Don’t Forget Your Armchair Fans and Online Buyers

Phase two of Kathy Burrows’ road ahead for the sports and entertainment industry includes strategies to engage fans outside the traditional season ticket holder and to better value sales outside the traditional purchase channels.

We spend our days making cold calls, chasing new business. And sometimes we miss what is right in front of us. As we start looking ahead and open our minds to new ways to sell, we need to look closer at those things in front of us that we are missing, including these two areas: Armchair Fans and Online Buyers.

Looking at statistics from various sports, we find a large number of people who are “Armchair Fans” – those buyers who love our product, but enjoy it from a comfy chair with access to tasty beverages in the fridge close by while yelling at the plays, having friends over to join in, and pacing during tense moments. These fans may or may not come to a game once a year, but they can recite every player, every stat, every major and minor leaguer.

What do we do with Armchair Fans? We use social media to attract them and sometimes send out an offer to come to a game, but otherwise, there is no engagement with them. Why not? Such loyalty should have its rewards. And we should consider creating those rewards.

What if we created the Armchair Fan Membership? What if we engaged these fans, and instead of pushing them to come to our facility, we simply appreciate and recognize their support from afar. What could it look like?

This unique membership could include:

  • A jersey with their name
  • An Armchair Fan Certificate signed by the coach
  • The option for six meals during the season to be picked up from your own caterer or from a sponsor restaurant/bar
  • Five post-game Q&A’s throughout the season via video
  • A six-pack of beer from your beer sponsor
  • 15% off at the team shop
  • A VIP parking sign for their driveway/garage
  • Half a dozen boxes of popcorn or cracker jacks delivered monthly during the season
  • An event out at a game they can attend with other season ticket holders

They can purchase additional things, such as:

  • The use of the field/court for two hours
  • A suite rental outside of a game
  • A birthday party brought to their house
  • Two hours at the batting cage, court, rink, or practice facility
  • And the list can go on

The point is, we should and can treat them as valuable members of our team without them having to attend games. We can reward their support. Moreover, it’s an additional revenue stream from an area sitting idle and never recognized.

How do you sell this? Ask. Market it. Find out who these most valuable fans are. Promote it during your broadcasts. Promote it heavily prior to the holidays. There are many people out there who never know what to buy their dad/brother/uncle/neighbor. This membership is the perfect option. Additionally, there are many senior organizations whose members follow our teams faithfully but have no desire to go to games and instead watch or listen.

On the flip side, we have online buyers who like to come to occasional games, but they prefer to be just that…online. What do we do with them? We have our inside sales reps call them…continually. Many single-game buyers have written to me, telling me they sometimes decide not to purchase again. They buy online because they don’t like the hassle, yet hassle is what we do. So how can we create a program that rewards them but lets them control their buying decisions?

An MVP Online Membership gives single-game buyers the opportunity to upsell themselves, purchase at their leisure, and choose their own perks. How can we do this?

Look at the online purchases you have made and the process that went with them. We browse items. Then we put selections into our basket. Sometimes we don’t follow through and what happens? We get a call, a text, an email, all reminding us we have items in our basket.

Unless we are totally sold out, what’s wrong with capturing the seats? Why? It gives us a reason to call and follow through. It gives us the opportunity to find out objections firsthand. And lastly, it encourages the sales process.

Next, think about the times you’ve put something in your cart, and before checkout, you get the request to “look at what other people have purchased with this item.” How many times have you upsold yourself simply looking at what is recommended? Why are recommendations not part of our process? Why don’t we sell online the way the future is showing us to?

Perhaps we can add items such as a parking pass, a t-shirt or hat, and food vouchers. We can add three to ten items eligible to be recommended. Buyers are at their leisure buying online and can choose what they would like to add on. And then they purchase…upselling themselves.

How do we turn these sales into members? If they go online to purchase a game or two or three, one of our options should be the 3-game/6-game/12-game plan. The key is to let them know they can select a perk they want, receive a discount based on the number of games, and are now considered an MVP online buyer.

What does this get them?

  • Ability to purchase a suite for a game at the group rate
  • Ability to purchase any of our experiences we tend to never sell out
  • Ability to watch practice from the penalty box, the bench, or the dugout
  • Ability to purchase field/court time
  • Ability to purchase early entry
  • The opportunity to have a discount at the team shop
  • The opportunity to change seats every game without having to exchange tickets first
  • Along with our season ticket holders, MVP online buyers get first opportunities

Think about the entertainment industry. They sell tickets to a concert, but buyers also receive the opportunity to add quick entry, parking, pre-show meet and greets or cocktail hours, post-concert events. The point is, fans start out purchasing one thing and end up purchasing three or four. Why is our process limited to a ticket purchase? Why do we not value those fans who prefer to buy online?

As we progress into the 2020’s, who we sell to and how we sell it needs to evolve. We can be leaders, or we can be followers.

How are you getting your team’s sales quickly moving ahead?
Write to Kathy Burrows at