Games are coming back…which is amazing. It is an amazing opportunity to get back to Zero with any sponsorship make goods we lost in the shutdown.
The keys we need to remember is 2 fold:
- We have to make up $17Bn in lost revenue. This is THE opportunity to put a dent in it.
- We have to remember that the attention the restart garners is not on our domain. Television networks are controlling the ads and connections.
We CANNOT rely on just tweeting the game and slapping a logo on that highlight. In order to really make up the value, we have to get creative.
Remember through all of this, we have to make up the VALUE they were expecting to receive in your stadium. This means if they planned on handing out paper coupons…you have to get them to fans digitally now.
If they were looking for leads…you need to find a way to capture them digitally.
If they wanted to build a 1-to-1 connection…you need to replace a booth setting digitally.
This week on The Inches Podcast Rich & I dove into how you can add assets to the at-home viewing experience for fans to help make up the lost activation.
You can listen to the whole episode HERE, but as always I’m breaking it down below:
Replacing the stadium booth asset with an analysis live stream from the sponsoring employees
A hot asset that I’ve been hearing in important make good assets to replace is the stadium booting experience for partners.
Partners absolutely love boothing for a few reasons:
- They get a 1-to-1 intimate connection with the fan. Putting a face to a name, building familiarity with a person and not just a brand.
- The leads they generate with that connection so they can follow up with context.
So with this, if our fans are watching a network showing of our game….how can we create an activation that re-creates the above goals.
I brought this up on a LinkedIn Live session but I think it is a perfect replacement and one that fans would love to engage with.
Create a pre-game, halftime, or end of game Facebook Live stream where an agent from your insurance partner is a guest analyst.
From what I’ve seen in sponsorship, our partners usually have a staff member that is absolutely nuts about the sport or team they sponsor. They would be a great analyst to bring input on the game that is being played.
What this does is builds familiarity with the agent for your entire fan base each game. It puts a face to a name. The next time the fan thinks of insurance, that agent’s name will pop up.
It mimics the familiarity they would build with a sponsor at the booth.
Of course, you need to vet them a bit. The last thing you want is a viral rant where the agent says the coach should be fired…but I would argue that most agents would be professional just as they would at the booth during a game.
If you wanted to build in lead generation you can easily create a landing page where fans can enter their email for a prize at the end of the segment…or even better give the ability for fans to send in questions.
If you’re really worried about how the agent will do with analysis (or you can’t find someone with enough knowledge in your sport) you can easily replace this by running a halftime activation with the agent like Trivia.
The agent will be the host and take fans through the experience and facilitate the questions and answers. He can even shout out the winners and push for joining the following week.
Overall, if we’re replacing the stadium booth asset we need to build something that gets fans familiar with the agent and generating leads. a live broadcast on Facebook with the agent as an additional analyst is a key way you can do that extremely inexpensively.
Text opt-in goal activation campaign
This activation is to help with any sponsors who are looking to replace handing out physical coupons at games. We obviously don’t have fans in the stands…so we’ll have to replace that virtually.
It may be too obvious to state but the goal of an offer is to get the fan purchasing at the sponsor location instead of a competitor. So we’ll want to mimic that goal.
So with that, I suggest an opt-in text campaign that sends a contest when the first goal (or any goal depending on your offer inventory) is scored.
You’ll send fans to an opt-in text page (text GOAL to 897–465) to get them opted in. The reason I suggest doing this is it gets them committed to the activation. Also, phone numbers are extremely valuable…more on why later.
When your team scores a goal, a text is sent to all that signed up to play an activation like a scratch & win where they can win sponsor offers and prizes.
This makes it feel exclusive to the fan and gives a feeling of earning the offer. This is why at SQWAD we’ve seen an average in-store redemption rate of 56% with the offers sent on our activations.
By tying it into a goal, or really any game milestone, it pulls the fan into the game and puts the spotlight on the sponsors. They will get fan recognition while sending an offer.
But we won’t stop there. With the phone number, we can send a post-game text letting the fan know that there is exclusive game content on our Snapchat channel with a link to click and follow.
