A sports fan’s emotional bond with their team is what makes a winning day at the ballpark feel so amazing—and a losing day feel so lousy. But rocky streaks come with the territory and crossing your fingers for a win is not a marketing strategy. Fortunately, there are practical, research-based ways to keep fans coming in and create positive fan experiences even when the season is tough.

Schmidt Market Research recently won a Vision Critical Visionary Award.

This award was achieved by helping the Pittsburgh Pirates create a more rich fan experience, one that goes way beyond the scoreboard, through an Insight Community called the Pirates Fan Council.

Using advanced analytics, we have segmented the 4,000 members of the Fan Council based on specific drivers of attendance and engagement. These have provided a wealth of insight about media and purchasing habits, entertainment, food preferences, and more.

These segment profiles are constantly enhanced by each Insight Community interaction with Fan Council members, as well as with information from the Pirates’ CRM and purchase data. With this turbo-boosted understanding of what gets fans into their seats, the Pirates front office can create relevant, customized programs—then pre-test them with the Council before launching and tracking in-market.

Key to the Fan Council’s ongoing success is keeping stakeholders and council members engaged. We encourage the use of Council members’ feedback throughout the Pirates organization, including among top-level executives. We also connect Council members to the front office with features like “Ask the Executives a Question” and offer frequent “share backs” so members can see how their feedback is used. Simple, consistent engagements like a video welcome message from the Pirates president, votes on new T-shirt designs, and “meet the member” stories increase buy-in.

Engaged Insight Community members have helped the Pirates make better, faster decisions.

The Fan Council gives feedback on everything from field signage to season ticket packages, reducing risk when making changes and providing a preliminary sounding board for ideas and messaging. With the Sparq customer insights platform, Schmidt can get feedback ready in 48 hours!

In addition, the Pirates are currently exploring tailored season ticket packages, based on the Council’s feedback… And because the Fan Council is an extension of the Pirates brand, its members now have a stronger and more meaningful investment in their team, win or lose.

Let’s talk about how we can help improve your brand’s user experience. Contact us to learn more.