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There are many reasons a company would want to be involved with experiential sports marketing. It is a powerful and engaging marketing tool that is growing in popularity.  Unlike any other marketing tool, it gives the consumer the opportunity to touch, feel and share your brand with others as part of a sporting event experience. This interaction creates a powerful and long-term positive brand experience.

Experiential Sports Marketing

In this Mills Marketing & Communications article, we want to help you understand how you can use this type of marketing to promote your business and your products. We will start by clearly defining experiential sports marketing and then discuss how this type of marketing can put your business over the top against your competitors.

What is experiential sports marketing?

Experiential sports marketing provides a consumer experience that is interactive, engaging and it always gives the event participant the opportunity to experience the product. Sometimes called event marketing, experiential sports marketing is a little different. With traditional event marketing, the company might sponsor an event where people can experience the brand through signage and other messaging. With experiential sports marketing, the sport is the draw, and the brand creates opportunities to touch and engage with potential customers. These events create excitement, tremendous brand recognition and many times great word of mouth. Great experiential sports marketing events build a distinctive and exciting brand experience in the context of that event.

“Over the years our company has been involved with hundreds of experiential sports marketing events,” Drew Mills, founder, and CEO of Mills Marketing & Communications said.

“Whether it’s a professional sport or college game day event, the opportunities to engage with potential customers are endless, and they are certainly worth the effort and investment.”

How has experiential sports marketing changed and where is it heading?

“The list of industries and companies that sponsor sporting events is nearly endless, and experiential sports marketing has become very popular over the last decade or so. Many brands are involved, and it will only continue to grow.  Attend any sporting event, and you will see many companies showcasing their products or services through experiential marketing,” Mills said.

“I was at a Ravens game recently, and I noticed a major potato chip brand and food chain that both had a big presence with experiential sports marketing;  This indicates a shift in strategy,” Mills said. “It’s evolving.”

“More and more companies are getting involved and seeing the value in collecting data, collecting names, and goodwill from the interaction with the fans,” Mills said.

How to execute an experiential sports marketing plan.

“First, you need to figure out what sports and events you want to be involved with and target. Maybe you want to be in front of children and parents at a baseball game, or possibly stage an interactive event at a college basketball or football game to engage with college students.” Mills points out.

Depending on the sport, there are different needs when it comes to logistics and setup.  Some of these events are one-day events; others will go for days. It’s important to plan accordingly and make sure that the activities and events you plan will keep the interest of the attendees the entire time.

With longer events, it takes more planning and manpower.  As in the case of a golf tournament, you must have the resources to stay at the event for four or five days. Depending on the client and budgets, the length of the event will influence the decision as to what events to attend. “If you have limited resources, you might just focus on one-day or shorter events,” Mills said.

Handling a multi-city, multi-venue experiential sports marketing plan.

Mills explained that the first thing to do is to plan your venues well. If you want your multi-city events to go off without any issues, you better have the right team in place.  You will also need to spend a lot of time planning the drive from city to city; you must have smooth on-site set-up, and you need to make sure that your equipment can break down easily so it can be moved to the next location.

How does digital media fit into experiential sports marketing?

“Digital media and social media are very important for helping to promote your event,” Mills said. “There are many things you can do to engage socially with existing and new potential customers. For example, you might take video or photos of participants and allow visitors to share them on their social media streams.  To receive the video or photos, they would need to give you their email address which can be used later to communicate about other events and product sales opportunities.”

“Social Media is also important for letting people know where you’re going to be and who’s going to be there with you.”

Of course, Mills points out; social media is vital for building a list of potential customers. Using prize entries, as well as exclusive events, they’re able to gather names, emails, and social media profile information. The companies are then able to use that information to target those consumers.

How do you measure the return on investment (ROI) for these experiential sports marketing events?

“With all of the mechanisms in place at each event, including employees and kiosks, you can tell how many leads you get out of each event. Then, later on, subsequently how many sales that resulted,” Mills said.

There are opportunities with experiential sports marketing with all sports and at all levels. With the right guidance and proper execution, you can create great brand exposure and introduce your company to many new fans.

Do you need help or know someone that does?  You can contact Drew Mills at dmills@millsmktg.com or call 301-208-9130.

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