9 Effective Marketing Ideas for Sports Teams and Sporting Events
So, maybe your team isn’t exactly Real Madrid, the L.A. Lakers, New Zealand All Blacks or Boston Red Socks.
That’s fine, not everyone has to be playing in the top leagues. Yet, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve recognition and support.
After all, what is better than having people cheering you on at your games?
Or new players standing in line to try out for a place on the roster?
Better yet, sponsors who want you to wear their name or support you financially?
Unfortunately though, these things don’t materialize out of thin air. They require time, effort and putting yourself out there.
The good news, however, is that there are many ways to promote your sports team and technology made them affordable, sometimes even free.
So, in order to get your team the fame, support and fans it deserves, in this article we will take a look at different marketing ideas for sports teams on and off the web.
Online Promotion for Sports Teams
If anyone hears your team’s name or wants to find out more about you, what is the first thing they will do? That’s right, hit up Google.
In times where everyone has a smartphone, the Internet is usually the first place people will go to find information on anything.
Therefore, it is crucial that you make good use of available marketing channels on the net.
1. Use WordPress
for a Free, Professional Website
In most cases, your team’s website will be the first stop for any information seekers, be it new fans, new players or members of the press.
It is probably also the first thing that potential sponsors will look at. For those reasons, it is important that you make a good first impression.
If you already have a website, you might want to check out our tips on how to improve your sports team’s website design.
In case you don’t have a web presence yet, don’t worry. Today it is quite easy to create a website, even if you are not a web designer or developer.
With WordPress virtually anyone can create a professional-looking website in literally minutes.
The WordPress platform already powers 25% of the Internet — literally millions of websites, including this one — with no end in sight.
One of the main reason behind its success is the fact that WordPress is open source and therefore completely free to use.
In addition to that, thousands of free, high-quality themes make it easy to completely change any site’s design at the touch of a button.
Plus, the platform’s functionality can be extended almost indefinitely via the plugins in the WordPress directory which range from SEO solutions to photo galleries and contact forms to anything imaginable.
It’s beyond this article to show you exactly how to build a site with WordPress (even though I promise it is really simple!), however, you can use the following resources to get started:
- WordPress Codex – Getting Started With WordPress
- Tyler Moore – How to Make a WordPress Website 2015 (video)
2. Set up Your Team Website with an All-in-one Solution
If you do feel overwhelmed at the prospect of designing your own website, we might be able to help.
Here at ThemeBoy, we try to create turnkey solutions for anyone wanting to set up a professional website for their team, club, or league.
For example, we have put together SportsPress Pro, a plugin that allows you to easily add team and player profiles, league tables, upcoming matches and more to any WordPress site.
If you would like to give it a spin, you can download the free version of Sportspress from the WordPress directory.
Ok, now let’s look at additional marketing ideas for your sports team.
3. Build an Email Newsletter
Although a relatively old technology (in Internet years), email continues to be an important marketing channel.
Providers like MailChimp allow you to easily set up and manage professional email newsletters including list management, email template builders and more.
Plus, up to 2000 subscribers the service is completely free to use.
Email is a great tool to keep players, fans and volunteers informed about upcoming events, games and everything else that is going on.
It is also an effective channel to stay in touch with your most loyal fans, send them bonus material, thank you notes, exclusive content and other things that make them feel appreciated.
How do you know your closest fans are on the list?
Well, think about your own Internet usage. Do you give out your email address freely and without any afterthought or only to things you trust and are interested in?
Hopefully your answer was the latter.
Other people are the same. If they opt to sign up to your email list, this is a huge indicator of trust and interest and you should treat those people with the respect they deserve.
4. Be Present on Social Media
Social media is ubiquitous. Today, almost everyone is a member of at least one platform.
I mean, I’m friends with my mom on Facebook. That should really say it all.
Besides their wide reach, what’s great about social networks is that pretty much all of them are free to use. As a consequence they present an inexpensive way for team promotion.
Social media platforms allow fans to have a direct connection to their favorite team, interact with players and club members as well as receive important news and updates.
Sound good? Then let’s go over some of the biggest networks and how you can use them for your sports team’s marketing.
Note: You don’t have to present on all social networks. In fact you probably shouldn’t, unless you have the resources to take care of all platforms properly. A good idea is to concentrate on one network and really master it before slowly branching out to others.
(That being said, feel free to open accounts on every platform from the start in order to save your user name.)
Facebook is by far the biggest social network out there. That means there is plenty of opportunity to create conversations around your club, promote events and publish news.
By establishing a dedicated Facebook team page you give fans and followers a way of interacting with you.
The platform also makes it easy for existing followers to like and share anything you post to your page, thereby increasing the reach of your content.
However, what can you share with your followers? Here are a few ideas:
- Game results, images and videos from competitions
- Questions, trivia and polls
- Behind-the-scenes updates
- Video messages from players
- Team or sports-related contests and giveaways
For professional looking visuals, check out Buffer’s 23 tools and resources for creating images for social media.
If you have upcoming competitions or other happenings, you can use Facebook events. They allow you to set up an event page with all necessary information, invite people to join and have them invite others.
This is an awesome to spread the news and raise awareness!
Plus, if it makes sense for your team, you can now even sell tickets, memberships, merchandise and more directly from Facebook. Apps like Ecwid make it possible.
