I’m sitting on an old, blue camp chair on a surprisingly cool June afternoon in Northern Utah.
The sky is perfectly blue with only a few dotted clouds, In the background you can hear the clink of metal bats as the loudspeaker announces the starting lineup.
It’s a perfect day for a lot of things, but it’s also a perfect day for baseball. At that’s exactly why I’m here, to watch the Smithfield Blue Sox play the Gate City Grays.
If you’ve never heard of either team, you’re not alone. Playing in the NUL (Northern Utah Leage), it’s probably no surprise that the bleachers in the picture above aren’t exactly packed.
But look past the empty stands and you’ll see people. Lots of them. All waiting in line.
This line never went away. It was there from the first inning to the last and ranged in size from what you see above (10-15 people, most are not visible behind the bleacher walls) to many, many more.
My wife, who has waited in this line quite a few times over the years, has said that wait-times have on many occasions been in the 45-60 minute range. Maybe longer.
Do the math, these folks are missing huge chunks of the game.
So why are people waiting instead of watching the Blue Sox take on the Grays? And what were they waiting for? This.
These corndogs are not just any corndogs, they’re Lion Pups (the name comes from the Lions Club that runs the concessions stand) and their battered, deep-fried, special-sauced deliciousness are THE reason a huge number of these people have taken their family out to the ballpark.
Yes, they’ll watch some baseball and get as excited as anyone when the catcher picks off that guy at 2nd, but that’s not what brought them here. And, no, it’s not what brought me here either.
Or, as my suggested t-shirt slogan goes:
Come for the pups, stay for the Sox.
It’s funny because, well, it’s true.
What’s that one thing?
This phenomenon is fascinating to me. You have on thing – small town baseball – that is only moderately popular. Based on the size and whims of your local “diehard baseball fan” population or number of friends or spouses or neighbors of the players themselves, it’s a tough thing to do much about as a manager or even a marketer.
But then there’s this other thing – a really tasty homemade corn dog with it’s own fun name – that is extremely popular and is used as the magnet to enhance the interest and attendance of the first.
The “main attraction” is not the reason people come, it’s the reason they stay.
Think about that for a sec.
And if that situation – a moderately popular thing – sounds familiar, it should. It’s a pretty solid description of many smaller ski areas (and some large ones too), especially in the summer.
Our magnet, our “main attraction”, is a mountain. And sometimes, the audience that cares about that product can be tough to grow.
But I want you to take a minute, draw some parallels, and think about what your resort’s “Lion Pup” could be. What’s something quirky or delicious or fun or novel that nobody else has. Something that you could name, something that isn’t a one-time “take a pic and post to Instagram” sort of thing but a reason for people to come back over and over again. What would that look like? What would you call it?
Maybe the Blue Sox are the only ones that will ever capitalize on this idea. But maybe not. Maybe, with a little creativity, you can expand your market with a little outside-the-diamond thinking of your own.
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