January 23, 2012
One of the greatest things about being a college sport marketing professor at the University of North Carolina is that I am constantly forced to get back to the basics each semester when I start a new course. As we meet to discuss key concepts in the early lectures, I have to consistently remind myself that a large majority of the class is made up of students who are not highly familiar with sport marketing. With this in mind, I have learned that I must be efficient with teaching the fundamentals effectively if the course is going to be a game changer for future, aspiring sport marketing professionals. As I reflected on this process this weekend, I came to an interesting conclusion when thinking about exactly what it takes to be successful in marketing. Rather than keeping you waiting on the edge of your seat, I will just go ahead and throw it out there.
“Regardless of where you are in your career as a sport marketer, it should always be about the basics if you want to be highly successful in positioning your product effectively with consumers”
I know exactly what you are thinking. It seems a little theoretical, right? Heck, the thought that this is a “typical college professor response” might have even crossed your mind. And you would actually be absolutely correct in both cases if we did not expand on the thought process above. I’d prefer not to get the reputation of being a “typical, theoretical-minded (with little practical application) professor” so it is time to get to work. Better yet, lets do it the right way and get back to the basics. After all, this is on the only real way to ensure that you will realize success in your marketing efforts. So, without further ado, I present to you three of the 10 essential tips in the “Back to the Basics Commandments.”
Commandment #1 – The Consumer Comes First: This probably seems like something that would be intuitive to most people. Yet it is one of the most common (and biggest) mistakes that is made in sport marketing. It is important to note up front that this is a concept that moves far beyond the traditional mentality in customer service where you always strive to respond adequately and efficiently to consumer’s expectations. While this is certainly a part of the commandment, the actual application of this concept moves far beyond dealing with customers in face-to-face situations in real time. Instead, this philosophy extends to the actual mindset (and values) that sport marketers embrace on a day-to-day basis when doing their job. Regardless of the initiative, these individuals should always strive to exceed the expectations of their consumers in all areas of marketing. It is this “above and beyond” mentality that will always allow marketers to effectively connect with consumers on a more personal level. However, this is not something that can be achieved unless the sport marketer is absolutely committed to the consumer coming first in all stages of execution.
Commandment #2- Begin with the End in Mind: When interacting with college coaches, one of the biggest mistakes that programs make in marketing is that they have no idea what they would like to accomplish through their efforts. As such, they tend to lack direction in initiatives and as a result they experience a poor return on investment (ROI) for their efforts. Naturally, this leads to frustration and the decision that marketing it not worth the time. To avoid this (and to realize all the unique benefits associated with effective marketing), sport marketers must take the time to think about what they would like to achieve through their marketing efforts. When this is done properly, two primary marketing objectives are achieved. First, the specificity of outlining a vision and goals provides a unique direction that guides efficient marketing decisions on a regular basis. Second, the identification of these specific objectives provides a set reminder of the things you want to achieve when things get difficult – and keeps you on task when others would stray from the course. In coordination with some other key benefits, this process provides a unique structure that enhances the chances of succeeding in marketing.
Commandment #3 – Be Deliberate with Details: In some ways, this commandment relates to all areas of marketing. Being a personalized field, you must constantly pay attention to the minor details in order to differentiate your organization (or program) for other forms of competition. However, it is difficult for the delivery of your product to be highly effective if you have not taken the time to know the relevant details about your target markets. To avoid this mistake, take the time in the planning stages to identify the primary market segments that you hope to attract in your marketing efforts. More importantly, take whatever time is necessary to outline the unique characteristics (e.g., demographic information, interests, constraints) of your target markets that will allow you to deliver your product in an extraordinary manner. If you don’t pay attention to detail, you will be far more likely to be like the dude below who clearly has little chance to getting this lovely woman out to an A’s game!
Take Home Points
While some individuals try to make sport marketing complicated, it is actually far more efficient and effective when you take the time to stay connected to the basics. The truth is that you will always have more success in your initiatives if you have a marketing mindset where you put your consumer’s wants and needs at the forefront of all efforts. However, to do this well, you must also identify your key target markets and the characteristics that make them unique from a consumption standpoint. With this being the case, these three commandments have the potential to serve as a foundation for your key decisions in marketing moving forward. As you embark on your quest to position your product, be sure to keep the commandments on your mind so you can maximize the effectiveness of your decisions.
Commandments #4-10: Coming in Future Entries (Stay Tuned)