Promoting a Sports Franchise With Digital Content Experiences
Written by Matt Berringer
March 16, 2021
Marketing plays a crucial role for sports franchises. Sports marketing campaigns lead to more sponsorships, more extensive brand awareness and enduring fan loyalty. And, by posting engaging content experiences, you can ensure that your franchise stands out against competitors and maintain fan faithfulness.
Here, we’ll cover a complete guide to effectively market your sports team and the athletes and sponsors that keep your sport going.
- Examples of Sports Marketing
- The Benefits of Sports Franchise Marketing
- How to Promote a Sports Franchise
- How to Create Engaging Content Experiences
- Examples of Digital Strategies
What Is Sports Marketing?
Sports marketing falls into two categories.
- Marketing sports franchises as a product: The goal of marketing a sports team is to gain influence and awareness. When you think about it, sports franchises are a product, aka the team and the game.
- Marketing products by piggybacking off the excitement of sports: If you’ve ever watched a sporting event, you’re likely familiar with the amount of advertising. It’s everywhere — on the field, in the stadium and on TV commercials. Product brands take advantage of mass followers to bring more attention to their products.
Both types of sports marketing are essential. Here, we’ll focus on sports franchise marketing, where you’ll gain insight on how to promote a sports franchise.
Examples of Sports Franchise Marketing
Before we get into the specifics of sports franchise marketing, let’s look at some examples.
1. St. Louis Cardinals — “Confetti”
The St. Louis Cardinals is a Major League Baseball team that won the 2011 World Series. For their fans, this victory was a thrill they’ll never forget.
The team’s sports marketers took on the task of carrying the excitement and loyalty generated in the 2011 season into the following season. To do this, they created a successful TV commercial, “Confetti.”
The commercial starts with a clean locker room and field. But, as the team gets ready on and off the field, they mysteriously find confetti hidden in hats, shoes, gloves and even on their mascot, Fredbird.
The confetti represents the previous season’s win, reigniting the feeling of victory and creating excitement in the team’s fan base.
2. Dallas Cowboys — “Bronco”
The Dallas Cowboys is a Texas-based football team with a strong connection to their hometown roots. Over 727,000 fans attend home games every season. Another example of a popular sports franchise promotion is the Dallas Cowboys’ TV commercial, “Bronco.”
Here, the Dallas Cowboys’ marketers were thinking about ways to resonate with their devoted fans. Looking at their fan statistics, one of their most dependable avenues is through state pride. Thus, they created “Bronco.”
The commercial opens with stereotypical cowboys struggling to tame a horse. From the dusty shadows comes the team’s — now-retired — tight end, Dan Campbell. Campbell charges and tames the horse, showcasing his strength and ability to tackle any challenge.
Fans identified with the commercial’s unmistakable Texas roots. They also get excited when seeing one of the team’s beloved players succeed in overcoming an obstacle, something they also hope to see on the field.
The Benefits of Sports Franchise Marketing
Marketing your sports team has many benefits.
- More sponsorships and endorsements: Sponsorships and endorsements are crucial to your franchise. They bring authority, determine your season’s budget and strengthen your overall brand. Sports marketing increases your chances for more sponsorships and endorsements.
- Larger brand awareness: When you market your sports team, you’re gaining attention and attracting fans. When you receive more attention, you benefit from team confidence, larger funding and a fuller stadium.
- Greater loyalty: Robust marketing strengthens fans’ connections to your brand, making them feel loyal to your sports team for years to come.
How to Promote a Sports Franchise
Now that we’ve explained what sports franchise marketing is and familiarized ourselves with some examples, how do you promote your sports team? Start by learning about these essential elements of sports marketing.
1. Target the Right Audience
By 2024, statistics project that more than 160 million people in the U.S. will watch live sports. That’s a lot of viewers, but you can’t expect to reach such a vast audience. If you try, it will be like shouting into the void — there are more strategic ways to use your resources.
