Many sports brands marry themselves to a discipline that fits their target audience. Outside of some of the largest brands in the world, you will find a different type of company looking to sponsor and advertise itself during golf events than you'll find during the NBA finals.
That emphasis, of course, has traditionally come with potentially significant limitations. What happens, for example, when you focus your sports marketing on a single discipline, and the offseason begins?
It happens everywhere. Between the Super Bowl in early February and the first regular season game in September, more than seven months lapse. Even the NBA and its almost year-long season will take off more than 90 days between the finals and the start of the next season. Does your brand need to suffer?
Increasingly, the answer is no. Thanks to increasing pressure by TV broadcasters, new digital opportunity, and increasing niche popularity, your brand can survive and thrive even during those traditionally slower times.
The Decline of the Sports Offseason
Football, as mentioned above, is notorious for having the longest offseason of all major American sports. But in fact, the NFL (and its broadcasting partners) have made a concerted effort to minimize the league's time away from the spotlight as much as possible.
The NFL draft, for example, attracts almost 7 million watchers in the United States alone, and is strategically placed in the middle of the offseason. In a similar example, the NBA places its start of big-money free agency (July 1) strategically a few weeks after the final to keep up excitement.
These types of offseason dates exist in any sport, and have become increasingly important. They keep the focus on an individual discipline, allowing the sport to stay in the conversation - and brands to continue marketing through it.
Taking Advantage of New Digital Opportunities
Anyone familiar with the massive sports entertainment media knows: TV ratings are only the beginning. And again, the NFL draft provides a perfect example: starved fans use the event as an opportunity to prepare with mock drafts, and analyze the picks of their favorite teams to exhaustion.
That, in turn, has spawned a cottage industry of highly relevant and trafficked website who have little to do with the actual sport. Major portals like Goal.com build an entire content strategy that is specifically designed to cover transfer news and rumors during the offseason. Put simply, there has never been as much potential for digital content related to one's favorite sport than in today's digital opportunities.
For your brand, that content represents an invaluable opportunity. You can use it to stay in your audience's mind, even during a time that would traditionally be considered a lull. And if the attention you garner here is not enough, you can always branch out to different (but related) niches.
Finding Related Niches
Looking to reach football fans while the NFL is on break? The Arena Football League just announced a live-streaming deal with Twitter. American soccer fans will spend the summer watching the International Champions Cup. And hardcore NBA fans cannot wait to see their team's prospects and players during EuroBasket 2017.
The kicker: thanks to the ever-growing content landscape mentioned above, audiences can more easily access this type of content. Live streams, articles, and digital highlights allow tournaments to broadcast their games to a larger audience - and your brand can ride that tail wave.
In short, the offseason no longer has to be a source of dread for brands looking to focus their marketing on a specific sport. You do, of course, have to be careful to develop a strategic marketing plan that hits the right audience with the right message at the right time. For help in that regard, contact us.