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Shot Callers: Mike Nichols on the Symetra Tour’s Rapid Growth

The Chief Business Officer of the Symetra Tour sits down with FOS CEO Adam White to talk sponsorship and expanding the LPGA’s developmental tour.

Front Office Sports

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(*The Symetra Tour is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

In 2013, the LPGA’s Symetra Tour was comprised of 15 events with $1.6 million in prize money on the line. In 2019, golf’s rising stars will play in 24 events for over $4 million in prize money. In the words of Chief Business Officer Mike Nichols, it was a “six-year overnight success story.”

Nichols joined Front Office Sports CEO Adam White to chat about the tour’s growth, their overall sponsorship strategy and what the tour offers for the communities that they host tournaments in.

Edited highlights appear below:

What has been contributing to the Symetra Tour’s growth factor? (0:29):

“There’s two big things. When I first started with the tour.. .we had to look at how we were selling the product working with our partners. And our tournament model, frankly, was broken, and so we had a lot of turnover. In 2013, in that first six-month period we were able to add four tournaments, but we lost five in that same six months. So when you add four tournaments and you lose five, you’re thinking, ‘Well I did a lot of work, and we’re going in the wrong direction here.’ So we had to fix that tournament model.

“Then, secondarily, we had to look at the companies that we were approaching. I think we were trying too much to be the LPGA Tour. The LPGA Tour is a good [business to customer] opportunity for global brands who are trying to reach a mass market. Our strength is really in the B-to-B space. We really had to look at who our partners were, who we were approaching and setting the expectations for what we could do well, which is really to deliver a B-to-B experience in the local communities in which we play.”

Sales pitch for investing in the Symetra Tour (2:36):

“When Symetra first joined us, they were sort of a challenger brand as we’re a challenger tour, but we like to think we’re growing out of that a little bit. But, for them, it was an opportunity to put their name on an entire tour. They were trying to get in front of folks in the banking space, as well as putting their advisors out there and trying to build the business in the B-to-B space of the tours. If we’re making a pitch to a new company, I would tell them we can deliver you 24 markets in which you can entertain customers.”

“The good news is we play in major markets like Charlotte and Atlanta and Orlando, but we also play in some secondary markets that maybe are harder to find opportunities to entertain folks. So one of the things that we found with Symetra is that we’ve delivered them a lot of markets that are sometimes hard to figure out where opportunities are [for businesses] to take care of their top producers, or their top folks in the field who are selling, or their customers, or prospective customers…We have anecdotal evidence where some folks have brought folks out and written a $500,000 premium just for that day on the golf course. That pays for a lot of your sponsorship cost.”

See More: Ryan Musselman, SVP, Global Partnerships at Infinite Esports & Entertainment

On the Symetra Tour taking off as the developmental tour of the LPGA Tour (5:27):
“In calling it “the official qualifying tour,” we want people to look at this and say ‘These are professional golfers playing at the highest level, and all they are doing is looking for their opportunity.’ The most fun day of the year for me is the Sunday of our tour championship, when we award those ten cards and you see the families out there and the audience and these young ladies realizing their dreams.”

“It’s very cool, but what’s really changed from now versus back in 2012 is that we’ve been graduating the top ten players onto the LPGA Tour, but the last ten players that we’ve graduated over the last two or three years are actually staying now [on the LPGA Tour]. But over the last three years, nine of the 10 players that we’ve graduated to the LPGA Tour have maintained LPGA Tour status, which is huge.”

See More: Ryan Bishara, Director, Corporate Partnership Strategy at Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC)

What do you look for in choosing a host community for an event? (7:00):

“As with anything in golf, it really starts with the sponsor and identifying the sponsor. For example, we play in El Dorado, Arkansas, which is a very small community that you wouldn’t otherwise know except that [it’s the home of] Murphy USA. A $2.5-billion-dollar company based in El Dorado, Arkansas, and they said “you know we want to have a Symetra Tour event in our community. So a lot of it is finding those sort of communities.”

