How did the S3 Report grow over 400% in 4 months?

How did the S3 Report grow over 400% in 4 months?
by Kirk Wakefield – June 2013

Thanks to you, the growth in readership and membership at the S3 Report has been exceptional. Let’s start with who we are and then how we’ve grown.

Who are we?

The S3 Report launched in January 2013 with a following of no more than 75 members of our S3 Board and staff who write for us.  Within four months, we had 300 registered members (up 400%). Starting from scratch in January (visits = 0), where has your support taken us?

  • 4,506 unique visitors, 7,174 total visits, and 37,625 page views since January 1.
  • 1,792 unique visitors since May 1: 
    • 67% new visitors
    • Over 98% stay on the site for 3 minutes and view over 5 articles each visit.
  • Now over 400 registered members representing exec’s from:
    • Over 60 major league teams
    • NFL, NBA, and MLS league offices
    • Over 30 NCAA athletic departments
    • Over 50 corporations/agencies

How did we get here? You.

First, we started with influencers. Executives from leading teams in every league and among major sports advertisers from the Baylor S3 Advisory Board provided the foundation as our writers.

Second, more influencers like you joined the community via social media. With the help of the first 75 influencers and their followers, traffic was generated primarily through Twitter referrals. Over half of our traffic (51.3%) comes from referrals via social media and other websites, with another 16% from search traffic and 30% direct traffic to the site.

Breaking down the referrals with Google Analytics, we can see how most new visitors get here:

Bottom line? Keep on posting! As we all know from our careers in sales and marketing, referrals from friends are the most trusted source of information.

Content is _______

We get tired of hearing it, but the King is not dead. And, no, we don’t mean Elvis.

Excluding articles from the editor, what are our most popular posts so far?

Rank Article Author Organization
1 Which comes first: Happiness or success?
Shawn Achor
GoodThinkInc
2 No more cold calls: 3 steps to making informed calls & increasing close rates
Flavil Hampsten
Bobcats
3 The Sales Commandments According to This Disciple
Carson Heady
T-Mobile
4 Sales Training: How to Handle Objections
Sean Ream
MLS
5 How to get promoted in sports sales careers
Rob Zuer
Rockets
6 How to manage the new generation of sellers
Murray Cohn
NBA
7 Executing successful sales events: Three teams who are doing it right
Corey Breton
Hawks
8 So you want a job in pro sports?
Charles Johnson
Sixers
9 Part 2: Managing the next generation of sellers
Murray Cohn
NBA
10 Practice? We talkin’ about practice?
Bob Hamer
Suns
11 S3 Board Member Spotlight: Kelly Cheeseman, AEG Worldwide
Jerry Ruiz
S3 Editorial Staff
12 Social media in the NFL: Strategy and tools
Nick Schenk
Texans
13 Here’s a method to turn sponsorship assets into answers
Bill Glenn
The Marketing Arm
14 How to look good at the interview
Jeannette Salas
Texans
15 S3 Alumni Spotlight: Taylor Bergstrom, Texas Rangers
Jennifer MacIntyre
S3 Editorial Staff
16 I’ve got the golden ticket! 
Ken Troupe
KT SportsMarketing
17 Ticketing technology: How can we reduce barriers for renewals?
Chris Faulkner
Broncos
18 Just trust me
Lolly Daskal
Lead From Within
19 Are you investing enough time into training? The 3 elements of good programs
Drew Ribarchak
Blue Jackets
20 Evolution of analytics in sports: What’s next?
Aaron LeValley
LA Kings/AEG

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”400px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]If you missed any of these, the good news is our archives are always open. If you haven’t yet joined our community, the best news is it’s free. Just click here![/dropshadowbox]

 

Amplifying our VOICE: How Sprint Leverages ‘Unlimited’ Content and Why Teams Could Do It Even Better

Amplifying our VOICE: How Sprint Leverages ‘Unlimited’ Content and Why Teams Could Do It Even Better
by Phillip Grieco – June 2013

Couch vs. Run?

