The Jacksonville Jaguars, located in the home city of MECLABS Institute, have not had a winning season in nearly a decade. By some measures, the team has actually gotten worse in recent years.
Yet, despite a miserable 1-7 home record for the 2013 NFL season, the Jaguars actually enjoyed a significant lift in local revenue in 2014 and increased average game day attendance by over 3,000 fans.
How did they accomplish this feat?
By viewing their product from the perspective of their prospects and answering one simple question: “If I am the ideal customer, why should I purchase from you rather than your competitor?”
Jacksonville is the NFL’s smallest true market, and by most metrics, it’s a borderline miracle that a metropolitan statistical area of only 1.35 million people has been able to sustain a franchise in the country’s most expensive sports league for 20 years and counting.
The per-capita ticket buying pressure on the city is astronomical — approximately one in 20 citizens must purchase a ticket to each game to keep the stadium full on Sundays — as is the sponsorship demands on local corporations.
For this reason, the Jaguars do not enjoy the same leverage to arbitrarily raise ticket prices as do teams in much larger cities where season-ticket waiting lists are the norm and NFL tickets are truly a scarce commodity, cities where demand will likely always outstrip supply.
We live in an age when professional sports (particularly in mid-sized markets) have never faced tougher competition for discretionary income and mindshare. Whereas once there was only a handful of entertainment and recreation options available to consumers, major sports now must compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, YouTube and a rapidly expanding universe of low-cost entertainment options hyper-specific to each customer’s personal tastes.
At the same time, live professional sports also have to compete with the home theater experience.
In the last 10 years years, economies of scale have made it possible for the average family to afford a high-fidelity home theater setup that provides a perfectly suitable alternative to being at the game in person, at a fraction of the cost. No parking hassles. No overpriced concessions. No traffic bottlenecks. And no $85 tickets, on average.
Without the leverage or on-field product to justify a price increase, the Jaguars made a multi-million dollar bet that they could positively impact local revenue at existing prices simply by putting customer-experience first and enhancing the value proposition of their existing game day experience.
Perhaps the best way to visualize this customer-centric approach is via the exchange fulcrum.
The exchange fulcrum:
Every purchasing decision that a prospect makes is driven by a competing set of forces — value and cost.
“What value am I receiving, and at what expense?” Every time a customer is confronted by a call-to-action, these two elements will wage war in his or her mind until the scale is ultimately tipped in favor of either conversion or rejection.
The exchange fulcrum — with value force and cost force on opposing sides — brings life to this analogy. Taken one step further, the fulcrum can be given predictive powers via the exchange heuristic:
VfAC – CfAC = Nf
Where Vf = Value Force
AC = Acceptance
Cf = Cost Force
Nf = Net Force