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The Ultimate Toolkit Secrets Revealed

Stay up-to-date on everything going on in the world of ticketing, sponsorship and marketing

with one of the best: Steve DeLay

Congratulations to Jon Spoelstra for being named one of Sports Business Journal’s Champions of the Sports Business Industry.

Click here to view the article.

  • 05 Aug 2020 6:43 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    If you do the same old, same old and expect it to work, you’re going to struggle

    It’s going to be different going forward.  At least for the next year or two.

    I’m talking about how you sell tickets.

    Seems like a pretty easy statement to make right?  You’re right.

    But, are you prepared to sell your team’s tickets in the most cost-effective way?

    My team, the Macon Bacon are one of just a handful of teams playing this summer in front of fans.

    Over the last two months, I’ve written repeatedly on some of our challenges in selling tickets.  The difficulty in selling group tickets when groups aren’t meeting.  Businesses aren’t entertaining clients and prospects so we’ve had to work extra hard to get our business ticket holders to use their seats.  Casual “something to do on a Friday night” single game buyer fans have been scared in to thinking any gathering with more than 10 people is a death trap.

     Sound terrible?  It’s not all doom and gloom.

    Joe Fan is coming to games.  Families are coming to games.  We’ve matched our 5 and 10 game plan sales from a year ago, even though we had a 2 ½ month pause to our selling efforts – right smack dab in the middle of our prime sales and marketing time.  Our email marketing and digital advertising continues to generate an ROI of $12:1, meaning for every dollar we spent, we got $12 back in ticket sales.

    That’s why we are announcing today a new tool to help you sell tickets to the people most likely to buy them.


    We’ve taken everything we’ve learned in the last four years of about digital ticket marketing and poured it in to an online class to help you succeed in this ‘new normal’ environment of selling tickets.  You can see all the details at https://theultimatetoolkit.com/Online-Digital-Ticket-Sales-Course

    There are two key parts to this program:

    • How to grow your social and digital footprint to attract fans who will buy tickets
    • How to market to those fans using Facebook advertising to sell ticket packages and single game tickets.

    Coming soon as a value-added bonus will also be our Inside Sales on-line training program to help your sales staff and interns convert your marketing efforts in to sales.

    This class will teach your Marketing Director how to cost effectively get ticket packages and single game tickets sold to Joe Fan, the group of people who are anxiously awaiting the chance to go to your games.

    It is the most cost-effective way to sell tickets in this environment.  Forget about large mass media budgets like you used to do.  We’ve never spent more than $10,000 total in a year in advertising for the Macon Bacon and have regularly sold more than 1,500 ticket packages.

    To learn more, take a look at https://theultimatetoolkit.com/Online-Digital-Ticket-Sales-Course

    or give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.

    As always, we’re here to help you succeed now and in the future.

  • 20 Jul 2020 6:26 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Fans are still following our coronavirus guidelines happily eating, drinking and smiling

    The first two games weren’t a fluke.

    We are now ten games in to our 30 game home schedule at the Macon Bacon and fans are loving it.  Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

    • Fans follow the rules better than our players.  The fans social distance happily.   They space out entering the stadium, space out in concession lines and space out when leaving the stadium.  No problems at all.  Our college-aged players, on the other hand, have to be reminded constantly to do the same.  But let’s be realistic, just about every 18-22 year old thinks they are invincible.
    • They’ll buy plenty of food, drinks and merchandise.  We’re seeing 20-30% increases in our F&B per caps and 250-300% increases in merchandise sales.  Quite frankly, we’re not sure why but aren’t complaining.  It could be a number of factors: 1) fans just want to get out and enjoy themselves and spend a few bucks 2) less people in line means quicker transactions or 3) the Macon Eggs merchandise is that stylish.  Be prepared to expand your concession and merchandise points of sale to generate more revenue.  My recommendation is 2x or even 3x, especially beer portables.  You need plenty of safe locations for the fans to stand in line spaced out.
    • Some fans will willingly wear masks.  We do not have a mask mandate in Macon but we still have 30-40% of our fans wearing masks.  Savannah, GA does have a mask mandate but it’s virtually unenforceable as fans can take their mask off when they eat or drink and the mandate is primarily in effect when social distancing isn’t possible.  Both Savannah and the Bacon have been operating at about 30-35% capacity so we are forcing social distancing based on seating.
    • Group sales are tough.  Because we’re playing through the surge, groups are still not meeting or encouraging outings.  We’ve seen a huge drop in group sales because of that which means we’ve had to get more creative on old-school group marketing, digging deeper to find new groups and really helping group leaders understand how we’ve made the games safe. Training your group sales staff is critical for success in this area.  START EARLY!  To help you, check out our newest online group sales training program at www.groupsalessuperstar.com.
    • The no-show rate is high.  Macon has seen roughly 40% of our fans not use their tickets.  The Savannah Bananas are in the same range.  We know group sales would dramatically bring up the usage rate but we also fear that season ticket holders who typically give out their tickets to friends, employees, clients and prospects aren’t getting the usage.  Fans who bought tickets to use themselves are still coming at the same rate as last season.  This is an even stronger reason to make sure you have an aggressive email, digital marketing strategy to sell smaller ticket packages.  Our season ticket sales are down but our 5 and 10 game sales are up 25% and they are showing up.  We can help you there with our Ultimate Toolkit Digital Ticket Sales Class.
    • Use common sense.  Think through every aspect of your business and find ways for less need to touch credit cards, exchange cash, touch doors etc.  With common sense, it’s easy to make it safe for your fans.  Click here to see the Game Experience Road Map we created for our fans.  It was emailed out to all account holders and is posted visibly on our website.  The cost to make it safe and comfortable for fans is way less than we expected and the positive response from fans has been well worth it.
    • Scrutinize every aspect of your expenses.  We’ve made significant changes to how we do business and they’ve saved money and had virtually no impact on the fans.  Don’t just blindly lay off ticket salespeople when you can cut elsewhere.  For example:

