Shaquille O'Neal's call to Cleveland Cavaliers fans on July 2 held double meaning for the NBA franchise. That day, phones rang for 32,595 Cavs fans who then learned from The Big Witness himself that they could come watch the new center in his quest to "Win a Ring for the King."
While more than 75 percent of the mobile and landline numbers matched to already committed courtside spectators of the King—or forward LeBron James—and were simply receiving Shaq's "thank-you" for welcoming him to Cleveland, Shaq asked the remaining 7,300 landline call recipients to press "1" to be transferred to a sales representative to buy 2009-2010 season tickets. Ticket packages range from $440 to more than $7,000. Those prospects still are calling in a month later to buy tickets, says Jeff Ryznar, the Cavaliers' director of strategic marketing.
The team tapped Indianapolis-based Vontoo, an opt-in voice message marketing service provider, to complete 12,918 landline and 19,677 mobile calls immediately after Shaq's first news conference in Cleveland. (In which Cavs fans learned that his four NBA titles aren't enough—he wants to help James win a championship ring.)
Target Marketing: Were the calls part of a larger campaign?
Jeff Ryznar: It was part of an entire campaign with the announcement and the press conference of Shaquille O'Neal being brought to our team. We videotaped Shaquille O'Neal in a video message that went out to our e-mail subscribers, and then we also recorded [him] doing a voice message that went out to our season ticket holders, our corporate partners as well as our suite holders, our opt-ins for our mobile text alerts program, as well as prospective season ticket holders who we have been working with or had worked with in the past. ... It was more of a thank-you to our fans and as a way for them to have a little more interaction with our team and with our players. So the main goal of this was just to introduce Shaquille O'Neal and to get the buzz in the marketplace with his presence on our team.
TM: How do Cavs fans opt in for mobile marketing?
JR: There are actually three ways that they can opt in. They can visit us at cavs.com/mobile and enter their mobile number into a field, and they'll receive a bounceback message asking them, "Do you want to opt in to receive Cavs fan alerts?" They can also text in the word 'CAVS' to 42287. Or they can opt in when they sign up to be a Cavaliers Insider, which is our e-mail subscription service.
TM: Was the message different for season ticket holders vs. other opt-ins? How did you segment your list?
JR: Yes, there were different messages delivered depending on where the recipient fell within the list that we had. So we had one message that strictly went to our mobile text opt-in numbers. We had another message go to our season ticket holders. And we had a third message go to the potential buyers or season ticket holder purchasers for the 2009-2010 season.
TM: What other channels did the Cavaliers use to sell tickets?
JR: We use a variety of ways to sell season tickets. Now that it's in the off-season, our primary means is Cavs.com, as well as our social network CavFanatic.com. And then they can always call in to our 800 number ...
TM: What results did you see from the season ticket prospecting calls on July 2?
JR: From the first set of calls that were made ... 7,300 calls were made to prospective customers, and we made eight appointments off of them. Eighty-one people actually transferred to a ticket sales representative, and eight of them actually came in to visit with us [to buy] season tickets. ... As we move forward, we'll have a system set up to measure referrals that come in after this is done, with our new CRM system and the process of asking questions to the consumer when they call in.