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The Power of Sports Marketing

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Anyone who has tried to promote a new product will know how difficult it is to obtain media coverage. Yet some organizations have now worked out how to get great coverage without relying on a finicky media, and they’re doing it in a unique and powerful way.

5 years ago, Ashton Kutcher hit 1 million followers on Twitter and the world was astonished to learn how a single person could potentially influence so many people. Before then, it took large, corporate media concerns to have that potential. Now, just five years later, Kutcher is at 15.7 million followers and several other celebrities and athletes have followed suit.

FIA Sports Management’s Osmar Barba Ibáñez of FC Seoul in South Korea (featured in image above) was made the face of football for sports brand Le Coq Sportif in the country. Osmar Barba signed for K-League club FC Seoul in February 2014 to become the first ever Spanish player to play in South Korea. Osmar Barba will wear Le Coq Sportif football boots and clothing from the brand in his free time and his image will be used in all the company’s communication operations such as Television Advertisement, Billboard Advertisement, Events and Online Marketing as well as in its point-of-sale materials. With an impressive Twitter and Facebook following, Osmar’s potential influence is already being well utilised.

So clearly things have changed. The social landscape has changed – and companies need to change their approach to securing the attention of prospective customers. It’s no longer a dependence on big media or a huge budget. Businesses have new choices – choices that are more authentic and trustworthy in the minds of potential customers.

One of the best new marketing strategies is to work with influential people that have large social followings. As influential people increasingly build their own media platforms and reach, brands must consider how to best pair their product offerings with the influencers that can best promote them. As it turns out, not only is this more effective than most digital advertising, the campaigns go well beyond the promotion period because prospective customers are more likely to remember the campaign since it features someone they trust and respect.

The 6 Examples

#1 No Need for Fancy Drinks – Just Drink Water

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, three-time gold Olympic gold medalist and one of the all-time greatest athletes in the women’s heptathlon and long jump, is concerned about the consumption of sugary drinks that lead to obesity and unhealthy lifestyles. “I want to work with a company emphasizing how cool it is to drink water. I would like to focus on the positive aspects of why drinking water is so important. I will utilize some of my athletic friends to post on social channels about why they drink water and share stories about how water has made a difference in their training.” Imagine working with Kersee to promote nearly anything related to sports. She’d move the awareness needle – and your product with it.

#2 BMX Around The World

“BMX “Flatland” pro rider Jorge ‘Viki’ Gomez and a fellow rider created the “BMXplore Tour,” traveling around the world and performing aerobatics with their bikes for all to enjoy. He would like to see the tour extended through 2014:” “The idea is to visit places where BMX has never been seen before and to inspire people with new ways of expressing art and the use of a bicycle, meanwhile promoting a young and healthy lifestyle. The sponsors receive brand visibility and awareness through social media, in a new and modern way for the growing market in sports, travel and fashion.” Not only will Gomez be promoting the products he likes around the world, he’ll cement them in the minds of his followers through social media.

#3 A Fitness Campaign for Baby Boomers

World Champion, #1 in the world, and 17-time US National Tennis Champion and performance coach, Bob Litwin, would like to reach a demographic rarely targeted by sporting gear manufacturers: baby boomers. “Baby boomers want to stay fit, feel younger and have fun. I’d like to see a sports manufacturer, like NIKE, Adidas or Babolat, create an influencer marketing campaign where players 60 and over can share their stories about growing younger through fitness. Boomers are growing at a faster rate than all other age groups combined and they outspend other generations by an estimated $400 billion a year. With health care plummeting and old age knocking at our doors, it’s time to create an influencer marketing campaign that shows baby boomers defeating aging, getting fit and living brand new stories.” A campaign with active, fit, influential boomers promoting the benefits of physical activity and your product, is a winner.

#4 Create Your Very Own Sports Reality Documentary

Long-time runner, triathlete and health-oriented mom of three Janice Smithbelieves that developing a long-term relationship with a brand is essential for sports-influencers: “A brand could fly me to a fun place to participate in an event that I wouldn’t normally be able to attend, say Hawaii for the Ironman championships, and provide me with virtual coaching and equipment. [My fans and I could get excited about the event and sponsor] as I Tweet/Facebook/Instagram/blog about my entire experience starting with my training, and ending with my race recap.” Brand sponsored and integrated stories will be the best way to connect with potential customers while not interrupting their experience with the content.

#5 How To Shop Like an Athlete

Matt Frazier, the “No Meat Athlete”, who fuels his marathons with a plant-based diet, would like to educate the public about the decisions that go into a typical shopping trip for a plant-based athlete. “I get so many questions from people about different ingredients and how I manage to eat this way on a budget and with a family, so I think there’d be interest in a walk-through where I would explain, for example, how to choose which organic produce to buy and what I’m looking for when I look at a nutrition label.” Certainly organic food producers can benefit from an influential athlete with a healthy diet that others follow. Integrating your healthy product into Frazier’s stream is a great way to drive awareness and leads.

#6 Health and Nutrition in The Workplace

Former Ironman competitor and current fitness author and blogger Mark Sisson would like to see healthy lifestyles embraced by businesses around the world. “I’d like to see a large corporation take on a 21 day Primal Health Challenge in which employees track their development by uploading progress photos and videos to Instagram. A social media health challenge would revolutionize health and fitness awareness in the work place because while it obviously benefits employees, it would also help the company by increasing productivity and loyalty and reducing health-care costs.” A brand sponsored contest guided by an influencer can have tremendous uplift in awareness and leads. Attaching it to a worthy social cause can double the benefits as consumers view the brand’s efforts as not only helping the brand, but the individual as well.

A Catalyst engagement study shows that sports fans who follow their favourite athletes on social media are 55 percent more likely to purchase something if that athlete mentions it on Facebook or Twitter. Thousands of professional athletes have formed powerful personal ties with their fans and followers. The tastes, preferences and habits of these athletes can significantly impact their audience’s sports and lifestyle purchase decisions. These campaigns have such an immense impact because there is more trust, there is more to remember, and there is a strong emotional connection with the influencer. That’s the power of sports marketing.

This article was written by Lucy Harkin and sourced from the following:

© | Forbes 2014

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