Sports marketers need skills for integrating different elements of social media such as tweets, blogs, wall posts, and chats.
“Broadcast messages are as effective as direct messages when marketing fun products but not when marketing useful products,” Christian Shulze and colleagues.
By JOHN OREDO
Sam Fullerton and Russel Merz in a paper titled “The Four Domains of Sports Marketing” published in the journal “Sports Marketing Quarterly” trace the genesis of the term “sports marketing” to a story in the 1978 issue of the magazine ‘Advertising Age”. In that magazine, sports marketing is described activities of consumers and industrial products and service marketers who are increasingly using sports as a promotional vehicle. Sports marketing therefore, is the application of marketing principles in an effort to satisfy the needs of sports consumers and customers. It is a double pronged concept that means both marketing of sports and marketing through sports. Marketing of sports involves promoting sports products and services to a targeted set of consumers, while marketing through sports implies marketing an array of non-sports products to market segments that have a personal investment in sports entities such as athletes, events and teams.
There are three guiding principles to sports marketing. The first is to understand the sports marketing focus in terms of marketing of sports and marketing through sports. The second principle is about determining the nature of the product or service being marketed – are they sports or non-sports products and services. Lastly, determining the level of integration of sports within the marketing strategy. All these principles need to inform any sports marketing strategy, whether traditional or digital. In sports marketing today, it is important to note that the digital natives – that generation of citizens that have grown up taking for granted instant access to digital information – is entering the workplace and would be the greatest consumers of sports products and services. This generation, also known as the netizens, forms the mass market of tomorrow. The changes in consumer behaviour as epitomized by the netizens require marketers to rethink their marketing strategies in the digital domain. Digital marketing is poised to overtake traditional media given that they are “lean forward” as they require greater degree of interactivity compared to traditional media, which involves little interactivity and are therefore said to be “lean back.”
Digital media assets
Digital media is shifting the nature of marketing to one of customer centricity, massive micro-campaigns and focus on the customer’s decision journey. A sports marketing strategy like any other marketing strategy should identify and define digital media assets to employ. This process will take a deep appreciation and an understanding of what each digital media asset, whether a technology or a platform, has to offer and the vision to innovate with it in ways that suit sports marketing. The other important consideration in identifying digital media assets to employ in a marketing campaign is the type of sports product being promoted – is it a fun product or it is primarily useful? According to an article by Christian Shulze and colleagues on customizing social media marketing published in the Winter 2015 issue of MITSloan Management review, broadcast messages are as effective as direct messages when marketing fun products but not when marketing useful products.
Most organizations today rely on their websites to reach a broad range of current and potential customers. A company’s website provides the first contact point between a seller and a potential customer. An effective website should exhibit good quality around its appearance, content, usability and information architecture. For example, a sports league’s website should have information about the fixtures, match results, how to get tickets for each match, league stories, links to individual team’s websites, communities and fan pages just to mention a few. The website content can be in the form of blog posts, articles, e-books, videos and infographics. An interesting website is a value added experience. Websites can also be used as tools to mount a marketing through sports campaign. A sponsor of a team can conduct affiliate advertising through the website of the team. E-mails and subscriber lists are also useful tools for sports marketing if used judiciously. E-mail lists have become a precious commodity for both good and bad reasons. With proper segmentation and targeting, e-mail lists can be used for sending information about products, services, content and even announcements. The best way to credible lists is through subscription.
Getting it right
The poster child for digital marketing is indisputably social media. As the number of social media users climb with Facebook hitting 1.71 billion users followed by Whatsapp at 1 billion as at September 2016 (Statistita.Com), many companies are going beyond simply establishing a social presence to aim at getting social media marketing right. Sports fans today are more connected to social media during sporting events and marketers who are able to reach them during their team’s most exciting moments will be able to expand reach, activate fans bases and drive engagement. Sports marketers need skills for integrating different elements of social media such as tweets, blogs, wall posts, and chats. One way that allows users to create content around a particular theme, maybe a player or an impending match is by creating hash tags (#). From the aggregated content, marketers can identify influencers – usually self-made, who have caught the attention of certain demographics. These influencers can be used to bring sports services and products to the attention of customers. In the middle of all these digital media content, big data analytics plays a big role. Current digital media ecosystems are closely associated with large amounts of data (volume), high rate of data creation (velocity), different types of data (variety) and varying credibility and reliability of data sources (veracity). This type of data requires new techniques to capture, analyse and store. The analytics part is what enables marketers to mine the big data for patterns and trends that can inform marketing strategies.
Dr. John Otieno Oredo is a lecturer and researcher in digital business strategies and holds a PhD in Strategic Information Systems.Email:firstname.lastname@example.org