Sports Marketing: A Different Kind of Marketing

Part 1
Sports Marketing is the creation of a passionate fan or clientele base, that sponsors, media and other organisations pay to promote and support the organisation or person for the benefits of social exchange, personal, group and community identity within a corporate cooperative competitive environment.

The first thing to note is sport is in a constant state of flux; a constantly changing environment. This makes it hard to create a campaign when you are unsure as to the changes that will take place or have taken place once the campaign is ‘live’.

Every sports marketer will know there are internal and external environmental factors that should be considered when putting a campaign together. It is common that internal factors are easier to control than the external environment for the simple reason that you cannot control outside influences such as governing bodies, competitors, competition organisers and such like. It is therefore important that when planning a campaign you carry out an environmental analysis to ensure that you aren’t wasting time and money on a campaign that is unlikely to be successful.

As we live in a fast paced and ever changing world where the sports community is not immune it is imperative that we understand the environment and don’t overlook the traditional methods of marketing but consider how consumers, customers, clients, fans and all other stakeholders are moving with the times so each campaign can be rolled out effectively.

Let us turn to the external environment to consider some elements that may affect even the best thought out sports marketing plan. In essence the external environment consists of a variety of factors and forces that may impact on the marketing decisions made by the sporting organisation. In the world of marketing the well known model of PESTEL is often used with other marketing tools to examine and understand the environment in which your organisation functions:

P = The Political Environment

E = The Economic Environment

S = Socio-Cultural Environment

T = Technological Environment

E = Ethical/Ecological Environment

L = Legal/Regulatory Environment

The Political Environment

This environment directly considers the political structure that the sports organisation operates in. As the business, profile and mass appeal of sport increases and as sports organisations and individuals become more successful there is more opportunity for politics to play a large part in various campaigns and associations. Each Prime Minister for example is allocated a football team to support that will be of benefit to their party and or constituency. Policies and ideologies of government can form a central part to any campaign creating further opportunity for it to be successful if written in the right way. Each government seeks to create a new policy involving sport with us currently being influenced by the Conservative governments sporting policy that sport should be accessible to all – a rather wide remit.

The Economic Environment

Economic initiatives taken by governments and regulatory bodies can have an influence on the ability of sporting organisations to communicate with their market. If for example there is a cash injection into a sports market there will be an opening of marketing opportunities as the market grows.

Central to a review of the economic environment should be an analysis of the micro and macro structures which look at the individual economy as well as the wider economy. Macroeconomic health should act as an indicator of cycles such as the onset of a recession when it may not be a suitable time to up prices or commit to a lengthy and costly marketing campaign but it may prove more economically valuable to create offers for existing clients so they continue to see the value in your brand allowing you to ride out the recession.

The Socio-Cultural Environment

It is imperative that all sports organisations consider the changes in taste and the shifts in the various beliefs and values of their client base.

As tastes in society are influenced and change over time as does taste in popular sport. Historically what we would call barbaric activity was seen as Sunday afternoon entertainment in the 1800’s and early to mid 1900’s. As 20/20 cricket is becoming increasingly popular we should remember that there was a significant marketing campaign to introduce the new

Whilst sport often has a traditional role in society across the world certain sports dominate different societies. In America you will find very little understanding of cricket whilst here you will go a long way to find a cluster of individuals that are avid fans of baseball. Social class can, in certain countries, offer the understanding of traditional links with some sports and access to some sports may be trickier for one societal group over another.

Location too may prove a sticking point in the success and further opportunities of a sporting organisation. We have recently seen this discussed at length with Wasps moving to their new home of the Rioch Arena, Coventry from Adams Park, Wycombe. Fans, whilst not party to the concerns of the internal environment of what they see as ‘their club’ and certainly less likely to consider the impact of the external environment on ‘their club’ are far less likely to understand the nature of the business decisions taken in light of the demand of a socio-cultural environmental analysis.

As cultures travel and settle around the globe there is a noticeable change in the cultural make-up of sports in most countries. Through choice or need settling in a new country has changed the face of sports. As with our diverse culture in the UK now we have a far more diverse group of sports on offer. New settlers to an area bring with them new tastes, new cultures and new opportunities which would be unwise to ignore in your sports marketing campaign.

In part 2 we will discuss the remaining factors of the external environment which, if analysed properly, should create more certainty in a sports marketing campaign.

Should you require individual advice please don’t hesitate to contact us by email ( or by telephone (01403230751)

Written for MindMuscleCXN
First published by MindMuscleCXN
January 2015

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