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Selling Hockey - Like Selling Seed Corn

Corn_kernnels This past week the Iowa Stars (AHL Hockey) replaced John Pettit who served as president of the club for the past two years.  (You can read the DSM Register article here.) John is a good guy...but the Stars need to come to grips with HOW to market the team to Iowans.  They can learn something from seed corn producers.

"What?", you scream..."What in the world does marketing seed corn have to do with selling a hockey team to Iowa?  Farmers need seed corn, Iowans don't need hockey!"  Let's look at it...

Michael_and_ron The Iowa Stars put less butts in the seats this past year (9.5% less) then they did in the first season.  Some of that is to be expected as the "first season hype" settled down.  But where the Stars failed was making the team "one of our own".

Look, there are a dozen seed corn producers.  Go to any farm show and you'll see a bunch.  They all survive because of BRAND LOYALTY.  While some will argue the small points there simply isn't much of a difference between Ottilie Seed Corn and Renze Hybrids.  But, both companies have created a solid fan base and they survive.

What can the Stars (or your company for that matter) do to capture the attention of a more broad fan (customer) base?  Here's a short list:

  • Admit you just don't know Iowa and get an Iowan to help you market the team.  It's not that these folks from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Canada aren't great guys...but you can spot them from the length of the arena.
  • Become part of other very successful Iowa events.  The Iowa State Fair, Iowa Power Farming Show, The Pork Expo are just a small sample of where you can mix it up with "regular Iowans".
  • Create a "reason" (Other than good seats) to be an Season Ticket Holder.  Several corporations in the city did not renew their season tickets...why?  Why should they?  Got to give them reasons.
  • Stop being so Politically Correct.  Hockey is a loud "in your face" sport.  Experienced fans "get into it".  If you want a sedate crowd...head to Principal Park and watch the I-Cubs.  Get the crowd into it at the game...raise the level of activity and noise.

Did we suggest these things to John and the team over the past two years?  Yes.  Response:  "0"

These four things work the same for selling hockey, seed corn, insurance or compact tractors

  1. Know the Target Audience
  2. Partner with Success
  3. Create or Invent a Reason to Buy
  4. Passion for the Product

Thanks for reading...what say you?

Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations where we love our Stars and our passion for marketing and can reach us by clicking here.