      • Less road travel.  We are playing 30 home games and 17 road games.  This saved a tremendous amount of expense on travel.  We are playing the Macon Eggs for 8-10 home games, really just a split squad game against ourselves.  The fans don’t care and don’t mind.  They just want to hang out and watch the game.  Who says you have to have an equal number of home and road games?  Our first half and second winners are decided by best winning percentage from games played amongst actual CPL teams.
      • Shortening the playoffs.  Instead of three rounds of playoffs, we have one game, first half winner vs. second half winner.  That one game builds to a crescendo instead of a long, drawn out bunch of series that fans don’t care about.
      • Cheaper umpires.  Instead of professional umpires on the way up, we went with local college certified umpires and cut our expenses in half with no noticeable difference in quality and no complaints from coaches or players.
      • Cutting game day staff.  We have one staff member who is relentless on not letting any of our game day staff stand around.  If they have no job to do, she cuts them and saves us money.  We’ll cut our game day staff expenses by nearly $25,000 this year because of her focus.

    We’re going to take these cost savings in to the 2021 season when hopefully our attendance will be back to full throttle.  That leap in revenue with these cost savings will make 2021 look very promising financially and make up for what’s lost in 2020.

    Sports is what brings communities together.  We can do this the right way, safely and economically and help people have some fun.  If you have questions on what we’ve done, give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com

  • 06 Jul 2020 8:31 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    This weekend we witnessed first-hand people will come to sporting events and follow the rules

    James Earl Jones in “Field of Dreams” was right.

    People will come to sporting events in these unusual times.  Even more important, they will follow our rules and guidelines and be thankful to do so.

    This past weekend, baseball was back in Macon, GA with Macon Bacon games in front of crowds of 1300 on Thursday and Saturday, about 35% of our normal capacity.  We followed in the footsteps of our colleagues in Savannah as well as Bismarck, ND and various cities in the Texas Collegiate League.

    And, despite the fear and despair you read about in the media every day, it worked.  It worked in Macon, Savannah, Texas and in Bismarck.  We weren’t perfect and will continue to get better as we play the rest of our season but don’t let anyone scare you.  You can put on a sporting event with fans in a safe and successful manner. 

    And, I will say this.  The fans will return.  The fans will pay attention and follow your rules and guidelines.  And most importantly, the fans will be thankful you’ve put the time, energy and effort in to allowing them to enjoy getting out of their houses and doing things with family and friends in a safe and comfortable manner.

    Here’s a summary of what we learned in Macon and from my conversations with teams in the other states that are playing.

