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C H R I S T O P H E R

N E W P O R T U N I V E R I T Y

Emily Craven, Emily Olyha, Jonathan Rogers, Caleb Tupper


Interactive Marketing Strategy, Section 1
Sami Hamad, Norfolk Admirals
February 6, 2018

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Market Research ................................................................................................................................... 2


Offer Strategies ...................................................................................................................................... 7
Communication/Media Strategies .................................................................................................. 9
Creative Strategies ............................................................................................................................ 13
References ........................................................................................................................................... 16
Survey Results .................................................................................................................................... 17
Presentation Slides ........................................................................................................................... 23

MARKET RESEARCH

To begin assessing the environment in modern sports marketing, the marketing


team analyzed research in peer-reviewed journals and periodicals to get a sense of what
influences consumer behavior. Research led by Derek Funk attempted to create a model to
explain motivational factors that cause game attendance. They shared a survey with 410
spectators to AFL Football games as well as 2,421 individuals in the surrounding area in
Queensland, Australia. The factors that Funk hypothesized were correlated with game
attendance were socialization, performance, excitement, esteem, and diversion, known by
the acronym SPEED (Funk et al, 2009). The research showed that fans with prior game
attendance agreed that these factors influenced their motivation to attend games. Fans
with no previous game attendance scored lower on agreement. Even for those with prior
attendance, the magnitude of the influence of these factors is not strong. The highest
contributor to attendance was excitement. While the data is statistically significant, the
strength of fit is not that strong, predicting only thirty percent of behavior (Funk et al,
2009).

A study led by Yu Kim of Florida State University built of Funk’s research, adding the
additional factor of team identification to the model. Kim’s team of researchers collected
245 responses to a similar survey of that used by Funk. Without a positive team
identification, the motivating factors used in this study were not statistically significant,
except for the style (aesthetic) associated with the sport and the vicarious sense of
achievement felt through the game. However, when the factor of team identification was
added to the survey, all the variables became statistically significant, and their variance
decreased (Kim, 2013). These studies indicate that typical motivating factors have a
relatively weak influence on game attendance, but became more significant and valuable
when influenced by identification with the specific team performing.

Another important factor influencing sporting event attendance is the social stigma
surrounding the sport. A popular peer-reviewed study conducted by Kirk Wakefield in
1995 indicates that the experience of games (specifically baseball games in his study) are
strongly affected by the social stigma and popularity surrounding the game. If a sporting
event is viewed as popular by an individual’s reference group, the individual will be much
more likely to view attending a game as valuable and exciting (Wakefield, 1995). The study
also confirmed that fan identification positively influenced game attendance. For
marketers, if they wish to increase game attendance long term, it would be advantageous to
focus efforts on increasing the local popularity of the sporting event among targeted
demographics.

Seeking to improve identification with their team, many marketers run to social
media as a solution. However, if the social media manager is untrained in producing quality

content, this can have an adverse impact. Facebook users are much more likely to
unsubscribe to a specific brand due to too much content (36 percent) compared to too little
content (14 percent) (Kerwin, 2011). Social media consumption is still proven to positively
affect team identification, and word-of-mouth intention to attend games (Park, 2014). It is
therefore advisable for sports teams to be strategic in their use social media in marketing.
Consumers value unique content that is valuable to them and stands out in their feed. If
done effectively, social media marketing can significantly enhance team identification,
influencing game perception and attendance.

To further supplement this research, the marketing team created a 16 question


survey and sent it to 20 organizations in Hampton Roads. From the results of this survey,
the Norfolk Admirals can get an understanding of the market conditions they are operating
in. The sample consists of 20 local organizations—10 student organizations, 5 church youth
groups, 1 community based organization, 3 businesses, and 1 fire department. While these
organizations may have different structures, 14 of them reported their primary purpose
being to enhance education or community service. Of the 20 organization representatives,
8 of them have attended Admirals games in the past, yet only 3 have gone as part of a
group. When asked what the purpose their events typically pursue, 18 stated that they are
there to have fun and socialize. Similarly, 12 stated that they are there to boost morale,
while 12 also stated that they are there to raise funds for their organization. There was not
conclusive data supporting the influence of specific theming for these events, and 35
percent of groups report hosting events on a monthly basis. At these events, the vast
majority stated the event is to entertain company employees/staff, family, and friends,
while 15 percent or less included actual or potential clients, and sponsors.

