Thanks for dropping by. You must love Sports and Marketing, or Digital Content and Social Media. Me too. We`re practically twins. Since we are so similar, then I know you`re going to dig this post… I mean… Thou shalt not love this post!
Content Marketing is becoming a standard business term, and for good reason. The modern Marketing Executive will focus on creating the best possible content to tell the most relevant stories in order to reach key objectives: Awareness, Ticket Sales, Community Relations, and Corporate Partnerships. Sprinkle in some Digital Strategy and you are now talking about the (potentially) most consumed content coming from your brand directly to fans. Whether it’s on your website, mobile, CRM or social, remember, it’s ALL DIGITAL and it’s where your fans are. If you are in Sports or Marketing or Digital, my 5 Commandments are for you!
1) Be There
There are two types of moments: the ones that just happen (which you react to) and moments that you create. (I write a lot about moments) Being in these moments with your audience should be the number one priority on your list. Put yourself in their shoes. What are they talking about? How are they feeling? Does it make sense for your brand to be talking about and feeling the same things? I’ll answer for you… in general… yes, it does. How are you creating and publishing real time shareable content that fans actually want to consume? It`s goals, touchdowns, home runs, big plays, final scores, broadcast info, pre/post game video… which are all opportunities for interaction. The story is being told with or without you. Why not contribute (in a big way) with the mountain of content that surrounds you and your marketing and digital team. If you feel an emotional connection to your brand, then others probably do as well. I do not need to cite a study that proves fans are emotionally invested in their teams. They live and breathe it. Living in the moment is paramount.
2) Be Prepared
- Step One: Create a Digital Content Plan
- Step Two: Tent Pole Moments and the P.D.P Rule
- Step Three: Follow The Plan, and add to it anytime.
Your Digital Content Plan is the core of every piece of content you make. Wrap this around ‘Tent Pole Moments’ like Drafts, Free Agency, Live Games, Trades and you are well on your way. The beauty of a proper Digital Content Plan is that you can adjust on the fly. New technology will appear, new opportunities will develop. It’s all good. Keep innovating, adjusting and improving.
Consider a player on your team that is reaching a milestone soon. What is your plan leading up to the milestone, during the milestone and after the milestone? Video, articles, photos, photo galleries, interviews, infographics, images, live streams. Everything and anything your team creates should incorporate the 3 phases of the event; pre, during and post. I’ve often referred to this as the P.D.P rule. You down with PDP? Yeah, you know me.
When I was at the Toronto Maple Leafs , we noticed that fans asked the same few questions every game day. One of them being “Who is starting in net?” So we created two quick videos with our goalies staring right in to the camera and announcing they were the starting goalie. Depending on who was in net, we posted the proper video to our social channels and website. 6 seconds of shareable video answered thousands of fans at once. Small gestures sometimes can have the biggest impact. These quick videos became a series with no event being too big or too small to create a video around. We made Happy Birthday videos, Happy Valentines Day videos and more. It sounds small, but the impact was huge.
Also on the note of being prepared, here`s an example I love showing. Since I`m a bit of Star Wars nerd I felt compelled to own`May The 4th` with the teams I represented. So every year, the date rolled around and we posted some simple but effective stuff. Fans loved it, and got involved:
3) Be Ready
Anything can happen in your world: transactions, hirings/firings, Harlem Shakes, Ice Buckets, who knows what’s coming next. Your digital team needs to be able to react. A few years ago, when news broke of a monkey running free in an Ikea, my heart stopped. (I thought, too good to be true!). When an image surfaced of this monkey wearing a winter parka (like Bain from The Dark Knight Rises) we at the Toronto Maple Leafs reacted right away. No approvals, no discussion… we needed to be first. Our graphic designer mocked up the monkey in a 1963 Stanley Cup celebration photo. It was black and white, and perfect. Hundreds of thousands of impressions and tens of thousands shares across multiple platforms. We considered it a success. It took a few days for other brands and other teams to jump on, but we were first.
4) Be Aware:
You are a content factory. You are surrounded by things that you take for granted. The content that your fans are craving is all around you. Every nook of your building. Every employee. Your history. Your future. There are thousands of stories… How are you telling each one? There is also a long list of current corporate partners and potential partners that want to help you tell these stories. Partnerships formed around content that people actually want will beat out manufactured and processed every time. If you are aware of what your customer wants you will find a way to embed partners, and everyone wins. Sit down with your partners and listen to them. Listen to their needs. I guarantee that together, with partners you will be able to dream up (and fund) some really compelling stuff. Or you could always do a search for the Ultimate Fan to win the Ultimate Experience and sit in the Ultimate Seats! Not sure if sarcasm comes through in words, but if you could not tell, the whole `Ultimate`thing is sarcasm. Anything with the word Ultimate in it, usually sucks. I just had to say it.
5) Be Authentic.
You do not need to ‘jump in’ to every conversation. Some brands are really reaching and chiming in on things that our out of their scope. Pick your spots. Maybe celebrity deaths are not the ‘opportunity’ you think they are to sell tickets. Do the things that feel right in the moments that feel right. Always think like your fan. What would they say? Below is a tasteful nod to the passing of Stompin’ Tom Connors from when I was with the Leafs. No call to action, just a simple image to capture a moment. He passed during a Leafs game, and the franchise was historically known to play his music during games… so it made sense. This one image reached a Facebook audience of 1.38 million users via 17,000 shares and 18,000 likes. But really, the numbers are irrelevant. This was all about the right thing to do.
There you have it. The 5 Commandments of Sports Digital Marketing. Hope you enjoyed this piece. I’m always open to evolving the list, so feel free to reach out: @JonSinden on Twitter. Or find me on Linked In.