    • Fans follow instructions.  I heard it early from John Bollinger in Bismarck who started with three teams in his stadium on June 15 and it was echoed by Uri Geva in Texas.  The fans will follow your instructions.  They stayed in their seats and didn’t move around and get too close to each other.  They social distanced at the concession lines.  They didn’t crowd each other on the way in or way out.  We saw roughly 30% of our fans wearing masks (we don’t have a mask mandate in Macon).  Savannah does have a mask mandate and fans still came out and enjoyed themselves. 
    • Take the fun to them.  Ironically, Uri Geva told me the fans in Texas were so attentive to staying in their seats and social distancing that they weren’t going to the beer stands.  He made a quick adjustment mid-game and pulled workers out of the stands and started vending beer and snacks in the stands in a safe manner.  The fans loved it and per caps soared.  A common theme from our games and other team’s games was that fans were itching to spend some money on food and drinks and merchandise.  We saw a 30% increase in beer sales in Macon and a solid bump in overall concessions per cap, even with more than 90% of our fans in the building there on our All-You-Can-Eat program.
    Likewise, a 35% capacity ‘sellout’ doesn’t make for great crowd buzz.  Be prepared to take the entertainment up 10 notches to create the buzz that normally comes with a full-house.  Dancing ushers, sing-alongs, peanut vendors throwing peanuts around 10 rows and more get people talking and laughing.
    • Merchandise kills it.  In Macon, we more than tripled our normal merchandise per cap for the first two games.  And this was with allowing just four people on our store at one time.  Savannah saw huge merchandise numbers, as did Bismarck.  Quite frankly, we didn’t have any radically new items in the store as we are trying to manage cash flow and not have a lot of inventory sitting around.  The fans just wanted to get out and spend some money on things.  Something they may have been afraid to do over the last few months.
    • Your teenagers won’t follow instructions.  I don’t have any kids but for those of you who do, you know what I’m saying.  We did have to regularly remind our ‘invincible’ game day staff young people to keep their masks on during our first game.  They did well when interacting with customers but when there was a break, they would pull their masks down and talk to each other within a foot or two of each other, just like normal.  It’s mainly for safety but also for optics for our fans and the media for them to know we are taking every step to be safe.  We finally got their attention with a Game 2 pre-game discussion about what would happen to the games if half the game day staff went down with infection and the impact that could have on their wonderful part-time summer jobs.  They got the message and were much better for game two.
    Likewise with our players, their enthusiasm for wearing a mask in 95 degree Georgia heat wasn’t very high.  Our manager had to regularly remind them as well.  To solve the problem, we are looking into the wrap around, breathable masks for all staff and players instead of the ear-loop masks.  They are worth the investment to make your game day staff happy and protect against the risk of infection.

    PLAN Z

    Undoubtedbly, we will face challenges over the rest of the season.  As virus infections continue to grow, the odds of one of our players or employees being infected is entirely possible. 

    We have Plans B through Z ready, including a disaster plan of what happens if our entire staff goes down.  We are preparing checklists for every person’s game day responsibilities and are compiling a list of season ticket holders and local supporters who we can call in a pinch to help us cook food, sell beer, direct parking and fill in the blanks to help us put a game on if the worst-case scenario hits.  Think like FEMA and disaster preparedness so you are ready no matter what.

    As I’ve said throughout this pandemic.  People want to come to games.  The number of “Thank you for doing this,” comments I heard from our fans in our first two games was heart-warming.  We can make sports what brings us all together and do it in front of fans in a safe, healthy and enjoyable manner.  But, if you’re a team exec or team owner, don’t just wait and hope for normalcy to return.  Learn to operate in the new normal, getting started early on selling tickets and you can do this.

    If you have questions on what we did and how we did it, feel free to give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.

  • 29 Jun 2020 6:01 AM | Anonymous

    The danger of waiting to sell group tickets

    I was wrong.

    That’s why I’m giving you this warning.

    I assumed when we set our plans to restart the Macon Bacon season July 2nd, groups would be the product that buyers would flock to. 

    After all, the economy had plummeted so how many businesspeople were going to buy season tickets or ticket packages to entertain clients or reward employees?

    Single game buyers would come out if they felt safe (we have taken plenty of precautions) but they are too hard to predict and control with weather and who knows what other issues that might come up for them.

    My thought was groups were going to be climbing the walls to do things, even in a socially distant manner.  Here’s what we’ve learned:

    • If they aren’t getting together, they aren’t getting together.  For example, a typical staple group type like churches still aren’t having much in the way of services, even in Georgia which has been pretty open.  We heard from a number of returning church groups that they didn’t feel comfortable endorsing and organizing a ‘group outing’ when their church still had limitations on mixing and mingling. 
    Same with companies.  If the companies weren’t yet fully back in their offices, many of our returning corporate groups said they couldn’t support company outings for employees to get together if they couldn’t even get together in the office.  Likewise, salespeople weren’t meeting with clients very regularly so having a suite night or Party Deck night was going to be a tough slog to get clients and prospects to come out.
    • We just don’t talk any more.  Many groups weren’t having their typical monthly meetings in person to share activities and events.  Sure, they could still send out emails and post on their group’s Facebook page and other simple tools but the lack of in-person gatherings have really hurt communication.
    • Where are you?  Groups we had booked before the pandemic were fine.  They already had dates picked out and had spread the word.  New groups??  Big challenge.  We’ve had trouble finding them, even with an extensive effort during the lockdown to chase new group leads.  Once we have gotten them on the phone, we hear concerns about quick turnaround and spreading the word. 