From this, the marketing team gathered that the majority of the groups in the area
are hosting events for their staff as a time of bonding or fundraising. The more notable data
is focused on the preferred communication form and team identification ranking. Based on
the marketing team’s secondary research, they included a question asking respondents
how strongly they associate themselves with their favorite sports team. Responses were
recorded on a scale of 1 (do not associate) to 6 (strongly associate). The responses were
segmented according to the type of organization to better understand the strength of team
identification between each group segment. Both the community organization and the fire
department reported strong identification with their favorite team, while the student
organizations averaged in the middle of the scale. This led to a total mean team
identification ranking of 3.7 out of 6.

When asked what their preferred platform to learn about Norfolk Admirals
promotions, the prominent responses were through friends and Facebook. Other
repeatedly selected responses related to word-of-mouth or social media notification.


Our data indicates that there is a decent level of awareness for the Norfolk Admirals.
Awareness is not always beneficial. A recently released Virginia Pilot news article is
entitled “Norfolk Admirals' attendance is at an all-time low, but team officials insist they
are here for the long haul.” While the title and article insists that the Admirals are not
leaving Hampton, the sentiment is still not positive. The article speaks of consistently low
ticket sales, and fans stating how much they would miss the team if they left (Minium,
2018). This is not the type of press the Admirals want if they desire to assert their games as
the place to be for entertainment and action in Norfolk.

When organizing events, the majority of the groups are seeking to build friendship
and comradery amidst their employees, but frequently including family and friends too.
Are they going to want to bring their groups to a venue that “appears to be in turmoil?” To
combat the present social stigma against Admirals games, the marketing team suggests
releasing slice of life advertisements that allow locals and group event organizers to picture
themselves and their groups at Admirals games having a great time and bonding as a
group. This advertisements should be released primarily on Facebook and other social
media platforms. This follows the data reported that respondents prefer to learn about
offers through word of mouth and social media posts.

With the exceptions of a fire department a community organization, the groups


reported average levels of identification with their favorite sports teams. This shows that
locals may not be the most devoted fans of athletic events, and may be more inclined to
attend for reasons other than the game itself. Our study also indicates that 70 percent of
the organizations report the primary purpose of their organization is enhancing education
and community service. Our advertisements show that Admirals games are more than just
athletic events, but community building experiences.

Findings Actions
90% stated that they are there to have fun and socialize Promote the building of friendships and memories
60% stated that they are there to boost morale Break the Ice with your group
60% also stated that they are there to raise funds for Build Slice of Life advertisements and stories that allow
their organization viewers to picture themselves at an Admirals game

Average team identification of 3.7 Focus on enhancing game experience, not marketing
the Admirals as a team
70% recorded that their primary focus as an Add to experience through benefiting the community
organization related to community service
70%+ preferred Facebook or direct word-of-mouth Social media campaign driving online and word-of-
offers from friends mouth interaction

OFFER STRATEGIES

After considering the research gathered, the marketing team considered a series of
promotional offers and game enhancement strategies to increase group ticket sales at
Norfolk Admirals games. The marketing team created the “Break the Ice” Campaign to
bring organizations together. The campaign centers around getting closer to people in
organizations through a shared experience at the game. Often in organizations, people get
caught up in the day to day stresses of maintaining an organization, running a business, or
working towards a greater purpose that they forget about the members that make up the
organization they are a part of. The “Break the Ice” Campaign strives to change this through
bringing members together in a casual and fun environment to share laughs and victories
with the Norfolk Admirals.

When asked which media the groups preferred to learn about promotional offers,
70 percent of the respondents indicated Facebook and other friends as their preferred
media types to learn about promotions. Based on this data, a promotion was created to
encourage people to use their Facebook as a way to interact with the Admirals. Every group
that responds to the Facebook event for an Admirals game and shares the post with the
hashtag #BreaktheIce will get entered into a raffle to win a catered lunch by the Admirals’
sponsor Y-Not Pizza. The winner will be announced at the game. The organization or a
representative must be present at the game to be eligible to win. This will encourage game
attendance and work as publicity for the Norfolk Admirals on Facebook.

