What have we learned at SPORTO Conference?

It was a very interesting and insightful conference this year in Portorož, and like every year, we decided to highlight the best things from the sports marketing and sponsorship industry.

1. INNOVATION OF TECHNOLOGY IS NOT ENOUGH

We live in a golden age of technology where everything revolves around new tech. VR is the latest trend that everyone has been doing in the past 12-18 months. And lately 360 has caught on. But this innovation of technology is not enough, you need to be able to tell a story. And not only that! As Jeremy Edwards from Activative put it: “You need to have a good story and the people you will tell this story to at the right time.” That is key.  

You need to have a good story and the people you will tell this story to at the right time.

Jeremy Edwards

Head of Content and Consulting, ACTIVATIVE

2. CONNECT FANS AND THEIR PASSIONS

Brands connect the audience with things they are passionate about and move out of the way, let the conversation happen between people. This is is most simple and the best way to go. Just connect your fans with what they love and what they’re passionate about. And it is always a plus if there is already a synergy between your brand and what you’re trying to say. This is what Heineken, a Champions League sponsor is really, really good at.

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3. WORK WITHIN YOUR BUDGET

Some sponsorship activations cost millions of dollars, and some, like the one below, are free of charge! Most of you have probably seen it, but for those who missed it…

Finances are key. Not every club has the same marketing budget, and they never will. You need to be aware of how much money you have for marketing in your club and work with what you have. If you are a small club, work on a local level. Some sponsorship activations are designed to work on a local level. Because of the budget, local activations cannot be as, for example Heineken activations, but they have the same effect on a local level as Heineken does on a global level.

4. CONSUMERS HAVE CHANGED

You need data to understand your consumers! To know what is your audience interested in, you need data. “If I am wasting your time, you will leave and do something more important,” Matt Rogan of Two Circles said at the conference. One thing that needs to be understood is that data is the enabler, and it is not inventory in itself. The key is integration of data.

For example, you need to understand who buys what, when and why. Not everyone will buy your season tickets at the same time. Some will buy them as soon as they go out for sale, and some will buy them a day before the first game. You need to understand that and use smart digital marketing on top of database. As Matt Rogan noted, “you need digital and data to make it happen”.

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5. CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE

It takes a brave person to change a routine. Once you get to doing something one way and it works for you, it is hard to break the routine that you feel comfortable in. But, if you feel that something in your strategy does not work, then it should be changed. Review what has been done, what has worked, and cut what hasn’t. Use data to inform and not justify, it should help you change, and help you justify your decisions.

6. BE CONSISTENT AND SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE

Be consistent and do things differently, and this is especially important for clubs with a smaller budget. It’s not ALL about money, sometimes creativity plays a big role in marketing. And one thing that always works is the quality of content. You can put out tons of content out through your channels, but your audience will not care if it is not quality content they want.

Another thing that needs to be noted is that clubs tend to keep everything to themselves. James Kennedy, Head of Marketing at Southampton FC, said: “We need to share our knowledge, and we do, we share everything with our fans because we think of them as part of our club, our family, and part of what we do.” For example, Southampton FC shares on their website a free training programme created by their trainers and nutricionists after Christmas break. And we know we could all use one after the festivities are over.

We need to share our knowledge, and we do, we share everything with our fans because we think of them as part of our club, our family, and part of what we do.

James Kennedy

Head of Marketing, Southampton FC

7. SPONSORSHIP ACTIVATIONS

Sponsorship is no longer about banners, posters,etc. As Matthew Leopold from British Gas said, “sponsorship has seen little evolution”. It hasn’t changed much, it has just adapted to the times we are living in. To activate sponsorships successfully, you need creativity, you need to be realistic, you need to go after customers’ emotions, you need data (that you understand), and in most cases little or a lot of money.

We’ve seen how some brands activate in the above videos, but here are a few more examples.

A great example of this is the Gatorade SuperBowl investment. They spent $50.000 for their Snapchat campaign. At the same time, many big companies invested $4 million for a 30 second TV ad during SuperBowl. The game was watched on TV by 150 million people, and the Snapchat campaign was seen by 165 million people! You do the math.

Another great way to activate sponsorship is through shareable apps. One of the best campaigns was created by Nissan through their DIE HARD FAN app in which they targeted all NCAA fans. Fans could choose their team, then scan their faces, choose their favorite face painting design, record themselves cheering and then share it on social. They had 35 million face paint designs, and 100 million impressions. Not too shabby.

 

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Vedran Vukušić

Vedran Vukušić

Overtime Sports Marketing

If you have any questions about sports marketing, feel free to contact me at vedran@promoovertime.com

Marijan Palić

Marijan Palić

Overtime Sports Marketing

If you have any questions about sports marketing, feel free to contact me at marijan@promoovertime.com

Photo sources:

Sporto conference

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