A target audience is a specific group of people you identify and aim your advertising toward. The best way to create a target audience is by doing your research. Look at who attends your games or engages with your social media content, noting criteria like:
- Favorite sports
- Favorite teams
- How frequently they watch sports
This knowledge will help you better target your sports marketing campaigns. For example, in the earlier Dallas Cowboys example, marketers identified their audience as middle-aged men who live in Texas. They didn’t target 20-year-old women from Florida, because that demographic doesn’t meet their target audience criteria.
2. Create Engaging Content
Engaging content gives your target audience something to hold onto and remember. Avoid posting updates merely for the sake of doing so, or you’ll risk boring your audience. Engaging content shares the following criteria.
- Original: There are 150 major league sports franchises in North America. Professional sports marketers for these teams have a challenging enough time standing out from each other, so imagine how complicated it can be for minor league teams. Original content is engaging and stands out from the noise produced by competitors.
- Action-oriented: Design your content with a goal in mind. What do you want your audience to do with this information? Part of your content’s narrative should be a call to action, giving your audience directions on how to engage with your brand.
- Visual: Graphics can be a more compelling way to convince people to take action than text alone. It’s vital to include graphics that match your CTA.
- Mixed media: Avoid regurgitating the same content. When you repeat yourself, your audience won’t have anything to look forward to. Provoke interest and excitement by creating a range of content, like videos, magazines and newsletters.
3. Create a Marketing Strategy That Includes Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool to add to your sports team marketing strategy. Worldwide, 69% of sports fans agreed that emerging technologies — like social media — enhanced their overall viewing experience. Social media platforms are also free to use, so why not take advantage of them?
Popular digital promotion channels for sports franchises include:
Ideally, you want to update and share content on all the listed social media channels. Still, given Twitter’s prominence among sports marketing strategies, you might opt to start building your presence there. On your social media accounts, share content like:
- The preseason training schedule
- Post-game results and highlights
- Athlete spotlights, including video interviews
- Polls or surveys
- Past seasons’ excitement
- Community contributions
- Thanks to partners or sponsors
Social media also allows you to track real-time engagement through key performance indicators like shares or likes. You may notice the content your audience enjoyed last month isn’t performing as well this month. Social media allows you to keep up with your audience and strengthen your franchise’s brand.
4. Choose the Right Publishing Time
Fans are most receptive to content before and after games. Before games, they’re getting excited about the upcoming experience. They’re looking forward to seeing their favorite athletes in action, battling for a possible win. After games, especially after a victory, fans are still riding a wave of positive feelings and are looking to relive the excitement.
Take advantage of these heightened times and promote your brand by:
- Sharing social media content
- Thanking your sponsors
- Introducing players before the game
- Posting highlights after the game
Also, remember that sports are seasonal, and games don’t happen every day. Between games and seasons, create excitement by sharing local community efforts, new sponsorships, training routines, season highlights, etc.
5. Build Partnerships and Sponsorships
Sponsors help build your sports franchise. Gain support by assigning one person as a sponsorship chairperson. A larger sports franchise may benefit from having a committee, but having a dedicated chairperson will help keep your committee organized.
Your sponsorship chairperson is responsible for recruiting new sponsors and maintaining relationships with existing sponsors. They will mail letters, make phone calls, organize sponsored goods, etc. to manage these relationships.
Remember, you’ll need more than money. Talk to sponsors big and small, and be conscious that not every sponsor will have the financial resources to donate money. Invite sponsors to provide goods like food, time and equipment.
Most importantly, remember to thank your sponsorships. Sponsorships are a two-way street — they support your sports franchise and you support their business. Thank your sponsors during games and on social media.
6. Understanding Past Problems or Inefficiencies
A few obstacles keep sports marketers on their toes.
- Franchise instability: Teams may change considerably from one season to the next. For example, consider the impact of the 2020 national sports seasons, where COVID-19 halted many games and fan engagement. Or, think about the risk of player contracts expiring or school-aged athletes graduating.
