Empty SeatsWho doesn’t love the month of December? Although most cities experience cold weather, there is an undeniable excitement around that time of year. Streets are lined with Christmas lights, stores stay open later and have huge sales, strangers are friendlier, volunteering and donations occur… overall, there is joy that even the biggest scrooge cannot ruin.

But what happens when January and February hit? The snow we once thought was beautiful and festive becomes annoying and ugly. Yes, there are the New Year’s resolutions and the excitement of a new start, but that can be overwhelming. We know deep down that most of our resolutions will not stick, we worry what the new year will bring, Christmas shopping bills are due, and holiday breaks are over, bringing us back to the reality of real life.

The same can be said for sports teams. There is such an excitement at the start of the season – fans are excited about their teams’ potential and eagerly look forward to watching or attending games to escape from their everyday lives. But what happens at the end of the season? Regardless of a team’s W/L record, there is always a disappointment – maybe the team did poorly, or missed the playoffs by a close game, or perhaps fans are just disappointed that there are no more games to follow.

What can be done to overcome the post-season blues? Tanya Krim, president of TKInsights LLC, mentions 5 suggestions that retailers should try that can easily be adapted to sports teams:

“Happy it up” visually: Host an online graffiti wall or launch a Twitter and Facebook campaign asking fans to share their hopes for the season using the hashtag #offseasonhopes or something similar.

Create attention-getting events: Create a “Pay it forward” or “New Year, New You” event. A popular New Year’s resolution is losing weight and getting fit. Teams can capitalize on that by organizing a biggest loser-type campaign, or even a get-fit competition against a few players during the off-season.

Offer unexpected surprises: Give fans surprises of all varieties and incorporate your sponsors. Every week, offer free sponsored items (e.g., free ice cream coupons from Turkey Hill, an order of office supplies for a suite holder courtesy of W.B. Mason, a month’s supply of Coca-Cola, etc.) or leftover giveaway items (e.g. bobbleheads, t-shirts, etc.) to a random member of your database, a batch of social media followers, or fans coming into the team store.

Launch unusual (yet meaningful) game/contests: Promote sweepstakes that give fans hope for next season by offering contest prizes that demonstrate how hard the team is working in the off-season or how dedicated the ownership is to winning. Prizes could include training with the team for a day, a chance to talk with ownership, or the opportunity to sit in on a film session with a player or analyst (e.g. think Gruden’s quarterback camp).

Organize a fun community activity to lift customers’ spirits: Offer up opportunities for fans to get involved with the community by hosting events such as park clean ups, coat drives, sports equipment drives, etc. Volunteering and goodwill brighten everyone’s mood, especially when the results directly impact participants’ own communities. Plus, it’s always a treat to work side by side with fellow fans, and members of the team’s organization.

Help your fans overcome the off-season blues by getting them involved!

Read the full article, “How retailers can help shoppers banish the post-holiday blues”, here.