Recently I was lounging on my couch after dinner, debating whether to make the effort to get to the gym or go outside for a run.

You can imagine which one won that battle. So, I ended up tuning into NBC’s THE VOICE. I’ve seen it from time to time until this season. Okay, so I may be a bit of a fan. No judging please.

During the show, co-host Christina Milian popped on camera to promote voting for contestants via mobile, social, and also showcase other behind-the-scenes content, all powered by Sprint. After hearing that, I decided to dig a bit deeper into the partnership and here’s what I found.

  • Sprint has been with THE VOICE from the beginning as the show’s first official sponsor and has expanded on the relationship this season.
  • Sprint’s platform is built around their overall brand campaign, ‘Unlimited’, providing fans with all the content that they crave and then some.
  • Sprint  offers a synched-to-broadcast second screen experience live during the show (voting, polls, chat rooms, Tweets, etc.). FYI, so does Walking Dead.

NBA teams build out platforms for sponsors better than most, but the full digital offering from Sprint grabbed my attention. Could teams synch scripts with games in the same way the Voice does?

Who’s on Second?

According to research firm NPD Group, 87 percent of U.S. entertainment consumers say that they use at least one second-screen device while watching television.  The average Fortune 500 company spends annually on digital approximately 20% of their promotional budgets. It’s safe to say  there’s a huge gap between that and most pro teams. We have to make digital a bigger priority.

Properties have several competitive advantages vs. our media counterparts.

  • Integration. We have the ability to bring a fully integrated, year round solution to amplify a prospect’s brand, reinforce benefits, differentiate and authenticate their messaging, create exclusivity, reinforce loyalty and ultimately drive sales.
  • Activation. Media partners cannot physically bring brands to life like we can on-site to millions of fans a year.
  • Relationship. Media partners don’t have a generational relationship with families and fans like teams do.
  • Community. Teams have an established footprint in the community.
  • DVR-Proof. Teams have eye balls here and now. You can watch The Voice later, but sports fans prioritize time to watch the game now.

Now we just need to better determine how digital can play a bigger role of the solution mix.

The Next Gold Nugget

The ability for us to bring our TV-game viewing fan base closer to the action and provide more real-time content is our next gold nugget.

We can borrow a page out of The Voice’s playbook by better monetizing digital. We can also make the idea more robust with other fan touch points, whether in-arena, community, digital and beyond. This is our next new inventory opportunity. It’s staring us in the face each week, courtesy of Adam Levine, Usher, Blake and Shakira. Well, you know what I mean. Let’s go get it.

Social Media Strategy: Put your voice where the ears are

Social Media Strategy: Put your voice where the ears are
by Daniel Fleming – June 2013

“Put your voice where the ears are.” At least that’s the way Ohio University classmate and fellow S3 writer Ken Troupe puts it.

Remove the name given to the internet-based communication platforms, social media, and look at what they actually are: FREE marketing outlets with the capability to reach thousands of fans, create exponentially more impressions, and push a desired message. Put your voice where the ears or eyes are.

How does social media fit into the bigger marketing picture? Think of the hub and spokes metaphor:  With each additional spoke you create (traditional media, PR, community efforts, etc.), the stronger the wheel and the better it runs. Social media should serve as a spoke in your marketing strategy and an extension of traditional marketing strategies.

How to invest social media efforts

With so many platforms, how do you decide where to invest?

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson

When you take an objective look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Pheed, and all the other social media platforms, Kevin Johnson, Director of Mandalay Creative Services at Mandalay Baseball Properties reinforces the realities of social media, “Content has been and always will be king. Fans love to see photos, videos, and participate in polls.” 

Start with a presence on Facebook. Facebook may be at its peak before it becomes MySpace, but you need to be there now.

Comparing the platforms, there is very little fundamental difference among the social media outlets. Understand that your content can be adjusted slightly to optimize it for the different platforms. Johnson emphasizes, “focus on the same tone, style, voice, and messaging throughout.”

