Welcome, Arizona Coyotes

Jim Balsillie, potential buyer of the Coyotes in 2009 who threatened to move the team to Canada

Jim Balsillie, potential buyer of the Coyotes in 2009 who threatened to move the team to Canada

By Arizona Coyotes I mean the Phoenix Coyotes. You remember them, the team who has been riding a tumultuous roller coaster filled with bankruptcy and buying and selling and potentially moving  and you name it. Just hearing the name Jim Balsillie sends a shiver down my spine.

I’m one of the hopeful that prays the team can stay in the arena in Glendale so that Coyotes fans can keep their beloved team at home. With the recent lease agreement with the city of Glendale and the Renaissance Sports & Entertainment group I think that most Coyotes fans can feel pretty confident the team is going to stay. The club will stay 5 years with this current agreement, with the opportunity of an out-clause to Renaissance Sports & Entertainment if the team builds up over $50 million in debt within those 5 years. In this case RSE has the opportunity to move the team to a different location. If they choose to stay for the entirety this lease agreement will last 15 years.

Sidney Crosby, first overall selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft

Sidney Crosby, first overall selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft

What I see here is an opportunity for the marketing team in Arizona to really get creative and grow hockey club into such a force that the rest of the NHL won’t even remember their struggling years. Anyone recall the Pittsburgh Penguins 10-15 years ago?

Sidney Crosby was just one piece to the puzzle that solved the Penguin’s issues and turned them into the successful organization that is thriving today. The club was nearly done for at the time of the 2004-2005 lockout, but won a true lottery that brought Crosby to the team.

Well, you most likely can not count on the Coyotes drawing a Sidney Crosby, but you can hope they can learn from what other struggling clubs have gone through in the past and use that information to create innovative ways to grow. I believe a huge part of growing the team will be off the ice and in the hands of the marketing team for the hockey club and the city of Glendale.

Here are a few things that I believe the Coyotes hockey club, the city of Glendale and the Renaissance Sports & Entertainment group should do in order to change their image in the league and turn the team into a successful franchise:

1. Heavy social media marketing approach

  • Social media is arguabley the biggest source of marketing in play today. It’s current and it’s reach is wide. The Coyotes already have a social media team active, but they could benefit in a huge way by putting tremendous focus on that department and use their best efforts in growing through that marketing outlet.

2. Tourists

  • The Glendale arena used to be in an area that was in the middle of nowhere, with your only reason to venture out there was to attend a game. Now they have built a plaza surrounding the arena including bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. The city needs to keep focus on building up that area, attracting tourists to sporting events (the Arizona Cardinals stadium is across the street), inviting them to stay for a few days, and showing them was the city has to offer.

3. Keep franchise players around

  • Fans get attached to athletes. It’s in their nature. Edmonton Oilers fans will always love Wayne Gretzky, Dallas Stars fans will always love Mike Modano, Anaheim Ducks fans will always love Teemu Selanne. From my personal experience in ticket sales for an NHL team, I noted that many season ticket holders and fans alike would only continue to come to games as long as their favorite franchise player was with the team the next season. Shane Doan most likely takes up a large part of the heart of any Coyotes fan. Keep him around.

There you have it. Good luck to the future of the Arizona Coyotes!

Sources: NHL, Phoenix Coyotes, CBS Sports, HF Boards

NHL’s Blackhawks and Bruins: Story of the Year

What a story it is. The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins facing off in one of the most exciting Stanley Cup Final battles in recent years. As a fan of hockey I can’t imagine a better match up between two clubs for a final. What makes these two team so exciting to watch is not only because they are so evenly matched up on the ice, but they have an inspiring story of how they got here.

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks came out from a partial season lockout guns blazing. They rode the entire season on top of the standings without needing an opportunity to look back and see who will catch them. Yes, there were plenty of other teams who had excellent seasons; Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Montreal , etc., Chicago ultimately dominated the regular season and is proving they have what it takes to dominate the post season. Their biggest competition should have been the Anaheim Ducks, who ranked second in the Western Conference finals and held an impressive 3-0 record against the Blackhawks this season. When the Ducks were eliminated in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings, they in turn became the new competition for the Hawks. Equally, the Los Angeles Kings who came into the post season on fire, very similar to how they looked last post season and we all saw how that turned out, ended up being a force that Chicago had to battle through. Each round Chicago brought what they needed to bring, and here they sit in the finals.