    Thankfully, our staff didn’t just rub their hands and moan ‘woe is me’.  Like everyone else, we’ve improvised.

    • Zoom sales calls.  Our outside salesperson last week scheduled nine Zoom sales pitches with companies to talk season tickets and group outings.  The weakness is the ‘show rate’ for Zoom calls or scheduled phone calls isn’t nearly as high as in-person meetings but you do the best you can.  On the bright side, she thinks 3-4 will close for outings this season.
    • Old-school.  I had to admit it but because we have to spread out seating for groups, we’ve had to go a little old school with helping group leaders sort out ticket orders, take group member orders over the phone and send out emails for the groups.
    • Single game push.  Those of you who know me know I hate relying on single game sales.  But, this year is different.  We have to do what we have to do.  We’re focused on capturing names and building our database of emails and social media followers as part of it.
    • Database building.  I was talking with the Director of Group Sales from the NBA last week who said he took to hear some of what I’ve been preaching the last few months on finding new group contacts and has kept his staff’s focus on just that with huge dividends in new leads.  As soon as the NBA has a schedule for 2020-21, he’s expecting a big run up.

    Take my warning to heart.  We’ve had tremendous response from smaller ticket packages in our re-start but groups take more time.  If you’re not starting until fall, get ready for a grind.  Start now with database building and be prepared for a lot more work.

    The Macon Bacon start at home this Thursday with another game on Saturday night.  We’re ‘sold out’ with our coronavirus capacity at 1200.  In next Monday’s column, I’ll let you know how it went and what we learned so other teams can learn from what we did right and what we did wrong.  Happy 4th of July.

  • 23 Jun 2020 9:06 AM | Anonymous

    Every spring, you have a decision to make about your yard.

    Do you supply a steady diet of fertilizer and water the grass regularly?  Do you replace the dead spots with new grass seed and better dirt?  Do you plant new flowers in the flower beds?

    Or, do you just do the same thing you did last year and the year before and keep your fingers crossed that the grass will grow and flowers will miraculously spring up? 

    Will you get weeds? Or, will you control your destiny and get lush green grass and vibrant, colorful flowers?


    It’s the same with your sales staff as you bring them back on board to start selling tickets again.  Are you going to keep your fingers crossed and hope they work out with the same structure, training and strategy you had in the past or are you going to find a way to water, fertilize and improve your staff and strategy?

    Evan Gitomer wrote an excellent article on Linkedin about the need to change our inside sales staffs for teams.   Gone should be the days of 15-25 inside salespeople grinding out phone call after phone call and arena meetings to sell Joe Fan.  Managers should stop trying to evaluate work ethic and sales aptitude and desire through beating the inside sales staff down with the worst leads.

    The costs are astronomical and the ROI, if you’re a minor league team or a bottom of the barrel major league team that Joe Fan ignores, is tough to justify.

    Here’s what I recommend to all my consulting clients and I live and breathe it at the Macon Bacon.

    • Use technology.  Virtually all of our sales to Joe Fan come from email marketing and digital advertising.  Our ROI is typically $20:1.  Even in the last few months with such a challenging environment, our ROI is still $12:1.  Beginning after July 4th, we are rolling out an online class for Digital Ticket Sales so you can learn how we’ve done it.  Ironically, I’ve had team owners and team presidents tell me they’ve sold just as many season tickets to date this year to Joe Fan as they had last year, even without sales staffs because they continued to do digital and email marketing and are still getting sales.
    • Use interns for Joe Fan.  Sure, we still have some part-time interns calling on Joe Fan.  However, they only call the people who open the email we send them AND click on the link.  This way, it’s a follow up call and much warmer as the fan has already seen the information we want to present to them.  Our interns in Macon still only get 5-10% connect rate on the phone but at $8.25/hour, the ROI is much more reasonable.
    • Spend your staff budget on group sales and B2B ticket sales.  Right now it’s hard to get meetings, especially if your community still isn’t back in the office but the real ticket sales staff ROI is tied to better group sales and ticket sales to the business community.  However, you need a strategy for those two areas.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching a brand new online training program for Group Sales and will have a special announcement related to B2B ticket sales.

