Sports marketing can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. But it’s important to remember, fans don’t see themselves as consumers. They’re part of the team and therefore will demonstrate incredible loyalty and support. By providing a frictionless and quality experience, fan engagement will get a boost, leading to new fans, a stronger brand, and new recruitment opportunities. So how can you stay ahead of the curve and provide an experience that is authentic to your brand? Below are five predictions we believe will impact the future of fan engagement.
1. Programs Will Discover New Ways to Take the Campus to theRecruit
“Take campus to the recruit,” is the mandate Director of New and Creative Media Jonathan Gantt and his team got from their leadership at Clemson Athletics.“The driving force of our social channels is to answer the question, what is it like to be a Clemson Tiger? We’re constantly trying to create content to answer that question,” Gantt explained. Your program’s website and video content extend well beyond the excitement of the game. By creating a platform built and designed for the fan and athlete experience, new recruits get a first-hand look at what life on your campus and with your program will be like.
2. SIDs Will Up the Ante on Creating Great Content (and Lots of Video)
Okay, this is probably less of a prediction and more of a reminder to commit. In sports marketing, you know you need to stand out from the pack and that mediocre content won’t get you far. The good news is that by being bold and publishing great content, you will be rewarded. In particular, live video experiences ensure fans have an easy way to interact and engage with your program and other fans as well. What is more future-forward is the ability to deliver full-scale production using a single platform. For example, StretchCast (newly released by PrestoSports and NewBlueFX) harnesses the power of NewBlueFX’s award-winning graphics while providing enhanced production capabilities including live video source switching, instant replay, and video playback. The result is a dramatically enriched viewing experience without the major investment of a studio. It’s certainly steps ahead of correlating parent and fan-filmed video.
3. Strong Distribution Will Be Just as Important as Strong Content
“Content is king, but without distribution, you’re the king of nothing. You’re the king of an empty empire,” Jodain Massad, Executive Producer for Notre Dame Athletics told the crowd at SFEC. He explained the key to strong distribution is to be “platform agnostic” – don’t start with the platform you want to use to tell the story, start with how you want your fans to feel when they see that story. Then think about how you can tell that story on each platform. PrestoSports’s new StretchLive platform allows for that agnostic, but brand-specific, experience.
4. Victory Is a Sweet Thrill, but the Thrill Will Be Even Sweeter
But creating ‘in the moment’ thrills may be even more difficult than winning medals and trophies. To hit the right spot with your fans, in good and bad times, it’s important to really understand the fan to drive engagement. And this buzz extends to the fans who choose to stay home. If the atmosphere is lively, noisy and seats are gleaming with team colors, your fan experience can permeate through streaming opportunities. Tampa Bay Lightning came up with an impressive trick to make sure their stadium appear all blue, black and white – the club sold jerseys with embedded RFID chips to season ticket holders. The chip enables fans to get 25% discounts on club merchandise, food, and drinks – thus driving both season ticket sales and desired dress code. It is also created the energized experience the Lightning were looking to capture.
5. B (F(x)) = U(K + ME) Will Become the Formula for Success
Don’t you wish you paid attention in calculus class now? Per Brad Meriwether of the Atlanta Braves, this equation simply stands for: Brand (Fan Experience) = User Experience (Knowledge + Memory & Emotion) Appears balanced to me! As the Braves prepared to open their new state of the art baseball stadium in SunTrust Park, significant attention was allocated to executing a groundbreaking fan experience to coincide with the grand opening. Sports programs can reinvigorate and re-engage with fans through campus and program projects. The anticipation associated with these projects are a cause for great excitement, so be sure to energize your fan base by tapping into their emotions. This may be accomplished by paying homage to tradition, as well as those who paved the way for what’s to come.
With the growth of online and mobile channels, delivering an engaging and consistent fan experience has never been more challenging. The role of supporter engagement will only increase in the future as the next generation of digitally savvy fans grow in number. By leveraging the right technology and support, you can create the experience your fans crave.
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