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins have been a successful playoff team for years, even winning a Stanley Cup title in 2011. They even battled through a first round series that was pretty much in the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs to win. The B’s came back from a 4-1 deficit in Game 7 and won in overtime to send the Leafs packing. There was a tragic event that took place in Boston just a few months ago which causes the city of Boston, and ultimately the entire county, to stand together. The city of Boston is looking for a giant representation of hope to show how strong their city is in the face of such devastation, and what better stand can they take then winning one of the most epic sports championships, the Stanley Cup.

I personally cannot wait to see the result of this series, and think both teams deserve so much credit for getting here.

Sources: NHL, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Google Images

How to do the Stanley Cup finals right: Social media marketing

It’s the holy grail of professional hockey; the Stanley Cup. Off-season workouts, tough training camps, vigorous regular season and heart-pounding playoffs have led to this. Every fan wants to watch it, every coach wants to coach it, every player wants to play in it. The Stanley Cup Final.

It's tied 1-1 but who knows who will take this epic series

It’s tied 1-1 but who knows who will take this epic series

For marketers, the holy grail is demonstrating the power that social media and marketing has on their product or service. It’s proof that marketing efforts have an influence on consumer behavior and generating revenue. I wanted to evaluate the route NHL clubs have taken on social media sites throughout the course of the playoffs, and specifically during these finals. Let’s take a look at the social media actions of this years current Stanley Cup finalists; Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.

Chicago Blackhawks

  • Gained more Twitter followers than any other team since the beginning of the post season
  • Much bigger presense on Pinterest with twice as many followers as the Bruins
  • Astronomically bigger numbers in Google+ (321k followers versus Boston’s 9k)

Boston Bruins

  • Have tweeted almost twice as much as any other playoff team since the start of the post season
  • Most Facebook followers besides Detroit Red Wings
  • Most Instagram followers in the league
  • Increased Instagram followers by exceptionally more than any other team since the beginning of the post season

You might say that their success in social media is a direct result of their post season success. Although I think it plays a significant role, I don’t agree. These teams took action by keeping consistent and constant updates for users at a time when their consumers wanted the information most.  It’s a great execution of social media marketing at the most opportune time. Social media will have an impact on generating revenue for your team because it can influence how consumers view your club. They can be informed of ticket deals and special promotions, become excited over a new player and want to see them in person, or new users can learn information about a club that will turn them into a fan. Now we just have to wait and see what the next Stanley Cup champion will do once they lift that beautiful silver.

Sources: NHL.com, National Hockey League, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest

Great NHL club tweet

This is what I like to see from an NHL club twitter account. It’s consistent with what is going on with the team, it shows personality from the brand and it’s funny! Look at the amount of retweets that baby got. Good job, LA Kings.

photo

Rivalries and offensive marketing strategies: where to draw the line

Rivalries have got to be one of the most exciting parts about watching sports. Hey, the NHL even started Wednesday Night Rivalry games this season on NBC Sports Network. I can write an entire separate blog post about the rivalry nights, because quite honestly I have been waiting for the NHL to create a staple hockey night in the United States that can attempt to reach the levels of Hockey Night in Canada and even Monday Night Football. We can dream, right? Let’s take a look at how successful this was during it’s rookie season.

Data from TV by the Numbers

Data from TV by the Numbers

Data from Forbes

Data from Forbes

So as you can see, rivalries are huge! But how can individual hockey clubs use rivalries as a means of advertising and marketing for their own benefit?

A few years ago the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings used their rivalry as an advertising tool by creating a contest to name the regular season series between the clubs (which was appropriately named “The Freeway Face-Off”) and instituting hashtag battles during the games to see which team can get more mentions. Last year was like the cherry on top of an always exciting rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins when the teams met in one of the most exciting Stanley Cup playoff rounds I have ever seen. It was rough, it was tough, and it was fantastic playoff hockey heightened by the meeting of two rivals. The enormity of that battle was sure to be a dream for anyone working in marketing for either of those two clubs.

These are two examples of visible rivalries in the NHL, both of which involved a team or player I have had the pleasure of working for. In each case, I conducted research and analyzed data for similar events as these and I can tell you first hand that they play a huge role in developing marketing and sales strategies for the organization. Fans just love the rivalries!

