Posted on 04.11.16

Webinar Replay: Millennials + Sports

During our recent webinar, Millennials + Sports: Getting millennials to the game, our CEO Tim Smith shared a lot of great information and insights to help sports marketers strengthen their brand with a millennial-focused approach. Catch what you missed or review it again!

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Sara Frey: Hi, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, Millennials and Sports: Getting millennials to the game. We're going to get started in just a minute, but before we do, I wanted to go over a couple things for those of you who are unfamiliar with GoToWebinar. First, you all joined the call on mute today, which isn't to say we don't want to hear from you. We do. We'll be running some polls throughout the presentation, to get a sense of where you're at in your own efforts, and hear your thoughts on how others are doing. We'll also leave about ten or 15 minutes for questions at the end of the presentation, which will be about 45 minutes. If you have a question, please send it via the questions tab on the control panel, which you can hopefully see on your screen right now.

At this point, you should also be seeing our screen, which says, "Getting Millennials to the Game," and includes a hashtag for today's presentation #GameOnMillennials. For those of you who are just getting to know Skidmore, we are a boutique creative studio in Detroit that is focused on helping entertainment brands engage Millennials. Skidmore creates everything from identity systems and websites to promotional materials for a variety of entertainment brands, professional sports teams included. Our presenter today is Tim Smith, Skidmore's owner and CEO. He is the strategic lead of the studio and a former sports writer and editor, who would do just about anything for the love of the game. I'd like to say that he loves all sports equally. I know we have a number of people from different organizations dialed in, but the truth is that he is a die hard Tigers fan, who actually relocated Skidmore downtown just so he could have an office that overlooks Comerica Park.

Somehow, he is just as passionate about strategy and design as he is about baseball, and today, he is going to be sharing some research and strategies that will help you strengthen your brand with a millennial-focused approach. Without further ado, Tim Smith.

Tim Smith: Hey. Sara, thank you very much. That was a super nice introduction, and thank you everyone for joining today. I think for most of us, it's “good afternoon”. For a few of us out on the west coast, it's “good morning”. Here in Detroit, we have a cold April day, and as Sara mentioned, I actually am looking right now at Comerica Park. For the Major League Baseball fans in the room, tomorrow is Opening Day here in Detroit, which should be a national holiday in my opinion. We're going to be watching the game with snow showers, but our Tigers are already starting to see some tune up. We're feeling good about that. We're feeling good about today, and we're feeling extra good about this topic of getting millennials to the game.

I'm sure as many of you are painfully aware, pro and college sports teams are really facing a pretty big challenge in this space. We've got Boomers and Gen X'ers who are getting older, and they're attending fewer sporting events. We've got teams who are turning their attention to the Millennials, trying to get them, but they're discovering that there's a reluctance on their part to buy tickets. These sports leagues, and team holders, and ticket sellers, they're all suffering, and that suffering is leading them to turn to the marketing teams and say, "Hey, you guys figure it out," and then hopefully with everyone here in the room, we're going be helping you find some of those solutions. We're going to spend our time today taking a really hard look at this trend, but we're going to spend a special focus on providing you with some tangible takeaways, that will hopefully make a difference in your business.

On the screen right now, you see the three words, research, insights, and solutions. Obviously, this is not a topic that is going to offer any easy answers. The truth is that there is no single one size fits all type of an answer, but the good news is is that Skidmore, and our strategy teams, and the people here, we've been doing a lot of work over the past couple years, developing solutions for our clients in this industry. We've recently completed an intensive study of 500 Millennials, asking direct questions about their viewing habits, how they're attending and consuming sporting events, and that's led to a lot of insights that we feel are pretty solid.

We've developed some solutions from that that we think are going to help you. In fact, that content was so robust and so dynamic as we were thinking about it, it's turned into a white paper. We'll be releasing that white paper here in the next month. For everyone who is attending today, we're going to get you an advance copy. When you signed in, we got your email and we appreciate that. We want to add a little extra value to that, so you're going to be having a copy of this white paper. It's a 20 page document. We're just putting the final touches on it now, and that's going to be in your inbox. Between this and some of the other things we've been doing for our clients, we've gained some insights that we think are going to really help. We think it's going to give you some direction that you can go, and that's the background of what we're going to be working on today. I am on the clock, and Sara's here to keep us on track, and I tend to ramble, so let's just jump right in, all right?

What you should be seeing now is kind of a, we'll just call it an agenda for lack of a better word, but here at Skidmore, we're laid back. We try to keep things conversational. This is an overview of the conversation I'd like to have, and we're going to treat this like a guided fence post of what we want to accomplish. My goal is to answer the burning questions that are on your mind. We're going to have a chance at the end, if we haven't answered them, to really dig into more specifics. We're also going to try and have a little bit of fun with some instant polls as we go on. In these 50 minutes, I've got a lot of material to cover. I hope everyone's paying attention. Let's just jump into that part of it.

