When coming up with the seemingly perfect marketing campaign or promotion we’ve all been there – searching for that one idea that just screams YES. Some troll blogs, some read the trades, other just sit in silence and wait for it to come to them. Count me among those who like to be inspired by the work of others. And I’ve found the premier destination for original and creative marketing and promotional greatness – Minor League Baseball.
Full disclosure: I interned for a minor league team a few years ago. And maybe that’s why I’ve come to truly admire the work of these minor league marketing mavens. Inventive and engaging marketing campaigns and promotions are the bread and butter of minor league teams – boosting sales, generating massive interest from prospective customers and getting the attention of the media.
In the big leagues, players are among the biggest draws for fans to come to the ballpark. Here in Dallas, fans flock to Arlington to see the likes of Josh Hamilton and Yu Darvish. For the nearby Double-A Frisco Rough Riders, if their respective superstars are putting up monster numbers, they likely won’t be around too long to draw fans – instead heading to Triple-A Round Rock.
Without a roster of photogenic all stars ready to mug for a billboard, minor league teams rely on dynamic, original promotions to get butts in the bleachers. So what can all of us sitting on the bench learn from boys of summer?
Capitalize on the Current
On June 26, 2010, during the height of the Twilight phenomenon, the Fresno Grizzlies held Twilight Night. The club saw more than 9,000 fans show up for the game and even earned “Promotion of the Year” honors from MiLB.com. Hitching your wagon to a fad or current news story is always a great way to generate media attention.
You Can’t Go Wrong With What’s Proven
According to a study I just made up for this blog, 10 out of 10 people love free stuff. The giveaway is a proven methodology when it comes to ballpark promotions. Is it always mini-bats or bobbleheads? No, teams will switch things up and give away items like Snuggies and Chia Heads.
Using an already established promotional tactic shouldn’t be seen as “playing it safe” – tweaking proven promotional campaigns and adding a dash of your company’s personal touch shows creativity and a familiarity with what’s successful in one’s respective industry.
Charleston’s minor league team, the Yankee’s Single-A affiliate RiverDogs, recently hosted the South Atlantic League All-Star Game last month. The event is essentially a promotion in and of itself – offering fans the chance to see the best and brightest baseball talent the SAL has to offer.
So how did the Holy City ballclub make the big weekend even bigger? By transporting the annual home run derby from the friendly confines of Joseph P. Riley Park to the deck of the USS Yorktown. The move got the club an influx of media attention, including a write up on popular sports blog Deadspin.
You may not have access to a decommissioned aircraft carrier, but you can certainly follow the RiverDogs’ lead by utilizing all of your available resources to give your campaign or promotion that extra wow factor.
*If you’re looking for more inspiration from the minor leagues I highly recommend Ben’s Biz Blog, which covers all the promotional and business aspects of the MiLB.