How to innovate like a minor league baseball team


Two years I was in a meeting with a couple dozen general managers of minor league baseball teams. It was the end of their season and they were together for the annual minor leagues Promotional Seminar, three days of sales & marketing best practice sharing.

The GMs were sharing ideas and tests from the past season focused on maximizing game day revenue. Some tests worked, some didn’t.

One of the tests that worked was moving weekday game times an hour earlier. Most games historically had started at around 7:00. But one team experimented with 6:00 start times. They tested a few other weekday start times, but 6:00 was consistently among the highest performing based on game day revenue, including and well beyond tickets. Here’s why.

  • More families attended weekday games. The hour earlier made it much easier to bring kids and get them home and in bed at a reasonable hour. It also meant the whole family was more likely to eat dinner at the ballpark.
  • More fans enjoyed their happy hour adult beverages at the ballpark instead of a nearby bar before the game. Sales of high-margin alcohol was higher on some good-weather weeknights than on weekends.
  • Office workers came straight from work to the game, without a jacket or extra layer when the sun went down. Consequently, the team sold significantly more sweatshirts, pullovers and jackets for these earlier-start weekday night games.

There were more examples, but you get the point. A small change, and a good idea, but executed based on a specific goal and even more specifically measured and justified.

Years ago I was tasked with improving conversion on a critically important registration page. We tested dozens and dozens of variables to increase conversion. Most of those variables made no difference. So out of dozens of tests, which test proved most effective at increasing conversion?

We changed the questionnaire background color from white to light blue.

Specific goal. Lots of testing. Measure. Justify.