Major world events, such as national or international sporting competitions are a great time to connect with your customers and introduce or even reintroduce yourself. You can build upon a great relationship by demonstrating to your customers that your company has passion, or a sense of humor, or even just that you support the things they care about.
If you aren’t sure whether a major world event is a good fit with your brand, see part one for some of the top considerations to make. However, if you’ve already thought it through and want to start connecting with your customers, there are several marketing strategies you can use:
Official Sponsorship - This is a traditional route for many companies. Sponsorship of an event provides automatic interest and a generally positive association with the event. Sponsors should receive a significant number of advertising opportunities during radio, television, or online broadcasts, and in any promotional products or materials. If you are sponsoring an event, place close attention to the agreement you sign with organizers. Many will contain specific prohibitions on the advertising that you can do independently. If you are not an official sponsor of an event, be cautious not to use the event’s logo, name, or any other trademark in your marketing.
Traditional Media - Advertising a sale, or even just your existence, on television and radio is still a tried and true method of reaching customers. At this point, we can safely even add your website into the category of traditional media. Your market research will illuminate which channel will best help you to target your specific customers. Keep in mind that radio and television spots will need to be produced, prepared and scheduled far in advance. However, it doesn’t take a lot of time to update your website showing your support for your local sports team by temporarily changing banner colors, or otherwise relating your company to the event. Just be sure to not infringe on protected trademarks of an event that you are not an official sponsor of.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - During a major world event, search engines across the internet will be under heavy siege. Thousands or even millions of viewers or participants will be asking questions, getting updates and tracking scores. You can take advantage of increased search engine activity during this time by ensuring that your website includes key words that your customer will be searching for. For example, during your city’s Restaurant Week, people will be dining out in large numbers and they may be wondering if they could cook as deliciously at home, or if there are any new tapas restaurants in town. You will want to be at the top of those search results.
Social Media - Social media is arguably the easiest and most direct channel to reaching potential and current customers during a worldwide event. According to the NCAA, during the 2013 March Madness tournament, 7.7 million social media comments were created, and 1.5 billion (with a B) online conversations were sparked about NCAA corporate sponsors and the tournament. That was 3 years ago. The Pew Research Center estimates that in 2015, 90% of young adults aged 18-29 used social media, and 65% of all American adults (versus 62% in 2013).
You can jump in to any relevant social media conversations by following the event in real time and cheering on your city’s team, for example, and using a popular hashtag or key words. People browsing may not be familiar with your brand and this may introduce them to your company and even intrigue them into clicking and finding out more about you. Current or prior customers who already follow you will see your posts and feel like you are supporting the things they care about, which can strengthen their loyalty to your brand.
Whatever you decide to post, make sure to stick to the basic rules of social media: make it immediate as the issue or event is unfolding, make it relevant so that followers know you’re up to date, ensure your words are accurate, and be witty if possible. If you are unsure how a joke will be received, it is better to not post it. A comment or joke made in poor taste will not only be ineffective marketing, but can also actively damage your brand.
The most important rule of social media is to use the right platform to reach the right people. Make sure that your current and target customers are using the social media platforms you want to use to communicate with them. Market research can help you identify which platforms your customers are using.
Host Your Own – People love to keep a good party rolling, so if it makes sense and it’s within your budget, you can piggyback on a large international event by hosting a small or mini event of your own. Virtual contests can be held online through your website. You can use social media, traditional media or even direct mail to generate interest and get the details out to your customers. An example would be an auto-dealer holding a bracket competition for the most cars sold on their lot during March Madness, with a monetary prize or even a free car for a perfect bracket. When advertising your event on social media, you can create a hashtag specifically for your event, and include it on all related posts so that customers can pull up all the details with a single search. Attaching other hashtags that are popular for the main event will draw in new customers to follow you.
World-wide events are a great opportunity to communicate with your customers, share an exciting experience with them, and familiarize them with your company and product offering. Many companies find enormous value in the perks of official sponsorship, however it is no longer the only way to get involved and be relevant during these events. Paying a hefty price for a 30 second commercial during the Superbowl will get you in front of viewers, but it’s not required anymore to win big in the public consciousness, and in fact, some of the biggest marketing wins happen on the social media sidelines. Having a well-researched and coherent marketing strategy during major world events will help you to understand your customers and capture their attention.