Few industries boast the depth of brand loyalty that pro sports enjoys. Mobile devices and social media offer us the unprecedented ability to follow our favorite teams and players. But we also live in an era in which huge contracts, outsized egos and high ticket prices might make fans feel more distanced than ever. Can technology help these brands not only connect, but communicate and even collaborate with their fans?
That’s the mission of Phizzle: “to redefine how brands engage with mobile customers and to cultivate digital loyalty.”
Launched in 2006, Phizzle has become a leading provider of mobile marketing and digital advertising, not only in the sports arena, but also in the entertainment and retail industries. Phizzle began life as “a simple SMS messaging service for brands and specifically for sports teams, and since that time we’ve evolved into a true technology company that specializes in digital marketing solutions mostly focused on a mobile stance,” said the company’s vice president of marketing, Jeff Ryznar.
Phizzle, which recently made Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies, works with both professional and collegiate sports teams to deliver the latest game-day updates through text-messaging services or smartphone applications. Interactive mobile marketing campaigns using Text-2-Win promotions, Text-2-Vote polls and surveys, and Text-2-Screen (in which fans can post messages on a team’s scoreboard in real time) are designed to grow the brands’ subscriber databases as well as fan engagement.
The Phizzle Platform
Affiliations with major networks such as FOX Sports, FOX Digital, the YES Network, DirecTV, Cabelvision, and the MLB Network have helped Phizzle prosper.
“The relationship with FOX Sports and FOX Digital has really allowed us to … develop our program and our platform,” said Ryznar.
But how does a company aimed at messaging fans make money?
Phizzle operates on two different revenue models: subscription fees and/or revenue sharing.
“For clients who wish to have us represent them and help sell the digital inventory we create for them using our solutions, we work out a model that incorporates a deferred payment on the actual solutions in exchange for a sharing of revenue from the sponsorship dollars the inventory generates,” Ryznar said. “This way, a client who may not have the immediate funds available to pay for the platform gets the benefit of using it as well as our expertise in monetizing it to attract sponsorship partners.”
Ryznar describes this as “putting our money where our mouth is,” enabling Phizzle to show companies they are a powerful driving force in defining brands through digital media and maintaining loyal customers.
According to the company’s website, Phizzle creates “an integrated digital marketing solution delivering meaningful engagement and generating revenue. Everything we do is centered around driving product development and innovation.”
Phizzle has worked with numerous professional sports teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks, the Oakland Raiders, the Denver Nuggets, and New York Rangers. One of the most recent additions to its client roster is the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors have seen success this season on the court and with fan connectivity.
“It’s another channel for us to communicate with them through a marketing perspective,” said Kevin Cote, the Warriors’ director of digital marketing. “It’s allowed us to utilize certain alternative methods rather than traditional marketing for certain campaigns we’re running.”
Phizzle’s campaign for the Warriors utilizes social media to foster fan engagement.
“It’s so clean and easy to use and so engaging for the fans, and it’s something we’re going to continue to do throughout the season,” said Cote.
In addition to professional teams, Phizzle has also branched out into collegiate sports. James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. signed on with Phizzle last fall for football and might expand that relationship to other sports in the future.
“In college sports, obviously, football is one of the major sports that we’re trying to tackle,” said Ryznar.
Phizzle is expanding its collegiate endeavors to other schools such as the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The Hurricanes signed on for a one-day trial during National Signing Day and are also going to be participating in a March Madness campaign.
Phizzle will be “providing automated alerts, providing scoring updates, seating information etc.” as well as SMS alerts that their fans opt into, said Ryznar.
Not Just for Jocks
Phizzle is not just limiting itself to sports, but is also looking to expand into other fields.
“Sports is really kind of our bread and butter, but I think you’ll see us start rolling out other industries,” said Ryznar. “We’re currently exploring the fashion industry and how that can correlate to what we’re doing.”
Phizzle is also exploring opportunities with SMBs. “With two-thirds of businesses in America being small to medium sized businesses, there’s a need and a want for something more diverse and something more appealing to the customers,” he concluded.
With the explosion of mobile marketing and the company’s efforts to expand its client base, it seems Phizzle won’t be fizzling out anytime soon.