Baseball is prolific in U.S. culture today, permeating every area of the country and drawing more athletes than ever before. However, there is a slight disconnect between people playing the sport and going out to support it. That’s where Mike Veeck and his team at The Goldklang Group come in.
Their job is to promote and market the sport of baseball, but in no way are their methods common. Veeck, who is part owner of five minor league teams and a consultant for another, has made it his mission to bring fun and creativity to all marketing efforts.
“Basically, the trends that we see now are that suddenly it’s important to have a lot of fun in your marketing,” Veeck said. “Fun doesn’t cost any money, and so for the first time in my career of 35 years, the emphasis is on creativity and fun.”
Veeck also puts a lot of focus on customer service, which he said the company has been preaching for years and is the basis for all of its marketing plans. When it comes to baseball, it is all about putting the fans first and catering to them.
“The interaction between a fan and the club is changing rapidly in ways I’ve never seen,” Veeck said. In order to adapt to this change, Veeck and his team have had to address different demographics and groups, reaching out to an audience that was never there before.
One of those groups is women and, more specifically, mothers.
With that in mind, he said he will usually buy ads in the front sections of newspapers—because women actually read those articles—as well as in the style and entertainment sections.
“I’ve never bought an ad in the sports section, in my life,” Veeck said. That thought may seem counterproductive, but his methods seem to be working. He acknowledges that mothers usually make the decisions about what a family is going to do over the weekend, and if he can reach a few of those consumers and bring them out to the park, that is how the game can develop new fans.
And Veeck is all about creating more fans. Working with minor league baseball gives Veeck’s team a bit of an advantage when marketing games.
“It’s terrific baseball, but it’s on a smaller scale and so people can afford to go,” said Veeck. Affordability is certainly important, but a fun and entertaining event is really what lures people in, and so Veeck makes every effort to put together promotions that spark interest.
So what kind of promotions does Veeck organize? Pretty much anything that gets people involved and stirs the pot a little.
At Midway Stadium, home of the St. Paul Saints, one of the minor league teams Veeck’s group works with, they will be putting on a promotion where they play a game without umpires. Instead, they will bring in Supreme Court judges who will use lasers to call the ball game. While it is certainly out of the ordinary, it is these kinds of sports events that draw more crowds to the baseball diamond. And the key group that Veeck hopes will attend is children.
“Our philosophy has always been No. 1, above and beyond to involve the fans, but specifically the kids,” Veeck said. This is why he tries to incorporate events and promotions that get kids on the field and into the excitement of baseball. He also encourages more youth programs and efforts in inner cities to build more fields and get more kids involved in the sport.
“Why are more kids playing baseball than ever before, but not coming to the game?” Veeck asked. “That’s where I think high school sports, American Legion baseball and minor league baseball are so important. Because we can take the time, and we should take the time, to visit with each of our fans, no matter how young, and make sure they’re having the time of their life.” It is that mentality, Veeck believes, that helps grow fans.
And the philosophy is certainly working. According to Veeck, the St. Paul Saints have consistently had 98.6% capacity at every game for the last 20 years.
“We’re very confident in our operations,” Veeck said. “If we get you in, we know we can get you back.”
It is this open, exciting, and fun philosophy that has helped Veeck and his team successfully market and promote baseball, and continue to build a loyal fan base.
By– Vanessa Day