4 sports marketing strategies to use in your next campaign

The power of sports marketing is nigh-on unparalleled. Whether harnessed by those within the sports industry or brands outside of it, the enduring popularity of sports naturally makes it an incredibly powerful marketing tool for businesses. 

Just check out some of these famous sports marketing campaigns to see how impactful employing the power of sport can be for brands, from Nike’s “Dream Crazy” campaign to Pepsi’s ”Change the Game” advertising series.

However, crafting an effective sports marketing campaign is easier said than done — trust us. We wish it was as simple as just incorporating some sort of sports reference into your advertising, but it’s a little more complicated than that. 

Fear not, as a dedicated sports marketing agency, we know a thing or two about high quality campaigns in this field — no pun intended. Allow us to run through some of the best sports marketing strategies to supercharge your efforts going forward.

Focus on a hyper-specific audience

Targeting a hyper-specific audience hugely increases the chances of your sports marketing campaign succeeding, as you’ll be speaking more directly to those who want and need your products or services. With so many sports fans out there, don’t think that this will represent a small number of people either. 

In order to target such a section of sports lovers, you need to work out aspects like:

  • Interests: What sports are your target audience interested in? The more you can appeal to their exact interests, the better chance you have of attracting your ideal customer to your brand.
  • Lifestyle: Whether your target customer enjoys sports primarily as a spectator, a casual participant, or as more of a dedicated hobby or career will affect the nature of your campaign.
  • Income: How much are your audience willing to spend on your products or services? This will also impact how you market towards them. 
  • Age: Different age ranges value different marketing approaches — younger audiences mainly prefer social media marketing, whereas older audiences are more accustomed to traditional types of advertising.
  • Location: The location of your audience will impact your strategy going forward — for instance, do you opt to team up with a local sports team, or will an international athlete help you market towards a more international reach.

Gaining all of this information will help you adapt your campaign — from the type of content produced to the language used — to appeal to a narrower part of the public. 

Here at Pitch, we have experience targeting a wide range of hyper-speccific audiences, from young females as part of our work for the FA Women’s Super League, to primarily adult males for our England ‘Til I Dye campaign for Paddy Power. 

Tell an untold story

Your product or service is unlikely to be the first of its kind on the market, so it’s imperative that you position your brand from a unique point of view. 

We believe the best way of doing so is by telling an untold story, as this helps to transmit knowledge and meaning towards your audience, while also creating an emotional connection with them. Sports marketing lends itself incredibly well to such storytelling, as Pitch can demonstrate with our previous campaigns. 

Take our Upliftford Pitch’s Upliftford campaign for sports brand ASICS, for instance. In collaboration with mental health charity Mind, we transformed the town of Retford into a movement-inspired gym called “Upliftford” for a day. From turning bus stops into ‘bus steps’ and making benches ‘bench presses’, the quirky campaign demonstrated how effective sport can be at improving mental health, in turn emphasising the value of ASICS. By telling this story in such a unique way, we helped ASICS stand out from the crowd with this sports marketing campaign.

Build up shrewd partnerships and sponsorships

Sports marketing campaigns are ripe for carefully considered partnerships and sponsorships. By teaming up with well-known sports stars and teams, brands can piggyback on their profiles to increase the reach of their campaigns, while also improving their reputation by associating themselves with such popular figures. 

There’s a reason sports sponsorship in particular is such a big industry, offering numerous benefits for brands and earning sports stars millions — if not billions — of pounds in the process. 

Going back to our famous sports marketing campaign article again — most of these feature famous athletes, from Pelé’s renowned 1970 World Cup marketing stunt for Puma, to Nike’s partnership with former NFL star Colin Kaepernick. 

When it comes to sports marketing campaigns for our own clients here at Pitch, we regularly rely on partnerships to supercharge their advertising efforts. From teaming up with Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton for Betfair, to working with boxing superstar Anthony Joshua for Beats, we help brands take their sports marketing campaigns to the next level via star power, but without breaking the bank.

Be smart with your content channels

In the digital age, brands have so many options when it comes to reaching their target audience. That said, the potential opportunities for in-person advertising with sports marketing are more plentiful than in most industries. These include sponsoring entire events, running your marketing campaigns at sports arenas, or in television breaks during big sporting contests.

However, even if you decide to go this route, that’s not to say you can’t utilise the power of online media to further amplify your campaign. You have so many options at your disposal, including social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, to dedicated video platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and Vimeo. Again, your best option depends on your target audience.

Pitch has used an array of channels to help push our client’s advertising campaigns. These include Twitter for Uber Eats and McDelivery’s #TeamForPirlo campaign, live sports events for Red Bull. and a multi-channel approach for our ‘Give Cancer a Kicking’ campaign for Hyundai. This included “content, talent, matchday experiential, OOH and digital paid media.”

Time your campaign to perfection

As the saying goes, timing is everything. And when it comes to sports marketing, it can certainly be make or break. After all, sports is closely tied to seasonal competitions and live events, so considering the timing of your campaigns is all-important. For instance, you may want to:

  • Capitalise on the pre-game hype of a big sports event by running advertisements during this time.
  • Jump on chances to congratulate winning teams or athletes when everybody is watching.
  • Keep track of what celebrity sportspeople are doing and release content featuring them when they’re most visible during the season.

More broadly, be sure to assess the times when different forms of content are likely to be popular. For instance, different social media platforms have different peak periods — most of these are across various times on a Monday, though Twitter’s is on a Friday. Once you’ve found the perfect rhythm for posting content, we recommend automating posts to keep your content consistent.

Here at Pitch, we always closely consider the timing of our marketing campaigns. For example, we ran our England ‘Til I Dye and #TeamForPirlo campaigns to coincide with the build up to the 2018 World Cup, and launched Liverpool FC and ThinkMarkets’s partnership in the run up to 2021/22 Premier League season. This helped us drive maximum engagement for the respective campaigns.

As experts in all things sports marketing, Pitch can revamp your own sports marketing efforts and help your brand shoot for the stars. Get in touch with our team today to learn more or make an enquiry, and check out more of our work here to get a further flavour of what we can do for your brand.

Further Reading