Name an industry that gets free advertising every day in every newspaper around the country? Still thinking? Here is another hint – they have web sites, radio shows, TV shows and entire cable channels dedicated to talking about them and their product? Give Up? The answer is sports.
What an incredible industry. Every morning Jerry Jones’ team has articles written about it. Free color pictures on the front page promoting his brand. Radio shows talking solely about his product for hours on end.
More than 30 million people play fantasy sports. The average player in fantasy sports spends about $110 a year on their fantasy teams, and that is mainly to have “bragging rights”. Some of us can remember back in the 1990’s when people played “rotisserie leagues”. Today ESPN, Yahoo, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sportsline and others have very sophisticated online systems to manage leagues and get you information about your team, players and league standings.
They make a fortune on these sites from advertising because they know they have a market of 18 – 50 year old males earning over $50,000 a year and who spend more than two hours a week playing these games, reading the ads, and messaging their friends about the sports articles. Why are fantasy sports games so popular -because we love sports and the fantasy games feed the love.
In 2004, the CBS and Fox networks spent a combined $8 billion to broadcast NFL games for six years. In 1999 CBS spent $6 billion for the rights to broadcast the NCAA basketball tournament for 11 years. In 2006 Fox and TBS signed a combined $3 billion deal with MLB to broadcast a few games a week plus the post season. In 2001, the NBA signed a six year $3.4 Billion deal with Time Warner. Why are billions of dollars being spent to broadcast sporting events? Because we love sports they are making money on filling that love.
You get the idea. Sports are part of our lives. We have an insatiable appetite for sports. We emotionally connect to players and teams. They are our role models. Entire cities shut down when a championship game is being played or for the victory parade. Corporations invest millions and billions of dollars in sports related media because they can get a return on that investment.
Sports Marketing – Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Michael Jordan and countless others are not only great talents, but they are the stars of carefully crafted marketing plans. These marketing plans are geared towards raising their profile, creating interest in the fan base and expanding that fan base. This does not happen just because Tiger is a good guy. This happens because there are millions of dollars to be made. Thousands of hours are invested into these marketing plans – creating the images, the right words, the right message and the right media outlet.
There is a greater point here – the business of sports has successfully tapped into our emotions and our lives in a way no other business has.
Marketing 101 – When we have read the countless books on selling and marketing, we learned the best way to sell to a person is to tap into that person’s emotions. The ability to create and emotional attachment from the buyer to your product is priceless. Everyone remember the tire ad where the baby was sitting inside the tire giggling and looking cute. You’re not buying white-walled radials – you are buying protection for your children. No price is too steep for that.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could create this type of emotion that for a furniture store? Imagine radio shows talking about trundle beds, recliner sofas and nesting tables. Well it’s hard to get excited about china cabinets the same way we do about football – and we never will. The only things that tap into our minds like sports is politics and religion. Those will too quickly become controversial for the entrepreneur.
Back to selling and our emotions. The greater the emotional attachment people have to a product, the better for us. But not all of us are not going to be as successful at tapping into Joe Public’s emotion-meter with our business idea like the NFL or tire manufacturers. They have a big head start and deeper pockets than the rest of us.
What is an entrepreneur to do? How can you get people loving your product as much as the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Sorry to put it this way, but you probably won’t. But on the bright side, if you can’t beat them join them.
Sell Sports – Sports related businesses have a big plus going for them. You are already tapping into an emotional vibe that is deep-rooted and long-living. No need to try and build that positive feeling. ESPN has taken care of that for us. All you need to do is find some avenues in sports-related business to take advantage of this fervor.
Most of us do not have 700 million sitting around to buy the next NFL franchise coming up for sale. We need to reach for some lower hanging fruit. Let’s consider a couple of business models that allow you to take advantage of the sports machine that have less barriers to entry.