The Ultimate Guide to Sports Marketing (Part 1)
7 minute read · Issue Number 58 · Match 5th, 2021
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Today, most companies in the sports industry compete to gain a piece of our precious attention. To understand how that competition works, we need to learn about sports marketing.
In sports marketing, success means being able to best position a club, player, technology, product, league, service, or event in a highly competitive market.
Failure means struggling with brand awareness and consumer disinterest.
This three-part series of Sports-Tech Biz will cover some of the essential concepts of sports marketing to equip you (the reader!) with an intellectual understanding of its foundational elements.
Are you ready?
What is Sports Marketing?
“Sports marketing is the process of planning the positioning of a sports brand and how the delivery of its products or services establishes a relationship between a sports brand and its consumers.”
Not so long ago, sports were barely commercialized – it was more a form of recreation, leisure, and entertainment.
Today, in almost all levels of sports, the story is entirely different.
With the introduction of television and athlete endorsements, and the development of social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, the globalization and commercialization of sports were just a byproduct.
Inevitably, the industry was flooded with sporting facilities, professional teams and leagues, fitness centers, coaches, athletes, and more, which raised the industry's competition level.
Don’t get me wrong — competition is good. Really good. Especially for us as consumers, since we want to consume the best content, watch the best teams and athletes, attend the best fitness centers, etc. You get the idea.
Here’s where sports marketing was born.
Many sports businesses have become professionally equipped and supported with specialized marketing services, programs, and expertise.
Companies in sports use marketing strategies to fulfill their goals, such as attracting more junior players, involving parents, increasing the company's public profile, entertaining spectators, acquiring sponsorships, or even winning the broadcasting rights deal.
One of the myths I’ve realized from the industry is that people think they must practice the sport or have a direct relationship with a team or league to say they work in sports. Let me put this straight;
The sports industry includes all the suppliers of products and services that solve the needs of sport consumers (aka, sports fans).
Let me say that again for the people in the back:
The sports industry includes all the suppliers of products and services that solve the needs of sport consumers.
Meaning, the sports industry is a marketplace where consumers can buy products and services associated with endless activities related to sports.
Who Consumes Sport?
The sports consumer is any individual who uses a sport-related product or service in exchange for a direct or indirect payment.
From a sports marketing perspective, the sports consumer lands into one (or many) of the following four categories:
Sporting goods: those who buy equipment related to sports such as apparel, merchandise, videogames, memorabilia, and others;
Service customers: those who buy a service or experience that does not involve viewing the sport (i.e., gambling, fitness, coaching, etc.).
Participants & volunteers: those who actively engage in the sport or engage in unpaid organizational roles;
Supporters, spectators, and fans: those who pay directly to watch the games live or indirectly pay through subscription services such as TV, internet, or others.
In practice, all categories overlap. As a result, understanding sport consumer motivations is a very complex task — and that’s why companies hire full marketing teams that try to figure this out 24/7, 365.
Next week, we’ll dive into part two of The Ultimate Guide to Sports Marketing, where we’ll analyze the sports marketing process. If you’re new here or you read this online, sign up for the newsletter to get part two and three in your inbox for free:
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