one place that should never happen is in our sports venues for any number of reasons. First, because we live in an experience economy and this is the ultimate once in a lifetime experience. Second, because empathy builds deeper connections and we need more of those in our culture today. The place people get those will win.
  10. Focus on service. There is an old story about the Ritz-Carlton chain and service that went something to the effect of any employee had a budget of up to $10,000 to make a customer happy. I’m not suggesting that you go to that level of extreme, but is there a way that you could make your in-game experience more customer friendly? More engaging?
  11. Stop going for best-in-class and make the jump to world-class. We hear best-in-class all the time, but in sports business how many of us are really world-class? Probably less than you think. Why is that? What can we do to not just meet expectations but exceed them to a degree that they are worth talking about?
  12. Look for ways that you can create content that connects your fans year round in a channel you own. How many sports teams do a good job of creating content that they drive through a channel that they own year round? Not many that I am aware of. Too many organizations depend on the platforms to reach their fans like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. This is a mistake because it makes the assumption that the platforms will be there and that if you go to another platform that the fans will follow. Not true. Again, I’m talking about building an email list and driving things through that email list year round.

These are a quick dozen ideas.

I’m certain that you have a lot more. Please sure them with me in the comments section below.

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