How To Monetize Unsold Sports Team Advertising Inventory

If you are an owner, operator or an executive for a collegiate-level, independent league or minor league sports team or league, then you probably have unsold advertising inventory.  These could include spots for which you do not have any sponsors, neither local nor national, for:

  •  signage
  •  game programs
  •  pre-game and post-game events
  •  online radio
  •  public address announcements
  •  between-inning (or between-quarter/half) intermissions
  •  website
  •  social media postings
  •  team posters and upcoming event/game flyers
  •  your game/event videos
  •  local athlete/player appearances
  •  card sets

If this is the case then take heart! There are several options for you to monetize these spots… even if you cannot secure a paying sponsor!

Using Social Media to Monetize Your Unsold Sports Advertising Inventory

First and foremost, if you have the ability to sell the advertising inventory spots, then take the money!  It is always better to have the money in hand than banking on the actions of fans.  We all know that fans are at your games, listening to your online radio, or watching online video in order to “escape” their realities and be entertained in some manner.  Relying on them to perform a specific action or set of actions is fickle at best.

Nonetheless, you may have to rely on them to take some sort of call to action in case you simply cannot sell your advertising inventory in a certain area.  If this is the case, then here are the main points to monetize this otherwise “dead space”:

  • You need to break the fans’ “hypnotic trances”.  You can do this by being funny, innovative, giving them a “wow” element or simply giving them a SIMPLE call-to-action item that subconsciously answers the “What Is In It For Me?” (WIIIFM) question
  • Make your call-to-action benefit-driven
  • DO NOT charge your fans anything for this unsold inventory.  Do NOT “jam” more ticket and merchandise incentives down their throats.  They get enough of that!
    • Instead, get into their minds and give them calls-to-action which address the concerns they likely have in their everyday lives

Take a minute to think about the concerns your fans (in attendance, local but listening to the game, family/friend of a player living 2000 miles away, or any other significant percentage of your audience) have in their lives.  These could include:

  •  paying for their kids’ educations
  •  saving money when going out to dinner with the family
  •  not getting ripped off on a home repair project which cannot be fixed by the members of the household
  •  car problems
  •  annoying bosses
  •  helping their kids become better athletes (per respective sport)
  •  losing weight
  •  needing a good laugh
  •  wanting to become even smarter a fan of your specific sport
  •  saving money on purchases related to their kids (clothing, school supplies, etc.)
  •  travel
  •  making more money

 

Once you choose a few of the challenges faced by your fans then the next questions to ask yourself and your staff are:

  • How can this team/promotion/league offer a solution to these challenges (besides offering “escapism”) so that fans become more loyal AND tell their friends about us?
  • How can we increase profits without having to sell another ticket, hot dog, beer or t-shirt?  And how can we do so without just cutting costs?
  • How can we increase revenues and profits without incurring more out-of-pocket expenses?
  • What solutions exist that will pay this team, league or organization no matter where our fans live or are listening to our games/events?

What Will Not Cost My Team A Penny In Out-Of-Pocket Costs?

Here are a few examples of things which you may not know exist that do not cost the team a penny:

  • Toll-free numbers can be assigned to your sports organization that offer value to your fans, such as getting local home repair contractors (anywhere in the U.S.) to compete for your fans’ business.  Plumbers, roofers, carpenters, painters and the like are willing to help your fans no matter where they live… and the team gets paid to generate the “lead”
  • You can get free tracking (affiliate) links placed on your website and social media to offer your fans helpful information.  For example, if your fans like saving money at restaurants, you can get a tracking link which, if clicked and your fan buys a restaurant coupon to save significant money at a nice restaurant anywhere in the country, the team will receive roughly 30% of the sale
  • You can offer parents with kids who playing your respective sport tracking links to buy equipment, as long as your on-field talent can endorse or educate parents how to choose the best equipment for their kids.  You would receive anywhere from 6% to 10% of the transaction
  • Many more such options exist

Please contact us for customized information on how to come up with the best ways to meet your fans’ needs and to monetize your sports business’ specific unsold advertising inventory.

