Voices of the Engagement Economy: Dewayne Hankins, CMO, Portland Trail Blazers

Engagement Strategies


Dewayne-HankinsDewayne is responsible for anything that is fan-facing, from corporate communications to broadcast, in-arena entertainment and retail. He is also responsible for digital and social presence, analytics, creative services and overall brand strategy.

In this discussion, Dewayne talks about engaging fans to win, the challenges and benefits of partnerships, and how the Engagement Economy assists him along the way.

What does the Engagement Economy change in your marketing game?

The Engagement Economy lines up well with our strategy. We have so many different fans and customers, from those that sit furthest away in the 300 level to the B2B customers and the premium, suite, and courtside level fans. The 300 level customers are the die-hard fans and know the most about our team. We worry about them the most when we don’t win. The B2B customers don’t know as much about our team and are probably at a game because they came with their employer. The premium level customers, also known as Rose Quarter 365 fans, may know a fair amount about our team, and they enjoy the status of their seats. They are concerned about whether or not they can order drinks from their seats with their mobile application or if they have a personal relationship with their server. We have to have a different relationship with each of these segments.

How has Marketo enabled you to engage fans on a deeper level?

We have many non-basketball events at the arena, so we need to target that audience separately. Marketo enables us to have a different relationship with each of these segments. For example, our fan base is pretty diverse. Some of them like country music, others are Justin Bieber fans, and some are interested in monster trucks. We are now able to customize customer profiles around preferences and events they attend. A customer who is interested in monster trucks is likely to be interested in motor-cross shows too. Therefore, we can promote both events to that same group of customers. We also have different groups of fans who visit our website. There are fans who visit our website because they want to purchase tickets, fans who never purchase tickets, but really like a certain player and fans who consume digital content, such as news articles and videos. When any of these fans visit our website, we know exactly which segment they belong to and can create a unique web experience for them.

What else is important to you in the Engagement Economy?

I think our relationships with partners such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are very important because we’re leveraging these partners in different ways to engage with our fans. For example, the Facebook advertising platform has been a very successful tool for us. We know a lot about our season ticket holders, such as the fact that they use the same login for their Facebook page and their season ticket account. Facebook helps us identify other audiences that are similar to our season ticket holders, or any other ticket level, that we can potentially convert to our fan base. Another example is renewal rates for season ticket holders. It’s very difficult to advertise just to this specific segment. However, with Facebook we can place personalized advertisements on their news feeds reminding them to renew their season tickets. With this capability, online renewal has increased from 15% three years ago to 90% today.

What challenges do you address in your day-to-day as CMO?

One of the challenges we face when engaging with customers is not being in complete control of the purchasing experience because we have partners, such as Ticketmaster, who help us with this process. When purchasing tickets online, customers may have to go through three different websites before actually purchasing tickets. My team and I have found that customers who visit our website via their mobile phones are mainly window shopping, so their conversion rate is lower than those who visit our website via their desktop, which is where they actually purchase tickets.

Another challenge is that one size does not fit all. Companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Google successfully provide very personalized experiences for their customers. If they can do that for their billions of customers, we should be able to do the same for our much smaller fan base. I think personalized customer engagements used to be a luxury, but now consumers expect it. And consumers expect quick responses to their inquiries too.  We need to be in their atmosphere to do something and make it easy for them to do. Otherwise, they will take their money and purchase another form of entertainment, and we’ll fall behind the competition.

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