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The Final Word / Conversations with Business and Technology Leaders

For most of us, courtside seats are the closest we’ll ever get to life in the NBA. But for Erica Rau, vice president of marketing for the Sacramento Kings, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Ms. Rau talked to us about how analytics have changed professional basketball for good, what the Kings hope to accomplish with their NBA 3.0 plan, and why the best parts of the job have nothing to do with what happens on the court. When it comes to fan appreciation and custom experiences, Ms. Rau and her team deliver a slam dunk.
Erica Rau
Vice President of Marketing for the Sacramento Kings

Sports are about the relationship between a team and its fans.

The ultimate power of sports is the ability to connect people across geographic, economic, cultural, and social lines. The unwavering dedication and passion by our fans and community helped to save this team from leaving Sacramento. In return, our organization has been tirelessly pursuing ways to provide the best possible in-game experience. Under new ownership, the Kings have implemented a forward-looking “NBA 3.0” philosophy in which we are focused on utilizing cutting-edge technology to enhance the fan experience, acting as a positive agent of change in the community and expanding the team’s global brand.

We are owned and run by some of the greatest minds in the world of data.

In May 2013, Vivek Ranadivé led a dynamic and diverse ownership group to purchase the Kings that includes incredibly talented individuals from the technology sector. Our focus on technology and big data has been a core of the Kings NBA 3.0 philosophy to make this the team of the 21st century. We have created an entire department (named the “Engagement Lab”) dedicated to analyzing data to help us visualize and interact with our data to improve the Kings acquisition, retention, and engagement of fans. Our commitment to using the latest technology and insight software has allowed us to a make a plethora of intelligent decisions.

From the brand side of the Kings, we segment on individuality.

Data analytics and customer retention management tools provide us with greater connectivity with our fans. The more we know about your preferences as a fan, the better we can customize your experience. For example, Amazon knows everything about my purchases, online shopping behavior, and preferences, and uses that to maximize my online experience for mutual benefit. We do the same thing from a sales standpoint to stadium experience. In the past, it was all mass market messaging, and now we are marketing directly to you.

Our industry moves faster than just about any other out there.

Every day we are pushed to our limit and expected to perform with high levels of accuracy and creativity under significant time crunches. In other industries, there are ways to delay project and product launches. We do not have that luxury. Following a tight NBA schedule, we must constantly be on top of things.

The best things about working for a professional sports team are the unique experiences you have every day.

For me, being an agent of positive change is impactful. We have so many opportunities to touch the lives of others, and our players are so great about giving up their time to visit kids in the hospital or spend extra time with fans away from the game. These aren’t things they’re expected or told to do. They want to do them, and watching the reactions when a child meets his or her idol, and to see the hope in their eyes is magical.

The worst part of the job is we do not have the luxury of time.

We strive to be an innovative and cutting-edge franchise — on and off the court — however, time and staff bandwidth are finite so we’re always prioritizing projects.

This is a fantastic time to be a part of the Kings.

We have an incredibly talented ownership group and management team from top to bottom. Most importantly, we have one of the proudest, loudest, and most dedicated fan base supporting the team.

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