Define Your Sports Marketing Strategy for Next Season and the Future
Most of us were attracted to sports for the love of competition – not the business. But there are a lot of similarities. From planning strategies to get the word out about your program and driving revenue to the actual execution, everyone is competing for time, eyeballs, and dollars. And of course, there are the daily challenges (sometimes fires) where opportunities present themselves and you have to be ready in the moment. That’s why planning and specifically, the process of planning, is invaluable.
Evolving with the Playing Field
Believe it or not, the football shotgun formation was once considered risky and advanced in the NFL. Now high school teams (and probably even younger teams) think nothing of it. Similarly, the opportunities and expectations for fans have changed dramatically.
Forward-thinking athletic departments are changing with them, recognizing the need to be omnipresent through their fans’ preferred channels. Like moving quarterbacks away from the center, there’s a shift from the traditional static website to more dynamic interactive portals, with quicker and more accessible options. Students and fans want access behind the scenes AND to streaming AND accessing on-demand content. They aren’t willing to settle in any area.
Following are four areas most impacted by these changes.
Coaches and Staff
Coaches will see the benefit of improved marketing programs through the extension of their recruitment efforts online. By developing virtual recruitment offices on their athletic website and signing day celebrations with embedded videos and social channels on that page they can deliver their message when they can’t be there in person. These strategies allow athletic brands, coaches, and athletes to be accessible on multiple channels and wherever their audience is.
Expectations around live game experiences have evolved, and must now be replicated into different sorts of audio-visual content and interactions that allow the fan experience to be longer, more frequent, and have an increasingly higher reach. There is a need to provide continuous opportunities for fans to be part of their teams’ daily life like never before. With the right marketing strategy and solutions in place, programs can create a fan-team relationship that surpasses the boundaries of the game itself
Athletic programs are also looking to find alternatives to relying solely on ticket revenue by optimizing their digital advertising real estate with a clearer understanding of impressions and return. Schools must plan advertising around their individual funding goals on their website, mobile app, and streaming pre-roll. When strategically used, enhanced targeting, content creation, and performance analytics allow departments to fund their programs while connecting their fans to the content and offers that are most relevant to them.
How athletic departments perceive their marketing funnel has been altered. Where before it was a ticket purchase and maybe a stop at the bookstore or spirit shop, now it's a journey. Your funnel is a useful model for visualizing each step every fan takes from initial awareness all the way through conversions – and reconnecting in the future. It provides a useful framework through which you can analyze strengths and identify areas of opportunity
Moving Up a Division
To meet all of these new expectations and requirements, athletic departments have to work as a seasoned team not just in the promotion and publication of content, but in the engagement, outreach, and interaction with both athletes and fans. It’s a big ask of typically already lean departments and will require a well-executed marketing strategy with added responsibilities. That’s the reason we created this playbook, complete with templates, exercises, calendars, and work plans. It’s everything you need to help get your team up to game speed in the shortest time possible.