Vision Critical's highly successful 2014 Summit in New York City featured several new faces last week, including attendees from the sports space. Yes, that's right, the unique dynamics of the empowered customer have surfaced with sports fans as well. For years we thought that if you provided a winning, star-laden team, your sports organization would be successful and profitable in return. Well, this is no longer the case.
To support and take advantage of emerging new revenue opportunities such as sponsorship, TV broadcast deals, and concessions, sports organizations must better understand sports fans. Take the Australian Football League, the Asia Pacific 2014 Summit Insight Community of the Year victor. Through its community, the league talks to its supporters about all facets of being an AFL fan, including the match-day experience, ticketing, and advertising.
With representation from ESPN, Madison Square Gardens (including the New York Knicks), and NASCAR at the Summit, Vision Critical hosted an engaging session entitled The Secret to Better Fan Engagement. As sports organizations operate more and more as traditional media organizations, here are 3 in-your-face reasons why engaging with sports fans in a two-way dialogue is a critical next step:
- Corporate sponsors and partners are increasingly interested in justifying their investment in your organization. Sponsorship is no longer a 'given' just because you are the only game in town. Show awareness, brand fit, connection to interests and consumption, and test messaging, call-to-action, layouts of the materials with the exact sports fans being targeted.
- Broadcast TV deals rely heavily on a thorough understanding of your sports fans: who they are, how they consume and what makes them unique for the TV networks and advertisers.
- Informed decisions must now be made at all levels of your organization. Which concessions should you bring to market and promote? Which marketing message resonates the most with your fans? Who is the most relatable player on the team and how can use his or her popularity in your marketing efforts? Which ticket sales packages and price points will maximize sales? Incorporating fan input into these decisions will help ensure success.
As the new fan revolution hits the sports space, you need to be ready. Becoming more of a fan-centric sports organization like the New York Knicks or NASCAR will help ensure you can meet the growing demands of the empowered sports fan while continuing to grow revenue opportunities. At the core of it, sports organizations are still a business.