Confessions From A Sports Marketer

By Jamie Arvizu, Director Communication Planning, Mindshare Chicago

Our brands are all looking for ways to stand out from our competitors.  Sports marketing and sponsorships continue to be a great way to align our brands with culturally relevant environments.  What is the game plan you need to help take your brand to victory?

1.       LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS:  Use research to find the sports that are the right fit for both your target and your brand.  Make sure that sports is a relevant environment to be in and that it will deliver on your communication objectives.  And gain insights into the role that sports play in your consumers’ lives.

2.       BUILD A STRONG DEFENSE:  Do the competitive analysis to understand how others in your category are using sports marketing.  Learn from them and do it better.  The Loop is a great place to dig into these research topics and develop your defensive and offensive strategies.

3.       BUILD AN EQUALLY STRONG OFFENSE:  Look for white space in how the category is using sports marketing to determine how you can stand out from the rest of the pack.  It’s also important to understand your brand positioning vs. the rest of the category to make sure it comes through clearly in your sports marketing approach.

4.       LEARN YOUR PLAYS, BUT STAY FLEXIBLE:  Go into the game with a firm strategy in place, a clear idea of everyone’s role on the team, and a plan to measure success.  But expect that you will have to adapt to changing conditions, and try to plan for the unexpected.

5.       PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE:  You won’t get it completely right the first time out of the gate, but each time you go to market you’ll learn more and be able to apply the learning to your next effort.

6.       CHART THE STATS: It’s important to track and optimize the activity so you can learn what’s working and what isn’t, and make the necessary adjustments along the way.

7.       YOU NEED CHEERLEADERS:  You’ll need support from the agency team as well as from the client side to make sure you’ve got the necessary buy-in to make things happen.

8.       STAY COMMITTED:  You have to commit to it 110%. Don’t do it halfway or you won’t get noticed, and you’ve wasted your time and the client’s money.

9.       SHARE THE VICTORY:  There are no benchwarmers in sports marketing.  It’s a team effort, so make sure the whole team feels a part of the action and stays actively involved all the way through the effort.  When it’s successful, that makes the victory even sweeter.