- Fans’ emotions dictate their actions: Fan engagement relies heavily on their mood. For example, if your team loses, fans probably won’t want to watch the post-game highlights.
- Managing audience purchasing trends: Your sports franchise can gain funding in a few ways — selling tickets, sponsorships, merchandise, etc. Funding can fluctuate. Maybe fans will prefer to watch the game from home, sponsors won’t have enough resources to support your franchise again or merchandise sales may dip if loyalty drops.
Working around these problems isn’t impossible. One of the most effective solutions to these problems is creating engaging content experiences.
How to Create Engaging Content Experiences for a Sports Franchise
Engaging content experiences are your gateway to successful sports franchise promotion. First, let’s explore what these are and how they work.
What Is a Content Experience?
A content experience is a well-planned content flow that takes audiences on a journey. Audience members don’t want individual content anymore. Instead, they want to go on a journey that explores all aspects of a brand, ultimately moving them forward in their interactions and buying decisions.
Content experiences require marketers to grab their audience’s attention and stand out in a sea of competitors. For sports franchise content promotion, this means regularly sharing content — like social media posts, videos, magazines, brochures, etc. — about your team’s news and events.
What Is the Difference Between Content Experience and Content Marketing for Sports Franchises?
Once you amass some marketing experience, you’ll likely become familiar with content marketing. Content marketing refers to the publishing of any individualized content, whether that be:
- Blog posts
- Instagram Live
- Facebook updates
Comparatively, a content experience is a more holistic approach to content creation and consumption. Each piece of content progresses naturally from the last, following audience trends and lifestyle changes.
How to Captivate Someone’s Attention With Content Experiences
Content experiences are, by nature, engaging and attention-grabbing. Here’s how to captivate your audience with content experiences.
1. Personalized Content
Have you ever received an email advertisement on your phone? Likely, the ad was for something you’re interested in. And, since you’re reading it on your phone, the content aimed to match your daily routine.
One goal of personalized content is to meet audiences wherever they are. There are many ways you can do this, like using the right keyword phrases so audiences can easily find your content online. Or, like in the example, using the right channels that your audience engages with.
Another considerable part of personalized content is making your audience feel like your content addresses them directly. Do this by tapping into their interests, like their favorite sports or players.
2. Multichannel Experiences
Tying into the concept of meeting your audience during their daily routine, think about the different technologies you use in a day. These can include your:
- Audio device
These technologies are opportunities to reach your target audience. The more technologies you tailor to, the larger percentage of your target audience you can reach. Remember, your audience likely uses more than one of these technologies to interact with content. So, when publishing content for your team, ensure it is easily transferable from computer to phone, tablet to audio device, etc.
3. Consistent Publishing
Create a content experience journey by consistently publishing. Audience expectations are changing. Sports marketers are straying away from individualized content and beginning to build content off one another in a strategized, timely manner.
Ensure you publish your content at the right time to maintain your audience’s interest. Avoid overwhelming your audience members with too much content, or else they’ll start tuning out your messages. Conversely, don’t post too little content, or you’ll neglect to spark enough excitement to keep the journey going.
The Benefits of a Great Content Experience
By crafting excellent content experiences, you’ll reap the following advantages.
1. Reach Your Entire Audience
When you take a multichannel approach to content experiences, you’ll meet more of your audience during their daily routine. For example, if you only post content on your Twitter account, you’ll neglect the segment of people who prefer using Instagram or Facebook.
Various audience segments have different lifestyles. Creating content experiences allows you to reach a larger percentage of your audience, widening your content’s success.
2. Build a Reputable Brand
When you post consistent, engaging content, your audience will perceive your franchise as a thought leader.
Content experiences take your audience on a deep-dive into your brand. That means they get to meet your players, watch the games, get live updates and view community efforts. You’re inviting them to join your franchise’s journey with you. When people feel connected to your brand, they’re more likely to have a positive impression of your franchise.
