Adam Zimmerman, Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Atlanta Braves, offered insights into sports marketing during his keynote presentation to Argyle’s CMO membership at the 2017 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum in Atlanta on December 13. In his presentation, “A Whole New Ballgame: Marketing a Pro Sports Team in 2018 and Beyond,” Zimmerman shared some of his marketing experiences and provided tips to help marketing professionals develop effective campaigns to generate business revenues.
According to Zimmerman, sports marketing generally revolves around four areas:
Merchandise plays an important role in the Braves’ marketing efforts. By providing fans with high-quality merchandise, the Braves can promote their brand. Plus, the Braves sell a wide range of merchandise to fans and are dedicated to discovering new opportunities to bolster the organization’s merchandise portfolio.
“We are fortunate that you wear our brand every day,” Zimmerman stated. “And we are constantly thinking about new merchandise lines so that we can grow that bucket.”
As a professional baseball team, the Braves sell a vast array of tickets to fans. These tickets are sold in many price ranges, enabling fans of all ages to enjoy live baseball.
“Return on investment [with sponsorships] is something we think about on a daily basis.”
The Braves also provide many ticket promotions throughout the baseball season. With support from the Braves’ marketing team, the baseball team is able to offer unique promotions designed to help stir up interest from hardcore and casual baseball fans alike.
The Braves use corporate sponsorships to maximize the organization’s earnings potential. These sponsorships enable the Braves to partner with like-minded organizations and typically prove to be mutually beneficial for all parties involved.
“Return on investment [with sponsorships] is something we think about on a daily basis,” Zimmerman noted.
The traditional method of broadcasting Braves games appears likely to change in the foreseeable future. As new streaming technologies become available, how fans experience Braves games may change as well. Meanwhile, these new technologies may require the Braves to reconsider their approach to selling their broadcast rights and marketing their baseball games to fans.
“The traditional model of broadcasting that has been in place is being disintermediated,” Zimmerman pointed out. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the next wave of (broadcast) rights deals.”
No two days are ever identical for the Braves marketing team. However, the team maintains flexibility and agility as it searches for innovative ways to accomplish its desired results.
“Every day is a new challenge, and there’s always something new to learn,” Zimmerman said. “The volume and velocity of marketing topics that we have today is stunning.”
Recently, the Braves have created the Battery Atlanta as part of their ongoing efforts to extend the baseball team’s reach.
The Battery Atlanta is a lifestyle destination that includes luxury restaurants, stores and much more. It continues to grow and evolve and helps the Braves generate interest in the baseball team before, during and after the baseball season.
“The volume and velocity of marketing topics that we have today is stunning.”
In addition, the Battery Atlanta empowers the Braves to embrace new opportunities to build trust with the Atlanta community. It provides a valuable asset to the Braves, and as such, could help the organization further increase its earnings.
“The idea of a professional sports team owning and operating commercial real estate is new. Having that as an asset class is something that people are coming to study,” Zimmerman said. “This opens up a plethora of opportunities because it opens up new verticals for us.”
Going forward, the Braves are committed to innovation and expansion. The organization constantly searches for new ways to promote its brand and will consider any project that could deliver immediate and long-lasting growth opportunities.
“As marketers, we want to remind you of the core product, but we also have a vested interest in how we can make any project successful,” Zimmerman stated.
The Braves also take a data-driven approach to marketing. This organization collects and analyzes consumer data, learns from its target audience and uses this data to make informed decisions.
“We’re continuing to test and learn and see what we can get from a marketing perspective,” Zimmerman noted. “We’re evaluating all of the data that comes through.”
Moreover, the Braves may consider technology partnerships in the years to come. These partnerships may help the Braves discover unique ways to connect with consumers. Perhaps most important, technology partnerships could help the Braves differentiate itself from the competition like never before.
“Increasingly, there is the interface with technology and technologists,” Zimmerman indicated. “We are inundated with early-stage technology companies that want to do business with us … because sports have always been something that is forward-leaning on new technologies.”
Adam Zimmerman is in his first season with the Atlanta Braves and was named Senior Vice President of Marketing in January, 2016.
His responsibilities include the management and strategy for all marketing and branding of the Braves, including leading consumer and digital marketing, community affairs and game entertainment for the team. Zimmerman also oversees the development of technology offerings for fans as well as the use of data analytics. Additionally, Zimmerman helps with the marketing strategy for The Battery Atlanta, the Braves new mixed-use development project adjacent to SunTrust Park.
Prior to the Braves, Zimmerman spent 18 years with CSE (formerly Career Sports and Entertainment), most recently as agency president, successfully generating new business, managing their existing portfolio an leading the award winning agency with cutting edge programs and fan engagement through technology. While at CSE, Zimmerman also crafted a partnership with MIT, and created CSE Evolve, an in-house lab to keep up on the latest technologies. Zimmerman has also taught a graduate class on sports business at the University of Georgia.
A native of Dunedin, Florida, Zimmerman is a graduate of the University of Florida and resides in Vinings, Georgia.