6 Tips and Tricks for Marketing to Sports Enthusiasts

No matter the sport, one thing is certain — fans are passionate, emotional, and not afraid to be heard.

Sports marketing has undergone a transformation in recent years as more fans use social media while watching sports at home and at the stadium. To be effective, you need refined techniques that resonate with sports enthusiasts by bringing them closer to the action and part of the discussion, and tapping into that vast pool of emotion and enthusiasm. Here are some plays to gain loyal fans.

Don't Treat Them Like Regular Consumers

Fans don't want to feel they're being treated like standard consumers. They're fans, first and foremost. Brands need insight into their audiences' interests, attitudes, and behaviors to most effectively target them. Tap into the emotional investment and run contests and promotions that tie in with big games.

Go to the Fans

Sporting events are a prime opportunity to capture a relevant and engaged audience. Fans constantly have their phones in hand checking scores and sharing photos and videos of their experience on social media. Use this to your advantage by geo-targeting in and around stadiums and arenas or other popular viewing places like bars to reach like minded consumers. Tailor your messaging by celebrating the winning team to add a more personalized touch.

Know Your Audience

Sports fans span age, gender, and income providing for endless customization opportunities based on your marketing goals. While different, this massive audience has one thing in common, their favorite team  This can be used to your advantage to promote camaraderie and excitement tied to a brand or product initiative. One good example is Bud Light's 2016 "Down South Tailgate Tour." This multi-city event catered specifically to SEC football fans, known as being some of the most die-hard in all of college sports.  The events provided food, spirits, games, and live entertainment to re-create the ultimate tailgate experience. For its effort, Bud Light left a lasting impression on fans and continued its reign as the king of college football.

Create Emotional Connections

Fans are already emotionally invested, so your job is to tap into that passion by telling the story of the sport or team using striking photography, setting videos to music that stokes the flames of fans' emotional fires, and, above all, connecting with fans' values.

For example, before the 2015 London Marathon, Betfair launched a campaign encouraging marathon participants to sign up and bet on themselves with a complimentary bet. If they beat their target time, that money plus the winnings would be donated to whatever charity they chose. If they lost, Betfair pledged to donate the money to Cancer Research UK. It was a win-win that generated money for charity, and even more buzz for the website.

Tap Into the Second Screen Experience

 With as many as 75 percent of sports fans utilizing a second screen during events, savvy marketers have learned that integrating a strategy to leverage both can be beneficial. Encouraging social media engagement on brand pages by holding giveaways for the best live tweets or the most spirited photo with a specific on-brand hashtag can keep sports enthusiasts active during the event, creating a memorable experience.

Bring Fans Into the Action

Showcase players on and off the field, highlight up-and-comers, share an insider look at pre-season training, and poll your audience for a better feel for what people want. Develop a content strategy that immerses fans in the action to create pre-game momentum and rally their team spirit. Other ideas include running contests, giveaways, and deals leading up to a big game day to increase engagement while rewarding fans for their love.