Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is

There’s been a lot of conversation and consternation recently about the Nashville Predators tying up their skates and leaving.

Named as the number one culprit for this potential departure?  The “business community.”  There has been no shortage of finger pointing as many have said that area corporations need to step up and prevent this exodus from Nashville.

What is needed more than contributions is a serious investment in marketing.  Properly executed, the correct marketing program can result in huge dividends…not dividends to the city, but rewards to those businesses that “step up.”

I’ve seen it happen.  For more than 30 years I have been advising clients on how to more effectively market sports.  I have developed plans for clients on how to use suites and ticket blocks for the Titans and Predators, as well as numerous other professional teams and universities throughout the nation.

Here is how it works:  Like most successful marketing programs, one must make a plan and then work that plan.  If, for example, a company contracts for a 16-seat Titans suite, they have 160 marketing opportunities (10 games); with the Predators, 688 similar opportunities (43 games).

Prior to pursuing these “opportunities,” I asks client to determine their priorities,do they want to:

+Reward customers

+Recruit customers

+Reward employees (productivity, longevity)

+Address geographic interests (for example, last season, a client entertained New York employees and customers when the Rangers came to town.  Similar approaches can be taken for Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, etc.).

Next, I ask the company to designate a coordinator/host.  After sending invitations to their targeted guests, plan who should sit next to whom, and the host should meet attendees and make sure company executives have a master list with information on each guest.   Ever attended a game as a guest and had no idea who the other attendees were while they had no clue who you were?

I first learned these principles as a University of Tennessee vice president, where friend- and fund-raising was always a primary agenda at football games.

At UT, we, like the Titans, had the luxury of every game being a sell-out.  With the Predators,  there are plenty of opportunities now…but if they continue on their road to a Stanley Cup, then “opportunities” obviously become more and more limited.

Yes, we do need the business community to step up, but corporations need to do it because it’s good for business if they approach it right and not because the feel pressured to support “a cause.”  It’s a lot like putting your mouth where your money is.

C’mon Nashville, let’s use smart marketing to make this franchise so successful that no businessman could even consider leaving Music City.  The Predators offer great entertainment at the highest professional level, and it makes good business sense to keep their vitality, energy and economic impact in Nashville.

Bo Roberts is a Nashville marketing consultant and managing partner of Roberts Strategies.