This campaign not only can help you send offers but single-handedly double your Snapchat following….which then becomes a sponsor-able digital asset to engage.
Just sending out offers is great, but the campaign above will drive more redemption by making the fan earn their coupon by signing up for the text campaign and scratching to win a prize (or any other digital contest).
Overall, if you can pull fans into a program like this you not only gather valuable data…but you prime them to engage with your sponsorship activation and offers before the game.
Pre-game activations are vital, but maybe not thought about enough
With no fans in the stands, we lose a valuable hour and a half of in-stadium activation time before the game starts. This is a huge amount of inventory time to make up that we can’t forget about.
Luckily we can pull them back in with some pre-game activities or activations.
One of the first that comes to mind is a prediction game (who scores the most goals, etc). Your fantasy and gaming partners would eat these assets up if you offered them.
But you’ll want to build a habit of fans coming into your game day experience early and activating with your sponsor just as they would in your stadium…not just when the puck drops and they jump on their television sets.
Again we’ll want to incentivize them to come back into our world early, building in a pre-game contest or activation to pull them in before the broadcast will be key to adding inventory that you can offer as a make-good.
For example, we at SQWAD did a Dunkin’ Race with the Chicago Bulls every Thursday during the month of May where fans could choose a winner between the Dunkin’ characters to lock them in.
At 7 PM they would play the animation of the race on their Instagram Stories so the fan could tune in and see if they won. If their character was the winner they won a free item at Dunkin’ which was emailed to the fan instantly.
Even if the fan didn’t win they received an email with an offer as well.
This could easily be done during pre-game at a set time during every remote game in order to build a habit with fans to play. We can start the drive them to pay attention to your game with pre-game activations like this.
More specifically for your food sponsor, what if you added a takeout program that gave fans an incentive to order takeout from your sponsor restaurants before the game. You could even try and mimic the foods they would buy at the ballpark before the game.
Fans could see the menu items from each partner restaurant that changes each game. This would drive trackable sales while bringing fans again into your gameday experience early.
Overall, don’t forget about the pre-game time. We can command our fan’s attention and focus it on a sponsored activation to build value and habit.
Live stream your scoreboard
We’ve been talking with a few teams about this, but if we truly want to bring the fan’s attention into our ecosystem and not rely on the broadcast your team should be live streaming your scoreboard.
First, it will create an amazingly localized 2nd screen experience for your fans. They will be longing for the familiarity of being at the game. This will pull them back into that nostalgia and feeling of normal.
Second, it will allow you to activate your in-stadium contests digitally. If you had a Trivia Activation that you ran during the game normally you can still run it and get value. If you had some highlight
I know there may be issues with streaming live game elements with the broadcasters and league…you can obviously black this out.
But the key here is when that commercial break comes on you are pulling them onto your scoreboard feed, and therefore back into your world with assets you can sponsor.
Obviously, make sure the content is on point. You need to convince them to choose your scoreboard feed over their Twitter feed.
At SQWAD we’re building a game center for a few teams that includes a scoreboard feed to the top and interactive games below so the fan gets the experience all in one place. It will live in the team app or on their social channels. If your team is interested in that click here to chat more with us.
Overall, I think it would be a huge opportunity lost to reach fans and focus their attention on your team if you don’t. It wouldn’t be hard to do this and embed it through platforms like YouTube or Facebook.
Celebrity commentary via audio
This is a wild card but man will it hit big if done correctly. If you are a local sports fan usually you want to hear from your local commentators. We want to experience the game from a more localized viewpoint.
Let’s take this a step further. Stay with me here. What if the Lakers got Snoop Dogg to be the commentator for a game?
Who wouldn’t tune into his take on LeBron James absolutely slamming it down after driving coast to coast?
Setting this up would be fairly simple, set up a live audio feed that fans can turn on while watching the game. You could stream it through a page on your website, your app, heck even an Alexa skill all at once for full coverage.
Tell fans to mute their TV and watch the broadcast with the Snoop Dogg audio stream running. You can have it match up to the game. Think about how viral that experience would be.
You may be asking “Nick, this would be cool…but where is the sponsorship value?”.
