Two Effective Ways (You Probably Aren't Thinking of) to Get Your Brand in the Game and Get Results
I don’t remember much from the first professional baseball game I ever attended.
Aside from being there with my Dad at Shea stadium, home of the New York Mets at the time, there is nothing much I can romanticize about – not the opposing team, not of any spectacular play, not how the game ended, not of smelling those typical ballpark scents that emanate from whatever the concessioners were selling.
But I can remember two things:
1 - The initial shock I had from seeing a perfectly manicured baseball field for the very first time, and
2 - The advertisement on the giant scoreboard that read “Hit this sign, and we’ll paint your house,” then asking my dad if anyone had hit it, and him responding with a chuckle. “No, I don’t think so" (probably because how far up the scoreboard that ad was).
From that point on, during every game I went to or watched on television, I’d hope that maybe that day would be the day someone finally hits the sign. And to this day, although that sign has been gone for decades, I still remember the company name – Pergament Home Centers. Talk about effective branding!
Advertising in sports – every stat says you as a company should be doing it – but why?
First off, nearly 90% of us identify as being sports fans. It’s a great way to reach the masses – masses that have a strong common emotional connection to something that can get complete strangers high-fiving and hugging in the stands. And considering how invested we can be with our teams, and how it’s not only about the live event anymore, but the myriad of ways we keep interacting in between, it’s no wonder sports have become the primary ad vehicle for some of the smartest brands, both national and local.
Way back when, sports advertising was as simple as billboards placed around the ballpark, as well as between-the-action advertisements on television and celebrity endorsements anywhere possible. Now there is no shortage of ways a business can get their “hit this sign” message in front of their audience. Once off-limits for most American team sports, game day jerseys are beginning to see advertising appear. Arenas are named not for geography, but by corporate entity. And sponsorships now include even mundane in-game occurrences – I recently saw one brand sponsoring the 15th out in a local baseball game! And these days you can barely make out the real color of any NASCAR automobile – all hidden beneath a plethora of corporate ads. But there are other ways - some less obvious to businesses - that are tremendously effective in getting your brand seen – play ball!
You’ve gotta see the highlights from yesterday!
Sports fans want to witness the wild, the off-the-wall and even the bloopers. And since we can’t watch every game in real-time on any given night – we have popular national TV networks like ESPN and Fox Sports to direct us to what we missed. And when that highlight is so good that you need to share it, you turn to online properties like social media.
Ever notice though, that before playing some of those highlights, an ad runs – often one that you can’t skip? What you may not realize is, the advertisement you are seeing is based on recent websites you visited. So if you are in the midst of car shopping, you may get one for a specific auto brand or dealership. If you were looking up local doctors for that Botox treatment you’ve been considering, you may get a specific video for a local provider of those services. Yes, that’s how granular this can go – it’s targeted and there is inventory up for grabs for any smart local business looking to get their brand to people who might be entertaining the very same products or services they offer.
Time-out on the field! How do I pass the time….
Next time you are at a professional sports event – take a look at what people are doing between plays and time-outs. That’s right – they are looking down at their smartphone. They are checking scores of other games, checking how their fantasy league players are doing, they are texting friends about the game. They are opening the door for you to walk on in, and begin to relate.
As they interact with these apps, you as a business have the chance to customize your message to the type of sports fan at any specific time you choose, and in a relatively specific place. So you just want to deliver your message to males in an arena who have shown in the past they are likely to attend a restaurant? Go ahead, especially if you are that restaurant that is a mile or two down the road – and while you are at it, deliver your message with an offer good for a free appetizer after the game. You can get as creative as you wish.
And - this phenomenon isn't limited to professional sports. Are people who attend a high school sports event likely to buy from you? Get the local high school sports schedule and game locations – customize your message (be sure to work with a creative powerhouse – skimping here is akin to a sports franchise forgoing the first 5 rounds in a draft and choosing to pick last). You can deliver your message to smartphones near that location during game-time, or even where you "guestimate" halftime to be. Don’t even get me started about targeting tailgaters before the game… can you say touchdown?
Bottom line, you don’t need to spend big dollars on an in-game sponsorship or a giant arena billboard in order to get your brand off the bench and into the game. Television still represents a fantastic opportunity for any sized business to get the message out, and when paired up with the power of mobile and online video advertising – it becomes more than just a wall-clearing home run for your business – it becomes a highlight-grabbing moonshot that gets everyone talking about you.
The “We’ll Paint Your House” sign is well within reach – but only if you step up to the plate.
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