 

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Your Athletes Now Can Generate Revenues

Athletes On Independent Pro Teams And Federations Now Can Begin To Generate New Profits For Both Parties

In most minor league and independent league sports, the on-field talent (coaches and athletes) usually are seen as line item expenses rather than revenue streams.  They exist as “commodities” (to some front office executives) and, therefore, are seen as expendable and interchangeable assets to:

  • produce a winning team, which is just one part of the equation for generating “local, affordable family-friendly entertainment”
  • show the local community that the talent cares enough by going to children’s hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
  • sign autographs at local elementary school appearances in order to boost attendance at games

Having been on both sides of the equation (as a catcher and bullpen catcher in the independent baseball leagues and as a team & league executive) I can understand the feeling of being a “commodity” as an athlete once the novelty being a pro athlete wears off; and I can understand the need to look at the athletes as commodities from the team and league front office perspective since the players rarely generate profits by themselves.

New internet revenue methods, however, can begin to bridge that gap!

Athletes now can become more famous around town AND across the country… and teams and leagues can begin to generate profits as a direct result of how much a particular athlete hustles to market himself during the season and in the off-season.

Where This Idea Was Born

In recent years I had the opportunity to interview several professional wrestlers who ultimately became world champions.  Their companies and promotions trusted them enough to be such “money draws” that they were worthy enough to carry the world heavyweight championships, tag team championships or manage those who would become those champions.

The premise of the interviews was to help those athletes who want to become pro wrestlers learn how to survive financially during the “lean years”.  One the ways in which these athletes survive while constantly being on the road is to captivate the audience in the ring so much either before intermission (for the relatively unknown talents) or to have generated a name for themselves before the show starts, that during intermission (or after the show) all talent can sell merchandise of their likeness.  T-shirts, promotional items tied to their gimmicks and autographed photos tend to be the big sellers with pro wrestling fans at the local level.

In most minor league professional sports, however, there is no “intermission” where the athletes can meet the fans. In most cases, there IS NO merchandise of the specific player or athlete!

What the athletes in these team and other professional sports do have, however, are:

  • their roster pages on the team’s official websites
  • video clips of their playing in games
  • action shots of their playing in games
  • team (or league/federation/promotion) press releases which go out every night after games are finished, and…
  • … their own personal Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, LinkedIn and other social media properties

How Your Sports Team, League, Or Promotion Can Generate Money From This New Way Of Looking At Talent

We likely share the same mentality that most athletes coming out of the high school and college ranks today are more narcissistic and selfish than athletes several decades ago.  They spend more time on smart phones, social media and other activities centered around them instead of asking you, the executive:

  • “How can I help the team generate more profits?”
  • “Where else can I go to promote the team?”
  • “What can I do to learn the front office side of the business in case my career ends suddenly?”

While we all wish that this trend would change, sadly it won’t for a long time.  At least you now have opportunities to take advantage of the current situation!

Today’s athlete hardly has any hesitation about promoting his or her own likeness on his social media pages and e-mail lists.  He or she also will promote the team website’s roster page.  The current day’s athlete also has the ability to promote himself or herself during travel time due to the mobile phone/smart phone technology.

Two things which Major League and other top-level national professional sports leagues, teams and promotions have – which the minor league and collegiate league entities do not – are:

  1. Infrastructures to generate, market and fulfill merchandise orders which feature the individual athletes.
  2. The athletes get paid to wear or use specific pieces of equipment or clothing during actual games & events

While it would be terrific to keep everyone happy at the minor league level if there were similar entities and infrastructures, sadly they do not exist in large scale… if at all!  There are “work around” methods, however, which can replicate the same infrastructures if you know how to implement them.

