Duffy’s Irish Pub in Washington D.C. announced a new promotion last week. Every time former Phillie Jayson Werth homers for the Washington Nationals, anyone in the bar at that time watching the game (and wearing Nats gear) will get a free shot. I love this. I love this not because I’m a Nationals fan (I’m not). I love this as a business owner who appreciates other business owners who come up with innovative ways to market their businesses. Why not leverage off the Phillies? They have a huge fan base, and even if they don’t make the post-season (which is looking more and more likely every time I watch them play), you can still get a lot of promotional mileage by tying your business’s fortunes to that of the team’s. Why not take a sliver of the team’s publicity and turn it into some more business for your business? Consider these 10 brilliant ideas.
1. Targeted promos. As a kid listening to the radio, I remember that whenever a Phillies player hit a home run it meant a box of TastyKakes for some lucky fan. I also remember when the Daily News ran a home run payoff contest awarding money whenever a homer was hit and lots of money for a grand slam. During the course of the baseball season, pick a target and promote it. You can pick things that promote the team, but won’t cost you very much, like a free item every time the Phillies score more than one run in a game. If you’re bored, change the target every month. A celebration for Utley’s next official at-bat. Another celebration for Howard’s next home run. These last two ideas, of course, are meant for the 2013 season.
2. Take your best people to games. Why do the big law and accounting firms buy up those tickets to sporting events? Because they’re rich of course! And they’re also smart. Small businesses can do the same. And we don’t have to be ruthless bastards either. Buy a partial season ticket plan. Scoop up tickets on Craigslist or Ebay. The more games Utley misses, the more seats will open up as those silly Temple girls lose interest. I know … it will cost you a few thousand bucks. Man up. The returns can be significant. Use these tickets and take your best customers, partners, vendors and, yes, employees to games. Try not to just give these tickets away. Try to actually go to these games too. Unlike most other professional sports, baseball is so boring there’s nothing better to do than to sit around and talk business.
3. Give stuff away. If you don’t want to do targeted promos then just buy a bunch of cheap Phillies gear and give it away on certain days. It should be something fitting to the team like “Saturday is Phillies baseball cap day.” If you’re from New York, then how about: “Monday is Mets sanitary napkin day.” Something like that. Promotional gear is sold everywhere, and there’s no legal issue if you’re just giving it away. But it demonstrates your pride (or your insanity) about the Phils and builds up a little community support.
4. Run a baseball-theme contest. Have your customers fill out a form (online and with their permission-based email addresses … remember you’re building up your VIP list for future marketing) to guess how many home runs a certain player will hit this month. Or how many games the Mets will lose. Or how many days until Ozzie Guillen gets chased out of Miami. Or how long until Freddy Galvis gets sent back down to the minors. Let your customers choose their own all-star team. Even if the Phillies fall out of the running, you can still have fun with baseball-related contests.
5. Get involved with a charity. Instead of being so selfish, why not think of others for a change? Pick a charity and run baseball-themed promotions to raise money. Something like “for every Phillies win, we’ll donate $100 bucks to XYZ charity.” I suggest the Gene-Marks-College-Fund-for-His-Three-High-School-Aged- Kids Organization. Just a suggestion, that’s all. Spread the guilt and invite your customers and partners to match your generous donation. Don’t worry—you’ll still get the marketing and public relations credit, and you’ll come off as a super-sensitive person too. Just make sure you get to present one of those giant cardboard checks to the charity at their next luncheon and have someone call the local newspapers beforehand.
6. Do community service. All the MLB teams do community service stuff. The Phillies, for example, have a new “Phillies Phitness” program. They also award standout teachers and students. They run local baseball events and educational programs. They do the environmental thing. And if you look at any team’s website under “community,” you’ll find a schedule of all their pending community-related events. Even the L.A. Dodgers give something back to their community, which is the kind of behavior you don’t see very often in L.A. So get involved. Be a sponsor. Give your employees time off to participate. And then include the efforts in your company’s marketing.
7. Make your baseball passion part of your company’s communications. Newsletters are boring. Technical specifications are boring. Marketing emails are boring. So spice them up with something completely different: your love of baseball and your love of the Phillies. Maybe include in each newsletter a little insightful commentary about the Phillies’ prospects. Or a completely unrelated piece of baseball trivia in your next marketing piece. It changes things up a bit. It shows your human side. It creates interest. It may grab the attention of a baseball-loving prospect or customer. It shows hometown pride.
8. Create a baseball rivalry. Choose a friendly competitor in another town and create a rivalry. Mayors do this every year in the post-season. Put your money where your mouth is. Every time the Phillies play your rival, you wager something particularly local to give away to your enemy like a cheesesteak , a case of Kensinger or maybe a souvenir Taser. Get your customers involved. Take this rivalry with you to the next industry trade show. It’ll create some attention and be a fun thing for others to talk about. If the rivalry makes it to the post-season (no, not you, Mets fans), then turn it into a story for the local media. They’ll love it.
9. Create new baseball partnerships. Find a business in the area that has nothing to do with your own and create a baseball partnership. Together, agree to give away free stuff to each other’s customers if the Phillies, or one of the Phillies, accomplish … something. Maybe give away free sushi from the local Japanese restaurant every time Ty Wigginton actually catches a ball thrown to him at first base. Or a bottle of vitamins from a nearby health food store whenever Ruben Amaro makes a truthful statement. Your customers benefit. Your partners get exposure to your customer base. You can probably even get the odd tuna roll for free once in a while too.
10. Advertise. This is the most expensive proposition of all. But there’s justification here. Most teams have their major corporate sponsors, of course. But there are plenty of opportunities to purchase ads on the Phillies’ website, programs and other materials offered out by the club. Forty-five thousand fans attending and millions watching each game is nothing to sneeze at. Of course, if things keep going the way they’re going those numbers could be half that by the all-star break.
But hey … by then there’ll only be a few weeks until the Eagles’ training camp, right?