NHL Team Marketer

NHL Team Marketer

mikedubc

Washington, DC

Male, 33

I'm the Director of Strategic Marketing of an NHL team. I focus on revenue generation and customer engagement via digital media. My expertise includes strategy, business development, mobile marketing and application design, CRM, online marketing and market research. Ask me anything.

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33 Questions

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Last Answer on June 24, 2013

Best Rated

Is there a previously untapped market that your marketing organization is going after aggressively these days?

Asked by AM over 11 years ago

Right now we focus a lot of our efforts on women, children, and more broadly, tech-savvy fans. Our female fan base has been growing immensely and we started a women's fan club to deliver to them specific content and events with a female viewpoint. Youth is a great segment to target to grow our fan base long-term. We have a kids club with tons of events and contests and also have a youth hockey initiative where we partner with local rinks and schools to increase the adoption of hockey in our area. And of course, we leverage technology for the tech-savvy crowd with mobile apps and social networks. It all comes down to knowing your customer base, identifying the trends, and delivering value to those segments.

Do you think the NHL has lost its standing as a credible 'major sport' alongside the MLB, NFL, and NBA?

Asked by Probert over 11 years ago

Absolutely not. The lockout in 2004-05 really hurt the sport but since then the NHL has seen growth in every business and competitive metric. There's little doubt that the NHL is the fourth of the big four major leagues, primarily because it's not as popular on TV as the others, but with the partnership with NBC and their recent merger with Comcast, I believe this gap will shrink.

Are there any tips you could offer for those of us looking to work for professional sports teams? Aside from the obvious networking, research, and monitoring job postings?

Asked by Eddie over 11 years ago

I don't have anything new to add to your list but the networking aspect is totally magnified. You have to network your butt off to get a gig in sports because the demand for open positions is so high. Many times jobs aren't posted on job boards because hiring managers already know candidates. You would also have to prepare to accept a job with significantly lower pay (unless you are a high-ranking executive).

Why is the puck still so difficult to see in televised hockey?

Asked by Slapshots over 11 years ago

The game is frickin fast. Seriously, that's about it. Sure, there are instances where the puck is blocked by the dasherboards on the bottom of the TV screen or by players fighting for the puck, but for the most part of a hockey game, the puck is moving around very quickly on open ice. I think the FoxTrax glowing puck that Fox used for their NHL broadcasts from 1996-98 was the rigth idea to help fans see the puck on TV but apparently this wasn't well accepted by hockey purists. The advent of HD has been a godsend to televised hockey too.

Are you and your co-workers really into hockey, or are most of you angling to go work for NFL/NBA/MLB teams?

Asked by Eddie over 11 years ago

Most of my co-workers are die-hard hockey fans and their gigs are absolute dream jobs to them. I don't think anyone wants to work an 81-game schedule (not including the pre-season and playoffs) in the MLB, at least I don't. Sure, everyone wants to work in the NFL, both for the fact that it's the most popular league and there are only eight regular season games. But for the most part, my colleagues are completely happy working in hockey.

As home entertainment gets better and better, what are some of the ways you're enhancing the game-going experience to put more butts in seats?

Asked by AM over 11 years ago

Though HD has been a godsend for the NHL, the league hasn't been impacted as much as the NFL, NBA, or MLB as home entertainment has improved, since it's way better to see hockey live. Nevertheless, we focus a lot of our efforts on the game experience to keep fans happy and coming back. We do a lot of in-game fan engagement, such as text message voting, text-to-screen, intermission activities, giveaways, and contests. We play a lot of music and play a bunch of pump-up videos at certain points of the game to energize the crowd. We treat our games like big concert-like events, not just as hockey games.

From a pure marketing perspective, is fighting in hockey good or bad for the game?

Asked by Domi over 11 years ago

First of all, I like your username. Second, fighting definitely gets the fans pumped up which of course adds to the in-game experience. So I'd say that fighting is good for the game from the marketing perspective.

I live right outside of Philly. For me to take my family to a Flyers game, it costs over $150, including the tickets, parking, and food. Suffice it to say, we don't go often. Are NHL teams trying to bring DOWN the prices on any of the aforementioned?

