Sports Advertising

UM Email - Sports Advertising
University of Michigan Email – Sports Advertising

What makes good sports advertising? First of all, “good” is a dead word, so I shouldn’t have used it at all in the first place. Good means that something is positive or attractive; not necessarily over the top or something that really catches your attention, but just a little bit better than something that gets overlooked or at least leaves some kind of mark on your brain enough to want to remember. That’s what good means…so let’s go with what is great sports advertising?

Great sports advertising tells you about what it is that you were looking for or fill in the gaps of your life where you were previously missing something. Good sports advertising should: be intriguing, connect with fans, be memorable, be informative and have a call to action. The purpose of advertising is to get your fans to act in some way, whether that be to make a purchase now or in the future or to build a connection with your fans by solidifying how you fulfill their needs with what sports provide. Let’s dive a little deeper into what good sports advertising means.

I love advertising. Wait – let me rephrase…I love good advertising (just can’t seem to get away from that word). Yes, I really do. Never should an advertisement try to reach every person who might come across that ad. The purpose of advertising is to convey some sort of message to the audience the organization doing the advertising is trying to reach. Therefore, with your mission, vision, values and goals in mind, your ad must be something worthy of my attention. In some way it must make me want to stop whatever it is that I was already doing to pay attention to what you have to offer or whatever you are saying. Good sports advertising can be intriguing for many reasons – just look to your athletes and fans and listen to what they are saying. The stuff that gets talked about, shared and liked is the stuff that is intriguing. Use that stuff for good sports advertising.

Connect with fans
Good sports advertising makes connections where there were none before and strengthens the ones that already existed. For the fans where there was no previous connection, this is the “a-ha” moment where you finally did a good enough job of telling them what it is that you can offer them. This is the part where you finally did enough to be clear about what it is that you offer to your fans so much so that the news ones realized what it is that you offer is what they needed in the first place. For the fans that already had a connection with you, you are reaffirming their affinity for your brand by reassuring them that it’s really you. They nod their heads in agreement – yes, this is my team, my community, my school. This is what I live for and what makes me more of that which I already am – a fan.

No one remembers anything that wasn’t memorable. That’s why you don’t remember anything that you don’t remember – it either wasn’t important or it wasn’t memorable, one of the two. Confused yet? Here is it: Don’t be ordinary and don’t be average. No matter who you are, there is something you offer that can be memorable. Think about your favorite or most exciting moments as a fan or student or what it is that you hear people talking about after games. What was that one thing that made it all worth it to be at that game? I can tell you at least a handful of sports memories that I’ll never forget – some good, some bad – that could be used as sports advertising. Your sports ads should include some element of the unforgettable. Here’s an idea: while showing old video clips a voice actor can narrate, “Remember when player x make that great play? Don’t miss the action this weekend and get your tickets now,” or whatever the case may be. Don’t be forgotten – there’s no excuse for not being memorable when you work in sports.

Good sports advertising is informative in that it lets your fans know exactly who you are, what it is that’s being presented, and what the purpose is of you talking to them in this way. Good sports advertising is concise and communicates what it is that you represent to your fans and everyone else looking for what it is that you have to offer, regardless of the Win/Loss record. In sports, winning isn’t everything, but it sure is fun to win. Sports advertising will have a very specific message that relates to the bigger picture in some way and will not necessarily focus on the wins and losses.

Call to Action
This is the part of the advertisement where you specifically ask them to do something – buy tickets now, visit our website, follow us on social media, or invite someone to the game with you. This is the part where you ask them to take the next step in your relationship as a team and it’s fans.

Sports advertising should be intriguing, informative, connect with fans, be memorable, and include some sort of call to action in order to be effective. Pool your resources and give your fans what they want.

GO Forth!

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Team versus Program – A Sports Marketing Approach

When it comes to figuring out the 50,000 foot view of sports marketing, there are two angles to take – do you sell the team? Or do you sell the program? Sometimes it is appropriate to do both. Sometimes its better to just pick one and run with that. If your program is doing outbound sales, it’s a good idea to make sure they are aware of both ways of approaching their conversations with potential clients.

The team is the group that plays right now. The current roster. Sometimes, these are the people that your fans are paying to see. If you don’t have anything else, maybe you’ve got a couple of superstars or a group of seniors that dominate or a new transfer or trade that makes your team worth watching. Maybe you’ve got a couple of one-and-done type of players that you just can’t miss or “see them while they’re still amateurs” kind of players. That’s the team angle of sports marketing – selling your current roster and the people playing right now.

The program is who you really are – what you and the people before you have worked to develop over the years and what you stand for as an organization. When you think of certain sport organizations from around the world, these are the ones that immediately come to mind; these are also the programs you have to stop and think about any famous players that may have come from their sidelines. These are the ones synonymous with greatness (or worse in some cases…). Sure, there are great players that rose to the occasion of playing for one of these teams and became famous, or better yet, legendary, but it’s really the program that comes first in this scenario. Regardless of your history, the essence of your program is worth being a part of – if you’ve taken the time to figure out your mission, vision, values and goals. If you have, you know what you stand for and what kind of “program” you are selling. In this case, the program angle of sports marketing is the bigger picture of getting people who want what you’re selling.

Team vs. Program – Figure out which angle your sports marketing is going to go and get everything lined up consistently.

