University of Southern Mississippi Case Study
The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is rich in football tradition and history. This is a program that holds the 4th longest streak of winning seasons with 18 and 67 in total. USM is the winner of 8 conference championships, 11 bowl wins and has produced a long list of NFL players, including legends Brett Favre and Hall of Famer Ray Guy. With all this success, USM was accustomed to playing in front of large crowds at the “The Rock”. However, after experiencing only one victory in the past two years, which included a losing streak of 23 games, their attendance began to dwindle. With an expectation to get back to historical heights, USM knew they needed to be more aggressive in their sales approach for the 2014 season.
The partnership between IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions and the University of Southern Mississippi began on April 21st, 2014. With Southern Miss’ first home football game on September 6th, the IMG Learfield staff had 4 ½ months to make an impact in selling new football season and group tickets. The sales force had to be knowledgeable, talented, motivated, connected, and most importantly representative of the USM brand. IMG Learfield was asked to assist in implementing sales strategies, new sales timelines/ideas, and increase fan outreach.
Working with USM, IMG Learfield placed a General Manager and two Account Executives on site to lead their sales efforts. Working in conjunction with senior administration and a variety of departments a few objectives were prioritized:
• Set season ticket prices and advance sales timelines.
• Evaluate existing ticket packages and develop opportunities to improve the benefits and value associated with these packages.
• Immediately bolster new football season ticket sales numbers through proactive outbound calling.
• Immediately increase group ticket sales for football through the development and implementation of new group benefit assets.
• Enhance the Southern Miss ticket outreach to fans – single game ticket buyers, former season ticket holders, mini-pack buyers – and provide a next-level approach to customer service that will keep fans coming back for years.
• Bring creative, outside-the-box sales strategies to the Southern Miss program and fans.
• Provide a level of customer service to existing season ticket buyers that keeps the retention rate high for years to come.
• Create a sales presence at a variety of local events throughout the Hattiesburg community and the state of Mississippi.
As a result of the partnership, Southern Miss experienced unprecedented success including selling 1,010 new football season tickets, more than doubling the previous season’s numbers. Through the partnership IMG Learfield has:
• Assisted with a 23% football season ticket renewal increase in the first month of renewing existing season ticket holders as a combined effort.
• Generated over $75,000 in donations to the Eagle Club Athletic Foundation.
• Eclipsed a 100% increase in football group tickets sold from the previous season.
• Implemented early sales timelines by having the ability to take Men’s Basketball new season ticket deposits in May, baseball season ticket deposits in August, and 2015 new football season ticket deposits in August.
• As a result of early sales timelines initiatives for 2015 football season tickets, the IMGL Southern Miss team was able to surpass their 2014 new season ticket sales of 1,010 seats before the month of May.
• Created a year round sales cycle providing the opportunity to increase revenues in all sports with additional on sale days. More aggressive pricing structure leads to a maximization of revenues.
Additionally, IMG Learfield has improved customer service, starting with every USM season ticket holder having a personal account executive. A strong integration within the athletic department has led to a collaboration of ideas between USM and IMG Learfield. IMG Learfield has enjoyed a great partnership with Southern Miss and is a key part of its external revenue strategy. As a result of this shared success, new football season ticket sales, group sales, sales strategies, timelines, and customer outreach has all increased and improved. In a short amount of time, IMG Learfield was able to make a difference in all these aspects since inception. With the great relationship between IMG Learfield and Southern Miss administration, it can be expected that future student athletes will experience the excitement of playing in front of large crowds at “The Rock”.
“We have enjoyed a strong partnership with IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions in this first year. When we took a look at our opportunities for revenue growth, we knew we needed to improve in the ticket sales area. Partnering with IMGL has allowed us to make significant strides in that area, with a vision to continue that growth moving forward.”
Deputy Director of Athletics