Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Interview with Lisa Ovens, Author of Hockey & High Heels - Part Two

As promised, here is Part Two of the interview with the fun and fabulous Lisa Ovens where she shares how she promotes Hockey & Heels and offers some valuable insight into what makes the female hockey fan so unique.

Hockey Mom has noted before that the female demographic seems to be overlooked as a vital part of the NHL fan base, even though lady hockey fans are probably some of the most enthusiastic fans I've ever come across! Once you get a woman hooked on hockey, she'll make friends with the five women sitting next to her in the manicure station and from there the puck love just spreads like mad!

Q. Why the title “Hockey and High Heels”?

Lisa: I’m often in heels, because I’m not that tall, plus the three “H” alliteration thing seemed to work nicely. And women tend to notice shoe related words. I arrived at the title way back in 2002. Maybe I was na├»ve, but the thought never crossed my mind that people might have issues with the title. I am often labeled a puck bunny, simply because I have the words “high heels” in the title. This makes me laugh because if that were true, then I must be the stupidest puck bunny on the planet! I spent all this time, money and effort writing a book about hockey when all I needed to do was slap on a tube top and stake out the Pan Pacific to meet hockey players. What was I thinking? :o)

Q. How did you go about promoting the book?

Lisa: The Web site went live (not the same version as it is now) about 8 months before the book released and then followed the usual strategies: sent out press kits, review copies, timely ad placements and word of mouth has worked well. I was lucky to get a few media hits including a couple of great reviews from book critics, from columns like yours, Musings of a Hockey Mom, and from many readers who purchased H&HH. The book has been involved in several fundraisers around Vancouver and Vermont of all places. I am grateful for all of this.

The events for women are definitely a great opportunity for me to get the word out about the joys of hockey, and I am so grateful that a few NHL, WHL and ECHL teams have recognized my book as valuable tool to use in their individual marketing promotions. I’m not just promoting myself here; I am also promoting the game. If an H&HH event can steal a few extra headlines for hockey, especially in a city where the hockey team is in the shadow of other pro sports, that’s a good thing.

I launched the book in 2005/06 season while I had a full time career. Now I’d like to make things happen a little faster by putting more time into hockeyandhighheels.com. The audience is growing and I love creating content for visitors to read. There’s “Lisa’s Lounge” where hockey columns are posted by me and Jan Snyder, a wonderful freelance writer originally from Pittsburgh now based in Houston, will be back again for another season with her take on everything hockey. We are lining up some more hockey celebrity interviews for Jan as well as some guest writers. I love taking photographs, so there’s Mesh Gallery for my hockey art photos, and other pics throughout the columns. There will be a page for the 2010 Winter Olympics very soon. I am also talking to advertising sponsors interested in what I am building here.

Q. In your opinion, what makes female hockey fans so different from traditional male fans?

Lisa: Okay Hockey Mom, I tried to keep this answer brief, but it was difficult. I could really expand on this subject because of the amount of research I have done on it. But for now, I’ll focus on one area that is the most obvious difference.

Based on my observations spanning the six years I have been developing the Hockey and High Heels project, the one thing that really stands out to me is most women who love hockey want to share the experience with everybody they know. They have plenty to say about their love for the game and the hockey fan lifestyle. I hear this often. Many of us are natural born promoters, plain and simple. And we are pretty loyal too. I guess that’s why we are often called the “lucrative female market.”

When I think of people who are natural promoters, the traditional male fan doesn’t come to mind. He would rather not invite women into his sports experience, unless of course she’s greased up in a thong wielding a power tool. He likes his hockey in his sanctuary with the guys, where they are free to swear, complain, trash talk, be arm chair GMs, crunch numbers, one up each other, and all that fun stuff. And hey, that’s fine by me. It is not my motivation to mess with someone else’s sanctuary, because I value my own so much.

If there is one thing the traditional male hockey fans have over us natural born hockey promoters is the sports media. Or should I say the traditional male sports media. They pretty much own the mainstream air time, the sports pages in print and online. These guys have the most access to the league, the teams and the games, and are most comfortable with presenting content that appeals to themselves and their disciples: the traditional male sports fans.

Q. How do you think the NHL can better reach out to the female market?

Well, if I were the NHL headquarters and I just read the previous answer about the difference between female fans and traditional male hockey’s fans, I would take a long hard look at my current roster, and take stock of the natural born promoter types on board and how visible they are. The competition is fierce and I can’t afford to not befriend something called the lucrative female market. Then I would email myself and offer me a creative consultant package I couldn’t refuse. Yes!

The events are a great way to serve the female fans, but not every team hosts them, and as far as I know, this isn’t a mandatory promotion. At the league headquarters level, this could be considered a simple and easy step to take to acknowledge their female customers: If the NHL’s promo materials included more shots of women, real women fans watching hockey together and having fun like we actually do, the casual female observers from tweens to seniors will notice and they most likely will think one of two thoughts – “hey, they’re having fun…maybe I might like that too”, or “hey, that looks just like us!” Talk about a win-win situation.

I have another solution to this question in Hockey and High Heels. In fact, I mentioned it three times in three different places. I put it in there to see if anyone picks up on it. We just need the right person to pick up on it. Once that happens, everyone will be pleasantly surprised. I’ve already tried, but it’s a little tricky to navigate. Of course, we could speed up the process, if the NHL wants to help me out.

To put this as nicely, but as firmly as possible...something continues to shackle the NHL headquarters’ creative and marketing departments into either ignoring women, or thinking women are one dimensional. Isn’t it about time they finally get up to speed with their female fans?

End of Part Two...

Another Hockey Mom fist bump to Lisa O. for her great take on female fandom. And to the Cap's Viktor Kozlov for the NHL.com shout out on his scoring prowess in shootout situations!

Stay tuned for Part Three of Lisa's interview...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She owes you at least one! I bought a book for my wife for Christmas.