I thought it would be really a good idea just to start with some basic facts. I know that for most of you, these aren't going to be revolutionary, but from a refresher point of view, I think it's important for us to look at the millennials demographically and understand who and what they are. The idea that there's more than 80 million strong today that fit into this generation, and the group ranges in age from 19 years old to 34 years old. They're very influential. It's growing every single day. They also have a lot of power in the marketplace. Look at the stat on the left here. The baby boomers are earning a lot of money today, and they're the highest earners. In just a couple years, the millennials are going to outpace them, in terms of earning as an overall generation.

In 2025, we're going to have three out of four people in our workforce who are going to be in the millennial age group. That's three quarters of the people just working, will be in that space. We've got on 2020 an estimated $1.4 trillion of spending power in this space. That's a huge amount of money being spent, being influenced, being controlled, so we know that this group is not only large in numbers, but they're large in earning power, they're influential in all walks of life, and as marketers, we have to be sensitive to that.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is from a psychographic point of view, thinking about how millennials have grown up in the digital age, and how they've used multitasking, and how smartphones and mobile devices are becoming such an appendage of who they are. This image on the screen is interesting for me, because whether you're at dinner, or going on a shopping trip, or talking to somebody one-on-one, the idea that you can multitask is just a given. They view this technology as enabling their experiences. It's their connectivity not only to the social world and the digital world at large, but also each other.

I love that over the holidays, there was a really cute Apple ad that ran, that showed a family with a millennial-age son or daughter that was really experiencing the holidays in a way that the mom and dad thought was somewhat disinterested. They were on their phone. They were getting the dirty looks the whole time, but at the end of commercial in 30 seconds, the parents saw that that son or daughter was really experiencing the holidays from a perspective that was important to them, and they showed a little video clip of how that was really an experience that meant something to them. That's an example of how technology and transparency are adding value to the experiences, not being the experience. We know from a sports avenue that it's the same way. We think that these people are consuming their sports from a digital perspective, and that's just critical to how they behave.

This is just a quick graphic for a report that Cisco has done for the last couple years. I use this as a reminder to me that when you're talking about the millennial generation, the idea of connectivity and the internet is a base need that is right up there with air, food, and water. They don't separate that. That's a given in their lives, and as you're thinking about marketing your team, and as we're going through today's presentation, I really want you to keep this front and center, because you can't really advertise that you've got Wi-Fi at your stadium. That's a given that it's there, just as it's a given that you're going to have food. We want to keep that front and center, and we want to know that that's happening.

Let's start with the big question. What the hell is going on? We've got this Millennial generation that's getting bigger. We've got the other generations that are shrinking, and we have a lot of people who are getting into the idea that maybe they just don't like sports, or maybe they don't have enough money to spend, or maybe they're so wrapped up in their digital world that going to a live event is obsolete. The reality is, they do like watching sports, they do have plenty of money, and attending an experience is fun and interesting for them, but it's just not the perception that people have.

Sara Frey: We're going to take a moment right now, a quick break, to launch our first poll, which you should be seeing on your screen right now. We'd just like to take your temperature on where you're at in relation to your own millennial marketing, so all you need to do is select an option, and click "Submit," and we will share the results with you in just a bit. Is your organization specifically targeting millennials? We're pretty good on time, so I'll just give you all one more minute to respond.

Tim Smith: Let's jump right back in here. We'll see those results in a second. Where we left off was this idea that we're not sure what's going on. We did some research in the survey, but from our perspective, we really wanted to test the idea: Is price a perception issue or a real issue? One of the first things that we saw as a result was that 53%, more than half of the millennials surveyed, did not buy one single ticket to a sporting event of any kind last year. That was a huge, eye-opening number for us. As you look at this a little further, you can see that there's only a third of them who purchased one or two tickets, and less than 3% purchased five or more tickets.

We're proving out here that what we already knew, is that we're seeing a challenge, pro sports teams in particular are seeing this challenge, and we're confirming that the difficulty of convincing the millennials to buy a ticket is there. They're saying it's price, and our next question was, why is it price? Is that really what's keeping them from the game? The standard answer we always get is cost, but we wanted to dig a little bit further. We wanted to go into that a little bit, and we saw and we asked them, "What's preventing you from buying the tickets?" They're telling us that it was too expensive, but as we dug a little bit further, we also saw this response, which was, "I just don't care."

