You want your event jam packed with your target attendees. You want them to have a time of their lives and to keep showing up to future events.
This is only possible if you successfully market the event to an audience that connects with its theme and purpose.
In sports events, the stakes are even higher. Attendance is not just a gauge: It directly determines the success of the event. You need many spectators and participants.
Filling the venue to capacity with only a couple of teams participating is a fail.
Fans are equally important, not just to fill the seats but to create the atmosphere of competitiveness.
So how do you successfully promote a sports event in order get the right kind of attendance?
Let’s find out.
1. Create a catchy event name
Your event promotion begins with the event name: It’s the first interaction potential participants will have with your event.
Take time to choose a name that is both catchy and gives a hint of what your event is about.
Brainstorm with your team or sponsors to come up with a list of potential names. If you feel stuck, use a sports company name generator to start you off.
Keep it simple. Sports events such as the Super Bowl, World Cup, and the Olympics have simple names. Yet they have grown to be recognisable brands worldwide.
Tip: Here’s a great guide on coming up with event names.
2. Use event posters
In the digital era, it’s easy to dismiss posters as a means of promoting events. After all, they can’t reach as wide an audience as adverts on social media and other digital platforms, right?
Posters are still among the most effective ways of advertising sports events: At least 18% of people who see poster ads end up attending the event advertised.
Other benefits of using posters include:
- They are cheaper than many other forms of printed adverts.
- Due to their striking visual nature, posters leave a lasting impression.
- Posters will continue promoting the event as long as they’re left intact.
The key is to place posters in the right spots to attract relevant audience. Try places like:
- Sports halls
- Football fields
- Tennis courts
- Baseball parks
- …and so on
Consult with your event sponsors and other stakeholders to decide what information and graphics should be included in the poster.
Tip: If you’re not working with a professional graphic designer, you can find excellent sports poster templates to help you out.
3. Work with influencers
Sports fans and potential participants will relate better with your sports event if they hear about it from a person revered in the field.
For a local sports event, your influencers can be local players, coaches, sport reporters, and even notable fans.
Find out if there are forums or social media groups where such personalities communicate regularly. Join the forums and see if you can get them engaged with your event. Maybe they can spread the message to their fans?
Sorting through lists of influencers manually can be difficult and exhausting. Luckily, there are search portals aimed specifically at helping you find relevant influencers. Use them to find the most appropriate ones for your audience and event.
Whoever you choose to work with, make sure they have accurate information and can reach you quickly for clarification.
Tip: Take this up a notch by learning how to effectively work with sports influencers.
4. Market on social media
Promotional campaigns on the main social media sites will expose your sports event to a broad audience.
Use the following tips to promote your sports event effectively on social media.
Design an event website or page
The event website or page will be your main platform to promote the event and interact with your audience (see more in Step 6). It will also allow you to post customised advertisements on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Create a simple yet catchy hashtag
Remember to have a memorable event hashtag. Hashtags create buzz and make it easier to track conversations about the event. See if you can piggyback on popular sports-related hashtags like:
- #football (or a sport relevant to your specific event)
Tip: For inspiration, have a look at the importance of hashtag innovation in sport.
Use contests where you give away tickets or merchandise
Having contests for tickets is a great way to boost attendance and get people discussing your sports event. You can also work with sponsors to give away branded merchandise. Some fitting merchandise ideas include:
- Sports gear
- Water bottles
- Fitness bands
- Deck chairs
Tip: Consider ordering promotional sports merchandise with your event or brand logo on it.
Build anticipation by posting teaser content
You can release teasers for the upcoming sports event in the form of:
- Behind-the-scenes footage of equipment and venue preparations
- Interviews with key players and participants
- Comparisons of competing team and player stats
- …and so on
If you’re on Facebook (and you are), here’s a good guide to marketing to Facebook sports fans.
Tip: You can use free tools to automate social media management.
5. Sponsors may run their independent promotion
Sports marketing is not only about using your advertising sponsors during sports events.
Sponsors can also run promotional campaigns to popularise the event before the day. Typical sponsors are actually very good at creating a buzz around events and promoting their own brand.
Most sponsors will create their own independent marketing strategy. You can, however, work together with the sponsors on your promotional activities.
Give them access to social media pages, influencers, ticketing agencies, and other parties involved in the marketing process.
Depending on the arrangement, the sponsors may promote the event as a whole or specific activities and athletes.
Tip: To achieve the most out of this parallel marketing, ensure you and your sponsors are sending a common message.
6. Take advantage of online ticketing platforms
Buying tickets at a specified physical location is a bit of an inconvenience. 69% of UK citizens reported that they would attend more events if they could buy tickets online. You therefore stand to get a higher event attendance if you provide an online platform for potential attendees to buy tickets.
Moreover, it can take a lot of your time and resources to sell tickets physically. (Take note that you will also have to audit the ticket sales records physically after the event.)
You can make the process easier by selling tickets through a reliable online ticketing site. Such sites will also expose your event to their existing audiences.
Make sure to provide the information about the ticketing site or app in all your promotional material.
Tip: For more inspiration on promoting your sports event, take a look at the fitness industry’s best marketing campaigns.
Promote heavily, but be wise about it
Knowing these strategies is just the first step to a successful marketing campaign. You need to be creative while applying them. Make the most of any promotional opportunity that presents itself.
For instance, should a famous athlete or team register, see if you can use their name in marketing the event (with permission, of course).
These tips will help you successfully promote a sports event, even with a small budget.
If you apply the right combination of promotional strategies, you will attract quality sportspeople to participate and enough fans to keep the atmosphere charged.