For Love of the Game

(I started this post back in August. The first round of the playoffs have just ended in the American League. What better time to add some thoughts. Wow!  Now the Yankees and Phillies are playing.  Time to finish this and post it for your thoughts and comments.  If you’re reading this on Facebook, and you want to comment, please take the time to visit the original post.  Thanks!)

I’m a Toronto Blue Jays fan more than I am a baseball fan. Yet, I love the game of baseball and enjoy watching the playoffs even if my team is not playing. And with the current schedule and format, I’m also glad I don’t hold my breath!

Recently, there has been lots of talk and chatter about the pathetic attendance and play this year.

So, I’ve decided to come to the rescue of the Rogers-owned baseball team and offer some (free) insightful advice, thoughts and suggestions. Furthermore, because I also believe in all this openness on the interwebs, I am encouraging everyone to use this blogpost as a forum to post more suggestions and comments.

Before I share with you my thoughts, here are what others have said/reported:

Now on with the show…

  1. Rogers needs to hire a respected baseball president and general manager. And with the not-so-recent Gaston-gate, a respected manager would be a great idea. (The recent firing of JP and subsequent promotion of Alex Anthopolous is a start. However, it’s only a start. Note: And so is the recent hiring of Beeston. 🙂 )
  2. Make the Jr. Jays package more valuable than it is. Include a pair of tickets to a game a month. Give a further gift to the parents and child. Instead of asking who the child’s favourite player is and doing nothing about it, include an autogrphed picture or baseball. (Remember, this is also about growing the future fan base of the baseball team.)
  3. Flex packs on steroids. Sorry for the using the “s” word. But it is imperitive that the Jays not only continue to market the popular flex packs. They need to spice this up. I like the invitations to special events like this year’s Cito Gaston interview. Let’s continue to be creative.
  4. Where are the local, community, high school, and college/university teams? Invite them to attend games. Offer Jays packages to them.
  5. Invite season tickets holders on a Jays paid trip to Spring Training. And watch this word-of-mouth thing explode!
  6. As a father (and flex pack holder in the past) I was never invited to a Father’s Day game. Never. Fix this and take advantage of other special days. Just don’t forget to personally invite people. Rogers owns a HUGE database. Use it.
  7. Engage. With local businesses, consumers, bloggers (ahem), the online community, etc. The Toronto model for this would be the Toronto Argonauts. The Argos engage with the community at schools, with various local football clubs and businesses at trade shows. I understand that the Jays probably do the same. Let’s do more. But let’s also let others know that you’re ou there.
  8. Invite the online community (bloggers and the like) into press conferences and into the clubhouse. Your future and current fans are part of the online community. Are you there?
  9. Study what the Toronto Argos do to sell tickets and keep fans engaged.  Even thought they may put a losing team in the field, they know how to sell tickets.
  10. Remember to always thank season ticket holders and ALL purchasers of ticket packages.  And I mean more than a thank you letter.  A free pair of tickets to a game next season or a food voucher is a start.
  11. Open dome policy. Unless it rains or snows. Of course.  There’s just something about being outdoors.
  12. The Argos (yes, them again) have a Double Blue Crew that give away prizes during the game in ALL levels and are very visible. Idea?
  13. Free baseball clinics after Junior Jays games.
  14. RIM purchased 25000 tickets for their employees to the U2 concert in Toronto.  What has Rogers done for the Jays?
  15. Engage fans outside of Rogers with mobile apps and SMS.
  16. I remember buying tickets from Dominion (Metro) for $2 way back when.  Everyone goes grocery shopping.
  17. Be more involved in the community.  Collecting cans at games is great but no one knows about Jays Foundation doing stuff outside of the Dome. Are they?
  18. Invite former flex pack and season ticket holders to come back for special game.
  19. Give away more tickets via contests, Twitter, Facebook, etc…
  20. Promote your stars and make them household names.  Aaron Hill (multiple award winner this year) should be mobbed everywhere he goes.
  21. Engage more with trendy and cool brands.  Develop sponsorship opportunities for team and the stars so that young fans can “identify” with players and team.  Cool is cool.
  22. More stars at Jays games and more Jays at other professional games even during off-season.
  23. Promote your cool in game promotions (like “run the bases”) OUTSIDE of the game.  Rogers owns magazines, TV shows and radio stations.  Use them.  And the other guy’s as well.
  24. I know the Jays don’t have pin stripes.  So, stop changing uniforms and let’s try to create some nostalgia.
  25. Make every game/series a must attend event. Remember AJ Burnett’s return to face Doc earlier this year? Promote, promote, promote.
  26. Best Blue Jays commercials have been the emotional “See you at the game”. These are much better than the “You were meant to be there”.  Remember, people, especially fans, make emotional decisions.
  27. Customer service is either your best or worst marketing strategy. This department interacts everyday with fans.  Are you investing in proper training for your front line staff?
  28. Winning solves everything.

There.  That’s it for now.

I am looking forward to hearing and reading your thoughts and suggestions.  Do you agree or disagree with anything here?  Do you have any ideas of your own?  Have you read anything else from anyone on their suggestions?  Let’s start the conversation…..