You now have the ability to generate revenues on EACH athlete your team or promotion has under contract.  There now exist ways to:

  • take your profile/head shot photos of your athletes and make print-on-demand merchandise, even going so far as to give the player a percentage of the monies from his own likeness.  Both the business and the specific athlete now can generate revenues
  • the same for your action shots of the athletes during in-game competition
  • videos of your athletes during actual games
  • like the pro wrestlers mentioned earlier, your athletes who are good on camera now can have incentive to generate “hype” for an upcoming game, match, meet or series — and both your business and the athlete can make extra money in the process

None of these methods existed in the 1980’s when the “local, family-friendly entertainment” concept was perfected.  Each now can help you, the professional/collegiate level sports owner or executive, with the following:

  • increasing attendance (“butts in seats”) by leveraging these no-cost pieces of digital information
  • helping to retain your talent as they now have can have an incentive-based contract which rewards them for ACTUAL SALES of merchandise, either their of their own likeness or of professional equipment
  • generating actual dollars by player-specific merchandise sales
  • generating actual dollars by your players promoting the specific equipment they use, leveraging the action shots and video clips of games in which they are playing
  • generating actual dollars by your players promoting the specific clothing they wear, leveraging the same action shots

You can pursue these methods in many different ways, depending on your specific situation.  Please contact us for help on these methods as you have to be careful in their implementation.  The benefit to all of these is, with the exception of staff time “cost”, most of the methods will not incur a “hard cost” nor a line-item expense to the team’s budget!

We look forward to discussing with you these, and many other, new revenue streams to help your team, league or promotion.

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Monetize Every Visitor To A Sports Team’s Website

Virtually Every Website Visitor To A Sports Team Or League Website Can Put At Least Some Sort Of Money In Your Account

Did you know that an owner, general manager, or director of marketing now has a way to make at least a small profit on EVERY website visitor who visits a sports team or league website?  The profits per visitor may not be much (less than a penny), BUT the interesting aspect this is that this technique:

  •  will NOT interfere with ticket sales.
  •  will NOT interfere with online merchandise sales.
  •  can be accomplished so that your current sponsors won’t get angry.
  •  gives you 365-day-a-year revenue
  •  allows you to make money from a fan who visits your website yet will NEVER buy a ticket, hot dog or piece of your merchandise!

The concept is to use online advertising networks that pay you, the website owner, on a per-1,000-impressions basis.

Let’s say that the average website visitor comes to your sports team’s website home page.  From there, he or she will visit 4 other pages before leaving your site.  This generates 5 “impressions” (the home page plus the 4 other pages).  200 such visitors would generate 1,000 impressions (200 x 5), so you would earn a payout through the advertising network (broker).  Depending on your website’s overall “authority” scores AND how often your website visitors click on one of these national ads, your payout could range from $0.30 to over $1.00 per 1,000 impressions.

There are some factors specific to your sports team’s website, but the general revenues would play out as in this example:

  • Your team generates 300 visitors a day on average, including the off-season
  • Each visitor generates 5 page views (impressions) on average
  • This equals 1,500 impressions, assuming that the advertising web code is on every page of your site (even if tucked near the bottom corner)
  • Every 2 days, you would generate 3,000 impressions which qualify for payout
  • At $1.00 payout (to the team) per 1,000 impressions, you would generate $3 every two days
  • At the end of the year, you would have received over $500 for placing ad code in your website in an area which otherwise would have been “dead space”
  • You don’t have to go sell this ad space as the ad network already has done this for you! They are constantly looking to find high-quality websites (like your team’s site) to place these “billboard” types of online ads

The best part is if you can negotiate a higher payout, get more visitors to your website, or have your visitors average more page views (impressions) per visit, then your payout goes up.  You can increase the number of visitors to your website by:

  • search engine optimization for BOTH local and national phrases
  • more posts on your social media properties linking back to a page on your website which has something of value –> this means that your fans would be more likely to share the content, thereby increasing visitors
  • more value-added e-mails to your fans with links in the e-mail newsletters pointing back to a page on your team’s website
  •  more media mentions in your local market

You have to know which ad networks to consider, so please contact us for help.  We will provide you with customized links to quality networks that likely will accept your request to be a “high authority website” on which they can place their clients’ online ads.

