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*A Book Review*

Marketing Outrageously

By Jon Spoelstra

by Michael C. Gray

June 3, 2002


Jon Spoelstra has written a wonderful update from his previous book, Ice To The Eskimos, in Marketing Outrageously.

Spoelstra is president of the Professional Sports Division of Mandalay Entertainment, one of Hollywood’s leading independent production companies. He was the general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers for eleven years and president of the New Jersey Nets basketball teams. Spoelstra has also been a marketing consultant to many sports teams.

With many examples of dramatically improving the financial performance of sports teams, Marketing Outrageously is very interesting reading.

Jon Spoelstra’s premise is that you can’t get exceptional sales results with mediocre marketing. It takes exceptional and imaginative marketing effort – marketing outrageously!

According to Spoelstra, the effort begins with asking "unallowed" questions. "What is it going to take to dominate our industry?" "What is it going to take to win a championship this year?" It also means avoiding naysaying some of the answers. When you develop an approach that makes your fellow workers uncomfortable but excited, you are probably moving in the right direction.

A major obstacle in many organizations is, "We don’t have the budget to be the best." This is a limited financial focus. If $1 spent on marketing generates $3 of profit, how much should you spend? (All you can get your hands on!)

Spoelstra often found problems in the ticket sales departments of sports teams. There were only enough people to be order takers and the salespersons weren’t trained. By increasing the head count in the sales department and giving the salespeople the training they needed to proactively go out and solicit business, sales were dramatically increased.

An example of an innovation that Spoelstra developed was in radio broadcasting of basketball games for the Portland Trail Blazers. Historically, sports teams would sell the right to broadcast games to a radio station. The radio station was responsible for advertising sales and expenses. The team just played games and cashed checks for the rights fees. Spoelstra brought the radio broadcasts "in house". The team purchased air time for the broadcasts and became responsible for selling advertising and paying the air time expense. A joint advertising promotion was developed with a major advertiser – the Burgerville hamburger franchise – to sell "Blazer Meals" together with a free section of a nine-piece Blazers poster. As a result, the Blazers increased their earnings from radio broadcasting from $50,000 to $900,000, more than all the other NBA teams combined!

Another example is using a rubber chicken as an attention-getting device in a direct mail campaign to increase renewals of season tickets for the Sacramento Kings. The Kings were facing 40% non-renewals, or the loss of about 4,000 season ticket holders. With the campaign, they received 1,000 additional renewals, worth about $2.5 million in revenue, and a lot of free publicity.

For entertaining reading and practical ideas you can use to dramatically improve your business results, I highly recommend Marketing Outrageously.

Buy it on Amazon: Marketing Outrageously Redux: How to Increase Your Revenue by Staggering Amounts.

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Marketing Outrageously, by Jon Spoelstra, explains how to increase sales for your business.


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Michael Gray, CPA
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