|August 28, 2000|
CRM: The New Game In Town For Professional Sports
Teams turn to a pair of custom-tailored offerings to attract and retain fans
By Charles Waltner
|More on CRM:|
Send Us Your Feedback
It's not exactly cutting-edge. Such knowledge of a customer base has become the backbone of marketing programs for companies in most consumer-oriented industries during the last 20 years. But pro sports teams are some of the great laggards in using computer technology to gather, analyze, and better market to their customers--the fans.
The Predators, along with dozens of sports teams in Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, Major League Soccer, and minor league baseball and hockey, among others, are getting a push from two CRM vendors with products tailored to the nature of professional sports.
Both vendors, AIM Technologies Inc. and Essential Data Control Systems Inc. (EDCS), offer turnkey client-server hardware and software systems for running fan-loyalty reward card programs. In the process, they're helping sports teams make the move to modern marketing technology.
"This is really something of a new phenomenon in the sports business industry," Loft says. "Ninety percent of sports teams either don't care or don't bother to find out any information about their fan base. But with the increased cost of pro sports over the last 10 years, you have to do things more intelligently to get fans out to the game."
The best sales tool any team has is a winning record, Loft says. But teams can't always be winners. These CRM systems help pick up the slack when a team isn't winning, by enticing fans to attend more events and increasing ancillary revenue such as sales of merchandise and food.
Fan-loyalty programs not only help teams market to their fans, they also provide detailed information teams can use to attract advertisers and other sponsors--information that more advertisers are demanding, says John Rofe, who covers professional baseball for the Sports Business Journal.
Only in the last couple of years have pro sports teams focused on developing knowledge about their fans. Why the delay? Sports teams typically are more concerned with winning than deploying new technologies. Also, until now, there was no prepackaged software designed specifically for them.
But even when a team is winning and fans are filling the stands, these CRM systems help teams target-market to fans more likely to buy season tickets or ticket packages in advance. They can identify fans who went to several games and target them for season tickets the following year. Such sales are precious to professional sports teams since advance ticket sales guarantee a team at least a certain revenue level for the year.
CRM technology is getting interest from more than just sports teams. According to a market assessment by Teresa Wingfield, a research director with Current Analysis, the CRM market is hot, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 45% for at least the next four years. Wingfield estimates revenue for the category in 1999 was $3 billion to $4 billion.
Siebel Systems Inc. captured the largest share of the market, with $790 million in revenue, followed by Baan, Oracle, Nortel Networks, and PeopleSoft (via recently acquired Vantive). Second-tier vendors, such as AIM Technologies and EDCS, specialize in small businesses, vertical markets, or niches, Wingfield says.
The CRM market encompasses just about any software or hardware that helps companies automate and integrate customer and prospect interaction. The technology's goal is to help companies recruit new customers and keep profitable ones by understanding their preferences and, as a result, provide superior customer service, Wingfield says. CRM applications include sales-force automation, contact management, telemarketing, lead generation, advertising campaign management, and customer service.
Sports teams' fan-loyalty programs vary somewhat between the two vendors, but both provide fans a "club card," which they can use at kiosks at the team's arena or stadium to redeem prizes ranging from food, drinks, or souvenirs to a new truck or batting practice with the players.
Fans can check into a kiosk each time they go to a game. The programs function like frequent-flier cards for fans. The more fans use their cards, the more points they compile; the more points they compile, the more they win.
Besides serving as a way to get fans to come to games more often, the cards provide a means to collect fan information. When fans sign up for either program, they have to fill out a form asking for their addresses, incomes, family configurations, and other basic personal information.
The AIM FanCard program goes a step further by asking three psychographical questions at the beginning of each kiosk session, such as whether the fan owns pets or a computer, or what sports activities he or she likes. It then shows fans two or three ads before providing the rewards coupons.
The AIM and EDCS business models differ in other ways. EDCS's Top Prospect product is a straightforward software and hardware offering: Teams buy the package and can install and support it themselves or pay EDCS an additional fee for those services.
continue on to page 2
- The Language of UX: Beyond Buzzwords -
- Discover the opportunities and challenges associated with mobile retail - Mobile Commerce World - Mobile Commerce World
- Get practical strategies to build a solid plan for profitability and success - Mobile Commerce World - Mobile Commerce World
- Delve into technologies and business issues around mobile payments and wallets - Mobile Commerce World - Mobile Commerce World
- Explore best practices for marketers in the new mobile world - Mobile Commerce World - Mobile Commerce World
- Meeting the Unilever eScience Challenges: To out-compute is to out-compete
- How to Automate CE 2.0 Service Delivery
- BYOD and Windows 7 Migration are the Questions. Is Desktop as a Service the Answer?
- Intelligent Management of WAS Applications: Reduce Cost, Complexity, and Errors
- Data Center Performance: Optimization Secrets Revealed