3. Increase Traffic and Lead Generation
Content experiences allow your audience to easily find your content. It shines a spotlight on your franchise and screams, “Look at me!” Content experiences can be especially successful when paired with other marketing strategies, like search engine optimization marketing.
Increased traffic and lead generations mean higher game attendance, more social media followers and more sponsor desirability.
How to Promote Your Content Experience
Now that you understand the basics of content experiences, let’s explore how to promote your sports franchise using them. Here are two ways to do this.
Digital Magazines in Sports Marketing
The first way you can promote your content experience is through a digital magazine. Digital magazines follow the same concept as printed ones, but they have fewer limitations.
Though you always have the option of printing a digital magazine to distribute at games, by using the right platform, your audience can read your digital magazine from multiple channels.
Because of these multichannel capabilities, partnered with active interaction rates, digital magazines are engaging content experience solutions. Use digital magazines to feature star athletes, share pictures from on and off the field, recognize sponsors and share community involvement such as volunteer hours or local donations.
Digital Brochures in Sports Marketing
Brochures are similar to magazines, as they’re book-like formats whose goal is to share meaningful information with audience members. However, brochures are much shorter and focus on one theme or topic.
Digital brochures give you the same capabilities as digital magazines.
- Reaching a larger audience with multichannel capabilities
- Increasing interaction rate using more engaging content than printed alternatives
Use digital brochures to talk about the team players, next season’s game dates, shouting out sponsors or highlighting big plays from the entire season.
Sports Marketing Strategies Examples
1. Iowa Cubs – Game Day Programs – PageRaft
Whether you’re a national, regional, or local franchise, fans expect responsive digital experiences on game day. The traditional program delivers a static experience which does not meet expectations in a mobile-first world.
This example of a game day program shows how one baseball franchise is engaging with their fans on game day.
2. National Franchise – Program – PageRaft
National franchises know the importance of delivering slick and engaging digital experiences in the form of fan guides, catalogs, newsletters, and magazines. Fans and advertisers benefit from dynamic content delivered with an engaging design.
See how one national franchise’s program can be transformed by PageRaft.
While these aren’t directly sports-related, some examples of quality digital brochures and magazines that you can take inspiration from are:
3. Quinnipiac University — Brochure
Quinnipiac University is a quaint university located in New England. New England is home to over 250 colleges and universities, so Quinnipiac University had to do something to stand out. So, they created a digital brochure packed with enrollment and campus life information.
The brochure focuses solely on answering any questions first-year students may have about enrollment. As you read their brochure, notice that they don’t mention extraneous information like club meetings or special events. Quinnipiac University’s brochure is informational and attention-grabbing.
To translate this example into the world of sports marketing, consider creating a brochure to market to prospective players. Talk about your team’s success and introduce people like coaches or mascots.
4. Northwest Federal Credit Union Financial Journey — Magazine
This example of a magazine published by Northwest Federal Credit Union is an excellent representation of the type of content magazines feature compared to brochures.
In this example, NFCU focuses on COVID-19. The novel coronavirus pandemic changed the way people did many things, including banking. NFCU connects with their audience by sharing meaningful content like:
- A message from the company’s CEO
- Tips on how to navigate impacted markets
- Partnerships with local companies during hard times
The magazine also features visual-based CTAs, resembling advertisements you’d see in printed magazines.
For your sports franchise, consider creating a magazine that talks about the season’s success. Make it a story — start by talking about how hard the players trained to get ready for a successful season. Include highlights from impressive plays or pictures of your fans interacting with your team’s mascot. This narrative lets people get to know your team better and look forward to the same level of excitement next season.
Nxtbook Media — Choose a Platform That Works
At Nxtbook Media, we aspire to help you achieve your full creative potential. Our platforms, PageRaft and nxtbook4, make creating content experiences easy. Learn more about how we can help your sports franchise by scheduling a demo today or calling us at 866-268-1219.