Continuing with social media, an online photo contest can be implemented to spread
the Admirals name across various social media platforms. Organizations and businesses
can use their Facebook page and Instagram account to post a photo of their group using
#BreaktheIce and to express why they love the Norfolk Admirals. The organization with the
most likes on their post with the hashtag will win free tickets, up to fifteen members, to a
future hockey game. This will not only spread the name of the Admirals but also encourage
groups to attend based on what their friends are saying about the team and game overall.

Further, 70 percent of the respondents noted that their primary goal as an


organization is some form of community service. The Norfolk Admirals already work
closely with the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, sending players to visit the
children at the hospitals. To extend this idea further as a promotional opportunity, the
Admirals can host a CHDK Fundraising War among organizations in Hampton Roads. The
competition will be based online where individuals can sign up as teams. To receive 25
percent off the registration fee, organizations can use the promo code BreaktheIce when
registering their team online throughout the first week of the event as part of the “Break
the Ice” campaign and begin raising funds to donate to CHDK over the course of a month.
All teams are invited to attend the CHDK Fundraising War game; ticket prices are included

in the team registration fee. The organization that raises the most will be announced at the
game, and will receive the opportunity to take a picture with the Admirals on their team
bench and discounted tickets to a future Admirals game. Survey respondents noted that
taking a picture on the Admirals bench was among the top three game enhancements that
the Admirals could offer. These rewards will encourage the winning organization to bring
Admirals games into their organization as a part of their social structure along with spread
their joy through posting their photo with the team on social media.

Once large groups arrive at the game, the marketing team created a variety of game
enhancement strategies to ensure everyone has a fun filled night leaving them with a desire
to continue following the Admirals on their road to victory. As shown in the survey data,
customers want an experience along with a game. To do this, individuals and groups should
be made a part of the game, rather than remain as spectators. When purchasing tickets in a
group for a special event night, there will be an option to select if they would be interested
in intermission activities on the ice. During the game, an individual representative from
each organization will compete against other organizations in “Pass the Puck.” The game
centers around individuals working to score the first goal in attempts to win a signed puck
from the team for their organization.

To accommodate the desire to become a part of the game, along with their passion
for community involvement, the team altered a well-known game, “Chuck a Puck.” Before
the game starts, organizations can buy a foam puck for five dollars, all of which will be
donated to a charity of the winning organizations choice. During the game, groups can
throw their puck, or pucks, onto the ice, aiming for the center of the Admirals logo. The
winning organization will receive free pucks signed by the entire team. This will publicize
not only the Admirals but the team and the organizations giving natures, appealing to more
members of the community.

To center in on the #BreaktheIce Campaign, an activity was designed for when the
Admirals are the ones to break the ice at a game. In a game, if the Admirals are the first
ones to break the ice, meaning if the Admirals score the first goal of the game, three
random groups will be selected to win free pucks signed by the entire team. This will add
an additional sense of excitement to the first goal, boosting the team and fans spirits
leading to a better experience for all.

COMMUNICATION/MEDIA STRATEGIES

Communication Plan

Media Justifications

• Postcard – To kick off the season, it is recommended that the Norfolk Admirals send
out a postcard with all of the dates of the games. This will allow both segments to
determine which dates work best for their organization and plan ahead. Halfway
through the season and before the busiest time of year, another postcard should go
out to remind those outside groups of the last couple of games.
• Twitter – According to research, student groups are more responsive to this
medium than outside groups. Twitter should be used to give live updates during the
games so that people who are interested in games, but cannot attend can still feel “in
the loop”, which will make them want to attend more games in person in the future.
The fear of missing out in an exciting game will motivate them to attend every
future game.
• Facebook – The Norfolk Admirals should keep posting about the one event per
month. This should be done through an event page, which will show up more often
in a Facebook Feed. Since 70% of people in the research want to hear about events
on this medium, it should be used throughout the entire season. This assertion is
also supported by the 35% of groups that host events on a monthly basis.
• Instagram – According to the research, this medium is the second most used
medium used to communicate with members. The Norfolk Admirals should use this
medium during their busiest time of the year, from January to April. It is also helpful
to post a graphic covering all game days in the beginning of the season to keep their
audience aware.

