Autumn usually gets folks excited for pumpkin-flavored coffee, Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving feasts and, of course, the foliage change. But there’s nothing that stirs quite so much enthusiasm as football.
Baseball may be America’s favorite pastime, but football is its favorite life-consuming passion. So using football as part of your marketing strategy seems to make basic sense – it lets you tap directly into what is a serious passion for the majority of Americans. But as with any marketing campaign, the best methodology can be tricky to come by. Consider these tips for marketing during tailgating season.
1. Celebrate football as the institution it is
As established, people get worked up over football. More so, they become absurdly nostalgic. Because it’s a game about underdogs, victory, defeat and lifelong loyalty to a team, the very idea of football has the power to move even casual fans.
For that reason, celebrate football in broad strokes for most of your marketing. There are advantages, especially for local companies, to repping your home team – but rather than turn off a portion of your consumer base, appeal to their love of the sport itself.
These kinds of ads and marketing strategies tend to work best near the beginning of the season in September, when the love of the game is revving up and everyone’s eager for first kickoffs.
2. Put your biggest and brightest fans on the job – and someone who’s not
Not everyone is really into football, but those people who are can talk about it like it’s a second language. As you’re putting together your marketing campaign, be sure to enlist the help of a mega-fan or two. They’ll know the lingo, know the names and know the sport.
But ensure you’ve got an outsider working on the campaign, too: Someone who can speak for the everyman who doesn’t have a fantasy league and is a casual lover of the game. Simply put, this allows to you tackle every tier of football-watching consumer.
3. Offer your own tailgating tips
Tailgating culture is an enormous part of football in the U.S. In fact, you could argue that plenty of folks love the tailgating even more than the game itself! Tapping into this market is essential if you want to run a really successful football season campaign. You may even want to make it the centerpiece of your marketing strategy.
Start by offering your own tailgating tips. You can do this in a tongue-in-cheek way – for instance, invest in custom T-shirts advertising your brand which read “Tailgating Rule No. 432: There is never ‘too much’ beer.” Or set up a social media campaign, tweeting or Facebook posting numerous tailgating tips to fans. You can even create videos to post online – then invite fans to post their own video replies in exchange for free swag or special coupons.
Idea Bank Marketing used a method like this for a local automotive group in time for football season. Via a series of television spots, the campaign offered tips both for tailgating and car shopping.
4. Keep the party going online
What the Idea Bank Marketing campaign also used, however, was the Internet. It kept the automotive group’s audience going online via Facebook contests and an app that yielded visitors’ email addresses – useful for future marketing as well as gauging how effective and wide-reaching a campaign is.
5. Go tailgating yourself
While the above tips are useful for catching a tailgating audience, if you really want to create a memorable campaign, you may have to get out there and market your brand in person.
Think of it this way: Tailgating around downtown or in the stadium parking lot is really just running a booth at a trade show – but with more grilled food! You know your demographic, so you can zero in on your marketing strategy. And while folks can flip the channel during commercials or click away from your social media page, no one ignores free giveaways or tasty food and drink – especially at a festive event like gameday.
6. Bring the food
Want to get people over to your tailgating setup? You need more than just a dynamic sign advertising your brand and some good music on the stereo. Presence at a tailgating event all boils down to having some really good food. So set up multiple grills, get your cooks working hard and try to find something that helps your food stand out. If you can tie it back to your company’s services or product, all the better.
As Suite101 noted in a story on tailgating marketing, this is an especially great opportunity for restaurant owners, caterers and any other food industry professionals. Just bring enough take-home menus to hand out.
7. Bring the drinking equipment
You’d be remiss if you forgot the beer, of course. But beer and wine laws being what they are, you can’t just hand these out to passing patrons as a marketing gimmick. What you can do, however, is provide passers-by a little promotional extra for their own beers: custom can koozies with your brand printed on one side are an excellent place to start. Host a few giveaway raffles every hour for promotional drink coolers, as well.
8. Bring the promotional giveaways
Don’t stop there when it comes to those promotional giveaways, either. Marketing with custom T-shirts, footballs, coffee mugs and other items can be a great way to spread your brand far and wide.
9. Celebrate – but stay professional
Tailgating events are infused with party energy, and there’s no reason not to enjoy the excitement of the big game. But remember, you’re there on a professional mission, and your end goal is to build your brand name and draw in new consumers.
One Sunday down, just a full football season of games to go. Head out to another tailgating event next weekend – and don’t be afraid to mix it up. Head to local high school games, college games, semi-pro games or even NFL ones if you’ve got the opportunity!