Indy AMA
Indianapolis Chapter of the American Marketing Association


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Knocking It Out of Park and Creating a Home-Run Brand

Written by Guest Blogger Roland Bydlon, Senior Strategist & Founder, EYP Advisors
I recently heard Chris Herndon, the former director of marketing of the Indianapolis Indians; speak to an energized group of marketing enthusiasts about the tools of his trade, Chris was the guest speaker at a March luncheon sponsored by the Indianapolis chapter of the American Marketing Association. These luncheons are held once a month at the Ritz Charles.  For more information.
How the Indianapolis Indians created a home run brand.
Chris is a 16 year sports marketing veteran, starting as an intern leading cheers and bat spinning games, and growing into a leader that helped guide the Indians into a new stadium and becoming a destination for a new generation of fans.
Just to put a few things into perspective the Indians had over 580,000 fans coming into Victory Field during 2011.  They are currently ranked in the top 10 of over 160 teams in minor league baseball.  Chris and his group used a multitude of tools to get out his message and are heavily involved in digital media.  For example, according to Chris, the Indians sent out over 1.2 Million emails last year.
Chris said the strategy is simple.  (Isn’t it always when you look backwards on what was done for a successful campaign?  I wish it was that simple when the group is planning it).   “We positioned the Indians as an affordable, memorable, baseball experience.”  The tagline is “Baseball up close.”  You are close to the field.  The stadium is close to a dynamic downtown.  This leads to great experiences and building close relationships with family and friends.  Chris mentioned this guided everything his team did.  People viewed promotion as part of the total experience.  For example, get as many people on the video board as possible.  Each person will tell 8-10 friends.
Chris summarized his discussion by presenting his lessons learned, in his case the “starting lineup” of which there were 9 items.
1. Everyone has an opinion
2. Ask and listen
3. Prioritize your tasks
4. Our team can do anything just not everything
5. ROI, measure as much as you can.
6. What did you hit?  What did you miss?  Why??
7. Marketing is more art than science
8.You need an understanding of your consumer?
10. There are many variables – you can’t measure everything
11. Manage growth / sophistication
12. There will be growing pains & learning curves.  Accept that up front.
13. Lead a creative staff differently than task driven individuals
14. Let staff have room to share ideas, make mistakes, learn
15. Use technology wisely
16. Social media is changing every day
17. Ask will you audience communicate with you in that way
18. Don’t just implement a new technology – ask is it right for your business
19. Targeted messaging
20. What will you audience connect with
21. Select messaging for select audience.  For Indians messages to 25-54 year old “Moms” is very different than “Sports Fans” which are primarily 18-49 year old men.
22. Select the right partners
23. Ask can you grow with them?
24. Are they hungry for your business?
25. Amazing things happen as you grow together.
26. Great advice that is transferable to many B2C and B2B situations.
Chris recently left the Indians to start the next chapter of his very interesting career.