Sports properties have embraced database analytics, lead scoring and predictive modeling in their ticket sales processes. It is high time that these practices are introduced to and utilized by their sponsorship departments as well.
Consider this example: Currently Joe Fan is an avid follower of two of the professional sports teams in his city. During their seasons each team sends him multiple emails and many of them contain offers or information from the teams’ marketing partners. Rarely are these partner offers for products or services of immediate relevance to him. Eventually, Joe gives up on reading the emails and only opens the ones with subject lines mentioning players. Other than as headcount, Mr. Fan stops being an asset for the partnership marketing group’s email activation tactics and now also regularly misses out on ticket offers that would otherwise interest him. With industry-wide email open rates being at 10% at best, there have to be many Joe Fans in the various North American markets.
The landscape is similar when it comes to social media and other digital inventory. As part of their deals many partners are guaranteed x-number of posts or mentions on the property’s Facebook wall or Twitter feeds that are usually blanket messages for all followers. On the team’s website, all fans see the same banner ad of the automotive partner of the team – including those that will not be on the market for a vehicle in the next two years and those that would never consider purchasing the brand.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, brands have been able to target consumers based on demographic profile, location, product category interests and behavior, just to name a few. In their own database marketing efforts, brands customize messaging based on consumer’s position in the brand purchase funnel. While still gaining speed, addressable TV ads allow advertisers to target individual households – Joe Fan and his next-door neighbor may see different ads while watching the same show.
The average North American professional sports franchise has a database of a few hundred thousand consumers. Sponsorship fulfillment execs that treat fans as one similar group instead of individuals when activating partnerships waste opportunities to drive business for their partners and likely hurt their own.
I expect that thought leaders in our industry will champion the implementation of logical changes in their business practices that would result in expanded use of consumer data analytics in partnership activation tactics. This may require increasing the size of the analytics or database marketing departments or employing professionals with such skills directly under the sponsorship team umbrella. Commissioning services from specialized agencies would be the alternative with no overhead cost. Sponsorship departments would likely begin to contribute their organization’s consumer data purchase budget. Currently partnership marketers may have access to consumer profiles built based on data appends by the ticket sales departments. As their need for information on “per-customer” basis grow, they will likely help share the expense.
It will be exciting to monitor, support and hopefully – impact – the inevitable transformation of partnership marketing departments of live entertainment properties.