Sports marketing and sales enablement – combined, sounds like an abstract term so let’s put things into perspective by examining some numbers.
Global sports sponsorship spending exceeded 45 billion US dollars by the end of 2019. The growth is going to continue at an annual rate of six per cent, making overall sponsorship figures reach nearly 62 billion dollars by 2024. That’s a huge market and one you’d like to get your share of, wouldn’t you?
As a Rights Holder, having the right marketing vehicle i.e. the way you position your team, club and athletes or association are paramount when it comes to attracting sponsor partners and share of the lucrative sports marketing pie.
This is where combining sports marketing and sales enablement comes into play. Once you have an effective sales enabled sports marketing program you’ll be better positioned to connect with potential sponsor partners and make the type of informed proposition they actually want to receive.
What is Sports Marketing? What is Sales Enablement?
Before digging deeper into the heart of sales and marketing alignment, let’s start with a quick overview of these terms.
Sports marketing, put in simple terms, refers to the use of sports for the sale of products and goods. Typically centred around the various assets such as athletes, teams, clubs, events and associations. These can be sponsored (or a brand can decide to target an entire event like a championship) so that a particular product/brand is endorsed and displayed during every appearance of the aforementioned team or athlete.
Sports marketing is pretty diversified for several reasons. For a start, sports events can be observed in numerous ways. They can be observed live; they could be broadcast on national television or a premium subscription live sports event channel. Sports events can also be broadcast online or via a mobile streaming platform. Providing an excellent opportunity to reach a wide audience. Case in point, half of the world’s population watched the 2018 FIFA football world cup. Thus, it’s not a surprise that brands from Adidas and Coca-Cola to Visa and Gazprom from Russia featured their advertising message in one way or another during the championship. This brings us to the second term that has to be discussed in connection to sports marketing and that’s sales enablement.
Rights Holders need to practice sales enablement – a strategic approach aimed at equipping the Commercial Department of any club, event or association to engage buyers in securing sponsorships and other marketing-related deals. Executing a data driven marketing and sales aligned approach to understand what clients are looking for and how a sponsorship agreements can be crafted to achieve better results for the sponsor partner.
Why is Sports Marketing and Sales Enablement important for Rights Holders?
Building a strong brand that can attract and retain solid sponsorships should be the primary goal for Rights Holders. But doing this without consideration of the sponsors goals and overall business objectives, current and future, is when you start playing a constant game of catch-up when forming new commercial arrangements. Instead you need to start with the end goal in mind. This means understanding what your sponsors want to achieve and how you best fit into this picture.
The sports sponsorship industry continues to be largely sales-led rather than marketing-led. Well meaning Rights Holders are too fixated on bringing in sponsorship revenue, without the long term vision on how the new sponsor partner can truly partner the Rights Holder to maximum effect for both parties. This means that many sponsorship deals are inked without a more holistic view on how the partnership will evolve in coming years. Near-sightedness and the absence of data driven sales and marketing approaches happen to be two of the largest setbacks that challenge this industry. Flipping the ‘grab for sponsorship cash’ approach on its head is not as difficult as it sounds.
One Strategy. Many Benefits.
A dynamic, evolving approach is needed. One thing most Rights Holders have is data, often multiple data points, from membership data, ticket sales data, hospitality suites data to merchandise sales data, the list goes on. The consolidation and analysis of this data from multiple sources and channels can go a long way to help the marketing and sales teams jointly achieve their respective goals. However, it needs a workable, effective system to produce the gold.
While such information is tremendously beneficial you do need to have a systematic approach towards its use. Unfortunately there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for Rights Holders to adopt. Be prepared to schedule some planning workshops, remembering the effort up front to align your sports marketing and sales enablement efforts will produce the desired payoffs.
Imagine if the sales team and the marketing teams were feeding off the same data platform. Both teams having complete visibility of the potential sponsors in the pipeline and active promotional plans, all in one place. By aligning the sales and marketing departments you will find the sales team is better supported to achieve their revenue goals and that marketing is part of the sponsorship activation goals from the outset. It’s a win, win!
Long Term Results in a Changing Market
It’s true that generational changes and new technologies produce challenges. But they also bring various opportunities to the table.
Sports fans are highly engaged. They like to seek their favourite team or event on social media, produce user-generated content or spread marketing messages. Thus, a carefully-planned and formulated digital sports marketing strategy can produce a higher level of engagement that will appeal to various sponsors.
Sports marketing is also quite flexible. It can accomplish a lot – build a brand, establish loyalty, promote new products, raise viewership and generate revenue for everyone involved (the sports team, the sponsor, the media channels involved). This is a long-term strategic approach. Sporting teams can put the foundations in place, after which sports marketing and sales enablement will continue delivering results in the long run. It’s important for club sponsorship entities to recognise themselves in the values and ideals that the sports brand stands for. Whenever this happens, Rights Holders can ensure consistent opportunities for growth in the months and even years to come.
There are many ways to approach sports marketing and they depend on the specific goals of the Rights Holder but getting professional assistance to put the right strategy in place makes sense, regardless of the Rights Holder’s size, experience or area of specialisation. Luckily, various entities can offer such assistance and Digilari Media is well-versed in the field. Our proven sports marketing system has been designed to tie sponsorship partner programs with Rights Holders. We’ll work with you to design a multi-channel aligned approach strategy aimed at driving more effective campaigns across the commercial, sales and marketing divisions.
If you’re ready to ensure consistent business opportunities and you want a stable partner to bring your vision to reality, get in touch with the Digilari team today.