Sports events these days are no longer limited to sport and entertainment, but also serve as avenues for brands to market themselves. Importantly, because the audience at such events is in a stage of very high alertness and excitement, the engagement that brands can create during such events is extremely effective. Also, with increasing size of stadia, brands get to engage large number of people that form a part of their target segment for an extended time duration in a very close manner. However, such engagement need not always wait to happen until the event actually happens. It can begin a lot before that, say during the build-up to a sporting tournament. The type of experiential sports marketing tactics could be divided into two different broad categories:
Non-Transactional Fan Engagement
This would typically refer to such activities that involve the participation of target audience but do not require them to make a purchase. Examples of such type of campaigns would be:
- Hosting fantasy events (such as Fantasy Premier League or IPL Fantasy League)
- Caption or Photo Competitions
- Inviting feedback from fans about aspects such as what they feel their favourite team should do in order to win the next match
- Hosting events to facilitate fan interaction with players.
What impact does it have?
A lot more fans would more readily participate in these events, given the fact that they do not need to spend money to be a part of the same. This is evident from the scale of participation in the Fantasy Premier League. More importantly, such events can be conducted online, and thus, can be executed on a relatively low budget. Also, such events also help in generating a buzz around the brand, and help in increasing the brand recall at retail places where purchase decisions are made.
Transactional Fan Engagement
This would involve fans making monetary expenditure to be a part of the campaign event. It could involve:
- Participation in event where they stand a chance to earn offers on match tickets
- Taking up paid membership of fan forums
- Purchasing signed branded memorabilia
- Purchases made during the game, during possible side activities that could be organized before the event, when the excitement and anticipation levels are at the peak.
What can be achieved through this?
Such engagement would occur with a smaller number of people, but this would actually result in transactions and earn revenue, and more importantly, generate brand experiences too. And if a brand can manage to generate a positive experience during such times of heightened mental stimulation, it can go on to create loyal customers who would also generate word-of-mouth.
Given the kind of passion that sports generate among fans, it is natural that some of the emotion gets transferred on to the brands that they get to experience through sport. It is thus, very common to see the audience that involve in non-transactional activities go on to later make brand purchase transactions, and thus, form long-lasting connections with the brand. Clearly then, if as a brand, you have to look at an effective medium to forge a connect with your target audience, experiential sports marketing is something that you should certainly not overlook.