Listen to Zack

I always say, listen to the consumer. Often times they have better marketing ideas than the manufacturer.

Zack is a 22-year-old man who works at my gym. He likes women’s basketball and can speak the language with me, i.e. players, teams, etc. Today we were talking about the Sparks’ upcoming games this week, and he said randomly, “they need to be better at putting (the league) out there. Getting players in people’s faces.”

I told him he was right, and asked what he would do to make WNBA players more visible and increase interest in the league. His suggestions:

– Put players on TV shows. For example, in the late 90’s, members of the 1996 gold medal-winning Olympic team were on “Martin,” and Lisa Leslie was on the show “Sister, Sister.”

– Get NBA players to promote the league. Besides going to games, they could do commercials and billboard ads. People would listen to what they say.

– Players need to get out into the community more and make themselves known. Do more public appearances.

– Players should do many of those appearances at schools, as kids are a target market. Zack said when he was in elementary school 12 years ago, Leslie and Delisha Milton-Jones visited his school. It made a big impression on him and was one of the reasons he got into the women’s game.

I would hire Zack if I were a WNBA executive.

I’m going to add one more thing to Zack’s list: media relations representatives for each team need to grant every request for an interview, and promptly.

Marketing is the key to success.


  1. It seems to me to be a circular argument. The general consensus is that these ballers don't make enough money in the WNBA which causes the most talented and most marketable of them to go overseas in the offseason for their big paydays. Because of that many of them are only in the US for six months of the year, or less in some cases. There isn't lots of time to do the referenced personal appearances and community outreach when you figure the amount of time the season and playoffs take.

    If the W product was more compelling to serious roundball fans they would pay to attend or watch on cable. If more people were willing to pay then theoretically some of that money would flow through to the players. If the salaries were higher then maybe fewer of these ladies would go overseas in the offseason and could do some of the described promotions during that downtime to try to grow the fan base. It would also reduce the wear on their bodies and extend their careers.

    It seems to me that with some of the new blood in the league, particularly EED, Griner and Diggins they may be making enough money when you consider their endorsements to consider not playing overseas which might start the ball rolling in that direction. Seems I've already read somewhere that EDD is not going to play overseas, at least initially which would be a good start as it looks like she's going to be a WNBA Rock Star.

    Frankly I'm a bit surprised that Candace Parker is playing overseas. A person would think that with her W salary, endorsements and her euroleague husband's salary they'd be fine financially and she could stay in the US with their kid and be involved with the offseason promotions. For a top tier female baller I see no compelling reason other than money to play in Europe as everyone acknowledges that the W is the best brand of WBB around.

    Finally if they are going to keep Richie as commissioner they need to hire a good media spokesperson for the league type interviews. Maybe a knowledgeable, interesting and compelling ex-player like Lisa Leslie or Rebecca Lobo. That would also significantly improve the interface and credibility with the media. That way Richie and Silver can do whatever they do behind the scenes to grow the league. Right now Richie only hurts the league in her public appearances.