Like any self-obsessed writer, I regularly check to see what websites have recently linked to my blog. Most of the time it’s random message board posters with an affinity for giant hamburgers, but occasionally the results are more interesting.
For example, last week I received several dozen hits from a high school teacher’s sports marketing blog. He asked his students to read my recent post on the Lowell Spinners’ “Human Home Run” stunt, and then write a two paragraph response explaining their thoughts on Minor League promotions as well as what sort of promotions they themselves would stage if put in a position to do so. The students’ answers, in the comments section, were not always feasible but certainly creative. A sampling:
I would bring a monster truck to my stadium/arena and it would go flying off a ramp. It would have to jump 6 school buses lined up next to each other. There would also be a huge ring of fire right in front of the ramp to make everything look crazy. The monster truck would have my team’s logo on it. It would be crazy and the place would be sold out.
Seeing that people will pay to watch risky situations. I would promote a pet skydiving. I would let dogs/cats land in the middle of the field before the game. This will honor animal abuse and will also bring fans to the stadium.
My idea would be to have player vs fan game. When the fans buy a ticket for the game they have a chance to enter contests. Then the fans will be picked at random to play a mini game with the players. I think if you give the players a chance to interact with the players it will attract more people.
I think it’s great that teachers are introducing such sports marketing concepts to high school students, as it could potentially get them interested in a Minor League Baseball career. To any high school teachers or college professors who read this blog — I will gladly assist your educational endeavors. Get in touch anytime.
And even more beneficial would be for teams to get involved. Wouldn’t it be great to invite students to the ballpark to take part in the conception and execution of a Minor League promo? While animal skydiving is probably not going to happen any time soon, it would be very interesting to see students’ ideas incorporated into gameday entertainment.
Just a thought. I’ve been known to have those once in a while.
And young promo progenitors would be more likely to come up with social media innovations, such as the Bowling Green Hot Rods’ Facebook Fan Night. This first-of-its kind promo is rolling right along — Facebook fans have selected the game time (6:35) and are now in the midst of picking the uniforms the team will wear that night.
Since I didn’t post yesterday, and because we are entering a particularly “newsy” time of year, today will be devoted to TWO headline-worthy items. Let’s start with — you guessed it – food.
The Charleston RiverDogs have announced 2011’s signature dog — a frank following in the grand tradition of Pickle and Homewrecker. Food and beverage grandmaster John Schumacher writes that “our crack team of concessionaires have been working overtime in the test kitchen and scouring the State Fair Circuit far & wide for ideas.”
The result is “Pig On A Stick” — a foot long corn dog wrapped in bacon:
Unlike more conceptual recent attention-getters such as the Three Dog Night, this one pretty much speaks for itself. And since I have attributed to it the gift of speech, I imagine it is saying “This bacon is suffocating me, it’s salty embrace inescapable.”
Speaking of embraces, the Bowling Green Hot Rods are embracing Facebook at a heretofore unheard of level. May 18 will be “Facebook Fans” night, an evening devoted to the mercurial whims of the team’s passionate social networking partisans.
This one is quite literally a game-changer:
[T]he initial step of the promotion drives the team’s Facebook fans to recruit new members to add to its following…..Until April 18, for every 200 additional fans that ‘Like’ the team on Facebook (up to 10,000), the Hot Rods will reduce ticket prices by 50 cents for all of its Facebook fans on May 18. This means for every 1,000 new fans beyond the current 7,000, box seat ticket prices drop $2.50 from their face value of $10.
Starting next Monday and continuing every week through the beginning of the season, the team begins phase two of the promotion. Each week a new element…will be posted on the team’s Facebook page for fans to vote on. The first element on February 21 will have fans select what time the game starts…Additional elements include which uniforms the Hot Rods will wear and what food and merchandise items will be specially priced for the game…Hot Rods Facebook fans will also be incorporated into several game day activities ranging from on-field promotions, first pitch opportunities, and meetings with Hot Rods players and coaches.
Like a serialized novella, this is going to take a long time to play out. You can count on me for periodic updates and observations, as it should be quite interesting to see this one develop.
But how, exactly, to engage?
One Minor League team that has been leading the virtual charge is the Fresno Grizzlies. The team has held innovative “Tweet-Up” promotions in each of the last two seasons (which were summarily copied by parent club the San Francisco Giants), and this past week they enticed fans to join them on Twitter by staging a drawing for Hot Stove Dinner tickets that was only open to new followers.
