I grew up 10 minutes from Memorial Stadium in the early 1970s.
That means I saw a lot of Orioles games, and more than enough Colts games. I remember meeting Boog Powell, my favorite Oriole. I had mustard all over me and I got it all over his uniform before he went onto the field. He didn’t mind, my uncles who brought me to the game, were mortified.
Fast forward more than two decades and the Orioles win the 83 World Series. The Iron Man makes his mark, and there’s a flash of brilliance in the late 90′s – and then the team goes into a horrible death spiral that alienates an entire city. Washington DC gets a new team and steals fans from the O’s. Peter Angelos refuses to spend money, general managers come and go, along with beleaguered coaches.
Then, we’re granted this miracle in 2012 – a season where every player seems to be having a career year. Our GM plucks special projects from the scrap heap and they shine up into brilliant gems. Suddenly it’s September and the Orioles are as relevant as the Ravens.
You would think Camden Yards would be stuffed with fanatical Baltimoreans who finally have a team to root for, and to cheer on through every victory. Not so much. Attendance continues to be a challenge for the front office, and the players are noticing empty seats.
How do you correct this problem, from a marketing standpoint? The Orioles decided to roll back ticket prices, and even though they might be losing money, they’re also challenging their fans. Fans who say, “It’s too expensive to take my family.” The Orioles put up, now it’s up to the fans to shut up, and dig out their wallets.
Discounting goes against the cardinal rules of marketing. You never want to reduce the value of your product or service, but when you’re doing it to bring in potential new clients, it’s worth the risk.
While we’re looking at the Orioles’ marketing strategies, check out their “Buckle Up” campaign. Buckle Up was taken from manager Buck Showalter’s comments a few days ago about the season. He compared it to a roller coaster ride without the safety bars. You’ll notice the Buck is highlighted in the logo – nothing like solid wordplay to reinforce your message.
We’ll see how it all turns out – but this season is already a win in Baltimore.
The Orioles will find out if they gambled and won when this weekend is over.