Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit - Sports Marketing

As I’m sure our subscribers and regular readers have seen, we’re at the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit today, live blogging some of the sessions for those who can’t attend. If you’re one of those folks please be sure to also follow @mamsummit or #mamsummit on Twitter for updates on all the sessions!

My first panel of the day is one that I was really looking forward to as a sports fan – What’s Hot in Sports Marketing. Moderated by Matt White, chairman and CEO, WHITE64, the panelists are:

Each panelist started by sharing what’s going on with their respective teams in terms of marketing at the moment:

Kristine, Nationals – She shared the new brand campaign called One Pursuit that is all about tying the region together, in addition to winning the World Series. As they work to ingrain themselves into the broader D.C. metro community the Nationals are looking to draw new fans not from just Northern Virginia, but also in D.C. proper and areas of Maryland – bringing people from across the DMV together. New campaigns will feature nods to the history of the organization including, tying the energy of baseball to the history of Washington D.C. by placing powerful imagery throughout the metro area. They are also expanding experiential marketing efforts with the NatMobile and using influencers like Dusty Baker (#dustyisms), Bryce Harper (Nats Fashion), and local celebrities and celebrity fans to increase brand recognition out of uniform.

Mike, D.C. United – As they move into their 21st year, D.C. United is working on their new stadium at Buzzard Point (near Nats Park) that will open in spring 2018, launching a brand new logo, and capitalizing on the popularity of soccer among millennials. Mike shared how the United are the only team to use “D.C.” in its name instead of “Washington” and the research they did on the connotation that brings to the team. Because of this, they are able to incorporate the culture of the city into their marketing efforts, rather than being stuck with perception of Washington as a ‘just politics’ town.

Patrick, Capitals, Wizards, Mystics, and a forthcoming arena football team – Patrick had a lot of big news to share. The Caps are in the playoffs right now, Wizards have a new head coach, and Monumental Sports is building anticipation for the new arena team they are working to name. Since, D.C. has the only NHL and NBA franchises for quite a distance on the east coast (actually the 3rd largest area in the country), they have quite a lot of localities to target. Also, having the Verizon Center as the marquee venue has transformed an area of D.C. and the community around it. Since there is one ownership group working with four teams, it allows them to leverage their audience across multiple platforms. Plus, with a leader from the tech space they are encouraged to try new things using technology to market the teams like locality-based push notifications and virtual reality. Monumental’s web platform was also relaunched recently to be mobile device accessible as well as available on streaming devices like Apple TV, ChromeCast, etc. allowing them to reach people outside of our broadcast area.

Some major takeaways from the discussions:

With the shift towards non-live television viewing, all teams are tasked with how to market non-DVRable programing. Most teams are launching platforms that allow content to be consumed on an always-available platform, across devices. This won’t allow fans to view live games, but it could be a possibility for the future.

All panelists argued that they are looking to engage fans with content that you can’t access during the game and gain mindshare on non-game days. The Nationals specifically are using social media to offer glimpses into player life and working on “surprise and delight” campaigns – really looking at giving viewers behind the scenes access.

When working to drive people to the stadium, they are focusing on the overall experience and connecting with different market segments, like women and millennials. Connecting fans to players, and players to the sport is key for them.

When it comes to trying to market the in-stadium experience and the home viewing experience against the number of entertainment options in the area, the panelists agreed that the main focus is getting people to the games to create traditions and fans that then want to view games at home. Their marketing initiatives are really trying to make fans feel invested through storytelling and connecting fans to the players. It’s all about sharing a memorable experience with family and friends, as well as feeling connected to the team and working to make people feel like they had a weekend or experience they will brag about – through word-of-mouth and on social media.

Branded sponsorships are a major part of sports marketing, but the panel advised that you have to work together with your partner to set goals and metrics and make sure that there is synergy between brands and ensure that there isn’t any brand confusion. If things are set up properly from the beginning and tweaked over time it tends to work well.

When asked to share some insider info, Kristine shared that she talks directly with the players and that they really do care about what the fans feel and are paying attention to the experience created at the park.