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Case Study: How a Single Voice Recording Scored Immediate Ticket Sales for Boston College

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Company: Boston College Athletics
Contact: Jamie DiLoreto, Boston College's Associate Athletics Director for External Operations
Location: Boston, MA
Industry: College Sports
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: Confidential

Quick Read

Score one for Boston College (BC), which had just two weeks to generate ticket sales and inspire alumni and fans to make a last-minute trip to Florida after the school's football team secured its first Atlantic Coast Conference title game, in 2007.

Working against time, BC's athletic department scurried to put together an enticing voice-marketing campaign that, at a cost of just $10,000, would yield 5,000 ticket sales and $200,000 in profit by game day.

BC was so happy with the results, in fact, that it has continued to replicate the campaign, with consistently similar results.


Challenge

Boston College, home of the BC Eagles, came out strong in the 2007 football season, starting with a win over Wake Forest, then North Carolina State and Georgia Tech, eventually going on to its first ever Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) title game, set to take place on December 4, 2007 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Having clinched the Atlantic Division late in the season—only two weeks before the ACC Championship game—BC had just two weeks to sell as many tickets as possible and ensure solid support in the stands some 1,160 miles away.

"We needed to drum up support from alumni and get fans to travel down," remembered Associate Athletics Director for External Operations Jamie DiLoreto, "and we needed a way to reach those folks quickly and cost-effectively."

Campaign

Boston College turned to voice marketing using Vontoo's automated voice-messaging solutions. It targeted more than 115,000 season ticket holders and alumni with a single message that...

  • First built excitement: The message highlighted that this was the team's first time in the ACC Championships and what that meant for BC. Only then did it supply ticket information details and serve up a call-to-action to support the team.
  • Used star power: The message was personally recorded by celebrated quarterback Matt Ryan, who by that time had garnered quite a local following after helping lead the team to 10 season victories and earning several ACC "Player of the Week" awards. (By season's end, he would go on to win several more titles, including ACC "Player of the Year," AFCA All-America Honors, and was also winner of the 2007 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, Scanlan, Gridiron Club, and Manning awards.)
  • Offered an alternative support plan: Alumni and fans who were unable to make the trip were asked to still show support and help fill the stands by donating their tickets to Jacksonville-area charities and foster homes.

Results

The response was immediate, with ticket sales flying through the roof on the day of and the day following the message's release. In all, close to 5,000 tickets were sold, with more than 400 purchased and given to charity.

Although Virginia Tech defeated the Eagles 30-16 in the Championship, Boston College was able to ensure it was well represented in Florida and managed to profit $200,000 from a campaign that cost $10,000 to launch.

Moreover, in February 2009 Ticketmaster named BC "Innovator of the Year" for its use of voice marketing to drive ticket sales.

Lessons Learned

Voice marketing can have several advantages over other channels. For Boston College, those included the following:

  • A targeted strategy for connecting directly with alumni and fans, who were more likely to make the trip to Florida in support of the team. Plus, Vontoo charged only for those messages delivered, so no extra expense was incurred for inaccurate or outdated contact information.
  • Immediacy, by reaching out to those people directly by phone and capturing their attention right then and there. Vontoo's tracking system also allowed BC to see exactly how many people received, and how long they listened to, its message in real time.
  • An amiable approach—which television, radio, print, billboard, email, or direct mail could not likely deliver, even though the call was a recording, albeit from the fans' favorite quarterback.

Use of that star power was key, and BC has since repeated the campaign (with linebacker Mark Herzlich delivering the ACC Championship game message in 2008) with similar results.

But moderation is also essential to ongoing success, since the novelty factor can easily wear down, DiLoreto noted. For that reason, Boston College is careful to use this approach, and voice marketing in general, only in select instances, even though it has proven to be one of the organization's most effective means for reaching out to alumni and fans.

"We balance it and use it on a timely basis, not over and over again, so that when we do, the fans who receive it are excited about it," he said, "which helps to better deliver our message."

Got marketing game? We want to hear about it—email CaseStudies@MarketingProfs.com.

Related Links

Looking for some other voice-marketing inspiration? Check out How an Automotive Dealership Used Voice Marketing to Supplement Sales, Boost Customer Retention. Premium Plus Members may also enjoy viewing Dialing Isn't Dead: How B2B Marketers Can Pick Up the Phone and Pick Up Business in the MarketingProfs Seminar Library to examine voice marketing from the B2B perspective.

We hope these resources help you evaluate whether adding a phone program to your marketing mix would be effective for your business.


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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via kims@marketingprofs.com.

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