Fan Loyalty is a Sun Devil of an Issue to Address

To build fan loyalty, is it just about wins, or is it also about fan relations?

I talked with the owner of an NFL team years ago about building fan attendance, discussing with him the issues that the organization faced at the time. I asked about what initiatives the organization was taking in the area of fan relations. His response was that “only wins and weather drive fan attendance.”

Well if that were the case, then you could do mathematical calculations each year to determine how many fans would attend games. You wouldn’t need to do fan surveys, have security at games, offer concessions, have game day customer service staff, have account representatives, have sales staff (except to take orders), and generally do anything beyond open the doors to the stadium.

The real truth is that the game day experience matters. Relationships matter. Being valued as a fan matters. So do wins and weather, but there’s so much more to building loyalty than those aspects of the experience.

At Arizona State University, the athletics department is trying to build fan loyalty and relations. According to the article ASU athletics undergoing face-lift, changes in culture, fan relations, the new Vice President of Athletics, Steve Patterson, is trying to change the culture of the organization. He’s building personal accountabilities; he’s working to improve the game day experience; he’s ensuring facilities are conducive to communications and relationship-building with prospective and current student-athletes (and their families). He created a championship vision, and he’s trying to create a championship environment for the students, coaches, and fans. He’s trying to create an environment where success is facilitated.

To facilitate means “to make easy.” But there’s nothing easy about becoming a champion. However, individuals on the business side of athletics can have a significant impact on the ultimate success of a program in the minds of the fans. These individuals can impact relationships, word-of-mouth, reputations, and loyalty. They can impact the business side and help foster enthusiasm on the sports side.

Fan loyalty isn’t just about “Wins and Weather.” Fan loyalty is about the fan.

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One comment

  1. Good points and very true – and if only wins and weather drive fan attendance, clubs could get rid of most people working within marketing, sales and service. Luckily there is a lot more to it and very often standard concepts of for example marketing needs a special twist in order to work successfully within sports (the #1 industry in the world when it comes to potential loyalty levels) – but that is what makes it unique, interesting and fun.

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