This most recent effort made the Grizzlies the first team in the Pacific Coast League to eclipse the 5000 followers milestone, and to celebrate they’re offering an exclusive ticket deal. Sez the team:
The package includes a Field Box seat for all four games of opening weekend…as well as a number of special perks.
In addition to the tickets, fans will also get a pregame, behind-the-scenes tour of the ballpark on Friday, a pregame catch on the field on Saturday, and a post-game photo in the dugout on Sunday all for just $40. The tickets alone are a $64 value, and the special ballpark experiences are available only through this ticket package.
I spoke with Grizzlies media relations director Noah Frank, who remarked that “We’re always looking for new ways to keep people tuned in, and this is a great way to get info to our fans.”
“With a new ballpark and a new team, [the Aces] started with a lot of momentum. But we pride ourselves at being at the forefront and we’re coming on strong,” said Frank.
While that’s exceedingly mild as trash talk goes, it’s good enough for me. Your move, Reno!
Another excellent social media initiative, and one that I’ve written about before, was the Durham Bulls’ fundraising drive on behalf of the Durham Literacy Center. The team, which donated $1 to the center for every new fan they acquired on Facebook, announced today that $2000 was raised.
This idea is simple and easily adaptable, and I will be a crestfallen blogger if no other teams follow suit. Get to copying!
And, of course, let me know what YOU have been up to when it comes to social media initiatives. In the meantime, I’ll be stressing over the fact that this post didn’t have any good jokes (me to jokes: “I can’t live, if living is without you.”)
The talk that I’ve been talking is that social networking is an effective and low-cost way for teams to stay in touch with their fan bases year-round (I even wrote an article based on this premise, which can be found HERE).
And the walk that I’m now walking is this:
I have spent the the better part of the past two afternoons making sure I am a “friend”, “fan”, “foe”, or “follower” of as many Minor League teams (and mascots) as possible. But this represents just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to who I can connect with, so please do not hesitate to become my friend, follower, foe, or, where applicable, internet life partner. I always enjoy hearing from my loyal readers (and am still amazed that such individuals exist), and my new and improved online presence will only help facilitate such communication.
It will also help me keep abreast of what’s going on throughout the Minors. What follows are a few things that I have come across in the course of my extensive Minor League Facebook and Twitter travels:
— Last week, I expressed surprise at the fact that no teams had followed the lead of the Fresno Grizzlies, who produce a weekly “I Hate the Offseason” web series. Well, the Omaha Royals are doing just this, and the title of their series directly references Fresno’s.
Behold “My Offseason Life is Average”, episodes 1 and 2:
The O-Royals videos above are willfully absurd, but not so absurd as the true-life video that a Salt Lake Bees fan recently posted on the team’s Facebook page: Bon Jovi’s bass player, in a Japanese airport, wearing a Bees t-shirt! You can’t make this stuff up.
In closing, I would like to offer a few boldfaced ways in which you can get in touch with me. Please utilize the following options at your discretion. And thanks, as always, for reading.
Normally I would not try to cram so much information into one post, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
See, I will be out of town for the next week (partially related to an on-site Minor League adventure), and therefore severely compromised in my ability to post new content on this blog. Therefore, I better use the prime material I’ve got, before it goes stale.
First, let’s check in with the good ol’ Fresno Grizzlies, who staged “Nerd Night” last week. While I unfortunately do not have a picture of the epic battle between Obi Wan SkyParker and Darth Hot Dog, I do have a picture of some of the evening’s nerdiest nerds (in timeless black and white, no less):
The Grizzlies’ next big ticket promotion is “Mad Tight 90s Night”, with special guest Dennis “Mr. Belding” Haskins (of “Saved By the Bell” fame). On this most enchanted evening, the Grizzlies will be doctoring player head shots to look like the cover art of iconic 1990s album. Lo and behold, Kevin “Nevermind” Frandsen:
And here, he pummels the ivory:
But you, the reader, need more. I am here for you.
Next, click here in order to marvel at the Lake Elsinore Storm’s response to the Manny Ramirez situation.
Finally, check out my latest “Farm’s Almanac” feature story — an interview with Minor League blogging sensation Chris Hayes. Not only is this guy a great pitcher; he’s a great writer too. And while you’re out in the MiLB.com wilderness, check out my piece on what’s currently playing in Peoria — stadium naming rights are available on a per-game basis.
Jeez…you still need something else to do? How about checking out MiLB.com on Facebook. Do me a favor and bombard that thing with proclamations of love for the writing of one Benjamin Hill.
That would be me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great week. I will be back soon enough, as anxious and mentally overloaded as when I left. That’s my personal guarantee, from me to you.