When developing a marketing plan for a product or service, many folks refer to the four P’s, or the marketing mix. The right marketing mix ensures that you ultimately put the right product (or service) in the right place, and has been proven to be a key factor in a given product’s success. The four P’s are: product, price, promotion and place. Let’s take a closer look at each of these and see how and where sports sponsorship might fit in.
The 4 P’s of Marketing
A product can be either a tangible good or an intangible service that fulfills a need or want of consumers. Regardless of what you sell, it’s imperative that you have a clear understanding of what your product is and what makes it unique before you can successfully market it.
Price is of course the cost of the product. Profit margins, supply, demand and marketing strategy are all impact the price of a product or service. Price is typically one of the initial decisions to be made once the product is defined and the channels of sales are established.
Promotion elements can include sponsorship, advertising, public relations, social media, email marketing, search engine marketing, video marketing and more. Most sports have sponsored areas where fans can engage with brand promotions. NASCAR Race Fan Zones are great places to see these types of promotions on display.
Marketing is about putting the right product, at the right price, at the right place, at the right time. Sponsorship can combine several of these factors together in one place. NASCAR Sponsorships can be very effective platforms to accomplish this.
Your marketing mix might include additional elements however, this is typically a fundamental foundation companies use to get started. We often speak with new companies that have created their product, determined a pricing strategy, know where they are going to sell it, but are not comfortable with the promotion of their products. Many times, these companies are just setting out on their journey and have not hired marketing professionals to help draw the complete circle of the marketing mix together.
Companies choose to invest in a sports sponsorship for different reasons. Perhaps the demographics of the product user and the sport’s fanbase match or the sport provides a local atmosphere to entertain potential clients at their events – playing off the hometown team effect. Either way, sports sponsorship taps into the emotional connection of the audience and can create a positive relationship to the brand.
Take Nike for example when they endorsed Michael Jordan. Every kid in America that played basketball at any skill level wanted a pair of Air Jordan’s. There was a sense of belief in each kid that their skill level would increase if they played basketball while wearing a pair of the same shoes Michael Jordan wore during his games. This positive connection to a famous sports figure helped catapult Nike to the top of the athletic shoe category.
The same is true in NASCAR with team sponsors. If you were a fan of Rusty Wallace, driver of the Miller Ford when he raced in NASCAR, two things were certain. If you drank beer, Miller was your drink of choice and you most likely drove a Ford vehicle. NASCAR fans are known to be very loyal and supportive of their drivers and teams. When Lowe's and Home Depot sponsored Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart, fans of either driver would only shop in the associated store of their favorite wheelman. Many times, this connection would supersede pricing.
Sports is special in that regard. Sports draws us in and brings out the child-like dreams we carry around of being the best athlete in a certain sport or being in the World Series or Super Bowl in a game winning situation and performing the unbelievable. This emotional connection is strong and leads us to do things we might not otherwise do, many times involving money (buy a jersey or souvenir, shop at a location or for a product that supports our favorite team or athlete).
When developing a marketing mix for your next product or service, strongly consider how a sports sponsorship can elevate your brand above your competition with that emotional connection. You could almost consider this as a secret marketing weapon. In some ways, your competition might consider your sponsorship of sports an unfair competitive advantage.