Trail Blazers SVP: The Multifaceted Role of Today’s Sports Marketers

Sports fans are some of the most loyal brand advocates. Whether they’re wearing their favorite jersey or sharing game highlights on social media, there are a number of ways fans can show their devotion from both the sidelines and online. 

But Vincent Ircandia, SVP of business operations for the basketball team the Portland Trail Blazers, considers tomorrow’s fan a little scary. It’s not their intense face paint or passionate rally cries that frighten him; it’s their expectations for customized, seamless, and timely experiences—and being able to deliver them.

“At the Trail Blazers, we’re seeing this at an accelerated rate,” he said during the opening keynote at Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit in Las Vegas. 

In many ways, the Blazers are already serving these contextual and relevant experiences. According to Ircandia, the team has an average email open rate of 60%, and the amount of time fans spend on its site is about 10 minutes. Plus, fans spend about two hours in front of their television sets when a game is on.

But running sporting events isn’t the only business that the Blazers are in. Ircandia points out that the team is also in the ticket sales business, the retail business, the food and beverage business, and the ad platform business.

To ensure that they’re serving fans and partners across the entire ecosystem, the Blazers’ marketers need to adopt new skills. Here are three areas of expertise Ircandia says the marketers of tomorrow need to adopt today.

1. Marketers need to be experts in technology.

Technology is becoming increasingly ingrained in marketing. According to the Gartner 2015- 2016 CMO Spend Survey, marketers spent one third of their expense budget on technology last year. 

Ircandia says that the Blazers are investing in their fair share of technology, too—like machine learning and beacons; however, he admits that identifying the right technology for one’s business can be difficult, especially when there are thousands of vendors to choose from. Still, he says that it’s important for marketers to find solutions that “play nice” and can be integrated with other tools and to use analytics to see if their technological investments are actually delivering ROI.

2. Marketers need to be customer experience experts.

Today’s marketers have access to an unfathomable amount of data. However, simply collecting this data isn’t enough. Ircandia says marketers need to decipher the “digital bread crumbs” customers leave behind and use this data to map out their journeys.

3. Marketers need to be team players.

Marketing responsibilities aren’t limited to the marketing department. Indeed, Ircandia says marketers need to extend beyond their comfort zones and collaborate with other departments that may have been difficult to work with in the past to succeed.

Correction: The name of the conference is Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit, not Marketo Nation Summit as previously listed.

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