The focus of any successful company, and their brand marketing strategies, should be their target audience, their team, and their industry. When considering some of the world’s largest brands, many have utilized sports and entertainment to strengthen their hold on the market and enhance their brand identity.
After all, what better way is there for brands to develop strong relationships with customers than with sports marketing and brand-enhanced experiences?
Think about it. To reach customers, marketers must create authentic experiences that touch people emotionally, stimulating brand recall and purchase intent. By investing in your customers, they’ll invest in you, and the cycle continues creating lasting loyalties and an emotional connection.
Digital Integration at Sporting Events
To reiterate, brand experiences consist of all the emotions, reactions, and sensations an individual feels in response to a particular brand. It is not limited to specific channels, social media platforms, or media types. Rather, it’s the lasting impression from marketing messaging, social media ads, and brand marketing that remains with an individual and reemerges anytime they engage with the brand, no matter the environment. We call this brand recognition.
As modern digital technology expands, so does the opportunity to create robust, memorable fan experiences and increase brand recognition. Brand marketing efforts are not limited by old parameters. And digital integration at sporting events allows you to connect with your customers via a brand-enhanced experience. After all, the goal of brand marketing is to implement visual elements that make your brand instantly recognizable, improve your company’s reputation, and place your company ahead of competition.
Digital integration comes in many forms: an interactive digital fan experience with information, such as clues, animations, or puzzles, delivered to your smartphone, a video, or even a collectible photo capture—turned into fond memories.
The fact that nearly every individual in the world has a smartphone opens up many opportunities to bring the experience into the user’s hands, making it more cost-effective for the brand, memorable for customers as they can actively engage with the brand, and long-lasting as they have a piece of the experience, a digital asset, to bring home.
Another excellent example of digital integration for a brand-enhanced experience is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is the practice of funding an idea, project, or venture by marketing your concept to a large number of individuals, typically via an online platform.
Consider developing a crowdfunding campaign to utilize at individual sporting events via tablet stations. This helps to generate additional revenue on-site by making it easy and convenient for the guest to see your efforts and provide support. You might also consider having raffles and prizes for individuals who donate a certain amount of money as an incentive.
Make it Measurable
Any strong brand marketing strategy is measurable. This is so you can compare it to other campaigns and continuously grow, increase your return on investment (ROI), and make your brand more successful by keeping customer loyalty and retention top of mind. Part of making a brand-enhanced marketing experience measurable is understanding the specific metrics beforehand so you can capture the right data. This ensures that your brand marketing efforts don’t go to waste.
An example of an effective and measurable brand marketing strategy is setting up tracking for the online or virtual component for your experience. You might also want to analyze visitors to your website and social accounts to see if they are random strangers or actual warm leads—individuals who fit your buyer persona. This increases your ROI as you can discontinue techniques that aren’t drawing in the right people and increase efforts in areas that are.
Capture the Right Data
The right data varies considerably. For example, if you’re measuring the success of your new jersey designs with the fan base, you will want to record how many jerseys are sold at each game and online during the season and compare it with past years. Another example is measuring the specific cost per lead at an event, i.e. the number of marketing dollars spent to drive individuals to an event divided by the number of individuals who attended.
To capture the right data, you need to understand your company’s vision, specific objectives, and target audience. Consider your social media marketing strategy and the use of various marketing channels leading up to the event. Follow your brand guidelines and tailor your brand marketing strategy to match your objectives. Also, implement any tools and resources necessary to analyze the effectiveness of your brand marketing strategy and drive sales. This will result in an effective brand marketing strategy.
Since the focus of this portion of creating an authentic brand-enhanced experience is digital integration, it should be relatively easy to implement AI technology that tracks data analytics. LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook all boast free analytics for users to descent each brand marketing campaign and create strong brand equity.
Make it Actionable
Another element in digital integration at sporting events is to include a call to action (CTA) in your marketing messaging, guiding customers to the next step. A CTA is an essential component of a solid brand marketing strategy. Every successful brand uses a CTA to generate sales, push a particular product or service, and build a brand that is action-oriented.
CTAs are proven over and over to increase conversion rates significantly. Examples of an effective CTA include a button or link on a piece of digital content, such as a landing page, social post, or email. Include catchy phrases with an urgent action, such as “sign up now,” “get yours today,” or “schedule a demo!” Each of these encourages the individual to take immediate action.
Brand marketing activities at events that increase brand awareness include having a clear display with elements of your identity, such as your logo, color-scheme, and messaging. You might also consider having your top sales professionals on-site and ready to engage with your target audience and drive demos, purchases, or sign-ups.This is an excellent way to make your brand experience memorable and actionable.
Elements of a Memorable Sporting Event
There are many elements within your brand that you’ll want to consider incorporating into a memorable sporting event. This includes surprises, special guest appearances, party favors, and more to show your loyal customers that you care about them and to create an emotional connection.
Always remember to follow your brand guidelines, show brand consistency in your voice and marketing campaigns, align with your company vision, consider your target market, and tailor your visual marketing strategy to the specific goals of the sporting event. Your brand identity on social media should remain consistent with frequent marketing messaging leading up to the sporting event.
Remember, content is king. Focus on creating well-written and well-executed content for your sporting event first. Second, consider your on-page SEO in order to get your stellar content and event marketing collateral in front of as many eyes as possible. This will ensure maximum engagement with your landing pages and social media posts and maximum attendance when it comes to the day of the event.
