How often do you call your parents, grandparents, or other relatives? More often than not like most of us, you probably only really do so around holidays, birthdays, or other big events. However, if you’ve ever called them out of the blue between those holidays just to check in and see how everything is going like my fiancee does every week to her grandma, chances are you may just make their day. I know she sure makes her Grandma’s day!
Now I’ll admit I need to take a few notes and do a better job of this myself with my relatives, but we as marketers can also learn some important lessons from this if we take a step back and apply the idea to our work. Regardless of the time of year, your audience wants to hear from you. They want to stay in touch and engage, so reach out and give them an opportunity to do so.
With just about every sport comes an offseason, and while it is a good time to sneak off on a much needed vacation, it’s also an important time to stay connected with your fans and build momentum into the next season. Why is it so important you ask?
Keeping the dialogue going in the offseason keeps your brand top of mind, which in turn helps drive apparel and ticket sales. It allows you to develop more personal relationships with your most dedicated fans who ultimately helps build and grow the reach of your team brand. Developing offseason campaigns also supplies your corporate sales team more inventory to sell sponsorship and drive more revenue. So yeah…it’s pretty important.
Stuck in the middle of NFL offseason and as NHL/NBA seasons wind down along with college athletics, I figured it was a good time to pull together a few ideas that could help you keep the conversation going all year long.
Travel Photo Contest
The offseason isn’t just a time for you to take a little vacation; it’s when your fans tend to travel abroad as well. What better way to expand the reach of your brand than to “travel” with them by promoting a social travel photo contest of fans wearing team gear around the world?
With this type of campaign, not only are you generating engagement and reach on social, but you’re enabling your fans to become your brand ambassadors spreading the visibility of the team nationally and globally. Oh by the way, you’re also going to spark apparel sales as more fans want to participate.
Though most dedicated fans will want to participate regardless to show their team pride, this is a great opportunity to incentivize other fans who may not be quite as involved. The incentive could be as simple as a gift card or discount on apparel, but you could also use this opportunity to bring in corporate sponsors. This type of campaign is a no-brainer for your presenting airline partner to provide a mileage/gift card prize, or for your apparel provider to supply free swag!
Though it’s an in-season campaign, #UCFlyMCO is a contest example I point to time and time again because it’s simple and aligns with both the school and sponsor’s brand. Post when you travel to games and win a free flight to another; it’s a win-win for you and the fans! Apply this same concept to an offseason campaign and keep your fans engaged all year long.
Draft Parties & Fan Fest Events
While digital campaigns work great as a constant touch point, it’s also important to offer unique in-person experiences as well. One of the best chances to do so comes around the draft, but you can also create your own fan-centered events throughout the offseason to really stand out.
Whether you work for a professional team or in college athletics, the draft presents an opportunity to give fans a different type of experience outside of game day. It’s a chance to build up excitement around the upcoming season or celebrate the accomplishments of your alumni moving on the next level.
The best way to build up that excitement is to entertain and engage the fans attending. Bring in current and former players for a Q&A or autograph session. Provide fun free activities for the whole family like cornhole, pop-a-shot, or a big inflatable slide. Encourage content creation with photo booths, and drive interaction through trivia or polling. Give your fans a fun, immersive experience and the rewards in terms of ticket/apparel sales will come organically.
This year, the Los Angeles Chargers put on one of the most well executed draft parties I’ve seen, and it’s one we can all draw inspiration from for any type of fan event. They went out into the community to meet their fans and created something unique that brought fans closer to the team while building excitement for the new season.
Interactive Live Shows
With a recent general shift towards the use of live streaming platforms like Facebook Live, Twitch, and many more, teams/marketers now have a new medium to reach their fans. As the popularity of these mediums continue to grow, it’s important to not only provide content to your fans here, but to make that content interactive in order to stand out.
In the offseason, or any time of year for that matter, live shows provide the perfect opportunity to interact with fans 1-on-1 in real-time and truly make them a part of the content you’re creating. Start a conversation with viewers on-air by having your talent ask them for questions or comments and let that drive the show. Bring in players (current and former), coaches, or the GM to respond directly to those fan comments, and they’ll do your marketing for you telling all their friends that John Schneider answered their tweet!
Shows like this don’t need to be long or extensive. In fact, it’s better to keep them short and sweet since we all know how the attention span of fans continue to drop. Just make that time worth their while by creating an interactive experience.
An easy place to start again centers around the draft since it tends to spark the most conversation in general as we can see in the Philadelphia Eagles example below, but don’t stop there! Develop a consistent cadence of quick hit shows that keep fans coming back. It not only keeps the conversation going through the offseason, but it builds up a larger audience once you’re in-season as well. What does a larger audience mean in the end? You guessed it: higher sponsorship revenue opportunities.
No matter the time of year, your relatives want to hear from you, so give them a ring and check in every once in a while. No matter the time of year, your fans want to hear from you as well, so reach out and give them a reason to engage. Along the way, you might just make someone’s day.