Inventing a Sports Marketing Formula

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By Aaron Westendorf

If you want to see the formula I developed and skip the background story, scroll down and it is in bold.

Sports Marketing is not Marketing.

Every form of marketing should be separated into its own category. The media does it already when they announce companies as “industry leaders.” P&G and Verizon can both be industry leaders in their markets, but one is consumer marketing and the other is technology marketing. For some reason the overall field of marketing has been slow to adapt and has caused VERY large problems in social media evaluation.

When evaluating digital media content, notable marketing tools such as Klout have designed formulas that are all-inclusive. My Klout score of 59 does not make me even close to value as an NFL athlete with a Klout score of 59. In fact, said NFL player could easily demand $1,000 from Reebok to endorse their new cleats. I should consider myself lucky to get a free pair of socks.

Social media is still a fairly young practice. Every “fact” about the social media should not be taken as truth. Just like the Earth was once flat, digital media evaluations will one day be outdated (and wrong). I would like to suggest that each industry establish its own formula that makes sense to those digital accounts, but for me I am only interested in developing a sports formula (for now).

This has to be the most understood rule in marketing: every market is unique.

Every market has its own challenges, expectations and solutions.

SO WHY DO SOCIAL MEDIA EVALUATIONS GRADE ALL MARKETS ON THE SAME PLAYING FIELD?

I hope to show, through sports marketing, that every market should adapt to these changes.

Upon ranking team digital marketing worth in the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL, I discovered that there was no exact science to determine what teams are creating good content, maintaining good interactions with Fans and applying their digital reach (all things we aim for in the sports marketing industry).

When a company wants to become a sponsor in sports, it’s usually to tap into the market that sports brings. Just like an advertisement on the outfield wall, on a basketball court or near center ice, a sponsor spending money on digital media is an advertisement for a large established market.

This is why there needs to be a scientific formula for sponsors, teams and athletes to evaluate their market worth within the industry of sports marketing.

I am attempting to find this formula.

Digital Sports Voice serves as my forum for feedback and “thinking out loud” to discover the best formula for evaluating sports digital media.

This is my latest attempt at the formula:

Sports Marketing Score = SOCIAL MEDIA POPULATION (x) A RATIO OF TOTAL FANS AND % OF FAN INTERACTIONS

You can see the results of this formula at the bottom of the article.

I cannot publish the EXACT formula I use because I still am making less than 20k a year and would like this formula to replace my car’s broken AC, pay off some student loans and take my girlfriend out to dinner for the first time in six months.

But what I can tell you is how I came up with the formula and what it entails.

Social Media Population: A professional sports team’s market is a combination of local and national fans. The easiest market to capture is the local market – they attend games, buy clothing and the team typically has somewhat of a cultural mark on the local market. The national market can be fans that once lived in the city, grew up as a childhood fan or have been successfully marketed by the team through state boundaries. Determining the social media population is crucial because teams that can market on a national scale should be rewarded, and paid more by sponsors for their digital reach. Also, teams that cannot market to their own local population should be punished for not being able to reach their easiest and most accessible market.

Fans: This number is derived from the social media population. What is a fan? In digital media it is someone who is willing to watch the day-to-day happenings of the sports team. They don’t necessarily need to wear a team jersey or hat, but do need to subscribe to a team digital channel. Teams should be rewarded for the number of Fans they have in digital media, because it is the equivalent of reach or market size.

Percent of Fan Interactions: when sponsoring a team digital channel, a company should consider how often the Fans (or in the case of the company, the people who the sponsor wants to advertise to) interact with the Team. Imagine being able to measure how many times people actually watch a specific TV commercial, rather than basing it off of how many people tune in for the show (and then get up from the couch for the commercials). That is the unique thing about digital media, we can actually measure the amount of clicks and times Fan interact with a team (Like a photo, post a video of their own, or mention the team’s name). This is important for a potential sponsor to consider when advertising with a Team. Interactions are derived from “buzz.” A team in the news a lot or is mentioned constantly by larger media is more marketable (For instance a baseball team being mentioned by the MLB Fan Page). Those mentions from large media outlets drive traffic to the Team, and thus more traffic to the sponsor. The Percent of Fan Interactions is ultimately time-relevant measure of the Team: if the Team is receiving preseason buzz, they become more marketable; if it is the offseason and no games are being played (no product), the team is less marketable; if the team wins the championship, they receive considerable more buzz and thus are more marketable.

Here is a sample of MLB rankings according to the Sports Marketing Score.

City Name City Pop. Facebook Sports Marketing Score*
Boston Red Sox 636,479 3,856,124 814
Cincinnati Reds 296,550 677,627 805
St. Louis Cardinals 318,172 1,409,172 564
Atlanta Braves 443,775 1,329,777 555
San Fransisco Giants 825,863 1,773,390 325
New York City Yankees 8,336,697 6,368,148 290
Detroit Tigers 701,475 1,211,989 174
Los Angeles Dodgers 3,857,799 1,396,278 130
Dallas Rangers 1,241,162 1,492,033 125
Kansas City Royals 147,268 327,585 98
Pittsburgh Pirates 306,211 420,066 83
Philadelphia Phillies 1,547,607 1,307,174 80
Minneapolis Twins 392,880 810,362 79
Baltimore Orioles 621,342 473,736 75
Cleveland Indians 390,928 576,505 67
Chicago Cubs 2,714,856 1,773,390 64
Tampa Rays 347,645 460,753 62
Oakland Athletics 400,740 393,928 58
Denver Rockies 634,265 516,941 42
Seattle Mariners 634,535 546,786 36
Milwaukee Brewers 598,916 640,988 34
Phoenix Diamondbacks 1,488,750 306,603 20
Washington D.C. Nationals 623,323 229,762 17
Chicago White Sox 2,714,856 991,770 13
Toronto Blue Jays 2,790,000 529,533 13
Miami Marlins 413,892 309,892 11
Los Angeles Angels 3,857,799 569,840 11
San Diego Padres 1,338,348 407,439 6
New York City Mets 8,336,697 637,225 5
Houston Astros 2,160,821 470,139 4

*Perfect marketing score is 1,000.

NOTE: The formula also includes Twitter and Instagram followers, but for displaying purposes I have only shown Facebook Fans for each team.

Please engage into the sports marketing dialogue with me: comment for suggestions. If you think I have missed an important factor when measuring markets please comment. If you like this idea and want to hear more please comment. If you want to hire me or would like to fund this idea…yeah, you better comment.

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