This microblogging platform is another great candidate for team promotion. However, unlike Facebook, this platform is much more about immediacy.
Twitter users are on the lookout for events and news that are happening right now. That makes the network the perfect tool to post live updates from games and competitions.
That way you can let the fans who didn’t make it know what is happening and make them feel involved no matter if they are at work or home on the couch.
When you use Twitter for your marketing, be sure to take advantage of hashtags. Attaching them to your messages will get them in front of anyone interested in the same topic as you. You can use Hashtagify.me to find hashtags related to your sport.
Apart from that, Twitter is also a great tool for networking. It allows you to join conversations and connect to others, like local journalists and news outlets.
By following them and tweeting at them, you might get some to pick up your stories and news items. Worth a try in any case.
I’m sure I don’t have to explain YouTube to you. Chances are you already used it today to watch a cat video like millions of other people.
The video platform is another good opportunity for marketing sports teams.
Signing up to a YouTube account allows you share practice videos, club events, game highlights, goals, player interviews and other interesting tidbits.
For example, have you seen this goal celebration from an Icelandic football club?
Pretty cool, right? That video went viral and has been seen by millions of people around the world.
Here is a handy guide how to get the most of your account and create a professional presence on YouTube.
Anything uploaded here can of course also be shared on to your other social accounts. A win win situation if you ask me!
Location-based marketing is one of the next big things on the web as can be seen by Google’s recent emphasis on local search.
Foursquare is a service that people use to find businesses nearby, tag themselves in different places and leave comments and images related to them.
Since sports clubs are the definition of local, it’s a good idea to register yours on this platform.
After doing so, you can encourage players and supporters to check in at your games and events. Their friends and connections will then hear about it in their newsfeed, further spreading the word about your team.
Offline Promotion Ideas for Sports Teams
While there is a lot of merit in the ideas above, online isn’t everything. Good ol’ real-life promotion can also work to raise awareness of your team and its efforts.
5. Leverage Word of Mouth
Before getting all fancy with social media and websites, why not use one of the oldest means of communication known to man?
Depending on the size of your team, you have access to a large extended network of friends, families and acquaintances of your club members.
People you or others know personally are often happy to lend their support. Therefore, why not try to involve them?
It can be as simple way as asking players, club members and volunteers to spread the word about any upcoming games and events.
Yet, in order for this to work it’s crucial that you actually keep everyone informed. After all, your club members can only tell others of things they themselves know about.
The aforementioned mailing list is a great way to keep your inner circle in the loop and kindly ask them to inform others.
This kind of promotion can also easily go hand in hand with online marketing measures. For example, you can ask family members to invite their friends to Facebook events.
6. Use Posters and Flyers
Yeah, I’m talking about good old paper. Promotion via print media has worked for decades and continues to do so even in our digital age.
Free services like Canva make it easy to design professionally-looking posters and flyers even for non-designers. No need to hire someone and spend extra money.
Of course, this is not suitable for every single game or competition, because it would result in overkill. However, if you have specials event coming up or a call for new players, print is a pretty good option.
Local businesses are often more than happy to let teams from the area advertise in their stores. You might even be able to win some as sponsors!
One thing: If you do go the paper route, don’t forget to include your online presences. You might even think about adding them in the form of QR codes that can easily be scanned with any smartphone.
7. Involve Local Media
Getting your stories into local radio, newspapers and magazines is all about cultivating relationships.
Journalists and editors are constantly looking for new stories and material to fill their slots. If you can help them out with something interesting, they might even be grateful.
KissMetrics has a great article on how to get media coverage. While it is mainly aimed at business, the principles behind also apply to promoting sports teams, including:
- Build rapport with journalists before you need them
- Carefully prepare your story/pitch
To interact with the media, it’s also important you learn to write a proper press release.
By the way, this works just as well with local blogs and websites!
9. Give Back to The Community
As I mentioned before, a lot of backing will come from your local environment. The people you and others on your team know personally will most often be your first backers.
Therefore, why not give to your local community first?
What I mean by that is doing good deeds and talking about it.
Help a local project, clean up a park, have your team volunteer in an old-folks home, collect money for a good cause or anything that improves your local environment.
Not only will that win you the direct support of people who live close by, it also has a good chance to land you coverage in the media (see previous point).
Plus, images and news from community outreach events are prime fodder for any digital outlet!
Pro tip: When you do engage in such activities, make sure to wear your jerseys, uniform, team jackets or whatever you have that makes you recognizable as a team and brand.
Sports Team Marketing in a Nutshell
No matter the size of your team or club, finding new members and supporters relies presenting your team well to the outside world.
That involves effort, no doubt. However, if done right, it can be absolutely worth it.
Fortunately, we live in a time and age where the Internet provides us with many low-cost promotion tools.
As you have seen above, you already use many of them on a daily basis as do your (potential) supporters. All you need to do is learn how to use those tools for your purpose.
However, promotion is not only about the digital space. “Old-fashioned” PR also has a place in promoting your sports team, especially if you are mostly active on the local level.
Word of mouth, print media, interacting with local press and giving back to the community are only a few of marketing ideas to get your started.
Once you get the ball rolling, you never know what other doors will open.
Do you have more marketing ideas for sports teams or events? Anything that has worked for you? Thoughts on the above? We would love to hear from you.