Best Practices

A best practice among professional sports organizations on Instagram is the Seattle Mariners. They add production value to their posts  by creating a game summary graphic which needs no explanation. The same image can be posted to Facebook with a headline, Tweeted with 140 character or less caption, and posted on their (hypothetical) “Games Played” board on Pinterest.

[slideshow_deploy id=’2265′]

The Pittsburgh Penguins are always on the forefront of social media innovation. During the season and this year’s playoff run, the team posts 6-second videos on Vine of fans before the games, players coming on the ice, and other exciting moments easily captured with anyone with a smartphone. Click here to see a Penguins Vine in action. The Penguins are also one of the first to be on WhoSay, which is geared more to fans following individual celebrities and players like RGIII (see below).

 

 

Where am I supposed to get the additional resources?

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

white_sox_social_media_lounge
White Sox Social Media Lounge
Picture thanks to Zach Hample.

The Chicago White Sox installed a social media lounge for fans to charge devices, connect with other users, create and promote White Sox content, and ultimately serve as brand ambassadors. White Sox Vice President of Sales and Marketing was quoted on CSN Chicago saying, “It doesn’t have to be marketing and sales, but it’s the best way to communicate with your fans and give them accurate info. It’s a great way to communicate what’s going on with the team and with the ballpark.” It also creates impressions to organically increase brand affinity. The increased and continuous relevance brings fans to your building and have them wearing your gear.[/dropshadowbox]The magic of social media is the vast community of viral ideas.

  1. Try crowdsourcing for ideas.
  2. Look internally. There are people in your organization that are paid for their great ideas. And there are people that don’t need to be paid to produce great ideas.
  3. Look externally. Allow fans to produce content and create another level of connection with your fan base. Check out what the White Sox did with their social media lounge!

Cutting through the clutter

BE CREATIVE!

One of the best recent examples comes from BNP Paribas, corporate partner of the French Open, and their activation with homegrown tennis superstar, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. A social-media controlled tennis ball machine launched balls cross-court to help Tsonga train for the upcoming French Open. Fans have a unique connection with their tennis hero and feel a part of his team in helping him practice tennis.

Social media is a space intended for creativity, for innovation, and for busting down walls. It dares you to take chances, attract attention, and create viral buzz. In an incredibly competitive industry, sports, accept the challenge to beat your competitors. Create social media campaigns that leave your fans cheering and your opponents in shock and awe!

Why aren’t sports teams building the most popular Pinterest boards?

Why aren’t sports teams building the most popular Pinterest boards?
by Kirk Wakefield – May 2013

Why your digital marketing manager should be all over Pinterest

The majority of Pinterest users are women (about 2/3rds). What should this tell teams?

A great way to reach women is through Pinterest. Last time I checked, women are an important audience for any sports team. The fact that teams aren’t effectively using Pinterest likely says more about the makeup of the digital marketing team than it does the potential benefits of building out the team’s Pinterest boards with the same intensity as we have our other social media.

What should stand out to you from these Pinteresting facts is that 28% of users are moms with household incomes above $100,000 and that the referral rate from Pinterest dominates other social media.

Pinteresting facts
by Christine Erickson

In addition to directly building and reinforcing fan passion among women, teams should effectively communicate with women because of their influence on joint family decisions, like buying season tickets and influencing media viewing habits.

How can we do a better job?

What teams are doing a good job with Pinterest? Comment below or send an email to suggest follow-up articles on the S3 Report.

A couple of suggestions

Given what’s of most interest on Pinterest now (below), how could teams capitalize on the millions of followers? I’ll start with two ideas: First, partner with a brand who does well in targeting women. Second, start a board on Weddings at the Ballpark.

