A Few Marketing Ideas for the Padres

January 21, 2009

Geoff over at Ducksnorts and Jbox (or dex I forget) over at Gaslamp Ball started talking about what the Padres could do to draw more fans.

Both said they were not marketers, and that got me thinking.

Hey! I AM in marketing. What can I do to help out?

So here is my little stream of consciousness rant on baseball marketing.

1st – Make a Sunday Summer Season Ticket package for Dads and their kids.

The Six Sundays of Summer. June 21st to Aug 23rd.

Kids are the future. Getting kids to the games creates the fanatics, like me, of the future.
You have a Family night on Fridays right now, but many Dads can only really have time on Sundays.

2nd – Give EVERY Season Ticket holder a chance to get up close with the players.
For years the Padres held a season ticket holders autograph session with the players and coaches. Regardless of the size of your season ticket you got to go. Once Petco opened that all changed and now only us full season ticket holders get in.

I don’t think the Padres realize how many people bought season tickets just for that privilege. They may have only attended 5 or six games a year on that 20 or 40 game package, but they BOUGHT it so they would have a chance to meet the players.


3rd – Sponsor Tailgate parties!
Bring in the official radio station (or other stations) and have a broadcast from the tailgate parking lot. Allow Vendors (that pay you big money to do it) to give away samples of their drink or free food.

4th – Sponsor a Local Elementary School for Sunday games during the school year.
To my reckoning that is about 6 games. Trot the kids out onto the field before the game and let us all cheer for them. It will be an experience they will never forget and it will engender a life long love for the Padres and baseball.

Get the players out to local elementary schools all during the school year to hype up the program and do community service work.

Stick them up in those seats in nosebleed that you can’t sell most Sundays anyway and you will make out from all the concessions and other licensed stuff they will buy. They will love it and you will benefit big time. Shoot, it’s probably a tax write off so you will make out in 4 ways – publicity, lifelong fans, concessions and taxes.

5th – Bring back the Compadres Club.

Let me tell you a story. In 2002 I was working 80+ hours per week as the owner of my own direct marketing firm. I was, and am still, a full season ticket holder, but my plan going into the year was to only make about half the games and give the rest away to my employees as bonuses (and a tax write off for me).

I don’t know if you remember, I wish I couldn’t because it was painful to watch, but the Padres stunk that year. Lost 90 something games.

Well, come the middle of July I noticed that I was at about 40 games attended.

Some of the games I had only made for a few innings, but I was still going. Sometimes I even gave away my season seats and then bought a cheap seat, paid for parking and watched for the last 3 or 4 innings. If I was diligent I could still get my Gold Star pin.

Why? Why would I do that?

WELL, for the bat they gave away for going to 70 plus games, a Gold Star pin that only about 700 people would get and for the opportunity to walk on the field with my bat held high on that last game of the year.

It was a point of honor.

And it wouldn’t be the same to just give it to me for being a season ticket holder like they did this year. Where is the fun in that?

The fun was in making sure I had a ticket even if I had to buy another one and racing in before the 7th inning when the Compadres Club Machines closed and running that damned card.

The Padres club also engendered a camaraderie amongst those who stood in line to swipe those cards. We made friends with other fans, not just those that sat in our section. We went on road trips together as fellow Padres fans. We looked forward to seeing those people in line.

Getting a season ticket holders Compadres Club card also made us feel special.

We got a discount in the Padres store because of that card. We probably bought 30-40% more in dollar value than we other wise would have because of that 10 or 15% discount. You won.

Now I don’t buy anything in the store. It is cheaper elsewhere and there is no that sense of belonging that I got by running my card and getting a small discount.

And most importantly from a marketing stand point, the Compadres Club captured the contact information from fans. It gave you an in house list of people to market to. It is ALWAYS more successful and more profitable to market to people who are already buying some of your product(s).

Add in a “tell a friend” referral bonus like one free seat upgrade to some really great “little league” seats behind home plate for anyone who refers a season ticket buyer and you may even get more value for your advertising dollar.


6th – Have Fans throw out the first pitch on the last game of the season.

Use that “Jersey off a Players Back” drawing to do three things.
One – Raise money for charity.
Two – Capture fan information. (See Compadres Club for why that is crucial)
Three – Bring fans to the ballpark regardless of record for those last few games.

This is how it would work.

The last MONTH of the season you would sell the Jersey off a players back scratch off tickets.

If the fans did not get a winner, they would get to fill in their contact info on the back and drop it off at a Compadres Club location for a chance to win
Grand Prize(s) – Throw out the First Pitch on the Final Day of the Season
1st Prize – 2 of the best seats in the house or Owners Box seats.
2nd Prize – A Signed Baseball from that season’s star player.
3rd Prize – A $25.00 gift card for the Padres Store.

You would have a drawing on the 2nd to last game to announce the winners.

7th – Have Padres PLAYERS throw out the first pitch at local Little League games.

Especially their season openers. Can you imagine how excited those kids will be for Padres baseball if even a Bullpen Pitcher or a Backup Catcher shows up to throw out the first pitch at one of their games? And if it is the Star pitcher or the Local boy turned All Star its all that much better. WOW!

They will drag their parents kicking and screaming to a few games at Petco just because of that PR appearance. And its FREE to you!

8th – Add a “Tell a Friend” bonus for Season ticket holders
If you refer someone buys season tickets you get an upgrade for one game for awesome seats behind home plate. Or one Field Level ticket for every seat in your season ticket package for some games that you will have a hard time selling anyway like mid week games against the Pirates or Marlins or something like that.

The companies I consult for are seeing 30%-40% of their revenue come from referrals. The people who send them those referrals are compensated for them at a rate that is much less than the amount it would normally cost the company to generate a new sale, and they are GLAD to do it.

You are not using a fundamental marketing strategy.

That is a good start off the top of my head. Anymore and you will have to pay my consulting fee and I am not cheap. LOL.

Seriously, minor league teams in the Padres system are doing a better job of marketing their teams and building their fan base. This is supposed to be the Major Leagues. Where is the major league marketing talent?

Larry Lucchino was good at marketing and he had Charles Steinberg DDS to help him. They were so focused on making the fan experience a fun one, that they increased ticket and licensed merchandise sales even when the team was losing.

I’ve had my say. Now what do you think?


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