Online Marketing Strategy
In the fall of 1998, I was one of five Fordham University Graduate School of Business students who participated in a semester long field study project for the New York Yankees (I’m a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. It was an easy decision to do this project on the merits of the experience, yet I was conflicted due to my baseball loyalties.)
The initial scope of the project was to conduct a marketing research survey of New York Yankee fans to help the team further understand the Yankee fan base. For a variety of reasons, the Yankees decided not to pursue that topic and instead focused the project on their website and interactive marketing programs (Coincidentally, this was around the same time as a big controversy related to the building of a new Yankee Stadium and the threat of the team leaving the Bronx, NY for New Jersey. The rumor we heard (that was never substantiated) was that news of our project made it up to “The Boss” himself and Mr. Steinbrenner killed the original marketing research topic. The group enthusiastically agreed to the revised project scope and spent the remainder of the semester developing a product marketing road-map and strategy for the Yankees’ web site.
With the advent of the Internet onto the media landscape, the Yankees (like many other organizations at that time) had taken the initiative to build a web site for the team. However, it became apparent that they did not know what to do with the site and how they would market and evolve that channel into a valuable asset for the organization and its fans. The cost to maintain the site and keep it fresh and relevant to the Yankee fan base was becoming a challenge to the organization. Further, there was a perception that the team’s own web site was not the best source for the most updated information and news about the team.
The Yankees made it clear to us that their knowledge of this space was limited. The student team decided that we should approaching this project with a logical and deliberate approach to our methodology as outlined below:
- Analysis of Web/Interactive industry, market environment and trends for future
- Competitive analysis of major sports leagues and general business industry best practices
- Short term recommendations and tactics
- Long term recommendations and tactics
From this outline, we developed a more detailed outline and determined the best approach would be to draft both a “white paper” style document as well as presentation version. We also felt that since the Yankees’ knowledge of this space was limited, we should provide them with as much relevant information as possible within the “white paper” document, so it could serve them as a reference document as well.
Summary and Commentary
The final deliverable was a report document and the PowerPoint presentation. Looking at these documents today, here are a couple of notes on them, as hindsight is 20/20:
- The NY Yankees were extremely happy with the end result (they even gave us an ovation at the end of the final presentation!), and they implemented many of our ideas and suggestions into a site redesign in the Fall of 1999.
- At the time of this project, each Major League Baseball team managed their web sites and services independently of each other. Since this project was completed, MLB Advanced Media has taken over general management of all web site services for each team, with the team only having to manage the content appearing on their site.
- The Yankees requested that the written document be one that they could use as reference in the future, so we decided to include as much information as reasonable in the document. Looking at it today, we probably should have isolated much of the research numbers and information at the back of the document in a detailed appendix.
- This project was completed in the Fall of 1998, at the height of the late 1990’s Internet boom.
If you are interested in reading any of the final documents related to this project, please send me an email and I will send a copy to you.