What is Sports Marketing?

Some say that sports marketing began back in the 1900s when promoters first used baseball team photographs to sell their products and services. This transformed into creating and selling baseball cards, brand identities and sports equipment. Today, sports marketing involves everything from concession income to celebrity endorsements to advertising promotions.

Sports Marketing Defined

Sports marketing means different things to different people. For starters, the ultimate aim of general marketing is to understand the consumer to sell them products and services. Ideally, a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship can be established. Sports marketing usually refers to the various promotion strategies used to increase the participation and sponsorship of athletic teams, events and organizations. Thus, sports marketing applies to many activities and approaches that take place off the field or court, such as corporate sponsorships, brand awareness events and professional athlete interviews. WWE and UFC showdowns between contenders talking smack might seem silly, but they are very useful at building anticipation and filling event seats.

3 Stages of Sports Marketing

The three stages of selling sports products and services to consumers are identical to general marketing. First, make prospective consumers aware of the available products and services, such as a TV or radio commercial. Digital and social media marketing are key elements of this stage. Second, adjust the attitudes and behaviors of both current and potential consumers. This could be encouraging new fans at a game to purchase unique merchandise or existing fans to upgrade tickets or season packages. Third, reinforce brand loyalty through common approaches like discounts, free swag and exclusive deals. The best and biggest organizations in the world don’t just sell sports gear and apparel, but a lifestyle mindset that increases brand equity.

What are Some of the Unique Goals of Sports Marketing?

One might think that the basic goal of sports marketing is to just sell tickets and products to consumers, but it’s not that simple. For example, loyal and affluent fans want to broadcast their experience of an event, so this involves VIP packages and exclusive services. The goal of promoting a professional team or a specific game is to increase publicity and raise awareness. Event management at a game, such as concessions and announcers, should maximize crowd involvement and enhance the experience.

Sports Marketing Foundations

Sports marketing is usually associated with two marketing practices: relationship marketing and stakeholder management. First, relationship marketing usually focuses on the recruitment of new consumers and their transformation into loyal and long-term fans. However, there are relationships with advocates, such as fan clubs, as well as passive supporters, such as alumni who donate funds. The stakeholder theory is more complex, but involves bringing together groups to benefit each other. For example, corporate sponsorship of a youth athletic team provides tangible advertising benefits while helping out those in need. This could also involve popular athletes making visits to hospitalized children through the Make-a-Wish program.

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Some of the entry-level careers in sports marketing include special events coordinator, media relations assistant and account representative. Some of the advanced career options include global marketing director, chief marketing officer and content marketing administrator.