Lessons Learned in Digital Sports Marketing for Non-Sports Brands

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The other night, I presented to a group of Vancouver entrepreneurs on the topic of social media – specifically on how non-sports brands can leverage the passion of sports marketing for their own brands.

It’s a topic that had been on my mind recently and I was happy to take advantage of the opportunity to speak at the event. I used to do presentations to entrepreneurs back when I lived in Toronto. When I started my business in 2005, I benefited from a great program that supported entrepreneurs so I’ve always been happy to give back.

The carry over to my blog is this – give back. The sports business is a niche to say the least. It’s tough to break into, and there are a lot of challenges despite its high-profile perception. I’ve always gone out of my way to support people I’ve worked with and recommend individuals for positions with teams. Like any business, sports is about people and networking is critical.

In addition, I always admire entrepreneurs and those people who go about building their own business. Building a career in sports or building a business requires tireless efforts, bouncing back from mistakes/rejection, adapting and growing. It’s about people and networking – so thank you for being a reader and let me know how I can help you.

Profile and Network Management Tips

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So you have a Facebook profile, a Twitter profile, a Linkedin profile… perhaps some profiles on other social networks as well.

Here’s my list of do’s and don’ts for your social media profile(s):

  • Don’t use 3rd person language – things like, “Carson is a…”. The social space is all about promoting uniqueness and individuality. Your own personal profile shouldn’t read like someone else wrote it.
  • Use a picture of yourself. Not having a picture reads as absent rather than private. Unless your profile is actually a brand, don’t use a logo. Show yourself, not your child(ren), or your pet.
  • Keep it short and to the point. If you want to share your life story, use each platform for what it does best: Linkedin for work experience, Facebook for things you like – don’t be redundant.
  • You don’t need to connect with the same people on each network. I frequently receive (and ignore) requests from Linkedin contacts to join them on another space. No need for that…
  • Lots of followers, friends and connections doesn’t mean anything for the sake of network size alone. Small, powerful networks are the way to operate in the business world unless you intend to spam (don’t).
  • Everyone is not a lead. Networking is about connecting people. Opportunities will come to you in turn. Provide value in the form of information and connections. Social media is not a hammer – it’s a nail.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Networking and Sales

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networkYour network used to be the people you knew, the people who referred you, the people you had some degree of trust with. Then there was the rest of the world – your customers, your prospects and the people who will or would buy from you. These are the people you “followed up” with.

Communicating with the people you know = networking

Communicating with the people you don’t know = selling

This is old school thinking.

If there is one thing that most sellers are genuinely poor at – it is following up. Most follow up opening statements go something like this:

“Hi, it’s Carson from Direct Contact calling – it’s been a few months since we last spoke so I thought I would give you a call today.”

This kind of follow up has absolutely no value for the buyer. It is simply asking/stating that “It has been at least 3 months since you bought something or last said no to me – are you ready to buy something now?” All this kind of salesy talk does is reinforce stigmas and frustrate buyers.

In the paradigm of Sales2.0, this kind of separation no longer exists. Effective sellers do not follow up with but network with their prospects and customers. Who exactly is in your network today? Everybody is. Your customers, your prospects, your friends, your contacts… etc… Sellers are connecting with business people daily – surely there are referral opportunities between prospects and customers in your pipeline right now.

So how do you do that exactly?

Give people something they value – information.

There are a couple of very easy ways to do this. RSS feeds are a great example.If you don’t know what an RSS feed is – click here – and then come back to this post.

Using RSS (or Google Alerts) to collect information to share with your market is an effective way of staying in touch and providing value at the same time. Include the article link in an email with a brief statement such as:

“I came across this and thought of you today – hope things are going well. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you and keep in touch.”

Pretty simple. To the point, No selling allowed.

Stop following up and start networking.

Social Bookmarking with Delicious

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I often review my blog stats to see what visitors are clicking on.

While I get frequent views of my linkedin profile, or twitter feed – I’ve noticed that I rarely get any action on my delicious.com bookmarks. This leads me to believe there are 2 possible reasons why:

  1. delicious-logo6No one cares about my bookmarks
  2. People are not really aware of what delicious is

Reason #1 is very possible, but I won’t be changing what I bookmark based on popularity (or lack there of). It seems to me that delicious is a pretty interesting and valuable social media tool that is often overlooked compared to Twitter or Facebook. So here is my quick and dirty on delicious…

Delicious is a Simple Concept

It’s a social network and visibility tool focused on sharing your favorite bookmarks. Old school bookmarking used to be a time saving idea – an easy way to remember your favorite websites. Delicous brings a network to bookmarks – when you save a bookmark on delicious, you can also see how many other people have saved that bookmark as well, their profile and who they are, as well as all the other bookmarks they have.

Why You Might Care About Delicious

I view delicious kind of like reading between the lines. By taking time to review my bookmarks, you can get an idea of what influences me and get an idea of resources that I think are worth sharing. There is plenty of information out there to share – while I use my blog to share my own ideas, I like the convenience and sharing of things that I think are interesting via delicious.

