Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bonding With Fans Who Can’t Get Enough

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who had a major draw in their young center Sidney Crosby, were looking for an innovative marketing approach to spring back from recent National Hockey League troubles.

Fan morale by 2008 had been dampened by the team’s loss in the Stanley Cup finals to the Detroit Red Wings that year and by the 2004-5 N.H.L. lockout when the season was canceled after management and the players union could not agree on a contract.

The Penguins decided to help rebuild ties with fans via cellphone, a campaign that the team says has resulted in a fivefold increase in sign-ups for its mobile fan club. That response prompted the team to offer more mobile options for its coming season in its new arena.

“We did a lot of research, including focus groups, online surveys and arena surveys to see how we could best reach fans season round,” said Jeremy Zimmer, the team’s director of new media. The research helped the team focus on its fans who agreed to be contacted by cellphone, about one-fifth of its 1.5 million person fan base; the team defines its base as those who have watched, attended or listened by radio to at least one Penguins game in the last year, Mr. Zimmer said.

The Penguins hired Vibes Media, a Chicago mobile marketing company, to help it create the Pens Mobile Club, where fans could receive news, recaps and commercial offers — including free tickets from Chevrolet to the Pittsburgh auto show and discounts on Coors Light beer at local bars — on their mobile phones.

The result has been an increase in club members to 72,440, up from 14,000 in the 2008-9 season, the team announced last month.

Like the Penguins, more sports teams and leagues are communicating with fans intensively by mobile devices, largely because they are “incredibly passionate and identify with their teams so they are accepting of receiving a lot of information,” said Ben Davis, a founder of San Francisco-based Phizzle, which works with clients like the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers, which sends 1.5 million text messages each month — including scores, statistics, news and other updates — to its mobile subscribers.

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/business/media/21adco.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=globaleua25

Source photo: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/business/media/21adco.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=globaleua25

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