As we looked at that, that really struck a tone with us, that we really believe that we should explore it a little bit more. This really drove towards the insight of a value proposition, and we're going to get into price a little bit later on as it relates to cost, but more so as it relates to value. We know it's a factor, but the question for us, is it the only factor? We really didn't think so. Here's a quote that you can see. Michael Adams, he's the president emeritus of University of Georgia. As you think about places where this would impact, the university setting is one that we really didn't think it would, but it is. Last year, actually the last four years at the University of Georgia, 39% of their student section was left empty during the games.

Recognize that it's not just in the pro environment. It's in the college environment as well, and we need to dig a little bit further into why that's happening. Doing that, we recognize that these fans have a lot of options for consuming sports. Their idea of how they can consume can happen without buying a ticket. They can use a small screen, a mobile device. They can use larger screens or multiple screens. Most of all, they can find a way to consume it in a place that's having fun. This is a screen of a typical sports bar, and they're still consuming sports. They have this option of being able to have a place that's surrounded by people who they know, and who are like them. They can go and watch on big screens. They can be involved with people they know, with drinks and food that they're accustomed to, and that's your competition, you guys. That's a fun environment for them.

Not only that, but there's national chains that are going after this environment in a very big way. We've done some work in the past for Dave & Buster's and that's a restaurant chain, a national chain that's actively seeking millennials. They call them Play Together Young Adults, and they're drawing them into their establishments, looking to offer a different way to have fun. This is a promotion that we helped them do. Everyone's familiar with the old football finger flick game, but giving them this fun little thing with the coaster was very effective. They have big TVs, and you can have interesting things to eat, and interesting things to drink, and they're selling fun. The results of that were huge once they really focused on that audience. They had a 10% same-store sales increase, and a 19% increase in one quarter alone in their revenue as it jumped year over year.

The idea that this is possible is really starting to resonate with a lot of people. Because it's not all doom and gloom. There are a lot of reasons for us as marketers to feel encouraged. 70% of fan surveys say that given the choice, they'd prefer to watch a live event from the stands rather than somewhere else. 62% are describing themselves as sports fans. That's the highest number of any generational group. You look at these numbers, and the obvious conclusions is that yeah, millennials do love sports, and there are teams and leagues that are understanding this and taking advantage of it, in a very real and tangible way.

I want to focus on the MLS for a second, and some NBA teams are figuring out how to relate and engage, but before we get to that, I want to share with you some of the results that we've gotten from our quick survey here. It's interesting. With the question of” Is your organization specifically targeting millennials, 47% of you said, "No, but we plan to," and 33% said, "Yes, but we're struggling." The combination of that is about 80% who really are having some struggles with that. You've got 20% of you said yeah, you're doing it, and you're having some success, and that's great. Congratulations. You're probably doing things very similar to what the MLS is doing, because they've figured out this process of how to appeal to a millennial audience, and also impact their loyalty and their attendance.

Look at this chart real quick. In the MLS, the Major League Soccer league, over the last six years, their attendance has increased 35% in a very short period of times. While we've got many of the other pro sports leagues are either staying flat or even losing some fans, we've got a league here that's growing in a very substantial way. If you look at just in one year alone, from 2014 to 2015, the average fan in terms of team attendance grew 12.5% in just one year. That's a huge increase. I think that what they're finding and what they're doing is, they're focusing on the things that they can control, because if you look at this, we asked these millennials, "Why do you buy tickets to your home team games?" More than half of the responses, 54%, had to do with things other than the sport.

If you look at the yellow areas of the chart, look how big, "I love going with friends" is, and they're calling the ticket price reasonable, which is a value equation. Look how much they're focused on food and drinks. Those are all very important things to them, and the MLS is finding ways to capitalize on and leverage that. There's some other sports teams that are doing that just as well. I know that there are examples later on you're going to see from the NBA and major league baseball, but the insight here is you have the opportunity, as marketers, to leverage them as well, and I want to make sure that we give you the tools to do that.

It's no big surprise that when they get to the game, most people want an exciting game. That's a given, but we all know that as marketers, we don't have a lot of control of the product that we put on the game. What I'd like to do is stay focused on what we can control and influence, and if you look at these elements, we have an opportunity as marketers to have a voice in what kind of food we offer at the game, what kind of drinks we offer, what kind of entertainment is happening, how we can create experiences that offer fans a chance to feel like they're surrounded by people who are like them. We've always done giveaways, and audience games, and those are fun and interesting, but those first four represent a lot of potential growth that you can leverage.

