June 14, 2012
There was a time when Florida State sat by the phone and waited for it to ring. Those
days are gone, as the Seminoles have taken to the phones calling more than 1,000 FSU
fans a day, initiating relationships, and selling tickets and/or Booster memberships.
The results have been impressive. So impressive, in fact, that FSU can see the day Doak
Campbell Stadium will be sold out once again.
Much had to be changed when season ticket sales hit bottom, falling from 47,000 to
33,000 by 2009, with the products and experiences FSU offers its fans to the way it
interacts with them.
Surveys lead FSU to understand it needed to offer a broad array of ticket products and
experiences to meet time and money constraints – thus the introduction of 3-game
packs, young alumni sections, and value priced sections – and it needed to change the
way it interacted with its customer. While online purchasing may be preferred by some
customers, personal verbal interaction remains the most effective means.
FSU’s innovative new approach – which focuses on creating those personal verbal
relationships with prospective customers and refocuses on service and retention of
existing customers — was instrumental in lifting ticket sales to nearly 40,000 in its
first year. That effort was sixth-best in the nation and gave Seminole Boosters and
the Athletics Department the confidence to expand the department further which has
attracted the attention of collegiate athletics departments across the nation and creates a
sense of urgency for Seminole fans.
“Seminole Boosters and the Athletics Department agreed to allocate a first year
budget of $200,000 to create an outbound sales center that would include a director
of ticket sales and three account representatives,” said Jerry Kutz, Vice President of
Marketing for Seminole Boosters. “We hired Michael Espada, a 2004 FSU graduate,
who worked in professional sports ticket sales and three rookie salesmen. Their success
was so immediate that we quickly increased the budget and added three more account
representatives. By the end of the first year, they had sold $2 million worth of tickets and
Booster memberships at a cost of sales of 15 percent. We were very pleased to see that
almost 90 percent of these new customers renewed which indicates that we’ve created a
meaningful relationship with new customers as well as an annuity of recurring cash with
that initial investment.”
As a result, FSU expanded the sales department with an assistant manager and six more
well-trained account representatives eager to create memorable Seminole experiences for
“We provide our fan base with a personal connection to FSU Athletics and the Boosters,”
Espada said. “By having their own personal account representative our fans can verbalize
their interests and opinions and get the best personal service for their ticket and Booster
needs. We’ve gone from an era where our fans were asked to order by email and hope
everything was taken care of to an era where you are able to voice your interests and
opinions to your personal account representative and know what action is being taken.
By building these relationships, fans feel more comfortable increasing their participation,
membership levels, and referring their friends who they’d like to sit or tailgate with.”
The majority of the revenue generated is created by calling on single game ticket buyers,
former season ticket holders, Boosters who don’t have tickets, ticket holders who aren’t
Booster members yet, and fans who attend events. But the very best resource for new
ticket purchases and Booster contributions comes from customer referrals.
“Every Seminole Booster member and season ticket holder knows other Seminole
fans who are not yet supporting the program,” Espada said. “We ask our existing
ticket holders and Boosters to refer friends and family who they would like to see
come to games or support the program,” Espada said. “We all want to win National
Championships and we all know that to do that we need to grow our fan base and
support. Our representatives are seeking warm referrals from our existing customers
which really makes our calling more effective. Rather than communicating by mail, we
are able to have personal verbal communication which also increases their awareness of
how their ticket and Booster dollar is used.”
The personal communication may lead the representative to recommend a 3-game
package or lead to a group ticket buy for the customer’s business or civic use. In some
cases where the fan cannot attend games but wants to be engaged, it leads to a new
“People will tell you what their interests are and later, when opportunities arise that meet
those interests, its really easy to pick up the phone and fulfill them,” Espada said. “But it
starts with the initial personal phone call.”
Fans like the choices FSU is offering and tickets are selling fast in each of these limited
sections. If you want the best ticket option for you or a friend, make the call today while
Call 888-FSU-Nole to speak to a ticket representative today.