Alex native Mitch Helgerson sees Wild playoff run up close
While the Wild makes its run in the National Hockey League playoffs this spring, an Alexandria native is witnessing the excitement firsthand as the team’s vice president of marketing intelligence.
Mitch Helgerson, a 1994 graduate of Jefferson High School, helps oversee the Wild’s analytical marketing, which includes organizing budgets, working on financial projects and interpreting various sets of data, including ticket prices. The Wild’s marketing department is split up into two branches, one side for creative brand work and one for analysis that Helgerson supervises.
What sets Helgerson’s current job apart from his previous work in finance with Ecolab, Inc. is the constant reliance on the Wild’s performance. The excitement for the team went sky-high when it won game seven in the first round of the playoffs on April 30 against the Colorado Avalanche.
“It is kind of like a typical marketing job, but it’s a little bit different coming to work on May 1 after we won game seven against the Avalanche,” Helgerson said. “It’s much different than my experience working with Ecolab, even though that was a financial role.”
Helgerson got his start working for the Wild in a financial role in 2006. With an undergraduate degree in business with a finance emphasis from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Helgerson started his career outside of professional sports.
Helgerson eventually worked his way up from financial roles with the Wild to his current position in marketing. While working for an NHL team in the middle of a playoff push, part of his job has been using the Wild’s success to increase the size of the fan base.
“We have to strike when the iron’s hot,” Helgerson said. “When a team goes on a run like this in every sport, you have casual fans that come out of the woodwork and you want to introduce them to your brand and your team, and hopefully they grow an affinity to that brand and want to be closer to it in the future.”
One of the biggest problems for the team’s marketing department during the playoffs has been finding enough tickets to meet the demand. But ticket inventory is not always a problem in seasons where the Wild have finished outside of playoff contention.
“At the low times, sometimes it’s difficult for people to find value in a product that’s not the cheapest in the market, but I think we pride ourselves in providing a fair entertainment value,” Helgerson said.
A playoff push this year means extra hours for the team’s workers in marketing and sales departments. These employees are often busiest during games, but Helgerson said he tries to sneak a peek at the action whenever possible.
“Our sales team, our marketing team has definitely been putting in some extra time,” Helgerson said. “But this is a fun time; nobody seems to mind putting in a little bit of extra hours.”
Helgerson currently lives in Lake Elmo with his wife, Jennifer, 2-year-old son Henry and 2-month-old daughter Emma.
Although his work with the Wild often does not align with many people’s general idea of marketing, he maintains that analysis work is just as important.
“Not everyone finds marketing intelligence interesting,” Helgerson said. “Marketing is very analytical, and there are a lot of similarities between finance and other analytical types of things in business.”
“The cool kind of Mad Men marketing happens on the other side of our brand marketing department, but my department is critical.”