Bass Public Relations director David Bass reckons summer, sport and sponsorships go hand in hand in a very successful way. He filled us in on the why and how.
With another long, hot summer ahead, Aussies are relishing the prospect of days spent watching their favourite sport.
Whether applauding a Steve Smith century at the MCG, watching Roger Federer lift the Australian Open cup, or enjoying the Sydney to Hobart starting line, it’s the time of year when everyone can find something to cheer.
It’s also an important time for the brands that support our largest sporting events. With their logos emblazoned on boat sails, cricket bats, stadiums and action-replay screens, they’ve become as synonymous with our sports events as sunscreen and beer.
Since sports sponsorship began, brands have been on the hunt for new and innovative ways to get themselves in front of fans. Starting with straight-forward signboards, these efforts have expanded to include everything from virtual logos on fields to scrolling slogans on aerial blimps.
While these techniques have worked well to promote brands in the minds of the sporting faithful, they suffer from two significant shortfalls. They can only ever be one-way communication channels, and they provide no way to gather information from the fans themselves.
No matter how much a brand spends in these areas, it will struggle to create a true, two-way relationship with its customers.
Shifting the goal posts
However there is now another alternative for big brands seeking to improve the way they communicate with sports fans. Dubbed game-based content marketing, it strengthens the relationship by adding more value, together with a dose of old-fashioned fun.
Game-based content marketing is underpinned by term gamification. This was first coined about 15 years ago but has only recently come into widespread use, In essence, it involves adding the typical elements of game playing (such as competition and points scoring) to other types of activity.
It’s not about making games for customers but rather about using game design elements to more closely connect with them.
Many components of successful gamification strategies have actually been available to marketers for many years. Examples include loyalty programs that offer cumulative points or rewards that recognise a customer’s status based on the amount they spend.
The mobile dimension
A key factor making game-based content marketing particularly attractive for brands at the moment is the ability it provides to use these types of strategies via mobile devices. With virtually everyone carrying some sort of smart device, brands now have an opportunity to take their relationships to an entirely new level.
A majority of consumers already play games on their Mobile device, leveraging this relationship with their Mobile and familiarity with games is a logical and powerful combination.
This is particularly relevant when it comes to sports. Fans are in the habit of using their smart device to check scores, chat to friends and follow their sporting heroes via websites and mobile apps.
Brands are able to build on these habits by creating new, fun and rewarding ways for fans to interact using their mobile device. Examples could include:
- A rewards program designed to influence fan spending while they are at a particular game or event. The program could include limited-time offers, points and access to special content on their mobile device.
- Creating branded games that mimic the sport or event the consumers attends, creating a unique connection between the brand and consumer.
- A fan zone that encourages fans to provide personal details in exchange for rewards or discounts. This can generate a valuable database of contacts for a brand from pre-qualified people already enjoying an event.
- Access to specially branded, behind-the-scenes content for fans who register while watching a game or event.
Taking advantage of such innovative game-based content marketing techniques can help a brand align itself both with a particular sport and with the fans of that sport. With a well-engineered game, fans will create and share content willingly with their social networks.
Such alignment is increasingly important in a marketplace where more and more companies are making use of mobile channels to try to get their messages to potential customers. Amid this growing electronic noise, successful brands will be those that can find a way to stand out and capture consumer attention.
Game-based content marketing is also a powerful tool because it allows brands to market to discrete groups of people. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to advertising, campaigns can be tailored to appeal to different age groups, team affiliations and even geographic areas. Multiple different campaigns can be used concurrently to maximise cut through and stimulate interest and loyalty.
Real-world experience has shown that, when game-based content marketing campaigns work, they deliver significant results. Consumers feel more connected to the brand, and the brand is able to connect valuable personal data that can be used for future follow-up marketing.
Adding value – for brands and fans
Game-based content marketing is already adding significant value for brands investing in popular sports. Changing their relationship with fans, they are harnessing the power of mobility and clever campaign development to add value and gain maximum return from their spend.