Over the course of the 2017 spring semester, I acquired an ample amount of knowledge from Professor Conrad’s Sport Marketing class. Not only did it open my eyes to the crucial role that marketing plays in the success of a sports organization, but it also provided me with a wealth of information that I can apply to my future professional endeavors.
One of the most important things that I learned this semester is that a strong social media presence can serve as a highly effective marketing tool for a sports organization. Platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat allow these teams to connect with their fans in a fast, easy, and interactive way. Social media serves many purposes, including providing customer service, running giveaways and promotions, and providing up-to-date data and information. As I explained in a recent post, this allows followers to stay in the loop and build relationships with their favorite teams. Therefore, utilizing social media serves as an inexpensive method for building a fan base and establishing a virtual identity.
Another idea that I learned this semester is that the overall perception of a given sports organization may be affected by the state of the internal and external environment as it relates to that organization. The words, actions, and performances of players and coaches is a pivotal force in either bolstering or hindering the reputation and public opinion of that team. For example, if a coach is involved in controversial circumstances such as the one described in one of my previous posts, then that program is in danger of being swarmed by the media and thus seen in a negative light by fans and recruits. Positive actions, however, are just as influential in their ability to cause the reverse effect. Outreach programs and charity events are just some of the numerous ways in which a sports organization can build goodwill within the community and increase overall public approval.
An additional important takeaway from this course is that using emotions in advertising is a great way to capture a viewer’s attention and draw them to a particular product. This is known to create affective involvement, which deals with the attitudes, feelings, and emotions that a consumer has toward a sport. In many cases, such as the one discussed in my post about Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, these advertisements are based around a touching or heroic story that causes the consumer to want to take some sort of action. In the case of an MLB team, for example, they might use a preseason promo on television, featuring a compilation many of the greatest moments from the previous season. The purpose of this is to channel a powerful sense of excitement and anticipation within the consumer. If it is effective, this will ultimately lead them to purchase tickets and apparel for the upcoming season, as well as increase their loyalty to that team.
Throughout the semester, I also found that marketers can utilize the five human senses in order to affect the experience that a customer has with their brand. Smell can be used because specific aromas within a sports facility may be attractive to fans, such as the smell of popcorn in a basketball arena or freshly cut grass at a baseball field. When people are exposed to these pleasant smells, they may be reminded of these places and therefore feel a desire to attend an event at that location. Sound is powerful because of its ability to strike up emotion within an individual. Playing pump-up music before a game or screaming a chant while the action is going on could significantly increase the engagement of fans.
Sight is vital to branding because it allows people to physically see the logo and colors of a given team, therefore helping them to specifically recognize that team whenever they come across the logo or colors in the future. Taste plays a role as well, mainly taking place through the quality and variety of food offered at the concession stands at sporting venues. This is especially helpful when a new and creative food option is presented because it may draw fans to events whose primary purpose is to experience that new food, regardless of the outcome of the game. Lastly, sports organizations can take advantage of touch by offering comfortable facilities, as well as physical access to players and coaches through meet-and-greet sessions.
A final takeaway from Sports Marketing class is that a sports organization’s engagement with fans is absolutely required for constructing a strong brand. As I explained in this post about the Milwaukee Bucks, it is important to not allow the success of the team to act as the primary determinant of the success of the organization as a whole. Instead, teams will best benefit from establishing a personal connection with fans and providing them with various reasons for staying loyal to that team, regardless of their win/loss record. From meet-and-greet sessions to unique social media campaigns, creating and maintaining enthusiasm about the team ultimately acts as the driving force for shaping a positive brand image and building a strong and committed fan base.