Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Special Events Space Planned for Huntsman Hall

On the top of the George S. Eccles Business Building there is a nice meeting room called the O.C. Tanner Lounge. It is very popular real estate, with everyone from students, faculty, and administration wanting to book the room for special events and meetings. It’s a wonderful space, with a spectacular view, that has served us well over the years.

In planning for different spaces, we met with different groups of students, faculty and administrative staff. In every meeting we conducted with these different groups, every single group concluded that one of the highest priorities of our new building had to be more event space like the O.C. Tanner Lounge. That’s why we knew that the Huntsman Hall would have to have some added special events space for things like club meetings, faculty presentations, department meetings, training seminars, recruiting receptions, etc.

We just recently decided with the architects exactly how this new fourth-floor space in the Huntsman Hall will be laid out. It will include one large rectangular room, which will be about three times the size of the O.C. Tanner Lounge, which can be divided into two rooms, with one room taking up two thirds of the area and the other, taking up a 1/3 of the area.

It will be attached to a kitchen serving area that caterers can use when they are providing meals for an event. The kitchen area will be located between the large dividable room I just described that can seat up to 160 people and a board room.

Blue Prints of Board Room and Event Space

The rooms will be available for students to book club meetings, for faculty to hold departmental meetings, and for receptions for things like recruiting events that will bring in outside companies. Once the work is done on Huntsman Hall we’ll have more options available to us for special events. We’ll still use the ninth floor in the Eccles Building but we’ll have a new fourth-floor area in the new building with expansive windows and a new spectacular view of the south end of Cache Valley. Kind of makes you feel like holding a special event right now just to start envisioning it all, doesn’t it?

Ken Snyder
Ken Snyder

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sports Marketing: Putting Butts in Seats

Sports Marketing: Putting Butts in Seats
Sports marketing is really very simple. It’s about figuring out ways to put butts in seats. It’s very different from typical product marketing / branding, which focuses on the product and its inherent benefits. Sports marketing is all about creating interest, hype & hope -- rallying the fans to pull money out of their wallets and buy a ticket to a particular game.

The unique benefit sports teams have over consumer products is that their customers truly are “fans”. Fans make deep, emotional connections to the team, very different from being a loyal user of a particular product. I may be a 100 percent loyal user of Heinz, but I don’t develop the same kind of emotional bond with my Ketchup bottle as I do with my “team”.

Sports marketing is focused on generating interest in “the collective team”, not a single player or superstar. Players come and go, but the team – the logo – remain constant. While a sports marketer should leverage its key players, focusing all efforts on building the brand on the back of a player can backfire when the player’s contract expires and he or she moves on (see Williams, Deron), or when a hamstring gets pulled and the player can’t play (see Boozer, Carlos).

Sports marketing is about pricing the product correctly. Many sports teams let their Chief Financial Officer drive ticket-pricing decisions. That’s not the way to do it. Pricing decisions should be derived from a combination of ticket demand estimation and historical pricing data, as well as a realistic assessment of the team’s chances of success and the competitive environment of the local marketplace. Just because the Los Angeles Lakers can charge $5,000 for courtside seats doesn’t mean the Golden State Warriors can do the same. Different markets have different levels of team success, different levels of optimism to account for, and different historical pricing data to analyze.

When I took over the marketing of the Utah Jazz, our season ticket base was around 6,700 seats. After doing a hefty analysis of our historical pricing data and the competitive environment – and coming off a less-than-stellar 23 game win season - I convinced Team President Denny Haslam that we needed to drop prices on over 75 pecent of the arena seats. My analysis had shown that in most of the upper-deck pricing sections, we’d make a lot more money by dropping the prices significantly. We did so, and within 18 months the Jazz had vaulted to number one in the NBA in season ticket sales (15,400 seats), and our gross revenue per game increased some 40 percent. Once the demand for tickets increased, THEN we slowly increased ticket prices again.

