Marketing the Playoffs
It’s the end of April and playoff beards are abounding in Philadelphia. As a Capitals fan I am surrounded by Flyers fans who are the epitome of a rabid hockey fan. Their passion is tremendous and very evident. The playoffs in professional hockey and basketball take the marketing and promotions to another level. This is the time of year when things get on edge and you can’t be too uptight because you need to be creative enough to outdo everyone else and make ESPN’s Top 10. Stay away from that Not Top 10 list though, that might cost you your job.
Playoffs generally sell themselves in pro sports. But no one leaves this to chance and front office staffs are called upon to step up their efforts in providing a one-of-a-kind experience for fans. The playoffs should mean more right? Well so should everything else teams do surrounding the game. Radio, TV, Print, Social Media; all need to reflect the attitude of the playoffs. Setting a message or tone for the playoffs is a good way to go. Many teams have a slogan or pitch they use on a lot of their marketing pieces throughout a season and sometimes these change slightly for the playoffs. A good example would be when the Wizards were good back in 2007 they used a slogan of “Go All In” and when they made the playoffs it changed to, “We’re All In”. This was a nice use of maintaining a message but underlining the fact that there was a greater sense of urgency for the playoffs. Radio should be branding based and highlight the stars and history of the team (if you have good history). Don’t have too much copy though, as having game calls mixed in with the voice over makes it far more interesting to the listener.
Live Events staffs also come up with some incredible player intros for the playoffs. So if you are fortunate enough to attend the game the mood in playoff hockey or basketball can really be special before tip-off. Things such as pyrotechnics, light shows, fog, and interactive fan events really go a long way with setting a tone in the stadium. A couple years ago the Detroit Red Wings did Thundersticks with red glow sticks inside of them as a giveaway to all fans. Check out the video on YouTube sometime, it really is cool with the lights off in the stadium.
It doesn’t hurt to come out with something completely new that no one has ever seen before and unveil it for the playoffs. The fans love it; the media will love it, and if you have the cash to do it – go big.