retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Columbus Business First reports that the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, found a unique way to simultaneously fill the ballpark and reward loyal fans who wanted to attend playoff games.

Free tickets. In fact, this week, all tickets to all of its home playoff games were free.

“It’s a tough time of year," says General Manager Ken Schnacke, noting that college and professional football tend to take over the public consciousness. "When the calendar flips over to September baseball becomes secondary. We’re always a little frustrated, and we want to help the (team) so I decided, let’s see what happens. I’m just trying to create some excitement ... Sometimes, you just have to do something completely outlandish, and this is very outlandish. It’s the first time in 39 years.”

Well, that's one way to put fannies in the seats.

The thing is, tickets to minor league games don't cost that much anyway, and I'd be willing to bet that the Clippers could make up for some of the ticket revenue through vendor sales.

But to me, this story reflects the fact that minor league baseball has always been a great metaphor for how retailers should approach a competitive marketplace. If you're running a minor league baseball team, you can't really market the stars of the team ... because if they're any good, they're not going to be around long. So you have to market the experience ... and to do that, you actually have to create a better experience. When football threatens to attract everybody's attention, you have to find new and innovative ways to grab people's attention.

In this case, the innovation was an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: