Selective Hearing in Sports Marketing: Desired and Actual Reality


The best advice for any sports marketer is to always take the view of their fans Imagine the perception in their shoes and understand that your customers are not normal “customers” of a brand – they are fans.

So, with that in mind, here a few things that we sports marketers want to hear from fans and what the fans want, in reality.

1) Marketers want to hear: “My main reason for following the team on social media and subscribing to their e-newsletters is to receive a bunch of great discounts and offers from the team.”

Reality – While some offers can be welcomed and loyalty plays a large role, most fans want some good
content from the team and information. They want to be entertained, informed, heard, and, yes, “engaged.”

2) Marketers want to hear: “What I really want from a team mobile app is make purchases and sharing my personal preferences and profile easier.”

Reality – Some of this is fine and can be highly effective, but it’s not the fans’ primary focus. Look around a game and, while a handful of fans may be eager to spend another $75 to upgrade their seat, most are either texting friends, social networking, or taking photos and videos. Enhance and augment those native activities your fans want to do. Deliver the main value, first, earn your fans’ trust, and then progress from there.

3) Marketers think they hear: “I expect nothing but highly formal and professional online content from the team, not something that looks like I could’ve shot it on my iPhone. And I need all the quotes the beat reporters get”

Reality – Fans want authenticity with team content, especially on social media. A behind-the-scenes photo will garner more interest than many of the best produced video features. The content should appear native to the platform, not something a brand paid an agency to produce. Ultimately, fans want content they’re not accustomed to seeing and stuff they can’t see with other media outlets..

4) Marketers want to hear: “I will actively seek out and learn about all the brands that partner with my team, jumping on Google to research every logo and presenting sponsor I encounter.”

Reality – There is some proof that fans have increased affinity for team partners. However, teams and partners can’t expect that to deliver effective ROI. Activate the brand and integrate it into team promotions or content in a way that entertains fans, natively, and teaches them what the partner’s business does and stands for. Tell them and show them what partner brands do.

5) Marketers want to hear: “I always like to buy tickets in advance and make plans as early as possible.”

Reality – Particularly among younger fans, going to a game can be a last minute thing, plans made over text or Facebook not long before doors open. There’s still nothing better than selling a season ticket, but understand to whom you’re marketing. Appreciate there are a huge number of potential game attendees that will, almost by rule, not decide to attend until the last minute. Stay front of mind, give them the right messages at the right time and place, and don’t be in a pushy, sell-at-all-times, always-be-closing mode.

Make every Friday a Fan Friday for yourself. Walk through the process of browsing the website, check out and go through ticket sales, open an email, view and share social media content, use the mobile app and mobile website, and, really, adopt the mindset of the everyday fan.

Because, despite the everlasting wisdom of George Costanza, just because you (want to) believe something to be true, doesn’t make it so. Build your strategy and tactic around how fans will experience them. Always listen and learn. It’s simple, right?

Posted by Neil Horowitz Follow me on Twitter @njh287   Connect on LinkedIn

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