Category Archives: Corporate Communications

Pro Teams Score with Direct-to-SportsFan Marketing

Increasingly, professional sports teams are taking their important communication messages directly to fans.

Powered by the ubiquity of the Internet and fan tethering to social media platforms, direct-to-sportsfan (D2SF) marketing offers pro teams an unprecedented, and unfiltered, communication vehicle to their fans and season ticket-holders.

Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins. Photo: Brooklyn Nets website.

Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins. Photo: Brooklyn Nets website.

What is direct-to-sportsfan marketing?

D2SF is a hybrid marketing strategy designed to enhance the relationship, connection and relevance between teams and their fans, especially season ticket-holders, via the creation and direct sharing of special access, customized content.  It’s a combination package of marketing communications, content marketing, public relations, customer engagement and social media marketing.

Tactics include:

  • In-house Broadcasting.  Teams create their own reporting and broadcast content, typically with their own, paid journalists.
  • Coach-To-Fan Communication.  This takes the form of letters, short videos and recorded telephone messages.
  • Owner-To-Fan Communication.  Public letters, season ticket-holder messages and tweets are commonly used.

Communications expert Ivy Cohen, president and CEO of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, provides some perspective to help understand this developing marketing philosophy:

“The fan-team relationship is a symbiotic one.  Teams need fans to establish the value of their brands and keep the franchise flourishing.  Fans want to connect with their favorite teams for the psychic rewards of competition, winning, belonging, and a variety of benefits that come with entertainment, love of sport and following a season.”

Cohen adds:

“When player contracts were long-term, fans felt strong ties to individual players, the team brands were represented by a steady player roster and fans had strong team brand loyalty and player attachments.  Since that system eroded, fans need more and meaningful ways to feel an ongoing connection to a team.  Fans want to feel connected to their team and are seeking a persona to contribute that.  Owners and coaches can be strong representatives for their teams.”

Overall, as a targeted sports fan recipient myself, I like to see what the coaches or owners have to say unfiltered.  It’s a nice supplement to all the sports journalism.  And, as a marketing observer, it’s interesting to note what and how teams decide to communicate.


Let’s look at two examples from the past few weeks.

Jason Kidd Letter to Bucks Fans.  Posted 7/7/2014 to Milwaukee Bucks website.

Jason Kidd Letter to Bucks Fans. Posted 7/7/2014 to Milwaukee Bucks website.

Jason Kidd is the new coach of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, having controversially orchestrated his departure from the Brooklyn Nets sideline. You can read his letter of introduction to Wisconsin fans:

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How NOT to Engage Customers: NY Mets Strike Out with Fan Letter.

Talk about a wild pitch!  Last week’s fan letter and call-to-action produced by the New York Mets baseball team is bad marketing.

However well-intentioned it may have been, the letter is a misfired effort at fan engagement and boosting game attendance.  Note that I’m a big Mets fan, so I take no joy in writing this post.

Source: NY Mets website.

Source: NY Mets website.

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There are so many missteps that I hope the marketing department was forced to implement this idea.  Let’s break it down.

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Planet Fitness Drops Dumbbell with Gym Member Communication

It’s not only what you say, but sometimes what you don’t say, that irritates your customers.

Similar to poor communication, a lack of communication can also be damaging if you’re trying to maximize positive customer engagement.  Case in point:   my gym, Planet Fitness, just dropped a dumbbell and they didn’t say excuse me.

Here’s what happened.

Photo: Planet Fitness Facebook.

Photo: Planet Fitness Facebook.

When I signed-up for membership a little more than one year ago, automatic monthly billing was set-up via card credit.  I haven’t had any problems.  The process has worked fine.

Last week, my credit card on file with the gym was deactivated due to fraud concerns.  Once I received the new card, I made a special trip to give the gym my new card number.  I figured it would be easier and faster to handle it in person rather than calling by phone.

It was neither.  To my surprise, I was informed that Planet Fitness no longer offers billing by credit card.  I was told that, based on a recent change, payment is now only allowed via checking account direct withdrawal or debit card (seems the same to me). Continue reading

Duke Libraries Tell Stories to Raise Funds. Plus 3 Tips for Your Marketing Team.

How do you motivate alumni to give money to libraries?

Or, more generally put, how do you persuade someone to do something that’s not top of mind?

You tell meaningful stories.

Storytelling has been a powerful marketing communications tool for a long time.  Today, it’s often talked about in association with content marketing.

And while it’s not a new tactic, when used effectively, it can produce important business results.

Duke Magazine - Special Issue 2013

Duke Magazine – Special Issue 2013

Take this ad for Duke University Libraries, for example.

The photo caught my attention and led me to read about how Duke assigns a librarian to every first-year dorm.

To me, that’s an interesting story I’d like to know more about.  The eye-catching visual, along with the text, quickly dimensionalizes an abstract concept and makes it easy to understand and relate to.  There’s a URL to get more info.

The result:  Duke has a greater chance to raise funds earmarked to its libraries. Continue reading