Sports teams make-or-break their sales on season tickets. It’s much easier and efficient to sell 43 games than one-at-a-time. My first season at the Jazz we faced the challenge of selling nearly 13,000 single-game tickets to every game – an impossible task for a great many of the home games, particularly those early in the season against less than stellar opponents (re: New Jersey Nets or Cleveland Cavaliers). But by more effectively re-pricing the season tickets – many as low as $5.00 per game – we reduced the number of single-game tickets we needed to move to only around 3,500 per game – which is relatively easy to do. As a result, we sold out 54 or 56 consecutive home games the next season, and for the remainder of my stay with the Jazz, we sold on average about 95% of available tickets.

One single-game ticketing experiment that interests me greatly has been conducted by the San Francisco Giants for the past three seasons. They partnered with a company called Qcue, which has developed a variable pricing software platform that allows sports teams to charge different single-game ticket prices for different games based on demand. The Qcue software monitors ticket sales, ticket availability, and demand (as well as a qualitative assessment of opponent, day of week, weather, or other things that could affect demand that the Giants staff can input for each home game). The Qcue software adjusts priced daily to maximize sales and revenue. I met with Giants officials when they were entering season 2 of their affiliation with Qcue, and they were extremely happy with the results, seeing a 15 percent average bump in single-game ticket sales revenues. The way it worked was very interesting. For the same seat, pricing could vary from $8.00 for a weekday April game against the Arizona Diamondbacks to $50.00 for a July weekend game against the Dodgers (the Giants hated rivals). The Qcue system altered prices daily to make sure each section sells out. The system seems to be working – the Giants have sold out virtually every home game over the past three seasons since they began using the Qcue system.

So how do you sell single-game tickets? Create hype. It’s all Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. Hype the game like it’s the most important event in team history, that missing it will ruin your life for time and all eternity. Hype, hype, hype. It’s OK to leverage the opponent’s assets. “See the Spurs three-headed monster of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli”. It’s very simple. Use social media to make special offers, especially “late” offers close to game time. Thirty minutes before tipoff, text out 50% off tickets for all remaining seats. Those seats are worthless once the game begins.

Eric Schulz
Eric Schulz

For more information on effective marketing, check out my new book “The Smart Marketer’s Toolbox”, available on in both paperback and Kindle -

Monday, September 10, 2012

“The Caves” to Become Prime Real Estate

We’ve talked a lot about our idea for the new building, Huntsman Hall, but by the time the construction dust settles, this project will also include renovation work to the George S. Eccles Business Building too.

Our plan is to renovate two large classrooms on the third floor of the George S. Eccles Business Building that are so big and so deep that students say they can barely hear in the back of the room. Teachers and students alike have taken to calling room 317 and 319 “The Caves.” We chose this easily accessible location for expanded student services because it is easily accessible by our students. It is prime real estate because all of our students will pass by this area as they go back and forth to classes.

We plan to keep the space we now use for the Programs and Advising Center and renovate rooms 317 and 319 to double the amount of space we have available for student services. Students will be able to go there for academic, internship and career guidance.

Our architects have come back with a really good design that we liked. It will have two entrances and reception areas and more conference rooms we can use. I’ve attached the latest plans for this new advising center. Please take a look.

Ken Snyder

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sports Marketing: Creating A Premium Experience

Sports Marketing: Creating A Premium Experience

I enjoy watching sports on weekends, especially this time of year. Baseball is in full swing, college and NFL football is getting underway, and the start of NBA training camp is just a month away.

On my DirecTV package I can see the “local” broadcasts of teams, and I pay particular attention to the advertising the teams play on their own broadcasts to promote themselves. I see a lot of ads that are created to show a family at a game or the fun of the ballpark – quasi branding ads – but that is not what today’s fans want. They don’t want just an experience. They want a PREMIUM experience.

In sports, the brand of the team is developed over time and is entwined with the game experience and the team heritage. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, the brand is great players - Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Orel Hershiser and others; great managers – Walter Alston & Tommy Lasorda, the O’Malley family, Branch Rickey, Brooklyn, and Dodger Stadium. It’s Vin Scully. It’s the home white and road grey uniforms that are the same today as in 1957. It’s Dodger Dogs, Helen Dell and Nancy Bea Hefley on the Dodger Stadium Hammond organ, and John Ramsey at the Dodger Stadium microphone. It’s that consistency of experience. It is that the Dodger game my dad took me to in 1963 isn’t much different than the experience I can provide to my sons when I take them to a game in 2012.