Go Forth!

Who are your customers and why are they going to give you money?

Well, do you have an answer? In my opinion, you’ve got to find some way to be remarkable to the people you are trying to reach, otherwise your business is not going to last with only the limited number that already buy from you. You’ve got to continue to find more people that fit the thing you are trying to do – regardless of what it is that you’re selling.

All sport organizations sell stuff and many do quite well – but how many actually have something more they are trying to accomplish (mission, vision, etc.)? How about your organization? Now it’s one to thing to have something to work for, while it’s another thing completely to actually do the work that matters and gets you closer to those ends. Yes, we need to make money and there are limited ways in which we can do that in sports (some of which can be significant, yes), however that is hopefully not the purpose for why you exist. If it’s only the sales numbers that matter, you are surely bound to burn out when it gets really tough – unless you’ve got the belief that what it is you are selling is something greater than just a transaction.

And that’s exactly what I think sports offer that a lot of other industries do not. Sport is about the potential of the human will to overcome obstacles when faced with adversity. It’s about achieving a sense of personal discipline (physical, mental, spiritual) that must be developed over a period of time in order to achieve something great. In doing so, the dedication of the few inspires the many. The few unite the communities that surround them and encourage a cross-cultural connection that extends beyond limitations and boundaries; we become more of that which we already are.

So who are these people that you are trying to reach and why are they going to give you their money? You need their money and they need entertainment and connection with something greater than themselves. To give them what they want, you’ve got to make every single interaction you have with your fans about more than just “gimme gimme gimme.” If all you do is ask for them to buy all the time and attempt to “trick” them into spending money with you, you’re not going to do very well and you are going to turn many people off quicker than you can fathom.

Instead you should develop a relationship with them. Every interaction ought to be more than just about you selling stuff and throwing as many promos out at them – it should feel more natural and human. You don’t do that when you email your friends and family do you – just asking them for favors and for money all the time? No, of course not – so don’t do that with your fans. Visualize the communications you have with your fans as you do the relationships you have with everyone else in your life.

Relationships are something that will be always be changing and something for which you will always be working on making better. True relationships never end and as long as you want to exist as a sport organization, neither should your relationship with your fans. Treat them like the human beings they are and they will repay you first with their attention (the most precious thing they can give you, especially today) and second with their dollars.

I realize it’s a tough road and it’s hardly ever easy. You can’t let up and you’ve got to be working just as hard as the athletes you represent who are doing their best to win everyday.

Go Forth!

Thanks for reading Bill’s Sports Business Blog – enter your email to subscribe and leave your comments below! For further reading on the subject of being remarkable, check out Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin (affiliate).

The Weekly Round-Up

I thought today I would change it up a bit and instead list a recap of the week’s posts.

The unofficial theme this week was storytelling, which went live on Sunday.

Then on Monday the story theme went a little further into the idea of what a story is when we asked the question, “What’s the story they’re telling themselves?” This was about not just telling stories about your brand to your customers, but rather a look at how to understand where your customers are coming from and how to relate.

Tuesday’s post was one that got into why it is not just important to be different, but to be aware that your difference is what makes your brand unique. Be Clear About the Difference.

On Wednesday during the World Series, I thought it was interesting how unscripted the post-game presentation and interviews seemed. I enjoyed watching the players’ reactions, though probably not as much as the world’s Red Sox fans. In that post I stress the importance for training your staff and players on how to deal with the media.

And finally yesterday we looked at the 3 main things that should be on the front page of any sports team’s website – a way to buy tickets, a way to buy merchandise, and a way to donate.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another post, so stay tuned. And until then, sign up for my email list for instant updates.

Go Forth!

What’s the Story They’re Telling Themselves?

Anytime you are trying to sell something or trying to convince someone of something you have to try to understand the story they are telling themselves. What is it that makes this person unique and how has their past gotten them to the point they are now? What background and understanding does this person have about the thing that I’m offering, or potentially offering?

Does this person care about the university?
Are they a fan of the coach?
Are they a fan of a few of the players on the team?
Did they grow up with the organization and become a fan that way?
Were they sick and in the hospital at some point in their past and were they visited by the team mascot?
What is their history and understanding of the sport itself?
Who do they usually go to games with? Family or friends or both?
Are they interested in tailgating?
What other things do they do to occupy their time?
Do they have time for all of the games over the course of the season or would a smaller plan be better?
Are they someone who only watches at home for the replays and the stats coming in from various sources?

These are all questions relative to a sales conversation that must at least be in the back of your mind when talking to someone new about what it is that you’re offering. If their story doesn’t somehow line up with yours, then its probably best to just move on to the next conversation. Don’t waste your time trying convince someone who probably won’t change anyway, especially with the reality that there are others on your list who really do want what it is that you’re offering. Find the people that want what you have and have the need for your solution.

The same principle applies with customer service – what’s the story they are telling themselves? When someone calls to complain, where are they coming from? What state of mind were they in when the bad thing happened? What have their past experiences been like that led them to the point they are now? You’re not going to convince someone of something unless you can learn the other parts of their story. Doing so gives you a foundation from which to start developing a positive outcome.

Learn the story your customers are telling themselves and help them complete that story with an ending you can offer. What do you think?

Go Forth!

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