Marketing Secrets from the Sports Industry

Marketing Secrets from the Sports Industry

Marketing inspiration can come from many sectors, but there’s one industry budding with commercial brands and entrepreneurs may overlook: the sports sector. The sports industry is built around fruitful and lasting endorsements and sponsorships and, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the total market could grow from $63.1 billion in 2021 to $109.1 billion by 2030. This clearly represents big business, so what can grassroots businesses and entrepreneurs learn from the sector?

Forming Partnerships ‘Outside the Box’

Louis Vuitton and the house of Dior may not seem like natural partners for the sweaty, challenging, and sometimes brutal world of sports and athletics, but when the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games get underway next month, that’s exactly what millions of global consumers will see.

Brands under the LVMH banner, including the aforementioned and Berluti, are onboard as official partners to the 2024 games, providing uniforms, supplying the medals, and sponsoring athletes for the first time in history. Professional swimmer Léon Marchand, European artistic gymnastics champion Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos, and Olympian fencer Enzo Lefort are among the several elite athletes who will be sponsored by the WHAT, marking the beginning of a radical type of ‘premium partnership’ between fashion brands and the sports realm.

This ‘out of the box’ partnership demonstrates just how important it is for cultural sectors to work together and form long-lasting relationships. The age of celebrity and digitalization means that there is a vast degree of commercial value to be found in the sports world, particularly with individual players having a huge amount of pulling power and cultural relevance.

Embracing New Innovations

Much like professional sports such as basketball, soccer, and athletics are continually integrating new technologies and innovations to improve both athlete performance and competitive competitions, the industry is known for embracing new innovations. Case in point: the latest partnership between Formula One and the OKX cryptocurrency exchange that’s also serving to heighten the presence of blockchain technology in sports.

The exchange, headquartered in the Seychelles, has become one of the newest sponsors of F1 team McLaren. Prior to the start of the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix, the exchange masterminded a touching tribute to the late, great Aryton Senna, which saw the entire team and its vehicles adorned with the Brazilian former World Champion’s home colors.

Endorsement partnerships involving emerging markets deliver mutual benefits to both parties. Sports teams can connect with new demographics and increase their levels of engagement, while sponsors stand to reap the rewards from aligning their occasionally niche offers with globally-popular, established sports and entertainment institutions.

The Power of Social Media

Social media is the cornerstone of any marketing strategy worth its salt, and it’s especially powerful in the sports industry. According to data leveraged by GeoSnapShot, around 43% of all global sports fans follow their favorite teams and leagues on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, while 41% watch live sports by streaming via digital platforms. What’s more, 43% of Gen Z and 32% of Millennial sports fans actually engage with social media platforms while watching matches and sporting events.

Clearly, there’s a substantial and primed audience out there and this is something the industry has leveraged to its advantage. CNBC has recently reported on the fact that corporate organizations who partner with sports teams now receive more impressions from exposure across social media than any other digital marketing channel. They’re also able to benefit from something called implicit endorsement, whereby merely the presence of their logo on signage or team kits is visible to consumers. Versus explicit endorsement—sponsored posts, transaction content etc.—implicit endorsement is viewed as being more authentic since it’s a much more seamless way for sponsors to be involved.

Sports Marketing Tips to Implement in Your Strategy

The sports industry is a multi-billion-dollar monolith so teams, organizations, and leagues will have big marketing budgets and plenty of resources to forge connections with fruitful sponsors. However, it is possible to learn a few tricks of the trade and apply them to your own marketing strategy, whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or building a budding business.

  • Utilize social media

Let’s start with the simplest, utilize the power of social media. Whether you choose to automate your posts and presence or prefer to control everything in-house, active engagement across all relevant platforms is crucial if you want to maintain a strong connection with your audience.

Things to apply include direct interaction through response to comments, sharing unique user-generated content, and creating interactive posts like polls and quizzes. While they may seem simple, applying these mini-strategies can foster heightened levels of engagement and interaction.

  • Capitalize on trends and cultural moments

An agile business is a successful one, so you should be regularly looking for the next big trend or cultural moment to capitalize on. Reacting quickly to trending topics or major cultural events that are relevant to your niche can amplify engagement and boost brand awareness.

  • Work with brand ambassadors and influencers

Don’t be wary of leveraging the potential found in brand ambassadors and influencers. Just as professional athletes can sway sports fans, credible influencers with substantial followers can help emerging businesses reach a wider audience and establish trust in their brand.

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