Marketing. If you were to look it up in a dictionary, you might find one of the following definitions:
The exchange of goods for an agreed sum of money.
The commercial processes involved in promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.
The process by which companies determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development.
While all may sound correct, one essential part that is missing from all of them is the phrase “storytelling.”
Good Versus Great
There are many sports professionals who may be considered ‘good’ when it comes to marketing, but there are few that can be considered great.
When you take a close look at these individuals, what you will find is that a common denominator among them is that they are able to take a message and turn it into a story. Just how an artist can take a canvas and paint a beautiful picture without any guidance or direction, great marketers can take a simple message or idea and turn it into a long-lasting and impactful story.
As a sports professional, it’s important to understand the difference between messages and stories. Too often do marketers focus on a singular message that they miss out on the bigger picture. For consumers, they are bombarded with hundreds and thousands of messages every day. Like throwing darts on a board, these messages are hit or miss opportunities. Stories on the other hand are different. Unlike messages which are presented to the audience in the most direct manner, stories build up a relationship with the audience and get them to not only connect with what you’re trying to convey, but can create an emotional response. For a sports team, this emotional response can be extremely valuable from both a branding and financial point of view.
How Good Is Your “Story?”
Unfortunately, there is no exact and precise way to determine if one is good or great. In the end, we make our own assertions and conclusions based on what we ‘feel’ . Still, one way to evaluate is to view one’s strategy when it comes to outlining the strategical approach of a campaign. For example, here are a few questions that can be considered:
1. How is the campaign message/focus used in relation to the campaign goals?
2. Is it original or is it just a copy of something that’s been done before? Coming up with something new and refreshing has never been harder due in part to technology, but in the same respects, coming up with something new has proven to yield the greatest benefits.
3. What are the short-term and long-term goals of the campaign? A great marketer won’t just look at how to achieve the current campaigns goals, but the overall brand’s goals.
4. How is success measured? Success needs to be quantified. Remember, even fan sentiment can be measured.
Nigerian poet and novelist, Ben Okri once wrote:
Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves, and you change the individuals and nations.
With the same perspective, sports professionals can benefit themselves by not just viewing a message as a singular thought, but as a larger story. A story that will resonate and create a long lasting relationship with a fan.