What is Sports Marketing?

Sports marketing involves using marketing techniques to promote the activities and products of sport related businesses including; teams, athletes, clothing, apparatus, venues and competitions.

Sports marketing also describes marketing products and services through the medium of sports, for example the sponsors you see on football kits and around the stadium.

The UK sports industry is worth around £24 billion and employs upwards of one million people. With huge audiences and dedicated followings, sport has become a huge platform for marketing and especially advertising.

What kind of marketing is required in the Sports Industry?

Sports marketing is an industry that continues to drive much of its activity through offline marketing channels such as advertising and events, whilst also using digital channels as a way to reach out to new audiences.

Sponsorship: the brands you see on football kits, around the stadium and on sports websites are the paid sponsors of the team. Businesses pay to have their branding and products associated with the team to gain exposure and become favoured by spectators as a brand associated with their favourite teams.

One of the most expensive sponsorship deals in sports to date is the sponsorship deal signed between Adidas and Manchester United, in 2015 they will take over from Nike as the supplier of kit, the deal is thought to be worth up to £65 million!

Merchandise and tickets are just some of the items for sale to the public, many teams also offer hospitality packages and event services to cater to other businesses, all of which need to be promoted online through and through direct marketing activities.

Social Media has become a key communication tool for sports teams and brands to keep in touch with fans, promote themselves and their sponsors. Real Madrid are currently one of the most popular sports team on social media with 100 million followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Endorsements: similar to sponsorship, businesses pay teams or individual athletes to use their products to raise the profile of their goods. Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the highest paid endorsed athlete with a £14 million deal with Nike, this will include contract terms that state he is only able to use Nike sporting good and football boots.

Talent acquisition: businesses are constantly looking for the next big sports stars to tout their products and the best time to strike a deal is when they are relatively unknown. Offering potential stars of tomorrow advanced sponsorship deals is a way to help nurture talent and secure lucrative contracts. This requires a hands-on approach to scoping out potential sports stars by monitoring their skills and performances.

Public Relations: many sports teams engage in activities in the local community, with charities and through their own charities to raise the profile of the team away from the sport. Sports has a huge impact on peoples lives and can be an amazing channel for positive PR. Many people also look up to sporting figures as role-models and they are scrutinized by the press, this requires careful management of their activities on and off the field

What skills and knowledge is useful for marketing in the Sports industry?

Strong knowledge in the sporting field you wish you pursue, at personal and industry level.

Expect a fast paced environment that requires excellent communication skills and a busy work-load to manage.

Creativity to develop and execute marketing campaigns that are original and allow you to differentiate from competitors. In a competitive industry creativity is necessary to stand out.

Multi-tasking is key, no two sporting events are the same, just as many people say no two-days are ever the same in marketing.

Knowledge and experience across a range of digital platforms like social media, email marketing and online advertising feature heavily in digital sports marketing campaigns.

Understanding of all of the marketing platforms and techniques that can be applied to the sports industry.

Confident and driven – its a competitive industry and many marketers are attracted to sports because of how much they enjoy them personally, you need to ensure you have the right amount of knowledge and experience to give you the edge.

An eye for future talent could be key, you could be scoping out the next big thing in youth teams and on the main stage, its important to be invested in the sport and have a keen understanding of what the industry requires.

Are there any qualifications available in Sports Marketing?

(this is just a few we came across, but please ensure you do your own research!)

Coventry University – Sports Marketing BA Hons

Northumbria University – Sport Marketing MSc

Manchester Metropolitan University – Sports Marketing Management BA Hons

UCFB – Football Business & Marketing BA Hons

You don’t have to study a degree directly related to sports, studying a more general degree in marketing, business, psychology and english can provide an excellent platform to build a marketing career from, the key is to gain experience related to the sports industry through volunteering and internships.

I’m interested what now?

Almost all sports employers will be looking for relevant experience applicable to the role at hand and in most cases from a previous sporting role, the best place to start is by doing some research into current entry level positions in sports marketing, have a look at the skills, experience and qualifications required for the positions you wish to pursue and go from there.

Depending on your level of experience you could transfer your existing skills into a marketing role in the sports industry, however if you don’t have enough experience then visit our guide to building experience through volunteering and work placements.

Here are a few websites that may be useful to find out more information about careers in sports marketing

Careers in Sport – Provides information about careers in sport including marketing role profiles and job opportunities.

Sports Recruitment – Specialise in jobs for sport, good place to have a look at some marketing roles for famous sports teams

Global Sports Jobs – Good place to have a look at some sports marketing roles