Sports events are like gigantic magnets, bringing global attention and widespread media coverage for brands, since they embrace tremendous connecting power.
Marketing professionals usually prepare a detailed plan for their sports-related marketing campaign. But you are facing harsh competition with other brands to grab public attention, possibly crushing your brand if you don't prepare a proper strategy beforehand.
These eight tips below will help you avoid typical pitfalls such as being back-lashed, wasting resources, or being in the shadows of your competitors.
1. Show up at the right event
A sports event can be either a single match, a tournament, championship, or a festival that appeals to a wide variety of audience types. Sports events occur all around the world and vary within a wide range of scope and audience base. Your job is to pick the one that is specifically suited for your brand.
There are well-known big ones such as the Olympic Games, the Super Bowl, and the Masters, but also a lot smaller ones that happen only in your local region.
In order to make sure you choose the right event, you need to carefully assess what type of audience would be at the event itself (live) and also those that may be watching the event from home on TV or reading from social networks. Depending on your target audience and your budget, the best events could be either local, regional, or global in scale.
2. Set a clear goal
Just like your other marketing campaigns, a sports-related campaign needs a goal as well. It could be to raise brand awareness, boost sales revenue, or both.
You can reinforce the feasibility of the goal by evaluating it based on SMART concept. SMART is an acronym that stands for necessary criteria for establishing a winning goal including "Specific," "Measurable," "Actionable," "Reasonable," and "Time-bound." “Measurable” is especially important when setting your goal. Decide what your KPIs are so that you can adjust your campaign at any point when it looks like it’s not performing as well as you had planned.
3. Present unique ideas
Different ideas for your campaign are empowered by creativity. And that creativity originates from a thorough understanding of your products/services as well as your target audience. You should focus on how your offerings could attract attention and reach your target audiences' hearts during the event. You need to keep in mind that people at the event are there to watch “sports”, so never be too pushy and aggressive by just merely showing your “brand” out of context.
For example, during the Olympics Winter Games in Korea at the beginning of 2018, Samsung promoted its newly-released Galaxy S9+ by being the event's official partner. Within a 50-seconds video, Samsung showed the world how its new phone's camera could capture spectacular images and videos of the Games. Not only would it allow sports fans to create great memories but also by sharing those videos and images, bring real in-game experience to others who could not participate to the live event. This is a great example of how to bring your brand and sports together in a creative way.
Phones, tablets, TV, and screens are perfect products that can contribute to the quality of the Games' experience. Other types of products such as food, snack, construction supplies, and sportswears can also fit well with a meaningful message. So open your mind and let your imagination flow. Some ideas could be like "make friends with beer and snack" or "Mom's love bolsters a child's success."
Check out P&G's video ad "Thank you, Mom" and “P&G Thank You, Mom /Pick Them Back Up” as well as the hashtag #LoveOverBias on Twitter. Who wouldn’t be touched by these heartwarming unique messages? The brand is subtle in the background but surely it will stay in the minds of the viewer.
4. Understand your target audience base
As mentioned in my first tip, you need to understand your target audience base if you were to choose the sports event best fit for your brand. If you are targeting a specific group that connected with certain niche topic instead of the vast audience, an international sports event like The Olympic Games or The World Cup may not be the perfect choice.
People living in different countries and regions prefer different games. You can find the most popular ones by looking at the world ranking of national teams. For example, the UK is famous for football with well-known clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal. There are a huge number of both domestic and international fans watching the football games when the Premier League season starts. If you want to penetrate the British market, consider this event.
In addition to common sports, people talk about rare sports events when their national teams are participating. They will pay more attention to a particular event if athletes earn more awards and medals. Follow the news and listen to the conversations around these events. You could create ad-hoc campaigns which might bring you surprising returns.
5. Engage with the audience
Sports events encourage people to actively join the crowd’s conversations, both in real life and on social media. Running a campaign on multiple social media platforms might increase engagement of your target audience with your brand.
Do some research on your competitors’ social activities, check new features and policies provided by Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and craft the most creative idea for your campaign.
You could divide the event into phases and use different approaches for each of them. For example, schedule posts with images and videos before the games break out, live-stream and get people involved in a betting about the results during the in-game phase, and reward those that got it right in some unique way.
6. Collaborate with influencers and brand ambassadors
Big brands are competing to have an A-list sports star be their brand ambassadors, especially ones who have outperformed during a game. However, even if you can cover the cutthroat costs to work with one of them, your brand might be in the shadows of other brands using the same superstar.
To make your brand stand out, instead of using mega-influencers like superstars, consider collaborating with macro, micro, and nano-influencers. They can be sports agencies, journalists, commentators, and fans with a relatively high follower count.
Despite smaller follower counts compared to mega-influencers, these types of influencer can reach a more focused and dedicated audience group, thereby boosting the engagement and conversion rate.
Choosing the right influencers who can be in line with your goal is essential. Look at their core values and how they promote themselves. Evaluate whether the influencers are willing to and can deliver your brand message to your target audience. If you are new to influencer marketing, get professional support from social media analytics service, which can save you time and resources to kick-start your influencer campaign linked with sports events.
7. Measuring KPIs
KPIs of a sports marketing campaign need to be tracked on a continued basis.
Here are six must-have KPIs for a sports marketing campaign:
- Sales revenue: Categorizing the sources of sales and tracking special promotional codes give you more accurate view over your sports marketing campaign. Did sales revenue increase during the duration of the campaign?
- Follower gain: Did your campaign help you increase awareness, thereby increasing the amount of followers on social media accounts?
- Engagement metrics: The increase in engagement rate and volume can be measured post by post. This indicator will help you see which content attracts attention, in other words, what works and what doesn’t.
- Conversation level: Encouraging your audience to use your unique hashtags during a campaign facilitates tracking relevant social conversations.
- Reach level: This indicates the scale of audience pool your hashtag and brand/product name could reach. The reach level will rise if there is support from multiple influencers.
- Sentiment score: This indicates whether your hashtag and brand/product have sparked positive or negative sentiment amongst your target audience. Without this indicator, the conversation and visibility gains don’t really mean much, since the conversation could be full of negative comments towards your brand.
8. Tracking emerging influencers
Besides tracking the performance of your influencers, you should also pay attention to newly emerging high-profile users who have mentioned your brand while your campaign has been running.
If those new influencers, who are saying positive things about your brand, work in sports-related field, this proves that your campaign has been doing well. You can also consider working with these new influencers in the future.
Summing it up
Sports events and social media platforms set a stage for your brand to shine if you have mapped out a fine route which touches all essential points from having clear goals and KPIs, identifying the right event, understanding your target audience base, recognizing influencers, and tracking your campaign on continuous basis.
Since your campaign is related to sports or happens around a sports event, the brand message should be an energetic activist that bridges people, sports, and positive lifestyle.
Ready to start a sports-related marketing campaign on social media? Don't forget to have social media analytics service in place and you know who to contact!