In North America alone, the sports market is estimated to make over $80 billion in 2022. And the industry has been growing exponentially in the past decade due to the rise of social media and influencers. Sports marketing is a branch of marketing that focuses on promoting sports, whether that be brand awareness or promoting sports teams, events, and public figures. So how do you get involved? Here is a list of how to develop a successful sports marketing strategy.
All marketing strategies must reach an audience to become successful. However, there are several approaches to implementing your marketing game plan and attracting your target audience. Some marketing strategies include:
Start with a chart where you write down your organization’s big and small financial accomplishments during each quarter of the year. For example, you could write in one quadrant that your organization generated $100,000 during Super Bowl Sunday for Bruins shot glasses.
Look into paid advertisements, such as a billboard or magazine ads. Based on your budget, you can scale up from here.
You can post an ad to promote your products via social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, TikTok, and Facebook in hopes that your advertisement goes viral. For example, the Rangers could post an ad on Instagram that says, “Enter this giveaway to win a free Corey Seager jersey.” The conditions of this giveaway are that the contestant will have to repost the story onto their Instagram feed, follow the page, and tag friends. As a result of these requirements, the social media account can gain more popularity and traffic.
Try using different types of content to advertise your brand. This can include blogs, videos, user-generated content, or infographics. In sports, almost all teams have a break or off-season. During this time, it is still important to market your organization. You can create video marketing material on YouTube or Instagram. These can range from interview videos with team members and staff.
Showcase your new product. An example of this would be showcasing the latest edition of running shoes that just came out. You can provide a giveaway for a free pair of those new shoes by posting it on Twitter and encouraging consumers to enter the giveaway by having them tag friends and retweet it.
Moreover, you can add key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your marketing strategies. For example, if your goal is to target traveling sports fans, you can view the location metrics of your social media marketing. As a result, you can monitor consumer demographics based on location. You can then determine which posts generate the most out-of-state traffic and implement new strategies to increase these metrics.
An example of traditional marketing is paying for a billboard advertisement to showcase your business. For example, casinos use this type of advertisement to attract customers in the vicinity.
Similarly, sports marketing utilizes the same methods as traditional marketing. However, sports marketing is differentiated by the niche audience it targets, typically sports fans. An example of sports marketing is using a giveaway to entice consumers to share social media posts. This is similar to “word of mouth” but spreads much quicker through social media. The Dodgers do this for specific game nights. Sometimes they have sponsored bobblehead giveaways to the first 500 people in the stadium.
Both types of marketing also have push and pull factors. In short, push marketing is when a brand showcases products or services to the consumer. In pull marketing, consumers are provided informational content that drives them to the company. While creating your marketing plan, you will have to choose between the push and pull marketing strategy. Most startups or new companies lean towards the push marketing strategy, while established companies go for the pull strategy.
An example of using push marketing is when you send your consumers direct mail or emails about the latest exercise class your facility is offering. Another one is when you put products that you want consumers to buy in line of sight. This means you are placing energy bars, protein powder, and shaker water bottles near the checkout. The customer will pass by that area and might stop to grab one or a few on their way out.
An example of pull marketing is search engine optimization. If you have a new app rolling out, choose keywords that you think the consumer might type in the App Store. For example, if you are releasing a new fitness app, keywords such as running, HIT, functional strength training, workout, fitness, calorie, burn, and abs are great keywords to use.
Another similarity between traditional and sports marketing is that they both use attraction marketing. This is when a merchant sells a product or service to the consumer in a very enticing way by explaining how valuable the item may be to the buyer. For instance, a consumer may enter Lululemon and be told about the new limited-edition leggings. This encourages customers to want to buy it because it is a limited-edition item.
How will you reach your target audience? Posting ads on platforms like Instagram and Facebook will generate more traffic if you target millennials. For Generation Z sports fans, try TikTok. In this age, social media can sell anything.
