With the start of each new school year, a crop of new potential fans is being introduced to your team. The good news is they are predisposed to love you. The challenge is getting them into the stadium – not just this year, but in the future.
So who will your fans be in 2022 when today’s incoming freshmen graduate? The answer is largely up to you. You will always have your die-hard fans. We all know them – the fans who wouldn’t miss a game for any reason, not even their own wedding. Then you have the casual fan, the new fan and the fair weather fan. Beyond the die-hard fan, everyone else is susceptible to distraction and nonattendance. They’re the ones you truly have to win – game after game, season after season.
Collegiate athletic programs used to believe that stadium attendance was losing ground to the couch and cable TV. Well, that has changed. Did you know that more than half (55%) of teens believe they can access any content they want without cable? Millennials/students are not sitting on their couch watching the game. In fact, they probably aren’t “watching” the game no matter where they are.
The reality is this: whether they are new, casual or fair weather, fans are more interested in the experience than the game. Creating an atmosphere of inclusion and excitement on game day is more important than your number of wins. Here’s the proof: even winning teams lost attendance over the last 4 years. If fans cannot capture, share and tag it, it never happened – regardless of whether it was a win or a loss.
Follow these five guidelines to create an experience that every fan type can embrace. You’ll fill more seats at the game and your die-hard fans will love the company.
1. Create opportunities for students to have an “experience.” Create “party” areas, general admission areas where they can hang out with friends and just happen to watch the game if they want. Offer food/drinks. Make it memorable!
2. Give stuff away. Fans of all types love free stuff. Get creative here and look for sponsors to offer up the goods.
3. Make it a competition. Fans of all types are competitive. They love to win and love to rub it in…..
4. Make it social. Offer opportunities for fans to post to social and win something (they will post it anyway, so let’s get in on it).
5. Make it easy. Remember: if there is an easier option, they will do that instead.