“We have a tournament in Florida, Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, a town of Lake Wales… where the co-op of Florida’s Natural… is based and that tournament over the last 11 years has given back $1.8 million to their local community through hosting the event. Why that’s worked from a B-to-B standpoint is they’ve taken that event and they’ve turned it into an annual meeting of all their business partners. [The business partners] contribute, they sponsor the event, and it allows them to give more money in the community than maybe anything else they could do in a community that size. So it’s about finding the community match with the sponsor and sort of making sure that everybody’s expectations and goals are met and understanding what those are from the get-go.”

(*The Symetra Tour is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

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Shot Callers: Elisa Padilla on Miami Marlins’ New Marketing Strategy

Part of the Miami Marlins’ rebrand has been adjusting their approach to community relations. Meet the woman spearheading that effort.

Front Office Sports

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(*UOnline is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

When a sports team undergoes a major overhaul, building a strong marketing presence becomes a high priority. In the Miami Marlins’ case, much of this relies on Elisa Padilla, senior vice president of marketing and community relations.

Padilla, who also spearheaded another major brand shift when the Nets moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn, sat down with Adam White to discuss the Marlins’ renewed presence in the community and renewed dedication to building relationships with fans.

Edited Highlights Appear Below:

On launching the new Marlins’ brand (0:33)

Padilla: “When I came in, the logo, color palette, jerseys, everything was already designed. My job when I came in was to think through how we were going to launch the brand. One of the things that’s really important to us is that we infuse the fabric of this brand into the community. We put together a comprehensive 360 marketing campaign because the day that we launched this new brand, our goal was to be where people live, work and play.”

SEE MORE: Adam Jones on the Miami Marlins’ New Direction

On making the Marlins feel like a hometown team with a high transplant population (2:35)

Padilla: “I think that when you look at Miami and you look at the diversity and the richness that’s here and when you look at our new logo and our new brand positioning, we want to be one with the community. We want to be one with the city. Our colores is about us – not us meaning the Miami Marlins. It’s about us – Miami as a community because you live those colors every single day…We want to be more than just your baseball team. We want to be a place where you can come and you can enjoy a night out of entertainment and we want to become part of your lifestyle…From the brand and the launch and what we’ve done to date, we’re on track.”

On building trust between the organization and fans (5:05)

Padilla: “We have to demonstrate and be authentic in our approach. If part of our mission statement is to infuse the fabric of our brand into the community, we need to demonstrate that. So just a couple quick examples, one is the art program where we did seven murals in key locations, so we were very diligent about that process. We know how street art is very prevalent here in Miami. The day after we launched on November 16th we did ‘Surprise and Delight’. From eight o’clock in the morning all the way through to three o’clock in the afternoon, we had players and alumni and executives out in key communities serving coffee, handing out ball caps with the new logo, being part of their every day lives. That’s how we’re going to earn the community’s trust.”

On the community relations side since she arrived nine months ago (6:30)

Padilla: “I think that the one thing that we’re all passionate about is building this brand from the ground up, and doing it the right way from a grass-roots level perspective…We created a youth baseball and softball department whose sole purpose is to promote youth baseball and softball in Miami…We were in a meeting and we started talking about tee ball. Why don’t we own tee ball? Let’s go out there, sign up tee ball teams and we will outfit them from head to toe. The team was charged with signing up 100 tee ball teams. They overproduced, so we have 136 teams that are Miami Marlins and it’s been the greatest thing. “

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Shot Callers: Adam Jones on the Miami Marlins’ New Direction

The Marlins’ Chief Revenue Officer sits down with Adam White to talk about the organization’s recent overhaul and improvements to Marlins Park.

Front Office Sports

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(*UOnline is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

Miami, Florida is anything but an ordinary city. The Miami Marlins have recently taken a number of steps to help them fall more in line with the spirit of the city that they call home.

Marlins’ Chief Revenue Officer Adam Jones joined Front Office Sports CEO Adam White to chat about the organization’s recent visual rebrand, engaging new brand partners, and attracting a new generation of baseball fans to Marlins Park.

Edited highlights appear below:

On the Marlins’ visual rebrand throughout the stadium (1:33):

Jones: “That gave us the opportunity to bring that brand into the venue. Do a reset on the color pallet, what you saw on the concourses, what you saw in the bowl. We’ve standardized that view. Cleaned it up. I think that brought down some stress levels from people who were experiencing and viewing our game and really allowed us to let our brand and our brand partners shine through within the look and feel of the venue.”

