The team has definately started pushing marketing harder with TV ads on CTV and high profile billboards added in key areas like the on ramp to the McKay bridge, but it’s still obvious that more needs to be done. Unlike some people, I don’t think that the problem for the team has been a lack of marketing, I think the problem is improperly targetted marketing. Anyway, here are some thoughts after the jump, feel free to add your own.
1) Admit the sketchy nature of the ABA – People know the league is a mess, they need to be assured that the ownership know this and they need to be told what is being done to mitigate this sketchiness.
2) Aim at the College Market – There are tons of college kids in Halifax – go after them. Give out some free tickets at Tigers, Huskies and Bluedevils basketball games. Advertise in the Gazette (it’s incredibly cheap). Get some people out handbilling and postering on the Dal and SMU campuses. Send invitations and free tickets out to the International Students society at SMU. Offer to give tickets to non-profit groups on campus for fundraising purposes to get the name out. So few people know about the team on campus that it is a huge lost market.
University students simply do not read the Daily News so they need to start advertising in the Coast and the Dal Gazette.
This should also be taken into account with the 13th man. Put in Glavic (SMU QB) as a 13th man. Put William Barker (president of King’s College) in as the 13th man. Do something.
3) Hip Hop Crowd – I know the aim is the family crowd, but get after the hip hop crowd. RS Smooth is DJing and Jordan Croucher was the 13th man for a game, but that’s not enough. Get Rainmen shirts and jerseys in Soled Out and have the team do a signing event there on a Saturday. Get them hosting an event at Lifted some Wednesday. Give t-shirts and jerseys to break dancing competitions as prizes and get some swag into high school dances and the like. Hip hop and basketball go hand in hand, but it’s a very hard market to reach, particularly in Halifax. Part of the problem is that hip hop fans don’t read the Daily News or the Coast. Most of them rely on the internet and word of mouth to hear about entertainment, so they need to start pushing that. (On the topic of jerseys – they need to be available outside of the Metrocentre. I think Soled Out would be a better option than Cleves or sports experts, but I hate malls and suburbs so I am biased)
4) Grass Roots – including lots of minor basketball stuff has been a great idea. But the key markets that I don’t see enough of at games are high school kids and college kids/20 somethings. Billboards and newspaper ads are only so useful. I had to start threads about the team on HalifaxLocals and Halifamous – the internet marketing needs to step up. They need to get handbills with the website URL in clothing, records and sporting good stores. They need to get posters up downtown and in store windows. They need to make it so that people can’t ignore the team. They need youtube mixtapes of huge dunks from the home games (plus some blocks by Kadiri). They need to make the average kid on the street excited about this and newspaper and radio ads don’t do that.
5) Host an Atlantic Canadian High School Showcase – This needs to happen. Just put together two eight player high school all star teams from NS, NB and PEI and get them to play a game before a Rainmen game (the extra time needed to make this work is just staff time, you pay $8000 flat in rent for the day). One ticket gets you into both games. At half time of the Rainmen game do a dunk competetion with the high school kids competing. This would be a big deal to a lot of kids, it’d be good value for money with minimal costs to the team (some high school refs, two hours of extra rent, some hotel rooms for the out of town kids. I am sure you can get a title sponsor to cover this, too: The Easlink Showcase, or the Cleves Showcase or something), would draw extra fans, get tons of free press and would link the team to the community. You can bill it as a scouting event for AUS coaches and the Rainmen. Just make sure you have the same entertainment value with announcers and the Weather Girls, etc. Besides, this would be fun to watch. There is no reason for this not to happen.
6) The Weather Girls Need to be Rethought – I know I may be too hard on them, but something has to give here. I am a 22 year old, male college student but c’mon, clean that stuff up. At least for family night. It’s not that it can’t be “hot” or “sexy” but it’s too overt and too aggressive – and someone has watched Rize a few too many time. And let’s do something about the outfits here, too. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard a parent say “Oh great… let’s dim the lights – it’s Dome time” or something along those lines. I think that it is actually preventing some families of younger children from coming out.
Two other quick thoughts as well: They need to get over this whole “we’re not cheerleaders!” mentality and try to interact more with the crowd. The idea of minor league sports is to try to connect with the audience and the fans. The second thing is that they need to start switching up dances, repeat customers are bored as hell with the same routines.
7) Better Use of the Cheesey 13th Man Rule – Announce it well in advance and try to get people to do it that fans will come out for – name one person who would go to any event, even if it’s free, just because Cindy Day was there. Name me one. The aim here should be to use the 13th man (and the halftime entertainment) to add value and draw in marginal people who may be on the fence about coming out. People with no interest in Basketball will not come out just because someone cool is sitting on the bench. Put in Coach K and I am sure a combination of X alumni, old school basketball fans and curious folk will show up. Put in Classified (Enfield hip hop artist with national aclaim) and advertise it and some more folks will come in, etc.
8) Promote the Halftime Act in Advance – Again, it’s not going to draw people with no interest in basketball at all, but if people know that Singer X is performing then they may be a bit more inclined to spend their money out at the MetroCentre. If they’re there anyway, you might as well put it on the website and on the bottom of print ads.