Surprise and Delight Your Audience
When wanting to elevate a sporting event with a specific company’s brand, consider ways to surprise and delight your customers. For product brands, this might include a giveaway. For personal brands, this might include the brand’s story shared through video marketing.
Your goal is to leave a positive sentiment with customers, increase brand awareness, and implant your company’s identity into the mind of your target audience. This will ultimately drive sales and increase ROI.
Consider your brand identity and the personality traits of your target audience and find common ground upon which to connect. While brand marketing on social platforms works for some audiences, it might not for others. And some fans will appreciate tickets to a sports game while others would prefer free fan gear.
Understanding your audience is essential in order to successfully surprise and delight them. Take the necessary steps to build the foundation and prioritize engagement, and the rest will take care of itself.
Show Your Appreciation
Effective brand marketing campaigns appeal to a consumer’s interests, emotions, and desires. What better way to showcase this, then to showcase your top brand supporters. An excellent way to show your appreciation in sports marketing and brand-enhanced experiences is to single out individual supporters and customers from your target audience who make the community that much better. Not only does this increase brand loyalty, but also personalize the company’s interaction, and market reach.
An example of an effective brand marketing campaign that showcases individual consumers is the Share a Coke campaign by the well-known strong brand, Coca-Cola. Launching in 2011 with focus groups in the Australian market, Coca-Cola placed popular names on bottles of their infamous soft drink. This personalized campaign went on to fuel interactive billboards, custom orders, a photo contest, and drove sales to the moon. The brand’s identity strengthened thanks to its’ custom product packaging.
Another example of an individual brand showing their appreciation for their consumer is Giannis Antetokounmpo, star athlete for the Milwaukee Bucks. After an NBA game in 2020, he decided to give a fan his jersey.
This act of kindness wasn’t the first for the MVP, he’s also been seen giving young fans his shoes, hugs, and words of encouragement. This display of appreciation is exactly what brands and other individual athletes should be doing—giving back to their community.
After all, it’s thanks to the fans that businesses and sports teams can truly thrive. Remember this when creating your brand marketing strategy and engaging in marketing activities and you’re sure to find success with your consumer.
Consider Customer Behavior
When planning and executing a brand-enhanced experience, consider your customers behavior and incorporate that into your sports marketing collateral. Speak to your customers personally, and understand their emotions and how to create a positive association with your brand. Your brand marketing strategy should reflect each of these areas.
In addition, remember that your business name and logo design should be included on each piece of content marketing collateral. Social media marketing is an excellent tool for tailoring content to consumer behavior as it involves understanding your target audience, where they spend their time, and algorithms to put the right content in front of the right people at the right time.
Whether it be brand marketing, brand campaigns, or otherwise, careful consideration of consumer behavior helps to strengthen your brand equity.
Appeal to Their Emotion
Do your consumers spend a significant amount of time on social media platforms? Are they happy, vulnerable, sad, or content when doing so? Consider your customer’s emotions when viewing your brand marketing, and develop brand marketing strategies that appeal to their emotion.
An excellent example of emotion-based brand strategy on Instagram is a recent campaign by the Cincinnati Bengals called Rule It All. This feeds on their participation in the Super Bowl this year—a monumental event after a 33-year dry spell. The brand strategy is to excite fans, ride off the same tone of their winning season, and position their overall brand for success. After all, a win for the Bengals would build brand equity, loyalty, and ultimately increase ROI.
Another example of a company that excels at emotional-brand marketing is Nike. If you watch closely, their ads, commercials, and content rarely include their products. They don’t need to. Instead, Nike focuses on human connection and appeals to their target audience’s emotions. Different ads focus on different emotions to include a broad landscape of individuals and create identifiers for nearly everyone.
An example of their brand marketing is their iconic “Just Do It.” campaign. This has been tailored to appeal to individuals seeking to “Find Your Greatness.” Nike also appeals to professional and aspiring athletes with motivational campaigns such as Kobe Bryant’s “Don’t Change Your Dreams” campaign. And they’ve even broken into social issues, sharing a positioning statement for equality and “encouraging people to take the fairness and respect they see in the sport and translate them off the field.”
As shown, there are many ways to connect with your target audience through brand marketing. It’s all about understanding what the specific goals and desired outcomes of your campaign are, and communicating them in a way that drives your audience, elicits a human emotion, and creates a lasting impression and connection.
Create a Positive Association
Another excellent strategy for brands is to have your customers review products and product quality. This is an exclusive experience that will especially help in the early stages of new product testing. This enhances brand equity as consumers appreciate your brand strategy and focus on the consumer. Additionally, this creates a positive association between the consumer and your brand.
Positive association with a product or service is initially created with good brand marketing. Remember to follow your brand guidelines and create brand marketing that is eye-catching and easy to understand.
The second step in creating a positive association is to actually have a quality product or service. When marketing your brand or company to consumers remember to ask yourself what value you bring to the marketplace. Why are you essential to consumers? What problem do you solve? And what is your market differentiator?
By understanding the answers to these questions, you can ensure that your brand marketing message is clear and consumers have a positive association with your brand. You can also tailor your brand marketing collateral at events to provide answers to these questions and increase ROI.
Good sports brand marketing and brand-enhanced experiences are achieved only with a clear marketing plan. To reach customers, marketers must create authentic experiences that touch people emotionally, stimulating brand recall and purchase intent. By investing in your customers, they’ll invest in you, and the cycle continues creating lasting loyalties and an emotional connection.