    With limited capacity reducing your ability to maximize ticket revenue, you need to be perfect selling tickets for your next season, whenever it is.

    Are you going to have weeds like every other year or are you going to have flowers this selling season?

    If you have questions or I can help with your strategy, call me at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.  The call or email is free and I’m delighted to help.

  • 08 Jun 2020 7:00 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    The caller was more frustrated than he was panicked.  He was Director of Ticket Sales for a minor league team.

    “Ownership just came back with our budget for next season,” he said.  “They want a 70% increase in group sales.  That’s impossible!”

    “Is it?” I asked.  “Are you 100% sure that if you called on every single group prospect in your market and get a reasonable conversion rate that you couldn’t get a 70% increase?”

    There was a long pause.  I could almost hear his brain working.  It was as if he called merely to have me commiserate with him and I let him down.  Finally, he spoke up again.

    “What do you suggest?” he said grudgingly.

    He had already done the group audit, determining how many groups in each major group category had come to a game last year.  I asked him to calculate a couple more things:

    • What was the average number of tickets for each group in each category?
    • What was the average ticket price for each category?  Businesses would of course likely have a higher average ticket price than schools or church youth groups.

    “That’s easy,” he said.  I’ll just plug a couple formulas into my spreadsheet.

    Then, I told him to reach out to a list broker, someone like Ron Contorno at Full House, and ask for the total number of group prospects in his market.  Taking the total number and subtracting those that came out last year would give him the remaining possible groups in each category.

    When he had that done, I simply told him to look at the remaining possible groups in each category and estimate how many more he thought he could get.  I told him to be reasonable, not some pie-in-the-sky projection.

    Then, multiply those likely new groups times the average number of tickets from their category and the average ticket price.  Lo and behold, he had what his growth possibilities were for the next season.  He got to within about $20,000 of where his bosses wanted him to be.  We tweaked a few estimates and group renewal percentages in certain categories and he got to their budget request.

    The plan was aggressive but he got there all without creating some crazy, wacky, labor intensive theme nights that take a ton of work with no real sense of whether they will work.  (Anyone having to toss Nursing Home Night, or (insert nationality) Night and other crazy ideas that never sell more than 100 tickets?)

    Now, I told him there are some keys for making this process work:

    • He has to assign a specific salesperson to each of the growth categories.  And, they have to work those categories all year long.  This effort won’t work if your sales staff starts searching for new groups only a few months before the season starts after they’ve scoured the market for months trying to selling season tickets.
    • Management of those salespeople becomes critical.  Sales Managers should be meeting weekly with salespeople to review progress on calls to those specific group categories, new group leaders reached and new groups into the pipeline.
    • Tracking data moving forward allows you to compare year over year progress and truly find out which categories move the needle for you.

    It’s not easy to see big growth but it’s doable.  More than ever, with a challenging economy and the slow re-opening of our local economies, you’re going to need a detailed, granular plan to be successful increasing ticket sales.  Doing the same thing you’ve been doing is not going to be sufficient to get the growth you need.

    If you want to talk further about how to put together your detailed group sales budget, give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.

  • 26 May 2020 8:01 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Welcome back from a three-day weekend and the unofficial start of summer.  It also should be the unofficial start to selling tickets again.

    I’ve been saying throughout this coronavirus challenge that your mantra should be Survive and Advance.  I’m stealing from Jim Valvano and his famous 1983 NCAA basketball team as they worked upset after upset to win their now legendary championship.

    I want to add one more word to that mantra.  Survive, advance and prosper.


    You might be thinking, “Prosper?  I’m just trying to get back to even.”  Or, “I just want to get my sales staff back in the office.

    The prospering I’m talking about is expanding your fan base.  Specifically, who to target and how to expand your sales effort to widen your fan base and ultimately increase attendance. 


    You already have the hard-core fans.  Don’t worry too much about them.  They are the ones who have joined your Zoom season ticket holder calls.  They are the ones who have engaged on social media as your broadcaster has done an online interview with your coach or top player.  Unless they’ve lost their job or are in an older, high risk category, they should be back next season.

    For now, don’t pay a lick of attention to your social fans either.  These are the ones who decide to come to your games on a whim, not necessarily because they are a big fan.  If it’s $1 hotdog night, $1 beer night or some other crazy entertainment act, they’ll show up if there isn’t a better offer that night.  Don’t stress right now about your single game buyer budget as you have no idea what the future holds when you start playing.  Control what you can control.


