Today we welcome David Ellington as a guest blogger. David is a seven year Maritz veteran and is currently a Marketing Manager for Maritz Motivation Solutions.
My four-year old never begs me to take her to a baseball game. It’s not that she isn’t a St. Louis Cardinals fan (that has been instilled in her since birth). It’s just that coloring, reading and playing computer games are higher on her list at this point in her life. So why was she insistent we go to a Monday night game against the Cincinnati Reds?
Simple. The Cardinals were having one of their many theme nights, The American Girl Night. With the purchase of a special theme ticket, you receive an American Girl Cardinals t-shirt and a matching t-shirt transfer so she could dress like her doll.
The American Girl Night was just the tip of the iceberg. There was Superhero Night, Star Wars Night, Grateful Dead Night, Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Night, and the very popular Bark in the Park (bring your dogs to the game).
Theme nights have been occurring for several years across Major League Baseball, but this year they really struck me as being very prevalent. And it builds upon itself. Now, people are going to Star Wars night every year to ensure they have all versions of the collectible t-shirt. Also, fueled by everyone’s drive to bond, you see non-baseball fans flocking to the stadium to connect with those with whom they share a similar interest.
MLB teams have always had a tribal customer base, a group of people who feel a strong social connection to others who engage with their particular team. Most of this has been instilled from birth, based on the environment in which they were raised. But how do you engage those people who would not identify themselves as baseball fans?
In Maritz Motivation Solutions recent e-book The 4D Loyalty Framework: A New Map for the Journey to Lasting Customer Engagement, we found that a shift needs to occur from simply focusing on selling your product to engaging the whole person and creating an experience that connects the customer and the brand. These theme night tickets do just that.
MLB teams are building connections with non-fans on a deeper, more personal level, creating experiences at their ballparks that truly engage their drive to bond. It turns the stadium from a place to go watch a baseball game to a place where you can gather with other people who have the same interests.
As a true fanatic for Cardinals baseball, I don’t require any incentive to attend a game. But through these theme nights, our tribe continues to grow. I welcome all into Cardinal Nation!