Most popular brand boards on Pinterest
Most popular brand boards on Pinterest (click to go to source article)

Top 20 Tips for Blogging and Writing Good

Top 20 Tips for Blogging and Writing Good
by Kirk Wakefield – April 2013

Why you should be blogging

Your profile picture may be ridiciously good looking and you may already write good like Derek Zoolander. But why should you write anything for others to read? Because you have something to say–and if you work for a team you have a built in audience. [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Little known fact about John Grisham

john grisham

John and I were church ushers together in Oxford, Mississippi. Some time after getting to know John, The Pelican Brief was published with a character named F. Sims Wakefield. Unfortunately, F. shoots himself. So, I was never certain if his outcome was just because he was a lawyer or maybe the impression I left on John. [/dropshadowbox]

You may not think of yourself as a writer. But, if you follow these guidelines, in time, you’ll be as popular as my friend John Grisham.

CEOs from major corporations use blogs as a way to build personal and corporate brand equity. You can follow some of the best here.

Top 20 tips for blogging

Adapted from McGraw Hill’s Online Marketing book, we share the Top 20 Tips for writing ideas.

Note: Read this book if doing anything in digital marketing.

  1. Write as simply as possible. Like that.
  2. Keep it short. See?
  3. Plan a writing schedule and keep it. See #5.
  4. Make a list of topics to cover. Think about your target market.
  5. Look at the calendar. What’s in season?
  6. Create editorial departments. Like a magazine.
  7. Stay informed. Try www.google.com/alerts.
  8. Look to the key phrases for inspiration. What is trending? 
  9. Take advantage of inspiration. Write down clever thoughts during the day. Or night.
  10. Plan “think pieces.” Provide background, analysis, and opinions. 400-500 words.
  11. Slice the onion thinly. Divide longer pieces into part 1 & 2. Stay tuned.
  12. Author how-to articles. Like this one.
  13. Include educational articles. Be authoritative. Research and facts help.
  14. Share your checklists. What works for you? Make a list. With numbers. Like this one.
  15. Try a Top 10 list. Or even 20.
  16. Interview people in your industry. Now you have an excuse.
  17. Embed videos from YouTube or elsewhere. Videos engage. Try it.
  18. Link to podcasts. Then add your opinion.
  19. Outsource to experts. Get a guest blogger. Day off!
  20. Get the best blogging advice everyday. Where? Here.

What sells?

According to the same Online Marketing book, six things:

  1. Comparisons between two competing ideas or products.
  2. Problems solved. How have people made mistakes doing something? Show pitfalls and how to do it right.
  3. A better way. Sure, that’s a good way, but have you tried this “cool trick”?
  4. New uses. People forget what used to work still works. Or maybe it’s used elsewhere (corporations), but not here (music, sports, entertainment).
  5. New features, new prices, and, well, news. What’s new?
  6. User stories. (No, not drugs.)People trust people like them. What have you or others you know used and it worked?

Looking for something to write for the S3 Report? If you work in professional/collegiate sports or affiliated agencies/brands, pick a topic from one of the six that sell and you can start today. Or in the off-season. Either way, let me know.

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]S3 Editor Contact Info: Kirk_Wakefield@baylor.edu or connect via LinkedIn.[/dropshadowbox]

How NOT to run a team Twitter account

How NOT to run a team Twitter account
by Matt Briggs – March 2013

Newcastle United fans have their say on club’s Twitter use

Newcastle United supporters – a passionate bunch.

Digital communications is now the front line of fan engagement for football clubs. The Premier League is a world wide brand and online means messages instantly disseminate around the globe.

Just look at the number of followers a typical Premier League side commands – many exceed average league attendance, with more supporters lurking elsewhere in the deep, dark bowels of the internet. Not surprisingly how clubs use social media to connect with stakeholders generates strong opinions from supporters.

Newcastle United began using Twitter a few years ago with currently around 200,000 followers, one of the largest numbers in the league. I asked supporters about the club’s use of the platform to find out whether they thought NUFC’s use of Twitter put them top of the table or that the club is in a basement battle.

What do fans (not) want?

