No matter the game or what side you’re on, sports trigger emotions. Even here in humble Wisconsin, sports fans are passionate, often rabid. (Witness the throngs of Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers fans who fill their football stadiums this time of year, and the Marquette basketball faithful who still have championship aspirations.) Sports are a serious business with great opportunity to align that passion with your brand. It’s no wonder you’d want to take your brand front and center during the action.
Sports marketing can drive brand awareness, intent to purchase and sales when done smartly. At its heart, marketing is all about building relationships, and sports are an ideal platform to do just that.
Product placement opportunities and sponsorships reach millions. Ratings across the board for sports are higher than ever, and it’s an incredible opportunity for a brand to get its name in front of millions of viewers. More than any other televised event, sports are watched live. They’re not typically DVR’d, so viewers are less likely to skip commercials, interviews or lulls when brands messages are seen and heard.
But there’s also ample opportunity to reach potential customers on a one-to-one level, provided you’re able to identify the right audience. Here are four questions to get started:
Are your audience members fans? Don’t make the mistake of aligning your brand with an event just because it’s big or because the CEO is a fan. Let the numbers do the talking. It’s important that each dollar spent delivers value. For example, an agricultural brand might not be best served sponsoring Wimbledon. Ag’s best fit is with college football and NASCAR, especially in the fall when farmers are on the go, outside of their offices, harvesting and listening to sports radio and events, and in the winter when they plan for next year.
Don’t focus solely on mass appeal. Find your audience. It’s easy to call a marketing program a success by hiding behind metrics. Include a one-to-one component. Make sure your audience is there.
Do you have a plan to collect and follow up with leads? Here at BR, we’ve had agricultural clients sponsor racetracks in the heartland, tractor pulls, and Big 10 college football and basketball, all of which attract hospitality suites and tents. Those are places where local and regional dealers can connect with fans individually to gather information and answer questions that can lead to sales. The work you do after an event really counts. Follow-up surveys and sales calls can drive purchases.
Will you have a mobile component? Additionally, there are new sports marketing trends in mobile: text-to-win contests, text-to-replay videos, mobile gaming, hashtag takeovers on Twitter and many other options. They can align your brand with events in real time. Participating in the conversation and responding to the public’s posts during events will demonstrate you’re into the game along with your potential customers, and your brand is a digitally savvy participant in the excitement.
When can you expect ROI? Make sure your media or hospitality spending pays off in the aftermath. Follow up soon after an event, and be sure to set benchmarks and goals. There’s big money at play, and you’ll want to make sure you’re getting bang for your buck. Spending on sports sponsorships is projected to increase at a compound annual rate of 4.8 percent, from an estimated $13.9 billion in 2013 to a projected $17.6 billion in 2018, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Getting your foot in the door means following up with leads, soliciting survey responses or breaking the ice when someone sets foot on a dealer’s lot.
Effective sports and event marketing promotion is about establishing relationships and building on them. It’s a thrill to see your brand’s name attached to a big sporting event, but ultimately meaningless without activation that pays off in the end.