As a season-ticket holder, I get to see all the colorful communications the Mets have to offer. In the yearly package the Mets send out, there’s a media guide, your tickets, usually some cheesy tchotchke, and a letter or two from the owners. They usually talk about how “this is the year,” and how they’re gearing up for another great season. But if you look at the non-verbal cues of the Mets, and dissect some of the verbal ones, they’re kind of saying “okay, we might fail again.” This team needs marketing help.
First and foremost the product on the field has to be improved – that goes without saying. Second, the communications agenda is sorely lacking. From Omar Minaya’s almost-incoherent press statements to Jay Horowitz’ message gatekeeping, there’s very little to latch onto from a fan’s standpoint. Thankfully, the Mets continue to have the best radio and television announcers in NY or anywhere else. It may indeed be the strongest part of their brand. However, communications with Met fans and marketing of Met products in general are incredibly lacking.
As noted Nader and I share a big-time passion for the Mets. What would we do differently if we were in charge of marketing for the Mets?
1) Be honest and more transparent with your fans. Stop the double speak and try plain language. Beltran’s knee treatment fiasco was mishandled, only to be outdone by Reyes’ thyroid condition. Did anyone hear about K-Rod’s pinkeye? Exactly. The Mets surely have good doctors but somehow have turned the term ‘Met medical staff’ into an oxymoron.
2) Reward your loyal fans. If people are going to shell out $ 7,000 – $ 15,000 for 81 games per seat at CitiField, they should offer more than ‘access’ to clubs on different levels where you have to pay for everything anyway. How about free parking once in a while? Or a hot dog and soda? It would not kill concession revenue and would create an even closer bond between fans and the team – which has not made the playoffs since 2006 in case management has forgotten. [Oh they did “allow” us to purchase tickets first for the first game at CitiField– an exhibition game vs. the Red Sox in 2009. It snowed and rained. What value.]
3) Listen & Engage. The best marketers listen to their customers, and develop products and programs to serve them. In some categories, the consumer feedback can be instrumental in product development. The Mets could use a series of focus groups with fans to understand their frustrations, their hopes, their desires. Not only would it help make the team better from the inside out, it would likely put more asses in the seats – you’d go if you were invested on that level.
4) Learn from past mistakes. If you were a product manufacturer, and your 2009 product wasn’t working so well, and your customers were grumbling and revenues weren’t promising you’d probably FIX the product, and FAST. (Um, Toyota?) Although 2009 was a strange injury-plagued year, the Mets did only a cursory once-over in improving their product by adding Jason Bay to the roster. If the Mets could learn from history, they would know that pitching is the key to winning – and right now, they haven’t done anything to shore up the starting rotation for 2010.
5) Give us a message to hold on to. We know it’s marketing fluff, but the fans want it anyway. Remember “ya gotta believe” from the late great Tug McGraw? It was (and still is) a rallying cry for a generation who actually believed we could win. How about “The Magic is Back?” (Thanks to Jerry Della Femina.) This year, the internal message the team is receiving is “Prevention & Recovery.” I’m not kidding – look it up. Seriously, these guys need a more spirited rallying cry than “don’t get hurt.” These guys need a marketing company! Oh and Let’s go Mets!