Defining a Winning Marketing Strategy NY Knicks Style
In sports, often the winning marketing strategy is tied to a winning season. But the New York Knicks have not let the team’s lack of success on the courts impact their winning marketing efforts. Part of that is, of course, having a very loyal fan base, but keeping the fans when the team is going through tough times, means someone is doing a bang-up marketing effort too.
The Knicks entered the 2017 season, the Garden had been sold out for 277 of the previous 278 regular-season home games. That’s amazing considering the team hasn’t been in a playoff for four seasons. Also, it should be noted that the one non-sell out game happened in the middle of a blizzard.
The 2017 season has been a bit rougher in that only seven of the 16 home games at the Garden were sold out. But, to some extent, the marketing people say this was expected and part of their long-term strategy. They are currently focused on player development, building a better team, and switching so that they have more individual tickets available for sale instead of as many full-season ticket sales. This should make it possible for more people to afford to attend the games, but means they don’t have the guarantees that came with so many season ticket holders.
One way they limited the full season tickets was to put a cap on how many one person could buy – limiting it to eight. The Knicks felt that too many of those tickets were being purchased to resell individually at a higher price on the secondary market … translation: “scalpers.” And since the team has noticed they have more European tourists attending their games at the Garden, this makes the games more available to them. The Knicks, it seems, have become the latest version of the Yankees phenomenon to Europeans – they are the team to see.
But the word is slowly getting out to the regular fans too. They can now buy individual tickets to the games. In the past, it was mainly just season-ticket packages available. According to Jordan Solomon, EVP of MSG Sports, “Our new ticketing strategy has provided fans more options and availability to attend Knicks games throughout the season, and we’re seeing terrific individual ticket sales for every game. By reducing the number of full season subscriptions, we opened up more individual and group tickets, as well as five-game holiday plans, allowing fans added opportunities to see this young and exciting Knicks team. So far this season, the Garden, as usual, has been electric.”
But lest you think that not selling out means an empty house – not so, mainly it’s just some rows of empty seats in the rafter areas. Out of the 19,812 seats, they still averaging 19,108 seats sold at their home games. Nothing to worry about there and the long-term benefit to fans and the team should prove one of their most successful ventures. Still, it would be nice for them to make it into the playoffs again soon.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.