These opportunities are things that I think MLS is excelling in, and there are teams in the NFL as well that are taking that and transporting it over. Here's a great quote from Peter McLaughlin. Peter is the owner of both the NFL and the MLS franchise in Seattle, and he says, "Being there and experiencing a game ... There's nothing like it, and we have to protect and nourish that." He went on to say that it was his goal to try and transport the fun and excitement, and that sense of experience that he was seeing at the MLS games, and bring them over to the NFL stadium. As he transferred and imported that knowledge, he saw his attendance and loyalty grow, too. We're going to focus on that a little bit more in depth later on in our solution sections, but I wanted to give you a sense of how that really is and can happen.

We've given ourselves a base line. We've given ourselves a sense of what the facts are, and what's going on, and for the next part of the webinar, I'm really going to focus in on some actual tangible results that you can take with you. Before we jump into that, we're going to go into another quick poll here, and see what we got.

Sara Frey: Yeah. As Tim mentioned, we're going to get into sharing some specific examples, but before we do, we want to see what you all say. Of those listed, what pro sports league do you think is doing the best job of engaging millennials? There are a number of choices there, obviously, and we have a lot to share in the next section, so I'm only going to give you a couple seconds more here to fill in your response. Close.

Tim Smith: I've got five key focal points that we're going to take you through in the next few minutes, but before we jump into that, there's an important topic, an overriding premise that I want to throw out there. It's the premise of focus, and commitment, and being courageous enough to reach out and talk directly to this group. If you take one thing away from today, here's what I hope it would be. I hope you'd get a sense that you can't just go half in. At Skidmore, we see our clients and marketers as they try and create messaging, and plans, and strategic focuses, there's a tendency to try to attempt to bring everyone into one group and do it all at once. We know that that rarely works. The concept of talking to everyone means you really talk to no one.

As we think about millennials, that becomes even more of an issue. We know that millennials as a group are very, very different than baby boomers and gen-X'ers. We know it, and quite frankly they know it. They want and demand to be treated and talked to differently. Otherwise, they're just going to call BS on your efforts, and they're going to disregard the communication. As we get into these next five points, and as we think about how you're going to create a tangible plan to use them, I want you to stay focused on the idea that it's going to take some courage for you to not worry about how some of the baby boomers and the gen-X'ers may treat that message. We can talk about how to get around that, but that's an important distinction.

Here they are. We're going to cover these five things in the next few minutes. The first is how to create a fan-centered experience. I think this speaks for itself, but we have to come at it from the user point of view. What is it that they want. As we create this experience, we have to focus in on giving them reasons to care. We saw in one of the earlier graphs that the second highest reason that they don't go is they just don't care. There are things that we can do to change that. The top thing that they listed is price, and so number three here is, how do you rework that value equation? If you can't control the price of a ticket, can you control the amount of value, the amount of experience that you give them, so that it changes the rules in the game for them?

The next two, these are add-on things, and I think the first three are fundamental. They're foundational elements, but if you get those, and you're really doing well, then I would layer on top of that, working with big data and really focusing on what design can do, and how you invest in that to really bring out some more loyalty and some more fan experience for that. As we dive in, enhancing the experience, in the way I'm looking at it right now, and the way I want you to think about it, is I'm focusing on that physical venue. What's that like when somebody walks up to the stadium? What's it like pre-game? What's it like during the game? What's it like post-game? How does that whole thing add to that experience that enhances their day at the stadium, at the venue?

The next part of that is the group experience. I call it crowd sharing, but it's this atmosphere that you get when you have a fan zone, or you have an area that just feels like I'm surrounded by people who are just like me, and I'm given permission to have fun, and the experience is something that I want to come back to time and time again. Regardless of what's going on on the field, I'm having a lot of fun here in the stands.

SRO, standing room only. For the longest time, people in my generation, when they think of SRO, it means that you got the last ticket in the house, and you have to stand up, and you're uncomfortable. For the Millennial generation, it's actually a good thing. They're less focused on actual reserved seats, and more focused on, "What can I do when I'm here in the venue?" SRO means don't focus so much on the actual seat for them. Focus on what that can be outside of it.

The last thing we're going to talk about is how important unique food and drink is, and what role do healthy foods play, and what role do interesting and shareable moments that would be on Instagram play?

Sara Frey: Before we get into showing some of those exact examples, just want to share the results from our last poll. Of those listed, which pro sports leagues do you think is doing the best job of engaging millennials? 59% of you chose the MLS. 18% the MLB, 18% the NBA. NHL had zero, and the NFL had 6%. Something interesting to look at as we move into specific examples.

Tim Smith: Awesome. All of you NFL marketers in the crowd, you can reach us at Those stats are really not surprising. I think that we've seen during today that MLS is doing a great job. I believe that there's a lot going on in both the MLB and the NBA, and I think NFL is doing some things that are actually adding to what they're doing, so that's pretty awesome that you guys called that. What I have on screen right now is a rendering, and I want you guys to take a look at this. These are actual plans that were being developed for a soccer stadium in Washington, D.C. While they haven't built it yet, this, to me, lends itself to where people's heads are going as it relates to that physical experience. Looking at this, that's actually a moat around the stadium, you guys. It's a water feature that's year round, and in the summer, I have no idea how they're going to allow people to surf, but that's what the rendering is showing.

It's a chance for people to experience this stadium in a very different way. If you look closely, you'll see people who are actually rock climbing on the side of the stadium wall. In the wintertime, they can convert that to skating, and making sure that people are getting outside, they're having fun in the winter months. As I think about this, I think about all the things that we imagined yesterday that a stadium represented, and all the things that it could be tomorrow. That kind of prompted, and if you go to our website, and you look under the article section, we wrote a blog recently on, what would Elon Musk do if he could create a stadium out of anything? We got a team here at the studio together and did some brainstorming, and had a lot of fun.

At the end of it, we actually came out of it with, maybe it's not a stadium at all. Maybe there's a whole different thing that's going on, but the idea of bringing people together to enjoy sports is where we're going. I think there's a lot of things that are coming up, and we'll make sure that we do that. The other thing that I wanted to show you is, speaking of the NBA, giving them a chance to enjoy the game and consume the game in the physical environment. This is at a Golden State Warriors game. They have a fan section and a dedicated stake. It's the Golden State of Mind. They're really, as an ownership, as a marketing, as a team, encouraging this soccer-like behavior at these games, and they're doing a great job bringing that to the forefront.

Here's a photo of what's happening at a typical MLS game. This is actually the Seattle Sounders, and the reason that I wanted to bring this up is again, the president of both, Peter McLaughlin, said, "How can we transport the excitement and the enthusiasm that's happening at our soccer games and bring that into the football games?" After a conscious effort, they had some success. In Seattle, they call it the Twelfth Man, and while that may not be an incredibly original idea, they rallied around that, they gathered themselves, and they, from the ownership on down, promoted it. Now, Seattle is consistently named, it's the loudest NFL crowd in the league. They're setting attendance records. They're bringing people into the games and experiencing it in a different way. The atmosphere has totally changed.

I talked earlier about standing room only, SRO. I can actually see this from where I am right now. It's the New Amsterdam Bar in right field of Comerica Park. They designed this, and I'm not sure if they knew it at the time, but this is a perfect millennial spot. This is a chance, it's got TVs, it's got interesting food, it's got craft beers. Millennials can consume the entire game and have in this area. They may never sit in their seat. They're here in a way that's different and unique for them, and they're eating it up. It's constantly crowded. I go there all the time, and I think, "Wow. This is a very big success."

The Tigers are doing some things that I think are really good. They're offering more food choices. They just announced the other day some of their new things here are fried Oreos at the game, and they're having brat hops, a mac daddy dog, and fried bologna sandwiches. Those are all things that are not only interesting, but they're Instagram-able, they're shareable, and people are going to talk about them, and that's going to lead to some social that we're going to get into in a few minutes.

The other thing I wanted to talk about as it relates to food, this is the Detroit Lions chef Joe Nader. Joe's responsible for everything that's food related inside Ford Field, where the Lions play. He talks about, at the concession stand, going out to Eastern Market, which is our local farmers' market in downtown Detroit, and using that as a way to find some interesting ideas. They recently announced that they have a Korean BBQ taco, and a Ramen Noodle bar, and they have free range rosemary garlic chicken, and salmon sliders. All of these things, they even have a situation with St. Joseph Mercy, one of our health systems, to offer healthy choices at the game. All things that millennials will reach out to, and they'll embrace, and they'll find unique, interesting, and shareable.

The second thing that I want to talk about is giving this group of people a reason to care. The idea of enhancing the experience if the space is great, but now we have to figure out how better to communicate with your fans so they can communicate with you and each other. This is about social sharing, and being shareable. It's way more than just having a great Wi-Fi signal. This is giving them the tools, and making sure that they feel valued and heard. It's giving them moments of little joy moments in their lives, and then giving them ways to push that out and into their social network. There are more and more owners and teams who are seeking out, and asking input from their fans, and then they're acting on that input.

When they do that, they're creating super fans. They're elevating them to a point where they're invested in it, and we'll talk about that. The last part in reasons to care is giving them the tools to generate user-generated content. This is a big motivator, and you want to be able to find examples, and use some of those existing options that you have, so that you can encourage your fans and super fans to be content providers for you. There are ways that I think will help you do that.

