Sunday, 27 November 2011

Increasing Exposure - Marketing the ABL.

I've spoken a lot about ABL attendances in previous blog posts here and here. One of the primary conclusions coming from these attendance analyses is that while the ABL has started solidly, there is plenty of room for growth. I'll return to attendances in future weeks (the Bandits are in the middle of three weekends without a home series), but for now I thought it would be interesting to look more into the strategies the Bandits (and the ABL) are using to build the fanbase. I'll also throw in some ideas of my own.

To start, let's look at something the Bandits do very well - creating an environment that is very kid friendly, and extending this beyond the ballpark. In a really good piece on Shayne Watson,  Alexis Brudnicki reveals some of the work that goes on behind the scenes. Shayne, last year a Bandits player and this year the third-base coach, actively engages kids in our local schools with short baseball orientated clinics (Shayne is a development officer for Baseball Queensland). If you need some convincing about the value of these sorts of programs - take a look at the AFL program Auskick. Through Auskick, the AFL is making huge inroads in Rugby League centric areas - such as the Gold Coast and Western Sydney. Kids love sport and are young enough that cultural biases don't yet run particularly deep - encouraging their involvement at a grassroots level can be very successful. he families that make it to the ballpark are provided with a very kid friendly environment - between innings activities involve races against the mascot, dizzy bat races for prizes, and dance-offs. Buster (the Bandits mascot) gets a fair workout all night, and there's always a fair share of kids on the hill throwing a baseball around and swarming after flyballs. From my observations, I'd say a large percentage of the crowd on any given night is families - and many of the children play the sport. The Bandits actively target this market, and the cowboy hat wearing guy running a lot of the show is a great asset for them (unfortunately, I don't actually know his name - he does bare an interesting resemblance to Buster, though).