Asked by Sol over 11 years ago

Sorry to say that for teams with high ticket demand like Philly, it's very unlikely they will ever lower their prices. To achieve an lower average ticket price, I'd suggest buying a partial season package. But hopefully the efforts that the teams are making to improve the in-game entertainment brings up the value of the game experience commensurate to the price.

What's a marketing initiative your group was excited about that fell flat on its face? How about the inverse: something you weren't expecting to do much of anything that was a surprise success?

Asked by Jenra5 over 12 years ago

There was an enter to win contest that we ran where a fan could win a phone call and autographed jersey from one of our players, and that kind of fell flat. I guess we thought the player was more popular than he really was. I can't really think of a campaign that we didn't expect to do much; we likely wouldn't run a campaign if we didn't think it would be successful.

Did you ever play hockey yourself? Is that sort of an informal requirement of working for an NHL team?

Asked by flyerbynight over 11 years ago

I played street hockey a little bit when I was a kid. Playing hockey, nor being a fan of the team, aren't really requirements for working there. Passion for the game or team may help but isn't necessary at all.

If your team had a player who came out as gay, would your marketing and publicity folks go out of their way to highlight that, or would they act as if it never happened?

Asked by Gregg over 11 years ago

Obviously this is a touchy subject, so anything I write here is my personal opinion and may not reflect what the Marketing team as a whole may do but I think it would be somewhere in the middle of your range. If that subject comes up, it is what it is and we'd of course support that player's decision but I don't think we would try to hide nor push to have it highlighted.

Which team(s), if any, do you expect to be gone or relocated in the next 5 years?

Asked by poof over 12 years ago

I have no idea what is on Gary Bettman's mind but I imagine that one or more of the southern teams will relocate. Phoenix is an obvious choice, given their tenuous situation over the last couple of years. The Florida Panthers are probably on thin ice (pun intended) as well. I think those two are the most likely to not exist over the next five years, and they'll probably move to Canada.

Might sound like a dumb question, but does your team have any African-American players, and if so, do you guys make a conscious effort to play that up in your marketing efforts?

Asked by will.i.aint over 11 years ago

Not a dumb question at all. Yes, we do have an African-American player on our roster but we don't highlight him in our marketing and advertising any more than other players. We'll feature him whenever we feel he would work best but nothing out of the ordinary.

I could never understand - how on earth does random city like Columbus have a team??

Asked by The Gherkin over 11 years ago

I have no answer for this one!

What cities are next on the list to get an NHL team?

Asked by Robbie Redfellow over 11 years ago

Probably a Canadian city like Ontario or something. Tough to say, but it ain't gonna be in the South, I'll tell you that much.

Regarding the lockout, do you think players are just being greedy, or do they have legitimate gripes?

Asked by Eric L.G. over 11 years ago

Both sides have legit gripes and you can say that both and neither are being greedy. The owners are billionaires, but many are losing millions every season. The players are millionaires but they would essentially be taking pay cuts. It's an ugly situation but it needs to be fixed.

Do you ever have to coach individual players on how to be more media-friendly?

Asked by imbatman over 11 years ago

Personally I didn't but our Media Relations team did. And that job is even tougher when you have a lot of foreign players where english is their second language. It makes for some fun interviews and voiceovers.

Which side do you think was being more reasonable in their demands during the lockout negotiations?

Asked by Cujo over 11 years ago

Similar to the question about the players being greedy, it's tough to say who was more reasonable or greedy during negotiations. In terms of revenue sharing, the owners had the worst deal of all major sports leagues and that was a primary reason so many were losing money, so they had to fight hard for that. And the players basically would have had money taken away from them, so I don't blame them for fighting for that, either.

Were you a fan of the team you work for before you started? If not, did working for this team turn you into a fan?

Asked by Gregg over 11 years ago

Nope, I wasn't a fan of the team. I was actually a fan of a rival team when I was a kid but lost interest in hockey along the way. It didn't take long for me to turn into a fan of the team and hockey again.

After a lock-out, is it easier to sell tickets due to pent up demand, or is it harder since it's a shortened season?