Here's a great story as it relates to the social side. I love this. This is Ethan White. Ethan's a defender for the Philadelphia MLS team. He also happens to be a really talented photographer. The team and the league, they made a brilliant decision by asking him to take his camera with him on the road, and give the fans a behind-the-lens look at what it's like to be a soccer player on the road. They saw his Instagram feed, and his shareable items. It just blew up. That was a great way to give these fans a different perspective and a different look.

I also love, there's a story ... The New York Mets. They're now the number one social media baseball team in the league, and what they did to get there way before they started to be competitive and got into the World Series, years ago, they started to treat social media in a very different way. On the next slide, they started to have some fun with it. They started to nickname their players after Avengers characters. They have got Noah Syndergaard, who is nicknamed Thor, and David Wright is Captain America, and Lucas Duda is the Hulk. This is innovative and creative ways to get that out there into a different audience.

There's a lot of superhero and Avengers fans who may not have been exposed to the Mets, or baseball before, but now they're bringing them in, in a very cool and innovative way. They've had a lot of success because today, as you saw earlier, they're the number one social media team in baseball. They get close to a million, a million and a half likes on their normal social feeds, and that's leading to increased attendance. It's leading to increased loyalty, and this can happen when you communicate with these fans that not only are they important, but they want to be valued and heard, and you can do that in ways that are meaningful for them.

This is a cute story. I want to tank about Hank. Say hi, Hank. Hank is actually a stray dog that wandered into the Milwaukee Brewers spring training field, and he was adopted by the team. Pretty soon, the players were putting it out on Facebook and Instagram, and not long after that, their channels were flooded with comments and images, wanting to know more about Hank. Today, Hank has his own jersey. He's an official member of the team. He has meet and greets, and the sell Hank-themed merchandise in their gift shops. This just happened by coincidence, but yet the team, the people in the marketing, and the PR, and the social media department at the Brewers really knew they had something interesting, and they ran with it. They had a lot of success.

We've got the idea of creating super fans. This is a photo of the fans at a Detroit City Football Club soccer game. It was interesting that this is not a very old team. It's only been around for a couple years. From the beginning, the owners have sought out the opinions and implemented the ideas from these fans. They've brought them into the game. They made them super fans from almost the beginning, and after last season, because it was so popular, there were so many people coming, they realized that they needed a bigger stadium. They were playing at a high school field, and they reached out to their fans, and they said, "We want to create something bigger." The fans responded. They actually raised almost three quarters of a million dollars through a crowdfunding campaign, and they did that because they knew that the owners were genuine and authentic in seeking their opinion.

Once they did that, they knew that their ideas would be implemented. The owners created a trust. That trust was followed up by their super fans, and they were able to do some things that I don't would've been thought possible just a couple years ago.

The last part that we want to talk about in this section is the idea of user-generated content. I just want you to imagine for a second, if your audience was enthusiastic as the GoPro audience. On the left there, we've got an image of a skier using the GoPro, and just with a little bit of research, the engagement and the customer intention and loyalty for GoPro usage is off the charts. If you look, there were more than 50 million users on YouTube for athletes that are using GoPro. That's a great example of them encouraging and leveraging UGC in a way that was very successful, and there's ways that as marketers, you might want to think about, how can we use that to really take advantage of a trend that's happening?

The other side of the screen is the Boston Celtics, and the Boston Celtics have ... They're one of the highest NBA Instagram followers in the league. They've got about a half a million followers, and as I look at their feed, I ask myself, "I wonder what would happen if they spent a little bit more time encouraging these fans to participate and generate with some UGC." I think they could blow that up in no time, and I wonder what channels you might have right now in your social media feed that you can begin to give your fans a chance to get some UGC for you that might be helpful.

We have this trend of fear of missing out. UGC is a great way of leveraging that millennial thing, which is, "I don't want to miss something." If you've got millennials who were at the game, and you repost it on your channel, that's going to really play into that factor a lot. We've gone through two out of the five here. Before we get into the next, we're going to do one more survey.

Sara Frey: We're going to do one more poll. Bit of foreshadowing for what is to come. You may have noticed a trend. We wanted to get your opinion on how well you're currently doing from a design and branding perspective. Do you feel that your organization's branding is appealing to a millennial audience? We are a little bit behind. I'm going to put some pressure on Tim here. I'm just going to give you a couple seconds to fill out your answer, and close.

Tim Smith: The third out of five is the value equation, and this is the idea: if you can't control price and it's fixed, what can you control? Our white paper makes it clear that the price is a factor. We know that, but we also know that the value piece is, it's basically a calculation. When somebody thinks about buying a ticket, they're going through this filter in their head about what's that experience like? How much connectivity can I have, meaning, am I going to be around people that I know and like? Am I going to be able to share that experience with people that I know and like in my feed, that they're going to see what I'm doing, and they're going to experience a little bit of missing out? I'm going to factor in, if I do this game, and the game costs $25 for a ticket, what are my other options at $25 that I can think about, that might give me more experience or more connectivity?

