Last July, the New Jersey Nets approached a longtime courtside season-ticket holder who agreed to throw a party at his home in the affluent Franklin Lakes area for invited guests to mingle with Nets players and coaches.
"He gave us the names and phone numbers of some of his friends and family, and we had about 100 people," said Nets CEO Brett Yormark. "We then got our head coach Lawrence Franks, general manager Rod Thorn and some players to come."
Yormark dubbed the parties Influencer events, and the concept continues to this day.
By the start of the upcoming NBA season, the Nets will have hosted 50 events, including one at Yormark’s house with 125 invited guests taken from a list of prospective buyers identified by the team.
At the Nets’ Influencer events, the prospects get the full treatment: valet parking, fine wine and liquor, a full menu of food, and time to small talk with a player or coach.
It costs the Nets an average of $2,000 for a party, but the parties on average generate $50,000 per event.
The event at Yormark’s house generated more than $160,000 in new revenue, the Nets’ most financially successful Influencer event to date
"We need to have a 10-to-1 return on any of the events," Yormark said on justifying the cost and effort of assigning staff to work the parties. "It’s been successful enough so that it has become a staple of our sales strategy."
If all goes as planned, the Nets could generate nearly $2.5 million in ticket revenue while spending just $100,000 to pay for the direct sales methods, a 25-to-1 ratio.