Asked by thinice313 over 11 years ago

I'd say it's harder, especially for the teams who already had issues moving tickets. Fans are pissed off at both the owners and the players and many of them will refuse to pay for tickets. The avid fans will still be there, and the casual fan probably won't change much, but I think many of those in the middle may be lost.

Does the NHL have a steroid problem? There aren't any high-profile scandals, but there's just NO WAY that hockey is magically exempt from the factors that make PEDs a problem in all other sports, right?

Asked by SSSS over 11 years ago

I'm not saying that no one in the NHL uses steroids but the league definitely doesn't have a problem. It's just my opinion but I think the benefits that steroids provide aren't as valuable to a hockey player as they are to a baseball or football player.

Do you think the NHL could ever fold?

Asked by all gray all day over 11 years ago

It's possible but I don't think it will. There's enough interest in the sport to keep it as one of the big four major leagues, but it's definitely the most susceptible of the four, because so much interest is driven by the teams in Canada and in the North.

Is Gary Bettman good or bad for the NHL?

Asked by Jon over 11 years ago

I don't think he has much longer as Commissioner.

What did you major in college? Did that help with your job today, or is it completely different from what you do now? Thanks.

Asked by Al about 11 years ago

I got my BS in Materials Engineering (useless), MS in Industrial Engineering (still use a bunch of concepts) and an MBA in Marketing (very useful). Obviously the MBA is the most useful and applied directly to my job.

Could the NHL hire replacement players if it had to?

Asked by manicghost over 11 years ago

I suppose they could dip into the AHL ranks for replacement players if they had to but it obviously would really hurt the quality of play.

What does it mean when TV announcers say that you're not even allowed to disseminate REPORTS of a game's action without a team's consent?? I understand not rebroadcasting it obv, but I can't even WRITE about what I SAW?

Asked by Jessy about 11 years ago

No idea, that some legal shit that I try to avoid like the plague!

How much does it cost to buy one of those ads along the boards in an NHL rink?

Asked by intl about 11 years ago

It depends on a bunch of factors like team (market), placement of the dasherboard ad, whether it's packaged with other ads, etc. but it could range from $50k to $150k. 

If lockouts are gonna be inevitable every year, why don't the league and players start the discussions earlier on and avoid cutting into the season?

Asked by eight-oh-eight over 11 years ago

I wonder the same thing. I guess it comes down to workload. During the season, there are so many things going on that you can never get to everything you want to do. You would think that the labor agreement would take priority but who knows why it doesn't.

When owners say that they're losing money in a given year, how does the math work? Does it take into account the appreciation of franchise values?

Asked by mj over 11 years ago

No, appreciation of the franchise value is not taken not account. They lose money on the income statement.

What city's fans do u think are the most obnoxious?

Asked by TeddyR about 11 years ago

Philly fans are always obnoxious. Boston fans are annoying as well. I know Canadian team fans are some of the out passionate but I'm not sure how annoying they are. 

I am a sports enthusiast, and here is what I love about hockey: Because of on the fly substitutions, hockey is the only fame I can think of where players put out maximum effort when thay are in the game. Why not market it based on this attribute?

Asked by rndballref about 11 years ago

That's a great part of the game (along with games lasting only 2.5 hours, being the best in-game experience, etc.) but it just never has been an aspect that marketers could leverage, not sure why. 

Relating to thinice's question, can't the league and the players see that when this b.s. cuts into the season, it only winds up making the least popular major sport even less popular (and therefore less money to go around)?? Everyone loses!

Asked by sheesh over 11 years ago

Yeah, this isn't good for the sport at all. It took at least four or five years to rebound from the last lockout in 2004-05, and who knows what will happen now. It really sucks because the NHL was doing really well before this happened. Everyone does lose!

Perhaps you can answer a rules question: When both teams are shorthanded because of simultaneous penalties, playing 4 on 4, and a team scores, why doesn't their player come out of the box and play?

Asked by rndballref about 11 years ago

I believe that when both teams receive simultaneous penalties, they actually play at full strength (5 on 5) while the penalized players serve their time in the penalty box, so this question is moot. But I wish they would play 4 on 4 hockey in this situation...it's more exciting!