Supporters were asked five simple questions – whether they followed the club, what they liked, what they disliked, what they wanted to see more of and what they wanted to see less of.

First off, of those fans who responded 25% didn’t officially ‘follow’ the official Twitter account. The main reason for this, mentioned by 61% of respondents, was the glut of marketing messages sent out by NUFC. It turns out that spammy and invasive tweeting will put off even the most ardent supporter.

@NUFCOfficial

This complaint was not simply restricted to those who have opted against following @NUFCOfficial84% of all respondents made reference to the use of the Twitter account as a vehicle for little more than adverts as one of their main dislikes of NUFC’s use of Twitter and it was a commented on frequently by those surveyed:

  • “Too many tweets about club shop offers”
  • “They just use it to sell stuff from the shop in the main. They never reply to genuine questions”
  • “The amount of tweets about selling items instead of news about the club”
  • Getting spammed by offers of merchandise from the club shop. The club shop should get a separate account”

Oh dear. It’s pretty apparent that the club’s policy of using Twitter to drive traffic and increase sales isn’t well liked and probably isn’t working either.85% of fans said they wanted to see much less of it. But anyway, what about plus points?

To the surprise of no one, fans said they want to hear more about new signings.

When asked what they liked about the club’s Twitter almost 55% could muster an answer that wasn’t a variation on the word “nothing”. As you’d expect many of these responses focused on information that the club could publicise before anyone else, such as team line ups, signings and other breaking news:

  • “Team news on match day”
  • “Ticket announcements”
  • “Goal updates from matches are usually the quickest on Twitter”
  • “Picture galleries”

So it turns out there are a few redeeming features of the club’s Twitter use. However that cannot escape from the fact that the feeling among many supporters is that if engagement is the name of then game then the club’s presence is not fit for purpose. When pushed on what they’d like to see from the account an increase in interaction was at the top of the pile:

  • “More interaction with supporters. Better use of social media tools in general to connect with fans”
  • “Interaction with supporters. Greater innovation in terms of how it is used too. Twitter can be used for great things but Newcastle have not embraced it.”
  • “More interaction with fans”
  • “Fan engagement. A teeny tiny bit of opinion now and then and the odd exclusive signing pictures rather than having to pay for NUFC TV”

A nice, round 40% of respondents made some mention of increased engagement with supporters in some form or another. There was also a clear interest in more exclusive, behind the scenes content similar toManchester City’s Inside City video series. Granted, that’s not strictly a comment on Twitter but more proof social media must be coordinated cross platform.

I’ll leave the final word to one respondent who was pretty damning in his assessment of Newcastle’s use of the platform…

  • “They’ve totally missed the point of Twitter”

 

Social media in the NFL: Strategy and tools

Social media in the NFL: Strategy and tools
by Nick Schenck – March 2013

At the Houston Texans, we publish content on three times as many platforms as we did in 2010. Through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Foursquare and Pinterest, we collectively reach more than 1.4mm fans.

We’re not alone in allocating resources toward social. McKinsey found that 39 percent of companies use social media as their primary digital tool to reach customers. Within four years it is expected to grow to 47 percent.[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-bottom-right” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]What works best?chargers logo

The use of imagery. The rise of both Instagram and Pinterest makes it clear visual storytelling has to be part of our social strategy. Photos posted to our San Diego Chargers Facebook page see an astoundingly higher percentage of fan engagement than a typical text-only status update. We now make every effort to combine images with content in innovative ways to foster engagement on all social networks. It’s been said many times, a well-chosen image is worth a thousand words (or more).

Joel Price
Joel PriceSenior Manager
Digital Content
San Diego Chargers[/dropshadowbox]

Beyond creating a Facebook page and opening a Twitter account, though, what does it mean to have a successful social media strategy? Our social media strategy centers around our brand, our fans and, ultimately, increasing revenue.

