Friday, November 03, 2006

Needed: Buzz

OK. We all agree, I believe, that more attendance is better. I'm not in panic mode yet over attendance. They are back after a layoff and getting back into action. First and foremost, they needed to put a good team on the ice. I believe they have done that in outstanding fashion. Lots can happen over a long season, but they are off to a hot start and they have shown they can definitely compete.

That's fabulous, as far as I'm concerned. I'm very, very satisfied.

Now they have to win new fans. "NEW" being the operative word here. Some of us were easy to win over, they don't need to do much but maintain for us. Some have their beefs and hangups with this team, fine, write them off. They'll never be won over.

Then there are the hundreds of thousands of other people in the market.

These are who the Cyclones need to win over and get them coming back. The organization is not competing against another team, league, or building. Their real competition is in fighting for people's choices of where to use their hard-earned and ever-shrinking discretionary spending monies.

They don't just need people to want to go to games. The need people to think they need to go to games - that Cyclones games are "can't miss" events. Basically, they need "BUZZ."

I'm no marketing genius. I'm just a local hack, but if I had their ear I would make some suggestions:

1) More marketing blitz, in a two prong pincer attack. One prong targets likely customers, getting into the mens leagues, ice rinks, youth leagues, etc. Everywhere people go, they need to see something with the Cyclones logo. Give calendars to the administrators of the leagues to give to players and parents.

The other prong goes after new customers, by actively soliciting all kinds of organizations for group sales (churches, schools, businesses, etc). Also get into bars, restaurants, places where people already spend recreational money. I would love to see some sort of radio promo with some talk shows or morning show or whatever, listeners fax or email in their office/group info for a chance to win 10 tickets to a game, with some promo items, etc. This should be a regular event - at least monthly if not more. They can even bring in another sponsor for food or whatever.

2) Once they get people in there, they have to keep them coming back. Concession prices are too high. I'm OK with paying more, but they can be better. Maybe reduce drinks a popcorn to a degree, and offer some certain items really cheap, like dollar hot dogs. They also need more dollar beers. Even if it's 10 or 12 ounce cups.

The hockey product itself is good. But they can't go by the "if you build it, they will come" theory. They have to reach out - and reach deep - to find people and get them to the game.

I had some other ideas running around in my head, but now I've forgotten. I'll save me from myself and keep this a shorter post than it could be. In conclusion, what they need is buzz. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's either an F5 Twiser, or it's a whirlpool going down the drain.

Lame crowds, unfortunately, beget more lame crowds. People come, see that nobody else is there, and don't care to come back. This goes for any such entertainment. On the other hand, good crowds beget better crowds. People who come and have a good time, in an affordable fashion, tell their friends and more people come. The excitement feeds on itself.

They can do it. We can help. They put together a damn fine hockey team in a short time. Phase 1 complete. Now they need to get the word out that they have this team in place and get people there. I'm sure the marketing pros have more and/or better ideas. Bring 'em on!

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