3 Sports Marketing Tips to Earn Championship Brand Fanfare

When it comes to building a brand, sports franchises have a leg up on the traditional business market. To elaborate, creating a brand identity and engagement is largely owed to the sport of play. For this reason, professional sports organizations identify and introduce teams to prime markets.

While not every person in the market is guaranteed to become a fan, a large fan base will already have assembled. However, what benefit does a local sports organization hold for a transplant fan? The interactive fan experience has developed far beyond earlier era’s.

Fanatics can now keep up with round the clock coverage through social media applications and online communities. In truth, sports organizations themselves have usurped even traditional media outlets like ESPN in providing fresh, regularly scheduled content and the latest news.

While that’s great news for the sports marketing news, how can this information be of use if your industry is not professional sports? 

While we can’t offer a sanctioned sporting event, we can examine some of the ways these organizations utilize branding to galvanize their audience.

1. Define Your Lifestyle

The energy drink company [Red Bull] was able to build a lifestyle brand by providing their users with original extreme sports content, and using social media to engage with this network of fans. The implication for sports marketers was to adopt a similar strategy for their own marketing campaigns.– Gary Parkinson, Scribble Live

Lifestyle brands like Apple are able to galvanize a community of supporters with not only an impeccable product, but philosophy. A key element to a lifestyle is a mentality, which by the nature of athletic competition, business owners are presented unique opportunities. 

Through co-branding we have seen clothing and apparel companies like FuBu partnering with Muhammad Ali, Tag Heuer with Eli Manning, and Wrangler with Brett Favre.

While some of these athletes have developed their own personal brand, others are considered to embody values highly favored by a propositioning brand. The goal is marry your image to the proven, tested, physical attributes of your co-branding athlete. 

For instance, Tag Heuer,

Renowned for their quality and precision, Swiss watches and luxury watches are one and the same. And within the world of Swiss watches, TAG Heuer timepieces are in a class apart. Boasting avant-garde design and advanced technology, they are more than just luxury timepieces or mere sports watches – they are in a category all their own.

By comparison, NFL quarterback Eli Manning is seen as a first-rate quarterback. His style of play while unconventional has a proven track record of superior performance in high-stakes situations; 2x Super Bowl Champion. More importantly, he is a philanthropist and founder of the Eli Manning Foundation.

So, how can you create a championship worthy brand without an athlete?

You don’t need an athlete, just transparency. Open up your organization to your audience and let them get to know who you are as a brand. You’re ultimately doing business with people and you want them to support your product/service in the same manner they would a professional sports organization.

Get them to root for the underdog, or the number 1 seed by:

  • Opening up on your office work life through social networking sites
  • Spotlighting issues/current events you care about
  • Become involved in the community — Community Outreach
2. Engage Through Mobile

Renowned for their quality and precision, Swiss watches and luxury watches are one and the same. And within the world of Swiss watches, TAG Heuer timepieces are in a class apart. Boasting avant-garde design and advanced technology, they are more than just luxury timepieces or mere sports watches – they are in a category all their own.

Sports organizations definitely understand the needs of their fans, as their industry thrives off their support. Therefore, they’re certain to let know fans know how appreciative they are through hosting live events, but more importantly, communicating them through mobile applications.

Whether it’s ‘Fan Appreciation Day’ or a free ticket giveaway, social networks are utilized for more than just a blog of record. They are used to develop strategy, research the target market, and organize the consumer base.

Through raw data analyzation everything from peak engagement hours, hashtag popularity, quality assurance, customer service, and demographics can be discerned.

While it’s great to know you can host a contest, wouldn’t it be better to know that you can let your fans organize their own contest?

Pop culture and trending topic content steadily flows into our social networks and can inspire the perfect idea for a contest. The above example is taken from the 2015 MLS Season Social Media Contest Outline.

So, don’t shy away from social, and treat your target audience like fans. It is one of your best assets for creating organic engagement, as well as, promoting organic, fan-inspired content/contests.

3. Encourage Them To Share Content

This goes back to defining a lifestyle and engaging through mobile. The ultimate goal is for our fans/customers to share our content. How exactly do you compel someone to share content though?

While we do recommend you direct your viewers/followers to comment, share, and subscribe there are more subtle ways to creating shareable content.

What do people enjoy more than witnessing the accomplishments of public figures?

Learning that they are ordinary people. To elaborate, as much as people enjoyed watching Michael Jordan redefine the game of basketball, they have been more interested in learning his story.

It’s for this reason the Jordan brand footwear and apparel line has become iconic. Not just for Jordan’s feats of athleticism, but the story incorporated into each shoe release’s design, functionality, colorway, and features.

Stories of repeated failure and ultimate triumph can be related across the human condition. No matter who you are and where you’re from, at some point or another you’ve probably faced adversity you had to overcome. While we all like to put forth our best face, the truth is we all fail quite regularly — It is the reason ‘Fail Compilations’ and shows with a similar format to America’s Funniest Home Videos are so popular.

Open up your office space and your creative space and let your audience see your day-to-day failures and mini-successes. It’s all a work in progress and feeds back into the mentality of giving your brand supporters an identity to root for.  

While we all enjoy flawless performance, we secretly want to know that we too are capable of amazing things. Don’t be afraid to show people the dirty work that goes into success.