The expectation of the typical sports fan has changed however. When ticket prices were $10, the expectation was for a “normal” experience. With prices for many sports events now $100 or more per ticket, the expectation has risen along with it. Now, sports marketers need to pay homage to the brand heritage and they also need to figure out a way to offer a PREMIUM experience to their fans. With their primary task of filling the seats with fans, that is a very different skill set from a typical marketing manager who cut their teeth in consumer packaged goods and spent the majority of time on branding and not promotion. In sports, it’s all about selling season tickets and creating great promotions for single-game ticket sales.

In college sports, particularly football, many schools don’t have a strong brand heritage from which to draw. Utah State University for example really only has one bona-fide All-American – the late Merlin Olsen – and much of its football heritage is forgettable. So what can a school or team like this do to put butts-in-seats?

Create a premium pre-game dining and socializing experience that fans and alumni WANT to be a part of! Copy what other successful teams / schools do and make it your own. Right now, a USU football game experience is not much different than going to a high school game. You show up 20 minutes before game time, the band is playing while you walk up to your seats, grab a $3.00 hot dog and a Coke, and the game begins.

Why do fans pay $100-$200 per game to attend a Jazz game? What do BYU and the U of U offer fans to create a “premium” pre-game experience? FOOD & socializing /networking opportunities – that’s what. USU needs to create premium experiences available to alumni so they can rub shoulders with important alumni, business leaders, and University leaders at Aggie home games.

At Utah Ute games, the pre-game suite dinner area is a who’s-who of CEO’s, politicians, and Salt Lake elite; at BYU, the suite dinner area has LDS leaders, CEO’s and important alumni, and in the “Sponsor Tent” is a giant buffet for 1,000 important sponsors and alumni where the band marches through, the cheerleaders and Cosmo come to visit, and the University President stops by to shake hands. When you enter the tent, you are always given a premium – a hat, a pom-pom, a pin, a poster – and a game program. Fans, eat, socialize, and THEN go out to watch the football game. And at halftime, they go back into the tent for some dessert. Food is the key. Fans want a premium eating experience, not a half-warmed hot dog for $3.00. Wrap the price of the buffet into my ticket price, give me the opportunity to hob-nob with the USU elite.

Create this experience, and season ticket sales will follow. Then, all you need to worry about is figuring out a plan for single-game sales. More on that subject next time.

For more information on effective marketing, check out my new book “The Smart Marketer’s Toolbox”, available on in both paperback and Kindle -

Eric Schulz

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Priceless Experience

The Experience is Priceless

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in the “Go Global” Summer Study Abroad program with the Huntsman School of Business. My group traveled to Argentina, Brazil, and Peru.

Some of the things I took away from the experience are the following:

I realized how connected the world really is. We no longer live in the day where we do our thing in the U.S., and other countries do their thing where they are, without affecting each other every day. I witnessed first-hand the global economy at work. I realized that economic successes and failures, and things like rising gas prices, inflation, changes in currency in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru, can directly affect the United States, and vice versa.

I also recognized the connection between building relationships and networks with fellow students and faculty, and being successful and happy in a future career. The students on this trip were OUTSTANDING, some of the brightest, hardest working, and funnest people I have met. It is obvious to see that these students are going places in life and will be successful. The faculty, Paul Fjeldsted and Liz Allred, are filled with knowledge and experience. They are more than willing to share what they have learned and also have great professional networks. To have these people as friends and associates is a huge asset, and I feel grateful to know them.

Some of the last things I came to appreciate are that knowledge is not just gained in the classroom, and college should be fun as well as educational. This program provided the opportunity for both of these things. The experiences I had in South America are priceless. Needless to say I had a BLAST and will forever remember and reflect on my experience.

Shelby Murray