Fans' View

Marketing mix, revisited

Photo: 215pix

What a long strange trip this has been.

The Union opened the season in “That’s So Union!” fashion, adding an international star late in the offseason and coming out of the tunnel to lackluster results, both on the field and in the stands.  Then “The Kid” leveled things away vs. Guzan & Co., Monty and Kai started to strut their stuff and a consonant-rich striker emerged.

In the stands? Let’s just say that Talen could have used an infusion of fandom.

Inspired by an Inquirer story about adding Marco Fabian to attract a Latino fanbase, I started writing a series on the Union’s marketing challenge to answer a central question: “What is the Union doing to put butts in the seats?”

The Interview

As soon as I started writing that series, the Union’s marketing arm reached out to me and offered to fill me in on their plans and activities.  That alone was a pretty savvy move – exactly what I would have done back in my corporate PR days. Senior marketing vice president Doug Vosik and team publicist Amanda Young Curtis proceeded to bury me under a blizzard of marketing metrics, factoids, achievements and plans. 

That convinced me that the current iteration of the Union’s marketing management knows their stuff, and that strategies that looked like missteps to many – like the Tattoo Officer and eSports engagement – had a basis in sound market segmentation, long term fan development and the marketing wing’s new mantra of “Try Stuff.”

I stopped writing that series after looking at the first two elements in the marketing mix — PRODUCT and PRICE – because much of what Vosik was sharing was based on yet-to-be-executed plans.  I had to tell him what an old City Editor once told me: “Plans ain’t News.”

Some realities

Since then, some elements of those plans have become reality.  Chester schools now have a soccer program. The game day experience is improving. Billboards have been shifting from the burbs to the city. 

Most unusual from a traditional PROMOTIONS viewpoint, the Union have paid for ads that looked like editorial content in the Inquirer’s Sports section.  Those ads hit about a month ago, just as the U were getting real on-field credibility. Impressive. If Inky won’t give you equal Sports coverage, pay for it.  Union marketing is definitely “Trying Stuff.”

What about PLACE?  Much has been written criticizing Chester as a suboptimal location. Better mass transit access would help and should be a priority pursuit. But the recent run of on-field success shows that when everything else aligns – weather, day of the week, competing events, etc. – Chester is not an insurmountable obstacle to putting those butts in the seats.

Work to be done

Comprehensive marketing mix strategies also include PROCESS and PEOPLE. While there have been some advances in handling the long lines at concessions, there is still work to be done in improving process and training there.  Personal experience indicates that the U could benefit from a “Save A Sale” process to better retain Season Ticket Holders. And the great “Fireworks Night” thunderstorm fiasco proved that emergency communications, facilitation and logistics could be much improved.

PEOPLE? Many of the Chesterites hired as support staff have proven to be friendly, courteous, hard working and downright nice. The U need to find a way to get locals onto actual career paths in the organization if hearts and minds are to be won over.  Otherwise, it’s an improved management team, Ernst, JC and The Boys In Blue. ‘Nuff said.

The takeaway from all this from a Marketing Mix point of View? Competence, proficiency and decent execution in most areas, with work yet to be done. Union followers have yet to become “Foul Weather Fans” a la Eagles devotees. It’s a work in progress and there has been progress.  

Now let’s put those butts in the seats.


  1. In regards to place – Brauhaus Schmitz has started dong their buses again. I’m not sure if the Union have anything to do with that (or if they are even popular) but I’ve seen Brauhaus advertising it on social media.

    • last i checked, $35 round trip, up from $20 not too long ago. depending on your alcohol consumption, not bad, but i’d prefer a non-drinking, more affordable option that isn’t run by the Union.

  2. SAkewicz knew how to get a stadium built.
    Seems as though that was the primary area of his expertise, and that the new team is beginning to make some progress.
    Thank you, Matt, for a most useful application of your professional expertise.

  3. Biggest “marketing” disappointment [probably more a “game-day-experience”] has been SOB. Not slamming them, but looking around TES the occupancy rate, up to mid-season, looks no better in the River End than any other section of the stadium. Show up, guys.
    How about handing out a photocopied sheet to at least the corner sections, saying, “Hey, at the count of three, we’re gonna sing this, or that.” Or, you know, when it sounds like this, here are the words. Would help the whole stadium.
    Leave your designated parking and set up some satellite tailgates in other lots. Lead a parade from Lot A or the power station — or both! — to the plaza.
    Lotsa ideas. I’m sure they have their own, too.
    And you’re right. The locals in the lots, behind the counters, & on the field are pretty good.

    • Vince Devine says:

      Why not join the group and get involved?

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I agree about joining and trying to make change. I don’t criticize Ben because I don’t have the time in my life right now to be as involved as I’d like to be. I will agree with one point: Handouts or little cards or something on each chair would be a good thing. I remember this happened many years ago, but doesn’t happen anymore. People might bitch this would make it seemed forced or whatever, but to me, it’s educating people and trying to get them interested. The chants aren’t rocket science. I bet a season with info given to the masses, would produce excellent results.

  4. Joseph Barnett says:

    The Disneyification of Talen stadium and the surrounding Chester neighborhood……………..

    The curse of Ed Rendells deal with the devil lives on…lets face it the neighborhood surrounding the stadium is ugly dangerous and dirty…Chester is an ugly dangerous awful city …. now that we are stuck with this stadium there is little the union can do to attract middle and well to do families to the stadium. that being said here is my Disney Marketing plan… how about lowering all parking fees to $10.00 increase police and security visibility on further out on the perimeter of the street to and from the game. how about all paved parking lots. how about more street lights. clean up the street. repair sidewalks. permanent clear union direction signs and billboard leading to the stadium fro 95 the commodore Barry bridge and all common routes to the stadium.permanent union artwork to cover up broken fences and ugly concrete pillars on the walking route to and from games. make it safe less expensive and easier to get to and from the game.

  5. Archie Manning says:

    How about cutting down the crepe myrtle bushes that block the sidewalk on the major walking route from off-site parking to Talen Stadium. Those things are ridiculous. And then have security at that intersection before mathes too. This year seems that Chester Police are there on foot only after the match.

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