Profitable Target Marketing: 6 Lessons from Major League Baseball

Does your business struggle with profitable online marketing? If so, you are not alone. Attracting the right customers to a site and keeping them coming back -- while also turning a profit -- can be a challenge. Consequently, I'm always on the lookout for ways to demonstrate profitable online strategies.

Last night, as I watched the 2003 Baseball All Star Home Run Derby and visited Major League Baseball's Web site, it struck me. The league is doing many things to effectively find and attract targeted Web customers, while simultaneously generating revenue.

In fact, I noticed several lessons from Major League Baseball you can use to profitably target your own customers. Here are six of them:

Think Through Your Business Models

Free information and activities are present, but well thought out, revenue generating business models are also evident.

Lesson 1: Make your profit generators stand out.

MLB.com has a separate, prominent navigation menu for profit producing activities -- MLB Shop, Tickets, Auctions, Subscriptions -- which appears in the upper right on all pages, where potential paying customers cannot miss it.

Importantly, each corresponding area of the site is narrowly focused on the visitors' interests. For example, the shop sells baseball -- and only baseball -- items. This is readily apparent from the slogan "For all things baseball".

Lesson 2: Sell subscriptions.

The league generates revenue from a variety of event subscriptions -- live video broadcasts, live audio broadcasts, archived clips, and fantasy games. This also help open the door for repeat purchases and add-ons.

Lesson 3: Include advertisements.

Pop-ups and other online advertising are a fact of life on free-to-user sites. Major League Baseball demonstrates taste and intelligent implementation with their pop-under, limiting each visitor to a single impression. Banner advertisements and sponsorships are also apparent.

Develop Profit Pulling Marketing Techniques

Lesson 4: Segment your visitors.

The league uses a "hub and spoke" system, which allows visitors to choose their own interests. There is one general site (MLB.com), with links to several specialty sites. (stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com, etc.)

This portal approach helps segment visitors into specific interest groups. It is a win-win strategy. Visitors find what they are looking for and the league can more easily target its marketing activities.

Lesson 5: Target locally.

Each "spoke" off the MLB hub contains local content, which segments visitors regionally. The league targets products and services accordingly.

For example, the Cardinals team site includes detailed information for Cardinals baseball events, ticket purchasing for Busch stadium games, and auctions for St. Louis related baseball memorabilia.

Lesson 6: Offer tiered products.

MLB offers subscription services at many levels. By packaging fantasy games into progressively larger bundles, they encourage trial as well as repeat visits. The offerings also target customers according to interest level and budget.

There you have it -- six lessons in profitable target marketing from Major League Baseball.

About the Author

Bobette Kyle draws upon 12+ years of Marketing/Executive experience, Marketing MBA, and online marketing research in her writing. Bobette is proprietor of the Web Site Marketing Plan Network, http://www.WebSiteMarketingPlan.com, and author of the marketing plan and Web promotion book "How Much For Just the Spider? Strategic Website Marketing For Small Budget Business." ( HowMuchForSpider.com/TOC.htm )

Copyright 2003,2004 Bobette Kyle. All rights reserved.

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