Q: As a Digital Trailblazer, you're doing
outstanding work to further digital marketing. Why is digital an
important part of your day-to-day job?
Mr. Mandelkorn: My current job encompasses both
digital and traditional marketing for the Spurs, but we have made a
conscious shift to really make an investment on the digital side.
Digital marketing is exciting because it's always changing. It
challenges you to stay relevant and stay on top of trends. And with
the consumers on mobile, we are thinking mobile first as much as
Q: Tell us about a moment in your career that
was pivotal and why it affected you so strongly.
Mr. Mandelkorn: My first position with Spurs
Sports & Entertainment was overseeing marketing for our AHL and
WNBA franchises, the Rampage and the Stars. It was a great
opportunity to familiarize myself with the San Antonio market and
SS&E's approach to marketing. After a season with both
franchises, I was able to make a transition to the Spurs. The last
couple of years have been incredible. As a sports fan, my dream
became a reality in this job.
Q: How important is harnessing the power of
data for a business like yours? How do you and the Spurs use data
to better connect the team with your fan base—and keep
building that base?
Mr. Mandelkorn: Data is vital to what we do.
We're able to collect data proprietarily and from a number of
first- and third-party sources. All this data is compiled and
disseminated into a workable format to aid in decision-making.
Buyer behavior, fan profiles and media affinity scores are just
some examples of the recent uses for the data we collect. The data
helps us form a better understanding of what makes our fans tick
and what adjustments we'll make in our marketing strategy moving
Q: Avid sports fans were some of the first
consumers to embrace mobile technologies to stay on top of what's
happening with their favorite teams. How important are tools such
as the Spurs' mobile app and your second-screen experience to
sports teams' relationships with their fans? How have your fans
responded to these new tools, and how are they using them?
Mr. Mandelkorn: Our app has been huge for us.
We are seeing people who were typical desktop users or mobile Web
users really start using the app as their central source for
content about the team—checking dates and schedules, looking
for team news. We've developed a good base and our focus has
shifted to increasing the app's utility and new features that
benefit our users. For instance, we added a feature that allows
fans to provide us feedback regarding their arena experience during
games. Service is a big emphasis organizationally, and this
feedback helps inform our decision-making in creating the best
possible experience for our fans.
Fans can now also listen to the Spurs radio broadcast through
the app, and there's also great live stat tracking during the
Q: Sports franchises, leagues and broadcasters
have been on the cutting edge of multiscreen, cross-platform
marketing activities. Aside from your own team efforts, is there a
recent app or digital marketing effort you think really stands
Mr. Mandelkorn: One that jumps out is
Starbucks' mobile strategy. They've done an excellent job of making
their app matter. They could have put together an app that just
helps you find a store. But the way they have created the rewards
program and integrated Apple Pay is a great example of going a step
further. In sports, the NBA Warriors and Hawks are doing exciting
things around ticketing, even testing direct purchase through
Twitter. Eliminating steps for the customer is something we are
interested in—how can we make them jump through one less hoop
and streamline the process?
Q: What parts of your marketing strategy keep
you up at night?
Mr. Mandelkorn: The digital marketing landscape
is always changing, and you have to stay well-informed with
emerging trends and make adjustments to both new and conventional
strategies. A new piece of technology could come out or an
algorithm could be adjusted at a moment's notice. Remaining current
while adapting your marketing strategy to an ever-changing
landscape will always be a challenge, but that's part of the
Q: You have been involved in sports marketing
for a long time. What's the most memorable sports moment you've
witnessed in person?
Mr. Mandelkorn: That's easy. Winning the NBA
Championship in 2014 was unforgettable. The opportunity to witness
it live and be a part of it was surreal. Right after we won the
final game, I was still working up in the media section. The
[Miami] Heat guys had to remind me to stop and celebrate the
moment. You can work in sports 40 years and never make a final, let
alone win a championship.
About the Sponsor