Ronn Torossian - The Marketing Strategy behind the New York Knicks


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.

Ronn Torossian and judge Bruce Balter
Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR with judge Bruce Balter
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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.