The question for us, and what we've really come to believe, is that they're going to have an experience on Friday night where they're going to be willing to spend money. The question is, is it going to be at your venue or somewhere else, and the more we can do to raise that experience, to raise that connectivity, and to eliminate some of those other options in terms of how they're comparing them, the better off you're going to do in terms of getting them to buy a ticket. They're going to be asking this question, "What's the return on my money?" They're going to go through this calculation. Think about what you can do with some of those other elements, because they're going to change the value equation for you.

The next thing that I want to jump into, and obviously four and five are a little bit more at a higher level, because we could spend an our just on big data. There are teams who are using this very effectively. They're hiring specialists to manage the program, but let's be honest. This is a marketing effort. This is bringing people into the team, and so big data is really an effort of gathering names, and emails, and addresses of people who are your fans who come to games, season ticket holders, people who look like your fans and season ticket holders, who you can acquire and bring into it. It's this big data of information that you're going to use later on, and the first step of it is acquiring and cultivating really quality data. Quality is paramount over quantity. It has to be good data, and there are people out there who could help you acquire that.

Once you get it, this now gives you a chance to engage your audience in a very different way. You can do this in a very personalized campaign that fan bases are responding to. There's a story about the Orlando Magic, who is really good at using big data. They tested some response rates using the same list with both a personalized component and a static component. When they personalized their list, they saw 40% improvement in the response rate. That's a huge difference, and if you think about how you're building your profiles, and how you're categorizing the information that's going in there, not only can you personalize it by name, but you can personalize it by their preferences. You can see which of your fans have gone to a concession stand, or gone to the gift shop, or bring in their kids to games, so you know what kind of message to communicate to them in a time and place that's important for them.

If you know this kind of a fan is a family pack kind of a fan, then that's going to be a message that's going to resonate with them. As you get into that engagement, that's going to obviously lead to higher monetization. The idea of this solid list that you have now personalized, and that you now have the ability to offer something unique and special for a very specific audience, you can now build in these predictive analytics, where you're now going to identify, what is the best offer, at the best time, for this certain customer type, and what is that going to result in in terms of an analytical point of view? You can predict these models. You can boost customer responses, and now you can get into some cross selling opportunities, and you can think about, "What does my most profitable customer look like, and how can I go out and find more of them who look and act the same way?"

The real meat of this, the real fun, is that what this accomplishes for you is it builds brand loyalty. By talking to your fans one on one, by giving them offers that are important to them, by providing them with things that have value, they now feel much more tied into your brand. They're going to show you more loyalty. You now have an added opportunity to offer them some things that the general public can't get. You can get a special meet and greet with players, or unique signed merchandise that would be valuable to them. All of these things in data allow you the chance to communicate in a much more effective way. There's certainly a cost of creating it, but I would tell you the return on that cost. There's a lot of people that we talk to, including a gentleman from the Detroit Lions just the other day, that are really investing in this in big ways, and they're already seeing returns.

The last thing I want to focus in on is how to invest in design. The idea of millennials caring deeply about the aesthetic of things isn't a myth. That's reality. They notice details. They're hypersensitive to the visual, and investing in design is super critical to your brand, but it's even more critical when you're starting to target a millennial audience, because we're thinking about and talking about design as both form and function, and how it can be used to break conventions. What can you do to improve those interactions? I want to show you a concept that we did for the Detroit Pistons a couple months ago, where we re-imagined the entire ticketing process.

This is an idea that would get millennials to the game, where you eliminate the paper ticket. Instead, you give them a wristband that has an RFID tag on it, and that wristband is very visual. It's designed in a very effective way, and on that band can be their ticket. It can be pre-loaded with a certain amount of money for the concession stand. It could be pre-loaded with an Uber ride to and from the game, and this was fun for us to help them re-imagine what could be possible. The technology exists right now to make this happen. We even went to step further and said, "Well, what if we could put it in a vending machine, and what if you're walking down downtown Detroit, or downtown Cleveland, or downtown Orlando, and see a vending machine, and just buy this ticket, and it's pre-loaded with a game. You go on your computer, and you're good to go."

Sara Frey: Before we get to the next slide, I just want to share the results of our last poll. Do you feel that your organization's branding is appealing to a millennial audience? Almost a 60/40 split. 59% said yes, 41% said no. Maybe these next few examples will help give you some insight into what direction you want to start to head.