• Direct Mailer – According to research, direct mailers are most useful to outside
groups. The Norfolk Admirals should utilize direct mailers to connect with those
groups early in the season to peak their interest, and result in their desire to attend
a game later in the season.
• Email – Outside groups commonly use email to communicate with members
throughout the year. Because this is their preferred medium, it is recommended that
the Norfolk Admirals use email to communicate group rates and opportunities
through promotional emails.
• Newspaper – It is recommended that the Norfolk Admirals utilize a newspaper ad
in the beginning of their season to communicate game and group ticket information.
This will get the word out to avid sports fans that frequently visit the sports section
of the newspaper. Because groups prefer to hear about games from friends and
family, this ad will help facilitate these conversations, which will then drive
attendance.
• Commercial – Television is another media type that can be utilized by the Norfolk
Admirals. Commercials, especially those on sports channels, have the potential to
reach an audience that is already interested in sports. Seeing a commercial that
embodies the excitement of attending a Norfolk Admirals game could have the
potential to attract more attendees.

Media Mix Table

Media Mix: Postcard, Facebook, Email, Twitter, Instagram, Newspaper, Direct


Mailer, Commercial

Student Groups Outside Groups Both Segments


Specific Media Twitter Direct Mailer, Email Facebook, Instagram,
Newspaper, Postcard,
Commercial

Objectives

• Facebook: The Norfolk Admirals currently has a presence on Facebook. According


to research, Facebook is one of the most popular used mediums used to
communicate with members. Facebook has the ability to create “event pages”,
where interested attendees can RSVP, which will show up on their and their friend’s
Facebook feed. This will increase awareness of the game days on a medium where
group members are already familiar with. In addition to the event pages, the Norfolk
Admirals can pay to create banner advertisements, which could be visible to even
more Facebook users.
• Instagram: Instagram is one of the preferred media types to learn about
promotional offers, possibly due to its visual appeal. While the Norfolk Admirals

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have a presence on Instagram, it is recommended that they increase this presence


by posting more about group offers and rates. In addition to posting on their own
page, they can pay to have sponsored content, which will show up on an Instagram
feed, where it is more visible. Posting and tagging about groups that have attended
their games will encourage their attendance in the future.
• Twitter: Avid sports fans and younger users are some of the most common users on
this medium. Twitter can be easily used to advertise updates on each game, such as
the score. The Norfolk Admirals could also utilize hashtags such as #BreaktheIce to
engage with more users.
• Postcard: Postcards are a helpful medium used to quickly convey a small amount of
information. Postcards could be used in the beginning and middle of the season to
serve as a helpful reminder to group leaders of the games available to attend. It is a
less intrusive medium, allowing group leaders to read the information at their own
pace and on their own time.
• Direct Mailer: Direct Mailers are more interesting to outside groups rather than
student groups. These mailers are able to pique the interest of individuals and
persuade them to learn more about the sponsor, in this case the Norfolk Admirals.
By using this medium early in the season, the Norfolk Admirals will capture the
interest of the receiver, making them more susceptible to future Norfolk Admirals
advertisements.
• Email: Email is another preferred media type to learn about offers and is the second
most common way organizations communicate with its members. By connecting
with these groups through a medium they already use, the groups will be more
likely to respond and interact with the email. Like the postcard, it allows the
receiver to view the information on their own time.
• Newspaper: Newspapers are an important medium for sports fans, who often flip
immediately to the sports page. By utilizing this medium early in the season, the
Admirals can communicate events to these fans and initiate conversations between
sports fans, which is vital to recruiting new attendees.
• Commercial: While the Norfolk Admirals have aired a commercial in the past, the
commercials do not sell what they should: the experience of being at a game. It is
recommended that the Norfolk Admirals air a commercial that demonstrates the
excitement that happens within their stadium in order to persuade the viewers to
become attendees in the future. Viewers want a fun experience, and a commercial is
the perfect medium to display that.