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Demand For Services In Your Local Market

Most sports teams in the “minor league” or “independent league” business believe in the mantra that their enterprises exist solely to serve as “local, affordable family-friendly entertainment”.  This website does not believe that the teams and leagues should believe in such a limiting belief/underlying core notion.  With so much potential to reach audiences far beyond that “magical 30 mile radius” around your stadium or arena, we think that your team and league has the potential for so much more revenue than just selling entertainment to the locals.

Nonetheless, we understand that you may ardently defend that all you need to succeed is to master putting on entertainment for the local fans.  Therefore, please at least consider an extra way to have people in YOUR local market:

  • discover you in ways which you may not yet have considered, hopefully having them buy more tickets
  • put revenues in your pocket directly, 365 days a year
  • have leverage going into any conversation with a prospective sponsor who may be hesitant to pay your asking price for signage, game program ads, etc.

A way in which to achieve these objectives, while adding actual value to your fans AND those in your area who do not yet know that your team exists, is to leverage the “authority” your website has in the local market.  You may not realize how much potential your website has to rank in the search engines for phrases people enter in your local market every day.

Every day people in your market are going to the search engines looking for home repair professionals (e.g. plumbers and carpenters), dry cleaners, accountants, and other products and services.  While you might be saying, “Who cares?”, the potential your website can make a significant difference if you give this just a few more minutes!!

Your website has LOCAL authority in the search engines for several reasons, primarily based on the quality and number of websites & blogs linking to your website for which you do not have to reciprocate.  For example, any pro sports team likely will have a link coming in from Wikipedia.  You also are likely receiving links from the chamber of commerce, your local convention and visitors bureau, the local newspaper website and even from a page on your local government’s website.  All of these are deemed, by the search engines, to be “authoritative” enough to help you leapfrog over other pages in the search engines.

You will want to create an “Around town” section on your website, and then create 30-50 new “sub pages”.  You will create one for each major service people are seeking in your market and which does not conflict with your current exclusive sponsorships.  You then will create “tips” or “how to choose” articles, properly optimized for the local keyword phrases which have high demand in your market.

Let’s use the example of a landscaper in your area who wants to increase business during the winter.  Chances are that the landscaping service wants more leads so he/she is paying for online banner ads, paying for Google ads, or paying for telephone leads through legitimate lead generation services.  You would want to have a sub-page on your team’s website rank on the first page of the search engines for the phrase “yourcity winter landscaping” and similar phrases.

If you are able to do this properly then you can run ads on that page of your website or sell the ad spot to a local landscaper EVEN IF he/she would normally never become a sponsor of your team.  That service wants the exposure so badly that he/she will pay your team $ X per month to be the exclusive banner ad on that page because that page is getting traffic which the landscaper is not.

Of course, doing this for 40 to 50 industry categories in your local market can be rather lucrative if done properly.  If you get 50 pages ranked in the search engines and then charge a local business $100 per month (per category) then your team can get $5000/month ($60,000 per year) for “selling virtual real estate”.  Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg; but most minor league or independent teams shouldn’t shoot down the possibility of tens of thousands of dollars just because they are not fully adept at basic local search engine optimization.

There are MANY elements to making this work properly, so please contact us for more ideas including:

  • staying compliant with the search engines
  • increasing the likelihood of ranking on the first page and staying there for these new “sub-pages”
  • how to monetize these pages equally (if not better!) if you don’t have the staff time or inclination to sell exclusive sponsorships to local businesses
  • how this traffic also can translate to possible ticket and merchandise purchases

Thank you and we look forward to talking with you and your sports team’s (or league’s) representatives soon.

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