Seth Godin talks about scarcity this morning, something that sports teams/events have an challenging relationship with. When your team is winning, tickets can become scarce quickly, especially in a sport like football which has so few games in a season. Quick digression – part of the genius of the NFL is that they have built scarcity into the product – just eight regular season home games a year.
Baseball, and especially minor league baseball, is another matter altogether. With more than 70+ home games scarcity is not an issue. But the result is that at most minor league parks games are played in front of half full stadiums. How do you create scarcity in this sort of a marketplace?
It’s not by lowering ticket prices. Cheap products have little value and don’t create desire (which leads to scarcity). And it’s not by reserving the best seats for special customers. Every seat at a minor league ballpark is a good seat.
It’s a long process, but it starts with one game. Make one game on your schedule the most amazing experience possible. Have special food, not the same junkie, overpriced ballpark fair. Buy 10 gas grills and serve steaks and chicken and corn on the cob. Let people in early to watch batting practice. Have a fireworks show, and if it’s the last game of a homestand in the summer, let families camp out in the outfield overnight. Offer the whole thing for a fair price and sell that sucker out. Sell that one night out and make sure you have 7,500 people going home to tell their friends that they just had the most amazing experience they ever had a sporting event.
Once you get that one sell out, offer everyone who went the chance to do it again next month. Same deal, but they get a chance to pre-order the event before it goes on sale to the general public. Now, your second awesome night is already partially booked before it goes on sale and now we’re starting down the road to scarcity.
But it has to be a remarkable production. The same old tired routine you see at most ballparks won’t cut it. Not if you want to develop true word of mouth. You’ve got to offer something special for the fans. Honor a local legend from the 50s and hold a special ceremony, inviting all your 50+ aged fans, the true baseball fans. Develop a reality show about your team, with weekly 10 minute episodes on posted on YouTube for the teenagers who come to the games. Get a player to write a blog for little leaguers. Instead of blowing up photos of Major Leaguers who used to play for you and posting them around the stadium, how about blowing up photos of local Little Leaguers who might play for you in the future?
All these things help to create the Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe that over time will help you develop scarcity where none naturally exists.