SEE MORE: Shot Callers: Inside The Rebranding of Dignity Health Sports Park With AEG

On a revitalized partnership strategy (3:02):

Jones: “It started day one with making introductions and reintroductions. That’s probably one of the biggest surprises as to how many first time introductions we’re making within the brand community. 50 plus new partners since the ownership/leadership changed. David Oxfeld and his team on the partnership side have done a great job reengaging locally, nationally, and internationally with brands that we believe align with our story and where we are taking the organization.”

On changing the food options with a hyper local approach (6:25):

Jones: “One of our brand tenants is we want to be authentically Miami and I think that extends well beyond the food and beverage, but as it relates to food and beverage, that’s a heavier lift here than it may be elsewhere of representing the diversity of culinary [options] that’s here…We wanted to expand what was previously known as Taste of Miami and make the entire ballpark that experience and really try to represent what we believe today is modern or for the future of this community more so than how outsiders may view this community and be truly authentic to our fan, to our residents, and to the business partners.”

SEE MORE: Shot Callers: Mike Nichols on the Symetra Tour’s Rapid Growth

On improving the premium areas of Marlins Park (7:53):

Jones: “The anchor in a ballpark is the premium club behind home plate. We had the opportunity to get back into that space eight years in and where we feel we’ve reset the standard is giving the an all-inclusive, elevated fairly robust menu in-seat. A lot of infrastructure went into creating beverage and food kitchens to support that new in-seat model. But one we’re very pleased with in terms of the type of elevated experience we’ve created there.”

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Logo Love Episode Three: Design Process

In Episode Three, the Brandiose Studios team discuss how they come up with the look and design for each new Minor League Baseball logo that comes their way.

Front Office Sports

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(*ISM Connect is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

Episode 1 | Episode 2

In the third episode of Logo Love, Jason Klein and Casey White of Brandiose Studios discuss in detail their own creative processes for designing Minor League Baseball logos.

Simplicity is often preached as a key tenant in design. Yet the simplest design isn’t always the most effective. It’s all about telling the most authentic story possible for a Minor League team. Sometimes that means taking several different elements and combining them in a way that makes sense for storytelling, merchandising and representing a town or city.

Edited highlights appear below:

On the nature of creativity (0:10)

White: “Every project that we do…starts with research. I think there’s this myth that creative people people just sort of pull [inspiration] out of the sky. Creativity is how you digest the world, how you process the world. If we’re going to tell these stories in an authentic way, we have to have a healthy diet of information. We have to physically go, we have to talk to experts, we have to be guided by people who really know what they’re talking about. Every project has that foundation.”

SEE MORE: Logo Love Episode One: Logo History

How designing sports logos differs from designing other types of logos (1:34)

White: “Designing a sports logo is not like designing a corporate logo. It’s not about super simple and clean, or how do we ratchet down something to this very simple, pristine thing? It’s telling a story. It’s somewhere between illustration and logo. It has to still work as a Twitter icon and look good on a hat from 50 yards, but it also need to tell a really complex story. There’s a lot of elements that we want to bring in.”

On getting ideas down in their own creative process (3:03)

White: “We’re always trying to improve our process. We’re trying to stay relevant and keep things fresh. That includes how we conceptualize the designs. We started out sketching… drawing is my favorite thing in the world. That’s why I love my job. We’ve tried to draw on iPads, draw on the computer, we’ve tried a thousand different things… It all goes back to pencil and paper. The pencil and paper is the best way to quickly get your ideas down and to quickly explore what’s going to look best.”

SEE MORE: Logo Love Episode Two: Evolution of Brand

On avoiding making logo designs too complex (4:44)

Klein: “From a technical standpoint, you have to merge a lot of other elements often into a logo. A trash can lid and a calculator and a raccoon tail… how do you get all of these elements in without it looking like a painting?”

White: “That’s the challenge. How do we distill it down? How do you arrange everything? There is a flower arrangement element to the logo design. There are limitations. We run into limitations all the time where you have this crazy idea, and it’s just too much or it just doesn’t work. You have to have that balance.”

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