What Is the Experience You’re Giving Your Fans?


One of the first questions I ask when selling sports is “who did you attend your very first sporting event with?  Tell me about it.”  9 out of 10 times it will be family (especially dad/grandfather), and then the reminiscing starts.  Very few remember who the opponent was or the score.  But they DO remember their experience with their family member…from trying to look over people, to the excitement on the drive in, to the cotton candy or hot dog, to getting a foul ball, running the bases, meeting the players on ice after the game, or high fiving the NBA players as they run out. When with the WNBA, they continually created amazing experiences.   From there, I can go into a strong conversation with a prospect.

How many of us are providing that experience for our fans?  From kids to adults, we all love an experience…that something special that will stand out forever for us. The more we can engage the fan, the more engaged they become with us.  When I used to take my kids to the ball games, my middle son’s favorite player was Mel Hall.  At 6 years old, he stood by the wall during warmups and lo and behold, Mel Hall walked right to him with total eye contact and handed him the ball.  My son is 35 and to this day remembers and talks about that experience.  autoWhat are some of the experiences you are providing? Here are a few examples:

For Kids:

  • run the bases:  as the picture above shows, courtesy of NO Babycakes, kids run the bases after the game.  Even more exciting, the mascot is there to greet them as they round third
  • mascot pictures:  Everybody loves a mascot.  How often is yours in the community, or at a specified location for a portion of the game so families can get pics with their kids?
  • play catch on the field:  what a special experience for a group or for kids on a Sunday with their family.
  • bench buddies:  being able to sit on the bench up close and watching warm ups
  • high five tunnels:  as someone once posted a video on Linkedin of the kids coming out of the tunnel after high fiving players and discussing how they will never wash their hand again because xxxx touched it
  • games during intermission:  an opportunity for kids to play on the ‘big’ floor
  • pregame parades: no matter the sports, kids love, love, love to be front and center prior to the game experiencing what it’s like to walk around the ‘hallowed ground.’
  • kids run out with the players:  what more can I say ?  What an experience!!!
  • getting a foul ball (if baseball):  how many times do you have a scuffed up used ball that you simply could give a kid as they leave and make their whole year?
  • autograph sessions:  the WNBA is wonderful at providing so many spots each game for autographs.  Think about it…every kid is given that opportunity to dream that they, too, with a little extra effort could ‘make it’ and be that player giving autographs.   Franciso Lindor of the CLE Indians is phenomenal for connecting with kids for autographs…this comes from a love of the game and an appreciation of where he is at. How great if there would be an area that kids only could go to pre or post game and select players (or all players) would work the line and sign some autographs.
  • WNBA ball exchange:  as players come out, they hand a ball to a youth that is standing on the court. The ‘passing of the torch’ is a very emotional moment.  These kids believe they, too, can achieve.
  • honorary bat girl/boy or honorary ‘ball retriever’, etc.  This gives these kids the opportunity to be in a prime position during warmups (and if you give them a special shirt or uniform all the better) and the experience of seeing up close each and every player, many of which will give an autograph.
  • kids play during halftime or pre or post game:  teams can play on a ‘real’ court, ice, ballfield, pitch
  • first game certificates:  an opportunity to receive a certificate from guest services that xxxx just attended their very first xxx game
  • What are some of your favorite experiences or ideas for new ones?

For adults:  yes, even adults love experiences! And it can even be on an off day! 

  • honorary contract:  receiving an honorary contract signed by the owner and GM or GM and manger and received on the court/field during warmups
  • owner or GM for a day:  opportunity to meet the owner or GM, get their picture taken in their office, be on the court/field/ice during warm ups, receive the lineup sheet for the night signed by the manager, etc.
  • ‘drafted’:  get their picture taken with the GM and a jersey presented with their name in front of the backdrop that new players are announced  in front of their family/friends
  • throw out the first pitch, deliver the gameball or puck to center court
  • What are some of your favorite adult experiences or ideas for new ones?

We work so hard to get clients and expect them to be so thrilled they will want to come back.  Have we been able to get them emotionally engaged?  Have we looked at some of our clients and wondered how we can make their experiences better?  Season ticket holders are given perks, but how many, if any, give that emotional attachment?  Group leaders may get 2 free tickets, but how often do we engage them in the game?  When consulting with the WNBA for a number of years, one of my favorite moments was meeting with teams and helping them develop their experiences.  They were definitely the trendsetters in this area, and continue to do so.

What are you providing as experiences? What ideas do you have for more experiences?  Feel free to post a comment and share your ideas.  Remember…people buy emotionally. They justify it later logically. How can we get those emotions involved?

Kathy Burrows, Owner, SOS…Sold Out Seating

As your season winds down:  next level supersize training for sales staff and leaders:  kathy@soldoutseating.com

Want each article as they come out?  Join my blog at:  soldoutseating.wordpress.com

Let’s share ideas at ALSD conference in June…wait, you haven’t signed up yet?  Better hurry!  So many opportunities for growth and new ideas! 


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