What’s Your “Jobs?”: Packaging the Sport Product in an “Apple-Like” Manner

December 5, 2012

The inspiration for this post is simple.  While reading “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, I came upon a section of the book that fascinated me because of the extraordinary marketing implications.  The amazing thing is that the actual concept is so simple that most people would probably blow right past it. However, when you get an in-depth look at how Job’s (and Apple) applied the concept, it is something that completely blows you away because it is a basic principle that has the potential to differentiate a product in a manner that can transform an industry.  For the purposes of this entry, we will focus on the application of this “innovative packaging” concept in the sport industry.  I must warn you ahead of time that it is going to take commitment, passion, and persistence to truly realize the full potential of the lessons passed on from a true marketing legend.

Job’s Philosophy on “Packaging” a Product

From the moment that Steve Job’s started Apple, he was fixated on creating an extraordinary product that would “make a small dent” in the universe.  While fame and money probably did place some small role in his motivation, it was clear that he was most concerned with creating products that would change the world from a creative standpoint.  To do this, he knew that he would have to do two specific things extremely well.  First, he would have to create extremely high quality products with the capability to change the way that people operated on a daily basis.  This alone is a pretty daunting task.  Second, he would have to package them in a manner that would differentiate his products from others in the marketplace.  With an obsessive attention to details (and intense drive), he was able to achieve something that few individuals are able to do in his lifetime.  Whether you like his personality and/or leadership approach or not, few will deny that his innovation has changed the world forever.

Potential Areas of Packaging Innovation

Rather than focus solely on Job’s contribution to the technology industry, we are going to jump ahead and discuss potential areas where his approach can improve marketing in the sport industry. However, keep in mind that you must have a true passion to create an extraordinary product if you are going to make a difference in your marketing efforts.  If you feel like you fit the mold, here are some areas that you should consider when attempting to package your product to your sport organization’s full potential.

1. Supplementary Marketing Materials: While online presence is continuing to play a bigger role here, there are few sport organizations (or teams) that do not continue to rely on actual “hard” supplementary materials to help enhance marketing efforts (see Oklahoma State Wrestling poster to left).  If this is an area that you are going to engage in, then make sure that you place an emphasis on truly creating a product that is second to none.  The goal in this area should be to create materials that are so visually appealing and smart that they send a message to the individuals who you are looking to attract.  Don’t settle for less here because this is an area that can help to differentiate your brand.

2. Ticket Packages & Promotional Tie-Ins: Most sport organizations/programs can benefit a great deal from enhancing the value that they offer in their “ticket” packages.  Ultimately, this starts with identifying the various ways that you can effectively attract your key target markets.  Once you understand your primary segments, you must go “Above & Beyond” in attempting to create packages that will impress individuals in a manner that encourages repeat consumption.  In addition to bundling entertainment options (e.g., clinic opportunities), there should also be an emphasis on identifying sponsors that will add value to consumers.  The point is that you must be intentional in creating annual themed packages that will impress your fans.

3. Live Event Atmosphere: In many ways, this may be the most important element in the packaging process because you cannot retain consumers unless you have a solid product.  Falling in line with Jobs’ philosophy on packaging, you should strive to create an environment that is unlike any of your competitors.  Regardless of the talent on your team, your goal should always be to constantly make improvements to the atmosphere at your event.  Wait…let me rephrase that.  Your goal should be to create the most exciting event atmosphere in your field.  When you are passionate about doing this, then your fan base will grow.

4. Online Presence: The Internet now plays a major role in the sport consumption process.  This is not likely to change.  In fact, you could make a strong argument that the priority that consumers place on Internet-based presence will continue to grow in the future.  With that being the case, sport organizations (and programs) cannot afford to miss out on creating a differentiated online presence. While there are a variety of initiatives to achieve this objective, it is likely that this will coincide with a “Jobs’ mentality” to create a unique experience for consumers.  Accomplish this and you will grow your presence on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  The University of Minnesota Wrestling is a primary example of a program that has achieved this with their innovative videos created by Cole Schrupp.

Above and Beyond “Jobs” Applications

Regardless of the packaging area of emphasis, there were certain principles that Jobs emphasized when engaging in marketing initiatives.  These areas will be discussed in-depth in the next ELSM blog entry.  Be sure to stay tuned because the following five “Above and Beyond Jobs Applications” have the potential to be a game changer in your marketing efforts.

  1. Strive to make a strong first impression
  2. Differentiate through disciplined innovation
  3. Make product image a priority
  4. Set an extraordinarily high standard of excellence
  5. Make product formidable in fun category

“Creativity is just connecting things.  When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.  That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people” (Steve Jobs, former Apple & Pixar CEO)


About ELSMarketing

ELSM is a company that specializes in the development and implementation of innovative marketing plans for sport organizations, businesses, and programs. By focusing on the client’s goals and expectations, we strive to develop strategies that will build the brand of the entity in a way that will ensure future success. The bottom line is that we are committed to working with entities who are looking to take themselves to the next level from a marketing standpoint. While there are a variety of strategies that we implement to achieve this, it starts with the values we have in place for our company. Here at ELSM, “Innovation is the Expectation!”
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