Playing The Field
The mention of sports marketing may call to mind images of giant foam fingers waving in a crowded NFL stadium, or thousands of Yankee jerseys dotted through jammed subways before a playoff game, but there is more to athletic promotions than these professional teams can offer. From minor leagues and recreation organizations to high schools and colleges, there are numerous avenues for sports promotions as viable as their professional counterparts, if not more so.
The wide range of smaller athletic teams, combined with their accessibility and deep need for strong marketing programs, gives them excellent potential for sales opportunities. Approaching them doesn’t require any special insights or connections either, just an understanding of the particular league’s nuances and how best to serve their specific needs.
From sport to sport and league to league, there is going to be great variety amongst patrons of athletic events. Even with groups that presumably would be very similar, like minor league and professional baseball teams, making such assumptions can be a mistake. Richard Langer, president of Diversified Novelties, Linden, N.J., pointed out some major differences between minor and pro teams, using the example of an arena football venue he was familiar with. “Saturday afternoon they had a 15,000 foot arena for arena football, and it was all teenagers,” he said. “You can’t think of that type of football game the way you think of a Lakers’ playoff game with Jack Nicholson in the audience.”
This difference in audience isn’t a negative one, however, as Langer also highlighted the opportunities at minor-league games. “There’s always something going on besides the game,” he said. “If you go to any minor-league ballpark, there’s face-painting, almost an amusement park set up on the side in some ballparks. It’s much more of a family outing than specifically a baseball game at a lot of minor-league parks, so you can tie into that.”