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Published on August 30th, 2012 | by DerbyLife

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Derbylife Writing Contest: “The Business of Roller Derby” by Spork Chop

We’ve heard it all before… “what’s your day job?” or “what do you do in real life?”

As much as we’d love to say that being a roller girl is our full-time job, that’s simply not the case. Butchers, bakers, candle stick makers – we all have something that we do to pay the bills. Me – I work in advertising. I know what you’re thinking, but what I do is nothing like Don Draper. To be more specific, I work in strategic media planning and buying. Basically, I help advertisers decide where, and when, and to whom they should be showing their ads

Coming into Roller Derby, I always knew that my professional experiences could be beneficial to my league. But until now, I never realized just how valuable that knowledge could be.

“By the skaters, for the skaters” – a mantra that has been ingrained in us from the start. Self-governance. Freedom. Hard freaking work. It means we run the show, on and off the track. We are not just skaters (or refs or NSOs). We are skaters slash marketers or publicists or graphic designers or book keepers or merchandisers or manual laborers or all of the above. We sell tickets, book venues, write ad copy, design logos – doing whatever it takes to keep our skates rolling. And we do in all in the name of Roller Derby.

No matter how you slice it, roller derby may not be our “day jobs” but it is a job – and a full-time one at that. And my goal with this series to help make that job a little easier. Each week I resolve to share information and advice from my “real world” experiences that speak to the business of derby. Sure – it might not be as exciting as hard-hitting tales from the track. But if my tips and tricks can help at least one team sell an extra piece of merch or get one more butt in a seat, then I’ve succeeded.

Without further ado:

Funneling in Some Fans: Bout Marketing 101
One of the first things you learn in any media 101 course is the purchase funnel. In its simplest of meanings, these are the steps a consumer takes that eventually drives them to buy something.

This path will obviously differ greatly based on what you are selling. The things one does prior to make a major purchase, say a new pair of skates, is much different than an impulse purchase, like buying new laces or booty shorts. But regardless of the product, knowing and understanding these steps is key to driving greater sales of your product.

Credit: Steve Simple

Now, let’s be honest here. Making money is not the reason we play roller derby. BUT, driving fans to purchase tickets and come to our bouts is of the utmost importance. Not only do the funds from ticket sales (and subsequent sales of raffle tickets, merchandise, food, beer, etc.) help keep our leagues running, but a bout would be pretty lackluster if played before an empty crowd.

Awareness. Opinion. Consideration. Preference. Purchase – Keeping these 5-steps in mind when marketing a bout can and will help your league prosper. Let’s break it down:

Awareness: How aware are people of your league (or of Roller Derby in general)? And how can you raise that awareness in your area and beyond?
Though Starters: Flyering. Localized Advertising. Social Media Marketing. Word of Mouth.

Opinion: What do people think about your league? And how can you guide those perceptions?
Thought Starters: Making Appearances. Performing Demos. Local outreach/charity work. Business Sponsorships.

Consideration: What makes people consider coming to your bout?
Thought Starters: Location. Ticket Price. Bout offerings (Live music? Beer? Raffles? Half-time show)

Preference: What is your competitive set? (e.g. what else might people be doing that will keep them from coming to your bout?)
Thought Starters: Bout Date/Time/Location. Opportunities to partner with other local attractions.

Purchase: How do you get people to purchase tickets to your bout?
Thought Starters: Ease of payment (online? At the door? credit card acceptance?) Availability of tickets? Will Call? VIP?

Continuing the purchase funnel: Loyalty
Hopefully your marketing efforts will garner you a bustling crowd on bout day. But don’t forget about continuing your efforts to keep people coming back again and again.
Thought Starters: Encouraging ticket holders to like/follow your league’s social media pages. Asking bout goers to sign-up for the league newsletter. Encouraging upgrades to VIP tickets. Conduct spectator feedback surveys.

Spork Chop is a 1st year skater with the Long Island Roller Rebels, playing Pivot, Blocker, and occasional (begrudged) Jammer. She is the Co-Captain of the Rock-A-Betty Bruisers team and head of the LIRR Advertising committee. In the “real world” she is an advertising executive and internet aficionado. and of course, a devoted lover of sporks

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