Tim Smith: Awesome. That's good to hear. I'm glad that people are seeing that. What I have on screen right now is the Brooklyn Nets. When they moved from New Jersey, they really took full advantage of their chance to rebrand, and they, in my estimation, were clearly thinking about the younger millennial fan. This brand, in a very short period of time, has become as iconic and as recognizable as any brand not only in the NBA, but arguably in professional sports. They just did this right in every possible way, and the results are, you see it in fashion circles, you see it in a lot of places that people are wearing it, they just aren't basketball fans. They're fans of design and fashion.

The other example I wanted to talk about real quick was what Kansas City did with their MLS team. This is an example of their logo as it appeared in the mid-2000s, about 2006, and at that time, they were selling about 600 season tickets a year. They were selling merchandise in their gifts shops to the tune of about $30,000 a year. Ownership was not happy. They knew that they needed to do something different, and they took a big risk and a chance, and they made the leap to rebrand. Since they've rebranded, Kansas City has been not only one of the more successful teams on the pitch, but off it as well. They've changed from 600 season ticket holders to 10,000 season ticket holders. They've gone from $30,000 in merchandise sales to a million dollars in merchandise sales. While a lot of that is probably factored into what the product is that's being put on the field, I would argue that a tremendous amount of it started with them taking the chance, and rebranding, and coming up with an image that was more reflective of the audience that they wanted to talk to, which was the millennial audience.

With that, we're kind of getting down into the summary. I know we're right at about 50 minutes. We've covered a lot of ground. I'm anxious to get to some questions, but before I do that, I just wanted to leave you with this thought. It's kind of reiterating where I went a little bit earlier, with the idea that these millennials, they're complex, they're varied. It's a big group. It ranges from the late teens to the mid-30s, from college-age kids who are just finishing school, and they're in debt, to parents with young kids who are really in a position where they have a lot of expendable income, they have a lot of freedom. You have to be courageous enough, and successful, and committing to understand them and engage these millennials in a meaningful way.

I want to caution you to avoid patronizing them, and going with clichés, and just being courageous enough to speak to them in an authentic way that is, it relates to your brand, and your message, and then it'll mean something to them. I think you'll be successful. I hope we've given you some ideas to think about today, and I wish you all the best of luck, and so let's just jump into some questions and see what we got.

Sara Frey: Thanks, Tim. We are right at 1:53, so about seven minutes left. Have a number of questions here. I'm going to first, just answer one really quickly. A couple people asked about the presentation being available after today, and the answer is yes. We will make that available to you. We'll send you a link tomorrow with a transcript, and a recording, so that's great. Another question, the white paper will be available in the next few weeks. We will be sure to send you an email about that as well. Question here for you, Tim. How do you attract millennials without alienating your other audiences?

Tim Smith: That's a great question. Actually, what I would tell any of our clients, and what I would tell everyone in the room, is that I don't want you to worry about whether or not you're alienating another audience. I'd rather have you spend much more time and energy focusing on making sure that what you are communicating to that Millennial group is authentic, and meaningful for them. The reality is, the way you communicate and the channels you communicate are going to give them a sense of what your brand stands for and what you want to do going forward. I would hazard to guess that your core audience that represents your gen X'ers and baby boomers, they're fans whether or not you communicate with the millennial audience in a way that may not resonate with them.

I would also say that as you see some of these soccer teams and others having a lot of success, they're selling fun, and they're selling things that are interesting. Fun is not an exclusive product of a millennial groups. There's a lot of gen X'ers and a lot of baby boomers who would really resonate with that idea, and they would engage with it. Don't worry about it. Speak the truth. Let the chips fall where they may, and I think you'll be well ahead of the game. Look at the size of the groups. It's going to be a lot more interesting for you to just focus on that.

Sara Frey: Great. Have another question here. How did you get millennials to fill out the survey? Email, social, just looking for a little bit of insight into the surveying process when you were developing these insights.

We used the Survey Monkey.

And we're heading right near the end of time. Want to make sure that we don't go over. There are a couple more questions left, but I think Tim is available. You saw his Twitter handle earlier in the presentation, @smithcastle. You can always reach him there. You can also visit us at, send a message to us.

Tim Smith: Yup, and as a matter of fact, if anybody ... My email is real simple. It's tim(at) If you have something, I'd love to try to help. Reach out if you've got a question. We'll see what we can do, and give you an idea or a direction to go. We're all about you guys being successful, and having some more traction in getting these millennials to the game. We want to see that happen so if there's a way we can help with that, we'd love to do it.

Sara Frey: Great. We also have a quick survey which will appear after we're done here. It's five questions. It should just take a minute. I am currently regretting not asking if you would eat a brat pop on it, but that's okay. It's all useful information, and we'd greatly appreciate it if you would fill it out. Thank you all for coming.

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