Over this past summer I interned with the Plymouth Pilgrims, a collegiate wooden bat league in the NECBL. However the General Manager ran the team like a Minor League club. Before this I was completely unaware of the time, effort and strategy it took to market a Minor League team. Rarely people come for the players like in the Majors. Instead people come for a family fun atmosphere and as a marketer its your job to create that each and every night.
When someone thinks of Minor League baseball they usually think about quirky gimmicks and giveaways. This is because you need to be able to entice a family to come to the ball park for a night out during their busy summer schedule. To do this teams need to implement themes for each game (ex. movie night, chocolate night, lobster night, star wars night). After creating a theme for the night you need to get a local company to sponsor the night. Usually you try tying in the theme with the sponsor. For example we had a lobster night in which we gave away 300 lobster rolls and our sponsor was Lobster Hut. We then tie in the theme to all the in between inning games and trivia. Which makes the sponsor very happy because their name is heard be the audience multiple times. Marketing this way is the only way to drive revenue for minor league organizations.
Every game night needs a sponsor, the fence needs to be covered with sponsor signs and most importantly you need to make sure you market your sponsors. Otherwise you’re going to be losing money. The gimmicks are what gets the people there and getting people to the stadium is the reason why sponsors invest in your organization. In Minor League baseball corporate partnerships account for roughly 90% of the teams revenue. That means you need to get sponsors and keep them. If a company is sponsoring a night they are given a stand in the stadium for giveaways and you as an organization need to do whatever you can to market them as well. That means marketing the theme of the night, weeks if not months in advance so their is a good showing and the sponsor is happy with the amount of people that showed up.
Marketing in the Minor League is marketing in the entertainment business. People aren’t coming for the baseball, they’re coming for the experience and your job as a marketer is to make that as exciting in possible. It may be Minor League baseball but you need major league marketers to get the job done.