Lessons learned: Gowalla and the New Jersey Nets

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I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Sam Taggart from VaynerMedia — the company founded by famous social media siblings Gary and AJ Vaynerchuck — to talk about their promotion with Gowalla, the location-based software company and the New Jersey Nets.

The premise was simple. Fill seats at the last Nets home game at the IZOD Center — a challenge when the team is the worst team in the NBA. Enter Sam and his team at VaynerMedia and throw out all the old-school marketing plans.

Sam’s team talked the Nets marketing group into leveraging the location-based services of Gowalla and set about to distribute 250 pairs of tickets virtually within a 75-mile radius of the IZOD Center. When a Gowalla user would check into a location that had a hidden pair of virtual tickets, they would collect them and redeem them for actual tickets.

The results were great — especially for an initiative that is clearly early in this game. The outcome was more people sitting in the stands, an increase in concession sales, more parking revenue and a number of non-fans having a great experience at the game.

Some formidable lessons were learned for everybody:

  1. This initiative was spread solely via word of mouth — no marketing dollars went to creating awareness about the virtual tickets
  2. Customer service is essential: When virtual ticket holders arrived at the stadium they were taken to a booth set up specifically for them, handed some Nets gear and brought to their GREAT seats.
  3. The nature of Gowalla’s service made the experience a continuous one. Gowalla placed multiple pairs of tickets in single locations and anyone checking in could collect them (which made it very inclusionary), and once at the game anyone who checked in was entered into a draw for Nets jerseys and other goods.

All in all, this endeavour will usher in a brand new way of marketing using this type of location-based service and will be, in my opinion, much more accepted than simply pushing ads to me as I walk by. This is a true brand-building exercise.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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