Want to know all about sports marketing?
Please put on your running shoes because we are starting our particular marathon on the subject.
What is sports marketing?
Sports marketing uses sports in all forms to help sell products and services provided by a company. It is not limited to professional sports but can include, for example, semi-professional leagues or college sports.
However, when you think of sports marketing, words like "Real Madrid," "soccer," or "Messi" probably come to mind.
Are you right?
In a way, yes, but it's not just that.
Since sports can be followed on a variety of platforms (on the Internet, physically in a stadium, television, radio, etc.), sports marketing can take many different forms, for example, an advertising space inside a stadium, television commercials, or a sponsorship contract with an athlete to promote the brand on their social networks.
Sports marketing is a somewhat atypical subcategory of marketing, but we should pay attention to it. It is about associating your image with an athlete, a sports team, or a popular sport that receives the support of a large number of people.
With sports marketing, we take advantage of the popularity and devotion that many fans feel for their favorite teams and athletes to enhance branding. We are the main sponsor appearing on the jersey of Real Madrid, the team that recently won the Champions League.
Our brand will be immediately associated with the team's success, and with that, we will gain prestige and visibility among Real Madrid fans and beyond. As we will see, there are many opportunities for collaboration in the sports marketing scene.
We will highlight everything you need to know about it!
Benefits of sports marketing
The power of sports marketing is significant.
It can be helpful in various contexts, such as in the launch phase of a product or service, to reach potential customers and/or improve your corporate image. When a company invests in sports, it does so intending to obtain favorable results for its activity:
Better brand visibility to the target audience to attract the attention of potential customers and differentiate itself from the competition.
Commercial objectives: increase sales, increase the number of subscriptions and followers, and get more engagement with the audience...
A privileged relationship with industry players: with the athlete and the club, as well as with partners and other club sponsors.
Associate your image with a brand that shares your values: these can be values of social integration or promotion of the traditions of a region/city, for example.
Characteristics of sports marketing
To achieve these objectives, the different specific characteristics of sports marketing must be taken into account.
Here are the most important ones.
What is the difference between an amateur and a consumer?
First of all, one concept you need to be very clear about is the difference between a fan and a consumer. If you need help understanding this, the game is already lost.
A consumer is a person who finds an economical and functional benefit in your product or service. The purchase decision is based on these two criteria in most cases.
Once purchased, if the product meets the consumer's expectations, it is likely that the consumer will have a positive image of the brand and will repurchase the product or service.
This is where loyalty is generated between the consumer and the brand. In contrast, the decisions of fans of a team or followers of a particular athlete are based on a completely different criterion: emotions.Some team fans have been fans since birth, like their parents and grandparents before them.
They have not chosen to follow the team in question by choice.It's hard to understand if you don't feel your club's colors in your blood.
Creating a fan base and not a customer base is the big difference between sports marketing and "traditional" marketing.
Some characteristics of the fan:
The fan identifies with the team or athlete they follow. This notion of identification is powerful, and the person is influenced by the behavior of the team and individual players on that team, on and off the field, mainly through the team's and/or players' social networks.
The fan is likely to be encouraged to buy products related to the team or athlete they support because they have a relationship with their idol: sports equipment, jerseys, scarves, etc... This is an essential element to consider in your strategic process.
Follow the league or competition in which your favorite athlete plays.
The team or athlete you support is a social factor in your life: you spend a lot of time talking about the team, the players, their results, and transfers... Well, everything that surrounds it. Thus, the fan is an excellent evangelizer of the club-athlete brand.
An industry dependent on results
The strength of the sports industry is its enormous economic potential and a broad public.
But not everything could be a bed of roses, could it?
In sports marketing, the economic aspect can be a weak point. Investing in a club, an athlete, or a sports league can be a risky bet for many brands, as sports results can be different from one season to another. Of course, if you want to avoid these risks, you can invest in brands that are successful (almost) every season: Real Madrid, Barça, or the Golden State Warriors, to name just a few.
But of course, these are costly investments and only affordable for some. And, let's be clear, they are only sometimes 100% secure.
Who could have predicted pro boxer Anthony Joshua's loss to Andy Ruiz?
Certainly not me.
In addition, sponsoring an unsuccessful brand can sometimes be harmful to the brand's image.
Therefore, many aspects must be considered before investing, such as the history of the team or athlete, its potential and ambitions, and its values, among others.
As you have seen, the concept of sports marketing is very broad and we could talk all day long about all its characteristics.
To sum up, what must be clear to you is that the most important point to take into account in a sports marketing strategy is the social aspect: sport is, above all, a creator of social cohesion and your target audience is not ordinary consumers, but people who feel a real passion and devotion for their favorite team or athlete.
The sports marketing strategies that can be implemented are numerous, but the most important thing will be to choose the one that is most relevant to your brand, your budget, the type of target audience you want to reach and the goals you have set for yourself.
If you are not an expert in sports marketing you will have to try several strategies until you find the right one. But don't despair, you're sure to learn something new with each one.
Now it's your turn: what is your experience with sports marketing? Have you collaborated with any team or athlete? Leave a comment explaining your experience, positive or negative.