For anyone who has followed the back and forth in the NBA about the current lockout, you realize that there is a lot of acrimony from the owners and players. Acrimony can generally fuel passion, but it doesn’t fuel positive passion – particularly from the fans.
At some point the lockout will end. There’s too much money to be lost this season for both the owners and players, and the money that will be lost is money that the fans would have paid. With each passing day, for a certain portion of fans, the fan’s affinity for the sport and the teams and the players decreases. The money that fans are NOT spending on the NBA is going to other places. There are new draws on people’s time that would normally be spent focusing on their team and attending games. The positive vibes and memories go away.
So the question is, “What is each team’s Lockout Exit Strategy?” We’ve done a great deal of consulting, training, and research with professional sports organizations over the past 8 years (with the NBA in particular), and we know that the teams can be good at planning – particularly planning Marketing and Sales strategies.
But there’s a strong need for a retention and relationship renewal strategy. This is different. This is focused on getting back business from fans who will not be in the typical mindset they are at the start of the season. The same strategies used in the past will not be as effective this time around. Teams need to build a retention/relationship renewal strategy based on empathy for the fan. Here are four quick parts of the strategy to incorporate, particularly for when the lockout ends:
1. Have a research plan to gauge current STH feelings/perceptions and how those may change decisions to attend games, renew tickets later on, etc.
2. Have a communication plan with the broad fan base that focuses on empathy and appreciation.
3. Season Ticket Holders (STHs) will be even more concerned with the Direction of the Team, so have a communication plan that gives them “inside information” and direct messages from team leadership. This could include joint letters and/or joint STH-conference calls with the owner and key players.
4. Create a 2-month STH Touch Point Plan to consistently reach out to STHs to communicate messages of harmony within the organization, focus on the fan, and longer-term plans for success.
When preparing to move forward from this labor unrest, have a relationship renewal strategy.
Listen to our Pro Sports episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/
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