Yesterday evening, Sidney and I went out to the ballpark to watch our local minor league baseball team, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. After indulging in $2 craft beers on the stadium’s concourse, we went to our seats. The second we sat down I saw a young guy take notice of us and immediately start walking our way. He was in uniform so at first I thought he was an usher who was going to check our tickets. Turned out he was part of the marketing crew.
“Hey guys, would you like to be our Cheerwine Fans of the Game? We upgrade your seats, give you Cheerwine gear, and put you on the video board,” the probably 19 or 20-year-old nervously stammered.
Sure! We stood up, grabbed our boiled peanuts and beer, and followed the kid to the first row behind the third base dugout. With us seated, he went and got us Cheerwine hats, cozies, and wrist bands. Oh yes, he also brought us each a tall cup of the beverage itself. In our new seats, the guy sat down right next to us so we wouldn’t miss our “big moment” on the video board. While we waited for the first inning to end (at which time the cameras would be on us), the kid chatted us up. He explained how it was a big night for him because he had been moved off of the 50/50 raffle team and given the chance to help lead the promotional efforts for that game.
After a long first inning in which the Pelicans scored five runs, it was finally time for us to wave at the camera. For 15 seconds we stared at the designated spot and smiled. Because I am a mindful marketer, I made sure to wear my Cheerwine hat and feature my beverage as much as possible during the cameo. After we got the thumbs up from the camera guy I turned to Sidney and said let’s go back to our seats.
What stood out to me most about our fan of the game experience wasn’t that we got free swag or that a stadium full of people saw us on the video board. What registered with me was something else that the young lad said to us prior to the third out in the first inning.
“You two were the very first people I asked to do this,” the Pelicans employee confessed, “I don’t know what I would have done if ya’ll said no.”
As someone who used to work in the sports marketing and promotions industry, I wanted to blurt out, “You would have turned right around and asked someone else!”
Working in the marketing and promotions business, I quickly learned that it is a person’s gut reaction to say “no” to just about everything. I remember working as an intern in the athletic department at the University of Montana and pitching the exact same promotion (different sponsor) to folks up in the nosebleeds who would DECLINE it. Premium courtside seats, free food, apparel, and arena recognition just wasn’t enough for them. Although I now know it really wasn’t about the compensation. In reality, people just don’t like to leave their comfort zone, both physically and mentally, even if it means a big improvement.
When you learn that a person’s first inclination is to say no, you simultaneously learn how to deal with rejection. Even though plenty of people say no to it, getting folks to agree to become fans of the game is by far one of the easier promotions to convince someone to do. Trust me, try to bait someone into doing an actual on-court or on-field promotion and see what I mean. My point is that the young man we dealt with yesterday will most likely get denied far more times than not.
Sure I could have been a jerk and declined his fan of the game offer or I could have replied back to his “I don’t know what I would have done” comment but there was really no need to. He will learn for himself very shortly. Besides, I love to help out any young and ambitious sports marketer. And, let’s just be honest here, I don’t have a comfort zone. If you are going to offer me free stuff, I am going to take it. Sidney and I had a very good time at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans game last night. Don’t Blink.