Increasingly, professional sports teams are taking their important communication messages directly to fans.
Powered by the ubiquity of the Internet and fan tethering to social media platforms, direct-to-sportsfan (D2SF) marketing offers pro teams an unprecedented, and unfiltered, communication vehicle to their fans and season ticket-holders.
Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins. Photo: Brooklyn Nets website.
What is direct-to-sportsfan marketing?
D2SF is a hybrid marketing strategy designed to enhance the relationship, connection and relevance between teams and their fans, especially season ticket-holders, via the creation and direct sharing of special access, customized content. It’s a combination package of marketing communications, content marketing, public relations, customer engagement and social media marketing.
- In-house Broadcasting. Teams create their own reporting and broadcast content, typically with their own, paid journalists.
- Coach-To-Fan Communication. This takes the form of letters, short videos and recorded telephone messages.
- Owner-To-Fan Communication. Public letters, season ticket-holder messages and tweets are commonly used.
Communications expert Ivy Cohen, president and CEO of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, provides some perspective to help understand this developing marketing philosophy:
“The fan-team relationship is a symbiotic one. Teams need fans to establish the value of their brands and keep the franchise flourishing. Fans want to connect with their favorite teams for the psychic rewards of competition, winning, belonging, and a variety of benefits that come with entertainment, love of sport and following a season.”
“When player contracts were long-term, fans felt strong ties to individual players, the team brands were represented by a steady player roster and fans had strong team brand loyalty and player attachments. Since that system eroded, fans need more and meaningful ways to feel an ongoing connection to a team. Fans want to feel connected to their team and are seeking a persona to contribute that. Owners and coaches can be strong representatives for their teams.”
Overall, as a targeted sports fan recipient myself, I like to see what the coaches or owners have to say unfiltered. It’s a nice supplement to all the sports journalism. And, as a marketing observer, it’s interesting to note what and how teams decide to communicate.
Let’s look at two examples from the past few weeks.
Jason Kidd Letter to Bucks Fans. Posted 7/7/2014 to Milwaukee Bucks website.
Jason Kidd is the new coach of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, having controversially orchestrated his departure from the Brooklyn Nets sideline. You can read his letter of introduction to Wisconsin fans: