Sandbox Branches Out From Online Playground

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Fantasy sports site released "Fantasy Sports for Dummies" this week in a bid to generate a new revenue stream and build its first offline presence with members.

"Like any company, we were looking for ways to increase revenue," said Mike Sweeney, director of marketing at Sandbox. "And when we thought about the ways we could reach out to our members, publishing seemed to be the easiest way. We have over 7 million very loyal members who play our games with a passion, and we wanted to also find a way to interact with them offline."

The $19.95 book is the result of a custom publishing agreement between Sandbox, Reston, VA, and Hungry Minds, New York, publisher of the best-selling "For Dummies" books. Only registered members can buy the book.

"If sales of the book are brisk and we see that our members really enjoy and praise it, then we will look into marketing opportunities outside the Web site," he said. "The book speaks about fantasy leagues in general but also talks specifically about fantasy leagues at Sandbox."

An e-mail campaign begins next week and will continue throughout the year. Sandbox will send the e-mails with targeted messages based on members' success in the site's fantasy leagues and their level of activity.

"Because of our technology, we can tell how members are doing on our site," Sweeney said. "We will address people differently, but the theme of the e-mail is going to be whether or not you or a veteran or rookie of Sandbox and whether you always win or lose, you are going to need this book."

Next week's e-mails will go to 3,000 members of the Sandbox Hall of Fame and Sandbox All Stars. These people are mentioned in the book, which is another reason Sandbox wants to give them the first chance to buy it.

The message will contain an image of the book, a listing of its highlights and two links -- one to an order page and another to an information page where members can get more details.

Sandbox handled the development and design of the e-mail inhouse. It spent $250,000 on the marketing campaign, which also will include banner ads on sites with which it has affiliate marketing partnerships. Sandbox will offer the book as a special gift on the registration page for new members.

Sandbox also provides the fantasy sports leagues for CNNSI and will target members of those leagues as well -- an additional 1.5 million people, Sweeney said.


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