The Elusive Fan: 
Reinventing Sports in a Crowded Marketplace

The Definitive Playbook for Transforming Sports

The Elusive Fan is a groundbreaking guide to engaging and retaining today’s fragmented, ever-shifting, and demanding sports fans.

The sports industry is booming like never before. At all levels, from professional and high school to college and club, revenues are reaching previously unimaginable heights. Sports are now a multi-billion dollar global business that is on the cutting-edge of entertainment, new media technology, and communication and marketing synergies. And the industry will only continue to grow by leaps and bounds into the foreseeable future.

The bad news: Competing for sports fans has never been more intense and uncertain.

World-renowned communication expert Irving Rein, international marketing guru Philip Kotler, and communication specialist Ben Shields explore the many challenges facing sports today and offer their expert analysis of the current and emerging market trends that are making it so difficult to capture the hearts and minds of today’s sports fans. Using a wide mix of case studies from many of today’s most successful sports leagues, teams, stars, and facilities, they show how you can:

  • Transform sports products into strong brands that transcend winning and losing
  • Integrate new technologies to engage fans and maximize revenue
  • Build star-powered attractions to drive sports brands
  • Develop enduring connections with fan markets
  • Anticipate and quickly respond to the competitive and cultural trends that affect the sports marketplace
  • Reconnect fans through a number of innovative strategies

Today’s sports fan operates in a world saturated with choices. Traditional sports like baseball, football and basketball, must now vie for fans’ attention (and dollars) with emerging challengers such as NASCAR, snowboarding, lacrosse, poker…even paintball. For the first time in history, the sports industry has to reexamine fundamental questions about its true markets, product distribution, and how to handle inevitable crises. The old business formulas, developed in an age of just three television networks and creaky stadiums with backless, uncomfortable seats, no longer apply.

Authors Rein, Kotler, and Shields deliver an innovative new business model centered squarely on fan satisfaction and retention. They give you the tools for successfully transforming your sports product into an enduring brand, immune to the vagaries of winning and losing—flexible enterprises that quickly adapt to changing market conditions and consistently deliver a unique and satisfying sports experience.

Whether you are a decision maker for a sports team or league on the professional, college, or high school level, a marketer, advertiser, or sponsor of a sports product, an athlete looking to break out into new markets, a business leader searching for clues to emerging trends, or a fan who is interested in the past, present, and potential future of the sports business, this book is a must-read.

Combining expert analysis with field-tested strategies for winning hearts and minds, The Elusive Fan is your guide to surviving and thriving in today’s fragmented, ever-widening world of sports.

The Elusive Fan is published by McGraw-Hill. It first shipped to bookstores and online retailers in July.

Table of Contents

Part One: Reaching the Elusive Fan

1.  The Fan Challenge

2.  Sports in Trouble 

3.  How Fans Connect

PART TWO: Connecting to the Elusive Fan

4.  Reinventing the Sports Brand

5.  Generating the Sports Brand Transformation

6.  Implementing the Sports Brand Transformation 

7.  Communicating the Sports Brand 

PART THREE: Surviving in the Sports Fan Marketplace

8.  Sustaining the Fan Connection 

9.  Successful Cases in Sports Branding 

10. The Future of Fan Connection