Earlier tonight, the Mets held a conference call for bloggers that was attended by the club’s Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Lou DePaoli.
DePaoli was hired by the club after the All-Star Game in July from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Before working for the Pirates, DePaoli worked for the Florida Marlins, the Atlanta Hawks, and Atlanta Thrashers.
DePaoli’s areas of focus with the Mets are tickets, marketing, and sponsorship, and he answered a number of questions tonight about those topics. Below is a recap of what DePaoli had to say, followed by some thoughts at the end.
- On how the club intends to draw more people to Citi Field:
DePaoli noted that the club had done a lot of research lately and had asked fans lots of questions, in an effort to find out what fans wanted from their experience at the ballpark. In sum, the club asked people what they wanted and tried to give it to them. Some examples were that most fans preferred to attend games on Saturday night, not during the day – resulting in additional Saturday night games in 2014. In addition, the club wanted to know what type of promotions the fans prefer, and what type of entertainment they liked. The result was that the club became weekend focused – and family focused on Sundays. Their goal is to put together the right packaging, programming, and offers.
- Are there a number of different marketing strategies the club is prepared to go with for 2014, depending on what the roster looks like in a few months, or is there a set strategy already in place?
DePaoli said that the complete marketing strategy was put together two months ago and that it will go through October or November of 2014. He noted that the strategy won’t be player-focused. Instead, it will revolve around things that are going on at the ballpark. Presently, the basic shell of the new marketing program is up and in place. As things change (player acquisitions, how the team is playing, how an individual player is performing), they’re “nimble enough” to make adjustments to their marketing strategy.
- Is there a plan to develop a more family-friendly ticket package?
DePaoli noted that the club is in the process of trying to get a sponsor for a family pack, which would include tickets, food, and drinks.
- Is the club planning to honor Willie Mays?
It’s not something DePaoli had thought of yet, but it’s something to consider. DePaoli went on to say that he’s very cognizant of recognizing the history of the franchise, and noted that it was something the Pirates had gotten away from when he was there (and something he worked to improve).
- What was the motivation behind selling single game tickets so early this year?
DePaoli explained that by putting single game tickets on sale so early, ther might be less sales off the bat. However, by lengthening the sales window, you wind up selling more tickets. He also noted that tickets already being on sale gives players the ability to promote it during early offseason interviews/appearances.
- How much is he into developing something more innovative as far as the promotions go?
One of the things DePaoli has seen elsewhere is a “beer passport program,” where craft breweries come to the ballpark and host an event – perhaps on a club level. DePaoli noted that it’s something he did with the Pirates. One issue is the fact that the Mets have a huge partnership with Budweiser, but they’d like to work through it in order to have nights with a “beer passport program” promotion.
- To what extent is New York different than places he’s worked previously?
DePaoli replied that the size of the area is the first thing that struck him. He noted that there were more people in Queens than the entire Designated Market Area of Pittsburgh. He went on to say that there are five million people who’ve identified themselves as Mets fans who reside within the Mets’ Designated Market Area – giving them an enormous customer base to work with.
…DePaoli was affable and informative, and there were two things he discussed that jumped out at me.
The first was the amount of research the club had done in an effort to identify what the fans want and improve the fan experience. Fans have to remember that this department is separate from the baseball operations department. They can’t change the roster or fire the manager. What they can do is make the ballpark experience great for their fans, and they’re clearly making every effort to do so.
The second thing that struck me was the response DePaoli gave when asked whether or not the team had already cemented their marketing strategy for 2014. He responded that they had, and that the strategy would revolve almost entirely around the ballpark experience. He did note that the marketing strategy could be adjusted on the fly, but the fact that they club isn’t planning to focus their marketing efforts on current players or players they may acquire isn’t something that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
In past years, the club has had marketing strategies that revolved around Dwight Gooden, Mike Piazza, and the “New Mets” Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. One would have to think that if Matt Harvey hadn’t gotten hurt, this year’s strategy might have revolved around Harvey and Zack Wheeler.
However, what it mainly comes down to, is how the club performs on the field.