What Does a Sports Marketer Do? 4 Skills You’ll Need
Sports teams and franchises operate in a very similar way to major corporations. They employ financial experts and operational leaders to help keep the organization running as efficiently and effectively as possible, for example. They also, as any company might, prioritize outreach to consumers, and aim to ensure that public associations with the team’s “brand” are altogether positive.
Sports organizations are, first and foremost, businesses. To pay players, maintain facilities, and put on a thrilling show during each and every game, franchises depend on the steady income of ticket sales and sponsorships. This means promotion through diverse media channels and a focus on engaging communities to drive their attachment to the team.
This is the challenge of the sports marketer: to promote a team’s brand and image across a number of different mediums and drive consistently high attendance numbers. This can involve anything from ad placements to fostering an active social media presence, just as product promotion might for another business.
The difference is that sports marketers are selling an experience, and the chance for consumers to see their favorite athletes and teams play – but a franchise has to earn their spot as a favorite team, first. This isn’t solely a matter of athletic superiority (though it certainly can help). There are teams that have seen success in building their brand after years of poor performance, creating a massive national audience by putting the team’s identity front-and-center. Sometimes, they even work directly with coaches and emerging personalities to develop a distinct style and voice.
The challenge of promoting a sports event, to say nothing of driving ticket sales for an entire season, definitely requires a refined understanding of media, communications, and the audience involved. But the challenge is an exciting one, which makes sports marketing a highly desirable career path to many.
Given all the factors that make the field a distinct, specialized form of consumer outreach, what are some of the essential skills needed to pursue careers in sport marketing?
Sports Marketing Skills – Top 4
Sports marketers are routinely responsible for a wide array of different things, as promotional efforts for sports events tend to range a great deal in form and scope. Coordinating ad copy and media buying, media creation, meeting with merchandising teams, developing budgets, drawing up a social media calendar, planning events and initiatives, and offering creative assistance in writing a press release might be just some of the tasks on a sports marketer’s plate at any given moment. This means organization is of the utmost importance, especially as things can change incredibly fast in the field. As those with careers in sport marketing act as representatives of their franchise or organization, each task has to be done effectively and carefully, necessitating focus on each individual challenge at hand.
Big Picture Thinking
The field demands a constant focus on the business side of sport, and the fulfillment of an organization’s fundamental goals. A professional sports team might make money through sponsorships and ticket sales, but a club team or youth sports organization might have an entirely different model, and might prioritize awareness and public outreach over sales. With each action sports marketers take, they have to be considerate of their objectives and what they’re trying to accomplish. The ability to think this way can be a major professional asset.
Initiative and Leadership Ability
Lauren Hindman, Director of Marketing for the Texas Stars of the National Hockey League, said in an interview that – even for entry-level candidates – she’s looking specifically for signs that individuals can, “take leadership of a project or take charge of a situation if the need arises.” Problem-solving skills, she says, are an especially valuable skill to have, as sport can be incredibly fast-paced. On game night, something can go suddenly wrong without warning that demands a deft, careful response from a member of the marketing team. Being able to step up, step in, and present a solution can mean the difference between an event that ends well and one that ends with fans leaving unsatisfied.
Learning to write and communicate effectively is useful in so many dimensions of sport marketing. Almost every one of the tasks listed above requires some kind of writing, which makes it fundamental to the challenge of helping to create and spread an organization’s voice. And there’s more to it than just the creative component. Directions to an event have to be specific and clear, along with any other necessary logistical communications between attendees and an organization. Effective internal communications are critical, too, as any good leader in sports marketing needs the ability to establish expectations and clearly set out a workable plan.
If you’re interested in careers in sport and looking to start your path towards a career in sports marketing, learn more about the University of Florida’s online Master of Science in Sport Management.
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