On July 3rd I attended the Nationals baseball game with some friends, including three boys under the age of 12. Now this was the night before our country’s birthday celebration, and we were in the nation’s capital. The mood was festive even though we were down to the Cubs, 3 to 1, in a pretty slow moving game, even for baseball.
After a few innings the crowd started getting bored, and one of the dad’s offered to take the boys inside for some ice cream. While this group was making its way out of the stands, the marketing people down on the field started rocketing t-shirts into the crowd. (Have you seen these t-shirt guns? Kind of like a rocket-launcher, but instead of rockets, rolled-up t-shirts are fired into the crowd.) One of these t-shirts landed right in front of 10-year old, 4’5” Lee; he reached for it. An older man didn’t see the 10 year old and inadvertently kneed him in the eye while he grabbed the shirt. Most people, I think, would give the t-shirt to the 10 year old. Our big bully guy didn’t. He took the t-shirt for himself. The crowd booed him for a few seconds, but then turned back to the game, and the boys went out for their cones.
Good Marketing is Very Sportsmanlike
About 30 minutes later a green-shirted stadium guy came to our row and spotted Lee. “Are you the dad?” he asked my friend Tim. “Yes.” “Well here, I’d like to give your boy this,” he said, and handed him a brand new official Nationals baseball.
Lee shyly accepted the gift and continued watching the game. Tim, Paige and I talked about how wonderful this gesture was for about five or ten minutes. How any negative feelings about the bully in the crowd have now been dissipated by this generous act of the stadium and the Nationals team to a small boy. About how Lee will remember this game forever as one when he scored a team ball, etc., etc.
According to knowthis.com, “Marketing consists of the strategies and tactics used to identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with customers that result in value for both the customer and the marketer.” Whether in the visual or virtual world, the basic tenets are the same. In this case, a season-ticket holder, who is not sure whether he would spring for seats in the new stadium, (i.e. make a major re-purchase) was positively influenced by the marketing efforts of a losing franchise.
Or, should I say, the efforts of a franchise whose strength may be in places other than on the field. For the act of the green-shirted guy plays on all three influencers of a buyer’s decision: internal, external and marketing. The negative feelings of a few minutes earlier were quickly mitigated by the speedy act of the stadium guy in the green shirt. Tim needs to decide pretty soon whether to spring for four seats in the new stadium, which, even in the $15 seats, represents about $2400 for 20 games for a family of four, including peanuts, cokes, beer and the requisite ice creams.
Now as a blogger, I’m chatting about this incident, providing good word of mouth marketing that is further elevating the reputation of the Nationals. The bully guy knows who he is. Maybe next time he’s battling a little kid for a t-shirt, he’ll let the kid win. And who knows, maybe the stadium guy will give him a team baseball–and give Tim four seats on the third baseline. Now that would be a home run!