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Sports & Fitness

Jets Audible Into Direct Response

15 Jan, 2010 By: Thomas Haire Response

With PSL seating covering more than 55,000 seats in the new stadium — PSLs are a one-time flat fee paid by ticket buyers for the rights to “own” a specific seat — and PSL prices ranging from $4,000 to $30,000 per seat, the Jets expected a rough road early on thanks to the 2008 economic meltdown that nearly coincided with the start of the campaign.

However, existing season ticket holders responded well to the process, which offered the best seating options to existing ticketholders based on seniority. To date, the Jets have sold more than 70 percent of their non-premium seats to existing season ticket holders.

At the same time, an auction for Coaches’ Club seating area — essentially the best seats in the house with PSLs between $20,000 and $30,000 — was held in fall 2008, opening up the opportunity to all Jets fans to buy the best seats in the house. It was a tack never before taken by a sports franchise, and the club pocketed $16 million for 700 total seats sold in the auction, with some lucky fans getting seats for far below the base rate.

Still, hard economic times have caused the Jets to make some changes in recent months. In late October, the team announced that it was making season tickets available to the general public after allowing existing ticketholders ample opportunity to select their new seats. Within that, the team also cut prices on some Mezzanine Club seats in half (from $400-500, down to $195-395, plus PSL), allowing previous purchasers the opportunity to cut their costs as well as making the seats more attractive to new buyers.

“We went on sale to the general market in late October with all remaining seats. We hit all of the different types of seats that are available, from clubs and suites to the upper deck, which is a non-PSL zone,” Ciccone says. “We have a very loyal but diverse fan base. People saw different value for different seats, and we try to hit all those wants and needs, from a marketing perspective. While the marketing hits a broad market, they all have one thing in common — they want to watch football live, whether in a club seat or upstairs. It was important for us to have a ticket offer for everybody, especially as the economy changed. We made sure there are a lot of different price points, and for our more expensive seats, we offered financing the PSL cost for up to 15 years.”

Direct response was a huge factor in the effort, from a TV spot to a print campaign to direct mail and all manner of Web advertising, including E-mail, a call-to-action was a major part of each outreach. “Considering the economic times, we believe the campaign has made a huge difference,” Ciccone says. “Of course, it’s not a complete success until the entire building is sold out. But direct response has allowed us to track what our respondents wanted, how our buyers came to us, and allowed us to be very flexible. With every wave of the campaign, we’ve seen enough ROI to cover more than the DR investment.”

The More You Learn …

Having worked for the franchise since 2002, Ciccone was able to lean on some experiences to know what to expect from a campaign infused with DR this time around.

“Historically, with many sports franchises, there has been a drop-off in ticket sales in the final season in an old stadium, and we saw some of this during the 2009 season,” Ciccone says. “With the announcement of the new stadium ticket policies and PSL pricing, we lost a few season ticketholders. However, we used a similar approach to sell those seats to how we’ve sold the new stadium.”

Not that the marketing effort there didn’t create a learning opportunity, however. “We learned that there were plenty of people out there who wanted Jets season tickets — but they had to be notified and marketed to,” she contends. “You can never take for granted that people will know about the availability of your product, no matter what it might be.”

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