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Response Mechanisms

• Facebook: Number of shares, likes and comments, number of attendees responding


to RSVP on event page
• Instagram: Number of reposts, likes, and comments
• Twitter: Number of likes, reposts, users responding to the tweet, number of users
utilizing hashtag
• Postcard: Track number of attendees before and after postcard sent
• Direct Mailer: Track number of attendees that utilize promotional offer in the
mailer
• Email: Track open and click rates on different parts of email
• Newspaper: Track number of newspapers purchased
• Commercial: Track the number of attendees before and after the commercial airs

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CREATIVE STRATEGIES

The marketing team chose to implement a


variety of materials to showcase the message of the
“Break the Ice” Campaign. Based on the gathered data,
Facebook and interacting with friends proved to be
the best media to gain a following. For this reason, the
team placed efforts on the Social Media Photo Contest
and the Facebook events for the games. The following
photos show the types of posts that could be
generated by this campaign. This is much more
positive press then a news article narrating a
struggling hockey team unable to fill seats. The photos
show groups enjoying themselves at Scope, building
friendships that last a life time.

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Additionally, a direct mail piece and a space advertisement were sent out to
encourage groups such as boy scout troops, church youth groups, and clubs to seek out
bonding nights at the Norfolk Admirals games. These pieces are often analyzed by parents
of younger audiences, which would lead to an increase in attendance for this demographic.
The mail piece splits horizontally down the middle, revealing the ice before and after being
broken. Inside the flap is breath mint to allow consumers to feel comfortable breaking the
ice with their coworkers. This interactive piece draws the consumers attention and raises
awareness of the campaign. Details regarding the promotional offers are printed on the
back. Many organizations are unaware of what the Admirals have more to offer than just a
game. They need to know that the Admirals offer a community experience, a credential
many deemed necessary in a bonding event.

The marketing team also


designed a 50 second slice of life
video ad following a group attending
a Norfolk Admirals game. The ad
follows a group as they grow closer
and bond over the experience. At
first, a few of the individuals do not
know each other. The game allows
them to break the ice with one
another, leading to a strong, lasting
friendship. A link to the video is
made available in the references
section of the proposal.

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Lastly, an email blast was sent to reach those in the corporate sector and larger
organizations that could host a team night at the game or participate in one of the many
philanthropic opportunities presented through the “Break the Ice” Campaign.

These pieces are designed to raise awareness to the excitement and bonding
experienced at Admirals games. They are to be released on platforms popular to group
organizers. Backed by primary and secondary data, this promotions campaign will drive
interaction with both potential and current fans, increasing the amount of leads for future
group and season ticket promotions.

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REFERENCES

Funk, D.C., Filo, K., Beaton, A.A., & Pritchard, M. (2009). “Measuring the motives of sport event
attendance: Bridging the academic practitioner divide to understanding behavior”. Sport
Marketing Quarterly, 18(3), 126-138.

Kerwin, A. (2011). Why fans un-friend your brand on Facebook. Advertising Age, 82(33), C-6.

Kim, Y. K., Trail, G. T., & Magnusen, M. J. (2013, April). “Transition from motivation to
behaviour: examining the moderating role of identification (ID) on the relationship
between motives and attendance”. International Journal of Sports Marketing &
Sponsorship, 14(3), 190+.

Minium, Harry. (2018, January 21). “Norfolk Admirals' attendance is at an all-time low, but
team officials insist they're here for the long haul”. The Virginia Pilot. Retrieved
February 06, 2018, from https://pilotonline.com/news/article_bc15f374-3a2f- 5ce7-
82e9-38f9b0d9dfdc.html

Norfolk Admirals Video Ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm90rqbrc58

Park, J., & Stephen, W. D. (2014). The relationship among social media consumption, team
identification, and behavioral intentions. Journal of Physical Education and Sport,
14(3),331-336. http://dx.doi.org/10.7752/jpes.2014.03050

Wakefield, K.L. (1995). “The pervasive effects of social influences on sporting events
attendance”. Journal of Sports and Social Issues, 19, 335-351.

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SURVEY RESULTS

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PRESENTATION SLIDES

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