  • Brand: Building an authentic dialogue with our fans would not be possible without a strong social media presence. We aim to reach our fans where they spend the most time online, and more than 20% of time spent online is on social media. Also, Mass Relevance shows that 62% of respondents are more likely to engage with social brands.
  • Fans: Creating memorable experiences for fans is among our biggest goals. Many fans will first engage with us on social media, so meaningful interactions are crucial. Fans today intuitively contact brands more via social media than through other channels like phones or e-mail.
    • Customer service is key in this environment: Fans discuss our brand on social media whether we participate or not. To ignore that conversation would be a lost opportunity.
  • Revenue: The more value we create via social media the better. However, it’s important we remain credible to fans in the process. Running sweepstakes, publishing discounts and promoting exclusive player appearances are a few ways to generate value for sponsors and fans on social media. Also, we try to facilitate purchase decisions (i.e. merch, tickets, events) where possible. In many ways, facilitating the growth of a relationship is the purpose of social media. Why? Because the majority (54% according to this survey) indicate that “liking” a brand increases purchase intent.

Other than creating a strategy, I don’t believe there is a holy grail to social media. Since the beginning of advertising, the most effective brands have employed talented writers that know their audiences well and can communicate succinctly.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-bottom-right” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]What works best?Green-Bay-Packers-Logo-Small

It’s all about the fans. It sounds cliché, but social media is connecting with our fans and providing content they want to talk about. We have tested various promotions, posts and tweets throughout the season. The common theme is : What would you tell a friend about?

Overall, we curate content from our site, games, and fan-submitted-content to share with fans/followers to reinforce passion for their team, the Green Bay Packers.

Garrison CummingsGarrison Cummings
Marketing Analyst
Green Bay Packers [/dropshadowbox]

Of course, the tools change. I recommend the free tools available to measure your efforts (see below). Better perhaps than other forms of media, digital media lends itself to testing and measurement. Find out what works for your brand and audience and constantly optimize.

  • Bit.ly: Use a URL shortener to track click-thrus and discover which content resonates the most.
  • CircleCount/AllMyPlus: The best measurement tools for Google+.
  • Hashtracking: Track impressions and the reach of specific Twitter hashtags.
  • PicMonkey: Images drive engagement on social media. Use this tool. It’s easier than Photoshop.
  • Statigram: Instagram is growing rapidly. Track your progress and identify your best content.
  • TwitterCounter: Measure your Twitter growth and compare vs. other accounts.

Using Pinterest, iTunes, and LinkedIn: How to engage fans and increase revenue

Using Pinterest, iTunes, and LinkedIn: How to engage fans and increase revenue
by Sean Walsh – February 2013

What do teams in the United States have to learn from Italy’s AS Roma?

Pinterest

In Europe, AS Roma became the first football club to use Pinterest. AS Roma boards include:

  • Iconic photography from their history
  • A board with images of every player
  • Official club videos
  • Individual boards for merchandise (men’s clothing, women’s clothing, children’s clothing, hats, bags, homeware – all appealing to the “fashionista” community of Pinterest)
  • Every cover from their official club program
AS Roma Pinterest
AS Roma Pinterest

The AS Roma Pinterest board is a fine example for other clubs to follow – it clearly shows they understand the channel.  They understand how to use the technology to curate fan content and really get the fans involved. Most importantly, Roma recognizes fans should be included in their official club presence. The team has boards specifically for fan photography, fan videos and even a selection of amazing AS Roma themed cakes. Let’s face it, you can’t avoid cakes on Pinterest!

iTunes Player Playlists

The Italian giants rolled out iTunes playlists from first team players on their official website and can be downloaded on iTunes.

AS Roma iTunes Playlists
AS Roma iTunes Playlists

Music has always been a huge part of sports broadcasts and events, including terrace chants and anthems particularly popular in football (soccer). In recent years the image of players equipped with headphones as part of their pre-game rituals has become standard. Why not let fans tap into what their favorite players are listening to?