Delicious integrates with other platforms like Facebook, so my bookmarks are publicized much like a status update to my Facebook friends in real time. There’s also a handy tool bar you can integrate into your browser that makes bookmarking with delicous very simple to do.

If you haven’t yet, give delicious a try – start by checking out my bookmarks.

Social Media – It’s Only Us

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m kind of into hype…

After some time of rampant evangelicalism, there is a sober reality taking root as more and more organizations embrace what these new(ish) platforms of engagement can do for them.

I really liked this post from Zygote. It talks about ROI, and campaign measurement, and it is visually great as well.

Like anything new, there needs to be some demystification surrounding social media – and I think the easiest way to describe this, or focus this point is that – All social media really is… is us.

Using the tools available to access, introduce and collaborate with us is the trick – this is where the how’s and what’s are applied. But the why seems quite simple – because social media is where your market already is.

And we’re not so bad are we?

Ticket Sales and Sponsorship via Social Networks

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If you are in ticket sales or corporate sponsorship sales, here are some tips for marketers and sellers alike…

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Facebook is a great tool for “soft” networking with friends and family. The idea behind using Facebook as a sales tool is not to use it to sell, but participate in communities, monitor activities, and leverage the PR factor of Friend networks.

  • Build your network:
    • Friends
    • Family
    • Coworkers (past  & present)
    • Alumni
    • Make it known that you sell tickets
  • Join local Facebook networks (your city)
  • Join your teams’ Facebook fan page
    • Drive your network to it
    • Reference it  in your status updates
  • Join your sponsor’s Facebook pages
    • Monitor their use
    • Keep up to date on their activities
    • Discuss their strategies with them
  • Keep your profile professional

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The primary goal of using Twitter for sports marketing is to allow fans to get “closer” to their team and reward them with offers and real time info they cannot get elsewhere. Once your follower base grows, you can look to leverage targeted sponsorship activation.

  • Release unclaimed reserved game tickets offers via Twitter
    • Include links to purchase them
  • Follow key brands, see how they use it
  • Follow your team and other teams Twitter feeds
  • Share relevant information and links with your followers
  • Build followers from your other networks

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Linkedin’s best fit is for sponsor and corporate partner networking. There are apps to leverage here, like the ability to share documents or slide shows. Networking is all about what you can do for other people, so actively look to help out and connect your contacts. Give referrals to your contacts, and share information with them that can make a difference in their day. Don’t sell here – be informative and available.

  • Building and strengthen existing contact relationships
    • Connect with clients (previous as well)
    • Search for existing prospects/contacts
    • Build credibility through Recommendations
  • Search out contacts, but do not sell to them
      • Build relationships, look to understand their goals and ideas
  • Share information with your contacts
    • Give them relevant info that matters to them
    • Keep them informed
    • Ask how you can help them

Fans, sponsors, brands are all participating in social media communities right now. These are places you need to be representing your organization as well. The approach here is not to sell or to pitch, but to be available, involved and participatory. Building your network and strengthening your relationships is what will provide you the opportunity to sell.

3 Levels for Sales and Social Networking

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social_network_diagrams2bThere are 3 stages that sellers need to go through in order to use the tools of social networks to their fullest. It doesn’t matter if you are starting out, or are already on the path – social media networks are vital in sales today:

  1. Begin with a Profile
  2. Leverage your Presence
  3. Work as a Hub

Begin with a Profile

There are countless people who build a profile and then let it sit… this passive approach won’t work. Just like your phone doesn’t ring, you won’t get much out of building a profile and leaving it alone. A few thoughts on profile building:

  • Use a good picture - pics are standard now, and not having one reads as absence – especially in sales.
  • Be in the Right Networks - Consider your use of Linkedin (no brainer), Facebook, Twitter… you need to be where your market already is. Do some searching around to find your spot(s).
  • Be Active – Update, post, use, build and change your profile; make yourself visible and interesting (and professional).
  • Keep it 1st Person – Avoid the 3rd person narrative of “Carson is a dedicated…”, Use ‘I’ and ‘my’.

Leverage Your Presence

Now that you have a profile, you need to actively build out your network. As I have said before, with Sales2.0, there is no prospecting – it is simply networking:

  • Search for and connect with all your customers on social media platforms
  • Search for and connect with your top prospects
  • Business Development: Seek new contacts by profile searching for your ideal contact, reach out with a simple message – not a pitch
  • Join appropriate groups to expand your network and connect with target industry professionals
  • Use RSS feeds to share information with your network

Work as a Hub

5265503___networkOnce you have been actively operating on social media platforms, the next level is to operate as a hub or central node of your network. What it means to be a “hub” depends on your business and your role as a seller within it.

  • For a sales force rep- operating as a hub is more of a central network node – someone who is well connected, someone with information to share and is considered a source or a conduit.
  • For a business owner or solo entrepreneur – working as a hub means to build a core – like a blog, or a group or a specific network, a virtual place or destination for people when they are online to access what you know and share what they have.

These are the 3 main concepts behind sales and social networking – which level are you currently operating from?