Helping Your Customers Help You: Lessons from the Ball Park

by Ken Mueller on August 20, 2013 · 6 comments

Helping Your Customers Help YouRecently my boys decided that as part of their summer of baseball they wanted to attend a Pirates game in Pittsburgh. We’ve been to Philly, Washington, and Baltimore, and like those games, my sons decide to take me with them, on their dime. Yeah, being a dad is a great thing! So on Sunday we got up early and headed to PNC Park in Pittsburgh, got to see a little bit of the city, got to see 16 innings of baseball (!!!), and then got back home much later than we expected. That was the main reason why I didn’t have a post ready for the blog yesterday.

But thankfully, the game and experience gave me an idea for today. Whew!

Sixteen innings is a lot of baseball, and since we had really good seats, I really got to take in a lot of what makes up a game at PNC Park. Sure, it’s a baseball game, but it’s more than just that. It’s an experience. As the game wore on with a tie score, the bottom of each inning began with an inspirational or noise inducing film clip on the big screen, accompanied by some loud, raucous music that were designed to get the crowd into the game.

Think about it: the crowd should already be in the game. We should have been cheering and yelling on our own, and yes, some of us were, but the folks at the ballpark also needed to help us. They tell us when to clap, they tell us when to scream and shout, and they even egg us on to get louder and louder at just the right moments.

It’s a lot like those old sitcoms with the laugh track. Sure we know how to laugh on our own, but sometimes we need a little prompting (or, sometimes they weren’t that funny!).

Or the score of a film; that background music that helps build the emotion, and prepares us for what is about to happen just a millisecond before it happens. It sets the mood and adds to the entire experience. Sure, we’d be scared when Jason popped up with a knife in Friday the 13th, but we’re even more scared with the carefully selected music to guide us.

Each element of what happens on the various scoreboards around the stadium, and the sounds that come through the PA system, are all carefully orchestrated to help us out. This was once the domain of the stadium organist, but as technology advanced, those organists were supplanted by more high tech fare. Oh, there are a few organists still out there (I have fond memories of Paul Richardson playing at Veterans Stadium in Philly), but those that are left have a much smaller role.

As business owners and marketers, we need to do the same for our customers. Through social media, as well as other online and offline methods, we can prompt them and give them the tools to stand up and cheer for our business at just the right moments. Oh, they might cheer you on unprompted. A few might like and comment and share your content. They might write a good review about you online. But most won’t. It’s just not in our nature.

But help them out, prompt them, and you might get a better reaction. Ask them to write reviews. Share great content that they want to share. Encourage them to get involved and engage with you.

And don’t forget your brand ambassadors. Get them involved and more of your other customers will fall in line.

Who are your brand ambassadors?

They’re the ones who stand up first and try to get everyone else cheering. They’re the ones who get the wave going around the stadium. They’re the ones who dress up in costumes and face paint, or are waving flags and banners. They’re the ones who keep the energy going throughout the game, even when the team is losing.

Find your brand ambassadors and tap into their enthusiasm. Prompt them. Find ways to get them going, and you won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and don’t confuse your brand ambassadors with the guy who has merely had too much to drink…

How are you using online and offline methods to get your fans into the game?


You knew I'd like this post, Ken. Of course, my favorite line was "Oh, and don’t confuse your brand ambassadors with the guy who has merely had too much to drink…"

But also like the analogy of the brand ambassador being the guy that gets up - with perfect timing - and starts applauding the team or brand. Everybody naturally follows that person's "sincere and passionate" lead.


I've not done a good job of cheering on my brand ambassadors. This was a good reminder.

My dad and I went to a triple-A game last month. It went 18 innings, which was the longest in Iowa Cubs franchise history. The game was filled with some amazing defensive plays that kept both teams from finishing. It was a baseball lovers dream.

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KenMueller moderator

@dbvickery I knew you would like it. Thankfully we didn't sit near any of those guys with too much beer. The Pirates really do a great job between innings and during innings. Great park with a great feel. Glad we went.

KenMueller moderator

@ExtremelyAvg I just love baseball. period. I'm a Phillies fan, but married into a family of Pirates fans, so our kids like both teams. Obviously it's a lot easier to like the Pirates this year. But no matter what, I just love a good game.

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