Friday, October 24, 2008

How to get wrestling fans

How to get wrestling fans, pt 2

In my haste to talk about the components that might help local wrestling federations, I forgot a few I am sure. One of those being LOCATION, and I will get to that in a moment.

This is my short series blog about how I might work to get wrestling fans in the average US city to come out and enjoy a night of wrestling. As I said before, most people think this is about WWE or TNA…this is not.

Most fans don’t get to go to those events, and if they do, the cost for tickets are pretty high. No disrespect to those that DO go, but let’s face it, most don’t and can’t. So there are many, many local wrestling federations across the US, most you don’t even know about. But nobody talks about them so much.

In our area I can think of 3 federations that I have see either in person or on local tv. One is called NWA-Anarchy and it comes on one of our cable stations every once and awhile….I mean that, it is really a crap shoot on when it really comes on.

We have see it on the menu for a certain time, but when we tune in it isn’t on, and sometimes when it wasn’t on the menu, it is on. And sometimes when it IS on, the hour-long program is suddenly cut off by some local program…what’s up with that?

Another wrestling federation I have heard of is LAW wrestling, and I don’t know much about that. It used to be on a nearby city’s local television station but for some reason, it disappeared. It also came on at some unholy hour, so unless you were working the graveyard shift, you weren’t gonna see it anyway.

That leaves UWC, or Universal Wrestling Council. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, I have gone to see this wrestling event at least 6 times. I like it a lot, and I am really pulling for these people because they provide an entertainment that we most times would not get.

But how would I improve one like it, not implying that UWC needs my help. Those guys know more about it than I do, so don’t mix my words to make it seem like they are not going a good job.

But often times when my friends and I sit in the living room after the wrestling event, we talk about what could be done to help a local wrestling federation. We have tons of ideas, but you know as well as I do that ideas are just that. Making it into something real is a whole different animal.

But it’s worth blogging, so let’s take a stab at it.

If you remember my first blog on this issue, I listed several key elements that must be refined in order to bring the wrestling fan to the event. Not just one time, but make them a regular. You know you’re doing something right when you see paying customers over and over again. But how do you increase that?

Let’s go over a couple of factors, starting with the one I left off. LOCATION.

Around here, there are indeed many places where you can hold a wrestling event. No different from any of your towns. But it’s not as easy as saying “we’re gonna have it here and we’re gonna sell tickets at $20 each”. It does not really work that way.

Every wrestling federation needs a good location, and a reliable one at that. But most people think that all you need to do is find the biggest place to hold your event and people will come….no, it does not work that way.

I’d like to think that if I rent out a facility that houses 1000 people, and I charge $10 a ticket, then I’ll make $10,000 if we sell out….

But what if you don’t?

What if you are being charged $1500.00 to rent that space, and you sell 100 tickets? Unless concessions is real good, you’re going to lose money. So sometimes having a big place isn’t the best way to go, especially if you are not sure of your audience. Sometimes you have to settle for a smaller place that is cheaper and build the audience into a following, THEN look for better places to perform.

Now this isn’t a problem for the big federations, but I ain’t talking about them anyway. We’re talking about the very small federations that are made of traveling wrestlers and local wrestlers who truly love the game.

I would hope that I could find a nice sized place that seats maybe 500 or so, and sell tickets at maybe $6-$9 dollars each. Hey, I’m not trying to break anybody, because if I do, those people may not come back.

Location is very key because it’s got to be a place where they can find you, and the rent of the place can’t be so outrageous that you have to charge an arm and a leg just to break even. You gotta be fair to your audience but you also have to make a profit.

There are lots of places in cities you can have an event, but just because you can have one there does not mean the place is open to you. For example, we have several schools where a gym could be an excellent place to have an event, but what if the schools are not interested in wrestling? I mean, we could set up in any of the high school gyms and sell lots of tickets at $5 each and maybe pack the place, but we don’t know how much the school will charge us.

This is where the numbers game comes in, and where a manager or owner needs to know his math. He also has to be realistic too, you might WANT to get that facility at $2000 that seats 1500 people, but if your federation is not well known, there is no guarantee that you’ll even sell half the tickets. If tickets were $10, you’d need to sell 200 tickets just to even out the rent. We have not even talked about salary for the performers and crew, and the cost for refreshments and travel and ALL that goes into making the wrestling event happen.

And this is where a lot of greedy managers miss it. A lot of them don’t figure on what happens if OTHERS can’t get paid…they are only interested in themselves. This is what happens a lot when people book events on the HOPE that they can clear, and don’t do their homework.

It’s key to remember how important the location of the event is, because it creates the foundation of what you charge your audience. You can try to go high-end and get a really nice and big facility, but the cost to rent it will have a serious impact on what you are going to charge the fans. It’s a delicate balance not to overcharge and tick off the fans or to make it very affordable and cut your profits. Sadly, many wrestling federations try to get all the money first, leaving the fans with a performance that may not have been worth the money.

To their credit, I really like the way UWC does their business here. Tickets at $6 are very affordable, and I am more likely to spend a few dollars on a drink or some chips anyway. And, if we feel that we got our money’s worth, we’ll tell friends and want them to come with us next time. That means more sales for the wrestling federation and more fans.

Again, location has a lot to do with that. If they were somewhere else, and charged $15 per ticket, we might not feel the same way, even if the performance was the same. So this would be a very important element I would try to deal with if I was to run a wrestling federation.

Well, that’s the first part, I will go through each of the elements as we go along, so keep checking with my blog. I am not saying I have the gospel truth on this, it’s just some thoughts on how to improve a local wrestling federation so they can make more revenue and end up giving more to their fans. We’ll chat more next time.

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