Sports marketing sometimes describes the marketing of products that are not sports-related through associations with sports, according to the Duquesne University School of Business. More commonly, though, sports marketing refers to the marketing of sports leagues and teams. Sports marketing can create fan loyalty for organizations that use it effectively.
In discussing "Promotional Incentives for Sports & Entertainment," the Team Sports Marketing website points out that sports organizations struggling to fill seats often must use promotional techniques to draw fans and to add value to the viewing experience. The site notes that a Major League Baseball study found specific giveaway promotions had the strongest effect on fan attendance. Bobblehead dolls, for example, often are used as giveaways because of their ability to draw fans.
Season Ticket Sales
Team Sports Marketing indicates that season ticket sales are the foundation of any professional sports team in its "Selling Season Tickets" overview. Studies of both Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association teams found that roughly one-third of ticket sales take place at stadium gates, compared with about 25 percent at more commercially successful National Football League stadiums. Loyalty is just as relevant in the sports industry as in any business environment. Loyal season ticket buyers also create more interest from media coverage, according to the site.
A major purpose of sports marketing and communication efforts is to help fans identify with their teams and build passion for them. In his 2008 "Forbes" article, "The NBA's Most Loyal Fans," Tom Van Riper reported that the NBA's New York Knicks had a lowly 0.368 winning percentage for the previous five seasons. However, passionate fans kept the stadium at 99 percent capacity for games.
Sports organizations derive revenue from the sale of team merchandise. Programs, shirts, caps, jerseys and posters are just a few common products sold by sports franchises. The New York Yankees are one of the most popular sports brands in the world. As evidence, the 2007 Street & Smith's "Sports Business Daily" report on league license merchandise sales showed the Yankees with a remarkable 25.4 percent of market share. The Boston Red Sox were second that season with an 8.2 percent share.