What a year that we are headed into with sports sponsorship. The struggles from a pandemic that shut down our business and games seem to be finally fading off, getting us back to full stadiums of fans to introduce our brand sponsors.
But what will 2023 bring? Can we really know?
No, but it is always fun to look at the upcoming year and dive into some trends and predictions we are seeing.
In this episode of The Inches Podcast, Rich & I dive into our 2023 predictions for the sponsorship industry.
You can listen to the whole episode HERE, but as always I dive into the key points below.
1. Due to economic concerns, fringe sports will take a hit
Will a recession happen? Who knows…but we have already seen some reactions in the market even with the chance that it will happen. Layoffs, budget cuts, you name it.
In sponsorship…this affects us. When marketing budgets get cut, sports sponsorship sometimes is seen as an unnecessary spend.
This will disproportionately affect fringe sports more than the big league ones. Even with the looming recession, we will see sponsors pull their dollars in minor league and fringe sports.
So how do we stop it? How can we ensure that our sponsorship is not what is cut?
Proving value. If you can prove the value and show the ROI of your sponsorship activations & assets, you will win those dollars.
For example, if your Car Dealership sponsor has a goal of earning leads…you need to show them how you can help them earn leads at a high level. If you can do this, you will become essential, not expendable.
Activations like SQWAD’s Scoreboard Shuffle can help your sponsor earn leads, send offers, and capture fan attention on game day. It is the perfect inventory to add to your sponsor package to ensure that they say yes.
So if you are a smaller organization, focus on ROI. It will help you get deals across the line.
2. YouTube will become even more powerful for your team & sponsors
We’ve written about it before, but just when we thought YouTube couldn’t get any more valuable…it shows even more ways it is the go-to platform for video.
Fans consume HUGE amounts of video content on this platform. Even bigger is how much brands spend here to reach those fans.
The big step this year came with NFL Sunday Ticket finding its home on YouTube. There is more & more reason for fans to use the platform as the go-to place to consume their sports content.
Your team needs to create a strategy and content to post on YouTube in 2023.
A couple of big reasons why:
- The amount of money brands are spending here is insane. YouTube has brought in $34Bn in advertising revenue in the last 3 years alone. It generates $1.65Bn in advertising revenue every 3 weeks. Your sponsors are spending their ad dollars here. If you can build an asset on YouTube, chances are they will spend dollars on it.
- There is nothing stopping you. You can package and create content to post on the platform with nothing to stop you. There are definitely tips and tricks you will need to follow to make sure you get views, but it is a free service to reach a brand-new audience.
As YouTube picks up steam (which isn’t close to the ceiling yet), the teams that create content here will be in the driver’s seat to grab those dollars.
3. Growth in streaming
Much like the above, not only content you can post on YouTube will be valuable. All streaming will be key and important to dive into in 2023 as you create a strategy around digital.
Live sports is one of the most valuable and watched video content. In most cases, disproportionately so.
Yes, sometimes your live-streaming game action is stopped by the league due to broadcast deals. But we can still get creative here to help reach the value.
What if we live-streamed warmups from the field or on the ice? Get a camera on the sideline to stream the receivers warming up then post on YouTube Live or other channels.
Imagine the number of views that can bring your team. It can be a catalyst for the other content you have. It will be a channel that is unique and grabs attention.
When there is unique content, sponsors love being a part of it. They love being the first on content that grabs eyeballs.
Unique streaming opportunities will be the new sexy inventory in 2023 that sponsors will eat up.
4. Segmentation of fan data
For decades, we have pitched the idea of “here is what our fan base looks like”. Many times, this is a good audience to reach for brands.
The problem with this overall audience is it is just that, a wide net. There is no niche to target.
In every other corner of the advertising world, a niche audience is gold. On digital ads you can segment customers down to the last content they liked.
Brands love segmented audiences because they can get the right message to the right person and not waste messaging on those not interested.
In 2023, being able to segment your fan data based on interests will set teams apart when it comes to making sponsorship packages.
As an example, let’s say you create a team newsletter that focuses on the many culinary sides of the team. Maybe it features nutritional advice from the team cook as well as recipes from players on the team with their favorite dishes.
Pretty niche. You may get only 1,000 fans to sign up in a season.
Now let’s say an oven maker comes to your team to see if they want to sponsor your team. This is definitely the audience they want to reach. Selling them on sponsorship of the newsletter is probably the item that will get them over the line.
Is it 50,000 fans? No. Is it access to 1,000 fans most likely to care about the features and benefits of their oven products? YES!
As we look to 2023, the teams that can segment their fan base through content and package that into inventory to sell sponsors will make the most money. It can be as easy as the example above, you don’t need a data scientist to do it.
Get started today.
5. There will be a renewed emphasis on guest experience
Fans, for the most part, are back in our stadiums. Restrictions are no more, and I think it is safe to say that the comfort level of being in a crowd is very high compared to even last year.
But with the pandemic came certain habits that keep fans at home. We taught them how to consume from their couch for years as we couldn’t have fans in the stands.
These habits mean we need in-stadium experiences that will convince them to get off the couch and come to our games.
Is your game day experience enough to do so? What key moments are you creating beyond the action on the court, ice, or field that will keep them coming back?
In 2023, we’ll need to find things that will enhance our game experience to ensure that fans crave coming back to the game.
It can be little things, like during a TV time out adding an engaging game like SQWAD’s Scoreboard Trivia. Fans can play along on their phones and win prizes when correct to give them the incentive to come back each game.
Or a pregame experience that really stands out. Maybe it is an AR activation shown through your scoreboard.
But Nick, what does this have to do with sponsorship? I’m not on game ops?
Many times, sponsors can be the funding for these great experiences. Most of the time, if there is something that grabs a fan’s attention, they want to be a part of it.
So as you are looking for new inventory for your sponsors, don’t forget to look at the game experience. What are some ways that you can not only keep fans coming back but also create new inventory that will connect them to sponsors while doing so.
Again, no one knows what 2023 will bring. It’s a crap shoot.
But given the current environment, if you can focus on the 5 items above you should be in a great spot to succeed.