LinkedIn

The latest step AS Roma has taken is harnessing LinkedIn as a way of targeting fans with more business/professional orientated careers. Within the past few weeks, AS Roma announced the launch of their new AS Roma company page on LinkedIn  with a specific strategy for the channel.

We have long thought teams should adopt LinkedIn as an official social media channel:  By using a shared interest in football, it creates a casual and comfortable first point of contact in which relationships are already created. We all know businesses exploit this bond between fans–just look at the number of corporate hospitality suites and tickets sold every season. The fans use LinkedIn and they clearly want to connect with other supporters, particularly those who may share business interests.

AS Roma appears to use LinkedIn as a way to market corporate-relevant products: premium seats, corporate hospitality packages and even attracting new sponsors. Most of their content revolves around new sponsorship ventures, executive season ticket offers and current corporate partners.

As football clubs look set to monetize social media in 2013, don’t be surprised if more clubs in the UK, Europe, and the US follow in a bid to market corporate hospitality and sponsorship packages to this more affluent audience.

Leveraging digital marketing and media strategies

Leveraging digital marketing and media strategies
by Anita Sehgal – February 2013

As organizations continue to utilize sports sponsorships and activation within their marketing mix, they are also faced with the ongoing challenge of ensuring activation is relevant, measurable and engaging for consumers.

Leveraging digital marketing and media strategies will enhance sponsorship initiatives in three ways:[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”curled” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

  1. Expanding the reach of your activation to a broader audience
  2. Extending the activation beyond the actual event time
  3. Engaging fans in relevant and measurable experiences[/dropshadowbox]

At Academy Sports + Outdoors, we’ve found sharing content and generating exclusive content supporting the partnership is a great way to extend the reach of activation initiatives.  Our long time partnership with the Houston Texans greatly evolved this year thanks to both teams’ commitment to digital integration within core sponsorship assets. Leveraging our shared fan bases on multiple social media sites, executing a calendar of content that engages Academy customers and Texans fans, and tailoring that content to the various social media platforms is a win-win for both of us.

Nick Schenck
Nick Schenck

”Collaborating with Academy on social media promotions this season, including promoted posts on Twitter, generated a lot of interest for our in-store player appearances and raised the profile of our partnership with Academy” says Nick Schenck, Houston Texans director of integrated media.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”raised” width=”450px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick

“Through my partnership with Academy, we’ve probably had the most fun with the digital components of our relationship”, says NASCAR driver Danica Patrick“I’ve live tweeted with their fan base from one of our TV shoots, filmed behind the scenes footage and shared workout tips for use on their tablet app. Academy supports me throughout the racing season and even helped me get voted NASCAR’s most popular driver in 2012. I’ve helped to support their annual fitness campaign and drive new followers and entries into their Pinterest contest through my social media sites.” [/dropshadowbox]All professional sports partners are constantly innovating new ways to provide fans with insider access, and we are always seeking additional avenues to drive sales, traffic and deeper engagement with our customer base.  In many cases, we’ve found a way to meet both goals through digital only events, which are spontaneous and often only shared via social media.  Digital-only events are easy to execute, low cost additions to any activation strategy that (a) expand the reach for partners and (b) create opportunities for content generation.

Sharing content with consumers before, during and after an event is a great way to extend activation length.    Live tweets, contests, and appearances all generate opportunities for our team to capture unique and exclusive content making the activation more powerful.  We also take the approach of supporting our partners in their key initiatives and ask they do the same in return.

One of the major challenges sports sponsorships often face is relevant, measurable activations.

Third party profiling, audience attendance and participation at an event or over a season are key measurements that marketers use to measure value.   Digital marketing brings another key dimension to the table as sponsors are continually challenged to not only drive customer engagement but also measure the benefit.   While traditional logo and designation rights support brand awareness and often brand affinity, social media and digital media integration into fan initiatives drives customer engagement and allows both sponsors and sports entities to assess value of shared consumer bases and engage directly with consumers.