By Melissa Tanzosh

Last week, a few colleagues and I attended Adweek’s Women Trailblazers event — an opportunity to celebrate and learn from women spearheading change in marketing, media and a number of other industries. Set at Ogilvy’s NYC office, we attended several inspiring and informative panels presenting how the unique marketing perspective women have can truly shape the success and trajectory of a brand.

That said, one panel, in particular, stood out: They’ve Got Game united a handful of women in the sports industry — including Philadelphia 76ers’ Chief Marketing Officer, Activision Blizzard Esports Commissioner of the Call of Duty League Johanna Faries and NASCAR’s Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory. As a NASCAR fan myself and Senior Director of Product Management here at PebblePost®, the discussion resonated with me on both a personal and professional level.

In fact, as I listened to the various strategies Jill and the other panelists provided onstage, to acquire and retain fans, I  saw significant parallels between the needs of sports marketers and the needs brands have shared with me at PebblePost. At that moment, one thing became clear--there’s little difference between how sports marketers work with fans and how we, here at PebblePost, provide a means for our own brands to connect with shoppers to encourage the path to purchase.

Adaptable Strategies

With the continuously shifting preferences of sports enthusiasts, from team loyalty to favorite players — and everything in between — the panelists unanimously agreed that marketing teams must remain adaptable to keep fans engaged and ensure their business continues to grow. Similarly, brands must approach their marketing strategies to ensure their own “fans,” or customer base, continues to remain engaged and loyal.

At PebblePost, we know constant fluctuations in consumer preferences remain a significant challenge to brands; and so, real-time and actionable insights are crucial to extrapolate the efficacy of every aspect of a campaign. Programmatic Direct Mail® solves for this by providing direct attribution along the path to purchase, which gives a deeper look into how direct mail impacts the sales funnel and informs how brands can adjust their strategy to optimize future campaigns.

Immersive Experiences

Beyond adaptability, sports brands must look past the game to keep fans engaged. Jill specifically mentioned that in order to retain fans, NASCAR has to think outside of just the race. With advances in AR/VR, streaming and other immersive experiences, new technologies provide opportunities to bring the event home to viewers. What’s more, the entire game day experience: both before, during and after the race should keep fans hooked. By taking advantage of new strategies, sports marketers can invest resources and budget to create a disruptive, immersive experience for fans to root for their favorite player or team, well beyond game day.

This also rings true for Programmatic Direct Mail as another solution that supports an omnichannel, immersive experience for shoppers, as well as sports fans. Physical mail pieces can be used to reach potential and current fans to drive streaming, participation in immersive technologies like VR, or other in-home experiences.

Driving Offline Traffic

Engaging fans at home as well as before and after race day is critical, but Jill noted that streaming a race cannot compare to the real-time experience of hearing the indescribable roar of race cars zooming around a track. When it comes to earning loyalty, driving fans or, in general marketing terms, customers to physical-world events where they can experience impactful, memorable moments is key.

It makes sense: going to a sporting event is a full-sensory phenomenon and the path to both acquiring tickets for a race or match, as well as the event itself,  is a multi-channel experience; it’s critical that the strategies to retain these consumers is omnichannel.

At PebblePost, we’ve consistently observed that nothing beats an omnichannel approach that leverages offline marketing, direct mail, to help drive attendance to offline experiences. Whether it be a brick-and-mortar location or an event, like a concert, festival, or sports game, marrying the insights of digital with tangible mailers gives marketers the option to geo-target specific markets and use Programmatic Direct Mail as an effective, yet respectful, way to interact with fans and drive ticket sales. In essence, Programmatic Direct Mail provides a relevant, respectful method to drive game or race participation, ticket sales, and, as a solution for retention, season ticket purchases as an ongoing continuity touchpoint.

Traditional Tactics for Fan Engagement

The best part of returning to traditional marketing touchpoints to keep the conversation going with sports fans is the seamless transition from the physical world to digital and back again — we’ve seen Programmatic Direct Mail exist as an incredibly successful way of maintaining the continuity of a brand’s message. Direct mail lets marketers re-engage consumers who have signaled intent or interest via digital, and keeps the conversation going in the physical world. More importantly, it remains respectful: fans can keep the Programmatic Postcard™ and take action when they feel is best, on their own time, at home — where purchase decisions and weekend plans are made. It’s the perfect opportunity to nudge fans toward streaming the race and making it down to the track.

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