PODCAST

“FUN IS BETTER” COMMUNITY IS KEY WITH ZANE HEINSELMAN OF THE ST. PAUL SAINTS

ZANE HEINSELMAN

Episode 18

On this week’s episode of the Press Play Podcast, Zane Heinselman joins host Derek Gerber to discuss marketing the minor league experience. Zane is the Director of Sales and Partnerships for the St. Paul Saints, the AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. In a metropolitan area that is home to major league organizations like the Minnesota Twins, Timberwolves, Vikings, and Wild, Zane is tasked with the unique challenge of promoting an organization that could easily play the little-brother role in a big-league city.

“I think that the biggest thing that digital content does is it almost levels the playing field a little bit.”

EPISODE 17 HIGHLIGHTS

As Zane reveals in the episode, the Saints lean into the community-centric aspects of the organization to create an experience that Minnesotans seek out. Here are a few ways the organization is doing so:

Prioritizing Partners That Engage with the Community

Like a few of the other sports organizations Derek has talked to, the Saints know that embracing the community is critical to the organization’s success. This understanding extends out to the way they establish corporate partnerships. When assessing potential partnerships, Zane evaluates how the partnering brand exists within the community. Does it have the same values as the Saints? Is it actively involved in the community?

Our corporate partners need to understand that we are a community asset, so they need to be engaged also with the community. So when we’re seeking corporate partners, we want to find partners who want to be with the community, want to engage with the community in the same way we do, and want to build multi-integrated partnerships that have value [across multiple channels].” (3:14)

Curating a Memorable Experience at a Minor League Ballpark

As Derek points out in the episode, few things are more easily romanticized than a minor league baseball game. There’s something special about the atmosphere of families, ballpark food, beer, and baseball. The Saints add to this atmosphere with the inclusion of “usher-tainers.”

There are several of these “usher-tainers” throughout the stadium, including Chef, who plays the role of an old French chef, and Coach, who is a stereotypical high school gym coach, wearing short-shorts and tall socks. These characters have become staples in the ballpark, entertaining fans and immersing themselves in the community.

When we can put the Saints flare on everything we do outside the ballpark and on our digital team, it really helps engage with partners, engage with fans, and help continue to build our brand.” (10:06)

The organization has integrated its unique ballpark atmosphere into its partnership through these “usher-tainers.” In a partnership with Explore Minnesota, the characters highlighted different destinations throughout the state. It is through partnerships like this that the Saints organization weaves itself seamlessly into the Twin Cities community.

Using Digital Content to Level the Playing Field

As the St. Paul Saints worked to stand out from the major league crowd, the organization embraced digital content to great success. The organization believes that digital content and social media platforms provide an opportunity to punch above its weight class.

I think that the biggest thing that digital content does is it almost levels the playing field a little bit.” (13:11)

 

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SHOW NOTES

(0:37) Introducing Zane Heinselman and the St. Paul Saints
(2:11) Finding partners that engage with the community
(4:10) Curating a memorable experience at a minor league ballpark
(7:34) Engaging fans through partnerships
(12:56) Using digital content to level the playing field
(15:16) Engaging with the community in wacky ways

LINKS

Derek Gerber
Zane Heinselman

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Graphic: Listen on Apple Podcasts Graphic: Listen on Spotify

 

 

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