    There are three types of prospects you can truly make deep inroads in to now with the right strategy.  Yes, even during a pandemic and 15% unemployment, you can still sell tickets and expand your fan base.

    • Casual fans.  These are the fans who may go to 2-3 games per year.  They like your team and your sport but can survive without it if needed.  You on the other hand can’t survive without them.  These are the fans that are perfect for 5 game plans or 7 game plans.  Don’t expect them go from 2-3 games to 36 or 41 games, especially in a challenged economy.  However, mini-plan sales can keep you afloat until the economy turns back around.  At my team, the Macon Bacon, we’re going to hit our 5-game plan budget number of more than 1000, despite the pandemic, a month-long delay and the challenges in the economy.  To succeed, your mini-plan needs to have real value with extra benefits, not just a discount.  Check out the Macon Bacon 5-game plan page to see more.  https://www.maconbaconbaseball.com/tickets/5-game-plan/
    • Group Buyers.  This continues to be the most undeserved area in sports tickets.  As the economy and society return to some normalcy in the coming months, people will be looking to socialize and gather.  They’ll want to gather not just as family and friends but as part of their school, church, youth sports league and more.  Now is the time to find those group leaders and discuss what they want to do and how they want to do it.  Sure, it’s a little harder to get commitments to buy right now with the uncertainty, but they will come back, provided your staff is saying the right things and making the right offers.  Nearly 300 salespeople from the G-League and WNBA just completed Group Sales Superstar to learn just that.  Check out www.groupsalessuperstar.com to see what they picked up.
    • Companies.  The common theme from teams in the last three months has been, “We have to do a better job selling companies.”  Companies are most stable, less likely to cancel at the whims of team performance or the need for a new roof or new transmission and generally spend more money.  However, selling to companies is dramatically different than selling to hard core fans or even casual fans.  You have to answer the question for your prospect, “How will owning your sports tickets help my business?”.  Especially in a challenged economy, your sales pitch needs to evolve.  Not sure how to do that? We can help.

    We’re getting back to work, finally.  The fall sports season looks promising despite the gloom and doom you are hearing.  Control what you can control.  If you need help, check out the tools at www.theultimatetoolkit.com or give me a call at 702-493-2661 or email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.  I’d be delighted to help.

  • 18 May 2020 7:15 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Coastal Plain League baseball may be the first sporting events in front of live crowds and those fans are eating up tickets.

    If you’re wondering whether fans will go to sporting events, let the Macon Bacon be your white rat.

    2½ weeks ago, the Macon Bacon and the rest of our Coastal Plain League teams announced our first games would be held July 1, a one-month postponement.  More important, we’ll likely be the first live sporting events played in front of fans.

    Now, let’s be clear.  That doesn’t mean playing in front of sold out packed houses.  In Macon, we have a normal capacity of about 3200.  We’re going to play to a max crowd of 1306 after reducing our capacity to meet social distancing requirements.  In Savannah, the Ferrari in our league, they are playing to a capacity of roughly 2,000, down from their normal sold-out crowds of nearly 4,200.

    We, of course, have taken other steps to protect our fans and staff and communicated those steps clearly and frequently to them.  More importantly to our business, here’s what we’ve seen from our fans and sponsors in the last two plus weeks:

    • For this season, we had to relocate virtually every single ticket package buyer to meet new seating rules.  How did fans respond?  To date, just 1.7% of our revenue has deferred to next season.  Every single deferment was related to health issues from fans in high risk categories, mainly age related. 
    • We’ve lost just 3.7% of our accounts including groups to deferment or refunds.  Most group losses were because the bulk of our home schedule changed when we had to postpone the start of our season.  Sure, we had some groups cancel or defer but they were mainly groups like nursing homes who quite frankly shouldn’t come or performance groups who haven’t met or practiced since the shutdown started.
    • We’ve sold more than 100 new five game plans.  In fact, we’re on target to hit our original 5-game budget number, despite the pandemic.
    • Sponsors are thrilled that we are playing and ‘getting Macon back to normal’.  Only one sponsor deferred and that was because their school related program couldn’t be executed in the spring.

    These successes are a tribute to the fans of Middle Georgia, the hard work and service of Macon Bacon staff and the willingness of our communities to use common sense and do the right thing to get their lives back to somewhat normal.


    What does this mean for you and your team? 

    If you don’t start playing until fall and you’re ‘waiting’ to see how your community responds, you’re wasting valuable marketing time.  If you’re a fall/winter sport and have laid off your sales staff and aren’t planning on bringing them back for a few months, you’re going to make the 2020-21 season a train wreck and put yourself further behind then you already are.  And you’ll likely start so far behind for 2021-22 you’ll struggle to recover.

