In through the entrance came Nets Center Nenad Krstic, then President Rod Thorn. Future hall-of-famer Jason Kidd was next, and then 2007 first-round draft pick Sean Williams. Head Coach Lawrence Frank then appeared and made his way down the hallway. No, this is not the description of the player’s entrance at the basketball arena hours before a game night. This, rather, was the scene on a Thursday night in late-September at the suburban home of Nets Season Ticket Holder John Klein, his wife Lenora and their two boys, Cory and Cameron.
The event was at the heart of the Nets “Ticket Influencer Program,” where Season Ticket Holders invite family, friends, and colleagues into their homes and the Nets, in turn, throw a glamorous party. The night includes cocktails, is catered with high-end food, and is attended by Nets players, coaches, and executive management.
“I don’t know of any other organizations that do this,” affirmed Klein, who hosted the event at his home for the second straight year.
“I told them (the Nets) I’d open my home for this, we love doing it, and the Nets cooperate with us fully.”
The team leverages these events as a way to put potential Season Ticket Holders face-to-face with the brand, the culture, the players and management.
Have questions about the team that are keeping you on the fence? Well, Thorn, the Team President, and Kidd, the Captain, were there and available to answer those questions one-on-one in a casual setting.
Want a quick recap of what’s being done to constantly push the Nets brand, the experience, and the arena to new levels? Ask CEO Brett Yormark; he was highly visible and available at the event, making his way around the room.
“Tonight is just about introducing Nets basketball to each and every one of you,” Yormark would later say at the podium, after the presentation part of the night had begun.
“We’d love you to test drive us in any way that makes sense.”
In some ways, the test drive had already begun. As parents attempted to photograph a standing Nenad Krstic, at seven-feet tall, within the same frame as their children; as the always-smiling Sean Williams autographed and high-fived with both kids and adults; as Vince Curatola, aka “Johnny Sack,” swapped Sopranos anecdotes with guests; and as the Nets Dancers performed their routine for all to see. The Nets experience and everything that comes with it was imported into the home on this night.
The Klein’s have a beautiful home, one seemingly out of central-casting for such an event. But to further glamorize the entrance, the Nets added valet parking and a red carpet; Cameramen and photographers were on hand to capture the night, which had the feel of an opening-night premiere.
While the event may seem like a big production, a one-time sales pitch it is not and the efforts put into it are the norm, not the exception. The Ticket Influencer at Mr. Klein’s home was actually the 33rd such event. The program – founded on making the team the most accessible team in sports – is at the tail-end of its third successful year.
Nets television announcer Marv Albert, who hosted the event, told a funny story during his introduction. While it was a joke, it still shows how much valued customers – like Mr. Klein – become a part of the Nets family.
“Last season during the playoffs I believe I saw John (Klein) draw up four plays that Lawrence Frank actually used,” said Albert, whose broadcast area is only a few feet from Klein’s floor seats.
“It reached a point during a critical timeout where I saw Jason Kidd trot off the court, go right to John, and ask ‘alright, what do we run here?’ That’s what you get for the Hollywood Seats.”
The relationship between the Nets and their best customers may not quite reach these levels, but it does come pretty close.
“It means a lot to us,” said Klein.
“I think kids love basketball and my boys really appreciate it. They play it a lot. And we like their friends to – besides school – like sports. I think it’s so important and we like them to meet the players and meet the organization as opposed to just reading about them. And that’s why we do this…Our objective here is to meet people and meet the organization.”
For more information and to become a Nets Influencer contact Brett Fischer, Director of Ticket Sales, at (201) 635-3152.
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