Marketing Opportunities for Your Sports Business

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Marketing Opportunities for Your Sports Business

Whether you own and operate a gym or training facility or simply have your own personal sports training business, there are time-tested, simple communication techniques that you can learn and follow to help your operation grow and prosper.

Your immediate goals in talking about your business are twofold—increase awareness within your target audience about the enterprise and build positive public perceptions. Positive perceptions cover many factors including expertise, quality, dependability, friendly service, attractive prices, comprehensive equipment, convenience, and more.

Achieving these goals depends primarily upon your marketing communications publicity efforts and fall into three general categories—advertising, public relations, and word-of-mouth.

  • Advertising represents paid commercial messages that tout your business, and generally all businesses at some point need to advertise. These can be print ads, radio or television spot commercials, and internet website ads. Advertising, however, can be very expensive. In addition to paying for the cost of the ads, there is the initial creation and production of the ads themselves. Most start-up or very small businesses can’t afford much advertising.
  • Public relations messages take advantage of existing media and other outlets that would mention your business strictly because it might be newsworthy, or if your operations somehow complement another venture or activity. Generally, there is little or no cost to promote your enterprise in this way because you are tapping into the promotional or news coverage functions of other organizations. Engaging these outlets also helps you achieve your objectives because of their ability to lend credibility to your operations.There will be considerable effort on your part, though, to make the media and related organizations aware of new developments related to your business. And don’t forget that you will have no control of what is said by third parties such as newspapers and magazines if they decide to write a story about you and your enterprise. An additional audience for PR messages falls under the category of customer relationship marketing, where past and present customers are specifically targeted to increase retention rates and possibly increase the volume of business.
  • Word-of-mouth is the best kind of publicity—if it is positive. It costs nothing and is long-lasting and persuasive. Both advertising and public relations initiatives can stimulate word-of-mouth in the initial stages of building awareness. In the long run, however, customer attitudes based upon their satisfaction with your business will determine the nature and extent of any successful word-of-mouth generated.

Making public relations work

The following key points are a checklist to consider before you try to attract media attention to publicize your business. Strategically speaking, it is much more advantageous to “have your ducks in a row” before seeking any publicity opportunities. This way you will be prepared to take full benefit of what they can provide when opportunities arise.

  • Know your business: Have a clear understanding of what your business is all about—what it offers, whom it serves, and what makes it unique.
  • Identify your key audiences: Who are you trying to reach with your messages? In addition to present and prospective customers, you will also be trying to reach other audiences who might have influence on your business such as educators, healthcare professionals, sports equipment retailers, trade associations, and financial institutions.
  • Find ways to reach these audiences: Do a little research into how you might influence people in your target audiences. What do they read? What websites might be popular with them? To which organizations do they belong? Where do they purchase their sports equipment?
  • Determine what is newsworthy about your business: What is unique about your business? Is it the first of its kind in the community? How is it better than what was formerly available? How does it tie into current community interests, values, and needs? What have you achieved since you began the business? Are you having an anniversary that should be noted? Answers to these will give you an idea as to whether the news media might be interested in developing a profile on your business.
  • Know the media: The answers to the above suggestion need to be considered in terms of the particular media outlet you wish to use. For print publications, you need to know if the magazine or newspaper uses the type of material that you are planning to send. If you want to be featured on radio or even a local television program, you should know the media personalities, hosts, news anchors, and overall formats of their programs as well as the nature of the stories they like to target and why.
  • Prepare the appropriate presentation: In most cases, a simple news release will reach the appropriate editor at a publication or radio station and will suffice. In other cases, a more fully developed press kit describing your business venture might be more helpful in gaining media interest and attention. In addition to packaging the story in a concise and compelling way, make sure it gets to the right people at the right time. Be familiar with the deadlines that media outlets have established for developing and producing their stories.
  • Consider using a media specialist: If you feel uncomfortable with writing your own news release copy, facing the media, or want to explore additional publicity opportunities that are not immediately apparent, you might want to hire a media specialist or a public relations firm. A competent communications professional will be able to walk you through the intricacies of media relations as well as identify other initiatives that might prove worthwhile. These could range from developing newsletters or direct mail campaigns to joining other organizations where you might be able to network or find viable marketing opportunities through the web.

Public relations activities have a long track record of introducing thousands of proven, profitable techniques that can work successfully for you. They can help to increase sales, enhance community and employee relations, and broaden public awareness of your organization. They are a potent force in your marketing because people are more inclined to believe what they read or hear in an editorial context than accept the same information in advertising.

Incorporating public relations strategies into your business requires a strong marketing orientation. There is a special skill in discerning those things about your organization that can be made interesting to the media in the form of news or features. Every day, these techniques are successfully used by businesses all over the world. Tomorrow, they can be used to start helping you.

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