At RTR Sports Marketing the motto is: ‘We provide consultancy to companies that are willing to use sport to build a better relationship with their customers’.
Let’s focus on the last part for a second.
Why should a company use sport to communicate with its customers? How should sport achieve such an important marketing objective as building a stronger brand preference, changing customer behaviour and effectively understanding the brand’s vision and mission?
Sure, sport is a fantastic form of entertainment and perhaps one of the greatest ways to socialise. But what about marketing? Sales? To understand these aspects a little bit better and why a sports marketing agency does what it does, we need to take a step back.
How we are constantly being distracted: the rise and fall of the traditional AVD.
According to Forbes (“Finding Brand Success in the Digital World,” 2017), every day most of Americans are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. If that sounds like an exorbitant number, we have great news for you: your brain is functioning well and your cognitive defences are alive and well.
The truth is that we are surrounded by commercial messages, constantly, in every single moment of our daily life: notifications on the phone when we wake up, the radio ads when we drive to the office, the billboard we see as we pass by, all those Facebook ads when we scroll through timelines, till that website banner that simply won’t go away and follows us everywhere.
And we can go on and on…
Over the last fifty or seventy years our species has learnt how to deal with the unwanted communications that chases us incessantly on every device at all times of the day. The more we dodged them, the more abundant they had to be to get our attention. The more numerous they are, the stronger our barriers.
Needless to say, in this eternal struggle for attention, brands are losing huge amounts of money.
And customers are losing their patience.
Of course, in this post we will not embark on a misplaced crusade against the patriarchy of traditional advertising. Good advertising is still important in every company’s marketing plan. Rather, we will try to understand why sports marketing can be super effective within the scenario and take a look at our four workhorses:
Intrusion VS Inclusion.
Be where the customer wants you to be.
The Learn, Feel, Act paradigm.
How sport is embedding your brand values.
Intrusion VS Inclusion
As we said, our defence mechanisms have become so sophisticated that we don’t even realise they exist anymore. But still, when an advertising break cuts off the TV programme we are watching, we go to tidy the dishes, to the bathroom or we check the phone.
One of the main differences between traditional advertising and sports marketing is that the former is intrusive while the latter is inclusive. When you watch a game you’ll pay a lot of attention to the action and to the players and therefore to the branding on the players’ shirt or to the sticker on a F1 or a MotoGP bike during a thrilling last-lap fight.
In a world where people run away from what they never asked for, make sure your brand is exactly where the eyeballs are.
A shared passion
It’s not just about being front and centre in the frame, (although that helps a lot, of course). Studies and research clearly show that fans and consumers prefer brands that share their interests and passions.
Think about it for a moment and you’ll see that it makes a lot of sense: nowadays, for every product there are dozens, hundreds of brands doing the same thing. How many shoe companies, phone companies, car manufacturers, clothing manufacturers, computer are out there? It is only fair that customers choose someone who thinks the same way, someone they share something with.
Sport is one of the greatest sources of entertainment of our time, but also something that touches our hearts, our minds and is linked to our happiness and well-being. Psychologists would say that it has a lot to do with our emotional side, our emotions and feelings. Consumers want brands to be there for that special moment, for their special team, on that special day or game.
Learn, feel, act
Our affective side is also strongly involved in the decision-making process and in the way we shape and modify our behaviour. Contrary to what you might think, we do not act based only on what we know (our so-called cognitive side), but also on how we feel about something. Although this is something we do not necessarily associate with our buying patterns, it is something most of us have experienced more than once: our reactions are very different if we feel or care about something.
This paradigm has a name: the Learn-Feel-Do cycle.
And sports marketing is extremely effective on this front.
With sponsorship, customers get information about a brand or company because they see it on a football shirt or a racing bike or on a tennis court. They start to get information about that brand or company because it is linked to an activity or an emotional event, something they are passionate about. Once the association has been made, they change their behaviour and start to act more favourably towards that brand.
The values embedded in sport
Finally, sponsorship is extremely useful for brand repositioning and product positioning activities, as it has the ability to clothe that product or service with the values and characteristics of the sponsored sport, team or athlete.
Not surprisingly, different sports have different audiences, values and qualities: sailing is connected to freedom, pureness, elegance, luxury and generally designed for the rich, while cycling is more popular and rooted in a ‘no pain no gain’ type of culture.
In the eyes of the customer, these values are immediately reflected in the sponsored product or brand. For example, motorsport sponsorship is super effective if you want to convey concepts and values related to design, technology, high standards, passion, speed, teamwork.
Let the flowers bloom
We would like to dwell on the various theories behind the effectiveness of sponsorship. While we must admit that it is a pleasure to leaf through the dozens of pages that give reason and credence to sports marketing, we also believe it is important to let our clients know that the campaigns we design have a solid foundation together.
There’s a lot of science behind sports marketing – from the immense amount of data needed to make an important decision, to the impressive array of technologies that marketers can employ to measure sponsorship effectiveness – and we can’t stress enough that there’s more to a great partnership programme than meets the eye.
A sports marketing agency can offer a good insight into this huge scenario, clearly indicating the different nuances and options, but also knowing why things happen the way they do.