    Some teams have woken up to new marketing strategies and are having success.  We’ve documented how UNLV Football has generated nearly 1,500 season ticket deposits with a $1 down campaign and four-month payment plan.

    Other teams, for some crazy reason, are still waiting to start marketing.  I watch TV and see car ads, cell phone ads and clothing ads.  I get the same steady emails from Kohl’s, Target and other vendors.  Just because the unemployment rate is high, doesn’t mean you should stop trying to market.  During March Madness, coaches frequently say, “Survive and advance.”  For 2020, you’re trying to survive and advance to 2021 and a return to more normalcy.

    People will buy.  People most certainly will buy.  The Macon Bacon are proof.  UNLV is proof.  What the heck are you waiting for?

    P.S.  I have just completed teaching my ticket sales class at Johnson & Wales in Charlotte.  I have 3-4 graduating students who have finished and flat out nailed their group sales training from Group Sales Superstar.  If you’re looking to hire, email me at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com and I will send you their videos.

  • 11 May 2020 7:26 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    The question is really quite simple.

    “Does this corporate partnership help your prospect accomplish their business goals?”

    In the post-corona-virus world, the days of companies buying a corporate partnership with a team or event or venue to ‘support’ the team are going to be long gone.

    With unemployment setting records not seen since the Great Depression and national GDP in major negative territory, corporate partnership dollars are going to be much, much harder to come by unless you can show a tangible impact on your partner’s business.  This goes way past just branding and impressions.  Does your partnership proposal also:

    • Help your prospect acquire new customers in some way?  This could be through traffic driving promotions, B2B events and activities or creating referral incentives.  Despite what you may pitch, new customers don’t come from an outfield wall sign, dasherboard or program ad.
    •  Impact their existing customers?  What good is driving new business if all your partner is doing is filling a leaky client bucket?  Are you helping them strengthen relationships with existing customers so their competition doesn’t steal them?
    • Reward their employees for a job well done?    In this day of very tight budgets and layoffs, existing employees have to do way more.  Bonuses and raises may be out of the question right now but what about memorable employee rewards, VIP experiences and behind the scenes events and activities?
    • Help make a positive impact in the community?  I don’t mean slapping a partner’s name on an existing community program that you are already doing.  I mean devising a truly impactful community program that generates droves of positive publicity and feel good for your corporate partner.

    Let’s face it, branding is nice but without 2, 3 or 4 more of these above points, your partner can get more branding and impressions with a highway billboard or cheap radio spots.  You have to do much, much more.


    Because of this dramatic need to change, we’ve revamped The Ultimate Toolkit – Sponsorships and created The Ultimate Toolkit Sponsorships – New Strategies, Tactics and Promotions.  This new Toolkit focuses on the nitty gritty of how to answer that key question,

    “Does this corporate partnership help our prospect accomplish their business goals?”

      Here’s what we’ve included:

    • Strategy & Tactics – Volumes I - IV.  You’ll learn our philosophy step by step on pricing sponsorships, packaging, prospecting, finding weird sponsors, non-traditional sponsorships and more.
    • Sponsorship Promotions Bible – In this manual, we lay out step by step exactly how to build sponsor promotions that move the needle.  This isn’t putting a logo on a tee shirt and talking about impressions or slapping a partner name on a fireworks’ show.  This is the nitty gritty about how to answer that key question.
    • 70+ sponsor promotions for you to download and steal.  We’ve taken some of our best promotions in the nearly 30 years I’ve been in this business and written them all up for you to download and tweak to your needs and pitch tomorrow.  Sell one of these promotions and it alone will pay for The Ultimate Toolkit SponsorshipsNew Strategies, Tactics and Promotions.
    • Every other week phone call with me to talk strategy and implementation.  I’m not a lawyer.  I don’t charge by the 10-minute phone call or email response.  For the first three months, we’ll have a set, hour-long call every other week where you set the agenda on what you want to discuss.  It’s having me as your consultant at no additional cost.  After three months, you can still call me any time.

    Our goal with this new Sponsorship Toolkit is to help you move the revenue needle in trying times.  The investment will pay off tenfold if you use it right.

    The newest, slimmed down version of our Ultimate Toolkit Sponsorships – New Strategies, Tactics and Promotions is also priced right for the post-coronavirus world at $2495 or $499/month for five months.  You have to decide this week though.  I’m only going to sell ten of them as I have a tight schedule for calls and want to make sure I deliver for each of those ten new Toolkit partners.

