2012 Marketing Campaign: The Wrap-Up
The marketing efforts for the 2012 MAAC Basketball Championships envisioned a multi-layered approach designed to engage MAAC fans to travel to Springfield, Massachusetts for the league’s first neutral site basketball post-season tourney since the 1989 event at the then Meadowlands Arena in NJ. The MAAC institutions were heavily involved with the marketing efforts with various e-blasts sent to alumni groups, student social media outreaches and fan buses, information about the championships on their websites, and special announcements during on campus sporting events. Also having an on-site presence at the MAAC campuses during basketball games throughout the season with an iPad2 raffle, engaged the fans early and made them more knowledgeable about the Springfield area. But once the championships kicked off, the MAAC and MassMutual Center continued promoting the championships feverishly.
One of the promotions that were offered during the tournament was First Responders Night. The MAAC wanted to recognize the people of Springfield that acted with haste to the unexpected tornado that hit in June 2011. These brave individuals are responsible for saving the lives of dozens of people during that catastrophe. The responders were given tickets to the men’s quarterfinal games.
Another promotion that was available during the championship was Sundae Funday. Families of four were giving tickets to the Men’s semifinal game and ice cream from Friendly’s for $54. We had a strong turnout overall for the event. The Friendly’s stand was also one of the most popular stands at the MAAC Fanfest.
A marketing effort that I mentioned in an earlier blog was Bounce to the Arena. With Bounce to the Arena, children dribbled a basketball from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame to the Fanfest at the MassMutual Center. Children were also given a ticket to a men’s semifinal game. The Mayor of Springfield, Domenic Sarno and MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor, were on hand and led the march into the arena. Bounce to the Arena had a great showing with over 150 participants this year.
Marissa Skibbe, the Director of Marketing at the MassMutual Center headed the in-tournament promotional efforts had this to say about the championships, ““The MAAC Championships allowed us to really use our creativity in marketing it. We developed two different messages to hit the local community. One was targeted to the sports fan and the other was to families with young kids. We wanted to make sure people knew there was more than just great Division I Basketball taking place at the MassMutual Center. We knew people were getting the message, as they all referred to hearing Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory song that was tied into the spot. We had fun marketing the MAAC Championships!”
Whitney Swab, the Director of New Media and Broadcast added, “The MassMutual Center staff was excellent to work with and implemented a number of great ideas ranging from a QR code challenge to having a raffle give away of an iPad to fans who stopped by the MassMutual Center table.”
Being a part of the marketing efforts has shown me a lot about promoting for events. I might have taken for granted that marketing takes place before and during the event. I honestly didn’t know how much time and planning were needed to ensure that the message was getting delivered to the public. With everything that league did marketing wise, (coming up with creative ways to inform fans about the championships, adding things to our campus visits, and sending out promotional e-blasts) , I feel strongly that our efforts were well received by MAAC fans who travelled well to Springfield filling hotels, restaurants and local sights like the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
In year two of the three year agreement the MAAC needs to work with the MassMutual Center to better engage local basketball fans to attend the championships. Areas that need further refinement include local price points for fans from the region that might want to experience the championships but are unwilling to invest heavily in the experiment, examination of how promotional efforts are being received by local consumer (new media, print, etc.) and perhaps developing a better business community sales program for all-sessions tickets.