Storytelling: the ancient tool you should definitely take advantage of in your sponsorship strategy
The logos on the jerseys are important parts of sport sponsoring, but in the meantime, these classic elements are being supplemented by another supporting pillar: storytelling. In addition to the comprehensive branding options in sponsoring, the advertiser also requires a creative way of telling a story – and this is the time when the rights holders need professional help from marketers who have the experience of creating the emotional bond between the brands, fans and rights holders.
When we look at sports, it seems to lend itself to bring out the best in storytelling. The drama is built in, the main characters are men and women with whom everyone can identify with who follow the ultimate, heroic journey. Sports are often nostalgic for viewers with resonance at a collective, social level.
The plot and constructs of sports stories are often very similar. So what makes one brand or piece of content different from another? And how can a brand, league or media company deconstruct and quantify the essence of powerful storytelling to stay current and to appeal to today’s consumer?
Humans have always had a love for storytelling. Even before the invention of the physical book, oral stories were prevalent. Now, thanks to the digital channels brands can tell their stories for a global audience, while sports create the emotional bridge and willingness to listen to that.
Stories define the very essence of human life
Compelling stories create emotional contact between people. When someone tells a story that you can identify with, even if you do not know that person, you begin to feel connected. Without using specific narrative, customers can identify that using a product or service benefits and enhances their life and are motivated to replicate the scenario in their own life. The passion of fans creates a comprehensive field for brand-related storytelling with the involvement of the unique values and emotions of the sponsored party. Through stories, common values are identified, and messages are communicated which helps to differ from the competition.
Sport fans are increasingly pursuing their passion via digital channels
The plausibility and connectivity of the advertising message turns out to be an important element of successful sponsoring communication. The digital channels are playing a particularly important role in this. This opens a completely new brand communication opportunities for sponsors, as well as interactive and more target-group-specific addressing of the fans. That not only requires the effectiveness of the initiated measures. It also leads to a shift in the sponsoring and activation budget from the analogue to the digital media world. But these changes also increasingly require comprehensive technical expertise in relation to digital media: from the marketers, agencies and advertisers.
Stories help to unite people in a global community
Through the use of storytelling, however, a company can tap into the global themes that affect every culture and people group. Themes like family, love, friendship, overcoming challenges and others are common to every nation. With the rising number of companies that are competing for the new global marketplace, it can be harder to set a company apart. The use of storytelling gives companies an edge and helps their voice to be heard over the crowd.
The fans of Real Madrid are passionate with the club not only because of its current successes but also love its rich history and legendary characters.
Relating to a customer through storytelling allows the company to use the personal interaction to change attitudes about products or services. Stories can provide customers with a new perspective on a company, giving them the opportunity to evaluate products from a new angle. Even if they previously had no interaction with a company, a compelling story can give the customer the incentive they need to become more engaged with the brand.
The million dollar question: how can you capitalize the effects of storytelling?
Every marketing strategy must be evaluated for success. Without recognizable benchmarks, the process of storytelling can seem labor intensive and costly, for questionable results. How can a storytelling campaign be evaluated? There are direct and indirect effects that are beneficial for your brand.
With a related campaign, we try to show how it all works in practice.
As 2020 fundamentally challenged the sports business ecosystem, the Spanish market was affected the most significantly due to the loss of season tickets and experience-based match day sales. During the lockdown in early spring, we have seen that clubs desperately tried to maintain the attention of fans, but when the new season started, revenue generation has clearly taken over the priorities. The honorable inquiry from CD Leganés has arrived to us in this competitive and crucial period. The club heavily relied on its merchandising and match day revenues in the previous years, but the crisis also had a serious impact on the sales of jerseys and other items, as they had troubles to trigger the market and address the target audience with the right messages that could have reversed this trend.
However, with Seyu’s service, CD Leganés were able to jointly offer a new value proposition that gave the fans a true social match day experience, even if it was created in a digital environment.
Fans are not only engaged by the messages of the club/athlete but also want to show their support directly and be involved in the life of their loved ones.
The essence of the concept is that fans could send their own photos and selfies for the ‘Pepineros’ home matches via Seyu’s service even minutes before the kick-off and appear on the LED and giants screens with tailor made motivating messages during the match. The opportunity was allowed only for those who purchased a mask selected for the occasion from the team’s fan shop.
When a storyline is successful, it will begin to draw attention from media outlets
One of the primary indicators of success is that other people begin talking about what your company is talking about. This is what happened with our campaign.
Our innovative campaign received a lot of attention in the international sports media: local newspapers and as.com wrote many times about our concept, and British, French, Italian and Serbian portals also reported about the project, generating much more media attention for the second division club than usual. Thanks to our joint marketing campaign, CD Leganés has reached another level in the eyes of the existing stakeholders and potential sponsors.
Great stories generate extra attention in the press organically, which saves a lot of resources from the marketing budget.
Media mentions are not a sure-fire solution to generating sales, but it does help to generate interest in your product and company. Storytelling creates quality content, which creates better customer interactions. Those interactions can then spread through word of mouth, other social media tools and customer referrals, turning one storytelling campaign into a self-driving machine that continues to bring customer attention, even when the campaign is over.
Stories generate trackable results, what matter the most for the stakeholders
Generating buzz around a marketing campaign is exciting but ineffective if the audience does not move into a new role as a customer. Tracking the impact of a campaign on profits can be difficult. However, a marked difference in sales before a campaign started and after the campaign launched can be a clear indication that storytelling is working. Through social media tools in combination with other marketing forms it is possible to determine the extent of your campaign’s reach and develop a good sense of the success of the strategy.
One of our most important KPI indicators shows that with the photos sent through Seyu’s service, we achieved a 95% click through rate that generated the traffic to the Mercedes-Benz Citycar Sur’s site – who sponsored the activity – meaning thousands of potential customers for them.
The results exceeded the expectations of both parties. The new marketing campaign resulted in a 70% increased sale and in a 75% increased revenue to Leganés so far. Needless to say that we exceeded our goals and created a real WIN-WIN situation where the fans and the club are happy – so are we.