Part of marketing is knowing what is trendy or not. As a sports marketing professional, you will want to get into all of the current trends as soon as possible. This is crucial because even if you have the most amazing ads, they will never reach anyone if you are not advertising them in the right places. For example, if your company focuses on runners, create ads targeted to this demographic and utilize relevant hashtags on social media. Like search engine optimization, hashtags help push your content to consumers who are actively searching for running-related products and services, such as shoes, fitness trackers, or clothing.
Knowing where you stand is critical for any marketing business. You can conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to check this. It will help measure where your organization can grow in terms of strengths and weaknesses. It will also help determine what types of threats your business may face or currently is facing internally and externally.
To conduct a SWOT analysis:
A great thing about conducting a SWOT analysis is that it will help you and your team get back on track with the business’s mission statement and original goals and hopefully push you in the right direction to do better and be better.
Say your company is doing great with soccer cleat sales; your company generated $300,000 this quarter in revenue from merch sales. However, at the same time, your TikTok is not doing well compared to other social media platforms. Write that in your SWOT analysis. Then consider making changes to your TikTok budget or increasing your focus on Instagram or Twitter.
Knowing where you stand with your business is the first step to positioning your brand above your competitors. After restructuring your strategy and business plan, you can focus on creating marketing materials that cater to your competitor’s audience and demographic. First, research your competitors and see what they are doing. Next, think about how you can do things differently and better. Finally, once you have come up with a couple of ideas, brainstorm them with your team.
One great partnership in the sports industry is between the Jordan Brand and Gatorade. Jordan Brand created a new line of shoes based on the famous phrase “Be Like Mike” with Gatorade’s bold colours. This partnership debuted the shoes in 1991 and became an icon known by many in the NBA. Then, they decided to re-partner in 2017 due to the success of their former shoe line. Partnerships can create business bonds between two companies for many years.
However, for smaller organizations or startups, aiming for a partnership within your means may be a more financially viable option. Additionally, getting a partnership can be difficult. Nevertheless, you can start with small partnerships and work your way up. Make sure to do your research, create an enticing proposal, practice a mock presentation with Q&As, capitalize on your consumer base community, and communicate well. Businesses looking for partnerships love to hear about new ideas, so make sure you reel them in with your proposal pitch.
Special events make you distinguishable from other businesses. These events play considerable roles in creating a loyal consumer base. There are plenty of special events that you can host, such as a new product ceremony, a demo event for a new fitness service, or virtual events with raffles.
You can also dedicate time and resources to a philanthropic cause. Caring about your community and the world goes a long way to some consumers, who may gravitate towards your brand over others once they hear of your company’s good deeds.
Sports marketing managers are the backbone of advertising strategies. They develop and create marketing campaigns designed to increase the organizations’ fanbase and attract sponsorships from different companies. These managers also manage the revenue reports and goals of the sports teams, arenas, leagues, and franchises. For those that are considering seeking higher education. There are many sports marketing programs in the U.S. that focus on sports marketing tactics and gaining connections to further your career in this field.
There will always be ups and downs to every business. Certain seasons do better than others. Keep monitoring how your company is doing. You can use brand audits to get a detailed analysis of how your marketing strategies are performing. Keep in mind that marketing is done right when constant adjustments and reevaluations are made.
Brand audits help you get insight into the demographics outside of your usual audience. For example, you can survey people to see if they have ever heard of your business. If they have not, you can adjust your marketing plan to fix this.
For example, if you are a running fitness organization and the survey shows that your brand is not popular amongst women in their twenties, consider making fitness leggings, shorts, hair bands, windbreakers, undergarments, and water bottles in a range of colours. That way, the consumer does not have to be an avid runner to use those products. If your business sees an incline of buyers that are women in their twenties, your strategy works. If not, consider making adjustments and taking out products that are not profitable.
These steps will help start you on your new journey with your sports marketing strategies. Keep in mind that building a successful marketing plan takes time, resources, research, and effort. There is no home run method to developing a sports marketing strategy, but you can reach your goals by providing sports enthusiasts with quality service and products.