If fans are tuned into this experience it is unlikely they switch (unless Snoop is really off point and boring). When the commercial break comes on Snoop can give a quick recap and then read some sponsorship messages.
Imagine that Jake from State Farm pops in? What a great way to integrate a sponsor in a memorable way.
You could add a digital contest if grabbing leads is important to the sponsor. Adding a promo for a suite of your activations linked with the show would be an easy shout-out but also give another experience to the broadcast.
Ok, the Snoop Dogg side of this may be a bit too expensive to pull off…but you can still bring on characters who are fans to do this (although Kevin Hart doing this for Sixers games would be gold).
At the very least having an alumnus or super fan jump on would be gold.
Again we are looking for experiences to incentivize fans to choose your media over what they see on TV. We need ways to grab them back into our domain & experience so we can connect a sponsor.
This is a great way to bring new life to an easy to engage with the audio experience. I don’t think there would be many sponsors who wouldn’t want their name associated with it.
If you aren’t a team restarting (Minor Leagues, I’m looking at you) you can still leverage the excitement
As we think about re-starts we mainly think about major league teams. Unfortunately, many minor league teams had their season cut short with a ton of make-good to make up.
There is absolutely no reason (unless the league office gives a huge NO) that you can’t piggyback off of this attention and bring fans into your experience of viewing the restart games.
Running a scratch & win every time your parent team scores a goal or hits a 3pter can be just as effective for your sponsors.
If you are a minor league team, this is also an opportunity for you to utilize the restart and have make good activations associated with it.
Be sure to give your local spin, activations, and flare to it. But every minor league hockey, baseball, and basketball team should be strategizing on how they can leverage the excitement for their fans.
Heck, even USL teams should take advantage of the Premier League and MLS re-starts. Just because you have games coming back doesn’t mean you are all set with make goods.
Don’t forget about postgame
As the broadcast ends, we don’t want to let them shift their attention away so quickly to the next Netflix show episode they are binging.
You should think about your post-game features and live streaming them on platforms like Youtube and Facebook.
Again we have a lot of make goods to deliver on. We can’t waste the post-game time right after we’ve grabbed their attention.
Having a live show right after the game from your team will be vital for keeping them an extra hour.
Or even better, how can we activate them toward an offer or purchase?
Utilizing an activation like a photo scramble with the photo of the night is a great way to keep them connected and engaged with the partner and team. Offer that the first 150 fans to finish win a prize or offer to a partner restaurant or 10% off a retail store.
That simple activation can bring another hour of connection with sponsors and send out another offer that can lead to a trackable sale.
Building a habit for fans each post-game to engage with just helps us bring them back each game and increases our inventory to offer partners.
Overall, we can’t just stop engagement after the game ends. When building your inventory game plan you have to take into account ways to stay connected during the post-game.
The beauty of these…you can use them when we get games back to normal.
With every activation we build into the remote gameday experience it’s another one we can add to our menu when games get back.
By taking the extra step now we can come out of this with twice the value and inventory. This is how you upsell partners next season…or even better keep them on the activation you launched in the restart because they see the value in it.
The time invested today is not short-term. These will have lasting value as we get things back to normal. Understanding this is the pathway to coming out on top when this is all over.
Overall the message is you absolutely can’t waste this opportunity by doing what you’ve always done
Like sports teams, we have sponsorship debt. Many of us have activations we need to make good on.
Even if you don’t, you have an opportunity to gain from the attention the restart garners.
If you are planning on just tweeting the game then you are missing out on a HUGE opportunity to connect fans to sponsors, reach the sponsors’ goal, and create value in the process of relationships and revenue.
Any of the above ideas will work wonders for your sponsors in reaching their goals…but more than that it proves to them that you care about making things right. You care about their marketing goal and helping them reach it because that is what you are committed to doing.
Sit down, map out your partners, map their goals out, and get creative for how you can pull fans into your game experience to build inventory that will prove results more than placing a branded tarp over seats.
We can do better, we must do better, and, hopefully, we will do better.
I hope the above ideas spark some of your own.