LaIceCrewTweet6-4-13

What clubs need to avoid is going “too far” with this strategy and try to keep away from the area of offending and insulting. Let’s keep class and professionalism within the sport. Today I saw a tweet by the LA Kings Ice Crew that I thought was a great example of going a bit into the unclassy region. Don’t get me wrong, the Twitter promotion is fantastic. To start off, having a Twitter account solely for your street team is a great idea. Next, driving around a Kings bus to promote the home game tonight is wonderful marketing for the street team and seems to be a hit on social networking sites. Kudos to them for that. However, this particular tweet backhandedly insulting the Anaheim Ducks was too much for me. The photo alone would have sufficed for the LA Kings fanbase, but the caption was too much.

To sum it up, use rivalries to your advantage when marketing your hockey club but keep it a professional representation of your organization.

Sources: NHL, NBCSN, TV by the Numbers, Forbes, Twitter, Anaheim Ducks, LA Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, YouTube, LA Kings Ice Crew

Pinterest: What’s that all about?

There isn’t much I can say about marketing through Pinterest, because honestly, I haven’t used it yet! So I thought what better time than the present to sign up and start pinning. Now I’m signed up and following a couple different sports boards, including the official account for the NHL. So now is the fun part of playing around with the site and finding out all it has to offer. I wonder which team is the most active on this site?

I keep reading about Pinterest from various marketing sources claiming that it’s growing and growing and growing. Since I didn’t know much about it I did some external research and quickly found a graphic that shows the stats about the growth of this social networking channel in an eye-catching format. Credit to the creator of this graphic: The Marketing Bit.

the-power-of-pinterest-infographic

Pretty interesting stuff, huh? I’m going to keep an eye on this new (well, new to me) marketing channel and try to get a sense of how effective it can be in the marketing world.

Sources: Pinterest, The Marketing Bit

The Marketing Hat Trick

Toss those hats!

We all know the feeling. Whether you’re watching on TV, cheering from the stands, or you’re the player scoring that third goal, a hat trick is always an exciting bonus to a hockey game. I’ve witnessed a few especially exciting ones, including Nick Bonino’s first career hatty (video above).

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Marketing isn’t black and white. Sure, within the grey areas we can allow room for creativity and the opportunity to be innovative to flourish, but I think there are some universal goals that do need to remain within a marketing strategy. I’ve come up with 3 factors that I believe are essential when aiming for success. This is what I call the ‘Marketing Hat Trick’.

1. Professionalism

The worst thing I can see in a piece of writing is a spelling error. That gives off an unprofessional vibe and is definitely not something you want as a representation of your organization. Keep your tweets, articles, photos, etc neat and clean. Proof read them before you hit submit. Don’t use language that will offend someone, especially those who support your organization enough to follow you in social media.

Specifically for marketing NHL entities, don’t offend the fans. Don’t give followers a reason to question the official account of the team. Promote as much positivity as possible, promote rivalries, just don’t throw other clubs under the bus. Keep your content fun and professional.

2. Consistency

One thing we can see from social networking is that active accounts are usually consistently attaining more followers. The best thing a company can do with their social media account is read user comments and ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS! I can’t tell you how many businesses I have seen promoted by a loyal follower just because they were acknowledged by their account. When you pay attention to the consumer you will learn tons and increase satisfaction.

Specifically for marketing for an NHL club, pick a few topics to consistently post about. Sports media is about score updates and team news. Tweet about your team winning, post an Instagram photo of the fans, find something to post about on all of your social networking accounts to keep fans aware and participating. Just make sure to keep active and don’t let weeks go by without an update. That’s an easy way for followers to forget about your team an look elsewhere for entertainment.

3. Audience

Anyone who has studied marketing remembers the four P’s; Product, Price, Place and Promotion. These all revolve around one common factor; your audience. What kind of product or service do they want? How much are they willing to pay? Where is your audience and how are they going to learn about your business? Keeping the audience in mind 100% of the time will help you create an accurate and effective marketing plan.

Specifically when marketing to an NHL audience, you have to consider factors that apply to the audience of an NHL event. For example, how do consumers feel about sports games? Attending a game is a luxury, and in today’s economy many people do not have expendable income to spend. How many games do die-hard fans want to attend each season? How much money will a casual fan pay to attend a home game? Consider all aspects of what your audience wants and needs and you will find that your marketing efforts lead to success.

Sources: Anaheim Ducks, YouTube