Case Study: St. Louis Cardinals

For over 20-years St. Louis’ favorite team has come to trust the creative team at The Epstein Group as their strategic marketing partner, even when faced with unique challenges.

Epstein Group's strategy helped the Cardinals increase ticket sales image

THE BRANDING OPPORTUNITY

Even in a market with a winning team and a great team-fan relationship, sports can be a tough sell. With an ever-increasing number of more economical entertainment options, professional sports organizations like the St. Louis Cardinals are faced with unique targeting and branding challenges in maintaining strong ticket sales.

Thanks to a 26-year relationship, St. Louis’ favorite team has come to trust the team at The Epstein Group as their strategic marketing partner, even when faced with unique challenges.

KEY CHALLENGE REQUIRING A CREATIVE SOLUTION

It may be hard to believe, but in 2011, the World Champion Cardinals were sputtering on the field and in terms of ticket sales – in fact, all types of ticket sales, including single game tickets, group party rooms, season tickets and tickets for promotional item games. Additionally, The Epstein Group and the Cardinals were hindered by other factors. Major League Baseball, who controls the websites and digital assets of all 32 teams, had been slow to adapt to these new digital strategies.

Simultaneously, The Epstein Group, with its deep experience in digital advertising and marketing, had discovered two key facts:

1. There had been a major shift in how consumers buy their tickets over the past few years, with more and more tickets being sold at the last minute. This would greatly support the marketing strategy of utilizing digital (instant) messaging in order to facilitate these last minute (instant) ticket sales.

2. The Epstein Group discovered that more than 90% of ticket sales are now purchased online.

Fortunately, when Major League Baseball finally did come around, The Epstein Group was ready with a competitive and measurable digital media strategy that was on target because of the two factors above.

OUR STRATEGIC CONSUMER INSIGHT

The Epstein Group’s digital promotion for the St. Louis Cardinals consisted of a multi-faceted media strategy that called for working with various consolidator networks to be on highly-targeted websites. Target audiences were identified by type of ticket segment (single game tickets, group party rooms, season tickets and tickets for promotional item games) then; strategies such as behavioral targeting and re-targeting with digital media were employed.

In addition, it was discovered that 40% of the Cardinals’ weekend game ticket sales came from people who resided more than 100 miles outside of St Louis. Subsequently, we expanded marketing efforts to these outer designated market areas.

OUR CREATIVE BRANDING SOLUTION

On the creative side, messaging was integrated with TV, radio and print advertising, then fine-tuned to match the specific digital niche – but ONLY after working with the Cardinals’ marketing team in order to ensure we had messages that would succeed with each specific digital target. Throughout the campaign, digital messages have been tested per media outlet to discover which audience responded best to which product, tracking results for the purpose of fine-tuning the buy in order to optimize results.

ACTIONABLE IDEAS THAT ENHANCE RESULTS

Thanks to The Epstein Group’s digital strategies, the St. Louis Cardinals were able to meet and beat the daunting challenges they faced early in the 2011 season.

  • By the end of the season, the Cardinals realized a return on their investment as high as $26 for every dollar spent on this digital media program.
  • Nearly $1M in trade was created at double face value, while using cash rates.
  • Ticket sales continued a trend that had been established over the past 10 years by exceeding sales goals.

As the St. Louis Cardinals continue working with TEG, the team was trending toward meeting ticket sales goals before mid-season, thanks the addition of new and measurable media and other digital and traditional means as well as expansion to the outer markets – all a result of working with The Epstein Group.