    If you have any questions or want to learn more, check out https://theultimatetoolkit.com/Sponsorship-Toolkit, or give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com

    I would be delighted to help.

  • 04 May 2020 5:54 AM | Steve DeLay (Administrator)

    Believe it or not, the premise for this column came from a tire store.

    Last Friday, I had an emergency need to get two new tires for my car.  They were showing threads.

    Like everyone else, I don’t go to tire stores more than once every 4-5 years.  This visit, three things struck me as incredibly different.

    • They met me at my car.  Instead of me having to go inside to the store ‘showroom’, the employee came out to me.  A requisite step in maintaining social distancing.
    • I drove my car in to the repair bay, not an employee so nobody else touched the inside.  Never before at any time when I need a car repair of any sort had I been allowed to drive the car in to the bay.  It was always a store employee.  The story always was, ‘Our insurance won’t let you.’  Guess that is no longer the case.
    • Their ‘waiting room’ was now out in the repair area.  In order to spread waiting customers out, the tire store had repurposed a repair bay to set up more chairs to maintain social distancing in their ‘waiting room’.  Before, an auto repair store would always put the fear of God in you if you walked through the repair bays.  Now, they were inviting me to sit there and watch my car being worked on.

    I asked the manager about the changes.  His answer,

    “We had to figure out how to do business in this coronavirus environment or we were going to wither and die. 

    As we debated new ideas on how to do business with new rules and guidelines, I would get push back from staff and hear things like, ‘We can’t do that.’  I would shoot right back and ask, ‘Why not?’  Nobody ever really had a good answer, just some mumbling about, ‘we’ve never done it that way’ or ‘our insurance won’t let us’ (even though nobody had asked the insurance company).  I would just tell them, ‘Figure it out.  This is what we have to do.’”

    Those same phrases came up with my own team at the Macon Bacon last week as we began the social distancing relocation process.  Because we are dealing with limited inventory and have to move virtually every single account to a new seat for the 2020 season, there were going to be challenges.  The team wanted the process to be perfect but that’s not possible in this day and age.  As those challenges came up, I would simply say, ‘Figure it out.”  It didn’t take long before our Bacon team started asking themselves, “Why not?” and figuring it out on their own.


    To do business in this new world and sell tickets and sponsorships, team execs have to give a clear vision of what is expected.  This means a vision way bigger than how many calls and emails should be sent out each day by your sales team.  What does the vision look like for the short and long-term for the survival and success of the organization? 

    The tire store manager laid out his vision that they were going to stay open and had to maximize revenue while taking safe care of employees and customers. 

    We made it clear to the team in Macon as we are going through the coronavirus seat relocation process that the words ‘refund’ and ‘roll back to 2021’ were not in our vocabulary unless absolutely necessary – a delicate balance of short term priorities to ensure survival of our business and our long-term relationship with our clients.

    Once you give a clear vision as a leader, you will quickly be able to stop asking, “Why not?” and shift to helping your staff ‘figure it out’.


    No boss wants to hear, ‘What do you want me to do?’ when an employee is faced with a problem.  As a salesperson or marketing director for a team, it’s time to ramp up your game and your creativity.  You figure it out.

    • Marketing budgets have been cut.  Yep, revenue is down so expenses have to go down.  Find a new way to increase the ROI from your ad spends.  Shift to different forms of advertising, collect more email addresses.
    • People have been laid off/the economy is bad so nobody will buy.  True, the economy isn’t good.  But it’s going to come back – maybe quicker than we all think.  Will you be ready with new payment plans, a strong ‘dormant’ list to call on and new ticket products that better fit new budgets?
    • I can’t get anyone on the phone because offices are closed.  Email, voice mail messages, internet research, referrals all can lead to connections, phone ‘meetings’ and sales. 
    • How do we ensure fan safety while still maximizing revenue?  Look around and steal ideas from others who are doing it.  Plexiglass shields between your concessions worker and customer like they’ve installed at grocery stores and gas stations.  Put seats in places you never thought about putting seats before to add more fans (i.e., the tire store ‘lobby’ in the repair bay)

    If you and your team are going to survive and prosper in this economy and the post-coronavirus world, you are going to have to figure it out and every day ask yourself, “Why not?”

    If you need some help figuring it out and someone outside of your organization to challenge your thinking and ask, “Why not?” give me a call at 702-493-2661 or send me an email at stevedelay@theultimatetoolkit.com.  I’d be delighted to help you challenge the status quo and plan for a new world.

Call Steve at 702-493-2661


18716 Nautical Drive, Unit #6

Cornelius, NC 28031

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